Episode 98: A Look at Trauma Through the Lens of the Gospel

May 22, 2023


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As with last week, this is your warning as we dive into specific mental health diagnosis and talking about them, this is not considered therapy and is just informational. If you feel like you need help and support with anything I talk about in these episodes please reach out and get that support.

The first distinction I want to make as we dive into trauma through the lens of the gospel is that there is a difference between experiencing trauma and having a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as PTSD.

Everyone experiences stress on an almost daily basis. However, when you have a strong emotional reaction to a stressful situation this can be considered traumatic. More specifically, if your reaction keeps you from functioning the way you did before. Not every stressful situation can impair your future functioning and not all impairments last long term.

There are different factors that can cause someone to be more susceptible to PTSD, such as the number of traumatic situations they have experienced, history of depression or anxiety, your temperament, how your brain regulates hormones, and chemicals released during the traumatic event. Also, whether you have an occupation that exposes you to trauma frequently. There is also a term called secondary trauma. With this you can experience the same symptoms of PTSD without having witnessed or been associated with the trauma first hand. This can happen from hearing about the trauma second hand.

As a therapist I am exposed to secondary trauma on a daily basis. I have to be really careful about how I protect myself daily. To do this I implement the same skills I teach my clients to use. Using the same modalities I teach on a daily basis to protect me from secondary trauma.

Another important thing to remember is that trauma symptoms can can appear any time after the event not just immediately. You can even experience symptoms decades after being exposed. Some of the symptoms one might experience with PTSD are, but not limited to:

  •  Reliving traumatic events over and over or having flashbacks of the event
  • Recurring memories of the event while awake or sleeping
  • Upsetting nightmares
  • Physical and/or emotional distress triggered by your senses that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Resisting thoughts or conversations about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding people, places, or acts that remind you of the even

When you start experiencing these symptoms your mind and body are going to begin developing strategies to protect you. Unfortunately, sometimes these strategies aren’t the healthiest choices and often cause the symptoms to get worse. I’ll explain why that is by using the same model I talked about last week called Mind Body Bridging. I will also add in the spiritual aspect to this.

With any traumatic event or situation you experience, the ultimate healer is going to be the Savior. He is the true source of all healing in everyone whether they recognize it is His power or not. But what often happens is the natural man gets in the way of that healing. Remember, the natural man is inside of all of us and is what creates agency because it is the opposing force to God. So with trauma the natural man is going to want to do the exact opposite of what will create healing which is to avoid feeling any emotions related to the trauma. Avoiding them is not true healing. 

The reason this is not healing is because in order to heal you must pass through healing WITH the Savior not go around it.

The natural man accomplishes this avoidance by creating mental rules about how your world should look idealistically. By doing that you never experience something remotely similar. Then it goes into a cycle of trying to require those ideal standards to happen. In Mind Body Bridging terms we call these mental rules requirements. They are the “shoulds” of life that we try to enforce at all costs causing more distress and turmoil in our lives trying to make those things happen.

Spiritually this is a problem because it takes the Savior out of the equation. It also asserts our will over God’s will. If we go into the healing process with our own idea of what healing should look like, then we are missing a huge source of info that the Savior can provide. He has already experienced that exact traumatic situation you experienced and knows exactly what is needed for healing. Also, healing often comes through means we would not imagine or often discount as healing.

Think about it like this. The natural man’s way of healing is always going to be looking for the easiest route. When the natural man starts creating all of these ideal requirements about how our world should look it is looking to create a world where we never experience growth or progression. An easy route that does not help us progress. That is the exact opposite of what God wants for you.

He wants you to become stronger and grow from this experience and use it for your good. He wants you to align your will with His and progress in His plan of happiness for you. What the Savior said in the garden of gethsemane in Luke 22:42-43 is the perfect example of aligning our will with God's despite the trauma in our life.

“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”

When we approach God with our desires for healing and even our wishes for how that might occur He will answer. The caveat is we must be open to His guidance in the process. He can provide the strength we need to pass through the challenging situations of this life and emerge a stronger disciple of Christ. 

The mental health skills that I teach called Mind Body Bridging, help you identify these mental rules called requirements that are causing you to slip into that natural man state. A state that pulls you away from the true Healer. Once you learn to identify those I teach you how to defuse these requirements. Defusing is a process of deactivating the ability that the mental rules have to wake up the natural man. When these mental rules are defused they turn into our personal preferences with the caveat of “thy will be done.”

God wants us to work towards an ideal picture of life but not require that it happen now in this life. When you experience a traumatic situation or if you currently have a diagnosis of PTSD you likely have a lot of these mental rules or requirements built up. It can be very exhausting trying to force these rules to turn out perfectly on a daily basis. If you listened to last week's episode where I talked about what symptoms occur after the natural man is awake, you can see the turmoil that is created over and over again internally. 

If you start using the mental health skills I teach in my Connection Course, you can start to defuse how many triggers are going off on a daily basis and return to the Savior's healing power.  As you start the process of defusing these requirements, then you are staying connected to the Savior for longer and more often. Also, you are staying connected to your own internal divine spirit, which makes connecting with others less stressful. If you know someone who has been affected by trauma in their lives, please share this episode with them. 

I want more than anything to have more women feel the hope and healing power of our Savior Jesus Christ.


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