William Tollefson Values Blog provides information on many topics and issues pertaining to survivors of childhood and/or adulthood abuse, trauma, or combat situations.
Written by Dr. Bill Tollefson, Ph.D. Certified Master Life, Post Trauma and Holistic Addiction Recovery Coach.
Redefining through a New Perspective for healing addiction and PTSD. Is time to revisit and redefine traditional addiction and trauma treatment? Yes, I
believe it is time.
For decades addiction treatment and trauma treatment have be
separate. Through research studies it has been found that 95% of all
individuals who have addictions experienced abuse, neglect or trauma growing up.
Addicts tend to utilize substances (legal and illegal), negative thoughts or
self-sabotaging behaviors in an attempt to numb out associated feelings or
negative thoughts, self-judgment or flashbacks that surface from past
experiences once he or she enters into sobriety.
Yet addiction programs do not address abuse or trauma.
Conversely trauma studies discovered that 97% of all abuse,
combat and trauma survivors have one or more addictions. Survivors use
addictions for the same reason. Survivors engage addictions to suppress Post traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms such as vivid images, body memories, flashbacks
or surfacing painful emotions as well as negative self-defeating and
Likewise trauma programs do not address addictions.
I have come to find out that the plight of an addict seeking
sobriety and a survivor of abuse, combat or trauma seeking recovery is almost
identical. Both are seeking or forced into unknown a culture, normal society
that he or she did not learn to live within. Both learned to adapt, function
and survive within another world and when expected to reintegrate into the “regular”
world found it extremely hard and did not possess the skills to do so.
What has been revealed that abusive, combat or trauma experiences
are the cause and addiction is the symptom. Many reports from
individuals with addictions who enter into the sobriety experience unexplained
flashbacks, intense painful emotions or body memories, and intense
self-defeating thoughts as well as stronger PTSD symptoms. Increased trauma
related symptoms cause him or her to relapse into increased addictive use.
Many survivors report that once in the process of healing
from abuse, combat or trauma and stop using to numb out post trauma symptoms, his
or her PTSD symptoms surface more intensely and more regularly. Therefore he or
she return to and increases use of substances, looping negative thoughts, self-sabotaging
behaviors, dissociative episodes, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors
to numb out his or her reactions mentally, physically and emotionally. Numbing
out with addictions will cause him or her to get stuck and halt in the healing
Treating both conditions separately has not proved to be
successful. Recovery rates in both specialty fields, addiction and trauma are
at the lowest in decades. Something is not working. The struggle between of the
two fields has to stop because it is the clients who are still suffering.
I challenge all helping professionals in both professions, Addictions and Post Trauma, to join together in order to revisit ideas and standards used in both treatment approaches. Both fields should put down their differences and link together to redefine methods of how clients with both conditions are treated.
Develop new approaches, standards and programs to help wounded and addicted souls to heal.
Now is the time to unite Addiction and Post Trauma professionals in redefining how clients are helped. Visit my website and click here to download free eBook
There is an old proverb “curiosity killed the cat.” The
meaning of this idiom is that being inquisitive about other people's affairs can
often get you into trouble.
Is that really what gets you in trouble? In reality the answer is no. What really “killed the cat” are theexpectations that important others in your life put on you, expectations unrealistically formed, ones you assumed you thought others wanted you to do, and expectations you won't let go of even though you cannot invest in fulfilling as well as expectations others forced upon you. Do you really know what old excepted expectations that are driving your life?
What are expectations?
Simply an expectations is what is expected of you by others or yourself. They are a strong beliefs that something will happen, is likely to happen or not happen. An expectation might include an emotional attachment to
a prediction of how responsive, successful, or good, you or someone else might
be in a situation that has not happened yet.
Expectations are future projections you form, requirements
taught to you. or future outcomes placed upon you, by others who you have an
emotional attachment to. Expectations are desired, looking forward to,
projected or wished accomplishments, behaviors, beliefs, loyalties, performance
or worth related to future outcomes. Expectations can motivate intentions or rob
you of your self-determination.
