Healing, whether it be from an autoimmune disease, unintegrated childhood trauma or both because they probably are more connected than you realize, can be a multilayered process. Healing comes from your ability to have insights and make observations that give you more information into your bodies inner workings. It is your ability to mend and integrate what’s “off” that allows your body and mind to operate in harmony. Without harmony, your body and mind may experience disruption. During this healing journey, there is one primal harmonious need that we often overlook.
Healing comes from your ability to feel safe.
Whether you are working from the outside in like changing your diet or reducing outside stresses in order to bring down your autoimmune inflammation, for example, your body cannot heal until it feels balanced aka safe.
After doing two rounds of the Autoimmune Protocol elimination diet and healing my alopecia areata successfully, I found yet another layer that needed healing. AIP was just the first stage a major healing process I was and will be undertaking….maybe I should say “inner taking”.
After AIP, I realized there was more healing that needed to happen. I was grateful for my alopecia areata and how it illuminated the path that I was FINALLY ready and able to walk.
When I completed the diet, the hair regrowth, the elimination, I was left with feelings and thoughts I couldn’t un-feel or silence.
My body was the manifested condition in which I was able to acknowledge how unsafe internally I felt. And by the consistent feeling and traumatic patterns of being unsafe in real life and in my thoughts, I flipped the switch in my body that kept it in the fight or flight mode. This inflammation inducing mode was what led me to the beginning of healing myself.
An Elimination Diet Interrupts Your Patterns.
What any elimination diet really does, aside from removing inflammatory foods which are very important during your initial healing stages, is interrupt your patterns. During an elimination diet, everything changes. Your grocery shopping list, the way you nurture yourself -initially with food, your meal patterns, who you eat meals with, who you engage within the outside world, how you see those who react to you based on your dietary needs.
When you interrupt your behavioral patterns your perspective starts shifting too. Your mind shifting is the beginning of being able to have a different perspective on your experiences. That doesn’t mean it changes the experience completely it is simply looking at it from a different perspective. Through a changed perspective of ourselves to we begin to have a different understanding. And the more we understand ourselves we can understand the motives and behaviors of others in relation to us. For me, this was understanding my first family.
While I was raised in a holistic home with natural homeopathic medicine that didn’t mean my dear parents were without their challenges. Like me, they were never taught the skills in order to feel safe and so through this healing journey that started with my self-induced alopecia areata, I begin to teach myself the innate need to feel safe.
Harmony of the Mind and Body Creates the Space for the Healing To Take Place.
If you are in a place where you feel like you will never feel safe, because your parents ruined you and this crap is what’s left…..recognize that inner dialogue?….then you can swap out the idea of feeling safe for finding harmony.
Harmony can represent the balance of the thoughts, balance of the body, balance of the physical. Through our healing processes, because they are so personal, we will find strategies and opportunities to promote harmony for our own wellbeing.
If you are working from the inside out, by going to therapy, meditating, or practicing mindfulness then you will have experienced a different layer of healing first. Again, there is no “right” layer to peel first, it’s just sometimes the way life happens.
How Do I Create The Feeling of Harmony?
Well, to be frank, I am still learning this. This is also going to be different for every person because as we all know by now, healing is very personal. Here are some ways in which I currently create harmony in my life and how I am working towards ways to feel safe.
1. Observe my thoughts– I know now not ALL of my thoughts are accurate. This is not the same thing as validating my feelings. This is watching how my mind works when faced with a trauma or triggering experience. When I am triggered which is pretty obvious now because it feels like the complete opposite of harmony, I am aware my thoughts may not be rational. When your mind is “triggered” your mind ALSO goes into fight or flight mode. In an effort to feel safe and protect you, it goes into rapid fire mode- you are not able to produce rational thoughts in those moments.
2. Talk to a therapist– If my body was able to sustain it’s fight or flight mode without killing, then it’s safe to safe 1- there is a lot of stuff going on inside of me and 2- I want to live and thrive. Through a close outsider suggesting I work with a therapist who specializes in trauma, I found an amazing practitioner who is helping me create a secure connection and help me develop the skills necessary to essential reparent myself into safety.
3. Practice Grounding- This is so important when the mind goes into fight or flight mode. Grounding is not just a hippie idea, it is putting you back into your body and out of your panicked thoughts. It is making you aware of the present moment where you likely are not experiencing a threat aka a lion attack or parental attack and are safe. My fabulous therapist says this but my first-hand panicky experiences confirm it. This is where you engage your 5 senses and get back into your body. Some good ways to ground that I have practiced:
- Splash cold water on your face and neck. I also keep an ice pack around in case my thoughts go nuts. I put it right on my head and tell those thoughts, “chill out you!”
- Occupy your mind. For me reading the headlines or short news articles of things I may not care about, helps.
- Calming sprays or oils. If you are a fan of essential oils that’s great if it helps you. You can keep a little roller on hand and smell it or rub it on your wrists when you start to feel fight or flight mode start engaging.
- Go for a walk and notice EVERYTHING around you. If you have a dog this is where they really become your best friend. Let them lead you on a walk and observe everything you see.
- Start touching stuff. My therapist (I love how that sounds…either completely rich or completely nuts!) mentioned those fidget gadgets. Maybe a Rubix cube, fidget spinners, even different textures of fabric. Get all touchy-feely with your surroundings.. except if they are people:)
Feeling safe and feeling harmonious is your human right. If you didn’t get that warm and cozy feeling of unconditional love as a child your body may still be producing the results like a ripple in a tide. Maybe you can’t just get over it, or let it go, or move on because unfortunately, THAT IS NOT HOW HUMANS WORK!!!!! We all have different levels of how we experience and perceive trauma and as life goes on or gets harder and harder to function in, you will start to go inwards which often involves going backward.
As I learn the skills needed to feel safe and harmonious throughout my healing, I encourage anyone else who needs it to seek out qualified others who will help them develop their own skills as well. Check out Psychologytoday.com to find a trauma therapist in your area.
Ready for more healing?