This summer has been chock full of unexpected realizations, observations and shifts in my perception relating to my past traumas. As I continue to heal and incorporate new skills for coping, my therapist lent me a book entitled, “Unf*ck your brain”. It’s an easy read and I was able to read most of it on the plane during the recent visit with my family. Today I finished the last ten pages.
I’ve read many self help books but haven’t read anything in that category in years. Now that I’m solely focused on my own healing, I took this opportunity to really soak up the information this book presents. It’s a very common sense approach to understanding how your brain operates, reacts and handles trauma, the potential and possibilities for real change. Neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Each chapter is a break down of brain functions and the chemical responses to our emotions.
Awareness is more than 90% of the battle. Learning about and becoming aware of my triggers can help me slow the process of my reactors and responses to my emotions and behaviors. I’m not new at this but given my current circumstances this book was a good refresher. This is a long repetitive process because our brains love recognizing patterns and we become creatures of habit. Disrupting and challenging my thoughts can help rewire my brain’s ability to cope in a more productive way. I learned that emotions only last 90 seconds. They are meant to be temporary and when they persist longer than that, we have entered mood territory.
The best tool for rewiring the brain is meditation. The ability for my brain to recall a state of mindfulness and calm is extremely beneficial once I become triggered. It takes practice but it’s the best thing I have learned in self healing.
I expierienced many ah-ha moments reading this book. I made an important connection between my trauma and what is called “traumatic grief”. My brain displaced and delayed the grieving process in order for my survival at the time of my trauma. Our brains are hard wired for survival. Any feeling you don’t allow yourself to process, will keep reappearing until it is healed. If you feel it, you can heal it! I believe the disconnection I carried for so long of not feeling worthy enough to heal, not trusting or believing in myself created enormous amounts of guilt and shame. Then I was stuck in a pattern of feel, hurt, push aside and suffer. Over and over again throughout the years.
My patterns for a long time were centered around blocking and resisting painful and uncomfortable feelings. As a result of the traumatic grief I have been carrying, I believe much of it in my subconscious, has led my brain to establish this chronic cycle of depression and anxiety. A quote in the book that resonates with me is, ” no one ever told me that grief is so much like fear”. Our cultural expectation is to possess rather than release. We are conditioned to hold on to something rather than letting it go.
The expierience of traumatic grief is created when we don’t allow or aren’t allowed the necessary grieving process. My sexual abuse has a child was something so painful, uncomfortable, confusing and scary that I simply didn’t allow myself to feel it. It created this inside motor of fear that literally drove me. For so long I have thought my spirit animal is a rabbit. Always hypervigilant and nervous.
I’m reexamining the relationships within myself. That is the area I must attend to because it’s the foundation for everything. My ego, attachments, feelings of chronic abandonment and displaced emotions have created a disproportionate reaction in other situations. All of this has played a role in developing a constant trauma response to life. For example, keeping myself busy and always moving soothed my anxiety but further delayed my grieving process and once the memories came rushing back, I was thrown sideways.
This book explained the biochemical roots of my brain’s reactions to stress. Most of this is the perfect storm combination of genetics and triggers. It’s more validation that I’m not crazy. I’m giving myself permission to honor my grief and by accepting it I’m showing myself grace. I will have to develop a new spirit animal now!
Self compassion is something I never really thought about until recently. It’s the opposite of self esteem. Focusing on my insides rather than my outside successes and failures. It means forgiving myself. That which I wasn’t aware of, I didn’t have the opportunity to heal. Now that I’m so much more conscious of it, it helps me make sense of what happened in my past, how the fight/flight/freeze patterns developed in my brain.
My relationship with radically accepting not only myself at this moment but what has happened in my past to bring me to this point is now my main focus. I’m using this time wisely so that I can fully heal and let go. My trauma recovery timeline has been disrupted many times over the years. I will not do myself the disservice of over analyzing why but I now see that much of what happened to me was not given the proper amount of time and focus to heal. Researchers have found that ninety days is the basic timeline for reestablishing equilibrium after a trauma. Each trauma is unique to that individual. There is no cookie cutter, one size fits all for healing mental and emotional trauma.
Another variable that I must recognize is my experience as an empath. We sensitives are the people that notice early on what is dark, broken and hidden in our society. For much of my journey I was an unrealized empath, meaning that I immediately took on the discomfort around me like it was my responsibility to feel all the dark brokenness around me. My vibration was lowered to match my environment. I didn’t acknowledge this or know how to talk about it. Now I’m shifting to allowing for a higher vibration by first aligning myself so that I may raise the vibration and offer solutions. Seeing the situation from my inner being. Pretty deep stuff.
This is hard work. I follow a couple of awesome profiles on Instagram that help by providing me daily reminders. Positive affirmations and guidance so that I can do the work. I’m challenging myself to allow and make room for change. It’s all part of the ever changing process of healing and growth. Becoming more aware and adjusting as is necessary. Following my inner guides so that my spirit can shine through unfiltered.
The definition of radical acceptance is this, “Radical acceptance“means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and mind. I’m determined to keep moving forward by intensifying my ongoing relationship with acceptance which will allow myself continued healing. Namaste y’all🧘♀️