Courage is the ability to move forward while afraid

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We have probably all heard the phrase "self-medicating behavior."  What that describes is our tendency to avoid one feeling by replacing it with another.  For example, if there is an uncomfortable feeling we have, we seek out a comfortable feeling to replace it.  These behaviors take many forms; it is very common to use food, alcohol, drugs, sex, the internet, and money to "self-medicate" our feelings.  Basically, these behaviors have three characteristics: (1) they are impulse driven, (2) they yield some form of immediate gratification, and (3) they are easy to repeat. Often this behavior is reinforced, such as when we hear "do this and you will feel better", and therefore it becomes a "normal" response to an other than normal feeling.

While this behavior yields an immediate, but short-lived, response, it does nothing to address the original issue. It is a form of denial, a "kick the can down the road" solution that really is no solution at all. Since it solves nothing, the original issue remains and often we find we may have to engage in more and more self-medicating to manage the feelings. This creates an imbalance in our energy and it puts us into a cycle that takes more and more energy to maintain. Over time, self-medicating behavior can become addictive behavior.

The best way to avoid the trap is knowing that it is there.  Since we all are prone to self-medicating, it is important to understand what triggers that behavior. If there is something we are avoiding, we need to identify just what it is, and then move towards it rather than away from it. We have to feel it to heal it. The amount of time and energy we spend moving towards and through the feeling/issue will be a fraction of the time and energy we spend trying to avoid it. It is entirely possible to spend our entire life in avoidance, which prevents us from growing.

So as we move towards the challenge, we honor ourselves. Courage is the ability to move forward while afraid. Step out in faith and confidence will grow. You deserve it.

Namaskar,

Jim Harger, M.Ed., LPC

Not a Day Goes By

In my clinical work with clients, not a day goes by where I do not encounter people who are dealing with trauma in some form. When we hear the word trauma, we tend to think of the extreme examples like death, a severe health situation, a major situation in our life or some other occurrence that goes beyond our day to day life experience. While these are traumatic circumstances, the reality of life is that every day we encounter a trauma of some kind.

Trauma can be defined as the response to a distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms our ability to cope, causes feelings of hopelessness, diminishes our sense of self, and impacts our ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. Given this definition, it becomes obvious that trauma covers a very wide spectrum and that trauma is a very personal experience. A conclusion that can be drawn is that we all experience trauma and that trauma can be seen as a normal response to an other than normal circumstance or experience in our life.

At one end of our trauma spectrum, we can find the "little traumas" that are not a threat to our safety and well being, but they do disrupt our normal functioning in the world. They may not seem so small when they occur, but most are easily managed and thus can be disregarded or discounted as "not a big deal" since they seem to be surmountable. However, enough "little traumas" can begin to add up and the cumulative effect can be overwhelming. Daily life can be fraught with these type of circumstances, many of which we have little or no control over. At the other end of our spectrum, we have the "big traumas" which are the extraordinary experiences that cause severe distress, a direct threat to our safety and well being, and feelings of helplessness. These could be one time events (acts of terrorism, natural disasters, etc.) or prolonged stressors (war, neglect, violence, etc.) that are impossible to ignore, yet may be actively avoided (denial, self-medicating behavior, etc.). The common thread for all of us is that we experience these traumas through the lens of our prior experience, the learned behaviors that we have developed that often serve as filters for our life experience.

Effectively addressing trauma requires a multi-faceted approach. Atlanta Psychotherapy & Energy Medicine was designed specifically to address the needs of those who have experienced trauma. I have found through my 40 years of clinical experience that these are necessary elements for that effective approach:

(1) Anxiety management training provides the person with some non-pharmacological techniques that can be used on an as-needed basis to address the symptoms of anxiety. These techniques can provide relief from anxiety and also build confidence in ability to effective manage the anxiety and stress that are common trauma responses. I routinely introduce these techniques immediately when working with clients and I also encourage all of my clients to look into readily available practices in the community that can enhance managing anxiety and stress such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, qigong, floatation tanks, therapeutic massage, and salt caves.

(2) Supportive psychotherapy can provide a safe place to express the feelings associated with trauma and to process the impact that it has on a person's life--and to do so in confidence and without judgement. No only is this a place to begin to "feel it to heal it", but it is an opportunity to learn more about trauma and our responses to it so that we can better understand our personal experience. Blessings do come wrapped in unusual packaging and often in the fullness of time a trauma will provide us with the opportunity to grow in some unanticipated way.

(3) Energy medicine is a very valuable approach in treating all levels of trauma. As energetic beings, any form of stress can have an impact on our energy field. Trauma can have a long-lasting impact on the energy field in the form of negative energy that attaches to our energy field; think of this as an "energy parasite." "Talk therapy" cannot address these attachments effectively, but they can be diagnosed and released by a practitioner who is trained in Integrative Energetic Medicine. My colleague, Alison Brooks, N.D., is a highly trained, skilled, and intuitive energy medicine practitioner who has helped many clients work through trauma efficiently and effectively. The energy work consistently results in people moving through their therapy process in far less time than it would take with just "talk therapy."

A final point to consider is that trauma is much more challenging if we attempt to deal with it alone. By opening up and sharing our experience with a trusted other, it helps us to release the emotions and then to be able to gain perspective regarding the actions we will need to take to address the situation. So please choose to not be alone in dealing with trauma and to connect with others as this will be very helpful in finding your way.

Namaskar,

Jim Harger, M.Ed., LPC

Blessings

Blessings often come wrapped in unusual packaging.  Life can provide us with an experience that in the moment can be overwhelming, even devastating to us. Certainly in that moment, we do not feel that there is any blessing. We are totally involved in the experience and cannot see or feel beyond what is happening right now.

In the fullness of time, we can begin to process the experience. In that reflection, we begin to unwrap that unusual packaging. Since this unwrapping process takes time, our impatience may lead us to conclude that nothing good is even possible in the situation. If we allow that time, the blessing can come to reveal itself.

Often, the experience that we have had may lead us to change and grow in ways that were unforeseen, perhaps even unimaginable. We can grow and change in ways that we have never done so before because we never had to do so before. That is our blessing. Receive it. Honor it.

Namaskar,

Jim Harger, M.Ed., LPC