Stuck points is a term that was coined within the research exploring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When people struggle to recover from the traumatic events, they might run into stuck points that are linked to how they think about themselves, their surroundings and the world. While the death of a loved one may or may not be deemed as traumatic, significant loss can still bring about pain and negative emotions that may be relevant to stuck points.
In grief, stuck points can be seen in what makes up the internal (and perhaps external) dialogue of a person. Thoughts that continue to surface and intrude the mind, and prevent the mourner from processing and coming to terms with their grief and loss are stuck points. These thoughts trigger, or are linked to triggering, emotions that colour the mourner’s state of mind with distress. One such example would be a thought that goes, “I wish I had said or done something”. This leads to guilt being triggered in the person.
It can be tough to distinguish thoughts from emotions because of how nebulous and intertwined everything is. That is the complicated nature of the human psyche. One intrusive and negative thought can lead towards a rollercoaster of emotions that only go downhill. People in grieving are known for unwittingly sinking into depression and anxiety, especially if they are not aware of their own thoughts.
Stuck points can influence the person’s sense of security, trust and power. Stuck points can take a toll on their esteem and how they interact with other people. How can one address the issue of stuck points?
It takes patience and perseverance to get through them. Every individual encounters different stuck points in different forms. Therapists would usually advise patients to reflect on any stuck points that might be hindering the coping processes of grief. Identifying the relationship between one’s emotions and one’s thoughts is crucial to combating stuck points. Figuring “I thought” versus “I feel” can help bring to light the emotional consequences of triggering thoughts. What is the underlying reason or trauma that is responsible for everything? Tracing them back to their triggers can allow you to take note of what situations or circumstances might be causing you to feel or think negatively. From there, you can control the factors which are within reach. If you are going for grief counselling, you can focus on these areas and seek help with dealing with them.
Now that you have learnt about stuck points and how they might rise, perhaps your processing of grief can become more nuanced. The best way is to talk about how you are feeling and rationalise the thought processes that run through your mind. If needed, seek professional help from counsellors and therapists who are trained with meeting people in mourning.
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