How to Shift from No-Go to Good-to-Go in PTSD Recovery

July 30, 2014 Michele Rosenthal

It’s a fact: There are some days, weeks, months or even years when you will feel it’s impossible for you to move forward on your quest to feel better from symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We all face those moments. Fear, disappointment, doubt and disorientation all promote the idea that you’re stuck the way you are forever.

Of course, that’s all it is, an “idea” because you can’t know for certain that you're doomed. Especially when research and science point to the fact that your brain contains the possibility to change until you take your last breath, which means the possibility for you to heal is imminent in every moment.

4 Ways to Create Healing Momentum in PTSD Recovery

Stuck between the part of you that’s mired in doubt and the part of you that hopes for a better future, what do you do? Shift your thinking in PTSD recovery.There’s a part of you that knows the idea that change can’t happen is a myth. That’s the part that eggs you on to read posts like this one -- the part that keeps searching for answers. That's also the part that knows the truth that how trauma affects the brain can be reversed. In fact, it’s that part of you that longs to feel better, live more freely and get on with healing. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is the part of you that’s your best friend, supporter and cheerleader, too.)

Stuck between the part of you that’s mired in doubt and the part of you that hopes for a better future, what do you do? Great question and one that was eloquently phrased to me like this:

What if you want a healing rampage emotionally but are so, so exhausted in terms of taking action (going to medical/professional appointments) and fragile in terms of trusting and being in the world? I just can't seem to get out of the house at all. Really just want to stay in my home -- safe, yet, stagnant. How do you get from this place to a healing rampage?

If you’re having one of those, “How can I get from this place of inertia to a place where I’m moving forward with definite steps in recovery?” moments, then give yourself a big hug: You’ve just taken the first step from moving out of “not going to happen” mode into an “I can do this!” frame of mind.

Shifting yourself from one state (emotionally, mentally) to another, higher and more proactive state begins with challenging where you are and admitting you want something different. You can support that advance with a few simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself action-oriented questions: When you ask yourself questions that begin with how/what/when/where/who you jumpstart your brain's process of seeking answers related to choices and actions. The benefit of this lies in collaborating with your brain to create answers geared toward motion. The more motion you create the more you raise your energy level from lying on the floor to raising yourself up on an elbow to kneeling. From there, you will find a way to stand.
  2. Reduce your expectation: What does healing look like to you? Check in with yourself and assess if what you’re imagining is actually reasonable and manageable at this time. If it isn't, scale back. Usually, we over-imagine: We think too big too soon and then are overwhelmed before we even get started. With the end result in mind, chunk down the steps so they are things you can begin to do in small ways that feel comfortable. What’s the smallest choice and action you can make and take today? Just putting together some small daily successes will shift your energy up a level or two or three.
  3. Honor what you need: Healing requires you to let go of unhealthy trauma coping mechanisms, yet doing so too fast, too much or too soon, can increase your need for safety and send you scuttling back to your control hole. Shift out of stagnation and into motion by honoring what you need (safety) while also engaging in what you want (recovery). One way to do this is to identify what you need to feel safe and then find healing choices and actions that complement that space.
  4. Follow the part you most want to be: Do you want to be guided by the fear part of you, or the healing part? You’ll hear from both along the way. Listen to the feedback you receive (often in the form of feelings, sensations and thoughts) from your body and mind. Those signals are like traffic lights letting you know whether to stop, slow down or move ahead. They are useful as guides, but you’re the one in charge: You can follow the part of you that wants to heal while taking care of the part that wants to linger behind in that safe and stagnant space. Decide which part you want to emulate and then find ways to engage with that part comfortably, often and consistently.

Healing of any kind—rampages included—requires you to define your unique process. Start slowly. Recovery has to be done at a pace that feels comfortable to you and in ways that resonate with you. Having the end result in mind allows you to have a vision that you can keep moving toward. This is key: Keep moving toward the vision. There are many ways to get there; be generous with yourself and find the way that works for you.

Michele is the author of Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her website

APA Reference
Rosenthal, M. (2014, July 30). How to Shift from No-Go to Good-to-Go in PTSD Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Michele Rosenthal

August, 1 2014 at 5:08 pm

Thank you for your words. As I read the words, tears were pouring down my face. Those are my feelings: I want to stay safe at home only forcing myself on errands and to work. Thank you. I will try.

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