Trauma robs people of self-leadership – the feeling that you are in charge of yourself. A challenge of recovery is taking the lead back and trauma self help for your body and mind.

Trauma is the result of a negative event. It occurs when you feel emotionally or mentally hurt by something that has happened, and it may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, which is commonly referred to as PTSD.

Trauma self help involves: 

  1. Finding a way to become calm and focused
  2. Learning to maintain that calm in response to images, thoughts, sounds, or physical experiences that remind you of the past
  3. Finding a way to be fully alive in the present and engaged with the people around you
  4. Not having to keep secrets from yourself, including secrets about the ways that you have managed to survive

As long as people are either hyper-aroused or shut down, they cannot learn from experience.

Even if they manage to stay in control, they can remain inflexible, stubborn, and depressed.

Traumaticgrowth Taking the lead - Trauma Self help

Recovery from trauma involves the restoration of executive functioning, and with it, self-confidence and the capacity for playfulness and creativity.

As our visceral connection to our bodies is reestablished, there is a brand new capacity to warmly love the self.

We begin to care for our health, our diet, our energy, and our time. This caring arises spontaneously and naturally, not in response to a “should.”

This sets the stage for developing our trauma self help internal leadership skills – how well we listen to our different parts, make sure they feel taken care of, and keep them from sabotaging one another.

Instead of any one part of ourselves dominating the conversation, we can treat them all as important elements in a complex constellation of thoughts and emotions.

Pioneering neuroscience research by scientists like Michael Gazzaniga, combined with work in IFS (Internal Family Systems), has given us a model of the human mind as consisting of multiple distinct subsystems. Each one operates semi-autonomously, with its own needs, skills, and history. They also have different levels of maturity, excitability, wisdom, and pain.

In trauma, the relationship between these subsystems breaks down and they go to war with one another. Self-loathing fights with grandiosity, loving care with hatred, numbing and passivity with rage and aggression. Trauma hijacks these feelings out of their natural, valuable states.

For example, we all have parts of ourselves that are childlike and fun. When we are abused, these are the parts that hurt the most, and they become frozen with the pain, terror, and betrayal of abuse. This burden makes them toxic, and the other parts rally to shield themselves from its pain.

In so doing, these “internal managers” take on some aspects of the abuser. Hypercritical and perfectionistic internal voices make sure we never get close to anyone, or drive us to be relentlessly productive, or throw us into a rage at the slightest provocation. They are trying to protect us from the feeling of annihilation, but in the process are making us miserable.

Every complex system requires competent trauma self help leadership, and this internal system is no different.

Treatment involves assuring all parts that they are welcome and valued, even those that are suicidal or destructive. It involves calling on one’s internal leader to wisely distribute the available trauma self help resources and supply a vision for the whole that takes all parts into account.

This “leader self” does not need to be cultivated or trained. It is always there beneath the surface, ready to take charge once the protective mechanisms that have arisen to protect it from destruction step back.

In a nine-month study, a group of IFS subjects showed measurable improvements in self-assessed joint pain, physical function, self-compassion, and overall pain relative to a control group. They also showed significant improvements in depression and self-efficacy. The subjective improvements were maintained one year later, but not the objectively measured ones, indicating that what had improved was their ability to live with their pain.

Traumatic adaptations continue until the entire human organism feels safe and integrates all the parts of itself that are stuck fighting or warding off trauma.

Untitled-design-2024-05-30T192843.429 Taking the lead - Trauma Self help

If you were abused or neglected as a child, you likely still have a childlike part living inside you that is frozen in time, still holding fast to self-loathing and denial.

Pushing these feelings away can be highly adaptive in the short run, helping you preserve your dignity, or focus on critical tasks like caring for your family or rebuilding a house.

But it requires an enormous amount of energy to keep the system under control.

A single comment may trigger several parts simultaneously: one that becomes intensely angry, another filled with self-loathing, and a third that tries to calm things down with coping habits.

The internal manager we enlist for trauma self help to manage this situation can become a problem unto itself – creating obsessions, seeking distractions, imposing control, thirsting for power, suppressing emotions, or denying reality altogether.

Eventually, the powerful managers that we created to protect against the feeling of helplessness need to be put to rest.

Trauma self help Self-Care

Self-care reduces stress. Equally important, it feels good. Practice self-care through your healing journey by regularly taking action to do things that feel good and loving for yourself.

Self-care acts can be simple and free and might be as mundane as taking a bath. What matters is that you set time aside to care for yourself, and you do things that make you feel loved.

Additionally, meditation and breathwork, which are natural types of mindfulness, can improve stress levels and help you to feel more relaxed and settled in your life.

Accept you may need support

First and foremost, getting past trauma is to want to heal and be willing to accept the help and support.

You might receive support from loved ones, a support group, a therapist, or from friends or colleagues. 

It will help you connect with other people. 

Physical Movement for trauma self help

In addition to directly helping you heal, dance, exercise and physical movement also provide your body with much-needed feel-good chemicals like endorphins.

Go for a walk, go for a bike ride or roller skate, move along to a yoga video, or have a solo dance party. Anything that involves moving your body will help you heal.

Work With Your Feelings

Feeling your feelings, and accepting them, is key to healing from trauma.

You may have some difficult feelings along the way, like anger, and that’s OK.

It’s natural to have a wide variety of emotions, and there’s nothing wrong if some of them are new for you.

Journaling is a common way to manage stress and move through complex events. Give it a try if it feels like it might be beneficial for you. If it doesn’t, it will still be helpful to spend time sitting with your feelings.

Do your best to get in touch with what you’re feeling, allow yourself to experience it entirely for a few moments, then notice how it passes.

Take Breaks

Healing from trauma takes a lot of energy.

When moving through healing, you might find that you’re more tired than usual. Or, you might feel like you have physical energy, but your mind doesn’t work as well.


Getting creative, might mean painting, pottery, sewing, making music or just listening to it. It might mean writing poetry, journaling, or even just reading a fiction book.

Engaging your brain in creative and artistic hobbies has been proven to improve physiological and psychological outcomes in people.

Can you totally heal from Trauma?

It is possible to fully recover from trauma and live a fulfilling, happy life. It will take time and, ultimately, you may not be the exact same person you were before the experience.

However, treatment and trauma self-help strategies can help you process your experience, develop new coping skills, and find ways to move past the trauma.