How To Turn Big Emotions into Healing – Taming Your Trauma

Sometimes we don’t realize how childhood trauma can show up in adulthood. Even the most supportive parents often tell children “not to worry about it,” or “they didn’t mean it,” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” So it’s not surprising that it can be difficult to sit with uncomfortable emotions. Tony goes through Dr. Andrea Brandt’s article “9 Steps to Healing Childhood Trauma as an Adult,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindful-anger/201804/9-steps-healing-childhood-trauma-adult

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Come on in and take a seat.

[00:00:22] Hey, Rudy, welcome to episode 325 of the Virtual Couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, a certified mindful habit coach, a writer, a speaker, a husband, a father of four, and creator of The Path Back, which is an online recovery pornography recovery program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. So if you want more information about that, go to Pathbackrecovery.com and have an amazing group that meets every week. It’s online through online telehealth, zoom, that sort of thing. And it’s just a strength based. It’s empowering. So if you want help in overcoming unhealthy coping mechanisms, go to Pathbackrecovery.com. And I’m going to leave up a place on my website at Tony over Bacon’s workshop. And there I have it’s a $19 hour and a half workshop that tells you everything you need to know about how to show up in a relationship, especially in marriage. Because I feel like we truly don’t have the tools that we need. I’m talking no one does until you have to go find the tools. And you don’t find the tools until you’ve gone through some things in your relationship or your marriage so you don’t even have to have a bad relationship to go check this out. I talk about all the things, all the childhood abandonment and attachment wounds and how we show up like that in our adult relationships and how we really we really don’t even understand what it means to be two people to individual people before we can be one person.

[00:01:39] And that’s the Esther Perel quote, and it’s a beautiful quote. So go to Tony Bacon’s workshop to find out more. And I’ve got a lot of workshops that I have planned that are coming up that will deal with a lot of different issues. I look forward to telling you more about those things and head over to the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast. I have an interview coming out this Friday with a gentleman named Ross Rosenberg, and he wrote a book called The Human Magnet Syndrome. And Ross is doing some phenomenal work about redefining the concepts of what codependency is and talking about renaming it self love deficit disorder. And it is it’s a really, really healing way to look at if you are in unhealthy relationships, whether it’s with a spouse or there’s the parent, whether it’s with a church, an institution, and that really the self love deficit is something that is so common in a lot of us. So when you hear people say things like, you need to go work on yourself, you need to love yourself, you need to be able to validate yourself internally so often. That sounds awesome, but we don’t really know what that means. Ross is really hitting at the hitting that right on the head. And I have just a fantastic interview with him that is going to go up on the Waking Up the Narcissism podcast on Friday.

[00:02:44] So today I want to talk about trauma and I want to go on a little bit of a little bit of a train to take you on my train of thought here. I’ve got an article from Psychology Today by Andrea Brandt. She’s a clinical psychologist as well as a marriage and family therapist. And she talks about nine steps of healing childhood trauma as an adult. And I think that there so often I have people come into my office and they say, do I need to process things? Do I need to process trauma from my childhood? And one of the first questions I will ask is, well, tell me more. Why do you feel like you need to? And often it is because of somebody that has watched a YouTube video or they’ve seen something on TV or they’ve had a friend tell them that you when you bring up your childhood or when you talk about how frustrated you are with your parents, or if you aren’t showing up the best way that you can in parenting, it’s probably because of some trauma that you’re hanging on to. So I know that that word trauma gets thrown around a lot and I’m not dismissing it. I feel like that as a therapist that there are so much that we’re hanging on to from childhood or from our adolescence or from previous relationships that we aren’t even aware of how it affects us in our current relationships or how we show up currently as a parent or in relationships at work or you name it.

[00:03:53] And yeah, that is because of trauma. So trauma can be a pretty big catchall for so many different things. But if we just look at it from a standpoint of how trauma affects us, if we aren’t even aware of how frustrated we are in our relationships, or if we aren’t even aware of the difficulties that we find in staying present in a conversation, if someone is starting to say something to us that we aren’t really a fan of, or if we feel criticism that so often we forget at times that, Hey, I’m an adult, I can somebody can tell me that they don’t like something that I’m doing and I can stand there differentiated and my calm, confidence, energetic self and just say, Hey, thanks for your opinion. So what trauma is, is when we start to take offense to things or when we start to shut down, or if we when we immediately respond with anger or sadness or withdrawal, because that trauma is telling us that, hey, you’re not safe here. And that might be because you really weren’t safe when you were younger. You might not even be safe in your relationship now. And so often that’s where I feel like we can heal trauma when we are aware that, Oh, if I am not standing here and I’m able to just take in information and say thank you for the information, I don’t have to respond to it.