You create expectations for yourself (“I expect to lose 20
pounds this month.”), others (‘She should know how much I am hurting.”), and
situations (“I expect to get that job.”). If they are not fulfilled, expectations
can create very deep disappointment. The
degree of disappointment or hurt corresponds to the amount of emotional
attachment you formed to your expectations or others connected to those
3 tips on how to fix it
Get in touch with your
You are not always aware of the expectations you carry.
Sometimes, you are aware of expectations you recently created, but others have
been in your subconscious for ages and you are no longer aware of them.
Make a list, best you can, of all the expectations you
either want to accomplish or have lived by. By making a list, you accomplish
two things: 1) recognition makes them
real, and 2) this helps you to organize them.
Now that you have a real list, study it. Determine which
ones are yours, which ones came from other people whom you felt you had to obey
and complete. Determine which ones you want or could realistically accomplish,
and identify which ones are not what you want or were forced upon you (parent’s
expectations) from long ago. Decluttering or cutting down your list will help
you gain space in your mind. Cross out the expectations you don’t want, do not need
to hold onto any longer, have no emotional investment in, or are simply not
Take your whittled down list and figure out what level of
emotional involvement or attachment you have to each one. It is best to put a
numerical value on each, 1 to five or 1 to 10. Actually seeing the numerical values
will help you to rank them in order to see the ones you want to accomplish
While you are figuring out your involvement in each,
determine which expectations have made you disappointed in yourself or someone
else. Disappointment can consume a lot of our emotional energy and turn into
depression or severe anxiety.
Answer these questions honestly:
Is it because you disappointed someone else?
Is it because someone disappointed you?
Is it because you could not control someone else
or a situation?
Is it because you didn't reach an intended goal
you set for yourself now or long ago?
Are you taking things to personally that you're attempting to accomplish?
Do you create goals out of the emotion of the
moment and then procrastinate?
Did you over commit yourself?
Did you say yes to an expectation when you
really meant no?
you a poor manager of your expectations?
What are the barriers were that stop you from
success and how have they contributed to you falling short of your of each
Stop holding on to the
The best way to achieve this part is to forgive you. Wipe your
mind clean of past expectations by letting go of all your disappointments,
self-doubts and resentments toward yourself, someone else or long past
situations. Do not use old disappointments or resentments as ammunition to keep
yourself down. If you have been carrying tons of unfulfilled expectations, then
recognize that there is no need to hold onto them. Create new expectations or
reconfigure you old ones to better suit your current state of being.
4 Tips on developing an action plan for the future
Now it is time to make an action plan. So go over your
finished expectations list.
1. Make sure each are what you desire, want, need,
or desire and how much emotional sweat you are willing to put into each.
2. Make sure each expectation is specific and
3. Make sure each expectation is measurable
4. Make sure each one has a time line or date for
At the associated completion time of each expectation, go
back to your #3 and check your measurements to determine:
Have I reach completion of what I wanted?
Do I want to drop this expectation?
Should I extend the time of completion?
Afterthoughts Remember, it is not curiosity that killed the cat … it was
the cat had on itself that crushed, disappointed or sabotaged its chances for a
happy and productive life. Coach Bill
Ijust wrote a HUB Pages article on “Being triggered is confused with Panic Attacks” and blog on "Does being triggered impersonate a panic attack" discussing how panic attacks are misdiagnosed, misinterpreted or mistaken for the result of being mentally triggered resulting in the surfacing of memory or flashback.
