Trauma Creates a Wall to Micro-Moments

Everyone carries around the residue of trauma. Some of us have had more than our fair share, but it’s impossible to go through the human experience without acquiring some on the way. It shapes us in many ways. If unresolved, it causes trouble later on and can wall us off to micro-moments.

Why do micro-moments even matter? Well, they are the everyday connections and pockets of time that enable us to become better partners, friends, family members, and colleagues. Micro-moments were not on my radar for a long time, thanks to trauma. It made me want to be a superachiever with no time to be vulnerable.

Then, a lot of stuff happened, and I hit a rock-bottom moment of reflection. Instead of being blind to micro-moments, I began to embrace them. I share my journey in my book The In-Between: Life in the Micro.

I Didn’t Want to Be Hurt Again

When we experience trauma in childhood and adolescence, we develop a protective part of ourselves. This part of identity builds walls so we won’t be hurt again. However, the wall cuts out the good stuff, too, so we sit in a neutral spot.

I certainly didn’t want to encounter any more hurt in my life after my childhood. I thought that walling myself off was a good course of action. I just didn’t realize until many years later what I missed by only focusing on the macro.

Being Vulnerable Is Hard for the Traumatized

The traumatized brain fights to avoid vulnerability. That protective part wants to be in control. As a result, those with unresolved trauma are excellent at building walls. It seems to be the safe path, but what are we missing by not letting ourselves be vulnerable?

We miss out on the in-between and the micro-moments that are often joyful and illuminating. The journey to being able to be present and aware of these moments requires deep reflection and a desire to change.

Redefining Your Identity through Micro-Moments

The identity that keeps us from enjoying and living in the in-between must evolve. One approach to this is setting intentions. An intention is what we expect and want to happen. Without intentions, we become a victim of circumstances.

Intentions also have to be adaptable to the situation. Staying true to them helps us no longer be anxious and fearful of micro-moments and connections.

I learned about the value of micro-moments through this metamorphosis. When I was only concerned about the macro-moments, I achieved much, but I’m not proud of the old me. Reflection allowed me to look at the past through a new lens. It was necessary and uncomfortable. However, that’s how growth works.

There’s a lot to be excited about when you turn your attention to micro-moments. Without them, we have a life less lived. It’s changed the way I communicate and made me a more empathetic person, in general.

If you want to truly experience micro-moments, it’s time to think about why you brush them aside now. You’ll find more stories, tips, and more in my book.

Putting a Goal of Awareness into Action

Those who wish to be more present, empathetic, and emotionally healthy must have awareness. It’s two-fold. You need to have self-awareness and be able to be perceptive to others. Both are hard to accomplish. It starts by creating a goal of awareness.

This evolution of awareness into action correlates with living in the in-between. The in-between represents all the micro-moments of life. It’s everything that isn’t milestones or reaching the finish line of goals. The connection between awareness and the in-between is strong, and I chronicled my journey to this in my book The In-Between: Life in the Micro.

Awareness into Action: Before the In-Between

I once prioritized the macro and gave little attention to the micro. In some ways, this was a form of awareness into action. This mindset helped me define my goals and achieve them. However, the journey to accomplishment was just something I had to get through. I didn’t believe it had much value in the big picture.

Applying awareness into action to the small moments felt uncomfortable. I struggled with this, as I didn’t want to leave my bubble state. This was an environment I created to keep myself “safe” from feelings and emotions. It felt too risky to leave its comfort.

The Micro: Translating Awareness into Action

I did eventually abandon the bubble state. I realized that awareness was the driver to finding peace and joy in the micro. I had to recognize a situation and the interactions to then set an intention of action.

Awareness and intention go hand in hand. We have to “zoom” out from ourselves to find this synergy. Much of the awareness I’ve earned came from a lot of trial and error. Awareness and intentions form a loop. Sometimes, awareness helps us set the intention. Other times, we set new intentions based on new awareness.

This interchange is critical when circumstances change. We can approach any scenario with awareness and intention, but the unexpected is always a possibility. So, we have to be adaptable.

Awareness and intention are essential in formulating the action we should take in a situation. It’s a general way of being in touch with the world. They work together to adjust the focus, no matter the environment.

What we get from this is actionable awareness.

Actionable Awareness

How do we put awareness into action in the in-between? It’s something that requires patience, which I’m still working on. Although, I know now I can face any situation, even if it’s chaotic and toxic. I check in with myself, observing my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, an action changes these and shifts my perspective.

