In this episode, you will learn:
A couple of the most common symptoms of trauma
Patterns that tend to come from those symptoms
The effect of Covid on all of us, especially the worker shortage
How you can change that pattern and experience relief
Episode 15: Trauma Patterns…yep, I'm including Covid-19
This is episode 15 of the pain changer podcast. Today I am combining a little about last week’s episode with patterns with episode 11 which was an introduction to trauma. What does it look like when the pattern is created from trauma? How does that change things, if it does change anything? If you find yourself baffled by what appears to be bizarre or senseless behavior, this is an episode you won’t want to miss, and it will help you understand when you are looking at a trauma pattern running active and live through yourself or someone you love. Stay tuned…that’s coming right up.
This week’s listener of the week is CamdenPeter. Every week, I will choose a different listener of the week. If you hear your name, then send me a DM on Instagram to @coachktdubs, that’s C O A C H K T D U B S, and let me know that you heard me call you out! I will send you a gift as my thank you for helping to spread the word that chronic doesn’t have to mean permanent. CamdenPeter says “It sounds like Katie has experienced a lot of pain herself. I’ve never heard of Cognomovement but I think I may look into it now! Great Podcast!” Thank you so much for your feedback CamdenPeter!
Before I dive into this episode, I want to stay accountable and tell you what I did with the pattern I realized I still had running, where I felt I had to be doing something all the time, or I would fail. Initially I planned to just add an update into the show notes, but what I found has been life-changing…and the session was only 90 min. Just to catch you up in case you missed last week’s episode…This pattern got me very sick a few weeks ago, and instead of my super productive vacation I had been so excited to begin, I became one with my couch, and binged on Netflix. As I had been creating this podcast, I got so task-focused that I stopped following my own advice and boundaries for myself and I got really behind on pretty much everything else in my life except for my work. Its very important to me that I own my shit with you. Personally, I have a tough time following coaches or other people who consistently and continually don’t walk their own talk. I am not expecting anyone to be perfect, but advising something out of one side of my mouth while applying rules to myself totally in contrast to that advice, is NOT how I want to roll, and as such, I really respect it when I see a coach, or anyone else, just own it when they have veered from their own practices. So…that’s what I am going to do before we dive in today.
As always, as I tell you this story, I invite you to see parallels within your own story and your own life. With the help of one of my Cognomovement practitioner friends, Coral Simpson, whom you will meet on next week’s episode, I was able to shift that pattern to one that will be a super power for me now. Within the session, I found a big conflict within my neurology. Part of me had identified fear of failure as one of my keys to success, back from when I started my cybersecurity career years ago. The other part of me knows that lack of rest will hurt me physically and mentally, and that it will lead to burnout. During those early years in cybersecurity, I was terrified I would fail, like off the charts TERROR. That turned into overactivity that led to burn out and it was also a huge factor in my disability in 2018. Back then, I also lacked the awareness I have now. Once I realized that it had felt like a key to my success, I have now given myself a choice of what to do with it. I could shift my perspective to ask myself what other keys to success I see, that I can continue to look towards in order to stay accountable and keep myself pacing at a rate that I can sustain. Or I could keep that feeling that fear of failure is one of my keys to success, and change it to a level that motivates me rather than leading me to overwork. I really feel a connection to that key…So I asked myself in the session, how do I keep a little bit of that fear of failure at a low level that motivates me versus putting me on a non-stop hamster wheel?
As I worked out the higher levels of fear in the Cognomovement session, my body was immediately letting it go, and I could also feel a lot of sensations as the energy released from my body. In every session, whether my own or with clients, I am watching for energetic releases, and seeing the immediate shifts in the neurology of whomever I’m working with. Energetic releases come in the form of yawning, crying, screaming, burping, farting…and sometimes, although much more rarely, someone may need to use the restroom. The energetic release of the fear of failure was hilarious this time…I literally pooped it out and felt so good hahahahahha. My body was like “this is just a shitty pattern…and out it goes.” I immediately felt better and it confirmed that the level of fear I did still feel actually felt healthy. It wasn’t fear so much anymore, as a very strong motivator.
