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Breaking free of the Freeze Response

by Linda Meredith

Breaking free of the Freeze Response

by Linda Meredith


In recent times I became aware of how much I wasn't getting done during the day. At first, I was going to get all frustrated and give myself a hard time. You know the type where our thoughts run along the lines of "I'm not good enough, I should have... for goodness sake why can't I?" Typical inner critic dialogue unfolding in our minds that no one else can see or hear.

This time though I paused. Instead of letting the inner critic run wild all over my significant achievements in recovery I sat down. This wasn't my first rodeo with not getting things done during the day and losing quantities of time. I wanted answers. Not answers where I'd have to spend forever working out the instructions, nor having to remember to apply. I needed a genuine understanding of what was happening for me.

Here's the Wisdom we Need

Not all Triggers are Created Equal. Some are instant and paralyse us. Some are subtle and we miss them.

Looking back over past experiences of losing time I was able to identify the key factors that were consistently reoccurring.

The first was I was losing time and I didn't how, why or where.

The second was my ability to focus right now was not available.

This morning I had completed gym and trauma-informed movement class so I knew my focus had to be online. When we're triggered our ability to focus for extended periods of time just isn't there. We have to retrain our mind, body, breath and brain to work together.

I sat for awhile feeling how I was feeling. Overwhelmed came to mind. I let the energy of those emotions move through my body. I breathe slowly in and out until I can feel those emotions have moved on. Then I felt my body. It was rock hard, my muscles were tense and I didn't feel capable of moving.

Huh? It was like a light bulb went on. My entire body was frozen stiff and didn't feel capable of moving. Childhood sexual abuse, trauma, neglect can all soft wire the freeze response in us. We don't dare move for fear of being hurt, we're waiting for it all to be over. 

Next, I asked the question "how am I going to get moving?" Recognising the freeze response as part of childhood programming I began to move my eyes from one side to another. I then found I could move my body and got up to put the kettle on. Coffee is vital in the morning! lol

Once I was moving I felt alive! I was like "oh my goodness, I broke free, I'm moving" let me do those dishes... not! I kid, I kid. I actually felt enthusiastic because I've now worked out when I'm frozen and what I can do about it. For me, that's exciting!

Trauma Informed Movement has definitely helped me break free on many levels, and I'm so grateful. Our willingness to aim for our best life is so important for our Recovery to Remission journey. So much of our bodily responses are learnt responses. Once we work with them we find we can manage them and reclaim not only our authentic self, also our right to live free of the crippling fear.

May you also know freedom.

Blessings and dreams,


1 comment

  • When I joined AA I wasn’t able to describe a feeling. I only had two and I learned those were not feelings. I can still remember how it felt inside when I wasn’t allowed to express myself. I would start to say how I felt then I was silenced and whatever I felt snapped back inside my gut and was gone. But it wasn’t gone it was stuck inside of me and formed along with the other repressed feelings a ball of layers under immense pressure.

    DIana Z on

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