Always the Fight Ministries: Displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse. (c)2019 Nancy Virden
I was wrong.
Yes, I can admit it – quite easily, in fact. It is always beneficial to hear other points of view because I learn from them even if they are in stark contrast to what I believe.
In every post and elsewhere on this website It is stated clearly that I am not a mental health professional. I simply share a point of view and try to offer what has worked for me. Over time, that point of view has evolved.
One idea stands out, however, as a favorite that has been repeated in a variety of ways. It is, “We cannot always change what happens to us but we can control our reactions.”
Now I know that it is not a complete and final statement.
Let’s test it
- Do you have control over every one of your reflexes?
- Do you ever wonder why you reacted as you did when a situation has ended?
- Do you have thoughts or body sensations you do not want but cannot seem to stop?
On LinkedIn, a discussion on this topic drew my attention. Here is a comment by Lynn Friedman, LCSW, BCD; Psychotherapist, Certified Brainspotting Professional
“…When someone is experiencing a PTSD reaction, it put [sic] them in the midbrain (neurologically) where there is no conscious thought. It has also been proven that traumatic memory is also stored in the body. I agree with you that it is a long term process. We have neurological interventions (Brainspotting, EMDR, Somatic experiencing, Poly Vagal )to name a few. These techniques have allowed us to work toward resolution more quickly. It is complex to understand the nervous system’s involvement in this process. ( Autonomic, limbic, sympathetic and parasympathetic). There is also a major difference between complex trauma, single episode trauma and development trauma. I am grateful for these different body based [sic] techniques that assist us in moving traumatic memory out of the body. It is at that point ( I believe) one can reframe thought and behavior….”
What we can control
Ultimately, she concludes that we can learn to react differently than in the past, which is the point of therapy. Renewal of our minds is not one-size-fits-all. It can run the gamut from simple to ultra-complex depending on the person.
This is not to imply that we are not accountable for our actions. If your response to triggers includes hurting others or yourself, it is urgent that you seek a higher level of care. Passing trauma onto others is not acceptable. Adding trauma to our existence is not necessary.
We do have tons of power over our thoughts once we are aware and learn how to challenge them.
Let’s reword it!
Leaving the phrase, “We cannot always change what happens to us but we can control our reactions” in this original form is almost like accusing trauma survivors of failure. The struggle may last a lifetime when a soul and mind have been assaulted by trauma.
Let’s revamp it to, “We cannot always change what happens to us but we can learn how to address our reactions.”
Today’s Helpful Word
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NIV
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
*** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!