By Dr. Don Wood, Special to Life.Spartan
Dr. Don Wood developed the Inspired Performance Institute after spending years researching how trauma affects our minds and our lives. Dr. Wood has written two books about his research, including the science of how our minds work and why we experience our own unique perspective of the world. Both books are focused on how we can all make the desired changes by allowing our mind to reset and reboot. He has spoken on these topics domestically and internationally.
Have you been dealing with such issues as anxiety, panic attacks, or depression? All are very common, even amongst high-performing individuals. I understand how difficult it can be to continually cope, manage, and live with the symptoms. So, what’s the answer? Sure, you can treat the symptoms — there are ways to do that. Or, you can get to the root of the problem. The key is to understand why these symptoms are occurring in the first place.
What Is an Emotional Concussion?
You may have an emotional concussion. What do I mean by an emotional concussion? An emotional concussion is an event or experience that has been disturbing or traumatic. The event or experience may have occurred at any time in your life, from birth to this precise moment. I prefer the term "emotional concussion" to "trauma" for the simple reason that it’s easier to perceive and understand. A shift in perception leads to healing.
More Mind Content: The Keys to Becoming a More Effective Communicator
People have a visceral response to the word trauma. Individuals will respond to the word "trauma" based on their own personal experiences. Quite often, I hear people excuse one of their own experiences as minor or trivial compared to someone else’s. Or, on the contrary, they tell me no one can understand the pain they have suffered. In my experience, it’s all relative. Two people can share a similar event, and one moves on with relative ease, while the other watches their life fall apart.
Why? Because our responses to these events are like making soup from scratch. Look at it this way: Take a pot of hot water, and every time someone has one of these events, we add an ingredient. For example, for every disturbing event we add a pinch of pepper. For every good experience, we add a vegetable. Each event adds another ingredient. For every disturbing or traumatic event, we add pepper or extra spicy sauce, and even turn up the heat a few degrees on the stove. Positive events add some spices and additional nutritious and delicious ingredients. Think of a nurturing home as mom or dad stirring the pot to keep the heat evenly distributed throughout. The more nurturing, the more evenly the heat is distributed. So, doesn’t it make sense why two people can share a similar experience and have a different reaction? Everyone is made up of different ingredients, in different amounts, at different ratios, at different temperatures.
The Difference Between an Emotional Concussion and Trauma
When I started using the term "emotional concussions," people seemed much more willing to accept this phrase to relate to their own experiences. Trauma sounds permanent, broken, and damaged. A concussion, on the other hand, can heal. A concussion is a temporary situation, and we expect it to heal.
The first thing I tell people when I meet with them is that there’s nothing wrong with your mind. Your mind has experienced some events and experiences that are having an effect on the way your mind is responding presently. Our mind filters through these events and experiences before creating a response to what’s happening now. Our subconscious mind is survival-based, and uses this technique to protect us from being hurt again. What do we know about this information being presented right now? Have we seen it, heard it, or smelled it before? If so, what do we need to do based on what we know and have experienced?
More Mind Content: How to Prevent Distraction and Finally Live the Life You Want
As I explained in my first book, You Must Be Out of Your Mind, some of these events have been recorded and stored in high resolution and high definition. The intensity of these pictures and sounds create an error message, and the subconscious mind sees them in real time and creates a response in the present situation. Our subconscious mind believes there's something happening now and creates an emotion like fear or anger to get an action. The purpose of an emotion like fear is to escape a threat, and the purpose of anger is to attack a threat. However, nothing is happening. It’s an automatic response to protect you from something that isn’t happening. That is a glitch, an error message.
Change How You Feel, Change How You HEAL
So now, if you’ve had a number of emotional concussions throughout your life, this will affect how your mind responds in the present. These responses will have an effect on your success. An emotional concussion may be causing a particular behavior that may now be a habit. What event or events created the emotional concussion? Discover that and you’re on the road to healing your mind. When you change the way you feel, you change the way you heal.