What is a Trigger? A trigger is a sensory stimuli from the outside such as an emotion, a physical pain, a visual cue, a sound, a smell, a location or a touch which causes a recollection from the experience of the outside stimuli that connects to a complete memory or portion of a memory (flashback) and results in the surfacing of that recollection. The surfacing memory or flashback may have been held in the subconscious at a dissociated memory storage area in the brain. A trigger can be connected to a good or positive experience as well as a bad, negative or life threatening experience. New Perspective on Triggers A trigger is a part of the formation of non-integrated memory. A trigger is formed when a memory of an overwhelming painful event is not integrated by the conscious mind at the time of the situation into long-term memory storage. A trigger is the connection between where a negative painful memory is stored in a subconscious dissociative storage area and the conscious mind for retrieval in at a future time. A trigger is activated by an outside stimuli and evokes a surfacing of a dissociated memory which in turn produces unexplained emotions, images, sounds and physical symptoms associated with the memory triggered. Since the memory is dissociated and not in long-term memory the emotions, sounds, and vivid images seems to originate from nowhere and unconnected to the person’s life. In its simplest term, a trigger is a monitor connected to the conscious mind that gets activated by the PTSD symptom of hyper sensitivity and vigilance. What is a Panic Attack? A panic attack is a brief episodes of intense anxiety, foreboding and fear. Often these people who experience a panic attack seem to feel that they are going to lose control of themselves. These attacks generally are not attached to a specific event or object but instead seem to come from nowhere for no apparent reason. The onset of a panic attack is sudden and repeated episodes of intense unexplained fear from within accompanied by physical symptoms. New Perspective on Panic Attacks A panic attack is the realization of a projected thought originating from within toward the consequences of a future event or situation that may happen which produces the fear. Panic attack is a projected thought or idea based on a foreboding or overwhelming core belief that takes hold and ruminates in the conscious mind. As a result ruminating thoughts intensifies an onset of overwhelming fear that is unconnected or unexplained to anything present in the moment.
Jane a 28 year old survivor who had a history of abuse as a
child reported, “My life was a living hell. The experiences I was going through
I was told were panic attacks and severe anxiety. I tried everything:
psychologists, psychiatrists, all kinds of pills and drugs. Nothing helped or stopped
my overwhelming experiences. I then discovered that I was experiencing surfacing
memories and flashbacks of my past abuse that were being triggered by people,
place and thing around me. What a relief. Once I addressed the experienced I
had in my childhood and made peace with my episodes did not happen again.”
Panic Attack seems to have become one of those catch-all
diagnoses. True recognition depends on what and how the symptoms are reported to a professional. What is
known is that a panic attack can be neutralized by medication but triggers are
not neutralized by medication at all. A panic attack makes a person want to withdraw,
isolate and hide from life. A trigger makes a person extremely emotionally reactive, hypersensitive and hyper aware
of their surroundings.
Tip As a survivor, it is very important to know whether you are experiencing a panic attack or a flashback that has been triggered in your mind. The main difference between a panic attack and triggered
memory is not the symptoms themselves but the perception of what is happening due inaccurate information. Coach Bill
Have you ever asked yourself questions like: "Is what I remember real or did I make it up? Is my memory a false memory?"
If you have asked yourself that then a tool would be real beneficial. How about a test? A test to help you determine if a memory you're having is the truth or real.
As a survivor myself I asked myself these questions all the time. I had suffered abuse and trauma my whole childhood and did not start having memories or flashbacks of the experiences until I was my 20th birthday. When they started I thought I was crazy. When I asked professionals, no one could telling me if they were real or not. WOW, I must be making them up I thought. Now I know I was not.
Professionally as a post trauma coach, I have been asked
this question constantly by survivors about flashbacks they were experiencing. The question is
always, “How do I know that my abuse or trauma really happened?” And before I
can give them an answer, they would say, “Because I think or feel that I made all of
it up in my head. Does that makes me a bad and horrible person?”
So how do you know any of your non-traumatic or traumatic
memories are true or actually real? This test I developed will allow you to figure out if your
memories are made up or the truth.
Traumatic Memory Test
You know that a memory is real by the following;
1) The flashback does not stop surfacing no matter what you
do to stop it.
2) The intensity of the flashback increases with every
3) You experience triggers everywhere you turn that causes it to surface again.
4) You find yourself thinking how you can fix those past
5) You attempt to rationalize those horrible times even
though they were not rational.
