Childhood trauma is an event that a child witnesses that causes fear and can be violent, dangerous, or life-threatening. However, trauma can also be the result of neglect, absence and emotional unavailability. Traumatic events can have long-term consequences for a child's physical, mental, and social development.
What is self-soothing?
Self-soothing methods are ways we can relax when we feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. Survivors of abuse and childhood trauma frequently struggle to self-soothe, in part due to physiological differences between their brain and that of a neurotypical person—we lack integration between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which means that when we become sentimental, our rational side goes "offline."
When you have experienced childhood trauma, one of the ways we soothe ourselves as adults is to develop addictions, but another way we can self-soothe is, when we have received the message that we are not good enough or not worthy enough, is to spend the rest of our lives trying to prove that we are, by being very nice to everyone, and always putting ourselves last.
We can fall into the trap of never saying how we really feel because we are always worried that we would hurt someone else’s feelings. We can also not express healthy anger or disappointment when someone has crossed our boundaries. We can also throw ourselves into our work, and work way too hard, to the point of burnout, just to prove that we are worthwhile. And then by doing all this, what we do is block out all the things that will actually bring us the healing we need, for our own self-care, and help us live the balanced life that might bring us the joy and self-discovery that we are all really craving underneath.
How can we positively self-soothe?
Breathe Easily - When you consciously breathe, your brains process it as "I am safe to relax." Take a deep breath whenever you feel your stress levels rising. Every day, practice deep breathing for 5 minutes at the same time.
Try grounding techniques - Using your senses can help you feel more "rooted" and in the present moment. Our senses aid in grounding us in reality. When we pay attention to our senses, we fully inhabit our bodies, which helps us avoid dissociation. You can also experiment with EFT tapping.
Hug Yourself - Try covering your arms around your shoulders in a self-hug or placing your hand over your heart. This is very soothing, especially when combined with deep breathing. Don't be afraid to rock back and forth—this is similar to being rocked as a baby to help it calm down/fall asleep.
Exercise - Soft activity, such as a walk around the block or yoga, may help you feel more at ease. According to studies, exercise causes the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, such as endorphins and dopamine.
Learn more about self-soothing trauma:
When should you ask for assistance?
Learning how to self-soothe is a fantastic way to deal with difficult emotions, but it's also important to remember that you don't need to go through this alone. You can contact an expert and make an appointment for assistance.
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