8 ways you are trauma blocking.
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Trauma blocking is an intentional effort to avoid the thoughts, feelings, and memories of past trauma. Some people can process through the traumatic experience(s) after the event(s), but other people may find they are too overwhelmed and flooded by the experience(s) and efforts to avoid the thoughts, feelings, and memories are initiated. Trauma blocking may look different for each person, below is a list of 8 common trauma blocking behaviors.
Trauma blocking feels successful in the short-term, but it comes at a cost. Avoidance of your trauma can negatively impact your physical and health, relationships, and work. In a previous post I shared how trauma can impact mental and physical health. You can read more on that here. Avoiding your trauma will only manifest those symptoms.
Trauma blocking behaviors:
- You mindlessly scroll on social media. Social media can be used as a distraction from our own problems. Scrolling through Facebook or TikTok allows you to numb out and completely disconnect from your own feelings and life itself. It is appealing and addicting because you don’t have to deal with anything you are feeling or thinking about when you numb out and start scrolling.
2. You jump from one relationship to the next, making sure to never be alone. There are several reasons for this behavior. One being when you are in a relationship you can focus on the other person and avoid your thoughts and feelings. Another reason is a fear of being alone. If you are alone then you have space for all the thoughts and feelings that you have been suppressing to resurface. A third reason is fear of not being wanted by anyone else because you are “damaged,” “flawed,” or “not good enough.”
3. You are a workaholic. You may devote all your time and energy to your work to help find a purpose in life if your trauma left you with beliefs of not being good enough or feeling like you must prove something to yourself or others. You may also trauma block with work so you are completely and utterly exhausted at the end of the day allowing sleep to come easily.
4. You abuse substances. You may find that certain substances help you to fall asleep without giving your mind time to wonder and bring up unwanted memories. Substances are also often used to “shut off” your brain. This is highly addicting because the relief is short-lived and you build a tolerance so you need more substances to provide that relief.
5. You overeat to the point of feeling sick. The fight or flight system increases stress hormones and trauma activates the fight or flight system. High stress hormones like cortisol can lead to you feeling overly hungry. It can also mess with the signal that tells your brain when you are full, causing you to overeat. Binge eating can also be a way to numb out and avoid feelings.
6. You compulsively buy things. Buying things feels good. It activates the brain’s reward center and releases dopamine, which makes you feel good. It’s hard to feel bad when you have surges of dopamine and that can fuel compulsive buying.
7. You compulsively exercise and push yourself to exhaustion. Exercise can be a great tool for helping individuals with trauma, but it can also be a trauma blocking behavior. Pushing yourself to physical exhaustion can help with sleep. You may exhaust yourself enough that you fall asleep quickly, so you don’t have to worry about fighting with your thoughts. It could also be a form of self-harm if done in excess and at high intensity. Your focus shifts to physical pain to avoid emotional pain.
8. You get mad at all the small things. Emotions are constantly pushed down when you are trauma blocking. Those emotions will only stay bottled up for a short time until they become like a pressure cooker and start to slowly leak. But if you’re trying to avoid those emotions, they can become redirected towards other things like dishes in the sink, shoes on the floor, traffic, etc. You may wonder afterwards why you got so angry at these small things, and it is because you are not addressing the root of the problem.
If you recognize these behaviors in your life, please reach out. I will connect you with a therapist who can help you begin the journey of healing from your trauma.