Taming the Heart Bee: Healing Armoring Patterns after Trauma

Trauma Healing

Taming the Heart Bee: Healing Armoring Patterns after Trauma

Any time we experience trauma, suffering, or hardship, we have certain defense mechanisms that perhaps serve us in surviving a difficult situation. When the threat is gone, though, these defense mechanisms become a hindrance to joy, fulfillment, and ultimately peace.

I like to use the metaphor of a “heart bee” for this armoring pattern that we can develop. Bees are meant to hop from flower to flower to pollinate and aid in their reproduction cycles, as well as take that pollen back to their hives to make honey. This is the natural function of the bee. If our heart is a flower, we can see how the bee would be a critical part of our ability to communicate, love, and grow in relation to ourselves and others. The bee benefits, we benefit, and everyone is happy.

When we suffer trauma, though, that bee can become an entirely different creature. Instead of happily going about its day collecting pollen, the heart bee pops out its stinger and begins to defend the flower at all costs. If the bee is defending the flower, she may protect it from danger, which can serve the flower in a challenging situation. Once the danger has passed, though, if the bee continues this pattern it will lead to the flower being disconnected from other flowers, the bee being disconnected from other bees, and no honey or pollen to sustain them. Both the bee and the flower suffer from this disconnection from the natural order of things.

This is what happens when we continue armoring patterns after trauma experiences, and this is why it can be so difficult to move out of a feeling of depression, anger, or apathy, even when there is no longer a threat.

Often it is difficult to restore the heart bee to its natural functioning before trauma is cleared from the body’s cellular memory, but even after trauma is cleared, patterns can still remain that cause us to armor up to prevent more trauma from occurring. For some, these patterns can go on for years, or even decades after a traumatic experience.

What does heart armoring look like?

Armoring can look like many things. It can mean shutting down in situations that we perceive as threatening. It can mean isolating ourselves from other people or situations that are not familiar. It can mean closing ourselves emotionally so that we don’t have to feel our pain. There are countless ways that we can exhibit armoring patterns which vary from person to person depending on what traumas we have suffered in our lives, how prolonged those were, when they occurred, and how much healing we have done for those traumas.

We often feel very disconnected when we are armoring ourselves. Our heart closes to many of life’s beautiful things, and to many of the people we love. We only allow in what is necessary to get through the day. This feels “safe,” but ultimately, armoring during non-threatening times in our lives can actually be very damaging. Our health and our mood can suffer greatly when we shut down in this way for prolonged periods of time.

Removing Our Armor

It is absolutely never our fault that we have armoring patterns. Armoring is a natural reaction of the nervous system any time trauma or triggering is experienced. These patterns and the physiological reactions we have as a result of trauma occur below the level of the conscious processing parts of our brain. On a cognitive and physiological level, we actually have very little control over armoring patterns that arise unexpectedly.

We take our armor off when we are ready, and there is no need to judge our armor because it has protected us through challenging times. If that armor feels limiting in your life now, though, it might be time to heal some of these patterns.

Healing from armoring patterns due to trauma is a three step process. First we must receive support and do healing exercises to clear trauma from the body’s cellular memory. Techniques such as Integrative Somatic Trauma Healing can be very effective for this. Next, the neural pathways created through trauma must be worked with and given a new blueprint to follow any time a triggering situation occurs. Guided visualization and regressive techniques can support this process very effectively. Finally, we must live! Having new experiences without the trauma imprint and with a new pattern for the brain to follow anchors these healing shifts into place. This leads to effective de-armoring.

It’s important to know that while we may not be able to help the fact that we experienced trauma in the first place, we can do something about its effects on our body, mind, and nervous system. There are very effective techniques and exercises that can help us remove the armor and embody the person that we want to be.