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Pauline Carey Blog

Read our blog to hear from our experienced Surrey counsellor and trainer Pauline Carey as she provides counselling, training and corporate crisis management information.


Can you help yourself get over a traumatic experience?

September 24th, 2014 | by Pauline Carey | in |    0   

Luckily there are a couple of things we can all do to help ourselves get over a traumatic experience.

The first step is to try and reduce your current life stress levels – take a look at how you are living your life, what’s working for you and what’s not. Then, if possible, make some changes – even a small change like taking a walk a couple of times a week can significantly reduce your stress.

Why do I recommend you reduce your stress in order to deal with unresolved trauma? Well, we each have only so much energy, and trauma takes up a fair amount of energy. The weight of a trauma – and many people liken a trauma to a dead weight they have to carry around – takes up energy and stops us using that energy elsewhere. Reducing our current stress level allows us to have more energy available to deal with the past trauma.

OK, so you’ve reduced your stress level – now what? Well, in some way, you need to face the trauma fully. As mentioned in the previous blog, what happens when we experience a trauma is that our minds automatically suppress some memory of the experience – just so we can cope and keep on living. So we may well remember that the trauma happened, we may not remember everything about it. If our minds have done a really good job of repressing the trauma, we may not remember it happening at all.

Again, the energy that is tied up in that trauma, even the part that is suppressed and in our unconscious – is not available to us. So we are probably tired, have sleep disturbance, maybe irritable, having difficulty focusing – all classic trauma symptoms. Of course in order to be able to face the trauma fully, we need to have space and energy in our current life to do so. This is why I suggest you first try and reduce your stress levels.

If you are having occasional memories of the trauma, then you are in fact starting resolving the trauma, one small piece at a time. This works really well if you allow the memory to emerge, and don’t try and stuff it back into your unconscious. This approach can safely be followed if the memories are uncomfortable but bearable.

You may also find that you are reminded of the trauma by people, places or situations similar to those in the traumatic experience. We call this re-stimulation of the trauma, and it can be very unpleasant. If however you are in a situation where you have support, and can take some time to take care of yourself, then these re-stimulations can also process the trauma towards resolution.