I stubbed my foot; I stubbed it so hard the pain increased until I couldn’t feel it anymore and realised it could have some broken toes but all I could do, if that were the case, would be strap them together, but I also stayed super calm. By evening time I realised I had a very sore foot but to this day cannot remember how I did it. Next day discomfort was minimal.
A couple of days earlier, a friend had stubbed her foot. She went to hospital for x-rays and proceeded to tell everyone she met how bad it was, but nothing was broken.
She suffered pain for many days afterwards and relived the incident time and time again by telling of her experience over and over.
Another case I can share with you is a woman suffering extreme stomach pains for four years. Pain so bad she was visiting a doctor every second day for pain killing injections although, after extensive medical investigation, no physical problem could be found.
From her first consultation with me I discovered she was extremely fearful of her husband. The pains stopped immediately she realised the cause and have not recurred some years afterwards.
I share these incidents to show how mind and body are closely connected: How physical trauma can create mental trauma and how mental trauma can affect you physically. With this knowledge you can help yourself alleviate trauma of any kind with that simple knowledge that your body and mind, instead of magnifying conditions, can work together for healing .
Physical pain can have a mental cause; mental pain can have a physical cause. Trauma, both physical and mental, can ruin our lives if left unchecked.
Our methods as therapists today must be shared far more widely than the limited number of people we see daily, as most find it difficult even to ask for help.
With the current climate adding stress and pressure to our daily lives, it is high time therapists shared their methods with a wider audience than just the clients or patients we can see; to help people generally, as today it’s becoming more difficult to handle the great numbers of needy traumatic cases individually. We can now spread our help globally with the Internet and in such media as Odyssey Magazine.
I’m teaching first responders and trauma counsellors in the major points that can help you and help others.
In reality there is so much you can do for yourself and I will explain how. The methodology I use works very effectively in two ways.
One is to help people physically feel better and enable a person to think. You cannot think clearly under any stress or trauma.
The second part of therapists’ help is to teach control of your feelings and how to continue to feel better.
The simple principles used by a mother to soothe a baby are the best example.
She will use a low pitched voice and be comforting in every way; it works. Most importantly for distraction, taking a traumatised person’s thoughts away from what has just happened and concentrating on feeling better.
If such help is offered within an hour of a traumatising event, simple as it sounds, it can prevent shock and panic to the extent of heart attack which can be fatal.
So, in addition to medical help, or even before such help arrives, you can help yourself and others by soothing, deep voiced reassurances, at the same time distracting from the event and thinking of easing their/your shock and distress. Calming words can do no harm whatsoever.
Any form of distraction from the traumatic event can help, concentrating rather on your breathing, the sound of your breath, the regularity of your breathing, slowing your breathing, breathing in calmness, breathing out tension and discomfort, all helps.
Such a simple act can slow heart rate and reduce excess blood pressure, therefore reducing bleeding for example.
Applying simple distraction can assist in overcoming other trauma, like the trauma of grieving. Talking or thinking of positives, good times with a person, inevitability of loss, acceptance that thinking of a past event cannot change it and promoting distraction such as self-belief, or the necessity to be strong as an example for others to help them also, is vitally important in healing trauma.
In reality, promoting the thought that you are in control of your feelings, not your feelings in control of you and that you have a choice to be strong, a choice to be calm, a choice to set an example to help others, is another way of helping – and very true.
As you think differently and positively, those thoughts are transmitted through your body, creating the same feelings as your thoughts create.
“Good thoughts promote good feelings” becomes a rule worth following and, if done just once, becomes a habit, the habit that can create the habit of helping and healing yourself and others.
Irrespective of the severity of a problem or trauma, these simple rules can create easily felt changes which can develop into big changes, permanent changes even. Another good example can be praising yourself for overcoming unpleasant things.
The more you praise yourself for having succeeded at something, the further away from stress point you become. Praising yourself to yourself is not in any way wrong. It takes you further away from criticism of yourself and helps you realise your worthiness and ability to progress in a positive direction: Pulling yourself out of depression for example.
After learning about yourself and how to help yourself in a variety of circumstances, you can now consider passing your skills to others. Particularly children.
Children learn from example and habits. They can learn how to be stressed, angry, swearing or depressed because one or both parents are behaving that way and they simply copy the parent’s example. Everything I have offered as a method of help so far can be applied to children. They learn both good and bad this way.
I vividly recall when, at a house with a group of people, a little one took his clothes off and, as the mother watched, proceeded to pee in the garden.
My shock continued as the youngster’s father bragged to all and sundry that, at the age of 40, he peed in the garden. Why? The simple reason was, in turn, his father peed in the garden: Habits passed down through generations.
Being yelled at even once as a child, or parents fighting, can be traumatic, remembered and feared for a lifetime. Bad habits can be taught but also good ones.
If, by example, you teach a child how to behave calmly during or after a traumatic event such as the death of a pet or relative, or after an accident, they will respond accordingly. They can handle trauma just as you do.
A mother’s calm soothing words or the low-pitched calming voice of a father, first responder or friend can, in fact, work for all of us in case of emergency. Distraction from the event and concentrating on the fact they are ok, for example and applying all I have mentioned so far, can be simple but effective help.
Remember you are in control of your feelings, not your feelings in control of you.