Feeling stressed or tense? You might want to try Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). This is the body’s natural way to release stress, fear, tension and trauma so that it can balance back up to a state of peace and calm where it’s easier to be with others and enjoy life.
I’m a practitioner of TRE and can teach you how to use it as a self-care tool. After learning TRE in a session or two you can use it at home whenever you want to help maintain your balance and peace.
Here’s a short video explaining TRE.
If you’d like to watch more on what TRE is and how it works, as well as examples of people tremoring you can do so here.
If you’d like to book an appointment to learn TRE either in person or via Zoom you can do so here.
When unexpected events occur it shakes your foundations, your normal way of being. If you feel uncertain, unsafe or scared then your nervous system will react with either fight, flight or freeze responses.
People who get angry at what is occurring, who rage that more should be done are having a ‘fight’ reaction. The adrenaline and cortisol pumping through their veins fuels an aggressive reaction.
There may not be an enemy that can be fought. In this case, you can’t fight the Corona Virus in the traditional sense. It doesn’t have have a physical body for you to face up to, seething and threaten it and go several rounds in the boxing ring.
This is what those in a fight response are ultimately wanting to do because the act of fighting uses up the adrenaline and cortisol enabling them to calm back down, for their nervous system to regulate.
Without the fight, the cortisol and adrenaline stay in their blood and gets stored in the body as tension, tightening of muscles, clenching of the jaw, etc.
It takes emotional awareness to notice what is occurring and to take action to self-soothe, rather than lash out at others with the upset that you have. Be aware many people may behave in ways they normally wouldn’t as they are in ‘survival’ mode, feeling unsafe and a need to protect themself and their family. To some, it may literally feel life-threatening, so their behaviours may be extreme.
Those who react with a ‘flight’ response will want to run away to escape the danger. They will find it hard to be still and being locked in their home may feel stifling and like being in prison.
The cortisol and adrenaline in their system are priming their muscles to run, run, run, so it’s almost impossible for them to meditate, relax, deep breathe, be still and enjoy the chance to rest and strengthen up. The flight reaction of their nervous system is telling them it is not safe to relax and enjoy the time at home.
Even though they may consciously want to relax, they can’t. The reason for this is that the ‘survival’ mechanism is a different part of the brain, the hindbrain, that takes over when we’re in a fight, flight or freeze response. The neocortex or rational thinking part of the brain gets suppressed.
Evolution wise this made sense. When a lion is about to attack you it doesn’t help you to be able to talk to it or to think slowly through all your options, the pros and cons of each, to decide what to do. You need to react instinctively and quickly in the face of danger, and that is what the limbic system does. That’s why it is so hard to think clearly and express yourself if you’re in a heightened nervous system reaction with high levels of a fight, flight or freeze response occurring.
Those people that have a ‘freeze’ reaction are instinctively hiding and holding still, hoping that the lion won’t see them. They hold their breath, breathe shallowly and slow down their internal bodily reactions, coming to a place of panicked stillness in the hope that they won’t be seen.
They may dissociate from their body, literally escape it by focusing elsewhere in their mind, off in daydreams or splitting off part fo their consciousness.
They literally jump out of their body, like energetically floating above it. This is the out of body experience people can have during a near-death experience. They see their body from the perspective of being outside of it. They’ve been so scared, so terrified of death, they’ve jumped out of their skin.
This too is part of the ‘survival’ mechanism. If the lion was about to eat you, you don’t want to be fully conscious in your body and feel it, so you jump out. The body also gets pumped full of opioids which numb you, so you don’t feel yourself being eaten or killed.
That’s why some people will seem numb, not fully present, not with you when you try to talk to them. They’re not. They’ve escaped. This can be dangerous as someone who is dissociated from their body can be accident-prone. They’re not paying close attention to what they do. It takes them longer to notice that they’re touching the hot kettle and it’s hurting them.