[00:05:03] I don’t have to defend my actions. I don’t have to break down your reality to prove a point that if we aren’t able to show up this differentiated, confident self knowing who we are, then there’s probably some trauma under. The surface there. So we’re going to dig into this because I want to give you and I know it can’t just be solved by a podcast or just here’s an article in Psychology Today. But I think that when we go through what Andrea Brandt talks about is these nine steps of healing trauma, that there’s a lot of gold to be mined here, that you will start to understand, oh, this is how it shows up. And here’s just a way to start to be aware of it. And maybe one of the first steps that you can take is being aware of what trauma looks like in your life. And so let me also give a little bit of a concept. I did a video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago that I’m going to just be completely honest. And I feel like this is I love to do so much stuff around evidence based models and say, here’s what the data says and here’s what these authors that have done peer reviewed studies say.

[00:05:56] But I want to talk about some concept of the way I feel like trauma shows up. I really there’s amazing book by Bessel Vanderbilt called The Body Keeps the score and if you it’s a pretty long book and it goes into a whole lot of detail about a lot of things, about the way that our brain responds and our our nervous system and the way that that our fight or flight response kicks in or visceral reaction, that our emotions are so far ahead of our logic that oftentimes we aren’t even aware when we are caught up in a moment or caught up in our feelings. But there are so many good concepts there of that. That whole message of the body keeps the score, that your body keeps the score or remembers the trauma from childhood, or it remembers unhealthy situations or relationships, or when you feel triggered, if you’re pulling up into the driveway of your house and you’re not in a healthy relationship, if your stomach starts to turn a little bit or you start to get your heart rate elevated, it’s because your body is saying, I don’t know if this is a safe place. And so often we’re not quite sure what to do with that. We think, well, this is my house, you know, this is my spouse or I just need to get over it. But your body is trying to tell you something.

[00:07:02] Your body is trying to warn you. And if you think of if you go back to the beginning of what I love about acceptance and commitment therapy is this author, Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Gap, The Happiness Trap, that he says, think of it in terms of the brain is they don’t get killed device. And by that meaning that if your brain is trying to stay alive and we remember trauma in our life, that then when anxiety starts to get heightened, it’s because anxiety is there. So is a warning bell. But if your anxiety is starting to ramp up or feel out of control, it might be because you don’t feel like you have much control in your life. You might be in a relationship you don’t feel that you enjoy. You might be in a job that you’re not really a fan of. You might not feel like you have a handle on your parenting. You might be struggling with your faith. You might not be in the position of health that you would like to be in. So things like anxiety are trying to say, Can I get your attention? Can you do something about this? Can you speak up about a situation? Can you try to figure out what your values are and take action on them? Can you can you resolve some challenges you might have in your faith? Because your anxiety is saying, I’m right here and I’m not quite sure how to get your attention.

[00:08:13] And so here’s the part that I feel like I’m throwing out there with not a lot of data behind it. I know it’s about a sensitive subject, but I put this video out on YouTube just even talking about the concept of suicide. And it’s such a difficult thing to talk about for so many people. But if you start with the brain as that don’t get killed device and in this video I even talked about the I think it’s Kevin Hines is his name he’s the motivational speaker that jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived. And there have been a number of people that have done so. Is the thought when he let go was, oh, my gosh, what did I do? And that’s the reports that you hear of a lot of people that survive suicide attempts. And I’ve worked with a handful of people that that have overdosed or been able to get to a hospital, had their stomach pumped, or they’ve been okay afterward. But it often was this feeling of, oh, no, what did I do? And so that’s where I feel like if you look at that concept of the brain as a don’t get killed device, that our body is trying to tell us something and trying to get our attention, that I wonder or hypothesize that when someone’s body has tried anxiety, it’s maybe tried depression, it’s tried anger, it’s tried withdrawal.

[00:09:17] But we still are not doing anything to put ourselves in a better position, a position to succeed, a position to be heard or understood that then does the body finally say, I don’t know how else to get this person’s attention, this person being me, the body that is housing the brain. So then does it say, okay, let me try this. Hey, I don’t know if I even want to be around anymore, but then I worry that because someone is so down, this is where I talk about my emotional baseline theory that we have all of these decisions coming at us on a daily basis, and depending on where we are emotionally, where our emotional baseline is, we’ll respond to these decisions differently. So if someone has an incredibly low emotional baseline and then all of a sudden their brain says, Hey, I don’t know if I want to live anymore, then I feel like the person is at such a low place or they think, Oh my gosh, I don’t even want to live. And that’s where then if the person does start to contemplate suicide or there is an attempt where we get these, we get these people that will now say, Oh, my gosh, I didn’t want to do that. That’s what I feel like again, is the brain just saying, hey, can you do something? Can you talk to somebody? Can you find a safe person to open up to? Can you finally try to start living the life that you’ve always dreamt of or wanted to? Even if you feel like it’s a pipe dream or you feel like you’re not worthy of it or whatever that looks like, because ultimately our brain wants to live and wants to survive.

