Focusing Tip #845 – Past Trauma – “I get overwhelmed by strong emotions from trauma.”
What if you get overwhelmed by strong emotions that come from trauma? Read on…
I easily get overwhelmed by my emotions, many of which come from places of trauma and are very powerful. I have appreciated the suggestion to listen to parts of me that let me know they are way too scared or otherwise distressed about me looking at those difficult emotions. Doing this can often calm me down for the time being.
But those very difficult emotions continue to haunt me, and I feel stuck between finding temporary comfort and being re-traumatized. Can you give me suggestions for how to move forward?
“Trauma” means that something happened that was too much for us, and there was nobody there at the time to support us in processing what happened. Even when hard things happen, if someone can be there, steady, empathic, and caring, then we can recover and those events don’t stay in us as “trauma.”
(Of course we still have feelings about what happened, but those feelings don’t have to be “too much.”)
Now that you are an adult, you can become the caring, empathic presence that was missing when those difficult times became traumatic. You can cultivate the ability to be lovingly present to those younger parts of you that feel helplessly stuck in those emotions.
YOU don’t have to be the one who is knocked over by strong emotions. That can be “something in you.”
You’ve made a great start by listening to those parts of you that are too scared and distressed to look at difficult emotions. But there is a next step!
As you cultivate the ability to be present to yourself, you’ll also become able to listen to the parts of you feeling those strong emotions.
They are longing for your company!
Imagine you have one arm around a part of you that is scared of strong emotion, and the other arm around a part of you that is feeling a strong emotion. Both are there… and you can be there with both.
There’s no need to plunge into the center of the emotions… just sit next to them, and say, “Yes, I know you’re there.” You can breathe, take breaks, look around the room…
Emotions don’t have to stay painful and overwhelming. In fact, it’s natural for emotions to evolve and change and move on to whatever is next. When that happens, you’ll be there… aware, sensing, and present.
You might also enjoy reading this earlier Tip: Can the Focusing process re-traumatize me?
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