Understanding trauma and survival instincts is something I think should be taught at school. If we only would understand we wouldn’t freak out so much about the things that are normal and needed.
Feeling numb – what is this all about? It is of course a survival mechanism and a tool of our body to endure the extremes of situations where we are just not able to cope with pain. Feeling numb is putting our emotions aside cause the pain would be unbearable.
It is like an extended version of playing dead when someone attacks you. In nature this is a survival tool to fool predators.
In human live we unfortunately often stay trapped in playing dead. I think breathing shallow is a good example of playing dead…. and how often do we catch ourselves by not breathing deep and fully? I think this is often a small sign of the “play dead Instinct”.
But to keep this simple lets think about an example.
When a child witnesses troubles between the parents (serious troubles with two lost parents) then this signals a dangerous situation to the safety of the child and it can not fight or run away all it can do is to block thinks out to create a blind spot, a numbness towards things.
When we want to heal our numbness, we need to embrace the fact that we have blind dead spots, where we are unable to feel the pain out of a survival instinct that once kept us feeling save.
But now the circumstances are most likely different, it is no longer a danger if people are arguing and not being loving with each other. As a grown up we have tools to comfort our own needs, plus communication skills to ask for support.
What we often witness is that even so circumstances have changed the acting in a situation is like we are still in a dangerous situation. Really this is just triggering and to work with triggering is to follow up the emotion to find where it comes from (in a save way of course).
Whats so tricky about numbness is that to re-connect you have to allow the feeling of numbness and be totally open to it. (or as open as you can at each chosen moment). But in general it freaks us out due to the judgement system that something is wrong with us. We should be feeling something, we should be sad or angry or …..
No, when you feel numb, you feel numb and that is also just a phase that will pass if we met it with acknowledgement.
But the survival tool of numbness was never designed as a long term place. Any long term stay in a survival mode (fight, flight or play dead) has effects on our health system. It’s just meant as a survival tool not as a mode to get trough live.
It takes courage to take steps to met your numbness and bring live back into your life, but it’s needed if we want to stay healthy and well.