[00:10:32] And we were put here on the earth to just live our best lives, to be ourselves. We start out as kids and we do need this external validation. We don’t have a sense of self, so we’re playing off of how do the people around me react? If my parents are constantly mad, then I must be doing something wrong because I’m a kid and I don’t have a sense of self and I don’t really have empathy for the outside world or others around me again because I’m a kid. So I need that external validation as a child. But if I don’t have this good attachment with my parents, if my parents are always fighting, if they’re upset, if my dad doesn’t even like his job, but I have no clue. I even know what my dad does when you’re a kid especially. But then he just seems angry all the time. It must be me. So the external validation I’m getting is I’m doing something wrong. And if every now and again they’re happy and then I think, okay, I must be doing something good.

[00:11:17] And then as a kid, you’re trying to figure this out. You’re trying to solve this puzzle that you don’t even realize. There’s really not a lot of rhyme or reason to if your parents aren’t really doing their own work, if they’re not showing up for each other, if they’re in an unhealthy relationship. So we do need that external validation. But then when we don’t get that, we just lack this sense of self. So too often then we’re just blindly following the things that people are telling us we’re supposed to do. I think you should follow this career. I think you should be in this faith community. I think you should do these certain things to make you feel better. But it’s you, it’s absolutely you that needs to figure out what you need to do to feel better. So all of that is this warm up or maybe this preamble to say that, man, it’s no wonder that we all feel such trauma. And I know for myself I’ve had a lot of that. I’m not enough. What is wrong with me? A lot of those feelings, even as I was starting to achieve some, we’ll call it success in a previous career in the computer industry, maybe making some money or traveling the world or that sort of thing. But it wasn’t who I wanted to be. I wasn’t following things that were in align with my values. I wasn’t passionate about the things I was talking about.

[00:12:19] And so it was easy to spiral into this concept of needing a coping mechanism. So going to say unhealthy and ultimately maybe they are. I happen to turn to ultrarunning and now at the age of 52. Yeah, maybe it’s maybe my body’s not quite saying, hey, let’s keep doing that saying I spent 20, 30 years doing that, maybe you need to take a break. But so often people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like pornography or sex addiction or their phones or work or games or drugs and alcohol and all of those things of just trying to say, you know, I don’t know what else to do. And that’s where I get to work with people. And when they do, they find their sense of self or purpose or they find out what really matters to them. They start taking action on the things that do. They’re more in alignment with their values. Then when they do that, they do start to feel a little bit better. Now it doesn’t mean that everything is great and wonderful because stuff still comes at you on a daily basis. But when you are living a life that is more in alignment with your values, that’s a different type of happiness. It’s not. I’ll be happy when I’ll be happy when I make more money. I’ll be happy when I get this different car. I’ll be happy if I get in better shape, all of these things, because then people get to that point and all of a sudden they realize, Oh, maybe it wasn’t that amount of money.

[00:13:25] So it must be a different amount of money. But it’s not about the money, it’s not about the six pack abs, it’s not about the bigger house. It’s about you feeling like you have a real sense of purpose in your life. Let me get back to now this concept of trauma. So if you don’t feel like you are living your best life, if you went through some things as a kid and now you feel these emotions are coming up on you as an adult, and now we’ve identified that it’s your body trying to tell you something then. Now let’s take a look at that. Let’s call that trauma. Andrea says Nine Steps to Healing Childhood Trauma. As an adult. She said the healthiest response to childhood emotional wounds is actually also the rarest. She said trauma. Trauma generates emotion. And unless we process these emotions at the time the trauma occurs, they become stuck in our mind, in our body. Now, how many of you are in a place where you do process emotions when they occur? We live in a world where we don’t want to deal with the emotions, especially the ones that are uncomfortable. Most of us aren’t big fans of confrontation. We aren’t big fans of silence or of being uncomfortable.

