This week's episode is the beginning of a three part series on Time and Trauma.
This is the first instalment of the series and it's all about the past.
Listen to the episode to hear my unique perspective on healing from the past as it relates to trauma. You've never heard it taught this way before.
Show Transcript Below:
Time and Trauma
Hello - welcome to episode 15 of the podcast i’m so happy to be here with you all. And so happy that you’re listening and benefiting from this work. I want to ask a favour of you - if you like this podcast and you’re enjoying my work - it would mean the world to me if you could leave me a review on iTunes. You can do it right from your phone and it will help other people find this work and allow the reach of this show to reach others who need some help and support. I would greatly appreciate that so thank you so much.
So - today is going to be the first in a series of 3 episodes that I am doing about time and trauma. And this series is about helping you see with clear eyes the role that your experiences in your past, your present, and your future. Because I think when we’ve had traumatic experiences maybe childhood abuse or neglect and i’m talking physical or emotional, it can get hard to organize your brain and your life around time and timelines.
And part of the reason for that is that when we become traumatized if we haven’t had the proper release and healing of those experiences the effect of those experiences can stick with us and be present in our bodies physiologically in our nervous systems, our cells, and our organs and we can also carry those experiences is the emotional and energetic or spiritual body as well. And so, when our body is stuck in a traumatic response on the physiological level it becomes more difficult for the brain to recognize where we are in time. And part of the reason for that is that if we are highly activated - activation in this sense meaning stuck in a traumatic response in the body - in the system, the nervous system. This could be a spectrum from fight to flight to freeze or a mixture of the two. The technical terms there would be hypo-arousal and hyperarousal. It means your system is overloaded in one way or another it can be overloaded and shut down or it can be overloaded and go into overdrive. And we can see both of those responses present at onces sometimes, or we can alternate between the two so it’s not always either or. And when we are stuck in a traumatized state, the more primitive, lower regions of the brain are active here. Okay - so we’re looking at the brain-stem and the brain stem is directly connected to our spine and our central nervous system. And so the more overwhelmed our nervous system is, the higher the threat is, the more the brain stem is going to be firing survival messages to the nervous system and vice versa.
And the lower regions of the brain are less associated with time and with meaning. Whereas the higher regions of the brain as you move upward toward the limbic brain and the pre-frontal cortex are where we have access to higher thinking and higher functioning in terms of planning, organization, working memory, critical thinking, and emotional control.
And depending on where you are in your activation you will have less and less access to understanding where you are in time. So I wanted to give you a little more context in terms of the reasoning behind why it seems that we can get stuck in the past in terms of our patterning emotionally and physiologically.
And so with this series - time and trauma part 1 which is today’s episode I’m going to talk about the past and what it means for us in the sense of healing from trauma physiologically and graduating our thinking, around the past as well okay.
So - the first thing I want to say - and this is deceptively simple but also really revolutionary as well. But it’s very very very important. Okay - the first thing is this:
The past is over. Okay? The past is over. And it seems obvious. And it seems like something I might be saying in a condescending tone. But I’m not coming at it from that angle at all. You can imagine me giving you a hug, or someone you love comforting you and giving you a hug and saying: It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s over. And this really sunk in for me when I read Babette Rthoschild’s book a couple years ago called 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery. She’s got a few pages in that book - might even be more than that now because it’s been a while since I’ve read it. But there is a section in that book about really recognizing and understanding that the past is over. The event that caused you pain is over. And I really want you to practice allowing this to sink in for you and touch you deeply okay. If you can feel in your body the understanding that it’s over.
And SOOOO many of us, are living from the past. And thinking from the past. And running from the past - or even re-enacting the past through our present relationships and I want you to go back and listen to the episode I have on traumatic reenactment um it’s a great companion to this episode because it explains how we can get caught in traumatic loops because if we haven’t taken the time and the space to release these experiences from the body brain and soul, we end up repeating them and what happens is we create cycles and we can sometimes see that it’s happening but struggle to escape those cycles. And that is because we are struggling to really see the past present and future with clarity okay.
And so again I want to encourage and bless you and gently remind you - that the past is over. It is over. It is over. And you can let that really sink in and wash over you and be an anchor for you when you have an emotional flashback or you feel your body you know responding in a patterned you know way where you are about to freeze or fight or flight and go into a panicked sort of response right. It’s over. It’s over. You’re not there - you’re here. And again i know how simple it sounds - but it really is something we have to teach ourselves teach our brains and teach our bodies that we are not there. We are here now. And now we are safe. And we are in the present. And that thing is not happening anymore. It’s over. It’s over. It’s over. Okay - It’s over. And often times, our bodies and our nervous systems are responding to things in the present, with the intensity of how we responded when we were experiencing extreme threat or trauma. And that’s not our fault. And it’s a real thing. Because our systems - our central nervous systems are built into us to adapt. Okay - and depending on the conditions of our attachment bonding and home environment, you can have a fluid sort of flowing nervous system that has a lot of capacity for stress and resiliency, which is the ability to bounce back from tough stuff. Or you may have less capacity for stress and lower resiliency and that is not your fault. And it is something you can absolutely work on and change and increase in your life.
