Trauma and the nervous system
Trauma can change the nervous system so that your ability to create and sustain relationships is altered.
This change can lead to a belief that love and connections aren’t safe, and you may find it hard to trust others, and you may withdraw or avoid people.
However, when love and connection is missing from our life you may carry distress in your nervous system, where survival responses are chronically activated. You can get stuck in anxiety, agitation, or freeze and shut down mode for long periods of time.
We continuously receive messages from our culture, and from social media posts that encourage autonomy and independence, and this can cause shame for a traumatized person, for having a healthy need to connect with others, especially when facing adversities, making them believe that they have to go through hard times alone.
We get hurt alone, but we heal together. It is biologically essential to connect with others and to co-regulate with others through nurturing relationships.
Comments like “you need to be happy on your own first,” are particularly harmful. Loneliness brings pain. Loneliness increases pain and loneliness increases physical illness and psychological pain.. Loneliness increases heart disease, weakens the immune system, and increases the prevalence of depression.
Similarly, messages to “not be needy” causes social disconnection, we are all needy sometimes, and we are all in a position to hold space and to be present for someone who is needy at other times, even if those times last for years, and there is no shame in that, it is human nature. Social disconnection and social exclusion, and cancel culture activates the same pathways as experiencing physical injury. The need for connection does NOT make you needy, it is part of being human, and this connection is even more important in times of stress.
A nurturing relationship is probably the most powerful form of nervous system regulation that there is. Co-regulation is a powerful antidote to distress, and it can shift your nervous system from activation back to “rest and digest”. which is a state of ease and calm.
Being a co-regulator for another person is one of the greatest gifts you can give, having people in your life who help shift your nervous system out of survival mode will improve you mental emotional and physical wellbeing.
What about when you are already in survival mode? You can do things like visit a park, or another place where people are such as a museum or a classical concert, or a yoga or meditation class ( in person) Take a walk where other people are. Take a real time class with other people, even if it is online, but even better, in person. You can reach out to others, call a friend, visit your community center or the library. You can visit someone you trust, or you can work with a therapist.
You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that.Louise Hay
LOA ‘s talking point of “self-concept” is meaningless, until you understand that to hold space for another, a loved one or a partner, until you hold space for yourself. Until you meet your own trauma with gentleness and empathy you will meet the manifestation of another’s trauma with a trigger.
This post is a cross-post from my acupuncture blog:
Physiology, the brain and nervous system after acupuncture:
It has been found in studies that acupuncture may:
- regulate the expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase.
- heal impaired gastric motility and dysrhythmic slow waves by regulation of vagal nerve activity
- regulate the autonomic nervous system by affecting specific activities in the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex of the brain
- activate vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3), a protein that mediates the uptake of glutamate into synaptic vesicles