Waking the Tiger

Society has a faulty and negligent approach to emotional health largely influenced by the last several hundred years of technological and economic development. It’s easy to see how society’s goals are oriented towards money and power and forego the experience of individuals.

As a result, nobody understands anything about trauma. Even the people who have experienced trauma don’t understand it. Most people believe trauma symptoms are something the survivor just “isn’t getting over”. This is pure ignorance.

It’s not anybody’s fault they don’t understand trauma; they have been conditioned and taught faulty behaviors. While “letting go” is an important and freeing concept, it is not a decision a survivor makes, or even can make. Everyone thinks you can just will bad stuff away and ignore it; this is called compartmentalization and I am an expert at it. It severely worsens trauma.

One of the greatest challenges of trauma for a trauma survivor is how nobody understands it. This can lead to others’ expectations not being met, particularly with how they think a person should heal. This results in the survivor directing all of their traumatic anxiety inwardly to avoid subjecting other people to their symptoms. It makes everything for the survivor worse.

Evolutionarily and biologically speaking, we are either in “fight, flight, or freeze” or “rest”. Rest means sex, eating, and sleeping, all of which heal. Putting the body, brain, and mind at rest is imperative to being able to feel the sensations in a moment. This is trauma healing.

Rage, terror, and helplessness are quintessential trauma symptoms that easily cascade into ever worsening emotions. Panic, anxiety, depression – they only make existing emotional problems (e.g. PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder) worse. Personally, I have considered dying as a way to free myself of these emotions.

Until I read Waking the Tiger, by Peter Levine. This book teaches how trauma manifests, what the symptoms are, and how to heal from it. Combine this book with meditation, like Sam Harris’ Waking Up App, a few other holistic approaches, and this is how trauma healing works.

Healing is not “getting over it”. It isn’t “letting go”. It isn’t living with the symptoms for the rest of your life. It’s possible to heal. Once you learn how, with this book and meditation, you can heal every day.

Death is not a great escape; I realized I had a near death experience. This existence, as bullshit as it can be, is beautiful. And healing will let you appreciate it every second.

Historically, tribal cultures congregate as a village to help individuals work through their emotional and physical trauma. They support the survivor through their breakthrough, and afterwards everyone celebrates the survivor’s heroic efforts of healing. Putting the work in to heal used to be considered heroism. If only this is how it was viewed today.

Read this book to heal yourself and understand others. It could be the difference in heroism and death.

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