So if we are powerless over the onset of these reactions, what can we do? One way is to inhibit the cycle completion and redirect our energies to a new desired experience. The first step to doing this is to recognize what is happening and take responsibility for it without judging it. Observe it with interest; notice what happens in your mind and body. It is helpful to talk with someone you know and trust about what you experience. Does your jaw get tight, your breath get shallow, your shoulders hunch, your hands clench, your neck turtle down into your shoulders? Does your mind race, do you think about a past event, relive it in your mind, get stuck on one thought in a looping pattern, want to run or fight, project the past onto the present, feel emotions that are too big or not appropriate to the current situation? Recognize that these and other symptoms are the result of a bio-chemical cascade that was very effective back in the days when our crisises involved escaping from saber toothed tigers. Know that you are just responding to a trigger that your system has identified as dangerous, and it is trying to protect you with a program that has not been adequately updated in centuries.
The second step is to become willing to change, willing to step outside your comfort zone to interrupt the pattern re-enactment. We need to update the program by finding a way to inhibit the old configuration and re-direct to a more helpful new response pattern. It is possible to do this at the time of the trigger or anytime afterwards, and you don't have to fully understand the process. Action follows thought, so if you allow yourself to really think about or visualize being in the traumatic situation, your body will respond, as it will respond to your instructions. This can feel a little scary if we are in emotional overwhelm, so ask for help if you need it; it is always good to have someone you trust hold the space for you. You can begin by changing thoughts that lead to actions, and your emotions will also change. Start small; choose one of your symptoms and simply tell yourself what you want to do instead. If you find that you hold or shorten your breath, tell yourself to exhale completely and breathe in slowly and deeply. If your shoulders are up against your ears, tell your body to let them relax, to widen and lengthen your shoulders and allow your neck to be forward and free. If you are looping in frantic thought, give your mind the direction to slow down and think about your breath. If your attention wanders, lovingly direct it back. If you find yourself closing down to try to protect yourself, inhibit the shut down mode and direct your heart to stay open, allowing the fear to blow past you without harm like mist in the wind. Find language, images, sounds, and sensations that invite you to a calmer place and use them as tools for re-direction and re-creation. We often 'leave our body' when we are triggered, so working with body responses is a great way to bring us back.
At times fear based emotional blockages, perhaps exacerbated with continual adrenal release, settle into chronic pain in the body rather than as reactive responses or behavioral symptoms. The back or neck pain that does not respond to treatment, fibromyalgia, severe headaches, and autoimmune disorders are believed by many to be related to unresolved trauma and fear held in the body. As we become adept at the techniques of inhibition and redirection we can find freedom from the burden of old trauma re-enactment and often release energy blockages that cause chronic pain. When we reroute the flow of energy into a different script, we create the opportunity for an alternative response. When that alternative response become familiar, it becomes a new habit. Other ways of working toward this freedom include the energy psychologies and trauma theory approaches. Using these methods we can learn to release that which no longer serves us and use that freed energy to create more of what we want in our lives.