People are often perplexed by numbness or intense emotionality that can occur for years after a traumatic event. Addictions, stress, and anxiety may also follow. If you are experiencing any of these, this is NORMAL. You are not alone.
In the same way that we need to digest physical food, we need to digest emotional happenings. If we don’t take the time needed to allow emotional happenings to digest, we may feel cut off or extremely reactive. This is not wrong; this is human. The question is how one addresses this experience so that it comes to a gentle close.
In working with hundreds of people, I have found several key elements that assist with digesting trauma. In this way, peace is found. This article will discuss the use of these elements, which are gratitude, focus, and surrender.
If we don’t have a strong garden bed, we don’t grow a good garden. Gratitude is the nutrient that makes our soil fertile for plentiful and positive food. If we practice gratitude as a way of life, we become full of positive vibrancy. This vibrancy tends to us lovingly, mends us, and carries us in powerfully sorrowful times. It is never too late to start. Begin and end each day by listing everyone, every situation, and everything for which you have appreciation. Don’t hesitate to stretch your gratitude muscle bigger during challenging times. There is much to be grateful for, even when challenges arise. The more we focus on this, the easier it is to work with the emotions of trauma and grief when life brings us these.
Focusing on what we DO wish to experience and what we WOULD like to feel helps us return to harmony. If you drive down the street with the steering wheel in your hands, your head turned around to view the place from which you came, a crash is imminent! If you look ahead toward where you plan to be in the next moment, you end up there. In the human physical world, we need to focus ahead, at times. With conscious focusing, we have a creative role in where we end up.
In emotional reality, we can be where we focus now! There is no time lapse. If you focus on something for which you have gratitude or joy, you find yourself in gratitude and joy now. Take a moment to identify with one word that clarifies what it is you wish to experience as your primary basis of existence. Is it peace? Love? Connectedness? By identifying this, you are letting life know that you are available for this experience. You are letting yourself know that you can adjust yourself to co-create experiences that bring this quality out of you. You can actually enliven this quality right now by focusing upon it.
The waves of feeling in a lifetime will never stop. When we fight them, they escalate. When we hide them, we bring about resentment, numbness, addiction, depression, or anxiety. When we dive into their essence, welcoming these emotions whether they are preferred or nonpreferred, they change. They transform. As we move into the layers of many feelings under a once-avoided feeling, we eventually find the neutral void where love is the basis of all. I have found this to be the primary key in healing from grief. Fully experiencing grief’s sensations and flavors, beyond the intellect’s explanation, opens us up into new and fulfilling territory. Merging into the feeling’s sensation takes us beyond its initial painfulness, into something vastly fulfilling, warm, and compassionate.*
*Please note: If you are experiencing a mental illness, please receive the assistance of a counselor before working with the practice suggested in the last paragraph of this blog. It is advised that you do not do this practice on your own. Those who are not experiencing mental illness will benefit from doing this practice alone and most likely learn more about how to reap its rewards by working with a counselor.
The Wholeness of Grief
Grief for All Seasons
Experiential Theory: Psychotherapy’s Well-Kept Secret
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