They may be forgetful. If you are dealing with someone who has dissociated, numbed out, know it’s not that they don’t care. They have switched off out of panic, out of terror, feeling like death is imminent. We need to help such a person to reconnect with their body, to bring them back to the present moment gently, compassionately.
Don’t expect too much of them or ask them to do anything complex. They simply can’t. Until they calm back down they can’t concentrate and be responsible for others. This is where compassion and understanding can help prevent any judgements, arguments and accusations. When you know what is occurring you can adjust your expectations to help the person to recentre, to come back into their body.
Looking them in the eyes, holding their hands or feet, talking to them softly, this will gently invite them back into connection with their body. Standing on the grass with bare feet will help them to ground. Touching things, smelling things, tasting things – reengaging the senses will help bring them back. There’s a lot you can do to assist such a person.
Essential oils can be very calming and again help you to connect back to the present moment. The olfactory bulb is connected directly to the limbic system, the emotional part of the brain, so smells quickly alter how we are feeling emotionally. Within seconds a comforting smell can result in a little or a lot of relaxation.
Gentle movement can help a person who is coming out of a freeze response. Whether that be yoga, tai chi, qi gong. You don’t want to do heavy aerobic exercise as that ramps the body up. You want to do gentle, calming exercise so the person feels safer.
One process that can help with all of these reactions – fight, flight and freeze – is Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). It is a series of gentle exercises designed to start the body’s automatic stress, tension and trauma release process.
The body has a built-in mechanism to ‘shake off’ tension, stress and trauma. The shaking uses up the adrenaline and cortisol from the fight, flight, freeze reactions and it enables the body to calm back down, to drop out of a parasympathetic freeze reaction or a sympathetic fight or flight state, to the calm parasympathetic state where we can connect and relate to others.
It’s a natural process available to all of us. If you would like to know more about TRE you can visit my TRE webpage, the TRE Australia website or the global TRE website.
I can teach individuals TRE as part of an online appointment or an in-person appointment. You can then use it to help your body calm and relax whenever you need to. It’s a great self-care tool that not only helps you to come out of a heightened nervous system state but also helps you to open up and expand.
When your nervous system calms, it no longer sends your brain signals that you’re in danger, so the mind relaxes too, and the defensive mechanisms that you’ve used to protect yourself start to soften. They start to loosen up so it’s easier for you to choose to think and behave differently than you’ve always done. You’re no longer fighting against yourself so much.
When we’re in a defended state we may consciously want to change or start a hobby or change our life, but internally our body resists it, subconsciously thinking and reacting as if the change is a threat and should be avoided, hence the resistance and difficulty taking action.
When your nervous system is relaxed and calm, and your body is feeling safer, you don’t have so much resistance. your body actually wants to connect with others and enjoy life.
It is my hope that this blog helps you to understand the various reactions that those around you may be having during this challenging moment in time with the Corona Virus. It’s not that people are cold, callous, uncaring of others. They’re just reacting in survival, feeling a need to compete with others in order to survive. They want the toilet paper, food, etc to ensure they and their loved ones are okay. This is part of our primal, instinctive reactions when we’re in a fight, flight, freeze reaction.
With empathy and compassion, we can help each other to calm, to do the best we can through all of this. Try not to take people’s reactions personally and do what you can to help yourself and others to balance up, stay grounded and enjoy these times as much as we can. Blessings to all. Namaste.
If you found this blog useful you may wish to consider purchasing a copy of Jodi-Anne’s book ‘Advice from a higher Source’ which contains 85 answers to questions about life. The paperback book or ebook can be purchased online at – http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/JMS2011. (Once you have clicked into view the description of the book, go to the top of the page and choose the flag symbol for your country, this will show you the price in your currency and enable you to purchase it in that currency)
People are over controlling when they feel scared and vulnerable underneath. They micro-manage everything in an attempt to stay safe and have everything work out as they want it to. If another person does not behave the way they want, the first person is likely to get very angry as they fear the consequences of that person’s actions will be devastating.
