Trauma is held in the body is an idea that we often hear in the traditional therapy world but from an understanding that we all have perfect mental health and can never be broken, it makes no sense. Here's why.
Prior to the age of Enlightenment in the 19th-century doctors believed that 'humors' moved around the body. Freud who had trained as a Nerve Specialist took this idea and reinterpreted it as nervous energy. He believed that this energy could get stuck and would only be released by his newly invented psychoanalysis. ( Freud was brilliant at marketing!) But it was merely a reinterpretation of a medieval idea and is well documented now as pseudoscience.
As actual science progressed we learned that when we are confronted with something traumatic the brain and body go into survival mode, what is called the Fight or Flight response. All kinds of stress chemicals are pushed into the body to help us survive, giving us the 'nervous' energy to run from danger, lift a heavy object, or clarity to find the safety exit. This lasts for about 20 minutes and when we are out of danger those chemicals dissipate. ( Take a look at my blog called Bridezilla to learn more about this ) But for those who are experiencing chronic stress, maybe in the form of PTSD or Health Anxiety, those thoughts are being felt by the body right now. Every time we remember that terrifying event or torture ourselves with 'what ifs' about the future, we are sending those stress chemicals into our bodies now. The body can only react to what you are thinking in the moment, it doesn't know past or future, and with all those chemicals never getting a chance to leave, the body becomes dysregulated which leads to chronic pain and many other physical symptoms.
I recently had a client who had an amazing insight into this. She had been holding onto this idea that her trauma was held in her body for 20 years but after I explained that we are always feeling our thinking and how the body can only respond to thought in the moment she suddenly said; "The fight or flight I experienced then, happened then and the fight or flight I experience every time I analyze or journal about it, I'm doing to myself now!!"
Yes, exactly!! Nothing is stuck or stored, there is nothing that is lurking in the unknown waiting to get us. That whole concept is frightening and only serves to scare us into more crises. The body has such wisdom to heal and so does the mind. We are innately resilient and strong, full of courage and wisdom. But sometimes we fall into the innocent illusion of concepts and stories that we make up to explain the misunderstanding of how the mind really works. But, like my client who got free of 20 years of misery that she had been carrying around in the form of a story made of thought, when we see that we can never be broken, we are free to be in the moment and that's where the healing is. With love, Chana