Have you ever felt like your mind is caught in a never-ending storm of worry? As if your thoughts are racing faster than you can keep up? This week's Trauma Bytes delves into some of the intricacies of worry and how understanding it through a trauma-informed lens can help you find a path to calmer shores.
Worry, though often overwhelming, isn't merely a burden; it's also an opportunity for growth, and we'll explore three aspects of worry.
At the end, you can grab my free e-book, 3 Ways to Soothe Your Worries which you can use to support you to work a little more deeply with worry.
1. Empowerment Through Awareness: Understand the roots of worry and how it relates to trauma, gaining the power to address it more effectively.
Worry, a constant companion for many trauma survivors, can be a double-edged sword. While it may develop as a mechanism of your survival by attempting to control the uncontrollable, it can also perpetuate UNnecessary anxiety, tension and stress in the body. This can lead to health issues.
Worry is a mental activity characterised by repetitive, intrusive thoughts about potential negative outcomes. It often stems from the brain's natural inclination to protect us from harm. It may have it’s roots in childhood trauma, especially if it has been something that has plagued you for a long time.
Through a trauma lens, worry can be a way of staying vigilant, a survival tool utilised (and needed) in past experiences that were overwhelming and potentially dangerous. This survival tool has now become an automatic response that is out of place unless you are still in a dangerous situation.
If you are not currently in danger, the response of worry is from unhealed trauma that is hijacking your current reality and stopping you from living your life fully.
Set yourself up for success: Bring awareness to any time you notice yourself worrying. See if you can identify with other times worry has come in similar situations. Just start making the links to when worry invades your life. If worry is there all the time, see if you can create a moment or two where there is no worry. You may well find that this is impossible for you at this point and that’s ok. Just notice whatever you notice about worry. This is just a starting point for you to get to know yourself a bit better and an opportunity for you to be kind, compassionate and understanding about how this has come to be you way of being.
Sometimes it becomes hard to differentiate from our strategy for survival, and the truth of who we are and what happened to us is what's causing the worry.
2. Navigating the Healing Journey: Discover why acknowledging worry is a pivotal step in healing from trauma.
We so often have very little tolerance for the reason we have issues such as worry. We see them as problems to get rid of. The truth is that at some point in time, we needed to worry or, more accurately, be constantly vigilant. This survival mechanism was very relevant. Now when we potentially don’t need to be in survival anymore, have not known we can stop surviving and be grateful for our cleverness to survive with whatever tools we had at the time.
Understanding the importance of worry lies in recognising its connection to trauma. By acknowledging this link, you can begin to untangle the complex web it weaves in your mind. Rather than viewing worry as a mere annoyance, you can embrace it as a signal that parts of your brain are still in protection mode, seeking to shield you from further harm.
Set yourself up for success: Take a moment to see how it feels to reframe your worry.
Really take this in because understanding something is a very important part of change and healing. What we tend to do is fight ourselves and want to get rid of what is annoying us. We forget to acknowledge the truth of our experience and understand how it has come to be. We make it who we are rather than an unresolved mechanism that was created because of what happened to us.
3. Tools for Calming the Mind: Try these techniques to engage with worry.
So, how can you transform worry from a burdensome companion to an ally on your healing journey? Wow, that's a very different way of viewing worry, isn't it?
Here are a few techniques to start the process of connecting with worry in a different way:
1. Start by acknowledging worry without any judgment whatsoever. Just start to see it consciously. Once you bring something into your conscious field, you stop it from being a subconscious habitual pattern of behaviour.
2. Instead of resisting or fearing your worries, consider them as messengers from your past experiences. They are letting you know that you have some unhealed survival patterns that need your attention.
3. Be mindful and observe your thoughts without getting entangled in them. Just start with a few minutes at a time. Simply watching your thoughts. Be super watchful that you don’t get caught in them. If you do and it is likely that you will, especially in the beginning, just catch yourself and start again to simply watch your thoughts.
As you practice this mindful awareness, you can gradually develop a healthier relationship with your mind and eliminate worry. You'll gain the ability to discern between productive concern and unhelpful rumination. Imagine if you got back the energy it takes to ruminate and worry. That would be worth making time throughout the day to check in on your mind, wouldn't it?
Set yourself up for success: The most important thing for success in beginning to watch your mind is to set aside short spaces of time on a regular basis.
Try 3-5 minutes on the hour to check what is happening with your thoughts. Set an alarm on your phone to support you in remembering.
Just know that the very familiar pattern of how your mind operates now will be the norm, and remember what I’ve said about that earlier - you needed to be vigilant. If the danger is over it is now worry, and we all need to practise mastering our minds.
Enjoy practising working with worry. I'd love to hear how you find this trauma byte. Feel free to contact me via the Contact Us
page and let me know how you found this information. Is this helpful or not? Which suggestion worked for you and which didn't? The more you engage with me, the more I can offer support...And it's boring just writing into the ether, LOL.
Here’s the 3 Ways To Soothe Your Worries e-book I promised. I hope it is helpful.