Fear based distraction is way that we can avoid thinking about things we don’t want to think about. Or feeling emotions that we don’t want to feel. This is very common in survivors of untreated trauma. Fear based distraction is a way for survivors of trauma to stay busy so they do not have to be reminded of traumatic memories from the past.
Distraction is a form of avoidance. But avoidance is a funny thing. The more we avoid something, the more we are actually making the anxiety/depression worse. That’s because we are training our brain to believe that what we are avoiding is BAD.
So whenever we’re somehow reminded of what we’re trying to avoid, we get triggered, and wind up feeling even worse.
The following are 5 signs of Fear Based Distraction.
You get Depressed or Anxious whenever you slow down
Your nervous system has learned to stay in motion in a way to avoid distress. So slowing down is a threat to the safety that avoidance provides. So as soon as you slow down, your nervous system no longer feels you are safe, therefore, anxiety and/or depression may set in to either 1) fight/flee the perceive stress or, 2) numb out to not feel the distress.
You swear you cannot meditate
Do you get antsy every time you try to meditate? That's because there is a part of you that does not want to slow down. That part of you is most likely afraid of what memories, thoughts, or feelings may arise if you learn how to meditate. A trauma therapist can help you work through this protective barrier and help you slowly learn how to tolerate the feeling of calm that goes along with meditation.
You engage in addictive behaviors
Individuals usually don't get addicted to the substance(s) itself. They get addicted to the function that the substance serves. More often than not, addictive behaviors, such as substances, being a workaholic, skin picking, etc., serve the function of helping the individual avoid a memory/thought/feeling etc.
You constantly keep yourself busy
Staying busy is a form of mobilization, i.e., the sympathetic nervous system response in your body. This is also known as fight/flight. Staying busy is a way to run away from the distress associated with a traumatic past.
You always say, "I never have time."
Do you really never, ever have time? Or do you really not want to make the time? Because making time would mean you're less busy/less distracted, and therefore, more susceptible to emotions or experiences that you want to avoid.
The first step to overcoming fear based distraction is to decide if you really want to change. Usually, individuals want to change these habits when they start impacting their day-to-day functioning, including the ability to focus at work or fully engage in interpersonal relationships.
If you decide you do want to change, then make the conscious choice to commit to it fully. Commit to knowing the process will be uncomfortable, but it will be worth it.
When we finally decide to stop avoiding, we can do it gently. It doesn’t have to come with a huge, overwhelming sense of fear, which is what many think will happen in therapy.
Will it be uncomfortable? Sure. But trauma informed therapy can help you make progress slowly and gently so you can manage the discomfort during the process and achieve better overall health: emotionally, mentally and physically.
Looking for a trauma therapist in New York?
Our therapists at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, in Scarsdale, NY, are experts in trauma informed therapy. We are able to provide EMDR Therapy virtually to all residents of New York and Connecticut. Prefer to see an EMDR Therapist in person? Our counseling office is located in Westchester, NY are all of our mental health counselors are seeing clients in person as well.
Give our office a call at (914) 222-3983 or email us at email@example.com to schedule your free consultation.
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