As I reflect on refining my language around somatic healing, I am juggling how my senses are responding to the constant feeding of ‘advice’ from so called ‘trauma-sensitive’ social media accounts. Needless to say, all the do’s and don’ts from what is suggested as ‘advice’ is in itself, massively triggering……
Is it even possible to make something universal? How can we do that and avoid triggering someone? We can not…… it’s not possible and it would be healthy to realise that we will at some point trigger someone. Especially if we are helping them navigate through trauma! They ARE traumatised, getting triggered is what happens to them and to create a clinical cushion around them is unhealthy for their growth and development. It may make us feel like confident practitioners because they are calm in our presence but it’s not exactly in service of the person we are working with. That’s about our ego wanting to be ‘good’.
What we then do is manage someone’s environment instead of showing them how to respond instead of react. Sounds easy right? In practise it takes as much time as it will take to help someone re-wire their old patterns.
Why does it take so much time? Personally, I need the time to help someone understand their reactions and possibly where the reactions come from. But unpicking pre-verbal language and pre-emotion time PLUS attempting to understand what generations before us (who are no longer available to answer questions) might have been going though isn’t an easy feat and it would be ridiculous to say that what works for me must work for everyone else.
Recently I saw a social media post that said we need to cut out:
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’
The post suggested that this is re-traumatising and this is why I disagree.
- some people may be triggered by this whereas others may become empowered.
In my experience of working within different cultures, there does seem to be a classic theme of privileged vs less-privileged and their approach to dealing with trauma.
As a very general example, northern English people are likely to become empowered by such a statement whereas as someone from somewhere else may respond to it differently. Let’s also remember that language and culture has a lot to do with understanding. Some languages just have fewer words (poorer countries have fewer words, for example).
If we decide to cut that out just because it triggers US then we are not really addressing the nervous system in front of us. Rather what we are doing is projecting that another nervous system is the same as ours.
The reality is we don’t have the same responses to trauma, we also have different language and cultural influences that play a part in how we communicate with ourselves (and others).
Yet we are fed these principles which are taught like they are rules on how to manage someone else’s nervous system. That is NOT the way to help someone through trauma. The path is in teaching THEM how to understand their own nervous system. Teach those who are coming to work with this theme to understand their own use of language and avoid using forced language suggestions to re-traumatise.
On this journey, please expect to that at some point, you will trigger somebody. It is inevitable, the skill is in helping them navigate that!