Invisible Injuries- Mental health ambassadors

S01 - How to deal with flashbacks 01

October 20, 2021

three airforce pilots in cockpit of an aircraft with messaging in text

Flashbacks which are normal, are recollections from the past. They may be pictures, sounds, smells or feelings or the the lack of them (a kind of numbness). Unless we deal with them effectively as they arise, flashbacks can cause us to feel trapped, powerless, and/or out of control. We may feel at the mercy of our experiences. This need not happen with the following techniques.

“Shrinking” or the “reversing technique” The “Shrinking” technique is a powerful and effective way to tack flashbacks in cases where the experience is one of incoming missiles, of whatever type. It has been used more effectively for military personnel who have had battlefield experiences of this order, and for vehicle drivers involved in serious RTAs (Road traffic accidents) where debris from other vehicles or complete vehicles themselves have come towards them at speed.

How to use: visualise the missile or object coming towards you. As it approaches you can get a good look at it…. At the moment before impact, in your mind’s eye……stop the missile/object in its tracks…. now send it back in a different direction towards the distant horizon. As it travels this new path, change its colour to any colour you choose. As it travels further away, notice how much smaller it gets…. until it becomes a mere speck on the horizon. If you keep watching, you’ll notice you can’t see it any longer.

How to use for best results –“horses for courses” applies. Some might find one tool or technique helpful, others will experiment with another that proves helpful. All are available to try and it’s often about finding “what works”.

*Reprinted with permission 2020
@john henden