How A Traumatic Memory Is Made Worse—And How To Resolve It.

21 Aug 2018

How A Traumatic Memory Is Made Worse—And How To Resolve It.

Traumatic memories can play havoc with your health and wellbeing.

Whether you experienced a traumatic event recently or in the distant past, it can still have a massive impact on you in the present.

traumatic memories can play havoc with your health and wellbeing

You may not believe that lemons could have anything to do with resolving traumatic memories—but I’d encourage you to think again! Read on to discover how.

I’m sure you’ve done this little exercise before at some time in your life — but please indulge me one more time as it will demonstrate some of the points in this article.

Imagine you have a lemon in your hand

Take a look at it. Notice the colour, the uneven surface of its skin, the weight of it in your hand (yes, yes, you’re just imagining it — come on just play along). Now imagine cutting the lemon in half with a sharp knife. Notice the sticky juice running out onto your hand, the tang of fresh lemon. Now think about putting it to your mouth and licking the juice.

Notice more saliva in your mouth? (it’s happening to me just writing about it!) Now look at your hand and notice that there is no lemon.

Yet your body responded as if the lemon was real.lemons and traumatic memories

One of the ‘delights’ of being human is that our bodies can’t tell the difference between something that’s real and something that we vividly imagine. Our bodies respond in the same way to both. And this is a real difficulty that affects people after a traumatic experience.

Trauma victims find themselves being drawn into remembering the trauma.

In recalling the trauma, they relive it — or aspects of it — experiencing the horrifying emotional state all over again. This isn’t what they want to do. They often feel as if they have no control over it. They are mostly aware of how their emotional state, rather than the images and sounds (and sometimes tastes and smells) they are remembering.

But, in the same way that imagining a lemon caused you to salivate, reliving those memories are what produce the terrible feelings.

Re-living the experience in their mind, re-traumatises their body.

Even being asked a simple question such as, ‘what happened?’ can trigger this re-membering. Being asked to talk about it can actually make it worse as the person will need to fill in any missing details. (My podcast, How to Hack Your thinking for Optimum Happiness explains this)

It is possible to change traumatic responses.

Because memories and their associated feelings exist within us, we have the facility to alter unwanted memories, so they no longer have the same impact. In fact, we can and do change memories by merely revisiting them.

But to feel better, it’s important to revisit them differently.

Dissociating from traumatic experiences is an effective method of changing the associated feelings. In NLP we have various ways of accomplishing this, the most common the being Trauma Process.

Without describing this process in detail — because it’s far safer to have a skilled NLP Practitioner take you through it than to try and do it for yourself — it involves adjusting how you re-present the trauma, so your body responds more stably.

The NLP Trauma Process has the client NOT talk about the trauma

This is because even talking about the traumatic event(s) will reinforce it and make it seem intense. The NLP Coach will make sure their client is comfortable and remains comfortable and supported throughout the whole process.

The process involves having the client dissociate from the memory

The client ‘watches’ their traumatic experience(s) as a black and white movie. Even doing this can make things seem not quite as ‘real’ — after all real life doesn’t happen in black and white. Not only does the client watch it but they imagine watching themselves watching it. This effectively dissociates them twice from the traumatic experience. There are a few more steps to the process which is then repeated several times. Each time the process is run, the memory becomes less and less painful and stressful.

By the time the whole NLP Trauma process is complete, the stress and anxiety are gone. They are replaced by feelings of being emotionally composed or balanced when thinking about what was a traumatic experience(s).

The process was modelled from people who were successful in overcoming trauma.

The developers of this NLP technique studied people who had successfully overcome traumatic events or even a series of traumatic events. They were curious as to why some people could emotionally recover while others struggled. The Trauma Process was modelled from people who had successfully recovered and then the developers tested it to ensure it worked. It does!

In effect, it separates the events from the emotion, so the person is no longer a victim of their own feelings.

If you experience problems with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) and would like to resolve it, you could search for an NLP coach located near you, or please contact me.