Underneath it all is FEAR, lots of fear, hurt and sadness which has built up over the person’s lifetime. The controlling personality is just a defense mechanism to cover up the fear and protect their vulnerability.
In reality the process of over controlling is exhausting, it is done frantically, manically. It is not a peaceful process and it certainly isn’t kind. A controlling person can be very bossy and judgmental as they push through trying to force the outcome they need to feel safe.
They are not thinking about the other person’s feelings or needs, only their own. While this sounds selfish, it is not really. It is not coming from a place of my needs are more important than yours. It is coming from a space of ‘I need you to do this in order for me to feel safe, I am in danger unless you do this, you must do this, please do this’. It is a painful way to live, so desperate and afraid.
Many controlling people appear tough, cold, judgmental, unemotional, but that is just the mask they wear to cover up their vulnerability and fear. What the person really needs is to drop the mask, feel the feelings, release the hurt and sadness, learn to speak their truth in kind and loving ways.For instance:
‘I know I have been pushy and controlling wanting you to do certain things. I’m sorry that I have been so forceful. I was afraid that if you didn’t do those things, X would happen and that worries me. I’m scared Y will occur and I wanted to avoid that. I understand you don’t feel the same ways as me and you may have felt I was saying “You are not good enough as your are”. Please know that I never meant for you to feel that. You are a beautiful child of God on your own path of healing and wholeness. I was just scared and wanted to avoid what I feared would occur. What I really need is to say all of this to you and stop pretending to be strong. Can we work out a plan together to tackle this situation, then I can relax knowing that it will be okay.
When I start to get scared or frustrated can you please just give me a hug, help me to feel okay, safe, reassured that all is okay. I would love it if we could do that. I know it is not your job to look after me, I will look after me, I am just sharing how I feel. I will do my best to let go and trust you to do what is agreed to. I may slip up and be pushy occasionally – this has been a lifetime habit. If I do slip up just let me know and give me a hug. Please don’t get mad at me. I mean no harm, I’m just scared and need to be comforted and reassured. Thank you for loving me, listening to me, and caring for me. I love you and value you and want to treat you better and I will do so. Thank you’
If a person who has been over controlling like this can speak their truth, the armour can start to melt, they can let go of the rigidity, soften the emotions and feel their heart beat.They will need to learn self supportive talking techniques to reassure themselves whenever they start feeling vulnerable. They will need to learn positive thinking / thought stopping skills, so they can stop a negative thought in its tracks and change it to a more positive one. ‘Yes, I used to believe it would be a disaster if …. occurred. I know now that I would cope, even if it did occur. In all the years of worrying about …… it has never or rarely happened and even when it has, it hasn’t been that bad. I’ve coped. I’ve survived. I’ve learned and I’m okay!’
Worry is pointless, it really is, let it go. Let go of wasting your days in fear. Let it go. Focus on your breathing and calm your body this way. Deepen your breathing as much as you can. Long breaths into the belly help your body to calm and to regulate itself. Fear chemicals will get dissolved and you can return to a state of balance and peace.
Know that those people who appear most rigid, have the most emotion locked inside them. They have not processed and released it. They have bottled it up inside and they are like a pressure cooker waiting to explode. They are under great internal pressure that they need to learn to regulate, to let the steam out little by little, in manageable ways until the pressure has dissipated.
The body actually has a natural mechanism to do this. It will ‘tremor’ to release the tension, stress and trauma that has accumulated in the body. You can activate the tremoring mechanism to safely discharge the blocked energy and calm your nervous system out of fight and flight back to peace. If you would like to learn more about the tremoring process see the Trauma and Tension Release Exercises (TRE) page of my website.
Processing the emotions underneath controlling behaviour will take time and courage to face the truth of your feelings and drop your personality mask. It requires a willingness to be vulnerable, to meet and reveal your true self, your inner child and all the hurts that have been hidden. Doing so leads to freedom, to inner peace, better relationships and more enjoyment of life. It is worth doing. Blessed BE. Amen.