In the midst of feeling overwhelmed by post-trauma symptoms it seems as though there will never be a way out of suffering; the more so when it is recurring. Your emotional state influences how you perceive reality; therefore, it is normal that at these times, your felt experience is that life has no meaning. Post-Traumatic Stress and it all its varied layers, levels of hurt, intensities, coping and avoiding mechanisms is daunting, for the person who suffers from it as well as the professional dealing with.
The instinctive reaction to suffering
You might have noticed, fortunately, that your intense moments of suffering pass over. You have better and lesser days. Our consciousness appears cyclic in that regard. This movement of going through tough days followed by better days gives us opportunity. It gives us a ‘breather’ in order to get some things done or connect with friends or be with nature. It also gives us the opportunity to observe our reactions when we are going through triggers, withdrawal periods and suffering. I am not talking here about analyzing. Analyzing is something you are likely to be doing already, to no avail. I am talking about observing your approach – which is the essence of recovery.
Instinctive reactions, when we suffer, are ‘wanting to forget it all’ or ‘attempting to get over it’ or ‘trying to understand’ or ‘fix it’. This avoidance or problem solving attitude works well on a practical level but fails miserably when we deal with our minds and hearts.
Dissociating or disconnecting, consciously or unconsciously, works only temporarily. It makes our psychological symptoms go away for a while but they might start showing up as physical pain or immune system issues. Similarly, a problem solving attitude has a tinge of judgment about it. That something is wrong and needs ‘fixing’. This prevents you from observing that your reactions, in the wake of an overwhelming experience, are normal.
Awareness as an alternative approach to suffering
Something else seems to be needed and this is really how we approach our emotional issues. Once you neither disconnect, dissociate, go numb nor get too focused on what you suffer from, that energy will be able to move into awareness. It is the meeting with awareness and the ability to contain deep wounds within it that dissolves our emotional suffering. While we learn and expand in awareness, we are re-establishing our boundaries, our resilience and capacity to contain.
In order to provide containment, one makes sure that the processes of emotional unfoldment and accompanied body-sensations are slowed down. As overriding feelings and resistances arise, they need to be addressed and processed before moving on. When space is given to digest and integrate, by slowing down and verbalizing what is occurring, there is the potential for the healing of the body and the mind.
Within the unfolding of the therapeutic process, there can be a constant moving back and forth between working with resistances, overwhelming feelings, and other emotions like; anger, grief, sadness, etc…through resourcing, providing containment and context.
A doorway to enlightenment
Post-traumatic stress needs patience, persistence, insight, endurance, an open mind, space and awareness, and for the professional, a sufficient amount of having resolved their own traumatic issues to be able to work through intense and complex trauma. Adversity challenges us. It pushes us to learn how to contain and hold more of ourselves, increasing our resilience and ability, thereby, setting ourselves free.
To find out more about how you can work with Roland, you can contact him at www.rolandbal.com. Roland also recently launched a series of eBooks aimed at healing individuals currently suffering from the effects of trauma and PTSD.