Five steps to healing old wounds
Author: Britta Kimpel
Issue: No. 97
Fourteen millionths of a second. That’s how long (or “briefly”) it takes for the autonomic nervous system to activate the sympathetic nervous system in the event of perceived danger, catapulting us into innate survival mode. Just fourteen millionths of a second! In this tiny moment, it takes complete control of our behaviour and regulates it before we even realize it. It takes almost twice as long – twenty-four millionths of a second to be precise – for our mind to be informed of the perceived danger. But by then, the body has long since reacted on autopilot: In an unconscious impulse, it decides whether to flee from the impending danger or to bravely fight it.
This instinctive mechanism saves us when the knife falls while we are chopping vegetables and we pull our foot back without even having to think about it. But it is precisely this lightning-fast mechanism that can let us down when old wounds from the past are touched. Be it because we follow our dreams and our nervous system interprets the novelty as imminent danger. Or when certain people and situations unintentionally remind us of old fears and threats, causing us to react involuntarily by attacking or withdrawing.
The fact is that as long as the autonomic nervous system perceives even the slightest threat, it immediately and completely automatically puts us into survival mode. Suddenly, we instinctively flee or become aggressive, even when it comes to things that we actually want or that are important to us. For this reason, our intellect and even our strongest willpower reach their limits when it comes to changing behavioral patterns that have their origin in an alarm reaction of the autonomic nervous system.
Healing deep wounds
So the question is, how can we heal the wounds of the past so that they don’t keep setting our autonomic nervous system on alert?
How can we ensure that we don’t unconsciously sabotage what we long for or turn away from loved ones? The fact that these questions are more pressing than ever can be seen in the increasing debate about individual or collective trauma and the fact that awareness of trauma is no longer limited to the therapeutic field.
In an accelerated world, characterized by the constant confrontation with global crises, the pressure of social media and the growing alienation from social interaction, many of us are more susceptible to traumatic experiences. Many people feel overwhelmed by today’s demands, which means that psychological injuries are often not adequately dealt with. The collective search for healing and understanding is driving conversations about mental health and trauma recovery as more and more people realize how essential it is to heal wounds and develop resilience both individually and collectively.
What does it take for real and profound healing of old wounds and patterns?
The short answer: it requires a transformation in the autonomic nervous system. Although many counselors see changing the mindset or stricter discipline as a panacea, neuroscientific research shows that such suggestions often overlook the true cause. In fact, it takes in-depth work with the nervous system to truly heal old wounds.
The slightly more complex truth: Unfortunately, it is often not enough to just try a technique to regulate the autonomic nervous system for a short time and wait for miracles to happen. There are several factors that need to work together in order to experience true neural healing. These factors are summarized in five steps in the NeuroEmbodied Healing® Framework. It serves as a guide to heal deep-rooted wounds in the nervous system and leads us step by step back to our authentic self.
Step 1: Reeducate
Healing requires knowledge and understanding.
Every healing process requires a certain basic understanding and knowledge. If we don’t understand what drives us and which mechanisms control our behavior, we fall back into old patterns much more quickly.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. ~ Confucius
For this reason, the first step on the path to neural healing is to update our often outdated school knowledge of the autonomic nervous system and educate ourselves in this area. It requires a deeper understanding of how the autonomic nervous system works and why it sometimes causes us to sabotage what we desire. But it is also about recognizing how the demands of today’s world can throw our nervous system out of balance.
About the author
Britta Kimpel is a qualified psychologist, expert in NeuroEmbodiment®, founder of the body-oriented coaching method NeuroEmbodied Soul Centering® (NESC) and podcast host. Her aim is to support people in strengthening their connection to themselves and their own body in order to live a more authentic and fulfilling life.
This article was originally published on the German website: Das NeuroEmbodied Healing® Framework