The first thing I did was identify my signs of being too busy, or overly busy, or going at a rate that is not sustainable. There are certain activities I want to enjoy every week, and there are a few people in my life that I want to continue to prioritize because those relationships give me so much for my life and overall well being. Before I could determine what makes me “too busy” in air quotes there, I wanted to identify the things I want to do on a daily or weekly basis. So that’s where I started…what’s reasonable to do in a week while also making forward momentum with work? These activities are going to be my mile markers for how close or far I am from a sustainable pace. I listed off the things I want to do every week that are outside of my business, keeping in mind the balance for movement, rest, meditation, play, socialization with friends and family. Then I did what we call mapping in, or programming in, those activities as my sign of how close I am to the pace that I know I can sustain. Mapping in is done with the ball, by repeating the list of activities that tell me I am on pace to sustain and succeed with my eyes in various different positions and making specific movements as I rattled off my list. Then I asked myself…What else, if anything, do I want to shift within my to do list in order to reach my goals with my business? I identified those and made the changes I felt were best and in the most service of myself and my current and future clients. I feel really good again, and I am excited to see how close to my plan I am this week! I will update you again in a couple more episodes and let you know how I’m doing and if I needed to do any more work to help myself stay on a maintainable pace. As I have said before, sometimes there are layers to something. Other times, its a one and done. This pattern has had a lot of layers for me, but this last session felt like a massive breakthrough, and that tends to be how I feel when I reach the deepest layer of the pattern. Time will tell whether I have found the deepest layer of this pattern or whether there are more. As long as its forward progress, that’s all that matters, both for me and for you. Again, I invite you to look at your own life and see any parallels you may have running with what I just experienced. From the people I talked to about this pattern of basically drilling yourself into the ground with overwork, I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, one of the days I was slowly getting back into more activity again, I listened to a podcast run by someone I have a ton of respect for, Melanie Curtis. And she also cited that she had gotten sick due to her doing something similar…not getting enough rest around plans, a lot of it unavoidable in her case, but the fact she owns it is one of the reasons I respect her and love her so much.
Another important aspect of this pattern with me, which leads me to the meat of this episode, is that its roots are attached to the trauma I endured in early childhood. That trauma created this internal need to constantly move or be doing something, which I now understand was my neurology being in a state of perpetual fight or flight. That need to constantly do do do was so easily met when I entered into cybersecurity and the pressure of that career, it became the perfect place for me to both hide, and also keep doing, doing, doing. It felt like the best of both worlds. I was busy helping people, and that felt noble. Plus It also gave my anxiety a place to focus instead of on the real cause of anxiety which was the childhood trauma I hadn’t yet faced.
I was actually a little surprised to find remnants of the perpetual fight or flight, because at this point I have done so much work to heal that I can absolutely be still for days at a time. I can meditate and I do meditate on a close to daily basis. So seeing pieces connected to my trauma both did and didn’t surprise me. You may be wondering now…What’s the difference between a trauma pattern and a regular pattern? Not much really, and in my experience, most of the unresourceful patterns we have running are linked to trauma from somewhere in our life.
The link to trauma is important because these patterns help us point to deeper issues. Its always your choice whether you decide to face those issues or not, no one can do that for you. But I want to help you raise awareness so that it CAN be your choice…because until you see it, you don’t have a choice in that pattern running, its just going to run when your subconscious mind triggers it to run. The subconscious mind will create the deepest patterns when the pattern is attached to how you survived a given event.
