The Domino Effect of Triggering Trauma
Regardless of what your personal perspective of the Covid-19 outbreak is, you have been traumatized by it. Between the daily terror briefings on the news, the relentless and constant reminders coming at you from every direction of a looming personal lethal threat, the directive to stay home and save lives, peer pressure (and in some places mandatory laws) to wear a mask, the implied dangers of shaking hands or hugging one another, and the mandate to self-isolate if you're not feeling well, the state of your emotional health has been negatively impacted.
The mind file that deals with death, stored in your FEAR cabinet, has been referenced and reinforced so many times, there are now multiple intellectual and emotional blocks that will negatively impact your life for years to come unless and until you choose to regain your personal power.
The study of psychology has definitely helped a lot of folks over the years, but it's teachings have also been used by some to intentionally inflict damage.
Knowledge is a double-edged sword.
All things have both positive and negative attributes and some are both positive and negative at the same time. It always boils down to perspective. We cannot see through the filters of anyone else's mind files; we can only see through our own. In other words, we can't know about things we don't know about, which means there will be times throughout our lives when we must look outside ourselves for answers. Generally speaking, we look to those we consider to be authorities in the fields we know nothing about for direction when we find ourselves in situations we don't know a lot about.
Over the past several months, people have been inundated with messages from government officials, celebrities, doctors and journalists to 'stay home and save lives'. This message implies a lethal threat exists for everyone, and complete compliance to this one narrative is the only thing that will keep you safe and ultimately alive. The message is delivered by literally thousands of people, every second of every hour, to thousands of people through multiple channels and in multiple ways. There is not a person on this planet who hasn't been negatively impacted.
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, has been used in psychological settings for many years to help people come to terms with their past, heal a wide range of mental health issues and has successfully provided millions of people with a positive life tool. It has also been used as a way to brainwash, coerce, manipulate and harm people. Just ask anyone who fell victim to a cult and lived to tell the story.
Whenever psychologists, therapists, social workers or other mental health workers come face to face with people who have been indoctrinated by a group of people with extremely rigid perspectives (commonly referred to as a cult), they refer to the psychological damage a person has suffered as psychological trauma. Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, an American psychiatrist and author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, studied the negative impact of 'the quest of absolute or totalistic belief systems' on the human psyche. He states in his 1998 preface:
Indeed, that quest has produced nothing short of a worldwide epidemic of political and religious fundamentalism—of movements characterized by literalized embrace of sacred texts as containing absolute truth for all persons, and a mandate for militant, often violent, measures taken against designated enemies of that truth or mere unbelievers. The epidemic includes fundamentalist versions of existing religions and political movements as well as newly emerging groups that may combine disparate ideological elements
Brainwashing is often misunderstood and the word misused by people who have yet to heal their own mind file that deals with their personal experience of being manipulated and/or coerced. The unreSOLVED anger, resentment and sometimes even rage at being duped creates a need for validation, and whenever their is a need for something, projection is sure to follow. Rather than accepting responsibility for their own choices and figuring out how someone was able to coerce or manipulate them, they claim they have been indoctrinated without consent - or brainwashed.
Some people deny to themselves and consequently everyone they know that they fell prey to anyone. Dr. Janja Lalich, an expert in cults, extremist groups and charismatic relationships states:
Many people who have been subjected to psychological manipulation and control selectively deny aspects of their experience. Some become angry and resistant at the mention of mind control, thought reform, or brainwashing, thinking these things could not possibly have been done to them. It is very threatening to a person’s sense of self to contemplate having been controlled or taken over.
Admitting to one's self - which is really accepting responsibility for the choices that led you to be controlled - takes an enormous amount of courage, willingness to heal and tenacity to see it through. No one wants to see themselves as weak or vulnerable because of the negative connotation associated with those words, but everyone has an Achilles's heel and that's not a bad thing. For example, most people would do whatever they could to protect those they love, so in a sense, the desire to protect could be considered a weakness by someone and used against you as a manipulative tool. Dr. Lalich lists several questions you could consider when evaluation the validity of the person you suspect as being manipulative, coercive or dangerous to your well-being. You can read more about Dr. Lalich's work on her website: http://cultresearch.org.
Dr. Lifton explains the use of the word brainwashing as:
"Brainwashing" soon developed a life of its own. Originally used to describe Chinese indoctrination techniques, it was quickly applied to Russian and Eastern European approaches, and then to just about anything which the Communists did anywhere (as illustrated by the statement of a prominent American lady who, upon returning from a trip to Moscow, claimed that the Russians were "brainwashing" prospective mothers in order to prepare them for natural childbirth). Inevitably, the word made its appearance closer to home, sometimes with the saving grace of humor (New Yorker cartoons of children "brainwashing" parents, and wives "brainwashing" husbands), but on other occasions with a more vindictive tone—as when Southern segregationists accused all who favor racial equality (including the United States Supreme Court) of having been influenced by "left-wing brainwashing"; or equally irresponsible usages by anti-fluoridation, anti-mental health legislation, or anti-almost anything groups leveled against their real or fancied opponents.
Then there is the lurid mythology which has grown up about it: the "mysterious oriental device," or the deliberate application of Pavlov's findings on dogs. There is also another kind of myth, the claim that there is no such thing, that it is all just the fantasy of American correspondents.
Finally, there is the more responsible—even tortured—self-examination which leads professional people to ask whether they in their own activities might not be guilty of "brainwashing": educators about their teaching, psychiatrists about their training and their psychotherapy, theologians about their own reform methods. Opponents of these activities, without any such agonizing scrutiny, can more glibly claim that they are "nothing but brainwashing." Others have seen "brainwashing" in American advertising, in large corporation training programs, in private preparatory schools, and in congressional investigations. These misgivings are not always without basis, and suggest that there is a continuity between our subject and many less extreme activities; but the matter is not clarified by promiscuous use of the term.
Behind this web of semantic (and more than semantic) confusion lies an image of "brainwashing" as an all-powerful, irresistible, unfathomable, and magical method of achieving total control over the human mind. It is of course none of these things, and this loose usage makes the word a rallying point for fear, resentment, urges toward submission, justification for failure, irresponsible accusation, and for a wide gamut of emotional extremism.
People don't like to admit they've been duped; taken advantage of, lied to, coerced, manipulated, but everyone has, at one point in their life, fallen victim to the games that people play with one another. The degree to which a person has been traumatized by the coercion or manipulation varies of course, but ultimately everyone has suffered psychologically at the hands of another.
Statistically, 1 in 5 people have been emotionally traumatized, and that was before Covid-19. Take a moment to think about the people in your life. Does anyone struggle with anxiety? Do you know anyone who struggles with addiction? What about anger? Are there any people you know who are prone to rages that can become abusive? What about depression? Do you know anyone who suffers from intense sadness? How many control freaks do you know?
Now, ask yourself how that one person's emotional health affects you. Take this one step further and ask yourself how many people with unresolved emotional traumas are in positions to make decisions on your behalf: politicians, doctors, health workers, etc. It's impossible to know the answer, but once you acknowledge the possibility, you will see things very differently.
Emotional trauma negatively affects a person's mind, body and Spirit, and the consequences of one person's emotional trauma negatively impacts several others in many ways.
Suicide rates have increased and likely will continue as people lose their jobs, their homes and descend into despair. When one person chooses to take their life, many people are impacted. See this article: https://calgaryherald.com/news/heartbreaking-suicide-rates-expected-to-rise-as-covid-19-grinds-on/
Domestic violence, addiction, and various forms of abuse have increased because many people do not have the skills needed to cope with this level of stress. One person's lack of self regulation negatively impacts several. See this article https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/domestic-violence-rates-rising-due-to-covid19-1.5545851
RECLAIM YOUR PERSONAL POWER
Covid-19 isn't going away anytime soon and the next novel corona virus is just around the corner, so what can you do to keep yourself from falling into the dark pit of constant negative narrative nonsense?
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOU
You have the power to manage your health and your immunity! Carefully consider what you want to put into your body. It's the best time of the year to strengthen your immune system! Fresh fruits and vegetables are everywhere! Choose chemical free veggies and only certified organic fruits. Get the highest quality meat, poultry and fish you can afford, and get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Go for a walk out in nature if you can. Get away from the hustle bustle of the city (and the fear) and recharge yourself in nature.
You have the power to manage you
Educate yourself. Seek out as many differing opinions as you can, then form your own. The internet is full of information. Some good and some outright ridiculous, but trust your intuition to guide you to the truth.
Limit your exposure to fear. It's great to keep up with what's going on in your community, but you don't need to immerse yourself in the media to keep up. Set a timer for social media and stick to it.
Discover who you really are. Find out why you think and feel the way you do about things. Understanding yourself and feeling genuine heart-felt compassion toward yourself helps you to feel genuine heart-felt compassion toward others. There are many great books out there that will get you started.
If you've experienced emotional trauma, choose to heal. It's not something you can do on your own because your mind's process will always justify itself to itself. If you're ready and you really want to heal, you'll need to be exposed to alternative and unbiased opinions about the conclusions your mind's process formed at the end of the painful experiences. All the positive thinking in the world will not heal your emotional trauma. You must work through the trauma to reSOLVE it.
Find a Spiritual practice that works for you. Reconnect with God - however you understand Him/Her/It - and make a commitment to devote time every day to reconnecting and forming a relationship with Him. Healing requires heart-felt forgiving and some things are extremely difficult to forgive, but with God's Grace, you can forgive anything!
You are the author of your life. You have the power to choose what is best for you. Invest in yourself. No person, place or thing has power over you unless you willingly give it away.
It's your life. Live it your way.
If you're struggling with too much stress, or you've experienced emotional trauma and are ready to begin your healing journey, book your personal assessment here.
With God, all things really are possible.
© 2020 Penny Hodgson All Rights Reserved