top of page

5 Resources That Will Help You Understand And Begin Healing Your Trauma

Written by: Kylie Feller, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

As humans, we will go through some type of trauma or difficult experience that can impact our sense of self and the world. We can develop certain survival strategies such as caretaking, people-pleasing, perfectionism. shutting down, avoidance, inner criticism, etc. when younger to help us navigate our environment in a way that keeps us safe. These survival strategies though when extreme often do not serve us when we get older and lead to feelings of unworthiness, disconnection, anxiety, depression, and traumatic re-enactment. These survival strategies can be healed in a way that we do not demonize these responses but instead help these parts of us out of their extreme roles.

What is Trauma?


Trauma is a broad concept and encompasses a number of different experiences one can have. It is also safe to say that every person has experienced trauma in their life just in different degrees and frequencies. I would also argue that it is trauma that underlies most mental health struggles. The responses we have or the symptoms of trauma make sense when you look at them in the context of when they developed. To look at this we have to get very curious about different parts of us, rather than trying to get rid of them we get curious and seek to understand through compassion.


What is traumatic can be personal and affect different people differently as it is linked to how it makes you feel and the impact it can have on yourself and beliefs about the world. We can also suffer from trauma and have it negatively impact our life without it being at the level of a disorder. The symptoms make sense, there is nothing wrong with you you just have unprocessed experiences. There are people who are very high achievers and successful who suffer from a lot of trauma and thus may never feel worthy of their achievement or connected to those around them.


Trauma can include experiences that result in you feeling:

  • Rejected

  • Humiliated

  • Physically or mentally hurt

  • Frightened

  • Under Threat/ Walking on Eggshells

  • Abandonment

  • Unsafe

  • Unsupported

  • Emotionally Unsafe

  • Trapped

  • Ashamed

  • Powerless

  • Neglected

Trauma can also be related to your identity including your race or sexual orientation. If you are being bullied, discriminated against, or harassed.


Adverse Childhood Experiences ACE Study


There was a large study down known as the ACE studies that looked at how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) which as difficult or stressful experiences in childhood, including physical, sexual or emotional neglect or abuse.


ACEs come in many forms but include:

  • Experiencing violence, neglect and abuse

  • Witnessing violence

  • Having a family member attempt or die by suicide.

  • Substance use problems in the home environment

  • Parents with Mental health problems

  • Parental separation or divorce

  • Family members incarceration

The research shows a link between these types of experiences and later physical and mental health challenges, including the development of addictions, future violence victimization and perpetration and opportunity in life. What you experience in your childhood can really impact your future experiences, especially when it is not acknowledged and treated.


Difference Between Trauma, PTSD and Complex PTSD


As talked about above we all experience trauma in life. Just being born can be traumatic and then we have the rest of our lives to encounter experiences that can make us feel hurt, afraid, less than etc. Trauma is very individual in this way different people may respond to experiences very differently some we can easily brush off and for other people, they stick resulting in survival strategies and limiting beliefs about the world and ourselves to keep us safe moving forward.


Not everyone who goes through trauma will develop PTSD or post-trauma symptoms this only develops when the brain and body are unable to process the trauma or series of traumatic events. When PTSD develops parts of us can continue to relieve the trauma unable to escape those moments. You often only have PTSD if you cannot function in life, if you can function then it's trauma symptoms, not a disorder.


PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a server response to trauma that is characterized by these three main symptoms:

  1. Re-experiencing the event

  2. Avoiding any reminders of the event or feeling emotionally numb

  3. Hyper-arousal which is a very sensitive starlet response and hypervigilance

The brain and body get overwhelmed by the trauma in a way that makes it hard for regulation and emotional processing. For trauma to develop into PTSD it also has to be distressing enough to severely impacts one’s ability to function in different domains of life.

PTSD is generally related to a single event or a series of events in a short period of time. PTSD does not adequality account for those who have experienced chronic trauma that occurs over an extended period of time. Therefore, there has been growing support for an additional disorder known as Complex PTSD for those who have lived through consistent traumatic experiences which can make it harder for them to identify as trauma but results in them living in a constant state of anxiety or numbness.

C-PTSD


In recent years there has been a call to have another trauma diagnosis that is not PTSD that encompasses the compact effect of small and large T traumas over time, this is known as Complex PTSD (C- PTSD). There are many overlaps between PTSD and C-PTSD. Many people who have C-PTSD get misdiagnosed with other disorders that fail to see the root of the traumatic past leading to anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar, psychotic breaks, and borderline personality disorder. This can be challenging for people as your diagnosis really dictates your path to treatment and healing. When C-PTSD is wrongly diagnosed then they don’t get trauma treatment and for a number of other disorders they are chronic and many just rely on medication.


