Spiritual Networks

"Nothing will ever be the same again."


Intolerable experience: emotional & sensory experience too intense to be real.
Unbelievable events: can't assimilate what has happened into belief system.
Denial / Shock: the intolerable and unbelievable did not happen.
Loss of basic needs: one or more of the following are shattered.

1. SAFETY - awareness open to the flow of life: pleasure lasts/pain passes.
2. BELONGING - bonds with others which ensure pleasure lasts & pain passes.
3. MASTERY - my choices make a difference re pleasure lasting & pain passing.

b) ANXIETY: fear of undefined trauma happening again.
To the extent that trauma remains unresolved, one fears unspecified losses to come.
Chronic vigilance: how is it all about to happen, all over again, any minute? Right now? Locked into fight/flight. Persistent hyperarousal. Inability to concentrate. Trouble sleeping.

c) AVOIDANCE: get away / stay away in order to survive.
Go to the opposite extreme of whatever is similar to / associated with the trauma. Avoid he unfamiliar. Cling to the sure thing. Judge everything. It's the only way to be safe.

d) FLASHBACKS: persistent intrusion of terrifying images or memories.
Inability to stop the recurrent internal terror or to escape it when it's happening.



a) STAY PRESENT: aware of what I'm actually experiencing now (in my body).
(no matter how long it's been since the trauma). This moment (now!) is all that is real.

Do what helps you to feel safe, connected, and capable. Play familiar music. Talk with
friends. Watch favorite movies. Take a hot bath. Connect with nature. Hold a pet.

Connect with symbols of security, comforting rituals. Pray. Go to church. Write poetry.
Draw. Paint. Mold. Sing. Find a way to express what is beyond words.

Re-member the event, in as much detail as you need to accept that it happened. Do it
at your own pace. Stop when it's too much. Find healthy distractions. Rest. Write / tell
the story to someone with the strength and care to listen.

Take time to sit with and breathe through embodied feelings. Let the waves come and
go. Write about them. What you won't feel gets stuck in your body, wreaks havoc there. Identify and release disproportionate or displaced feelings.

Talk with someone who accepts and understands how you feel.




g)RESOLVE FEAR: learn to feel safe again. Reasonably assure your safety.

  1. Take action to end immediate danger.
  2. Face each fear, one at a time. Confront the fears underlying your avoidance.
  3. Think clearly: how reasonable is each fear’s prediction?
  4. Make plans to manage eventual danger. Take reasonable precautions.
  5. Release unreasonable fear. Breathe deeply. Meditate regularly. Feel safe.

h) COMFORT SADNESS: let go in a way that supports your renewal.

  1. Have a good cry when you feel like it. Learn how if you've forgotten.
  2. Think clearly. What is lost? (What is not?) Debunk exaggeration.
  3. How does this loss / trauma remind me of other losses?
  4. What holds me back from letting go of any unresolved losses?
  5. What can I do and with whom to find the comfort I need? Reach out. Give a hug - get a hug. Tell the story.
  6. Grief is tiring. Rest when you feel the need. Pace yourself.

i)TRANSFORM ANGER: deal directly with the threat.

  1. Think: what is it that you really care about? How is it threatened?
  2. Think: what does your imagination tell me that you “feel like doing”? Visualize it. Accept it as an impulse, not acted upon.
  3. Think: how do you find a non-destructive release of the energy? Just do it.

4.  ACT: what  action could protect what you care about, without endangering something even more important? Be your own guardian. Protect yourself and what you love.

j) RELIEVE DEPRESSION: come back to life!

  1. Get moving! Stretch, walk, dance, run: use those muscles.
  2. Track your thoughts:
  3. face the irrational negatives, and
  4. replace them with positive beliefs.
  5. Eat well.
  6. Make a growing list of what you love to do.
  7. Do at least one “sure thing” every day.
  8. Try a new one at least once a week.

k) END ADDICTION: change self-destructive habits.

  1. Honestly face the costly consequences.
  2. Abstain temporarily while listening to thoughts and feelings.
  3. Reach out! Stop the secrecy. Talk with someone trustworthy.
  4. Find something better! (See 4,5,6 under Depression.)


DEAL WITH UNFINISHED BUSINESS - steadily, at your own pace




Bass, Ellen & Davis, Laura. The Courage to Heal. (for women who've survived)

Bloomfield, Harold. How to be Safe in an Unsafe World. (a simple, practical program)

Bourne, Edmund. Healing Fear. (a thorough, simple, holistic approach)

Burns, David. Feeling Good. (a modern classic about overcoming depression)

Gill, Eliana. Outgrowing the Pain. (a primer about patterns surrounding abuse)

Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma & Recovery. (a classic text by a prominent psychologist)

Lew, Mike. Victims No Longer. (for men who've survived)

Louden, Jennifer. The Women's (Couple's) Comfort Book.
(two wonderful compendiums of ways to soothe yourself or another)


all that is hidden will be brought to light the truth will set you free

Allan Schnarr, M.Div., Ph.D.


All Rights Reserved
For Permission to Reprint:
Contact author at 773-564-9172

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