[00:14:23] And so often are, especially if we feel like we maybe did do something that could have caused pain to another person. We don’t want to deal with that. We want to tell them, Hey, you’re okay, or I didn’t mean it. And so often we want to stop feeling bad ourselves, so we want to let someone else know, Hey, can you not react the way you’re doing that? Because that makes me feel bad and I don’t want to feel bad. And so that’s the way that we so often just try to move past or dismiss our emotions. So she said, and steel, instead of healing from the wounding event, the trauma stays in our body as energy and our unconscious, and it affects our lives until we uncover it and we process it, she says. The healthy flow and processing of distressing emotions such as anger or sadness or shame and fear that that is absolutely essential to healing from childhood trauma as an adult. And what is pretty fascinating, if you really break it down, she talks about that, the healthiest response. The childhood emotional wounds is also the rarest that when that trauma first occurs, that then we’re able to recognize that a violation has occurred and that it causes it’s caused our sense of self to feel the natural emotions that follow. And then we realize that that violation doesn’t say anything about us personally. And so then we don’t take a negative meaning out of it.

[00:15:33] What she’s talking about is that in a perfect world, you’ve got a nice, secure attachment with a parent and that when someone does you wrong or when you’ve maybe made a mistake or you’ve accidentally broke something or you’ve let someone down or whatever is a child that you have a parent that is there to say, Hey, tell me what’s going on? What are you feeling? What is that like for you? Let me sit here with you. Let me hold your hand. Let me look at you in the eye. Let me just let me hold you. Let me give you a hug. Let me let you feel the the oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. And let’s sit with these emotions and let me teach you as a kid that is absolutely okay to feel emotion, because guess what? When you let the emotion in and then you feel the emotion, then the emotion also will pass. And then you start to learn a healthier relationship with emotion that we don’t want to shove it away all the time. We don’t want to get rid of it. We don’t want to have to turn to something unhealthy or something unproductive to to get rid of the emotion that we can sit there and feel the emotion, even if that emotion is sadness or fear or these things that we maybe feel like, Oh, man, I really did let this person down.

[00:16:32] I forgot to pick them up. I told them I forgot to remember their birthday. I forgot to whatever that is, that it’s man that makes me feel bad. And that’s okay. You’re a human being. If you feel bad, then check that out. You feel bad. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s part of being a human being. It is absolutely okay and normal to to feel. You can feel bad, you can feel good, you can feel sad. And so if we’re modeled as a kid that it’s okay to feel emotions, then we’re probably going to be a little quite a bit healthier in our adult relationships where we can then take ownership of things. We can say things like, I’m so sorry, I didn’t recognize that what I did has caused this effect on you or thank you for sharing that with me. I had no idea that these words mean different thing to you, and that would be really hard for you to hear this. And I’m so sorry, but we don’t do that as typically our parents, even even healthy relationships, even parents that mean, well, often they will say, ah, things like, hey, don’t worry about it, or it’s not a very big deal, or that person didn’t really mean it, or, hey, you know that, that I still love you, right? And so we’re even coming from a good place. We’re still saying, Hey, your emotions, let’s not really sit with those because why don’t you just not feel that way or how about you just get over it? And so as a kid, we start to learn that my emotions really maybe don’t matter because I’m being told that what I feel is not really a big deal.

[00:17:53] Or the person that said something mean to me that they didn’t really mean it. So I need to get over it. And so often then the message what are we getting a message of as a kid is that that our opinion doesn’t matter and our emotions just need to be we just need to move on. We need to be happy. It’s like, Hey bud, they didn’t really mean that or you need to get over it, or how about you just focus on something positive instead? And so again, it can sound like a very positive way to try to get a kid out of a moment or if the parents, the one that feels uncomfortable because of whatever happened, that they don’t want to feel bad about themselves. They don’t want to have to take a look and say, man, that wasn’t a very cool thing for me to do as a parent. So they just want to tell the kid, hey, you know, I didn’t mean it right? You know that I’m not perfect and neither are you, bud. So you just need to get over this. You need to not worry about it, and you just need to focus on something else instead.

[00:18:40] Again, it sounds like a pretty good message to give to a kid at times if you’re in that moment. But what’s the overall message? We’re telling somebody that your feelings and emotions are wrong. Plus they don’t matter. Plus, get over it and just change them and then you’ll be happy. And by the way, can we not talk about this anymore? So she says, because emotions like anger and sadness are painful, and because crying or confronting others is not often socially acceptable, this process does not happen automatically. Instead, we suppress our emotions and rather than feel them and process them. And so she said that as a child, the process is even more difficult because what can feel like a pinprick to an adult? Let’s say it’s an insult about one’s appearance that then we can brush off if we’re over the age of 40, hopefully that that can feel like a stab wound to a child and it can create lasting damage. Things like body dysmorphia, depression, anxiety. These things were if you’re watching the YouTube video here, I am a bald person. I, I went bald pretty early and that was a difficult thing to hear about it. 19, 20, 21 years old. Now I sit here at 52. I really don’t care. I just I don’t. And so that I can’t imagine. Well, now I’m giving you well know that I worked with a client once who their kid had gone through chemo and their kid would be teased about being bald at a young age.

