You might be in fight/flight/freeze mode right now. If so, your higher brain functions are offline right now. Your primal brain, the amygdala has first dibs on all incoming sensations. Your self-awareness, higher reasoning skills, and executive function are all dimmed as your animal brain pattern matches for any signs of danger.
I promise you this – there is nothing more important for you to do right now than to come out of threat mode. Nothing you do while you’re in caged animal mode is going to be for your highest good. Nothing you say will be heard as you mean it. Nothing you do will be as good as what you will do once you’ve come back to center. When you’re in panic mode, you’re not yourself.
Check to see if there are any immediate threats to your physical body. Are there any saber tooth tigers or people threatening your physical safety? If so, get to a safe place. If not, good. You’re at no immediate risk of death or dismemberment. Tell your body this. You are safe.
Even if you’re not thirsty, go get some water. If you feel agitated, either cry it out, talk to a supportive friend, or go for a walk. After that, once you’re feeling a bit more calm, you can do the following exercise to recharge yourself. Or if you have a pet, go give them snuggles.
This exercise will only take about 7 minutes and will help you come back to yourself. You can play this music track to use as both a calming soundtrack and to use as a timer.
Imagine looking straight into a loved one’s eyes. Choose the calmest, most loving person you know. Choose someone with whom you have an uncomplicated relationship. (So… not your sweetheart. None of us have an uncomplicated relationship with them.) Just pick someone you adore. Where do you want to meet up with them? You can go anywhere your heart desires, your favorite place on earth. You can visit anywhere in the galaxy with them. If you want to have your date on the 7th moon of Saturn, do it. The sky’s not even the limit.
Imagine they are saying this to you.
Hello lovely. Look into my loving face. See the corners of my eyes crinkle as I smile at you, just thrilled to be in the same room as you. See the miles of spaciousness I have to be with you as you move through this trigger. There’s nothing you need to do right now. Just be with me. If you hold despair, I have space for your despair. If you feel sadness, be sad. Let whatever come up pass through you. You don’t have to do anything to get the feelings to shift, simply watch them like a winter storm out the window of a snug house with a fire burning.
Imagine the warmth of my palms on your face. Imagine the flecks of color in my irises. You are safe in this moment. No wild critters are attacking you. You don’t even have to worry about the bedbugs biting.
Imagine my fingers gently pressing into the softness of your cheeks. Imagine my pupils dilating. Without words, hear my heart say straight to your heart “I love you. You are exquisite. I see you. You are beautiful.”
Stay with this image of the compassionate person as long as it’s useful. Feel how much you adore them, and see if you can adore them more.
If you experienced an acute trauma just now, notice over the course of the next few days if you have any changes in sleep patterns or appetite. These are totally normal.
See our directory of trauma interventions to find a qualified provider for further support.