Hypnotherapy Stress & Trauma
Psychological trauma is widespread and very much misunderstood. People use the terms “stress” and “trauma” interchangeably, but the actual physical effects are very different in origin.
Psychological trauma is not just a psychological problem – it affects the body at the most fundamental levels. The phenomenon is not just emotional – it’s physical too. When emotions are disrupted our bodies are disrupted as well, with spikes in stress hormones and disruptions of the nervous system and heart rhythm. Emotions are not abstract phenomena – through the sympathetic nervous system they are interwoven with every major organ system of our bodies.
Understanding the cycles of stress and relaxation is vital to understanding your overall health because of all the body systems – digestion, circulation, reproduction, respiration and immunity – that are affected by your level of stress and relaxation. High stress is linked to virtually every type of disease.
Whilst a spike in stress hormones is useful when it gives us the “shot of juice” required to evade danger, it takes a terrible toll on the body if the alarm system is turned on continuously.
In traumatised people it spikes higher and faster, and remains at a high level long after the danger has passed. The triggers are more sensitive and the effects are more profound.
YOUR BODY CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE
Here’s the real problem. Your body can’t tell the difference between a stressful thought and an actual stressful event. A stressful thought sends the same signal to your body that an actual threat to life and limb produces. All your body systems are affected. You’ve produced all the neuro-physiology of stress in your body while having no objective reason to be on high alert. In addition, with post-traumatic effects, normal brain function is also temporarily disrupted, causing flashbacks, panic attacks and disorientation.
For survivors of trauma, re-triggering of the traumatic event causes a sudden biological change in the brain, temporarily disabling normal helpful reactions to everyday situations. Sometimes the triggers are obvious, bust most times they are below conscious awareness and often completely unknown and inexplicable to the sufferer, causing even more distress.
These flashbacks can leave the sufferer feeling completely disorientated, unable to speak, respond or even think, with feelings of extreme panic, profound numbness, paralysis or desperation.
We’ve all had situations in our life where we’ve been shocked, betrayed, traumatised, manipulated or abused in one way or another. We can all agree that the emotional gravity of these situations creates very strong impressions in our biology. In fact, the stronger the emotional reaction to a person, problem or experience, the, more altered internally we become.
When these types of upset occur, our internal alarm systems switch on, and in doing so, because the event is so threatening or painful, the brain freezes the frame and takes a snapshot of the external event. We could say then that the brain has captured a moment in time – a moment that actually no longer exists -and in the process, the event becomes embossed in the brain and leaves a physical impression in our biology.
The side effect of this shock to the system is that, because of the strength of the emotion, the stress chemicals that cause us to live in “survival mode” are triggered. These chemicals are the end products of emotion, and because they are so unpleasant, we do whatever we can to avoid them. The irony is that, in trying to avoid them, we keep re-living and revisiting the memory of the event over and over again, and now we’re stuck in a loop of thinking and feeling the very emotions we don’t want to feel.
This is how the post-traumatic conditioning process begins – by continually experiencing a thought and a feeling; an image and an emotion; a stimulus and a response. In this repetitive process, not only is the memory logged in the brain, but additionally, the emotion or feeling is being conditioned into the body. It’s also how the body becomes reliant on chemical instructions, and as a result, the body becomes subconsciously conditioned to be the mind of that emotion. Now the trauma lives in the body as well as the brain.
Because the body is so objective it will accept these habitualised chemical instructions without question, without knowing the difference between the actual experience that originally created the emotion and the brain’s memory that is re-creating that emotion.
If thoughts are the language of the brain and feelings are the language of the body, and how we think and how we feel make up our state of being, then it makes sense that this person’s entire state of being is becoming hardwired and emotionally conditioned to the past.
By recalling the same memory over and over again, we are firing and wiring the same circuits in the brain, causing them to fire more automatically every time, which means that it’s easier to remember the painful past and at the same time the same feelings will be easier to create because the body has been manufacturing the same chemicals and hormones every day. As a result of the emotions of fear, anger, hostility, frustration, pain, suffering and so on- because they are derived from the stress hormones and emergency systems of survival mode – the brain tells the body to prepare for the event in case it happens again.
The sum total of this process is that our entire perception of the world becomes based on that memory. This is what keeps the body connected to the past. In other words, we will see the world equal to the story we tell ourselves about the past.
Where you place your attention is where you place your energy, and so by holding on to the same problem and keeping your attention on the past event or person that you feel is responsible for your pain, you are allowing that person or event to hold you emotionally hostage. That means you’re giving away your energy, your power, and your very life force to someone or something outside of you. That’s vital energy that can be used to create a new future, a new destiny, or optimal health.
It begs the question: How much of that creative energy could you be using to change your life or your body?
The good news is that with the help of well-structured hypnosis, you can calmly and safely deconstruct the hardwired emotional reactions to these memories. Each time you do this you are sending the memory further and further into the past where it belongs, with no more emotional content than any other past event.
By disengaging from the thoughts and emotions of the past you break the energetic bond to that person, problem or painful experience. When you do this enough times, you’re no longer ruled by the negative emotions because you’ve moved your attention off them. By no longer feeling those emotions, you will naturally stop thinking about them because you have broken the emotional charge and energetic bond to your painful past and are no longer being defined by the problems of your past.