Remember that simple, yet very effective ad campaign, “Got milk?”. Ok, you may be too young to remember, but it was pretty amazing! There were print ads showing superstars and superheroes sporting milk mustaches. Suddenly, drinking milk was a very cool and common experience.
It would be interesting to see that campaign redone, but this time it would say:
I’m not saying I want the experience of trauma to be common. I’m saying that few of us completely escape the experience of trauma – big, little, once, or over a long term. While it’s true that we are each unique individuals, the ways we learn to live through our traumatic experiences are similar enough to be grouped into a few categories and styles. The most common are fight, flight, or freeze, and these translate into ways we respond to stressful interactions with friends, colleagues and partners.
Whichever way(s) we learned to respond often become quite problematic in present-day situations. As an example, we may have learned to stay very quiet to avoid too much scrutiny as a child – which was absolutely the right thing to do as a kid. Now, as an adult, continuing to stay quiet may be the opposite of what is required in work and personal relationships.
Sometimes we recognize our patterns and sometimes we are completely blind to them. All we know is that we’re struggling again; this relationship isn’t working out; work is going poorly; and we have no idea ‘why’. Running into that brick wall isn’t fun and often, it’s painful.
Why EMDR or Brainspotting?
When we experience trauma our body/brain creates a permanent record of that emotional experience. Afterward, when we experience something that feels ‘similar’ our body links the new experience to the old one, and so on, building into bigger feelings and responses. We are each wired differently, and what may leave an emotional mark on you may not affect me in the same way, and vice versa. This isn’t a competition, and nobody gets a blue ribbon for their response style!
The key is in figuring out how to help your body & brain both acknowledge that the traumatizing experience is over. You are now in a calmer place. You can now go forward in a more peaceful way. People who are dealing with unhealthy stress responses often say “I feel stuck”.
EMDR & Brainspotting are two methods which may help you work through that initial emotional injury (trauma) while also finding connected, similar experiences. The human brain is quite remarkable in its ability to make connections – without our explicit instruction – so it can differentiate between what information is important to keep ‘front and center’ and what information can be tossed in the garbage.
Most of the time we don’t need any outside help to sort out this stuff – because our brains are so amazingly resilient and adaptive! But when we have had repeated exposure to trauma, or exposure to trauma that is very significant for us, individually, it’s time to find someone who can help.
This is how you can get un-stuck.