Fear can be positive, as it serves as a warning that something is not right with a situation or shows you that something is causing you to be uncomfortable. However, fear can lead to panic, which quickly affects thoughts, actions, and behaviors.
Fear and Trauma
Past or current trauma and fear and panic are intertwined. Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) include hypervigilance and a heightened startle response. This means that anyone that has been diagnosed with PTSD is likely to be overly alert to their surroundings and easily startled or jumpy. Fear is often a catalyst. Your brain, specifically the hypothalamus, can trigger a fight, flight or freeze response. This is important to know, because even if there is no actual threat, your body and mind are responding as if there is.
Actions and Behaviors
You may feel as if someone is walking behind you, even if they are not. You might be afraid to go to a specific place that you once were comfortable with . You may develop a fear of certain people, places or things that remind you of the trauma. For example, if you were abused, even as a child, a certain voice, smell or look of a person may cause fear, hypervigilance and a feeling of fight, flight or freeze. This occurs when panic becomes so real, that even if the person himself/herself is not the cause of the trauma, you want to flee immediately, physically fight to get away or feel unable to move or shut down, Your thoughts at this point will be supporting the idea that there is danger, even if that is not the reality, and you may be surprised by your own fight, flight or freeze actions and long term behaviors that develop.
Fear-filled beliefs are often extreme. For example beliefs may sound like this;
- If I drive I will always get in a car accident
- All men are abusive
- All dogs are violent
- I can never trust anyone
- I’ll never be safe in school
- I’ll always be bullied by everyone I meet
Even if you have experienced any trauma related to the beliefs above, the above beliefs are still irrational because they are black and white, with no gray. But, the world is full of gray. The beliefs above and so many others like them are lies that are created from fear of repeating the trauma. These beliefs cause isolating and limiting behaviors, such as remaining single even if you want to be in a relationship, avoiding anywhere that has dogs around, not allowing yourself to connect with others, missing school, etc, because of the all or nothing beliefs you are holding on to.
If you have read to this point you probably have your own limiting beliefs that you can add. These cognitive distortions, or lies, were put in place at one time so you felt more in control and able to protect yourself, but they now control you and prevent you from growing, healing and living a FREED life, or full life. These beliefs steal from you, attack your joy and your relationships with others, and worst of all destroy hope.
I want to tell you that if this has happened to you, you are not “crazy”! I have worked with so many individuals who have experienced these reactions and feel they are “crazy” and there is no hope for them. This is NOT the case at all. Fear, panic, hypervigilance, a heightened startle response, and fight, flight or freeze response happen to so many, even if you’ve never been diagnosed with PTSD. The importance is not in the diagnosis, it is learning how to control this fear response when it has gotten to a point where the fear is controlling YOU.
It is possible to gain control of fear responses and fear-filled thoughts! This is not an easy process, and it involves making a choice to commit to emotional healing even when it is difficult. It is deciding to move forward, despite fear, even when you are still experiencing fear physically and emotionally. Actively moving forward despite fear will cause empowerment and hope, which will help you to heal from the actual trauma itself..
There is so much hope restored when you are able to focus on truth and not fear. I would love to talk more with you if you have any questions,want to know more about the FREED Life concept, or want to share your story. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing