The Body Never Lies: How the body stores trauma + how to heal it
The body never lies. The first time I heard that phrase, it was a sexual innuendo in a rap song. I can’t recall which song, but thats neither here nor there. There’s a similar sentiment in healing, in that, the body reveals the truth about our trauma and healing, because memory is held in the body. Even if we don’t consciously remember an event or feel like we’re over something, it doesn’t mean that the trauma is no longer there.
“So many of us have had this experience where we understand something intellectually, but we find ourselves in the same pattern. We find ourselves acting out the same behaviours and then catching ourselves afterwards and thinking, I knew I shouldn’t do that or why do I feel this way? That is a bodily response at that moment that hasn’t healed on a deeper level,” says somatic therapy practitioner Savannah Faere.
A trauma response is how the body reacts to a perceived threat. Our bodies are capable of amazing things, but they can sometimes struggle to distinguish between a real threat and a perceived threat. This confusion can cause us to feel threatened and our nervous system to activate, even though we aren’t really in danger. If you have a fear of rejection, for example, you’re likely to experience a traumatic response after being ghosted. Nobody likes being ghosted, and there’s nothing inherently dangerous about it, but your nervous system may be convinced otherwise.
“The trauma response is the way that we have adapted to cope with certain situations. Majority of the time, it is circumstances like conflict, chaotic home environments and unmet childhood needs. Trauma is not about the event itself, it is about our body's response to it. When we get stuck in these responses, they show up in various aspects of our daily lives - it's not specific just to the event. This can hold us back from living a life that’s healthy and fulfilling because we’re stuck in these cycles.”
This is sympathetic nervous system activation where the body is prepared to fight in response to a perceived danger or stress, and the body prepares to attack. The way that this shows up in our daily lives would be things like, lashing out, picking fights, outbursts of anger, projecting our emotions and things that we don’t like about ourselves onto the other person. The fight response is usually associated with pent up emotions and really big reactive emotions.
Powerful practice: “Counterbalance the fight response by doing some form of emotional release. This includes things like intentional movement, breath work for emotional release, channelled anger practices, like screaming into a pillow or punching into a pillow. It’s of no harm to anybody else. I always recommend journaling alongside these things because a lot of emotions can come up. Journaling provides a calming process to expand on and connect with what we’re feeling. Sometimes we're really hard on ourselves or have self-harming behaviours. When we're able to direct pent up emotions in a healthy way, not towards ourselves or others, it's a lot better for our wellbeing.”