C-PTSD is therefore different than PTSD although there are many overlapping symptoms C-PTSD can be more pervasive and difficult to recognize. When you experience so much trauma in your life it becomes normal and really impacts your sense of self and beliefs in the world. You can also have a number of traumas that have a negative impact on your life but again you do not have a disorder you are just responding appropriately to painful life experiences

Complex trauma can stem from traumas such as:

  • Experiencing childhood neglect

  • Experiencing physical or sexual abuse at an early age

  • Frequent changes in caregivers such as growing up in the foster care system or being adopted

  • Domestic Violence

  • Being bullied or targeted by multiple predators

Those who struggle with Complex PTSD will suffer similar symptoms to those with PTSD but will also include:

  • Negative Self-View: They may struggle with self-compassion or seeing themselves in a positive light. They may feel a lot of shame, guilt, worthless and helplessness. They often feel disconnected from others and like others cannot understand them. This is a survival strategy keeping them away from other people as it is often people who caused the trauma therefore others are triggering and dangerous, even when one is safe now.

  • Difficulty Controlling Emotions: It is common for those with C-PTSD to not feel comfortable with processing their emotions and often do not know how to. They may experience explosive anger, persistent sadness, depression, intense anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Suicide often comes in as an option when the system just feels so overwhelmed with pain, a part of them gives them a way out but often just does not know there is also an option for healing.

  • Difficulty With Relationships: There is often a distrust in others and a negative view of themselves which can make it hard to have healthy relationships. They may be attracted to people who have a similar energy to the people who originally hurt them, this is due to traumatic re-enactment. Parts of us want a do-over but they just end up causing the same pain over and over again. Parts of us may say, "If I can get them to love me then it means I am lovable", but it just confirms feelings of not being loveable as the people they are attracted to do not have the ability to show up for them in ways they need.

Chaos may also feel more familiar in relationships and thus why may be more drawn to this than a secure relationship that would feel unfamiliar or boring. They often struggle with an insecure attachment system which impacts their ability to communicate and feel safe in intimacy and connection even when it may be safe. Attached is a great book to learn more about this.


  • Loss of Meaning: This can include losing one's core values, beliefs, faith or hope in the world and in others including in themselves. When we feel worthless and like we do not belong it can be hard to feel like life has meaning or purpose. Reconnecting to one's internal sense of worth is an important part of healing.

  • Detachment From the Trauma: Parts of them may suppress their trauma through depersonalization where they disconnect from themselves and the world around them. Feeling numb and disconnected is common. The system numbs the pain and then numbs all the other emotions as well.

First Responder PTSD


First responders or people who are exposed to and witness a lot of trauma like firefighters, paramedics, nurses and counsellors can over time also develop PTSD. When you get exposed to traumatic incidents either firsthand or hear about them the cases add up and compact, we can only hold so much until it overflows. When this happens, it can feel like all the difficult experiences flood the system at once, all the cases are open and the mind and body gets overwhelmed. One can experience flashbacks, memories, and sensations connected to the trauma. When this happens, it can be difficult to function and work, even going outside can be too activating for the system as it feels like all the past trauma is now happening now. This also puts people in these occupations at greater risk of suicide as they do not know how to escape the pain from the trauma that hijacks their whole system.


So, trauma symptoms or PTSD can develop after one incident such as assault, car accident, traumatic loss etc. but also for people like first responders it can develop over time as the brain and body reaches their limits with exposure to trauma.


Cultural Misunderstanding of Trauma


I feel like our culture does not teach us how to heal trauma but instead gives us tools to cope with it. How to survive our trauma but not thrive and flourish. So many people get disappointed when they try regular talk therapy or CBT and work on their self-care like exercising, eating well, mediation etc. and yet it does not get to the root and thus they might feel okay, but something still feels off.


It makes sense these approaches are not working they are not made to heal trauma. Your self-care and taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health are everyday things we all need to do but they are not built to help you heal trauma.


Many people with trauma try regular therapy and it does not work as it is not built to. The Universities that train counsellors also do not give them the tools and skills needed to help people heal trauma and so many counsellors have no idea the work that is needed to help heal trauma. Thus, people go and although it might help a bit it does not get to the root of it. They may feel like either counselling does not work, or something is wrong with them and give up, maybe just going on medications with the belief there is something really wrong with them biologically. When really, they are having a normal response to the trauma that is not healed in the system.


We are so quick to diagnose mental health disorders, but many disorders are just a cluster of survival responses based on what the person when through. They make sense based on what the person has gone through. There is nothing actually wrong with the person other than they have not healed the trauma inside of them and thus have these fear-based responses and protective responses to the world like anxiety, unworthiness, depression, panic, addiction etc they all make sense when you sit with the person and get the root of where these parts originated and what they are trying to do for the person. Our systems are designed to help us and it has no intention of hurting us but if left unhealed it often does.


If you are struggling know there are solutions, there are ways out, and you can heal and become You again, maybe even for the first time in your life. You can access inner safety and self-compassion at any age. There is a built-in healing force in everyone. You can do a lot of this journey on your own but then it's important to let a professional help you. Trauma happens through relationship and thus it heals through relationship. Here are some resources though that can get you going on your journey.


