courageous gilbert showing fear

Trauma Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

So what is Courageous Gilbert the Groundhog really about? It is a children’s story that explains to all ages how to identify trauma and release shock.

Now you may be saying, I’ve never had trauma, why would I buy this book? If you are living today, you have experienced some sort of trauma. Let me explain. Trauma is a tornado touching down in your town, or state. Trauma is being raised in an alcoholic home. It is having to move every year, and start at a new school  because your parent is in the army, or lost their job. Those may be obvious direct traumas, but trauma can also be vicarious.

Seeing repeated shootings on the evening news, hearing a parent yell at their child in the grocery store, witnessing a serious car accident right before your eyes. These are traumatic events. Your body will beautifully respond with the protective fight, flight or freeze response.

Fight, Flight or Freeze Response

Gilbert the groundhog running awayThe fight response draws you closer to the event to battle or engage with the situation. The flight response will encourage you to flee from the event, and the freeze response will help you stop what you are doing and become very still, basically to hide. In the fight/flight state your heart rate increases, your adrenaline starts to rush and you begin to breath quickly. In the freeze mode your heart beats very slowly, your adrenaline drops, and your breathing practically stops.

Now if you were an animal, once the threat ends, you would literally shake off these responses and go about your day. However, if you are very young, or feel helpless, trapped or overwhelmed by the threat, or it happens over and over, your bodies will go into shock. Shock is where you get stuck in the fight/flight/freeze response ~ even when there isn’t a real threat. A perceived threat can tumble you into those responses. This is where you over react to your spouse or boss, avoid conflict at all costs, or freeze like the proverbial ‘deer in the headlights’ during a presentation. Shock can be seen in those who are constantly busy, talking, in a rush or late. Shock can also be seen in those that seem always be somewhere else even though they are standing right in front of you.

Courageous Gilbert the Groundhog comes to the Rescue

p.10 breathe inFirst he teaches you how to calm down your anxious body with some deep breathing. This helps you regulate your central nervous system so you can think clearly, and be present.

Next you check into your body to see how you are feeling. By exploring your fears, sadness or anger, and then expressing them or getting them out you can take back your power and feel confident and competent. By yelling into your hands, sighing great big sighs, or marching around while telling a bully how not to treat you breaks up the shock and it dissolves. It’s not complicated but needs to be practiced. And it takes courage. Try it.

Regina E. McCarthy
Regina E. McCarthy

Regina E. McCarthy is president and owner of Blue Stone Healing Center in the Chicago area. She works with clients at the holistic level, helping them to heal at their deepest level. Regina is passionate about the work she does and feels extremely honored to be part of her clients healing journey. She is married and has three children. Her kids are her heroes because they constantly teach her courage, to be who she is, and not to worry about what others think of her. It takes courage to show your vulnerability.