Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Sometimes, let's face it, life can be overwhelming, our capacity to deal with it in the moment determines whether that is laid down in our system as trauma or whether the experience moves through us without leaving a lasting imprint.
We are highly sensitive and intelligent beings. Our bodies are intelligent, it's not just our brains with the intellect.
Our nervous systems are highly attuned and designed to protect us, to keep us safe. You might like to think of it as an ally that has your back, and an intelligence that lives within the tissues of your being-ness.
Sometimes that equates to being a mess too, but still the intelligence within us is trying to communicate something that is unmet, there IS wisdom in it. AND we can access it if we learn how our nervous system works and how to meet it.
Our responses to perceived danger or threat aren't just whether we are going to be attacked by a bear in the forest, or a tiger in the wild, our emergency responses also respond to our 'civilised' environment - the mood and demeanour of our boss, the expression on our spouses face or her tone of voice, the news, feeling disconnected from community, friends or family, facebook posts that incite feelings of fear, animosity, competition or comparison. All of these daily 'normal' experiences can be perceived by our animal bodies as perceived threat or danger.
We are also social and emotional mammals. Connection is perceived by our animal bodies as important for survival.
For instance, a young child or baby is dependant on its Mother (or other primary care giver) for survival, it must receive attunement in order to feel relaxed, healthy and secure. Attunement starts with meeting an infant's basic needs for warmth, food, sleep, safety and love. The gentle touch and voice used by a caregiver builds a child's sense of security. Early developmental trauma - ie when attunement didn't happen, repeatedly over long periods of time, leaves imprints of stress in the living tissues of our bodies, behaviours and nervous systems - like a scratch in a record. Every time later in life something that reminds us of that situation, we feels the scratch in the record, our bodies perceive it (beyond our conscious awareness) as if we were back in that situation.
This can feel overwhelming to know, how can any parent possibly attune to all of our needs as a child?
You might like to pause take a deep breath here perhaps and know there is good news. Our nervous systems are resilient and according to new research caregivers need only "get it right" 50 percent of the time when responding to a babies' need for attachment to have a positive impact .
Our nervous system are also timeless, meaning we can become time travellers and go back and complete those incomplete stress responses, that get jammed in our systems.
We can become alchemists to transform energetic, physical and emotional pain and disturbance into free flowing aliveness and health once again. To connect with the healthy blueprint that lives within us that is untouchable. It is the part of us that knows how to scab over a cut, or recognise thirst or hunger, it is natural, organic and innate.
In order to heal we have to work with the nervous system, and with these emergency responses held in the body, in our feelings, sensations, impulses, instincts, behaviours and perception, we cannot override them.
They are held as incomplete responses, ie in the example above the child didn't receive the attunement it required, which would have created a fight flight response as the social attunement impulse was incomplete. As small children we cannot fight or flee the parent , we may try! that’s what tantrums are for (we are dependant on the connection with our caregivers for survival) if healthy attunement (say after the tantrum) the nervous system would then resort to a freeze response.
Freeze numbs us, its intelligence is - it disconnects us from feeling what feels too overwhelming for our system in that moment.
It is the last resort from the nervous system and its primary function is to keep us safe. Freeze takes time and space to thaw, it requires protection, nurture, compassion - all that was absent when the potential threat was experienced in that moment, as the freeze begins to thaw, maybe as the body comes more online the flight or freeze response that was incomplete can activate, the ability to move into social engagement comes back online.
Having a guide to support you to navigate each stage with enough capacity to meet each moment is useful, if we go into overwhelm at any moment it simply puts us back into an unresolved trauma pattern, and the emergency response remains.
This is where trauma alchemy comes in.
Trauma Alchemy is a process that is guided by the wisdom of your nervous system, it is a co-creation, guided consensually in a way that supports your intuition and your capacity to bloom. To help you grow into resilience, smooth out the scratches in the record and build trust where trauma once lived.