Old traumas linger

I turned a corner, and there it was: A big white dog. I jumped back in surprise. But the dog was on a long leash and followed me. All I could think about was how to escape.

There really wasn’t any danger. The dog just wanted to greet me. It wasn’t aggressive, and its owner quickly pulled it back when he saw my reaction.

But my body told me otherwise. As a child, I had unpleasant experiences with dogs. These left me with a powerful fear of dogs. When I had children, I realized that I didn’t want to pass this fear on to them. So, I started working on my fear of dogs.

Today, I can easily walk in our local forest – even the part where dogs can run freely – without being afraid, even if they come running towards me. I’ll be fond of dogs, but I’ve gone from fear to just being extra vigilant.

This day was different because I was surprised. When you know you’re walking in an off-leash area, you’re prepared. When you suddenly encounter a dog in the middle of the city, and you don’t see it coming, the reaction from old traumas can unexpectedly surface.

Traumas settle in the body, and there are many layers to let go of. The last aspect is typically the reaction when you’re surprised. Because I had already worked so much on my fear of dogs, I could quickly relax and continue my walk.

If you’ve had a similar experience where your body suddenly goes into alarm mode, the following exercise may help. You can perform it right after the event while you continue walking.

  1. Consciously lower your shoulders and straighten your back.
  2. Take a few deep, calm breaths. If your breathing is very fast and shallow, take a few minutes to slowly lower the rhythm and increase the depth of your breath.
  3. Think through your experience as if you were telling a story to someone else. In my example, I said to myself, “The dog came around the corner and surprised me. I stepped back, and the dog followed. But when I think about it, the dog didn’t seem aggressive, and the owner quickly pulled the dog back. I could see that the situation wasn’t dangerous, and I could move on.”

Feel how your body settles down. Know that you had a completely normal reaction influenced by your past experiences.

I hope this exercise can help you quickly regain your composure. If you find it challenging to let go of your experience, consider what might be underlying it. If you have my book “Life after Bullying,” check out Chapter 10 and use the tapping method to process your experience. If the experience still lingers, you may need help releasing the old trauma that was triggered. Feel free to book a free intro call with me to learn more.

Protect Yourself

Do you get threats on social media? Unfortunately, many people do. Even those just doing their job as social workers, nurses, politicians, or police officers. Apparently, some individuals find it hard to handle the improved access to communication that the internet provides. It used to be rare that a customer or citizen berated an employee, but it is an unsettling reality for far too many nowadays.

Even if you haven’t experienced anything unpleasant yet, it’s a good idea to check your social media settings. Maybe your Instagram profile should be private, and you might not want everyone to be able to find your Facebook profile. If you are not tech-savvy, ask a friend, colleague, or one of your children to help you strengthen your privacy protection.

There are People Who Want to Help You

There are people who want to help you. Along with my professional work as a trauma therapist, I also volunteer in the trauma support group in the Jewish Community in Denmark. We are, of course, busy helping after the terrible events in Israel.

There are many similar opportunities to get help. If you urgently need assistance, there are helplines and psychiatric emergency services in the healthcare system. However, a volunteer organization can be just as good or even better in many other situations. The people in a charity focus on a specific issue, which they often understand better than the psychologist in the emergency room. And the volunteers often have more time to listen.

If you need help, look for an organization that can assist you. If the search becomes overwhelming, seek help from a friend. And if you have the resources to help others, consider volunteering.

The Wounds From Bullying do not Heal Themselves

One participant shared a thought-provoking story at the Langelinie Rotary Club, where I gave a presentation yesterday. He had been bullied in school, and many years later, at a reunion, the bully approached him and offered an apology.

I’ve heard similar stories before. We know that bullying victims suffer for a long time afterward, but the bullies themselves often bear the burden of guilt for years as well. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to prevent bullying and mitigate its effects. I was also a victim of bullying, but I’ve moved forward in life. Today, I help individuals and organizations prevent bullying and overcome its effects.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are a bullying victim or need help to get rid of bullying in your organization.

What RIM can do, and How You Can Learn It

My client started to cough heavily, gasping for air. He felt an intense lump in his throat blocking the energy flow in his body. I invited him to close his eyes, and we ensured he felt safe. Then I gently led him to move into the blockage. An image appeared of the very first time he experienced not being able to express his feelings. I guided him to speak to his dad, whom he was seeing in front of him. As he voiced all the things he had never said before, the tension in his throat lessened. When he was done, he felt a surge of energy moving through his airway, and he was ready to take the next step forward in his life.

The RIM method leverages body awareness and imagination to detect and dissolve the root cause of an issue. It was developed experimentally, but modern neuroscience has subsequently explained how it works. By directly accessing the feelings stored in the body, RIM can bypass many of the barriers our mind puts up and uncover hidden blockages. Once you have found the blockage, you can begin to heal by generating new images that drain the event of negative emotions. With this new image, you can release the past to be more present and live the rich and fulfilling life you deserve.

