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Emotional Trauma and How to Recover From it

Often the impacts of emotional trauma have more influence on the decisions we make in our lives than we acknowledge. Emotional trauma can continue affecting us long after the event has passed. The links between past trauma and current and ongoing issues with mental and physical wellbeing are strong and well documented. 

As an experienced Kinesiologist, I have seen many clients struggling to deal with depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, loss of identity, weight issues, relationship problems and more, who were completely unaware that the root cause was emotional trauma. 

With immense gratitude, I’ve been able to help many clients resolve emotional trauma and ultimately recover from it, thanks to the amazing power of Kinesiology. I want to spread this awareness about the burdens of emotional trauma and hopefully guide you or someone you love toward healing themselves. 

Read on to understand how emotional trauma affects us and how Kinesiology can help us recover!

What is emotional trauma?

Emotional Trauma is a common result of an extremely stressful event or events that removes your sense of security. Emotional trauma can leave you struggling to deal with your emotions and as a result feel moody, anxious, tired, fatigued, extremely angry or sad. It can highlight past insecurities or be the cause of new anxieties and or depression, which is often difficult to recover from without professional help. 

Emotional trauma leaves you with confusion and waves of emotion like numbness, feeling stunned, disconnected and asking the question ‘why me’ which can raise a wave of anger or deep sadness.

Unresolved emotional trauma can be detrimental to our growth and development. If left unresolved, trauma can affect our sense of safety and security in the world. In essence, emotional trauma can control your decisions in an attempt to prevent you from facing a similar trauma in the future. Often these stored memories of trauma are helpful and help keep us from harm. Emotional trauma becomes problematic when instead of keeping us safe, it keeps us trapped!

Emotional trauma isn’t something you can ever really be ready for. It shocks your systems and blocks your ability to bounce back to your normal self. It takes control of your mind, body and energy system and shuts down your digestion and reproductive energy as the body goes into survival mode. Under the influence of emotional trauma, you are no longer you – you are the emotion. It can be hard to explain but if you’ve experienced this before you get it, it’s like a full-body ‘take-over! You lose your power and ability to find a solution. Unfortunately, unless you have a great support system around you of friends, family or practitioners, you can get stuck in the emotions of any trauma. 

blurred black and white image of a woman at the beach. Photo by Enric Cruz López

How to know if you’re emotionally traumatised

Firstly I want to be clear that we all react to and process trauma differently. We all as individuals encounter different types and levels of trauma throughout our lives. There is no benefit in comparing your trauma to the trauma of another and there is no benchmark you have to meet to feel valid in your feelings. If a past trauma is still affecting your life then it is always worth seeking help. 

One of the best indicators of whether or not you are dealing with emotional trauma is your ability to process a traumatic event. Processing a traumatic event requires you to work through the associated emotions and memories in the mind and body and release the charge you have when you feel the emotions felt at the time of the event. You know when you have released the emotions because they will feel neutral when you think of them.

If you find yourself obsessing about an event and replaying it over and over and experiencing visceral experiences of shaking, heart racing, sweating, this would indicate you likely haven’t been able to release the impact of the event yet. Remember this is completely okay, there is a divine timing for all healing. 

Other common signals include having pain in the chest or feeling sick to the stomach when thinking about the event, encountering unusual or high amounts of stress and feeling limited in your ability to cope with anything else going on in life. 

Often, when I’m in the clinic with a client, emotional trauma will surface and I will use muscle testing to help confirm the deeper emotions that are keeping a past trauma held in place. These emotions are the key to unlocking and releasing these repressed feelings. 

These feelings can include deep shame, guilt and many other emotions that the client has been hiding from their conscious awareness because it was too painful to face at the time. This means generally these types of emotions have been avoided for years because of the pain or unknown to the conscious mind.

Uncovering deeply buried past trauma can be a daunting prospect. I want to assure you, that once these repressed emotions are released and gracefully integrated, we unlock the potential to open up and experience a rapid change in our lives. 

Emotional trauma stored in the body

Unprocessed emotions and memories from trauma can be stored at the cellular level, in our muscles, organs, systems and the subconscious mind. When emotional trauma is not dealt with effectively it can cause a wide range of emotional, mental and physical problems including physical pain, depression and anxiety, imbalance in the digestive, reproductive, circulatory and nervous systems and more. 

We store these traumatic memories to prevent ourselves from experiencing those same traumatic events again. In essence, it is your body remembering how to keep you safe. This becomes taxing when we experience trauma and the body remembers and maintains this trauma state rather than accepting and releasing it. This is commonly known as living in survival mode. If left unresolved the trauma will begin to control you, taking away your ability to explore new opportunities and embrace your freedom. 

