Anyone can get stuck. However, I believe that survivors of trauma become or feel stuck more frequently. How do I know this? Well because there is a whole treatment modality built upon this belief system. It is called Cognitive Processing Therapy or CPT. Another therapy, Somatic Therapy helps with being stuck in or out of our bodies.
What does it mean to be “stuck?”
It is a challenge for both our mind and body to process trauma. When we are under physical, emotional or sexual attack, our nervous system tends to go into overdrive. We either freeze, flee, fight, or fawn (faint). We need these reactions during trauma as they work very hard to protect us. The problem however, is that we can easily become stuck in crisis mode even when we try to go back to life as normal. It is like our brain and body don’t want us to forget the pain we experienced. Thus, we get stuck in believing we are unsafe in someway and this frequently results in a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress.
One of the first ways to become unstuck is to ask yourself some tough questions. Let’s start here and then your answers.
- What gets in the way of your imagining a different outcome? Self-sabotage, instant gratification?
- What would it be like to allow yourself to have goals? Structure, purpose, sense of hope?
- How could your support team help you to move closer to where you could imagine having goals? Set short term goals, work on self compassion?
- What if we start by working on that (allowing yourself to have goals)? Picturing success!
Wait a minute. Did you just answer these in your head? Silly goose, you can get much further or to a deeper level if you journal about them instead! Here is an article written by me on the benefits of journaling:
Rationale To Become Unstuck
Remember the SMART goal we set in the last blog post? Here it is again:
“I will be on time for work by waking up daily and leaving home by 0705 and will attend work (M-F 0800-1630) until June xxx, by having my uniform ready nightly, and meeting with my supervisor as needed for assistance.”
The example above is one I had helped a solder write after he was consistently in trouble with command for being late to work. If you don’t have the military breathing down your neck, you may find it hard to stick with your goals and that is why you may need a coach to assist with your accountability!
I asked him why this goal was important to him. He stated, “This goal is important to me because I want to have integrity, work ethic and assist my battle buddies while I’m serving my country. I want to be remembered for giving my best despite my past problems. I will be accountable to my goal by tracking my attendance progress, completing habit trackers, and by having all my work items/gear ready before the next day. Tips I will use to help me with my goal include: self-sticky notes of encouragement, completing a habit tracker for getting uniform ready, getting to bed on time, and for attendance. The awards I choose for short term include treating myself to wings (my favorite food) and my long term reward will be getting a new bike.” I might have helped him a little bit in framing this 🙂 We all need a little help sometimes.