I discovered the power of RIM myself for the first time in 2011. I had been severely bullied throughout my childhood and consequently suffered from low self-esteem and had accumulated a heavy load of self-limiting beliefs. The RIM method helped me overcome the effects of the bullying and let me start a new life. Driven by the urge to help others move through their past traumatic experiences, I started training as a RIM practitioner in 2012. I have worked personally with RIM founder Dr. Deborah Sandella, and have since qualified as a RIM Master Facilitator and RIM trainer.

Over the years, I have witnessed many amazing results as my clients work through events from their life and remove the emotional charge. Some of these events might seem to be small, but childhood experiences can settle in the body as a persistent “I’m not good enough” feeling. Others have worked through highly traumatic events like rape and incest. Big or small, all these events have an impact on our emotional operating system. We cannot change the past, and trying to suppress past trauma doesn’t work. But with RIM, we can change the memory of the event so it no longer carries an emotional charge that keeps us down. One of my clients, a rape victim, said, “Now the thought of him no longer makes me cringe. It’s like a picture on the wall. It happened, but I have moved on.”

Your journey learning RIM can start already next month. The last RIM Essentials training course in Europe this year is coming up September 20-24th. I’ll be your trainer and will be happy to share my experience and teach you this powerful tool. You can learn more here: https://www.lottevesterli.com/rim-essential-training/

You are also very welcome to reach out to me to hear more. I’d be happy to jump on a call with you so we can find out if learning RIM is right for you.

When You Need Help the Most, You are Least Able to Ask for it

When you need support the most, you are least able to ask for it. One of the common responses to psychological trauma is social isolation. The victim might blame herself or himself, fear others won’t understand, or not want to burden others.

In my practice, I often see family and friends of the victim reach out to me first. They can see that the victim is suffering and not seeking help. If you know anyone suffering the after-effects of trauma, even from long ago, you are welcome to contact me. I can help you help your loved one reach out and seek help – from me or from someone else.

The Bar for Bullying has Been Lowered

The bar for bullying has been lowered, complained the deputy prime minister of the UK. Yes, and that’s long overdue.

Dominic Raab was allowed to resign as justice secretary last month. Otherwise, he would have been fired for bullying. Like most bullies, when their behavior eventually catches up with them, he feels unfairly treated. He feels he was just a demanding boss who got things done. But an investigation showed a pattern of bullying behavior. Each incident might be relatively minor, but they add up to a traumatic experience for the people under him. When enough people think you are a terrible boss, you run out of talent, as people avoid your department.

If your boss is a bully, use the reporting methods available in your organization. As complaints add up, HR and your boss’ boss will notice and take action. Bullying is no longer tolerated, even in a country’s or a large organization’s top leadership.

You Can Get Traumatized Just by Being Near

Just being close is bad enough. Even if you do not experience traumatic events yourself, simply being in the vicinity of one can have an impact. For example, you might recognize the scary feeling of “I was in that place recently” when you hear about an attack.

American psychologists, unfortunately, have an extensive data set of school shootings to analyze. They found that just being close to a school shooting caused 25% more stress-related visits to the Emergency department in the following years. The increase covered many types of impact, from PTSD and anxiety to depression and self-harm.

Get in touch if you want to learn how to help others avoid the worst effects of traumatic events. In addition to my work with individuals, I work as a trauma first responder and co-authored an article in the Danish Educational Psychological Journal about what teachers can do. My dream is that every teacher and childcare professional knows how to prevent permanent harm when traumatic events do occur.

Overcoming Bullying – in Life and in the Movies

Who would dare bully Sylvester Stallone? When he was just a kid with a speech impediment due to a partially paralyzed face, everybody did. He managed to pick himself up, first by building his impressive physique in response to additional bullying from his father. But he also wanted to prove that he could think and started writing screenplays. Eventually, he watched a boxing match and was inspired to write the script for “Rocky” in three intense days.

The studio wanted a good-looking actor to play the part of Rocky Balboa, but Stallone insisted he would play it himself. The studio almost gave up on the movie, cut the budget to next to nothing, and expected a flop. But “Rocky” became a sensation and won three Oscars.

I picked myself up after bullying, and I know how hard it is. Though I have not won any Oscars, I have a wonderful life helping other people overcome the effects of bullying. You might still suffer the long-term consequences if you have been bullied, even many years ago. I hope you will schedule a free call on my website to discuss how I can help you.

Sleep is one of the Foundations

Your body affects your mind. It is tough to change your emotions if you lack sleep, exercise, or proper nutrition. Sometimes, when one of my clients is not progressing at the rapid pace I usually see, I ask about these factors.

Sleep Awareness Week in the USA is this week, and the National Sleep Association has many events and good information. That reminded me to get around to reading Matthew Walker’s influential book “Why We Sleep.” Please check it out from your local library and at least page through it. He explains how sleep is critical for mental health and is vital to fight anxiety and depression, how common sleep disorders are, and how to fight them.

If you don’t want to invest in a sleep-tracking gadget, you can write down when you go to bed, when you wake up, and how rested you feel each morning. Then, when you have at least two weeks of data, make one change to your lifestyle. Keep it up for two weeks, and compare your notes with how you slept before you made the change.

Your sleep is one of the foundations for your health and happiness.