I would like to talk about a subject that has recently come up for me personally. It’s something I describe as “blind spots.”
I recently noticed this in a practical sense. As I have shifted focus in my life with my move from Anna Maria Island to St Pete and my business transition from an ad agency to coaching individual business owners, executive and others experiencing trauma, I’ve been doing some gig work which includes a lot of driving. I've noticed that my new car has a blind spot on the rear passenger side. Now the interesting thing about this blind spot is it is not a literal blind spot. I mean, the car is hard to see but visible. It is a blind spot because, for some reason my brain is not always registering what my eyes are seeing. The longer I drive in one day and the more tired I get, the more likely I am to develop this blind spot.
I’ve noticed that our response to trauma can also cause us to develop blind spots. When we experience trauma, any event large or small that's very painful, we protect ourselves by getting “in our heads.” Meaning we rationalize, filter and process our experiences in only mind rather than really feeling that painful moment and processing it emotionally and physically through our bodies as well.
The reason this disconnect from our emotions and body creates blind spots is due to the way our biological works. Our brain and body is designed to rely on all of our five senses, or six if we include our energetic /intuitive sense to process information about our environment. Traditionally, we've always thought this processing occurred in solely in the brain which triggered a reaction. However, recent studies of trauma response reveal information is also processed in other parts of our body, adding to our intelligence.
Our response to danger, joy and just about everything we experience, is also being processed through the neural network connection in our heart and our gut. The same neurons that we find in our brain are also found in our heart and our digestive system. The information gathered by our senses is processed through our brain-heart-gut connection via the vagus nerve. The role of the neurons and with our microbiome of our digestive system is so important it is often referred to as our second brain. In fact, a majority of our serotonin (close to 80%) is produced in our gut.
After trauma, we weaken brain-heart-gut connection in an attempt to avoid pain. We dull the feeling of pain and the chemical reaction – our emotion – by ignoring the signals from the heart brain and gut brain.
As we disconnect from much of our neural network, we process more information in our brain by rationalization. By supressing our physical response and our emptions, we miss a lot of the cues. We are reducing our intelligence by ignoring much of our neural network. And this creates blind spots – the inability to fully process inforamtion and notice the red flags.
These trauma blind spots to red flags can lead to repeated trauma when we cannot perceive, and therefor avoid, dangerous situations.
Reintegrating our brain brain-heart brain-gut brain connection is a critical part of healing from trauma. As a trauma coach, I use mindfulness tools and training to rebuild the neural pathways that help protect us from danger and allow for healing to occur.