Words From Breakthrough Counseling

How Do You Know if You Have Trauma

Ten Signs of Trauma – Trauma defined by one person may not be trauma to another. When someone finds circumstances in life to be so overwhelming the events consume thinking. In fact, intrusive thoughts, intrusive images may pop into your mind without warning. Once those images happen it’s difficult to dissuade them from occupying too much space.

Trauma happens when the emotional impact of an event continues to be experienced each time the memory is experienced. The following questions help frame a traumatic event.


    1. Was the event life threatening or perceived to be life threatening?
    2. Do you have recurring dreams or intrusive thoughts or images about the event?
    3. Do you express distress when you experience something that reminds you of the event?

4. Are your thoughts or your mood suddenly altered, inability to remember important parts of the event or negative beliefs about yourself persist since the event?
5. How much effort is placed in avoiding reminders such as people or places of the event?
6. Feel less interested in activities you once enjoyed or feel detached from others?
7. Are positive emotions difficult to achieve?
8. Are irritable moods and angry outbursts such as verbal or physical aggression happening since the event?
9. Is there difficulty with concentrating, exaggerated startle response or sleep?
10. Does work or school seem harder or impossible since the event?

Examples of traumatic events:

    • Car accident
    • Witnessing or involvement with lethal weapons
    • Adoption (natural families, adoptees, and adoptive families)
    • Rape and other aggravated assaults
    • Emotional trauma: yelling, screaming, name calling, bullying

These list the main events but any event that changes how you believe about yourself in a negative way is trauma. Trauma distress increases without emotional support. If the distress has been experienced for two or more weeks seek professional therapy.

CAUTION: The recurring thoughts and images may or may not start right after the event. If the dreams, thoughts or images begin to appear even years after the event, it is legitimately traumatizing and needs to be addressed.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

5 Ways to Mindfulness

Mindfulness, what is it and why is it needed? Mindfulness pops up in media right now as though this mindfulness thing has validity. Mindfulness, simply stated, focuses on the present. Being present in the here and now allows one to be fully aware and on purpose. Daydreaming, jumping from one thing to another, looking ahead to the next thing all exemplify what mindfulness is not. A society of hurry up and wait, such as ours, keeps us vigilant about the next move.

Mindfulness allows the rational mind to think through things clearly and logically. Making good decisions happens when mindfulness occurs. Mindfulness keeps the emotional mind subdued because
mindfulness allows you to look at things objectively without judging. Mindfulness helps you keep on task and do one thing at a time which keeps you from getting overwhelmed.

Living your life on purpose with increased awareness results from practicing mindfulness. Achieving mindfulness isn’t difficult but it does take practice. Anything new out of the normal, familiar way of doing things will feel difficult and uncomfortable at first. However, the outcome of mindfulness will give you a sense of managing your life like never before.

Five keys to achieve mindfulness start with the decision to live life on purpose. Mindfulness brings your entire self to the present moment. Remember the last time you enjoyed yourself? Think about how focused you were on what was happening. What would it be like to enjoy yourself like that all the time? Achieving mindfulness begins with noticing what you are feeling and what you are thinking as though someone else is doing the thinking and feeling.

    1. Breathe – notice what is going on in your body. Is there a place in your body that you can feel the emotion you are having? It may be your shoulders, neck, chest, head, or hands. Identify that
      place and determine how the emotion and where it’s at in your body are connected. Breathe into that place. In other words, once you have identified the emotion and the place in your body that you feel it, breathe into that place by taking a breath all the way down to the abdominal area.
    2. Notice what you are thinking about. Notice what you want to do when thinking about it. If you are angry, you may want to scream or punch something. Your anger may not be that intense. You may just want to give someone a piece of your mind. You may be sad which could evoke an emotional response of crying. The main thing to do is notice your thoughts.
    3. The next step is to describe what you notice. For example, “My friend is being so unfair when she tells me what I ought to do. I will just find another friend. She makes me so mad.” Then take out the judgment and just state it objectively. “I feel anger.” Just stating what you feel takes the judgment out.
    4. Give your full attention to what you are doing. When you breathe, notice how you are breathing. Are you breathing deeply and practicing a relaxation breath? When you are noticing and describing what you are experiencing, give your full attention to it. Be present and aware of each step you take.
    5. Only do one thing at a time. In this day of glorifying multi-tasking, doing one thing at a time seems contrary to being able to manage multiple tasks or projects. However, focusing on one thing at a time will be far more efficient and satisfying.

Practicing mindfulness brings a sense of controlling or managing your life. You are being intentional and purposeful about what you are doing. You will find success and satisfaction as you master the practice of mindfulness.


Breakthrough Counseling can help you get started and follow through with mindfulness to change those mundane, stressful patterns well established in your life. Call us today at 918-286-3278.

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