Healing From Trauma

After you experience trauma, it might seem like you will never feel better again. You might feel on edge and be reminded of the trauma throughout the day. It might impact many parts of your life. Fortunately, healing is possible.

As with other things in life, there are many paths to healing from trauma. Some people might find comfort in talking with a trusted friend, Elder, teacher, or faith leader. Others might find it helpful to see a behavioral health counselor.

Regardless of your path, here are some things to keep in mind as you work to heal:

“I know I’m safe, but why don’t I feel safe?”

Part of healing from trauma involves helping your body and mind feel safe again.

During a traumatic event, when our brain perceives a situation as threatening, it will trigger our body to respond and try to save us. These reactions to trauma are often not under our control. Common reactions to trauma include:

  • Fight or flight (helping you to take action or run)
  • Freeze or collapse (helping you hide)
  • Fawn (helping you make peace)

After trauma, your brain and body don’t always know when to stop protecting you. That is why anything that feels familiar to the trauma you experienced might make you feel on edge, nervous, sad, or untrusting. So, even though you know the trauma isn’t happening again, your body may feel like it is.

Below are a few tips to help your body and mind feel safe again:

Learn to be present in your body
Being present in your body can help you feel more grounded.

Learn to identify your emotions
Knowing what you are feeling can help you put words to intense experiences.

Honor your needs
Meeting basic needs can give you the energy to get through the hard moments.

Find balance in your day-to-day activities
When you feel like your energy levels are too high or too low, it can be helpful to develop strategies to come back into balance.

Form healthy relationships with trusted people
Healing from trauma by yourself can be difficult. Finding other people who are trustworthy to talk to about your struggles with can help you feel less alone.

Cope with things that remind you of the trauma
Finding strategies to cope with things that remind you of the trauma can help you feel less on edge on a day-to-day basis.

Remember, be gentle with yourself

The kinder and gentler you can be with yourself, the easier it is to face the ups and downs of healing from trauma. Be patient with yourself, talk to yourself like you would a good friend, and know that you are not alone in your healing journey. There are many of us on this healing journey who are working toward being more resilient and happier versions of ourselves. Remember you are not alone, and please always seek help if you need it.

Additional Resources:

Dear Auntie Manda, I have recently started to seriously try to reconnect with my Choctaw culture. My Great-great Grandpa, was an enrolled member of Choctaw Nation. He was orphaned as a child and enrolled in 1903, signing the Dawes Roll and moving to Oklahoma. For some reason, his children we not enrolled, which meant neither was my Nana or my father. My mom is full white and my dad is mixed, which makes me look very ambiguous to people because of my lighter skin and freckles. I’m afraid of overstepping by reconnecting since I’ve been socialized as a white person. I’ve started learning Choctaw and Tribal history, but I’m afraid to openly claim my heritage as a part of my identity for fear of backlash, not just from people who don’t know me, but from people that do. A few times, I’ve had friends and even family ask me, “Why is this so important to you? Why now?” I can’t put it into words, but I’ve always felt so lost and have had no cultural connection to anything growing up. I don’t want to feel disconnected anymore. Also, another thing that complicates my existence is the fact that I’m transgender. Perhaps, this is another reason why I feel lost. Not only do I want to feel like a whole woman, I want to feel like a whole person. Anyway, do you have any advice?

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