A pattern is simply a repeated response to certain events or people. When a pattern is running from a trauma lens, it can look a little different. I want to walk through these so you can start to see them in your own life. The entire world, as I mentioned previously, is experiencing an almost collective sense of PTSD and its part of why we are becoming more and more divided as a people. You may want someone to understand you, and I ask you to also try to understand others if you have that desire yourself. Most people want to be understood, and loved, yet it may be tricky to give that same level of understanding that you are asking for, especially if you are operating from within your own trauma pattern. When trauma is linked to the patterns, the emotions tend to be higher and more triggering. The thing is…when your body simply FEELS the same way it did when you were traumatized initially, that’s enough to trigger it, regardless of how small the source is. For instance, experiencing a blast of anxiety during a time you are physically safe can be enough to bring your mind right back into that trauma again. Trauma patterns are highly unresourceful once you are safe again, and they also tend to be incredibly detrimental. If you decide to check out the site I’m going to give you later in this episode to quiz yourself around your own life experience with trauma, you will see them link early childhood trauma with a high rate of chronic disease and pain.
As usual, as I verified my understanding with some extra research, I found a lot of ways I could talk about this…and I found there is too much for this episode. So I am going to keep the focus on 2-3 symptoms that you tend to see as a result of trauma, and some patterns that you may see that stem from those symptoms. Plus a few resources to allow you to gauge how much trauma you may have had in your own childhood, as well as your level of resiliency! I think that’s a good objective for this episode.
The first symptom I want to discuss is anxiety, and I am going to lump it in with depression even though those two emotions or states can feel very different in the physical body, they are still linked and most people I know who suffer from one, also suffer from the other. I was taught in my teen years while being diagnosed with both conditions myself, that they are derivatives of one another. I’m not sure if that’s true, but its easier for me to talk about them together because of that earlier educational moment. In my own experience, it felt like I swung between depression and anxiety for years, without experiencing much relief, if any at all. I had times I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed on time, or sometimes at all, the depression was so strong. Now I understand that that was my body screaming at me for help.
In most cases, I see people talk about depression or anxiety as the diagnosis, not the symptom, because that’s what you have been taught. Depression often looks like very low energy, and you’ll want to sleep a lot and in general you just won’t have motivation to do much of anything. Oftentimes it looks like laziness and selfishness. Sometimes, just the act of getting out of bed can feel like it takes too much energy! Depression can feel all consuming, and when medical professionals are constantly telling you that’s what’s happening and that you need to take a pill for it to feel better, it can be very limiting too. Anxiety, while I do lump it in with depression, has opposite characteristics. Anxiety makes it hard to sleep, and you’re normally very jittery, potentially fidgety and that constant humming in your body is exhausting. One thing that both anxiety and depression have in common, is that you feel like you have no energy when either of those are running at a high rate in your body.
Anxiety, depression and other forms of mental illness can often lead to addiction, which is a pattern that is stemming from those symptoms of anxiety and depression. Addiction is formed when you want to escape whatever you are feeling. Whether its heavy depression, or the buzzing of high anxiety, you may want to tap out when it gets too intense. When you tap out enough, and it helps your mind get the break you desperately needed, that will become the pattern to help you cope, numb and hide. One of the many problems with addiction is that it is also going to numb your pleasure too. There is no way to numb only pain and not pleasure. You either numb everything, or you feel everything. You can’t just feel the happy and blow through the sad…life doesn’t work like that. Anxiety and depression can sometimes drive someone to suicidal thoughts, desperate to end that internal suffering.
Another place where we really see a high rate of patterns that are running from depression or anxiety is the current workforce shortage. Covid may have a higher fatality rate than the flu, but we have not run out of people to work, that is hardly the case. It can also be incredibly frustrating, even infuriating for some people to watch folks continue to opt out of going back to work, and its really easy to start to judge them for it, I certainly caught myself doing that before I looked deeper. I was simply feeling the same pain you feel with the lack of ease to do things now. Appointments are canceled due to no staff, or there’s a long delay, or it simply can’t be done right now. So I want to look deeper and help you to look deeper, because the effect on my body when I did so was instant, and I now feel nothing but compassion and empathy for anyone struggling to return to work.
