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I've been in this field for a minute, and what I'm realizing is so many people don't understand the brain-body connection, so I'm hoping this blog will start the wheels turning to help you gain a better understanding, and why somatic, brain/body based therapies may be more in line to obtaining healing and resolution of your trauma.


In the realm of mental and emotional well-being, the impact of trauma is often deep-seated and far-reaching. Trauma can also stem from intergenerational, trans, or multigenerational trauma and patterns passed down through epigenetics. For example, did you know that In the realm of biology, males have the ongoing capacity to produce sperm, whereas females are understood to enter the world with a fixed quantity of eggs. This knowledge underscores the profound significance of each prenatal experience, as it carries the potential to leave a lasting imprint on three successive generations (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6791571/). If we understand this to be true, then it stands to reason there are things that are held within our bodies that we may not have language or understanding about, yet we can have a "felt sense" about it. This is what I mean when I talk about the brain/body connection. There is a somatic memory in the body that may or may not stem from any of your personal experiences.


While traditional talk therapy has proven effective for many individuals, it's important to recognize that healing isn't solely confined to the realm of conversation. Our bodies hold trauma in intricate ways, and the connection between the brain and body plays a pivotal role in the process of healing and resolution.


The Resonance of Trauma in Our Bodies

Trauma, whether resulting from a single overwhelming event or chronic stressors, can manifest in both psychological and physiological ways. It's not uncommon for individuals to experience physical symptoms like muscle tension, digestive issues, or headaches alongside emotional distress. The body responds to traumatic experiences by activating the fight-or-flight response, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Over time, this can lead to a state of hyperarousal, where the body remains on high alert even when the threat is no longer present. Moreover, the body's responses to trauma can become ingrained, leading to patterns of chronic pain, discomfort, or illness.


These physical manifestations are not merely coincidental but rather reflective of the body's attempt to cope with the unresolved trauma. Thus, addressing trauma solely through talk therapy may overlook the profound impact it has on the body.


The Intricate Brain-Body Connection

The brain and body are intrinsically linked through a complex network of neurons, neurotransmitters, and hormones. This connection is the key to understanding how trauma affects us on multiple levels. When we experience a traumatic event, the brain processes the sensory and emotional information, encoding it in neural pathways. Simultaneously, the body's physiological responses are stored, creating a comprehensive memory that is etched into both mind and body.


The brain's amygdala, responsible for processing emotions, and the hippocampus, responsible for memory, play crucial roles in this process. Trauma can alter their functioning, resulting in heightened emotional responses, impaired memory consolidation, and a distorted sense of time. The brain's efforts to protect us from re-experiencing trauma can inadvertently prolong our suffering, as these mechanisms become counterproductive in everyday life.


Beyond Talk Therapy: Exploring Holistic Healing Approaches

While talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychoanalysis, has proven valuable in helping individuals understand their trauma and develop coping strategies, it may not be sufficient on its own. In most cases, you may experience some resolution yet find yourself continuing to be affected. I call this an "open wound." If you find your wounds still open after talk therapy, it may be a sign you need to go deeper into the body. Below are a few of my favorite holistic approaches that acknowledge the body's role in trauma and through use have created more opportunities for deeper healing and resolution.

  1. Somatic Therapies: These therapies focus on the body's sensations and responses to promote healing. Techniques like somatic experiencing and sensorimotor psychotherapy aim to release trapped energy from traumatic events, allowing the body to reset its stress responses. I love Brainspotting for somatic therapy, but there's also SE (Somatic Experiencing) as modalities.

  2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices that promote mindfulness and meditation can help individuals reconnect with their bodies and observe their sensations without judgment. This can foster self-awareness and aid in processing trauma from a place of compassion. Mindfulness doesn't mean sitting in silence. I love being creative in these areas. Bring in the senses and see where it goes.

  3. Movement: Engaging in mindful movements, can help release physical tension and facilitate emotional release. Movement encourages individuals to listen to their bodies and connect with their breath, creating a harmonious integration of body and mind.

  4. Art and Culturally Expressive Modalities: Creative outlets like art, music, dance, drumming, using sound, being in nature, and visualization card decks provide alternative avenues for expressing and processing trauma. These modalities tap into the non-verbal aspects of the brain and body connection, allowing for a deeper exploration of emotions.