[00:19:48] And that was devastating to them, even though it was because of the result of chemotherapy. So things that happen in our youth, we are going to absolutely take more serious. So we’re going to take them to heart or they are going to feel more. And so then when we aren’t told that, hey, that was mean of somebody to do that and I can understand why you feel that way, how do you feel about that? But if we’re told, hey, don’t worry about it, people say things all the time, it’s not a big deal. Then we’re learning. Something that feels like a big deal to me, apparently is not a big deal to the rest of the world. So I just need to get over it. So she said, then we carry these emotional stab wounds with us into adulthood, and they affect our relationships, our career, happiness, our health, everything until we process them and heal. Even if we have to go through individual feeling by feeling. And this is why that I really appreciate what she’s talking about. When Andrea says we don’t always feel our feelings, even the most loving and attentive parents do this lasting damage to our own sense of self, meaning well hating to see us hurt. Or parents may have rushed in to deal with an unsettling episode saying Don’t feel bad, it’s okay.

[00:20:47] And that’s what our caregivers will often say when we start to cry. But the truth is, feeling bad can be good for us in the long run. We need to feel bad for a while and think about why we feel the way we do and not from. Think about what you did, but think about man. It does hurt. This does feel bad. I wish that person would not have said this cutting remark to me, and maybe our parents were not loving and attentive and they demanded that we stop crying. And I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that, or maybe you’ve even said it to your kid at time. Knock it off, stop it or I’ll give you something to cry about those kind of things. Either way, we didn’t learn how to feel our feelings productively, Andrea says that we didn’t learn that emotions are temporary and fleeting. And that’s the concept that I think is so deep that emotions are temporary and fleeting. They may hurt, they may feel they may feel very deep at times, but they do pass and you do move on and you do find yourself engaged in things that matter. Or you can be present in a moment. And then sometimes our brain will say, Hey, don’t forget the feelings we felt earlier. And then it’s almost like we feel like, Oh, you’re right, I forgot how sad I was earlier, but what the goal is to do is to recognize and feel those feelings and emotions, process them, and then turn to things that matter or turn to value based activities.

[00:21:54] You can invite those emotions to come along with you. You don’t have to then to suppress them and say, I shouldn’t think this anymore because again, nobody likes to be shut on. And then if you’re telling yourself, don’t think about a chocolate cake, your brain is like, I will think about a chocolate cake. Same thing happens with the suppression of emotion. If I tell myself, Hey, I just need to stop being sad, your brain is going to say, I think we better be sad. I think we better hang on to that. There’s a reason why. How dare you tell me what to do? So she said, We just don’t learn how to feel our feelings. And when we don’t, we may start to interpret our emotions as terrifying. There’s cue the ominous music. So if we have never learned to sit with emotion or understand that emotion can be temporary or feelings will pass, then we’re avoiding these emotions and they start to take on this just this dark cloud, this big, ominous feeling of, Oh, my gosh, I can’t sit with emotion. Emotion is scary and terrifying. I’ve been running from it my whole life, and sometimes we want to tell ourselves, matter of fact, running from emotion is what has made me a success, but has it because you don’t really even know what that looks like to process or deal with the emotion.

[00:22:50] So she said, to heal from childhood trauma, we have to complete a process that should have begun decades ago again, when the wounding incident happens, she said. I developed an exercise based on her decades of experience helping patients heal from childhood emotional wounds. She has a book called Mindful Aging, and it goes into a lot more detail, and that’s why I really enjoyed this. This article was printed in or produced in 2018, and I’ve had it on a tab that I love to go back to when I’m talking with people about processing trauma, because I feel like this is a great place to start. But the reason I’m laying that out there is it’s also an amazing thing to go find somebody that does work or specialize in trauma and attachment wounds and to be able to work through some of that childhood stuff. If it is coming up for you, if even you’re hearing what this sounds like today and think, oh my gosh, that is how I show up in certain situations or relationships. So she said that when she works with clients in her private practice, she likes to start small and move toward bigger trauma. Once they’ve mastered this technique, nine steps first one grounded, she said.

[00:23:44] For this process to work, you have to be in your body. And in the now to begin, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Take several deep breaths. This is where it’s in through the nose. It’s out through the mouth. It’s starting to calm, lower your heart rate, lower that cortisol, that stress hormone. And she says, take these several deep breaths, bringing your awareness into your body, squeeze and release your muscles, feel the heaviness in your arms. Let yourself feel connected to the ground under you, she says. Imagine a stream of energy going from your tailbone all the way down into the center of the earth. And once you feel that you’re centered and grounded, go to step two. And let me tell you right now that if this sounds hokey or it sounds like something that is just okay, I’ll do it later. How many times have you been telling yourself you’ll do it later? Or is the hokey ness your brain trying to say that’s hokey and because it’s going to if I can convince myself that this is hokey or this is a bunch of woo woo, then I don’t have to do it, because if I do it, it might feel silly or I might feel it might be too emotional, too vulnerable for me, when in fact that’s the exact thing that’s going to help you process trauma.

