March 30, 2021

RANDOM FLASHBACKS - WHAT DO I DO IF THERE ISN'T A TRIGGER?

By Oliver Armstrong
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"What do I do if there isn't a trigger. My flashbacks just randomly happen and it's annoying and I usually get panic attacks during or after them"

This was a question I came across on YouTube and it's quite common, when it comes to trauma, to feel like it comes out of nowhere.

The thing is, there is ALWAYS a trigger.

When it seems like it's random, or that there is no trigger, that's because it's not consciously obvious to you.

What do I mean by consciously obvious?

Basically 90% of what we do is done by the brain unconsciously. 

Balancing, walking, talking, blinking, digestion, moving our arms-hands-and-fingers to pick something up – it’s all occurring unconsciously. 

(If it didn’t, imagine how overwhelmed we'd be trying to do all of that consciously!)

But get this:

In addition to doing everything for us unconsciously so that we can move and interact with the world around us. Your brain is constantly taking in millions of bits of information per second, through all of your senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, feeling) and it filters out relevant, and irrelevant information based on what’s important to you (core beliefs, experiences etc). And when something in your current environment has similarities to a past traumatic experience (or experiences), your brain will activate the survival response (fight, flight, freeze) and will make the urgency of the situation consciously obvious to you by way of a flashback, a headache, some phantom pain, a panic attack, a sinking feeling of dread etc.

Why?

Basically so that you get the hell out of there! - Your brain is doing the job it has evolved to do - to get you to safety asap by any means necessary.

So how do you find triggers which are seemingly random and aren't consciously obvious? (Great question!)

There are two ways to do it. 

 Work with 3 to 5 specific known triggers to disconnect and neutralise the attached emotions, which will partially or fully resolve the core traumatic memory and remove the non-consciously obvious triggers.

OR

Work with the core traumatic memory first to disconnect and neutralise the attached emotions, which will remove most, or all of the known and non-consciously obvious triggers.

How and why can it be done either way?… (another great question!)

It comes down to neuroscience and how psychological problems ‘work’ in the brain. 

It comes down to neuroscience and how psychological problems ‘work’ in the brain. 

With the most important aspect being that the triggers, (whether known consciously or not), and the core traumatic memory/memories, are all neurologically linked together. (Think all roads lead to Rome).

For this reason it doesn't matter where you start, once you make a change, your brain will spread the changes throughout the web that interconnects them all.

Unfortunately it's very difficult to do so on your own. And sadly a lot of traditionally trained therapists (namely counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists) don't follow this approach to therapy mainly due to the limitations of their modalities.

The good news is, there are many professional therapy practitioners trained in alternative based rapid therapies like NLP and hypnotherapy (my approach is a hybrid of these) who can help you disconnect and neutralise emotion based problems within hours.

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