Stored emotional trauma is always affecting you even if it’s not always triggered. Think of it like a radio that’s always playing in the background, when the volume is low it’s easy enough to ignore. When it’s triggered and the volume is maxed out, it becomes impossible to think of anything else.

We’ve all heard the saying that time heals all wounds but in the case of emotional trauma that is very misleading! You have to work at releasing it! Emotional trauma is kept in the body as a memory until it is resolved. You are the only one who can let it go of stored trauma, so it will stay with you as long as you choose to keep it.

A man with his head in his hands is comforted by a woman. Photo by Alex Green

What are the long term effects of trauma? 

The long term effects of trauma are many and varied. The negative effects of trauma will greatly depend on the individuals’ previous experiences, natural resilience and the surrounding support systems.

The physical effects of long term trauma can include sleep disorders, skin irritation, inflammation in the body, respiratory, gastrointestinal, mental, musculoskeletal, immune and endocrine systems. The mental and emotional effects are also numerous including anxiety, depression, loss of identity, lack of motivation and relationship problems.

Often the negative physical, mental and emotional effects of trauma will feed into and off each other, creating a damaging cycle that can be very difficult to break free from.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a result of a strong emotional reaction to an event or trauma. No matter the level of trauma that is experienced, anxiety can often be an unwanted side effect. 

After experiencing emotional trauma the world can feel unpredictable and unsafe. The resulting anxiety; fear of the future and fear of events repeating are the beginning of trying to control the future in an effort to eradicate the chance of things going ‘wrong’. 

When anxiety is a result of trauma we tend to over analyse the future and work very hard to keep everything safe and predictable. Constantly trying to control the future and worrying about every little choice can be absolutely exhausting! Becoming locked into this pattern by the unresolved trauma is not sustainable. 

When the anxiety is at an all-time high it can trigger a panic attack. This experience is generally quite physical with symptoms like tightness in the chest, pounding heart, nausea, sweating, shaking and feeling emotionally out of control. 

If left unchecked, Anxiety and related panic attacks can be hugely detrimental to our well being and seriously impede our decision-making abilities

Sadness and depression

After an emotional trauma, we can experience many levels of stress and emotion with sadness and depression being among them. We can feel alone and misunderstood, not knowing who to turn to which often causes us to isolate more, further exasperating the issue. 

Many people, including ourselves, have an idea of how long it ‘should’ take to move on from emotional trauma. When that timeline is not met there can be judgement, and a feeling of failure both perceived and internal. We can become our own bully, putting ourselves down because of unmet expectations. 

Ongoing depression is a serious challenge that you may require specialist help to deal with. I encourage anyone who is dealing with any long-term depression to reach out to a professional (GP, Helpline etc). If you are in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or local emergency number immediately. 

Loss of identity

Often people who have experienced emotional trauma feel alone and unsafe. They can feel violated and as nothing will ever be the same again. When we experience these giant shifts in our world view, it has dramatic effects on the way we see ourselves. 

Emotional trauma has a way of putting life on pause. It can take away the joy and satisfaction you feel when completing a task or participating in social activities. It can also cause you to withdraw from your family and friends. The person you were before and after the traumatic event can seem completely different and unrelated, leaving you feeling like you no longer know who you are or what path you should follow.

People who have experienced multiple traumas from a young age tend to mesh their trauma with their self-identity. This can make it especially hard to release the trauma as it feels like they don’t know who they are without it. 

Lack of motivation and positivity

Motivation comes from within, from our inner drive and desire to make changes. Of course, when the body is in an exhaustion state from dealing with the effects of trauma, our motivation isn’t the highest of priorities. To put it simply, there is no capacity left for motivation and positivity when the mind and body are more focused on what’s currently happening mentally and emotionally. 

The heaviness that is felt with trauma, associated depression and loss of identity can affect all areas of our lives. The constant struggle of day to day life can quickly lead to a lack of ability to motivate ourselves. This sabotages our ability to make the changes that are needed, keeping us locked in an unending cycle that can be very hard to emerge from.

It can feel impossible to view things in a positive light when we have been robbed of all the joy from our daily lives. It can begin to feel like there is nothing to feel good about so what’s the point of trying. This lack of positivity feeds into a lack of motivation further burying us in this horrible cycle.

Sleep  

People suffering from unresolved trauma often find their sleep patterns altered. The stress of emotional trauma can affect our production of melatonin and other happy hormones affecting our ability to settle and soothe ourselves to sleep. 

