Past hurts and traumas have very real effects on our health. Health disciplines across the board, from holistic healers, to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to modern mainstream medicine, all understand this connection.
Past Hurts and Traumas Can Make Us Fat
Jon Gabriel, author of The Gabriel Method, who weighed 409 lbs at his heaviest, explains about emotional obesity. Emotional obesity is caused by traumatic events that cause our bodies to hold on to weight as a form of protection. Jon uses a number of techniques to overcome past trauma including visualization and doing a rewrite of past traumatic experiences. Remember when we talked about how diets don’t work and how cravings for junk food aren’t really your fault? When former life saving adaptations have become maladaptive and health damaging, this is part of the emotional obesity mechanism.
Past Hurts and Traumas Can Make Us Sick
Pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris describes ACE’s (or Adverse Childhood Experiences) and toxic stress as childhood traumas that occurred before the age of 18 which have lifelong negative health effects. Some of these childhood traumas include: physical, emotional and sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, parental separation or divorce and domestic violence. These ACE’s alter brain development, immune system development, hormonal systems and the way our DNA is read and transcribed. 17,500 adults studied, showed that the greater the number of ACE’s they suffered as children, the greater the negative health effects in their lives. Some of these negative health effects included greater susceptibility to: heart disease, hepatitis, depression, suicidal thoughts and cancer.
It’s Not Even Our Trauma
Research has shown that another adaptation is at work when it comes to trauma. Traumas suffered by our parents and grandparents may be genetically passed down to us. Information about traumatic situations can be passed down from generation to generation so that successive generations can more easily adapt to their environment. The trouble is, if our parents or grandparents lived through a war, and they pass that adaptation down to us, we may be living our lives as if we are constantly under attack and constantly in danger.
Methods for Healing Trauma
Fortunately there are methods available to us for healing past traumas. These methods include mental health care, nutrition, holistic interventions and in some cases medication. Many of mental health techniques for healing center around the idea of changing our beliefs about the past situations. Some ways that we can change past beliefs are by doing visualizations and rewrites as Jon Gabriel describes. Positive affirmations (thoughts) to replace the negative thoughts should be done regularly. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Faster EFT are techniques we can learn to do ourselves and involve tapping on acupressure points while bringing up emotionally traumatic events, feeling the emotions of them, releasing and letting them go. Questioning away negative thoughts and feelings, as in Byron Katie’s The Work, is also an effective method. In this method we learn to question our stories we create about our life events and to see the positive in every situation we have gone through. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and focusing on gratitude are helpful techniques we have already discussed.