Ep. 464 A Better Response to PTSD and Other Triggering Events

Ep. 464 A Better Response to PTSD and Other Triggering Events

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Shows Main Idea – PTSD is the DSM’s way of describing a tragic event in someone’s life. Something awful happens, and you carry the weight of that thing for years or decades, often resulting in triggers as those horrific moments flood and manage the mind. Did you know there is a biblical process for overcoming these devastating things that happen to us?

Show Notes

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Never Forget

In the book, Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer talks about how we remember things and why some things disappear almost immediately while other things linger in our memories all our lifetime. He calls it the curve of forgetting, the slow process of letting go of information from the point of attaining it. The first hour, day, and month show a slow curve of forgetting—until it stabilizes after about a month, assuming we work to remember it at all.

  • If you’re a supporting member of our community, you have free access to all our Daily Messages. I did a two-hour review—nine videos altogether—of all eleven chapters of Moonwalking with Einstein for our community. You may access those video messages, starting with video one.

Of course, some things we don’t have to work to remember, which he explains in his book. Foer says, to remember something, you must connect it to something else, usually visual cues. For example, you can remember what you ate on the morning of 9/11 but not yesterday. Your memory connects the meal to the event—the visual aid.

One of the reasons hurtful things are hard to forget is that there are so many visual connections to the event. You remember the person, facial expressions, the room you were in, what you were eating, and other smells. When an event and visual cues connect, it’s hard to forget. It’s part of the reason triggering happens. A person happily goes down the road and sees something from their regretful past that “triggers” them. I remembered a horrific event in my life by looking at a billboard!

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Redeem Memories

Because we connect bad things to visual cues, they stick in our minds longer, sometimes forever. Perhaps futile efforts to forget those things are not God’s intent. Have you considered how all things are supposed to work for good, or what others meant for evil, God meant them for good? See Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20. I know you have. Thus, the better question is, how do we retrain our thinking so those awful events become stepping stones to a more significant experience with God and practical usefulness for others? Here are five things for your consideration.

  1. Recognize: You must recognize that sovereignty and suffering coexist, but one will have more effective management over your mind than the other. You will either be sovereign-centered or suffering-centered.
  2. Reframe: As you accept that there could be more incredible possibilities to what happened to you, it’s time to reframe the narrative. This process will take work to have Joseph’s mindset—to “flip the narrative” in your life. The help of a competent friend is vital during this process.
  3. Refocus: You begin to explore the mind of God and what He might be up to with your life. God was there in your tragedy, and He does nothing haphazardly. This refocusing aspect is more about faith than objective reality because you’ll not experience what God intended for months or years, but you must believe that God is good and He’s working good into your life.
  4. Retrain: The hard part will be taking your thoughts captive. You must retrain your mind regarding what happened to you. This process could be minute by minute, in the beginning, and daily or weekly after that. There will be triggering events that come out of nowhere, but you must budget these moments into your future triggers so you will be ready to respond when they happen.
  5. Redeem: In time, you will begin to sense the redemptive purposes for your trouble. You’ll recognize how vital it is to remember, not forget. Much like the communion table, we remember a tragic event, but because we have gone through this process, we see the redemptive purposes of Christ.

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Call to Action

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).

  1. Has something awful happened to you, and you’re still reacting negatively to that event? Don’t beat up yourself; we all have had bad things happen to us.
  2. Why do you remember it? Do you recognize how your memory and visual cues are connected? Does the “process of memorization” make sense to you?
  3. Will you begin to write out or think through a game plan for how to flip your life’s narrative?
  4. Do you have more hope now? Will you revisit this episode as often as needed as part of the process to keep your hope alive?
  5. Who will you ask to walk with you through this process?

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