Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about trauma behavior, as it is often confused with triggers. And while they are at times annoying - they are not triggers nor are they are sign of bad health. A side effect of your experiences.
But they do cause a lot of confusion, uncertainty and muddy the water. So let us talk about it.
There are many things we take away from our traumatic experiences. Good and bad. Like I said before, if climbing a mountain changes you - so does the traumatic experience. Not all that we learn is bad, maybe unnecessary now, but not bad.
For example, I learned to read people and their emotions - that is quite handy. ESPECIALLY for an autist. If the amount of harm you receive is depending on the mood of those around you - that is one of the things you pick up.
While not needed anymore, I now use it to help others. Another example is - waking up after hearing unusual sounds. This can save your life or at least keep you from harm - unless it of course prevents you from sleeping.
Most of these things or behavior we learned were useful, needed and the like for our survival. They were useful. Knowing who comes up the stairs is useful. Being able to pick up sounds a gun makes is useful. Getting a panic reaction or the like is not.
In the best case scenarios those thing we learned give us an advantage in our lives in the worst case it makes things more difficult. We will talk about what trauma behavior is and then how we can unlearn it.
I feel like the most important thing is to understand that trauma behavior has almost nothing to do with - what we refer to as - triggers. I understand where the confusion is coming from. Both are a reaction from the body to something that others don’t have.
Though a trigger is usually panic, anxiety, shaking and/or the like. The reaction doesn’t make really sense NOR is it helpful. Contrary to trauma behavior, that makes sense and IS helpful - in the trauma situation at least - and for the brain at least.
For example an immediate strong reaction to people who seem off is an extremely helpful reaction - as long the reaction doesn’t block you from participating in life. That is usually the gold standard: A behavior shouldn’t block you from living your life.
There are also passive trauma behavior, but they are rarely an issue and would usually be called guts or instincts or something along those lines. Most likely you are not even aware you have it - which makes it usually a non issue.
Some abilities have become pretty much useless. Like knowing who comes upstairs by the sound of the stairs. Not really needed anymore - nor really disrupting. These abilities were usually bought with sweat, blood, pain and/or suffering.
That is why I really recommend to check, if you can’t change the behavior into something not blocking, but benefiting you. Often there is also the problem that something sets off the trigger AND the trauma behavior.
How slowly unlearn them
Before we get into how we can unlearn those behaviors, I want to say that it is incredible hard - sometimes almost impossible - to unlearn something that the brain thinks is essential for its survival. The job of the brain is to make sure you survive.
So first of all you need patience. You are figuratively trying to convince a stubborn mule to move. You will need a lot of patience and it will take quite a while. I really recommend to not rush it.
Second it is important to understand why you are reacting this way and what causes it. When A happens I react with B. For example: When I hear a shout I duck to escape punishment.
Because if you want to unlearn something, then you need to teach your brain to react differently to the thing and show that survival is not threatened by it. If you don’t understand what causes it or what the brain tries to prevent to happen - you can’t do that.
Third you need to be in a good state, as your brain in this mode is most willing to change and most likely to be capable to do so. If you are in great stress you are more likely to make things worse.
Fourth it is best if you take it slowly, if you can, be extremely aware of everything and go step by step what is happening. This way you have the greatest amount of control, awareness and time to change.
And fifth and last- check if you can redirect it or turn it into a useful behavior. It is easier to change the direction of the behavior than changing it completely.
That was it for todays episode, I hope you found it helpful. Hope you are safe and well. And as always, if you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/podcast/, information regarding therapy you can find under johannadraconis.com/therapy/ and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.