Embracing Holistic Healing Beyond Talk Therapy

In the journey toward healing and resolution, it's vital to recognize the intricate connection between the brain and body. Trauma resides not only in our minds but also in the physical sensations and responses that linger within us. While talk therapy remains a valuable tool, embracing holistic approaches that encompass the body's role can provide a more comprehensive pathway to healing. By acknowledging the resonance of trauma throughout our entire being, we pave the way for a more profound and holistic sense of well-being.


It is my hope that you have more insight, and are open to this concept of moving beyond talk therapy and into more brain/body modalities. If healing is the goal, sometimes we need to step outside of societal norms and be uncomfortable. Who knows, that uncomfortableness may lead you into a level of healing you never expected.


Feel free to reach out if this resonates with you and you're ready to do something different through Brainspotting.




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I often engage in deep discussions about thoughts and affirmations. Do affirmations work? What about negative thoughts and why can't I get this negativity out of my head? Why do I find myself in these same ruts of negative thoughts? Why do I have so many thoughts? They never stop, so how can affirmations help me?


Let's start with the thoughts, why there are so many, and clarify the difference between negative thoughts and negative beliefs.


The easy answer is - your thoughts come from everywhere. Your system is always taking in information - what you see, hear, feel, touch, taste, smell, etc. You are constantly processing, whether things from your past, present, and even thoughts about the future, both consciously and unconsciously.


What happens in society, culture, relationships; scrolling through social media - everything is processed in your brain, nervous system, and body. There are thousands and thousands of thoughts each day, and you may only catch a "few," if you will, both negative and positive. By the way, both are good to have. Yes, I said that - it's good to have negative and positive thoughts.


Negative thoughts are a natural part of your thinking process and can be helpful for many reasons, like alerting for danger and safety. For example, thinking about the possibility of someone breaking into your home may help you to remember to lock your door. Negative thoughts can help create healthy boundaries. Maybe you don't like how your coworker said something to you that made you feel some kind of way so you speak up.


Negative thoughts can help you identify things that are uncomfortable, give you insight into things you don't like; decrease risks, and increase decision-making and preparation for things to come. Negative thoughts generally can be helpful, normal, and useful.


The challenge occurs when your experiences, negative of course, reinforce negative thoughts and cause you to internalize those things about yourself. For example, say you failed 2 tests during your 2 semesters in college.


Instead of the negative thought, "I failed another test," it becomes entangled with other earlier life experiences and may become "I am a failure." This is when your negative thoughts rehearsed over time become belief systems and you get stuck in that rut.


As you can see I am delineating between the two - negative thoughts, and negative beliefs.


The question to ask yourself is how often does this negative thought show up in my life and cause me to feel stuck? If it's often, you are likely dealing with a negative belief. If it pops up here and there, and that negative thought produces some of the helpful things stated above, it's a negative thought.


If you've experienced negative beliefs and you are having challenges breaking out of this cycle, therapy can help you access and heal from the root of those underlying experiences to help you become unstuck.


So why do we use affirmations? Affirmations can shift your focus from that negativity into something more neutral or positive. It's not about creating affirmations that push you to strive for perfection, or to say the opposite of that negative thought. But it is about creating a different pathway to get you out of that negative headspace.


Affirmations can help boost self-esteem, self-value, and worth if they come from your personal values. In addition, when you affirm yourself you are accessing the reward system in your brain and increasing dopamine, which can also increase pleasure. That feel-good feeling creates motivation and movement or forward-thinking.


So, back to the subject matter of this post - can affirmations and negative thoughts co-exist? Yes, they can. Remember, we're talking about those negative thoughts that are helpful. Here's an example "I am having such a difficult time keeping my house clean, but I've done it before so I can do it again. I may have to do it in increments, but I will get it done. I can do this." See how these co-exist together? This is the world we live in - there is no such thing as 100% positivity all of the time, not if you live in the real world.


To start you on your affirmation journey I've created an Affirmation Sheet for you, simply click the button below, download it and begin to recite these affirmations out loud and as often as possible. I encourage you to create your own. If you can't come up with anything or are having difficulty, think about what you want to believe, and start there, for example, "I want to believe I am enough. I want to believe things will be okay." One thing about affirmations is they have to be believable and relatable. If you were to scale that, you want it to be at least 50% or more out of 100%.


Start affirming yourself today and see what happens. Remember, negative thoughts are helpful and normal; negative beliefs are not. Be sure to check back in to let me know how it's going!


Creatively,

Shell


Affirmations to Me from Me
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