Mental health problems and many chronic health conditions stem from emotionally charged traumatic events, called emotional memory images (EMIs) from our past that our subconscious minds have not effectively processed. When these EMIs are triggered we are in a very real sense still living in the past, and our behaviour, habits, and what we believe ourselves to be capable of is influenced by these outdated self-images.
When these traumatic events took place we perceived them as life threatening and we did not have the resources to deal with them. But even as we get older and become more capable with dealing with life’s challenges, if we come across an event that remotely resembles the initial trauma then our subconscious triggers a stress response, otherwise known as the fight or flight (or freeze) response.
In order to respond quickly enough to the danger in our environment, blood and oxygen are diverted away from our thinking brain, the neo cortex, to the reptilian brain. Our subconscious signals to the amygdala to prepare the body for conflict, suddenly we no longer have control of the situation, and we can only react with fighting, running away, or freezing.
Unaware that the real trigger of this stress response occurred in our past (often decades ago) we retrofit the cause of this stress we’re feeling in the present, deceiving ourselves into believing that it’s what’s going on in front of us right now that is the source of our problems, and justifying unconsciously triggered behaviour that doesn’t serve us.