Pausing at the Trauma Response


Recovery is about change. Change from who you were told you had to become to be accepted, valued and to survive in your environment, to the true person you were born to be. 

The parts of us that were not accepted were split off from us, hidden way in our subconscious. The awareness of the cut off parts shows themselves when our subconscious recognizes a familiar situation that had caused us pain in the past. Since we are ‘not allowed’ to access these emotions that we have cut off, we react. Our reaction is without though, but with a primal protection response. Knowing on some level that we cannot access the cut-off emotions to convey a proper response, we go into protective mode. Be it anger, defensiveness, withdrawal, violence, isolations, the response is how we learned to survive. We are reacting to events that happened a long time ago and most times it’s not an appropriate response to what is taking place at the moment.  This response caused the loss of love, friendships, jobs, and relationships. 

Not having access to your full range of emotions leaves us unprotected, reactive, untrusting and fearful, as we are always on guard to protect against the trauma response. This is an exhausting way to live. 

Pausing at the trauma response and not reacting is as difficult as someone pointing a gun at you and not feeling frightened. The moment you feel the fear and you don’t react is the moment healing starts. Our first reaction is to blame, either ourselves or the person/situation that caused the cut-off part of us to surface. Blame is the easiest way to stay in the victim role. Blame takes away our responsibility and puts the responsibility on to someone else. “They made me feel bad, it’s their responsibility to never make me feel bad”  

If we don’t take responsibility for our own emotions and reactions we will never heal. We will live this endless loop of blame and victimhood. We will find our world getting smaller and smaller, experience less joy, and become more reactive over time. Living life as a walking reaction is no way to live. 

Pausing at the moment of the trigger response and not reacting is the first step in taking ownership of the parts of us that we cut off. When we pause and don’t react, we are forcing ourselves to sit with the feelings that we fear. Feeling, facing, experiencing, forgiving, grieving, and owing the feelings we fear is the way to heal yourself.

The more exposure to the feelings we fear the less we fear them, the less power and control they have over us, the more space we will have inside for joy to thrive.