Last week we were looking at PTSD and the massive impact it can have on your life and the people around you. Today we are looking at a lesser level to PTSD, which I will call trauma. I think life has always been quite traumatising, from 500 years and beyond, it was like the Game of Thrones without the dragons. Fast forward to the last 50 years it’s such a massive difference and our world is much safer and secure than ever before. But our minds are still exactly the same, they are still the massive computer looking for things to protect you from. So, if our life has downsized its trauma, it doesn’t mean your mind will switch that side of itself off. It will still be looking for things that have a connection to the things that were life threatening for millions of years.
If you got lost 500 years ago and ended up in a strange unknown place surrounded by absolutely no one you do know, then that would have been a life or death moment. Are the people nice? Or are they working in the slave industry? Or worst still, cannibals, well in those split seconds the mind doesn’t know and often had to resort to a flight, fight and freeze response (FFF). Thankfully, this is not in our everyday life, but today are we not describing our first day at school? If this didn’t go well we could be left with a level of trauma, I am not saying this is PTSD, but it can hold some of the similar responses but on a much lower level. This can still lead to many life debilitating issues if our mind got stuck in a level of trauma at that point.
Every day heading to school you would be filled with dread and foreboding, you could be feeling physically sick, headaches, anxiety, tension to name a few. What if that doesn’t change and we spend every day of our school life this way? We may then struggle with new situations, lack confidence, fear group situations and lack the inner safety and security you need to live a relaxed life. As you see the event was a one off, we only have one first day at school, but it could be nursery, primary school, moving to a new area or school. These could all be seen in this same traumatic way for the mind. It’s not the event per say that is the issue, it’s the habits that follow that I believe have the biggest negative impact on your mind. If you think about the library scenario how many books and pages of your books that will be impacted with the anxiety of going to school? Lots of them, as we have such a limited life experience as children and that our early learning experiences do become the building blocks of our library’s foundations and if many areas are riddled with anxiety and fear, then our perception of the world will be based from this view point.
Hopefully school improves and we grow from this and develop the safety and security we need to be relaxed and calm but it doesn’t mean that we won’t revisit this pattern in the future. Starting college or work could trigger this again, our mind is always looking for similarities. Look at the library analogy, your mind has to find a place to put everything and it is always checking though your library to make sure life will be safe for you. If your mind sees a similar scenario to your first day at school, it may already be on red alert as it feels that something traumatic could happen and you need to be ready to deal with it. If your first day at work doesn’t go well your mind will be looking at how this pans out, by looking at similar events in the library and voila there the habits from the past now have been brought instantly into the present.
We have to understand that our mind doesn’t work on time or even hold the concept of time, so past, present and future are all in one. You can see that in the library analogy, old and new books blend seamlessly into one shelf. The shelves are based on similar experiences and have no time relevance, except possibly they may be there in time order on the shelf, but this is not always the case. Again, imagine the library, what if this section of your library doesn’t have big long shelves to hold every traumatic day heading to school. So then the shelves below will hold more of this and the ones below that too. Imagine the shelves and how easy it is to look from one shelf to the other, picking out books of relevance, time is lost on the shelves, your first day at school book could be sitting just above your new first day at work or college book. This is how your mind can easily transfer from an earlier event and bring that knowledge into a present one. Great for remembering how to ride the bike if we haven’t been on it for years, but pants if its holds fear of new events and first days.
The level of our response will often be measured by the amount of time it took us to get over this in the past. The more negative books building up in the library, the more that whole section in the library starts to take a theme. If this section of your library starts looking like the horror section then of course your mind will try and do anything to avoid this area of the library and in turn anything in life which is similar to this. Is it the traumatic event that is still bothering us? Well maybe a small part of it is, but the bigger issue here is the habits you created from that event, that is causing the largest impact on your mind. Think about the first day of school book, it is just one book but how many books would there be after a month, a year or even a whole childhood feeling anxious at school.
Parents don’t panic, if you’re heading for a new job or big change in your life, what you need is nice steady steps to help you move towards the goal. Let’s use the new school scenario to explain, before your child starts school, take your child to lots of group activities which will help them feel comfortable. After they get used to this, then start by moving further away from them in the group or just popping out for a moment or two. Let them adjust to the new environments of being on their own with other children and adults. Let the school know that they might be a bit anxious about starting and help the teachers support your child through the process too. Arrange play days with more children and go to the soft play areas as well, even take up group swimming or tennis lessons so they get used to being with other people. Each time your building up a new image and mind set in the book of new experiences, and this will help your child or you move into change with more confidence.
Next week we will continue with more on trauma and PTSD so stay tuned for the next blog.
Thanks for dropping by, Sara x