How Trauma Affects the Spirit – part 1

Do you know about the amazing ability of the human spirit to “check out”?

I was enjoying my Christmas break, during my senior year of college and I was on vacation with a group of friends. I was having one of the best experiences in my life and fully enjoying every moment. Halfway through my trip, I got a phone call from my mom. I don’t have an explanation for this, but when the phone rang in my hotel room, I knew something was wrong and the call was bad news. I picked up the phone, with my heart beating out of my chest, and I heard my mom’s voice on the line. My mom went straight to the point and said, “Holly, Heather died yesterday.” I sat there for a moment, confused about her statement and unable to comprehend what she said. “What do you mean,?” I replied. My mom repeated it again with a little more detail. She explained that Heather had been killed in a car accident. Heather was my best friend and I had just seen her bright and full of life, right before I left for my vacation. This news was like getting hit from behind with a baseball bat out of nowhere and I didn’t know what just hit me. At the same time, I felt like I was in a dream. I could hear my mom speaking but felt like I was out of my body watching this scene from afar and it wasn’t really happening to me. This news was in stark contrast to what I was feeling moments before I got the phone call. I was in the middle of one of the most memorable and positive experiences of my life. I couldn’t fit both of these polar opposite experiences into my being, so I choked back the devastation of my friend’s death, and all emotions that correlated, and decided to finish my vacation and avoid facing the reality of what had happened. The truth is, I hung up the phone after hearing the bad news from my mom, and I felt nothing. I was numb and emotionless. I had nowhere to put such devastating information, and it was like my heart and my brain could not take it in. It was too overwhelming, and shocking, and I hadn’t the slightest clue how to handle this or how I could let it be real.

It turns out, that this is a common reaction to trauma. Most people do feel numb and emotionless, after trauma and may have a sort of “out of body” experience. I now know that this sensation is a disconnection occurring, between the body, mind, and spirit.

The human spirit has the unique ability to disconnect from an overwhelmed mind and body.

The human spirit has the ability to disconnect and check out when the internal state of a person is negatively altered. If the body goes into stress mode and the mind goes into fear mode, the whole internal state is transformed into a dysfunctional container of negative vibrations, thoughts, emotions, and images. The human spirit does not function in such an environment. It can preserve its own atmosphere separated from the mind and body and wait. The good news is, the spirit escapes the negativity going on in the mind and body. The spirit will wait until the traumatized mind and body are ready and willing to begin the healing process. The downside is that the spirit becomes inactive and weakens from lack of use. If this goes on for too long, you can only function as a weak, fragile, fragmented person, instead of a whole complete being.

. The strange sensation of feeling outside of your body

. like watching a scene that does not seem real

Can you relate?

You may have had a different set of circumstances, but if you have experienced any kind of sudden shocking trauma, most likely you know what I mean. It feels somewhat like a dream, a little disorienting, and numb, all at the same time.

If you can relate to this “out of body,” experience, there is good news. Your spirit can be encouraged to come back into the present, and reconnect, in its proper place and function. Your internal environment just needs to undergo a slight change.

Transformation must occur internally!

The steps for transforming your internal state into the optimal healing and welcoming environment for your spirit to reactivate, reconnect, and function again are simple, yet profoundly effective! 

Join me next week as I reveal the 4 steps to transform your internal state into the ideal environment for healing breakthrough and engage your spirit to lead this beautiful process.

4 Simple, Powerful Steps

Trauma Affects the Mind

The mind is a mysterious part of us!

Did you know that 95% of activity in the mind is subconscious?

This is valuable insight because the mind makes all kinds of decisions and responds to situations outside of our conscious awareness.  When experiencing a trauma, the mind attempts to undergo the stress in the best way possible. 

How does trauma affect the mind?

1.  Fear triggers the mind to shut off  negative feelings and emotions related to the stressful experience

Have you ever felt numb?   Even though you knew it was appropriate to feel or experience some sort of emotion, you felt nothing?  This is one way your mind may be working to help cope with a seriously stressful circumstance. Just because you feel numb, doesn’t mean the negative feelings and emotions are not there.  Your mind is just sparing you from having to feel and experience them. It takes a lot of energy and strength to shut off emotions and to stuff them down. This is a difficult task and much of your natural internal strength to, think clearly, come up with new ideas, strategize and create, is used up to keep intense negative emotions hidden away.   This can be exhausting and depleting over time and can become a hindrance if these stored emotions are never acknowledged or processed.

 FEAR , Shock, and panic – the universal trauma emotions!

If the stress response has been triggered during a trauma, then fear, shock, and panic are almost always present. The mind has an aversion to fear as it was designed to function in peace. An “internal explosion” occurs during trauma and the mind is overwhelmed with these intesnly negative emotions all at once.  While fear, shock, and panic are enough to overwhelm anyone’s mind, countless other negative emotions are experienced and bombard the mind all at once.  The body and the mind join forces to perform the enormous task of protecting. This process is known as the stress response, in the body, and as the fear response, in the mind. You see, we were originally programmed for wellbeing, safety, and peace.  FEAR is a foreign intruder.  Our beings instinctively know this and work to maintain and preserve our original state of peace, rest, and stability.  This self regulating process is known as homeostasis. The Encyclopedia Britannica says that if homeostasis is successful, life continues.  This means the mind moves into self protection mode. The various emotions experienced during the traumatic event are closed down and shut off for a later time, when you have the energy and strength to acknowledge them and process them.  The mind attempts to keep the fear and negativity in an internal sealed off vault somewhere, in hopes that you still have some peace, rest, and stability inside.

The Stress Response in the Body = The Fear Response in the Mind

The subconscious mind is fascinating and will prioritize the emotions that you can handle at a given time and keep some stored for later.  This function of the mind is not part of your conscious thinking, so you would not be aware of this happening.  This is  good news for those who are willing to begin the healing process.  When given permission to heal and process stored emotions, the mind will uncover the ones that you are ready and strong enough to feel and to process.   The mind will instinctively self regulate and help to “go at your own pace.”

At some point, it is necessary and vital to tend to these stored emotions.  If they have been stored for a long time, they become trapped.  The trapped emotions will continue to steal energy and strength to keep sealed and hidden in their vault, and rob your healing break through.

 Next week, I will share  more about how trauma affects the mind.  I pray that anyone with trapped emotions, from an emotional or physical trauma, will be supplied with courage to allow your mind to uncover and expose what it has worked hard to conceal.  I encourage you make the choice to access these negative emotions, and the willingness will actually set the healing process in motion.   It’s a wonderful initial step.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel!