Are you feeling afraid about things that you can’t control? Whether your worry is about war, terrorism, the health and safety of others, financial stability, or your own health and safety, the future is unknowable. Sometimes we predict the future based on the past. So if you have had a difficult past, you may be more likely to worry about the future. This blog will address using EMDR with worry and fear. (EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
What are the ways you have to feel safe in your daily life? Are you having trouble sleeping? Sleep is a time when your defenses are down, so the intrusion of worry, fear, or nightmares, can be common during times of uncertainty, loss, or stress. Are you having trouble controlling your appetite or do you find yourself skipping meals? Are self harming—attempted self soothing behaviors showing up for you, such as drinking more, spending more, working too many hours, etc.?
Are you connected with social support form friends, relatives, spouse or partner? Or are you feeling isolated or rejected socially?
Are you part of a minority group feeling fear about what you read in the news, on social media, and what you experience in your daily life? Are you a woman feeling fear about your and your children’s futures? Are you in an unhappy relationship but afraid to leave?
Using EMDR with worry and fear:
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) won’t change what’s going on outside, but it can be helpful to calm fears and doubts you may be carrying around on the inside. If you have experienced prejudice, harassment, sexual assault, accidents, or acute or chronic illness, you may be carrying around unresolved feelings of fear. You may re-experience these traumatic events in the present to the extent that they feel like they are happening all over again. This could include nightmares, low self esteem, depression, fear of people, irritability, and even physical manifestations like getting colds more often, or allergies and sensitivities.
An important part of EMDR therapy is to help you feel more grounded, connected to positive images and feelings, and to know what to do if you feel overwhelmed physically or emotionally.
The processing part of EMDR works by helping you process through the traumatic experiences using eye movements, buzzers you hold in your hands, or sounds. Something about stimulating the two sides of your body helps you manage the memories and reduces the amount of distress they cause you. Once the traumatic experiences have been processed so that they do not bother you in the present, the next step is to help you find more positive ways to feel about yourself and to clear remnants and memories of trauma from your body.
EMDR can be really helpful in developing self confidence and assertiveness skills. When you are enhancing safety and positive feelings in yourself, it is possible to feel more entitled to stand up for yourself in the world and to feel you have a right to your voice and your feelings.
How you use EMDR on your healing path is evaluated by you and your therapist. By developing a relationship that feels secure, you can collaborate on how to approach the worries, fears, concerns, and hurts you want to address.
Even though certain things may be outside of your control, inner wisdom and resources can help you find the right path to feel as safe as you can in our unpredictable world. And feeling less alone, more connected, is an important first step in coping with trauma.