avoiding healthy habits? here's why.
Do you avoid healthy habits, even if your brain "knows" they're good for you? Unfortunately, logic alone is not enough to combat our deeply held, often unconscious beliefs and fears.
Our brain tries to keep us safe - and often has us avoiding things that scare us, even if that fear is 100% not a threat to our survival.
Mental health awareness is not something we think about in ourselves or in others, until our struggles become painfully, dangerously obvious...and that's not okay!
What are you avoiding, and how is that impacting your life?
Did you know that avoidance behaviors are one of the two main hallmarks of PSTD?
People think PTSD only has to do with soldiers...but many, many of us actually have some sort of PTSD. Things like childhood dysfunctions, abusive relationships, a difficult birth, surgery, or even natural disasters can create it!
Trauma unhinges our sense of feeling safe - and so we avoid anything that tends to feel similar, in order to protect ourselves.
The thing is, when our trauma originated in childhood - that means that so many things that make up a functional + productive life may be things we avoid doing!
We may find ourselves avoiding things like exercise, eating fresh whole foods, spending time with friends, or tackling things on our to-do lists - even when we "know" they're good for us and we want to do them.
PTSD often shows up with other dysfunctions like depression, anxiety, and even generalized physical pain. I didn't realize this - but sometimes, the avoidance behaviors (i.e. coping mechanisms) of PTSD can even be misdiagnosed as ADHD (!) This rings true for me, as I share a lot of similarities with key Asperger's traits.
Simply put, trauma makes us live in backwards-world (excellent article).
It’s like, if a car crashed into our swimming pool, but we never removed it, and just spend our entire childhood trying to swim around it…we’d think a pool without a bunch of scrap metal and oil pooling on the surface was…weird, right?
Even something as simple as our own inner judgment, criticism, or feeling embarrassed can send us into a downward spiral of shame, worry, and fear...
So how can we heal?
Ironically, in order to overcome our past traumas, we may need to confront them, or "re-feel" them in some way.
Therapy is highly, highly recommended - because this stuff isn't easy. However - not all therapists are equal, and frankly, it’s just not accessible for everyone.
However - we don't need to re-live the specifics of our traumatic past. This is important to be aware of.
There are many paths to healing, and sometimes reliving the event is itself damaging and not therapeutic.
The good news is, natural approaches are often very effective and can help us in our daily lives!
These three major things can make a big impact:
1. Bilateral Movement - anything like cycling, running, dance - things that involve large muscle movement and the vestibular system can help rewire our stress response.
2. Aromatherapy - since the olfactory system is directly connected with our limbic system, our most primal emotional responses can be accessed - and soothed - through scent.
3. Improved Nutrition - providing your brain and hormonal system with the raw materials it needs to heal and adapt to stress and release the effects of our unhelpful past.
For self-worth work, I like Desiree Mangandog's I Am Worthy book and essential oil protocols, as well as Gala Darling’s Radical Self Love.
If you're struggling to recognize emotional and/or narcissistic abuse in your life, the book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving (Amazon link) has been very helpful to me.
One last caveat - recognizing that you have trauma meddling with your daily habits and success is NOT the same as claiming that trauma as a personality trait.
If you’re busy going, oh, woe is me, I’m traumatized and can’t live a full life because of it, well it’s time to stop that nonsense.
That is scapegoating at best, and doesn’t help you or anyone else in the long run.
It’s beneficial to recognize your traumas, but it’s frankly dysfunctional to build your identity up as A Traumatized Person who cannot function in society or life.
This is giving your power away, which may garner sympathy from others, and may get you out of effort towards your own life…but I think that misses the point of living. Don’t you?