The makings of a trauma and how to avoid it happening to you.
Updated: Mar 31
One of the first things I learned when I began studying havening touch was what makes an event traumatic. In case you didn't know, havening was originally developed as a modality for treating trauma, but how do we explain why not everyone is traumatized by the same experiences?
Interestingly, they found post 9/11 that young children who had experienced a prior traumatic event such as divorce or abuse, were most susceptible and likely to be traumatized by the events of 9/11 as opposed to the students who hadn't.
In havening, the term we use to understand what makes a trauma a trauma is EMLI. It is an acronym that stands for Event, Meaning, Landscape, & Inescapability. And ALL 4 factors must be present for trauma to take hold.
E- EVENT is the obvious one. Something happens. But that alone doesn't make our brains and nervous systems encode that experience as traumatic.
M- MEANING. The event has to mean something to the person. It has to threaten some kind of loss or potential for loss whether that loss is material or immaterial. The event has to effect my identity, sense of belonging, threaten loved ones, threaten loss of life, loss of security, financial, health, social, etc. Coronavirus certainly checks all the boxes!
L- LANDSCAPE. I want to come back to this one, but for now to just say, this is the neurological "landscape" pre-existing exposure to the potentially traumatic event. This was one of the primary differences between the children who had and had not experienced prior trauma. When the foundation is solid, like a house built on a strong foundation, the strongest winds won't disturb it. Or maybe a window breaks and needs repair, but the whole structure doesn't come down. But what if your brain's neurological "foundation" is made of straw, as opposed to brick? What if your brain is built on high baseline of stress, burnout, fear, distrust, lack of safety, a belief of yourself as weak, fragile, unworthy, etc?
I- Finally, there's INESCAPABILITY, as in, nowhere to go. The event is unavoidable, out of our control. We are powerless to stop it. Again, man vs. COVID-19, global pandemic, kind of fits the parameters of inescapability.
So where's the hope in this, Yiska? How do we come out of this un-traumatized?
The truth is we have no control over the event, thus our points of entry to avoiding trauma lie in our capacity to influence meaning and landscape. Everything we can do to give alternative meaning to the events that are happening around us will help us here.
But don't worry if optimism about the betterment of our planet, the goodness of humanity, and the opportunity to re-prioritize, re-connect with loved ones, and finally clean out your closets, is not enough for you. Your other avenue for avoiding trauma lies in your neurological landscape.
Everything you can do connect yourself with your inner sense of resourcefulness, everything you do to foster positive feelings such as safety, peace and calm will help to positively grow your neural landscape, making you more resilient and less vulnerable to carrying this experience with you as trauma into the future.
Havening is one of the most profoundly powerful practices to help people not only release prior trauma, but also, more readily access positive and supportive emotions and mind-states. Havening effectively helps us grow our neurological pathways from single lane roadways to multi-laned thruways. These expanded pathways in our brains and nervous system let us know we are strong, resilient, safe. Havening can also help free us from the narratives within us that tell us we aren't. Even if we're not ALWAYS feeling that way, as long as we have ways back to our sense of safety, center, and calm, we can come through this unscathed.
You may casually refer to these times as traumatic, but the truth is we can emerge from this time un-traumatized. And if you or anyone you know does or has experienced trauma, havening can help them heal.
I believe in you. I believe in us. Use me as a resource.
If you or a loved one needs support during this time and beyond, please reach out. And stay tuned for all my havening offerings to help your hearts and minds stay calm and even hopeful as we ride out this storm. There's already a free havening exercise video up on my home page.
Together, with havening touch, we can plug into a frequency playing the kind of music that comforts and nurtures your neural garden, keeping it a peaceful, strong, fertile, growing, joyful, and resilient place to be!