Treating PTSD: Tapping Into Joy
Friday, December 25th, 2009 • Uncategorized •
Before I dive into today’s post let’s take care of business. The holidays can be tough if you have PTSD. If you’re feeling the pinch of this time of year check out these 5 Tips for Holiday Stress Management Tips.
And now, on with today’s post…
And then there is that other awkward fact: It does, it can, it will if you seek it.
The truth is joy is an inherent trait. Like laughter joy is involuntary. It can pop up and out at the most unexpected moment. Joy — and the capacity for joy — lives in you.
The sad part of PTSD is it makes us unrecognizable to ourselves, so we lose parts and pieces of our true nature as they get buried beneath the junk of fear, trauma and sadness.
It will take some digging, but now’s as good a time to begin thinking about tapping into your joy.
Tip #10 for Staying on the Healing Path: It’s a scientific fact that the mind cannot hold 2 opposing emotions at once. Building on that then, you cannot be horribly depressed and joyful at the same time. One will push out the other. If you begin in depression and elicit joy then… that’s right! Joy will oust depression — even if only for an hour. In my own healing shifting my focus to the pursuit of joy not only allowed me to tap into a much better place, it also allowed me to actively build my post-trauma identity. You can do the same. Tapping into joy is a choice you make. There’s also this: feeling joy — that surge of endorphins, that release of serotonin – is very healing for a body. Whether you’re into the effects of healing on the mind or body, joy delivers on both counts.
Accessing your joy (in however small a way at first) is a very good healing goal. And sure, you won’t oust the darkness forever in one day, but each step you take to shed some light at all will bring you one step closer.
If you were in a dark room and wanted to find the door to get out you would try to make some illumination to light your way path. Joy is that illumination out of the PTSD dark.
Healing is a victory of inches. You can do that; you can move forward just one inch. Really, you can. I believe in you.
BRIDGE THE GAP Exercise:
It would be ridiculous and unreasonable to think you could just dive into joy head first. No, you’ll have to get used to the idea before you can actually use it.
Your assignment today: Just practice accepting the idea that joy does exist somewhere inside you. At various moments throughout the day stop everything, focus your mind, close your eyes, imagine you are on a mission to discover where your body holds joy. It’s in there; you just have to find it.
Pretend in your mind you can see your body. Somewhere a small light blinks or flickers. Give the light a color. Focus on that. Isolate it. Pinpoint it.
Now, zoom in on it and just acknowledge the presence of the light. The light is joy. Your body does have this (sometimes tiny) flicker.
For the rest of the day and tomorrow and the day after that get into a habit of doing this exercise. Acknowledge the flicker. Allow it to increase in brightness. Allow it to get bigger. Allow yourself to own this small victory.
NOTE: Don’t be discouraged if you cannot immediately find the light. Repeat the exercise as many times as necessary until you do. It’s there. I promise.
(Photo acknowledgement on Flickr.)