Trauma is word that is used quite loosely in our language today. One often refers to themselves as having been “traumatized”. This is often true, unfortunately, so I thought I would take some time to help people understand what this really means and why it is so difficult to heal some of the experiences you may have had.
In the brain we have our short-term memory, which is connected to our emotional centre, on the right-hand side of the brain. Our long-term memory is on the left hemisphere of the brain. All of our daily life events go in into our short-term memory first and trigger whatever emotion is necessary at the time.
Our brain is always looking to make sense of the world around us, to feel a sense of mastery over things. Our nervous system wants to move information from short-term memory to the long-term memory where there are no emotions. Events can then be put in the past and no longer trigger any emotion.
Example: If your dog dies when you are 5 years old, you will feel quite a lot of upset and sadness. When you think about that same pet 15 years later, you likely no longer feel sad about the event of the dog having passed away. You brain has taken the information that was originally in the short-term memory and was connected to the emotional centre and was able to make sense of it and therefore, was able to move the memory to the long-term memory on the left hemisphere where it is no longer connected to the emotional centre. The event is put into the past and can be let go of. It no longer gets triggered during current life events as it is no longer in the short-term memory.
If an event feels too overwhelming or your system cannot get a sense of mastery over the event, it will stay stuck in short-term memory. Herein lies the problem: as daily life today keeps going into short-term memory, the unresolved events from the past that are still in short-term will get triggered and old feelings will open up. You probably won’t know that this is what happened and those old feelings will feel like they belong to the present situation.
** The trick is to think about whether or not ‘too much feeling’ was there than was required for that specific event. If so, then stuff from your past was triggered.
** Or, if you have events that are still being played over and over again in your mind or if an event from what seems a long time ago still brings up some emotion around it, it is likely stuck in your short-term memory and is going to be considered a type of trauma.
This is how emotional patterns form in our lives. Old feelings getting triggered and you are unable to change the feelings and the behavioural patterns that accompany them.
To do the necessary healing work, it requires finding someone to work with that you feel comfortable talking to and that you feel can walk along side you on a journey of healing. This way your nervous system feels supported and is then able to open up old memories and go through the feelings and see that it is time to move the old events across the brain barrier to long-term memory. It is then put in the past and old patterns can fade away.
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