5 Resources To Help You Begin Healing Trauma


1. The Book Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk

This book explains how trauma can impact the mind and body over time. It dives into what is known as Complex Trauma or C-PTSD which is becoming more understood. It is different than PTSD as it involves a number of smaller and/or larger traumas over time. When you experience a lot of traumas such as neglect when younger or parents struggle with their mental health it impacts your sense of self and beliefs about the world. Since this book is dense, I suggest listening to it on Audible and then trying out some of the different therapies that he suggests as most effective at healing trauma, it often takes a holistic approach to heal the mind, body and soul.

2.Internal Family Systems

One approach The Body Keeps The Score quotes as an effective treatment of trauma is Internal Family Systems (IFS) which was developed by Richard Schwartz. This is a recently developed therapeutic model although a lot of the components have been seen in many other theories and approaches. This approach understands that we have multiple parts or subpersonalities inside us. Whatever you are struggling with it seems this as a part of you stuck in a survival strategy, some common ones are inner critics, anxiety, depression, procrastination, lack of motivation, disconnection, numbness, etc. Then it helps us to go and understand these parts from our inner self or True self which is an inner healing force that is defined by the 8Cs compassion, curiosity, calmness, clarity, connection, creativity, courage, and confidence. Everyone has a Self, even if you cannot feel it right now, it just means it's buried.


In this theory, there is an understanding that all parts of us are good but sometimes get stuck in roles that cause us more harm than good, but they are doing it to try and protect us. Parts of us can get stuck in survival roles that might have made sense in the past but do not in the current situation. They are protecting the younger versions of us stuck in time reliving the worst moments of our life. When we are safe, we can go inside and through understanding and connection to the Self they can unburden these inner children and then the protective parts and go back to their original roles and work collaboratively with the Self-leading.


If you are interested in knowing more, I have some IFS exercises on my insight timer page, Richard Schwartz does as well. He also wrote a great book called No Bad Parts, I suggest listening to it on Audible as he takes you on guided exercises in each chapter. I also talk more about this approach on my podcast, Your Best Chance. The IFS website also has a lot of resources and a way to find a counsellor who is trained in this modality, it is really nice to be led in this approach, especially in the beginning. Parts will resist change, as they took up their protection roles when you were not safe, and it can take a bit to help them know you are safe now.


3. Insight Timer:

Another great resource to help you begin healing your trauma and understanding is the free app Insight Timer. This app has so many resources including programs to help with any area of your life, trauma, stress, motivation, healing the body and mind etc. Having it as part of your daily routine can help expose you to new ways of thinking and being. Getting in the habit of exploring this app can really help you, just push play first thing in the morning or when you feel you just need a little rest. Listening to Insight Timer is a lot better self-care for you than Netflix or scrolling on your phone. Add a listen to in between those things if you can.

4.Somatic Work

Trauma is stored in the body and therefore it helps to do work with the body. Also, everything we like, or dislike starts with a sensation in the body. Trauma can dysregulate the nervous system making things not feel good. Understanding the body and the nervous system will help you heal and reach optimal health.

Depending on the nature and level of trauma the body cannot feel safe, it is connected to how we feel and when things do not feel great, we can leave the body, numb out and begin living more in our minds. This is a survival strategy, but life is very dull or overwhelming when we are not connected to our bodies. It is also dangerous to not be able to really feel, what feels good and what does not, a key element of boundaries and communication.

There are many different somatic practices that can help you in healing trauma. Here are a few of them and links to learn more.

5. Yoga Nidra

Also known as dream yoga or sleep yoga is a form of guided meditation. It is very powerful as it is designed to put your mind and body to sleep while your consciousness stays awake. This means that your brain waves will move through beta (awake) through alpha, theta, and delta (deep sleep) but you will be conscious. When this happens, your body and mind gets deep rest and is able to heal and reset. Our bodies want to heal. The practice also helps with emotional processing and can help move out stuck emotions.

Research has shown it is effective at treating anxiety, depression and helping to boost well-being and happiness. Richard Miller also created a form of Yoga Nidra called iRest that is designed to heal trauma and PTSD. His book is amazing and guided meditations on insight timer. Tanis Fisherman and my page Kylie Feller also often great yoga Nidra's for healing.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and visit my website for more info!


 

Kylie Feller, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kylie Feller, M.A., is a registered clinical counsellor and life coach. She specializes in helping people understand and heal trauma while connecting them to their own innate healing force, their True Self. She believes that there is nothing people cannot heal and that all individuals can thrive and flourish if given the right formula. She has also launched an online program to help individuals navigate dating in a way that promotes greater growth and healing called, Swipe Right into Loving Yourself. She is a trained Internal Family Systems therapist, Empowerment Coach, Akashic Record Coach, Reiki Healer, and Yoga Teacher. She works with individuals one-on-one online helping them to access inner transformation so they can truly succeed in all levels of life.

 

References:





Comments


CURRENT ISSUE

  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04

CHANNELS

bottom of page