The brain is hardwired to keep us safe
Sometimes, the simplest thing can trigger a negative reaction within the body. For some, it can cause the heart to start racing, palms to get sweaty or it can cause overwhelming sadness to sweep over them. In strong cases, it can lead to panic attacks or a complete freeze response. An example of this is in the song by John Schumann of Redgum, 'I was only 19'; with the lyrics;
"Can you tell me why... the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?"
In this case, we understand that the chopper is associated with the traumas of war, and to react so strongly makes a lot of sense.
Other times however, the triggers can be less obvious or not obvious at all to those on the outside. Something could just be a simple inanimate object (or smell or sound), but to the person experiencing the triggered reaction, something deeper is happening within.
The brain is hard wired to move us away from pain in order to keep us alive. So when something causes us distress or physical harm or threatens our survival, it will look for the cause and try to keep us away from that same thing in the future, oftentimes by creating a strong physical reaction in the body to get our attention.
Years can go by and a stranger can walk past and the smell of their aftershave can cause the greatest of distress or flashback if that scent triggers an old traumatic memory. The body is hardwired with the information from past trauma and the body's reaction can happen in an instant.
Fortunately, it is possible to neutralise the association of two things joined together that create an unpleasant response within the body. One way is to strategically access the sensory system of the mind and 'scramble' that association so that it loses its power.
If you need help with pain from your past so that you can move forward with more peace tod