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  • Writer's pictureLona

Rewriting the Narrative of Your Trauma

Love, Safety, and Belonging. Most trauma can boil down to these three issues, especially childhood trauma. But why do these things make us feel so out of whack? It comes down to the fact that we are social animals, who need others to survive. Especially in childhood. Think to back before agriculture, if a child was not accepted by their group, they would die! On your nervous system level love, safety, and belonging are about survival or death.

The primal brain developed first in our brain structures. It's sometimes called the lizard brain, but I think that's a strange nickname for it! The primal brain's job was to keep our ancestors alive. Think pre-Homo Sapien. They lived in small groups that were interdependent in every way. Without the group, it would have been almost impossible to survive, and you definitely wouldn't have passed your genes on. So, the primal brain would do whatever it could to ensure that you were loved, felt safe, and belonged in your group. Even if it went to extreme lengths to do this.

These primal instincts live on today in you. Especially in children. It is a fear of death that will keep you in line. Even if you don't consciously think of it that way. But I think this really helps us understand our minds to know where these instincts come from. Here's an example of how it plays out in today's society.

Let's say you innocently started exploring your sexuality when you were a young child (like all children do). Maybe you discovered it was pleasurable to grind up against the couch a certain way. As a child you had no idea what this meant, but it felt good, and you liked it, so you kept doing it. One day your mom walks in the living room while you're doing it and she freaks out! Yelling at you never to do that again. You feel shame. Your primal brain will code that exploring your sexuality is unsafe, and that if you want to belong you won't do that. Now, whenever you feel pleasure you will feel shame on a conscious or unconscious level. Deep down your primal brain knows that it needs to belong, or you will die, so it will do anything to make sure you don't feel that shame again. Now, as an adult you are struggling to get really intimate with your partners because you keep feeling shame when you feel pleasure. Even if you logically think your way through it, the primal brain will keep on feeling that shame. The neocortex, where logic happens, can't speak to the primal brain.

This is the approximate story for millions of people today. This is one of the many reasons people flock to sex therapists, psychologists, and doctors trying to figure out what's wrong with them. But without an understanding of the brain structures and how they communicate, these helpers are trying their best, but not reaching the core of the issues. A sex therapist might suggest other positions to try. A psychologist will give you years of talk therapy that will never reach the primal brain. Doctors will tell you everything is normal in your body and it must all be in your head. Which is true, but that's not going to help you heal! Just because it's in your head doesn't mean it's not very real! So, what to do?!

This is where somatic coaching and therapy comes in. Somatic meaning in the body. You must feel the lost love, safety, and belonging through your body to reach your primal brain. The body is the key. This is a main tenant of Tantra for a reason. In my workshops, I'm always trying to get you to feel things through your body. Tantra knew before somatic therapy existed, but now we have so many more tools to work with it! And this is one of the many things I'm learning as I become a Tantric Coach. Here's an example of how you could work through this coding in your primal brain using our example.

  1. Find the narrative you want to adopt that isn't there now. Now your brain thinks pleasure is shameful. Ask yourself what new imprint you want to replace it with. Let's say, "Pleasure is beautiful".

  2. Search for a community that models this new narrative. You don't have to join them, but seeing it in action in the real world can help show your brain that you can belong somewhere with this new belief. There are many sex positive society's you can find that demonstrate how pleasure is beautiful!

  3. Allow your cortex (the logic part of your brain) to guide you to expansive work that can help you along your journey. This could be somatic coaches, breathwork facilitators, meditation, etc. Let the work ring true to your original essence, even if you can't feel it yet.

  4. Now, work to feel the felt sense of this shame in your body. It will live somewhere within you. Find it. Take your time. Allow grace and humility.

  5. Connect with this place, start asking it what's going on. Come from a place of curiosity, not judgement. The primal brain will kick in again if you enter in judgement, and you won't be able to rewrite this story from that place. Welcome the shame into your life. You can't push it away and heal it at the same time. Get to know exactly what the shame has to say.

  6. Now, once you understand it deeper, try going into pleasure again. When the shame comes up welcome it with love and compassion. Build a bridge to this shame made of love. Be the love that you needed back then. You're now more sensitive to the triggers and can see the shame as separate from the pleasure. If you do this long enough, you can reprogram the original neural pathway of shame.

Eventually, the neural pathway of "pleasure is shameful" will be overshadowed by pleasure is beautiful. Give yourself so much grace and understanding along this process. There is a lifetime of coding surrounding this topic, so it might take some time to heal it. But know that healing it IS possible! Through the body, so many things are possible that are impossible through the mind alone.

A note on victimization. It might be easy here to blame your mother (in this example, at least) for teaching you that pleasure was shameful. This makes you the victim. But I want to turn the tables on this one so you can heal faster. It was YOUR mind that had a fear of death, so it created the story that pleasure is shameful. You associated pleasure with shame so that you could survive. In most cases, your mother was just doing the best she knew how. She might not even believe that pleasure is shameful. If you can adopt this viewpoint, then you can get out of the constant victimization that can surround this issue in your life. And once you move beyond victimhood and into self-responsibility, you can start healing so much faster!

INSPIRED ACTION: What's a narrative that you want to transform? Likely it comes down to a lack of love, safety or belonging in your childhood. Can you identify what that is, and what the new narrative you want to adopt could be? Journal about the steps it might take to create this new reality for you now that you understand the brain better!

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