If we experience trauma as children, our brains quite sensibly build themselves ‘fit for purpose’. This means our limbic system (which sounds the alarm and keeps us hyper-vigilant) becomes the ‘go to’ part of the brain in everyday life.
Later on, this causes an over-response to mundane everyday events and extreme agitation or panic ‘freezing’ in slightly more challenging events. Once we establish this brain pattern, it keeps us over-reacting and paying undue attention to our emotional state.
When young brains are not exposed to trauma they increasingly ‘go to’ their frontal brain focussing on planning, rationality, reasoning and abstraction. There is very little emotional focus or hyper-vigilance. The frontal brain areas dominate the limbic system.
In my clinical work at the Smart Therapy Centre for the past 25 years I have focussed on helping traumatised people take their attentional focus almost completely away from their feelings and emotions (which if focussed upon, keep re-traumatising them).
Instead I encourage people to shift their attention squarely onto constructive (frontal brain) activities that increase their skill level and help move them away from their internal ‘fraught’ focus.
Basically, I want traumatised people to get off the merry-go-round of emoting at all things great and small. They must stop bothering to even notice how they ‘feel’ and stop talking about their intense emotions to themselves and other people and instead get on with taking frontal brain action in life on their own behalf.