Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Building Trust after Trauma and Abuse

How do you trust after trauma and abuse?
When the war is over and the intellect knows it but the body needs to catch up , even a safe environment and situation can send your body to tense and contract.
Here are some steps I take towards building trust at the level of my body:
- Hang out with authentic people. Fake smiles and pretence of affection make me shudder (whether I do that, or someone else, or both - you know the reluctant hugs with kissing the air around each other's cheeks?)
- Only get on the treatment table of people whose presence, wisdom, competence and character I trust. The other way round too: only work with clients and students with whom I share affinity, so they can trust me. 
- The more dishonest someone is, the more suspicious they are. I practice telling the truth and connecting with people who tell the truth. 
- Check my own suspicions. One of the aftermath results of trauma is hypervigilence, and seeing threats where there are none. Where I find myself to fear a threat that I can't tell whether is real or imagined, I look close until I learn the facts. I have proven my own suspicions wrong often enough to not believe them every time they emerge. Giving the benefit of the doubt is the sanest step to well-being. 
- Upon encountering dishonesty I mentally list those people close to me whom I trust with my life and my house key. Sometimes I need to remind myself that my mistrust of someone is not a deficiency of mine, but a natural and useful response to behaviours that are unsupportive.
- Bodywork to undo the chronic shrugging, the contraction of long term living with mistrust. It's easier to identify trustworthy people with soft, relaxed shoulders and a flexible neck 

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