Many people have heard the phrase “happiness is relative” before. Of course, this points out that something that makes one person happy may not do the same for another. Although this is common knowledge, many people do not realize that all emotions and feelings are also relative.
People tend to chalk up happiness to a personal preference that changes due to each person’s experiences and tastes. However, many of these same people do not understand why another person would get stressed out severely by something that does not bother them, themselves.
There are even many people who feel like something is wrong with them when they compare their emotional responses to those of others. Understanding how people perceive situations and how they affect emotions can help one become more empathetic to others and learn more about themselves.
The Body Keeps Score
One of the most incredible mechanisms in the human body is simultaneously one of the most challenging to live with. When a person goes through a stressful situation, the body remembers how they felt, reacted, and resolved the situation.
In the past, this information was vital for survival. Long after one forgets the details of various events, the body will still respond to them when they return, producing stress hormones and increasing brain activity. The body prepares an individual for a challenge or potentially dangerous situation. For the most part, this mechanism can be beneficial and occasionally uncomfortable. However, for those who have experienced trauma, this can negatively impact their quality of life.
For example, many people enjoy going to the ocean, and the packed beaches every summer are evidence of this. Someone who has gone to the beach their entire life associates the ocean with pleasant thoughts and emotions. Now say another person had an experience where they almost drowned at the beach when they were younger. This second traumatized person could go to the same beach as the first and have a wildly different experience.
Another example of this is if a former alcoholic were to enter a bar. That bar may be seen as a positive place for many, although it may cause trauma to resurface for others. Trauma may result in stress, anxiety attacks, mood changes, and various other symptoms. To read more about trauma and its effects, there is more information available here.
Although the situations described above are associated with stress, the body can also react in various other ways to the way one perceives situations. For example, many people become depressed when faced with experiences that remind them of the past. Whatever emotional response an individual has, paying attention to how certain situations affect them can shed light on their mental health.
When addressing perceptions of stressful situations, the first thing one should realize is that there is nothing “wrong” with them as a person. Just because an experience is painful or stressful, and not for someone else, does not mean that an individual should be ashamed or feel lesser than them.
Everyone has different experiences and challenges in life, and facing fears is brave no matter how small the situation may seem to others. This shame one may hold will not be of use and will only serve to hold them back in their life. If others are contributing to this shame, setting boundaries may be helpful for one’s own growth.
Setting boundaries may mean limiting contact, making oneself emotionally unavailable, or voicing one’s own feelings and demanding more respect.
The second thing that is important to realize is that one’s perceptions can change. Many people who were once negatively impacted by their perceptions and trauma went on to heal and grow towards healthier mental states. One of the most powerful tools for this healing is therapy. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people break down thought patterns and behaviors that no longer serve them.
Although one’s body remembering can be life-saving, there reaches a point where those stress responses are no longer helpful and can become a burden. By recognizing these patterns as no longer useful, one can get into a mental state where one can change them. Attending therapy can be a big step towards healing one’s troubles. Due to the stigma around seeking mental health treatment, however, this may be difficult for some. Keep in mind that no matter how healthy someone is, everyone has troubles and could benefit from therapy.
Here is an article that discusses what to look for when searching for a therapist.
Our trauma and emotions are deeply tied with the stress responses of our bodies. Understanding this relationship may be able to help us better seek treatment and heal our minds. In time, we may reach a healthier and happier state in which our bodies react in a way we can tolerate. Unfortunately, many people who deal with trauma also deal with substance use disorder. When seeking addiction treatment, it is vital to take your trauma and mental health into account. At Everlast Recovery Centers, treating our clients’ mental and physical health is an important aspect of our mission. Our staff is well trained to administer trauma-informed care and offers various therapy modalities alongside our treatment plans. If you or a loved one is seeking comprehensive treatment in a comfortable environment, we are here to help. To learn more about how we can help you on your journey, call (866) 338-6925.