[00:24:47] So if you got yourself grounded, says number two, recall it. Think of a situation you’ve been upset about recently. So we’re talking in the here and now, somebody that’s made you angry or a time that you felt like frustrated or you didn’t have control. She said. Find something that provoked a mild to strong emotional reaction or that would have or that would have if you didn’t feel emotionally numb, as so many people do, she said. Review what happened and do it in as much detail as possible. And imagine yourself right back in that moment. Right back in that time. Right back in that place. Who were you talking? Into where we at. How are you feeling? And you can do something to happen even earlier today or something that’s happened this week, but take anything. And she said experience it with all of your senses. What were you hearing? What we feeling? What we smelling? What was the taste in your mouth? What was going on around you? And she said, So then when you start to feel the emotions of this incident, whatever you’re thinking through and again, you remember you’re grounded. Now, you recall whatever that event was, whatever those emotions were, and once you’ve recalled it, you’re grounded, you recall it, you feel it. Then she says, since it. So she said, continue breathing deeply into the nose, out through the mouth. And I just kind of sit with a moment of quiet relaxation, then mentally scan your body for any sensations.

[00:25:53] And I like that she calls this percolating because the way the emotions will start to bubble up inside you because people handle emotion and it shows up in a lot of different places. I did this with a couple of people yesterday and one person really feels a tightness in their chest. Another person feels that in their stomach or almost in their bowels, so to speak. So observe any physical response you’re experiencing tingling, tightness, burning. And each of these sensations, we’re looking at this like a scientist of sorts that each of these sensations, it’s a bit of information they need to understand. Then it helps you understand your past experiences. So explore the sensations and then just maybe give yourself a little bit of time silently describe them to yourself in as much detail as you can. Me And I’m feeling a tightness in my chest. I’m feeling like it’s hard to breathe. I’m feeling a pit in my stomach. I’m feeling like the pit is growing. I’m feeling like there’s heat or jagged edges of whatever this is in my stomach. And she said, Once you’ve explored and described all of your physical reactions, now you can move on to step four. Name it. This one’s a pretty powerful concept. This is a huge piece of acceptance and commitment therapy that I love. So associate an emotion with each of the sensations you feel is the tightness in your chest.

[00:26:57] Anxiety is the heat feeling that you feel traveling up your arms is that anger? And she said, Before you’re starting this exercise, maybe you’ll find a list of emotions. You can find an emotion wheel and emotion chart. I have one in my office that talks about primary emotions and secondary emotions that you may even want to print something up so that you’ll have a list of emotions you can really identify. What are these emotions I’m feeling? Because she said it’s it’s so important to recognize the subtle distinction between sometimes similar emotions, and that will give you a greater sense of your experience. And then you’ll start to really understand yourself more. So once you’ve named whatever that emotion is. Coming up, we move on to number five and here’s where we start to make a shift, she said. Love it. As part of a mindful approach to healing from trauma. We need to fully accept everything that we feel now. We’ve grounded ourselves. We are recognizing where we feel these emotions. We’re naming those emotions that’s anxiety or that’s fear or that is frustration. And she said that we need to fully accept everything that we feel. I’m feeling those things and it’s okay. I’m feeling them because I am. Because I’m the only version of me that’s ever walked the face of the earth. There’s no you shouldn’t feel this. There’s no just try to feel something different.

[00:28:07] It is I am feeling this and I love how she says love it. I love myself for feeling angry. I love myself for feeling sad. And she said, Do this with every emotion that you’re experiencing, especially the harder ones. And this is where I go back to what I started with in the beginning. Your body keeps the score. Your brain is that don’t get killed device. Your body is trying to convey something to you, whether it’s with tightness in the chest, whether it’s with the feeling of kittens scratching around on the inside of your tummy, whatever that is. Thank your body. Tell it. Thank you. I love these. I love the fact that I love my feeling of frustration. I love my feeling of anger. I love my feeling of sadness because your body is trying to tell you something. And she said, after you’ve accepted and loved yourself for these emotions, then move on to six. Her step six is feel it and experience it. Now sit with those sensations and then let those feelings percolate and flow. Don’t try to change them. Don’t try to hide them. When we were looking at them, when we were trying to name them, now we’re really going to do a deep dove and observe them. What is the discomfort that it’s bringing you? Because know that this is one of the first times maybe you’re sitting with these emotions, you’re naming these emotions, you’re saying thank you body for these emotions.

