By Katie Wandasiewicz, BS, CH, DTR
When a polar bear experiences trauma – as when he is hunted down by a helicopter shooting tranquilizers at him – he shakes his body to release that trauma. This is instinctual and helps keep him healthy, resetting his nervous system to a calm, safe state again. You may see your dog do this too.
Humans, however, don’t always release our stress and trauma. We wear masks in public to adhere to our social conditioning and look like we’re keeping it together and not completely unraveling.
We use numbing behaviors like overeating, smoking, drinking and online shopping to avoid feeling these emotions. We have lost touch with our own emotional processing systems. We keep this stress and trauma locked inside us. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is felt that certain organs in the body hold different unprocessed emotions – the lungs hold grief, liver holds anger, and spleen holds worry.
Over time, our sympathetic nervous system that deals with stress is activated more, compared to our parasympathetic nervous system that calms us down and returns us to peace.
So how do we heal? How do we process these emotions, learn from our experiences, then move forward in a healthy direction?
We must learn to feel our emotions, accept them, and make sense of what has happened in a way that brings us the greatest peace. We must retrain our nervous system to know that we are safe again.
Retraining the nervous system can be done through the help of many modalities, such as diaphragmatic or belly breathing, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, bodywork like massage and acupuncture, and hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy uses a relaxed state to help you release stuck, frozen emotions and reframe what has happened. It enables you to see it as something that has helped make you the special person you are.
This helps you to see more resources around you, break out of old patterns, and choose healthier behaviors.
So, no matter what happens in life – we can retrain ourselves to process it, act accordingly, and experience more joy and sweetness in life.