At the core of the worker shortage…there is trauma. People are terrified to go back to work. Many people even have some form of agoraphobia right now, which is a fear to leave the house. In the early days of the pandemic, what was the messaging? Do you recall? It was “safer at home”...and it was ingrained in us so deeply that some people haven’t been able to shake that message. That alone could create what we see now…but couple it with people who have watched someone die from covid, or they lost a loved one to the virus, or many loved ones. They may have even been the one who was unfortunate enough to be the person who gave it to someone who died. There was early messaging from some people that you were killing others by trying to have a life. That messaging didn’t say “trying to have a life” but the core of it was that if you gave someone covid and they died, then you killed them. That’s a really unfairly heavy load to put on yourself or anyone else! Not to mention, some jobs didn’t get to stay home because they are essential workers. I can only imagine that level of fear, especially in the early days. The suicide rate went up significantly with those who were working the front line. Plus in the early days as lockdown was rolled out, people were still attending work events around the “safer at home” message. I can’t even tell you how many posts I saw from people who were totally humbled and panicked to learn they had contracted covid, and then had to reach out to everyone they had been in contact with, including their own customers and business partners. Then add to that all the people who got covid and survived. Many have long covid, meaning they are still experiencing symptoms and feeling sick even months after they were infected. There was a time in 2020 where people were judging the hell out of one another for trying to take a vacation. I recall seeing posts about “wow, you’re endangering your family to go have fun, you’re selfish”. This virus has touched every human being on the planet now, in some way, shape or form. There is so much that we still don’t even understand either, and that much unknown can be difficult to sit with for long periods of time. We were told that masks work, then that they don’t work, then back to them working again. We’ve been told the vaccine would save our lives, but then some vaccinated people died too. There was an incredible division just around the vaccine alone and all the blame going both ways to the pro and anti vaccine groups both! There has been so much anger and animosity and heightened emotions…I don’t know about you but it exhausted me a long time ago. And even now… We keep fluctuating between feeling safe and feeling scared, depending on the current news headlines.
When you take into account all of the emotions people have been experiencing, and I am really just barely scratching the surface of everything that has happened over the past 2 ½ years: anger, fear, uncertainty, frustration, isolation, illness, etc, and without the normal support due to it being “safer at home” for so long, there has been a serious level of damage done to so many people’s psyches at this point. Most of the world has some flavor or another of PTSD right now. That damage can be healed, I don’t say that in the manner of doom…it just makes me both sad to see it, and motivated to help in whatever ways I can. This also leads me to part of what I teach my clients…about the 4 areas you can control that can help influence your stress and pain. Emotional and mental support are key to being able to heal from trauma. If you are surrounded by people who are enabling you…and I may piss a lot of you off by saying this but I feel that our government continued to enable people by continuing to send out stimulus checks at this point when companies are begging for workers…you are not going to be creating an environment conducive to healing. Enablement keeps you stuck. Empowerment sets you free. I am so curious how different our world would be had our government chosen or been empowered to choose to create a program to help people resolve their trauma with the money used for stimulus checks, so they felt safe to return to work. That’s not our world or reality though, nor has the US done much in the form of creating programs to empower people to help them heal their trauma, like ever…so let’s focus on what we can do now to help each other. The fact that prices are through the roof right now on everything…all that’s going to do is add to the fear which is much less likely to result in people taking action and trying to find work in whatever way they can, while they also struggle to feel safe again. In short…its a bit of a fucking mess right now, which also means we have SO MUCH opportunity to change and improve things!
Moving along in symptoms and patterns resulting from trauma. People pleasing, which is a form of codependency, is also a symptom of trauma. I would like to add here, that literally everyone I know who has experienced trauma, including myself, has developed people pleasing as a result of that trauma. It makes sense too...think about it this way. Trauma patterns are created just like regular patterns: they are resourceful in that moment when they are needed. Plus lets not forget…most patterns are from traumas of some sort or another. Being able to please or calm your abuser or attacker probably saved you from worse abuse…and that will make it a pattern your brain will go to anytime you feel something in your life is in jeopardy. It was resourceful to help you resolve your pattern. The anxiety spike tends to be the thing that sets off the pattern, and a disagreement with a partner or friend can trigger anxiety, which then triggers the pattern of people pleasing.
