Recognizing the Response
(Workbook Page 38)
Look at page 39 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook. Read throughout the text. The graphic and accompanying text explains the resonance that occurs between the amygdala and the hippocampus, locking in traumatic memory. Persistent pain causes us to become stuck in the loop between the amygdala and the hippocampus. This prevents the higher functioning parts of the brain from modifying the pain. It traps a person in their wild amygdala. The emotions here are extreme, and we tend to relive events in their extreme, when caught in this region of the brain. Higher language centers do not work and without words it becomes impossible to integrate this experience into your life story, known as your personal narrative. Putting words on the emotions and events can be helpful. Just recognizing that you are stuck in your amygdala, begins to activate effective problem solving, language, emotional regulation and planning centers in your brain to modify the raw and reactive experience of being in your amygdala. The treatment itself and the failure of that treatment can cause the same result. The person experiencing this feels traumatized and the stress is never integrated into the personal narrative.
Remember the circumstance surrounding your pain. Recall the emotions and the sense of fear, anger, loss, disappointment and sorrow. What are the feelings that come up for you when you let yourself think about what has happened? Can you think of ways you have had to defend your pain and have felt under attack by others. Instead of doing that, tell your pain and the accompanying feelings that it is time to move on to forgive the people you have to forgive, let the trauma of all of this shift from center stage in your life to a part of your life story. Acknowledge what you have lost, but recognize this as part of moving through life for all of us and that your losses open you up to new opportunities and experiences. Reclaim the pleasure of the things you used to be able to do, by thinking about them actively and remembering them fondly. Look at pictures of yourself before the persistent pain problem. If regret or sorrow arise, replace these feelings with gratitude that you were able to enjoy that part of your life and a sense of hope and optimism that you will increasingly enjoy the rest of it. Pledge to engage in more activity with friends and family. Volunteer your time and talents for a group or activity that means something to you. If you are going through a medical legal process, do not let it color everything that you do. Do not stake your entire future on the outcome, because that is almost always fraught with disappointment and anger. Try to emphasize the positive and reject bitterness, resentment and isolation.
When a person recognizes that they are in a chronic fight flight response instead of real danger, they can begin to turn this process around. The difficulty is that fear is so compelling that it dissolved higher brain function and convinces a person that the danger is very real. The person has to recognize, in these circumstances, that they are stuck in their amygdala. By looking around and recognizing that this is not a real warning of danger, the upper, analytical brain turns on and the amygdala turns off. This allows the sensory cortex to tell the motor cortex to relax muscles and slow down stampeding emotions and pain.