I have recently learned that our brains are composed of 88% subconscious thought and only 12% conscious thought. When we are having flashbacks, or dwelling on our traumas, or for some reason unknown to us, simply feeling unsafe, waiting for the “other shoe to drop,” we are dwelling in a state of helplessness induced by PTSD. Our trauma is stored in our subconscious until something happens, maybe only fatigue, to induce our conscious mind to retreat. Reality is given over to the past. In my case, I cease to think like an adult who has a measure of control over her life, and become a traumatized child. In this state, I have panic attacks at just about everything.
When our lives are out of balance, when we find ourselves in a helpless state, dwelling on our trauma and unable to exert any will to dwell in the present. We are living with our subconcious to the fore and our conscious mind in retreat—dominated by emotions and thoughts from the past. This state of PTSD usually occurs in concert with some kind of trigger, something as slight as a glance at an old yearbook, an e-mail from someone in your past not even associated with the trauma. It can even be caused by a smell. When this happens to me, it means that 88% of my brain feels unsafe and frightened. Most often, I can just “sleep it off.” The problem is, that it often initially occurs in public, initiating a panic attack. This can be deeply embarrassing to myself and to my spouse, but I have learned not to beat myself up about it. Until I have “made the shift” to using my conscious mind to control my unconscious, it can happen any place or any time.
So how do we make this shift? We must work on integrating our brains, so that the subconscious is ever more subjected to the person we are today—the adult. When we wake up in the morning, starting the day with an adult ritual, such as reading our scriptures, pondering them, praying about them, and then planning our schedule for the day, we are acting and not reacting. We are taking charge of that scared child as an adult.
My therapist has given me a mantra that I must put on a sign or cross stitch some day. A neon sign might be a good idea. (My husband has already made a round disc for my keychain). That mantra states: “I am confident in my competence.” In other words, I listen to my adult voice, not my unsafe child’s voice when faced with the day or with a specific task. I consciously pull on all my experience as an adult to rescue the unsafe child and convince her that she is safe.
No one can keep me really safe but the Savior, and so I must live my life in close concert with him. I must pray to have His Spirit with me I all that I do. When I fall into my subconcious through some trigger, I must plead with him, “taking His hand” to pull me out.
When I develop the habit of turning to my “higher power” for rescue, I will not long be lost, but will be filled with peace and well-being. I will put on the Savior’s metaphorical yoke and walk beside him. Soon I am walking where He is walking and not in the dark, scary path where I was. I am walking in the light.