You still with me? Good. To be clear, people pleasing is putting someone else’s needs in front of your own. There is nothing wrong with wanting to please people, and most of us WANT the people we love to be pleased, and to be happy and have fulfilling lives…of course you want that for your loved ones…but when its done at your own expense, its now an unresourceful pattern that we call people pleasing that is probably doing some damage to your body. People-pleasing can be harder to break through, because it tends to be socially acceptable and encouraged! Think about it…how many shows or rom coms have you watched where someone gave up their world for someone else? It makes a great story line for a movie where it can end with happily ever after…but in my experience, that is rarely how it works out in real life!
Let’s take a quick pause here to recap. So far, I’ve talked about a few symptoms of trauma: depression and anxiety, which often show up in various patterns that look like behavioral and mood issues, low energy, high levels of irritability, laziness, irrational thinking, and at the worst of it…suicidal thoughts. It can lead to numbing and addiction, and most people survive trauma with some level of people-pleasing in tact. This now begs the question…what can be done about it?
Both the symptoms and the patterns can be lowered and changed with Cognomovement. There are other ways to do this, and normally I would go into them but this episode has been pretty long already, and I still feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the impact of trauma patterns, or how you may see them manifest in others so you can identify it when you are faced with it. Cognomovement, at its core, is the best tool I’ve found so far to be able to quickly find and delete patterns that are no longer resourceful.
Within a Cognomovement session, there are a few things that happen which will help you if you are struggling with anything I mentioned today. When you are in a Cognomovement session, 95-99% of your brain is focused on where you feel it in your physical body. Whether its a fear to return to work, or anxiety, or depression, something else, a session always starts by connecting to the feeling within your physical body. The focus is always on a sensation, even if you are focusing on a pattern, you will feel it. Then you get very descriptive about it, by examining it with curiosity. What does it feel like? Dull or sharp? Light or heavy? Pressure or energy? What do you feel? Be as descriptive as you can. Is there a shape? Or a color?
By the level of focus on the sensation in the body, you start to change the way you experience those emotions. As soon as you start to notice the emotion…it will change, and lighten. Through the movements in a Cognomovement session, you’ll also be harmonizing the hemispheres of your brain which will help balance between the left and right side. Your nervous system will be down-regulated, meaning it will calm down significantly. Once your nervous system has calmed, this allows room for perspective shifts, a deeper understanding of the history of the pattern with you, and insight into how you prefer to show up or react in future situations similar to whatever it is you’re focused on. The various eye movements within Cognomovement will help access different memories and emotions that are part of the pattern, and also help you see possibilities that weren’t available before. The end result is that you can completely change how you feel, and certainly change the patterns you have running from the trauma. You also activate all 3 ways you learn: auditory, visual and kinesthetic, allowing for more permanent changes.
I want to end this episode by mentioning a resource I am going to add to the show notes. There are tests you can take online, to gauge how any negative experiences you may have endured in childhood could be affecting you today. Alternatively, this site also has a test to gauge how any positive childhood experiences are working in your favor today, and helping you adapt. The site is the pinetreeinstitute.org. There is an ACE test for Adverse Childhood Experiences, as well as a test for PCE, or positive childhood experiences, which will greatly impact your level of resilience. I had first learned about these tests when i read The Body Keeps Score, by Bessel A Van Der Kolk, which is a fantastic book to help you learn more about how trauma affects your body both short term and long term. I will add a link to this book in the show notes as well.
Wow, thank you for joining me today, this was a doozie of an episode with a lot of content in it! My hope is you walk away with a better understanding about trauma, an ability to spot those patterns to try to meet someone you see acting out a trauma pattern with compassion, as well as more compassion for yourself if you see trauma patterns within your own life. Next week, we are going to take a little bit of a shift and talk about diet. My good friend and Level 2 Cognomovement practitioner Coral Simpson will be joining me to talk about the importance of diet, especially when you are navigating a chronic issue. We had a great time recording that episode, and I hope you will come join us again next week to learn some dietary tricks for yourself!