How does a person build resilience after a trauma? Mike and I went to a conference to find out on Nov. 4. It was sponsored by the Interfaith Collaborative on Mental Health in Pomona Valley among others.
Everyone has the power to build resilience after trauma. Trauma includes experiences like hospitalization, car accident, child abuse and/or neglect (physical and verbal), death of a loved one, racism and more. These experiences are imprinted on our physical body. While talking about the experiences can be very helpful, it is normal for us to experience triggers: unrelated experiences that trigger the same emotional response as the initial trauma. These feelings and reactions are part of our brain’s protection mechanism.
The conference was about how we can help ourselves and others re-wire our nervous system so we are more resilient, less prone to having old experiences triggered by present circumstances. It is an empowering approach, tapping into the resources everyone of us already has. This got me to wondering about something Jesus often said to people who were healed in his presence. “Your faith has made you well.”
The woman with the hemorrhage is one of the people who by her own agency was healed. I have no doubt that Jesus was a healing presence, but Jesus did not intend to make people dependent on him. This story and others indicate that Jesus recognized the power each person has to seek his or her own healing. I believe Jesus wanted to build resilience in the people he encountered.
The memory of early Christians is that Jesus healed by placing his hands on people. The early Christians also remembered that for some people, the mere action of reaching out began their healing. All of us have agency, power to build resilience in ourselves and our faith is one of the resources that help us reset our nervous system from fear to hope, from anger to self-compassion, from anxiety to gratitude.