by Aaron Potratz, LPC
If you have experienced trauma in the past around the holidays, you might be dreading this time of year. You might be experiencing a heaviness coming over you. You might start feeling melancholy or outright depressed for seemingly no reason. Or, you might become irritable or suddenly be lashing out at people close to you. You might be wondering why all of this is happening.
These are some of the common experiences people describe when they have a history of trauma around Thanksgiving and Christmas. What’s challenging is not just that these are your reactions, but that they seem to happen almost automatically and outside of your control or awareness. That can be very scary. Why does this happen, and how is it almost like clockwork every year?
The short answer is found in the title of Bessel van der Kolk’s excellent book “The Body Keeps The Score.” While your mind may be focused on your current life, your body remembers what happened long ago. Let’s take a closer look at what might be happening so you can better understand it, and see how a Christian counselor can help.
The Mind-Body Connection
The body and emotions are connected. Emotions reside in the body, manifesting as sensations you experience physically. For example, feelings of anger show up as heat and tension in the hands (making fists) and face (clenching the jaw). This is a hard-wired connection, meaning it shows in this way for everyone universally. Some people might be disconnected from their bodies and not notice it, but it is there.
This is why many people have unexplained physical ailments and panic attacks. The body is expressing the emotions storied inside, which have not been processed or properly addressed.
Your Body is Trying To Tell You Something
Since the body and emotions are connected in this way, you can often deduce the cause by following the connection trail. Notice where in your body the sensations are occurring, match up which emotions are experienced in those areas, and determine if any of them fit or resonate with you. Once you have identified the emotions, you can then fill in the remaining blank: what happened in your life (now or in the past) to make you feel that way?
So how does this relate to holiday-related trauma? If your body is trying to tell you something like this and the feelings or sensations are strong, it might be an indication that you’re experiencing residuals from your past. It does not mean that you’re stuck in it or will forever be doomed to these experiences. It does mean that you likely have unresolved elements from your past that will keep coming up for you until you deal with them. Think of it like an unwanted but helpful smartphone notification. It’s reminding you to deal with these issues.
A Christian counselor can help you identify and understand these dynamics, as well as give you practical tools for coping with them. A good counselor will also try to find the source of the problem and help you resolve it once for all.
Christian counselors can also connect your pain with God’s truth and the purpose God may have for it in your life. They can help you find meaning in your suffering, which may be difficult for you to see yourself. In addition, a Christian counselor can guide you through any of the doubts, fears, anger or blame, and disconnection that may have happened in your relationship with God as a result of your past trauma.
Get Support From A Christian Counselor in Hillsboro, OR
Our Christian counselors in Portland, Oregon are here to support you and your relationship, wherever you are in Oregon. At Life Discovery Counseling we can help you and your partner have a balanced marriage with Christian couples therapy. When you are ready to start, follow these simple steps:
- Find out more about our dedicated therapists in Beaverton and our understanding counselors in Clackamas
- Schedule an appointment with your preferred counselor, or reach out to us with questions
- Start learning how to have a quiet mind and calm heart
Other Mental Health Services at Life Discovery Counseling in Oregon
If you are in Portland, Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, Hillsboro, or Beaverton, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinics. Christian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatment, anxiety therapy, trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, relationship issues, marriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need with online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!
About the Author
Aaron Potratz is Co-Owner of Life Discovery Counseling Services, and a Licensed Professional Counselor. He supervises the counseling staff, writes occasionally for the blog, and provides trainings.