Somatic Experiencing® 101

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Uh… WHAT?

SE is so weird and badass. It’s a completely different way to approach making healthy shifts in the body which translate (DIRECTLY I have found) to being able to set, stick with and actually COMPLETE goals. This body-orientated approach helps unstick stuff that has been stored for sometimes a very long time.

Trauma, who has trauma?

Most everyone has experienced trauma at some point in their lives. Trauma is not just related to gigantic events (although most of us have had plenty of those). Trauma can develop over time with chronic cumulative stress. (Oh my, we all can check the box for stress, am I right?). There are many additional conditions which may contribute to trauma, which then contributes to the inability to access joy, reach goals and stick with intentions to improve one’s outlook.

Examples of somewhat common experiences that are traumatic to one’s system are:
*Neglect (who knew that being ignored could be so impactful)
*Loss (again, most of us have had some small, medium or gigantic loss in this journey called life)
*Fear (yep, feeling ongoing fear creates trauma)
*Ongoing conflicts in relationships (work or personal)

Then there’s the bigger more common occurrences associated with trauma like accidents (big or small), invasive medical procedures, any type of assault, emotional abuse, and natural disasters. Any of these occurring at any point in our lives, but especially childhood, can create stored trauma in the body. And not to beat a dead horse which would certainly cause more trauma, but this then adversely affects our ability to be present, capable of completion and enjoying our lives. So basically, the more appropriate question is, who doesn’t have trauma? Followed by the next question… what can be done about it?

What can you do about stored trauma and how does Somatic Experiencing® work?

Okay, the Somatic Experiencing® (SE) approach is about bottom up processing. Say what? Rather than doing a lot of talking, aka rehashing and yapping about what happened and allowing the brain to interfere with the healing, SE allows the body to “talk.” It’s cool because the body often has a VERY different story to tell than the personality that is doing all the talking. Not going to lie, when I first started SE therapy, I cannot tell you how many times I thought, “I’m paying good money for this?!?” How in the world can this be helping when my therapist keeps interrupting my stories (I’m a bit of a talker) to have me sense into what my body is feeling? AND then asking me to “explore” some of the involuntary movements that my body was making by slowing them down and sensing into them. Often this exploration would bring a small to quite large emotional release which was unexpected, unsettling and a bit baffling as there was so little talking involved.

It was frustrating, stunning, weird X 800, frustrating, exciting and most of all… helpful (in spite of my not so great attitude toward it!). The body’s natural intelligence in storing what cannot be processed until later AND then allowing the release with some guided help is stunning. The body’s intelligence is stunning. (Just had to repeat that). It is miraculous really and should not be underestimated or under appreciated. Let’s just take a moment here and give your body a big THANK YOU for being so incredibly awesome… well done body… woot woot!

Even more info if you are still reading….

The SE approach is about COMPLETION and the RELEASE of survival energy that is bound in the body. This is done in a gentle titrated (see more below on titration) process to allow healing without creating more trauma. GRADUALLY one learns to tolerate difficult bodily sensations and feel emotions that have been suppressed.

SLOW IS REAL.

SE is all about titration and easy does it. Side question: Did you have to look up titration? It’s such an awesome word and idea… here’s one explanation:

Titration in a chemistry lab is the art of adding one substance to another substance in a slow measured way to create the solution or mixture wanted without creating an unwanted harmful chemical reaction.

Titration in SE means, slowly working with bits and pieces of trauma to allow the body to heal, release and unwind without creating an unwanted harmful reaction (aka re-traumatizing). Titration is the opposite of trauma. Trauma is fast and too much. Titration is slow and just a little bit at a time.

MORE COOL STUFF…

Another great SE tool is called Resourcing

Resourcing is learning and organizing the body, so it can orient to pleasure. We are wired to look for and focus on survival. Historically this has been important. And even now, it can be helpful at times. But out of balance, it blocks our ability to see, appreciate and stay with the blessings we have in our lives today. Being able to resource to pleasurable things, no matter how small they are, help the system to renegotiate and release trauma.

Oh great… you are still here. How exactly does the trauma get stored in the body?

When the body isn’t given the time or have the capacity to fully process trauma (which happens quite often with fight, flight or freeze), that energy gets bound up in the body. The SE approach will allow your system to release this energy and “complete” the cycle that was not completed when the trauma occurred.

Here’s an example: You are driving along with your family in the car or in my case, my four dogs, and out of nowhere a big huge truck almost hits you. The system will register a healthy (expected) stress response to almost being crushed by the big huge truck. But once you know you are fine, most of us just continue driving along to that next appointment or in my case out to the trail for our hike. The body has not been given proper time to process that fear and allow its release, so it just gets stored. We don’t even know it’s been stored because we are used to living with stressors like this daily. This bound up energy may or may not manifest in trauma symptoms right away but in all likelihood, this energy will come out sideways at some point.

What do you mean come out sideways?

Have you ever wondered why you don’t do what it is you KNOW is best for you? Often, we think we just don’t have the willpower, or we must not really want it. But trauma and this stored energy coming out sideways can manifest as just that. The inability to follow through with goals, dreams and intentions. This is the subconscious (or in other words, the body) driving the bus that we think we are in charge of with our conscious mind. Just a heads up… we are NOT. The subconscious aka the body is really driving almost ALL THE TIME.

Last little bit for now…

And this can not only affect our behaviors, but it definitely affects our thoughts. The subconscious thoughts that are not being brought to light will and do block our attempts at manifesting. So that vision board is awesome but if there’s a stinky belief or thought dwelling in the subconscious that says, you don’t deserve it, you can’t follow through to attain it or some other rotten thing, it is going to be significantly harder to bring in those lovely images you so lovingly pasted in place with the best of intentions.

So if you are having trouble completing goals, knowing what you really want to manifest and then manifest it OR connecting to JOY… SE is one awesome solution.

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We can chat strength training (how to start, why it matters, what it will do for you) or dynamic eating psychology  (how that makes creating healthy eating changes easier) or Somatic Experiencing® (what that is and why it changes everything around making sustainable changes along with helping you feel more like YOU… the YOU that you want to be) or maybe a combination of the above.

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