[00:29:09] I really do love them. I appreciate them. And because this is where you’re going to start to understand and realize that these emotions will be gone soon and that that every time that you can process something like this, you’re going to start to heal, she says. Let your body respond the way it needs to or it wants to feel the urge to cry. Cry. If you feel like yelling something, then go ahead, yell it something. You feel like you need to punch something and I’m going to give you permission to do that punch pillow, that sort of thing. I wouldn’t recommend walls, I wouldn’t recommend people. But expressing your emotions in a productive way like this, because it’s coming from a place where I’ve identified them, I think my body for them, I know that they’re there for a reason, but then I’m going to express them. And that is a key to have them moving inside of you and fully processing them. And when you feel like, okay, I have cried the cry, I have punched the pillow, I felt the feeling. Now you can move on to number seven, which she said is receive its message and wisdom. Now, do these sensations or emotions you’re experiencing right now connect with these experiences in your past? What is this anger about? When can you trace the origin of anger? A lot of times anger is a mechanism of control.

[00:30:09] If I didn’t feel like I had control as a kid, the only time I ever was able to. Get out of a situation is if I yelled how stupid my parents were. Or maybe the only time that I could get that person in a relationship to hear me is if I just screamed at them and they would finally stop trying to lecture me. What do those feelings do for you? And then do they connect to experiences in the past? Do they give you any insight in that moment to the root of the trauma or maybe some negative limiting belief about yourself? And she talks about how you might be thinking, I don’t know if I’m getting anything. Well, ask yourself, is that sensation or emotion if we’re going to literally say something to you? What would it be? And if you still have trouble with that, then this is the time where if you haven’t journaled, it’s time to start journaling. And I love the concept that our brain is going to come up with all kinds of reasons why I don’t want to journal. I don’t want to start spiraling into negative thoughts or emotions or but have you ever done what we’re talking about right now and got yourself grounded and accepted and named and felt the emotions and thanked your body for them and understood that they’re there for a reason and now maybe write them out.

[00:31:06] So journal about what what that feeling means or and do that she recommends for at least a full 10 minutes without stopping. And one of the things that does stop people with journaling is they feel like the journal has to be a narrative form, as if we’ll when someone reads this someday, don’t worry about it. This is your journal. People don’t need to read it. If they do, then bless their heart. They don’t understand what your experience is, but journal about what you’ve been feeling, journal what that feeling means. And then when you think that you’ve got all those messages out on paper and she says, Move on to step eight and she says, Share it. If you feel comfortable sharing your reflections with somebody else, do it otherwise again. Write them down on your own, describing what that whole experience was like, what happened when the wounding incident first occurred, how you reacted at that time, and what you’ve come to see about it now. Talking and writing about experiences is very important. Step in healing. She talks about how and I’ve done this with clients write letters. You don’t even have to send them to those who have hurt you. It can be a very effective method of moving an emotion out of your system. And here’s the significance. I remember at a training once where someone said that if you’re just continuing to keep emotion bottled up inside of you, it is not going to work itself out into.

[00:32:11] And we lived happily ever after. I was talking with a couple last night and we were talking about this concept and I said, okay, stay with me here for a minute. But I talked about the concept of again, brain is that don’t get killed device pitcher yourself as a hunter gatherer out on the plains however many years ago. And you see the let’s say it’s the deer and you think, man, if I pull this off, if I kill that deer, our whole village eats and everyone will love me. But over in the corner the field is a lion. And you know that if I actually get this wrong, I die. So I literally have one chance to get this right. So what’s my brain probably going to do? It’s going to say, I think I’m going to wait till tomorrow. Now, a quick side note, quick tangent. That’s a lot of the reason why we put things off today where, you know what, I want to write this paper, but I need to make sure that I’m well rested. I need to make sure that the kids aren’t going to bother me. I need to make sure I’m going to wait until that lion is gone. And then I will then do whatever it is that I need to do. So that’s one of those situations where our brain is so adorable and bless its heart and it means well, but that’s an area where we’re not going to get killed if we write the paper right now.

[00:33:15] But again, that’s a whole side tangent. But so the brain is working from this place of it works in that same concept that even with my thought process, that it’s going to typically go to the negative. Because if I just say, okay, I’m going to go, I’m going to go after that deer, and then all of a sudden I’m not paying attention. The lion blindsides me, I’m dead. So the brain’s if we leave our thoughts in there ruminating around in our head that it’s going to have that same thing. So you can’t just you can’t just do something about it or let somebody let this go or forgive somebody, because then you might you only get one chance. And man, that might not go well. You may die. So by just keeping things in your head, they aren’t going to work out to they live happily ever after. But as you express them, this is where I like to say that think of if they had this intensity of a ten on a scale of 1 to 10 for you, it’s almost as if every time that you express them that it maybe goes down a notch to a nine or an eight or a seven. And the goal is not that you have to get your the intensity around a thought or an emotion or feeling down to zero.