6) Every time you have a flashback it hurts emotionally and you feel like you are "reliving" the situation all over again.
I believe that #6 is the most important. Think about this ...
memory is made up of three sub files: audio, emotion and content. The most important
sub file of each recorded memory is the emotion associated with each
situation recorded and when the memory replays you feel the original emotions all over again
1 Tip: Emotions are the Truth Indicator of Truth in Memory
Why might ask? Do lies, false statements, or made up excuses have no emotion
connected to them? No they do not. Go ahead and make up a lie in your in you head and then say it out loud. Does your statement arouse any feelings? I bet your answer is no. So if you make up a lie and say it, the first thing you will openly recognize is that there is no emotion or feeling attached to it. Lies, false statements or excuses are something
you create, you form on purpose, or make up to get you out of a situation. You know the statement you are
uttering is false.
A memory is an actual recording of a situation you experienced. The content may degrade over time but the emotion charge never does. All your
real or true experiences evoke emotions manifesting actual true feelings. A real experience converted into a memory always
evokes an emotion. Excuses, fake statements or lies never have feelings associated with them.
When a memory is replayed in your conscious mind, all sub files should play together. When all sub files replay together, audio, (sound, what you heard), content (what you saw) and the most important sub file of all is emotion (what feeling was aroused). If no emotion is part of the replay then it is not real. It is the emotional charge in a memory that hurts and makes the "reliving experience" but also validates it is real.
No emotion, no truth
Hope this test has helped you to relax some of your worries and uncertainties about your memories. If you need more help at eliminating the emotional charge in a memory and keep it from destroying your ability to have a happy life then visit my website. While you are there download my free eBook gift to you. Coach Bill
Difficult to know if you are really having a panic attack? Is it all in your perception?
Do you experience what you think (or have been told) is a panic attacks?
Are you a survivor of abuse, bullying, catastrophic, combat, domestic violence,
harassment, rape, trauma, or indoctrination situations in your life? If you
have, you are probably feeling some degree of Post-traumatic Stress from your
experience. Then knowingly or unknowingly, you’re carrying buried memory or
known as dissociative memorythat have active conscious triggers.
Many times a panic attack is not an actual panic attack. Sometimes a panic attack is a mislabeled trigger response. So it appears that the symptoms are almost identical. Therefore the only difference between a panic attack and a PTSD trigger response isperception.
What is a trigger?
A trigger is a sensory stimuli such
as an emotion, a physical pain, a visual cue, a sound, a smell, a touch or
thought resulting from an experience that connects any complete memory or
portion of a memory to your conscious awareness. This memory may have been held
in long-term memory storage or dissociate memory storage. A trigger can be
connected to a good or positive experience as well as a bad, negative or life
The trigger experience
Every time you go through the
following experiences rapid heartbeat, your heart beating out of your chest, sweating
in every part of your body, cold hands and feet but hot body core, unusual
smells for no reason, tightening of your throat, dry mouth and unable to say
anything, physically frozen unable and unable to do anything, constriction of
the your visual field, quick onset of fear or terror for no apparent reason,
emotional numbness, confusion, loss of the ability to focus, loss of the
ability to concentrate, dissociating in and out, intense anxiety as though something is going to happen, hypervigilant, hyper aware and hypersensitive as
well as a rapid onset of irritability it may not be symptoms of a panic attack at
all but rather the triggering response signal of forthcoming flashback.
If you are honest with yourself
and review all the aforementioned reactions, you will see that you are really
experiencing a subconscious trigger response of a flashback rather than going through a
Unfortunately the diagnosis of a "panic attack" seems to have become a knee jerk catch-all diagnosis made by professionals that are unknowledgeable of Post Traumatic Stress symptoms and how PTSD mirrors many other diagnoses.
Types of Triggers
Take Away Overall, recognition of the true difference between the two willdeflatethe influence and intensity of the trigger response. Take your personal authority back and master your life. Coach Bill Visit my website and click here for a gift of free eBook