Another shooting incident at a high school leads to the by now all-too-familiar triage of support trying to cope with the aftermath. But it's not enough:
"Among kids exposed to traumatic violence, short-term symptoms immediately after such incidents include trouble focusing, managing emotions, and negotiating relationships. The effects of childhood trauma also show up later in life: As adults, children who witnessed violence will be more likely to suffer from depression, deal with substance abuse, and struggle with obesity."1
The long-term effects include far more than the few listed. As adults, those of us exposed to traumatic violence are more likely to suffer from illness, anxiety, employee absenteeism, and ultimately a shortened lifespan. It raises our risk levels on the ACE test, a test of childhood adversity. Why? Because these events are locked in our body until we process and release the emotional learning around them. Emotional learning is the most important evolutionary advantage for a social species like humans, and not one drop of it is wasted. We're not taught how to learn emotionally; in fact, we are taught to stuff emotions and move on. These emotions are neurochemicals that lodge in our bodies. In quantity, neurochemicals are inflammatory and inflammation leads to disease, so we're more likely to develop illness if we have traumatic backgrounds. Still, people self-medicate. Delving into the unconscious seems too scary.
But what if you could easily learn from emotions? What if they're not just a hodgepodge of random, tangled-up bad feelings? What if feeling them reduces your stress? What if doing this allows you to do better on tests, perform better at work, reduces pain, reduces the amount of time you spend sick, and increases your emotional intelligence? That's what I've found acupressure does. I've used myself as a guinea pig. I'm a poster child for childhood trauma; my dad was an active duty US Air Force C-130 pilot in the Vietnam War and I was born during the war. I was constantly sick, I had chronic Epstein Barr, I had leaky gut, I had an autoimmune illness. I'm convinced this is what humanity needs to keep evolving: spending more time in the cortex and prefrontal cortex. Stress puts us into the brain stem and emotional brain. It has us in survival mode. Success belongs to those in cortex-mode, which is executive thinking.
Care to try it? Check out my YouTube channel. I demonstrate some basics that will have you making improvements in your quality of life immediately.
I also teach it. You can sign up for one class or for the series. Check out my classes in PanHarmonic Healing® here, in Brain Gym® here, and in Touch for Health here. I think all three make the best combination for self-healing I've found.
For most of us, childhood held some trauma. Why not give yourself the gift of freedom from the past? You'll still be yourself; you'll just get to spend more and more time in a good head space, relaxed, and experiencing more joy than you thought was possible.
-photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash
I'm a big fan of the author Brené Brown. She talks a lot about how to communicate with anyone and how toxic shame is to our society. She opens herself up, making herself vulnerable, in all of her books and talks, and I love what she teaches about bravery.
In my book, as well as my articles, I talk a lot about how to talk to oneself, and the importance of being a positive self-coach. I hear a lot of judgment from all parts of society these days. It's the human condition. People are saying openly hostile things to each other, sometimes questioning each other's sanity, and the truth is, most of us are also saying incredibly hostile and judgmental things to ourselves as well. Think about how you talk to yourself when you're upset at the end result of your efforts. Would you put up with a friend who treated you that way? Think of the stories you tell yourself when you're afraid. Are you always positive and encouraging, or do you dwell on the negative? Would you treat a small child that way? We carry parts of our childhood selves with us for our entire lives in our unconscious. We have to learn to be careful of how we talk to ourselves.
I think one of the purposes of life is to figure out how to rise above our programming. It helps to realize that everyone's got programming that prevents them from seeing things any differently than how they're currently seeing things. Especially in times of stress, all of us tend to react with our emotional and primitive brain. The trick is to learn to stay aware and present as this is happening so we can avoid it. Tools like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Focusing, and therapy offer us a chance to stay present so that we can be in the executive level thinking offered by our prefrontal cortex. If we feel our anger rising, if we feel our indignation mount, if we sense self-righteousness, if we are aware of fear, jealousy, insecurity, I guarantee that our thought process is being hijacked by the emotional and primitive brain. When we're triggered, it feels so normal, so safe, to indulge in emotional or primitive brain thinking. That's how I spent the first forty years of my life. Learning how to develop and practice tools to stay present is an ongoing challenge, but one I'm so grateful for. I'm happier and calmer than I've ever been.
I talk about how shame helps drive the opioid epidemic in my two part article on Thrive Global. Here's the link to part I. Here's the link to part II. Let me know what you think. And check out Brené Brown. She's awesome.