Cat called interrupting cow! 5 steps to overcome trauma.
Labeling emotions bring new light to trauma triggers. Recognize, label, express, release and reframe trauma for holistic healing.
A Cat called interrupting Cow
If the title evoked curiosity, your curiosity will be replaced with enlightenment as you read on. My 9 years old son introduced me to a black (graying) old obese cat who is among the many that comes to our house for their daily meals, snack and meal to order. My children have placed a big container of my dog’s not so favorable food to feed the neighborhood cats. ‘Interrupting cow’ is a new-comer. My 6 years old proceeded to explain why this particular cat was given such peculiar slightly insulting name. “He cannot seem to wait for me to give him his food. He keeps interrupting me” she explains. Hence, INTERRUPTING COW.
Pretty clever, I thought. As amused as I was delighted that they are able to label the cats according to their behaviors. They are the ‘puker’ (for obvious reasons), stripy, ‘imposter’ and the ‘evil’ among many others.
If we as adults could follow their lead and label our emotions, we could accept them better. Tolerate them better. Allow our brain to cope with them better.
There are so many emotions a normal human can experience (more than 2000) of them! How do you label them? And can this help cope with trauma? The answer is quite simply a YES!
Emotions are activated all the time in a person. But only some of them are actually turned into feelings. When an emotion is triggered by trauma, there is no escaping feeling it depending on how big the trigger and the trauma is. We immediately scramble to the basic Flight, Freeze or Flee stage.
For most of us in a daily life, we either avoid it or we distract ourselves. We eat a bag of chips and binge watch Bridgerton in our pajamas. We drink alcohol and worse drugs. We workout endlessly. We have random sex. All these stimulants act as anesthesia. In all cases, anesthetics are short term and are meant to wear off. What happens after they wear off and you are stuck with a bad hangover or a stranger in your bed? You are back to square ONE.
Although I write this in an amusing way, the underlying trauma that is not resolved will always surface through the years. They will get triggered every now and then. I had a client that had a very difficult time fitting into his new job. This was new for him. He constantly came home complaining about his new boss. He was sinking into depression at some point when he told me that he freezes and becomes ‘stupid’ when his boss asks him about anything. This is a man who once was led over 60 employees under him in a multinational company. To freeze is not a normal reaction. After having a bit of probing from me, he discovered that his boss sounds very much like his father. He was severely abused by his father during his childhood. The voice of his boss triggers this trauma in him and he becomes that child who was unable to defend himself from his father again. Time does not heal trauma, it only prolongs recovery, (Cortman. C & Walden, J, 2018). It may take years for you to resolve your trauma but here are practical ways you can take the power away from trauma.
However, when a traumatized person takes ownership of this feeling by recognizing it, the power of what the trauma induces in you diminishes. Why? Recognizing is the first stage of taking you brain from ‘Auto -pilot’.
Labelling your feelings creates a file in your brain that is set away for future reference. When this feeling gets triggered again your brain does simply panic anymore. It may create uneasy feelings but it recognizes this feeling. It has a record and it gets to refer back to it. Not knowing is a daunting feeling. Knowing brings relief and room to look for solution.
To complete the process it, you need to go through a few more steps. The next step in line of healing is expressing. What you can feel you can heal. Expressing your feeling allows it to be released. You don’t own the burden of carrying it anymore. Expressing in words to another person (preferably a therapist) will allow brain to re-register these emotions so that it doesn’t get triggered anymore.
Releasing methods include writing a letter, talking to the person, journaling or even in some ways meditation or a prayer (if you are religious). There are many release methods that has been proven to be effective.
Reframe is like updating your obsolete software. You put in ne information to get it back and running efficiently. In trauma cases, reframing is done so that the brain has brain new record of the incident and the feeling not to trigger the amygdala.
These are the steps hopefully you can perform with a trained trauma coach or therapist. Trained personnel will be able to not just release your trauma but to reframe these experiences to completely heal them. Until the healing is complete, triggers will continue.
Cortman, C., & Walden, J. (2018). Keep pain in the past. Mango Publishing Group.