[00:34:12] But what people don’t understand is that when they start to process things like we’re talking about today, that when that emotion gets down to a two or three or four, then you’re aware of it. But it doesn’t hold that power. And now all of a sudden it just goes into the it’s just a thought, it’s just an emotion. It’s just a feeling. You have them all day long. So why do I make such a give such meaning to certain ones? Well, it’s because my body is really hung on to them because this is a traumatic event. But as I start to process them, then I can pull that into, Oh, it’s just another thing that happens. It’s just another story. My brain’s telling me that old chestnut of the old. You’re not enough. Well, now I realize that one hasn’t served me very well. How about the one where I think I am enough? And then number nine. So once you’ve shared, then let it go. And absolutely. You’ve probably if you didn’t just think of the song from Frozen, then that’s an odd thing. But let it go. Visualize the energy that your trauma took up inside of you. Visualize it leaving your body. And she says, or perform a ritual of physical release like burning the letter you’ve written. I had a lady do that behind one of the first places I ever worked, and I thought, Oh my gosh, this was very therapeutic.

[00:35:11] Or you can cast off the. The trauma and the form of throwing an object into the sea. I guess that’s probably not needed to be a biodegradable, safe object. I realize I’m saying that. She said you can borrow a ritual from Judaism called shashlik, which I’m sure I butchered that. But during the period of repentance, many Jews cast off their sins into a natural flowing body of water in the form of breadcrumbs. So instead of sins, you can cast off traumas and the emotions and sensations that go with them. So she says the process of healing emotional wounds can feel uncomfortable at first. But, she says, I promise it will be a very rewarding journey because the energy we currently spend on trauma will be released and the space inside ourselves that trauma took up can be filled with new, more positive energy that can help us build the life that we love. I often refer to that as emotional calories, and we burn a lot of emotional calories that we aren’t even aware of. And that’s what trauma can carry or take up inside of us. And so by working through this process, understanding that our body keeps the score, that our brain is, that don’t get killed device, that it’s it is absolutely okay to lean in to the feelings and the emotions.

[00:36:13] And the more you get comfortable with that and I want to say this is maybe my male fixit brain. I want to say then you can process these things much quicker. But it’s the wrong concept. It’s the wrong thing to even say about it. Because once you realize that the feelings and emotions aren’t scary, then you may not even have this goal to let me hurry up and quickly get rid of these. Okay, fine. I’ll deal with them. It’s man. Thank you, Body. Thank you, brain. And when I realized that, man, I’m feeling something right now. I’ve got the feels and I now have this process to work through it. It’s almost like I can say, Oh my gosh, I never realized that this, this control thing, this, this feeling I have right now when somebody just walked out of the room and now I’m angry, it’s because that’s what my my parents used to do. We’re not having this conversation, especially if I actually said something that maybe called them into their accountability into question. But then if they just have to leave or if they don’t say a word, if maybe my spouse does that, if they just go silent, then all of a sudden they get really frustrated. Oh, man. Okay, that’s because this is how my parents showed up. This is how my previous relationship showed up, or when I would try to express myself, I would get a blank stare.

[00:37:17] And it made me feel less than it made me feel crazy. So if my spouse is doing that right now, och now bonus round, if you actually have the tools to to communicate that to your spouse. Big plug for my four pillars of a connected conversation now is when you’re working in concert with another human being to process emotion and now can be like, Hey, when you shut down right there, when you don’t say anything, let me take you on my train of thought. Again, my four pillars. I know you’re not trying to hurt me. I know you didn’t wake up and say, Oh, when Tony opens up about things today, I will shut down. No, if you’re shutting down, that’s something that’s coming up for you. But here’s what that brings up for me, is that that is what so-and-so used to do in my youth or in my childhood. And so at that point, I felt like my opinion doesn’t matter. But now as an adult, I know my opinion matters and it’s okay, so I’m going to express myself. So that’s where some amazing healing can begin. Hey, thanks for taking the time today. You can go check this out on YouTube as well. And if you have additional questions, thoughts, please send them to me through the website Tony Overbay dot com and I am just grateful for all the feedback that I get constantly. Just grateful for the listeners, the viewers and send me show ideas, send me questions, and I hope to see you next week on the virtual couch.

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