Color psychology analyzes a lot of common associations between colors and emotions. Blues and cooler colors are supposedly soothing, greens and earth tones are grounding. Many restaurants are painted red with the intention of making customers hungry. It can be beneficial to understand how particular colors may influence or trigger you, since you could see those colors anywhere. What do different colors make you feel or think about?
For a lot of survivors, trauma is kind of cyclical, and different seasons tend to bring with them different kinds of triggers or feelings. Sometimes we don't even realize the effect that seasonal changes have on us, but simply feel like things are suddenly different, and have a harder time coping without understanding why. It's a good idea to give some serious thought to how seasons can affect us, so today I want to offer some questions to get you thinking about that. Do seasons affect the way you experience your trauma? - Do you tend to feel more easily triggered during certain seasons? - Do seasons tend to affect your mood more generally? - Do you have different triggers or challenges to navigate during different seasons? - Are some of the ways that you use to cope not accessible to you during this time of year? Or, do you have more ways of coping than you would normally?
This week is Asexual Awareness Week, and I know that many of us have been doing things for it, even if it's something as low-key as just wearing ace pride colors. In light of that, I want to keep this week's question simple: What does the ace community mean to you? Where and how did you first connect with it? How did it feel? What sort of impact has it had on your life? Are there parts of it that are harder to connect to? Are there parts that feel more welcoming? What kinds of connection to the ace community do you have now? Is it changing in any way?
What are the things you need to/have had to let go of, to stop blaming yourself or feeling guilty? - To those of you who have managed to stop blaming yourself for what happened to you: what was most helpful? Was there something in particular that helped you realize that it wasn't your fault? - To those of you who still struggle with self-blame: What is it that you tend to get most stuck on? Sometimes, if we talk about these thoughts and feelings, it can help to combat them with logic, and to hear validation from an outside perspective.
One of the exercises my therapist had me do when I first started seeing her was to create a mental sanctuary of sorts where I could go within my mind when the physical spaces around me don't feel safe. Through a guided meditation, we associated a word with that feeling. Now, I can say that word to myself, close my eyes, and go to that place in my mind. What about you? Where do you feel most safe?
Maybe one barrier to identifying positive coping skills is that when people ask "how do you cope?" in general, without specifying any kind of situation or feeling that we're coping with, it doesn't paint a concrete enough picture in our minds for the things that we do in different situations to become clear. So I think it may be helpful instead to have a specific situation or feeling in mind that you're trying to cope with, and write down ways that help you deal with just that particular case. What are the coping skills you use when...? - You feel depressed, sad, or lonely? - You feel angry, resentful, or frustrated? - You feel anxious or panicked? - You feel dissociated or have a flashback?
Metaphors can be incredibly useful tools for explaining trauma and understanding our feelings. Art is frequently symbolic, and it can be easier to express feelings generated by trauma when they are encoded in a symbolic way. So this week, let's think about these symbols and metaphors that help us deal with trauma (and everything related to trauma). What is your favorite metaphor or analogy for trauma?
Fiction can sometimes provide us with escape, and a way of processing things that we otherwise might not feel able to release. Sometimes characters remind us of ourselves, allow us to feel less alone, or inspire us to keep going in spite of everything stacked against them. So this week, let's talk about those characters that touch us, that strengthen us, that come along to remind us of something we needed to hear at just the right time. What fictional character has helped you on your healing journey, and how so?
Sometimes long-lasting happiness feels elusive, and our burdens feel too great. It can be easy to slip into hopelessness, so this week I want to focus on small, bite-sized bits of happier feelings. Even if the good feelings last only a little while, they can still be a very helpful tool for fighting off depression, fear, invasive thoughts, and all the other not-so-great leftovers of trauma. Seeing others share these moments can give us a little vicarious joy too, and help us learn to look for and really savor these moments in our own lives. What things in the past week have brought you happiness, comfort, or a sense of safety?
Do you have any gender-related triggers? What do they look like, and how do you deal with them? - What kind of feelings about gender come up for you? Fear or nervousness? Anger? Aversion or disgust? Suspicion? - Are your triggers generalized to all of the people of the gender that you're most triggered by (for example, all women), or are you triggered rather by certain traits (like tallness, or certain clothing or hairstyles) but only when those traits are expressed in a person of a certain gender? Are there other factors playing into this besides gender? - Do any cultural messages or stereotypes you have received through your upbringing contribute to your triggers? (Have you been taught, for example, things like "men only want one thing"?)