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Grounding Techniques for CPTSD

I’ve been posting a lot lately on CPTSD, setting boundaries, and how our socialization to maintain trauma bonds with folx that have deeply hurt us is strong as hell. As we know, hurt people hurt people. Wounding is transferred onto other people when it is unresolved within us…and so if we are being hurt by others it is because they carry unresolved, unprocessed painful memories and emotions that are being projected onto you. This is not a reflection of you, it is a symbol of their pain directed toward you. 

This is where intolerant compassion is important- being compassionate with the story and experiences of the people who’ve hurt us who are stuck in old abusive behavior, while being intolerant to them hurting us.

It’s important that in situations where we find ourselves having to associate with people we find hurtful (this includes toxic work environments) that we practice, as often as possible, interrupting our threat response and giving ourselves some TLC so our bodies and inner world can function at its best capacity and we can self soothe.

Relaxation:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: From top of your head to your toes, slowly scan all parts of your body and gently tighten and slowly release.
  • Belly Breathing (Diaphragmatic breathing) 
  • Naming a safe word/safe place to anchor you (you can keep saying it out loud or to yourself until you feel calmer and grounded).
  • Yoga
  • Guided Meditation

Grounding techniques:

  • Using your senses to ground yourself. 5-4-3-2-1 or 3-2-1. Modify this for folx with disabilities. Touch and smell can be important, but depending on the sensory stimulus- also triggering, so always check in with yourself about what senses are soothing. You know yourself best. 
  • Abrazo Mariposa: Hug yourself. Palm of your hand is touching your shoulder. Doing so can send the message that you feel your body, you are your witness, and also deserve your embrace.
  • EFT Tapping: tapping meridian points in your body while naming the uncomfortable emotions you’re having and also reminding yourself of the loving messages you need to hear. 
  • Containment: Draw a symbol of your trauma, or of your hurt and pain. Place it in an envelope and seal it. Let it stay inside. You can also put it in a vault, burn it, rip it. Again, what you feel would be most helpful to you.
  • Expression: Practice screaming (into the palms of your hand or a pillow if others are nearby), Sob, journal- express these intense emotions with a metered time. Once your time limit is done, do something gentle for yourself.
  • Be in nature: I’m a firm believer that we are part of nature and to be outdoors is to connect with all of ourselves.
  • Exercise: Heart rate variability has been linked to a decrease in depression and anxiety. Low heart rate variability is linked with increased anxiety and depression. The more we get our hearts pumping in healthy ways, while engaging our endorphins, we’re adding more to our healing. 
  • Eat healthier foods- our bodies work less trying to digest healthy foods and can give us more energy to accomplish what we wish to do.

Practicing self-advocacy can be intimidating when we have been taught to fear authority or our families. Make a mantra for yourself that you believe is uplifting and a reminder of how resilient you are, how powerful you are, how worthy you are. In time, let these messages record over the negative, painful, flawed messages you heard from those who were/are suffering. These are not your messages. 

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