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How to know if you are ready for direct trauma work

Is it too far-fetched to say that every traumatized person wants to live a life that is free of a traumatized state?

What every traumatized person wants?

No, I don't mean that individual wants to forget their past. In fact, I often hear from my clients that they've gained a new appreciation for how their past affects them today. Not that they like it or wish to relive it. No, not at all.

I simply mean that their current state of trauma - of being stuck in a dysregulated defensive state - were not currently stuck. That they have the ability to experience a more well-regulated emotional baseline or that their cognitions were not so extreme.

In fact, in my work with therapy clients, when I ask them what they want to change, they usually will say they simply wants a more even baseline. They don't tell me they want unending happiness. They don't want wealth beyond measure. They don't want the perfect relationship.

They want to be able to handle life's obstacles in a more well-regulated way.

That's it.

How to achieve a well-regulated baseline

I actually think that a more even baseline can be achieved without directly working on the stuck state.

"Waitaminute, Justin... you mean without feeling my feelings? Without sitting with it? Without telling the trauma narrative? Without working on my parts? And my shadows? And my parts' shadows?"

I'd say you don't even need to work on your parts' shadows' egos. Nor your parts' shadows' egotistical future self.

Okay, enough of that. I feel like I'm writing a Dr. Seuss story. Back to the point -

If one is able to increase their vagal brake strength, then the natural outcome of that is more distress tolerance.

But that's not what we're going after in this blog.

How does one know when they are ready to begin to actively work on their trauma?

This is the heart of it.

Well, if one is able to have greater distress tolerance and a better-regulated emotional and cognitive baseline, then they are probably close to being ready to work on their stuck traumatized state. (Distress tolerance is developed through BSA and direct trauma work is through UDS.)

To drill down deeper, there's some key questions you can ask yourself to gauge your readiness.

  • When you think about more directly working on your trauma, how do you feel about that?

  • Do you feel curiosity? Or fear?

  • Do you feel confident?

  • Do you want to? Or not?

  • Are you able to provide yourself with normalization for who you are and how you are?

  • Are you able to validate the feelings and experiences that you have?

  • Would you know when to begin and when to stop the inner trauma work?

If these questions bring up thoughts or emotions that are in the more defensive side of things, you might not be ready. If you can feel that defensiveness and allow it and be curious about it, then you might be ready.

Having more defensiveness is not a definite sign to not move forward. But it might be an indication that there is more vagal brake strengthening to be done.

Of course, you know by now that I created Building Safety Anchors for you to be able to do just that. I want you to be able to strengthen those safety pathways and experience more distress tolerance. I want you to go from defense to safety. From empty to fulfilled. From anxious to calm. And I want you to have this major piece in place before you go to the next step of directly working on your traumatized state.

Desperation brings us to scary places

My concern for you and others that are stuck in a traumatized state is how desperate you are to make change. I don't blame you for it. It's okay to want change and it's okay to desperately want change.

Desperation can be used as motivation and energy to make big moves in life. This can be both potentially great and potentially disastrous.

Being desperate for change is a good sign that you're ready for the next step. But it could also be some surfacing flight/fight sympathetic energy that is out of control. If you're able to feel that intensity and be curious about it, then you might be ready for the next step of directly working on your stuck state.

If you're desperate and unable to utilize that intensity, then you might benefit more from further working on your vagal brake, then going to your stuck state.

Being in desperation is not a bad thing. But it could lead you to some unwanted outcomes. For now, I'd recommend respecting it, but continually focusing on and prioritizing building your safety state until you know you are ready for the next phase in relieving your trauma.

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Feb 06, 2023

Vagal brake strengthening. I want to understand better. Are you saying BSA and UDS is sufficient? Since I do have parts, shadows, what have you, I retrieve my fuller self as they emerge into awareness. It stands to reason that resourcing my safety state as my ANS opens its mobilizing energy from emerging parts is being of service in ways they've longed for. Parts of me come out of hiding when someone inside me is capable of offering safe landing and inclusion.

Feb 07, 2023
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I will check the podcasts out. Thanks!

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