by Cailin O'Hara, MAcOM, LAc, Dip OM
If you have experienced something traumatic, it can change everything: your life, your brain, your nervous system, your beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to live in fear, panic and anxiety forever.
I want to tell you about one of the most powerful ways you can help heal yourself if you have suffered from PTSD, past abuse or traumatic experiences.
(hint: we all have)
It is an epiphany that I personally experienced… and one that completely changed the way I connect with myself. It showed me the way out of the loop of anxiety and relieving past trauma and into my power and the truth of who I am.
It is the realization of all realizations that I think is key in healing from past trauma. But you have to REALLY feel it. Doing so can immediately shift you out of anxiety-mode (flight or fight) and into a feeling of deep self-compassion (aka reconnecting with YOU).
Most of us are not even aware that we have been traumatized, that our anxiety is actually a form of PTSD, stemming from past experiences that haunt our subconscious and become wired into our physiology. Anxiety is a response, not a problem. It asks us for our help. But we're afraid of it. It feels terrible. The more we focus on it, the more it seems to grow.
It just spirals out of control.
Anxiety can feel like a foreign entity that lives within us, making us feel unsafe, like we aren’t even safe in our own being. So what do we do? We run away. Sometimes literally, but generally, figuratively. We numb out, we distract ourselves, and we turn away from the feelings.
But it’s the belief that our anxiety is scary, it’s the very act of running away from it, that actually prevents us from really healing and regaining our sense of peace.
So, the revelation, the epiphany, the ah-ha moment that can change your life…
It’s just you now.
All of this running, this fighting against ourselves, the squashing of our feelings, the turning away from our own pain… it’s self-abandonment.
The pain you feel is NOW. The fear you feel is NOW. The anxiety is NOW.
But what caused it- those past experiences- are over.
So what does that mean?
It means what you are feeling now is just YOU.
You're feeling how what happened to you affected you, how it hurt you, how it wounded you... THAT is what you’re feeling now: your feelings. This also means that there isn’t anything to be afraid of in the here and now, if you think about it. You are fearing yourself. You are fearing your own broken heart, your own traumatized body.
And the more you push it all away, the worse it can feel.
What's the answer?
Trauma can fragment you.
It can scatter you into pieces. And when it’s over, you are the one that can put you back together. You are the one that can compassionately hold space for yourself, comfort yourself, give yourself the unconditional love you need and deserve. And in no way does it mean that you’re “broken." In fact, I see it as a tremendous source of power.
What if you leaned into these wounded parts of yourself?
What if you had a compassionate conversation with them?
What if you imaged yourself holding them, telling them it’s ok, that you love them?
Trauma is not something you ask for, but it can teach you how to love yourself in a way that maybe nothing else can… and that kind of love can make you unstoppable.
That’s what it has given me.
That’s what I hope it gives you.
Dr. Cailin O'Hara, DACM, LAc, Dipl OM, is a nationally board certified Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, herbalist and coach. She is based in Phoenix, AZ.