The Feedback Loop
When we go through trauma, it often seems the circumstance produces feelings in us, and the feelings create a belief that feels true because it matches our feelings. What actually happens is when we go through the circumstance we develop a perception of the experience which produces a belief, that belief creates our feelings, and those feelings in turn circle back to reinforce our belief interpretation of the experience. Of course, the belief then feels true, because the belief itself created the feelings. This “feedback loop” is why Scripture tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5) instead of telling us to control our feelings.
Our interpretation can come from an outside influence (for example, a parent yells, “Why do you make me do this” as they are beating a child, and the child perceives the beating as their fault, then believes they deserve to be mistreated), or it can be our own perception (for example, a child in an alcoholic home perceives the environment as insecure and unsafe, then believes they can never trust and bad things will always happen). But the bottom line is, our wounding does not come from the painful experience. Wounding comes from the beliefs we develop as a result of the painful experience. We need Christ to bring truth to interrupt the “feedback loop” and change our beliefs with truth.
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Dr. Donna E. Lane is a Christian Counselor who specializes in trauma, grief, and loss, along with the depression and anxiety often resulting from these experiences. She has been a counselor since 1979, and has owned her practice since 1993. She is co-author of the internationally-acclaimed trauma treatment resource, Trauma Narrative Treatment, and the accompanying story, Gold Stone. She is also the co-author of Strength in Adversity, a Biblical study on walking through difficulty with Christ.