They may often spend their nights awake and generally restless, only sleeping a short period of time and missing out on important deep and REM sleep. It is not unusual to find themselves waking, with instant thoughts of the emotional trauma or stress. This can cause panic attacks during the night, leaving them feeling like they’re experiencing the trauma all over again.  

Often once awoken it can be especially challenging to get back to sleep. Once the mind starts spinning, thinking of stressful events or creating to-do lists, the act of trying to sleep will become a huge mental strain in itself.

People experiencing emotional trauma can feel like they’re always tired and may awake from rest feeling lethargic and worn out. This is a combination of exhaustion from living in survival mode and the inability to properly rest and recover.

The effects of lack of restful sleep on our mental, emotional and physical states are well documented. When facing prolonged exposure to the effects emotional trauma has on our sleep the consequences for our wellbeing are severe.

Relationship problems

Emotional trauma often has the unfortunate effect of pushing us to isolate ourselves from those we love and care about. When we are closed off and depleted from our emotional trauma we have nothing else to give to the important relationships that surround us. 

In this situation, people tend to shut down and become reclusive, which if they have issues expressing the way they are feeling, can have a huge impact on their relationships. Often friends and family can’t understand why the emotional trauma is ‘still’ affecting the person, leading the person suffering in trauma to feel unsupported and unable to reach out for help when they feel ready to do so.

Relationship problems further compound the initial issues of not effectively processing the trauma. It is only with the support of our loved ones that we can truly release the traumatic event and its stored memories

How to recover from emotional trauma

Validation and Acknowledgement

Recovery requires personal validation and acknowledgement of the rollercoaster of emotions that were felt during and after the trauma, and up until this very moment. It’s important to acknowledge that it was a horrible time in our lives and the impact it has had on us. 

We tend to naturally shy away from ‘feeling’ and acknowledging the emotions associated with trauma, especially if it’s painful. If we don’t allow ourselves to ‘feel’ then we don’t really know how to heal. If we acknowledge the emotional pain felt, and acknowledge the deep loss. From this place, we can all work to clear the depths of trauma felt in the body, mind and spirit. 

Processing

‘Processing’ emotional trauma can be overwhelming and exhausting. It’s important to remember that there is no specific time frame for healing emotional trauma or wounds. The best we can do for our healing is to commit to making the steps to heal and release our stuck energy from the past. 

Things like regular meditation and mindfulness will help to enhance your perspective and better understand your trauma and how it’s affecting you. Speak to trusted friends, family or professionals about your experiences and the way the trauma has impacted your life.

The end goal is to find a way to become neutral to your trauma. It’s not about forgetting it, it’s about moving on and preventing it from affecting you so severely. 

Release

The emotions and beliefs we hold on to from traumatic experiences are what stop us from resolving and moving on from emotional trauma. It is so important that you do not allow past experiences or your DNA to determine your future. 

You are not your emotions! You are in control and only you can make the necessary changes and finally release this burden when the timing is right. 

woman raises her hands towards a bright sunny sky. Photo by Daniel Reche

Release trauma from your body naturally through Kinesiology

Kinesiology is a lifesaver! Over the past decade in the clinic, I have seen many clients release their emotional trauma through the help and support of Kinesiology, and at times in combination with other modalities. Many clients come to my clinic because they are no longer willing to allow their past experiences to determine their choices for the future. 

Kinesiology can support you to heal and release trauma so you can reintegrate back into daily life and reconnect with what’s important to you. Kinesiology seeks to heal the core problem, not address the individual symptoms of emotional trauma. 

Kinesiology can provide powerful release and healing for a wide range of physical, mental and emotional problems. Kinesiology provides a completely natural and drug-free approach to releasing stored emotions and provides holistic healing of the body, mind and spirit.

You can overcome past trauma

If you or someone you care about has experienced emotional trauma and is suffering from its long term effects my heart goes out to you. If you take nothing else from this post please know there is hope, you can and will heal and things will be better!

One of the greatest gifts this life brings us is experience. If we keep learning, growing and integrating new learned awareness from previous experiences, we have the potential to achieve goals that seem unreachable when in an emotional state.

If you’d like to know more about Kinesiology and how it can help you overcome emotional trauma please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

About the Author

Janette Harris is a certified Kinesiologist, mentor and the founder of the Sydney based Kinesiology clinic, Inspire Freedom. With over 10 years of experience and extensive qualifications across a range of Kinesiology modalities, Janette is passionate about helping her clients overcome their emotional, mental, physical, nutritional and energetic challenges.

 

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