Trauma: Are We Being Attacked?

Clinical Skills / Symptom Contextualization / Trauma Full Day

Trauma: Are We Being Attacked?

Do you feel like you are being attacked when you see someone who looks like the person from the past who you reacted to as being dangerous, threatening, or deadly? Do you feel attacked when you are in a situation that reminds you of such a thing? Do you feel attacked when you hear a certain sound, or a certain word, or a certain color? [1] By now it may be obvious to you that the certain sound, color, or place is totally neutral; it has nothing whatsoever to do with how you are reacting to it, with what you are identifying it with, or with what meaning you are assigning to it. By now, it may be obvious to you that that thing that triggers you, that puts you on an alert, and that makes you ready to run away, or fight, or freeze [2], has nothing whatsoever to do with any of these reactions of yours.

If you perceive the glass as half empty, the above may be really “bad” news for you. Yet, if you perceive the glass as half full, the above can be one of the most empowering insights you can be reminded of. But, whether you perceive the glass as half empty or half full has nothing whatsoever to do with glass, it also has nothing to do with how much water the glass has. It has everything to do with how you perceive the glass at any given time.

This then helps us realize that when we perceive that we are being attacked, not only are we not being attacked, but our perception of being attacked has nothing to do with the person we think is attacking us, or with the situation, circumstance, time or space.  This level of awareness may sound so radical that it may be a hard pill to swallow. Yet, it becomes rather simple once we have reviewed and fully understood the following Truths:

  1. Nothing we perceive has any meaning whatsoever. This includes anyone that we may perceive, any gesture that anyone may be making, any sound, any color, any place, situation, or circumstance. Note this is not a belief, rather the Reality about the world. And, if we resolve to truly live in the Truth, the Truth will surely set us free
  2. We and only we are assigning and can assign our meaning to anything that we perceive
  3. We assign meaning through the use of our attitude and belief, which takes place in the form of thought
  4. When we feel anything is being done to us, we are actually doing it to ourselves through our thoughts

Truth # 4 may sound like we are to blame for anything and everything that happens to us. But if we do that, we will be attacking ourselves, and reinforcing our feeling of being attacked by others. The way it works is that we attack ourselves, unknowingly. Our protective personality helps us deal with that by projecting all these attacks unto the world. These attacks then are perceived as someone in the outside attacking us. And this makes it more tolerable for us, and our protective personality. It is much more bearable to us to know that we are being attacked or persecuted by others, by the outside, or by a specific group, then to come to the conscious understanding we and only are attacking ourselves, and we have been doing it to ourselves all along. This explains why many who have been traumatized are more likely to be retraumatized compared to the general population. This also explains why many of those who have been involved in accidents are more likely to be involved again and again in subsequent accidents compared to the general population. [3]

All this takes place because this is an inside-out world. There is no world without us. There is no event without us. And we activate any event through our thought and our thought alone. The next time we feel we are being attacked, instead of turning to the outside stimulus, which is simply bearing witness to our inner world, let us turn inside, to our inner world, where it all started, where it all happens, and let us choose a different thought, and this is how we will be able to put an end to the cycle of flashbacks, hypervigilance, and intrusive thoughts in trauma and trauma reactivity [4].

Are you a clinician who would like to truly help your patients put an end to their cycle of trauma reactivity, if so, please join us on Friday, April 9th for our 6 CEU full-day webinar on trauma. Click here to register and

See you then,

Karen and Mardoche

[1] Bhandari, Smitha. “What Are PTSD Triggers?” WebMD, WebMD, 11 Sept. 2001,

[2] Nunez, Kirsten. Fight, Flight, or Freeze: How We Respond to Threats.

[3] Robinson, Lawrence. “Emotional and Psychological Trauma.”,

[4] Badour, Christal L, and Matthew T Feldner. “Trauma-related reactivity and regulation of emotion: associations with posttraumatic stress symptoms.” Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry vol. 44,1 (2013): 69-76. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2012.07.007