The second thing I want to teach you about the past is this. So, you think - most of us think that it’s the past that’s effecting our present that it’s past memories bringing us down or preventing us from moving forward. You know it’s what this person said or did. It’s what happened back here. It’s that event. That thing - that past event. But what I wanna teach you is that it’s actually NOT that event that is causing you difficulty. Or, causing you to be triggered. What you’re actually being affected by - is your brain body’s response to that event. Okay - this is a really really important distinction and it’s a powerful distinction. Okay - because once you get and understand that your body and your brain is carrying patterns and responses inside of you. Then what you have the freedom and the power to do is change and heal those patterns and responses. And this is so powerful. Right - because we can’t change the past. WE can’t negotiate with the past. And the more we try the more of a detriment that it has on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Okay - so when we think its the past event that’s tripping us up it keeps us stuck . AND not only that - but it keeps us stuck talking about that past event. And thinking about and talking about that past event is VERY painful. Okay especially if you don’t have you know a really high capacity to deal with stress and regulate your emotions - talking about that event and repeating it almost solidifies and creates a cycle of your brain thinking about it and then setting off those survival responses. But when we KNOW that it is our body and brain’s natural, evolutionary nervous system and brain wiring and responses that are wired to respond to difficult and threatening events in a certain way, then we don’t have to go in and talk and talk and talk and talk about the past event. Instead, we can work with the present sensations and the present thinking because there-in lies the traumatic conditioning. Okay. NOW I am NOT saying that you should never talk about the past. Particularly if you come from a family system that is really secretive and shaming. I believe that telling your story to yourself and writing it out and working with a coach or someone who has the ability to validate and be there with you to witness you telling your story. It’s so so important. BUT - I do not believe we need to constantly be repeating the story over and over. Because we don’t want to get attached to it right and carry it. I think the more we heal our bodies and brains and bring our bodies and brains into the present the more capacity we have to tell our story and feel empowered by our stories and diffuse some of the shame around it as well right.
Okay so it’s not the past event affecting you. How can it be? The past is over. Remember? What’s effecting you now in the present is your body’s reaction - your body’s memory and your brain’s memory and your thinking about it that is causing you the pain and suffering now. And that’s not your fault okay. That’s a result of some evolutionary physiological stuff. That’s not said to blame or shame. That’s actually said to empower because remember we can’t go back and change the past - we can’t control it and negotiate with it. We just can’t. And that in and of itself is something to digest - right. Like it did happen. And for some of you who are in the denial phase just knowing that it did happen and accepting that it did happen is your work right - moving through the denial. And sort of owning your story so that you can put it in its rightful place in your life.
So those are the two main things I want you to really get and let sink in and reconcile with today okay - the past is over, and the past is not what’s causing you pain, its your body and brain’s reaction to the past that is causing you pain. And these two truths can start to help you really pull out of the weeds if you’re just beginning or if you’re further along in this work these concepts will propel you forward like crazy. And these two simple concepts will take some work to digest and build the awareness and let them sink in so really go gently and have patience and kindness and this is an opportunity to practice self-love and self-compassion. I don’t want any of you guys beating yourselves up about this or about anything for that matter. Okay - this is work that takes time, to build up the skills and heal the brain and body. But if you’re patient with yourself you’ll find it actually takes less time than if you shame yourself and beat yourself up throughout the journey.
So I want to take a moment to talk about the work that we are doing in my emotional health membership group this month it’s around this time and trauma podcast series- and I do have a meditation coming out about this concept - the past being over that I am giving to the members of my emotional health monthly membership group so if you’re not in that group you’ll want to get in that group. We’re doing some work around letters to our past selves as well. And all the work in the membership group this month is supportive content to this 3 part series so if this is an area that you want to continue to heal in and work on i’m going to encourage you to get into the monthly membership group and I’ll put the link to that in the show notes.
IF you feel you need some more specialized help some more 1-1 work than email me - my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a consult to chat about 1-1 coaching.
Alright - remember: As you heal yourself, you heal the world. I love you guys - continue forward in healing and I will see you next week.