In these moments, I also accept that the action may be hard. If I just take the same action without tapping into awareness, the results will be the same.

When cultivating actionable awareness, remember to:

  • Consider your emotions and how they influence the actions you take or don’t take.
  • Remind yourself that taking action delivers valuable feedback.
  • Listen to your gut that tells you to act and do it.

You’ll find more stories about translating awareness into action in my book.

How Emotional States Can Slow Down and Speed Up Time

emotions effect time - christian espinosaHave you noticed that time flies when you are excited and enjoy doing something? Most of the time, I experience this. In reverse, time drags on when I am bored, fearful, or worried.

There are many explanations for this, and in psychophysics, time perception and emotion have something to do with norepinephrine and dopamine.

Researchers have found that impaired time perception and abnormal dopamine levels are linked. Other researchers imply that slowing and speeding up time has to do with clinical conditions like schizophrenia, depression, PTSD, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity. All of these conditions are linked to erratic temporal awareness. However, most changes in time perception are due to emotional state.

How Emotions Change Time

There is also experimental research that suggests that emotions affect time perception.

When we have emotional distractors, the to-be-timed neutral stimuli are present, making time slow. On the other hand, sustaining attention happens when to-be-timed emotional positive stimuli are present, making time seem fast.

Sentience, attention, and bodily arousal changes can explain slowing down or speeding up time connected to the emotion-time link. Thus, emotional influences on time are due to a mixture of various mechanisms.

Overall, people can perceive time differently depending on their emotional and psychological state of mind.

Examples of Slowing Down Time

Fear of Danger

When we experience extreme danger such as accidents or violence, it seems like time is slow. Sometimes, these dreadful events even seem to happen in slow motion.

When I was driving on a rainy day, my car’s rear tires skidded when they lost their grip. I felt time slowed down when I knew I had to steer the tires.

Although time did not slow down, I felt that the event was happening in slow motion. I felt it happened much longer when in fact it was just a second or two. This seems surreal, but I can compare it to movie scenes in slow motion.

Boredom or Lack of Enjoyment

Another example is when we feel bored when doing something.

My mind tends to wander since it is not occupied or interested in what I am doing at the moment. Moreover, my mind wanders towards the clock, making time pass by slowly, instead of focusing on something positive.

Examples of Speeding Up Time


On the other hand, when I enjoy an activity, my mind is focused on having fun. Thus, I do not worry about the time since I want to enjoy every moment of the activity. I am present and in the moment.


Not only does time pass by fast when I enjoy an activity, but it moves even faster when I am also focused on reaching a goal.

I may be excited about the result, which makes me focused on the activities that will achieve my goal.

What Is a Flow State?

When I am doing an activity and absorbed in it, I am in a flow state, which psychologists refer to as a mental state of flow. By achieving this mental state, I can feel greater involvement, energy, and enjoyment.

For instance, when I am in an Ironman triathlon competition, which I enjoy, I am absorbed in the current activity. I am focused on how the water feels while swimming, biking, and running, and my body’s power and movements.

I am living in the moment, making time fly very fast. This is when I am in a state of flow or complete immersion in an activity.

I am using my skills, and my whole being is involved, which makes it enjoyable and satisfactory.

The Benefits of Flow States

When I am in a state of flow, I can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • Motivated: I can increase my motivation and enjoyment since flow is a positive mental state.
  • Fulfilled: Since I am immersed in the activity when in a state of flow, I become more fulfilled, as I find the activity more rewarding and enjoyable.
  • Happy: As a result of being fulfilled, I become happier.
  • Engaged: Moreover, a state of flow allows me to be involved or engaged in the activity.
  • Improved Performance: The overall result is that I get to produce quality work if I am in a state of flow.

What Happens When I Am in a Flow State?

According to experts, when I am in a flow state, my brain activity changes, and my dopamine increases. That is why I can use flow state to change my emotions and speed up time.

I can apply it to various areas in my life, such as the workplace, sports, and education.

Flow in the Workplace

I can use flow to improve my work performance because I am engaged and focused on the project at hand. For instance, I can achieve a flow if I enjoy working on a project.

Flow in Sports

When I am focused on a sport, I can remove any inhibitions to win. Flow allows me to experience a sense of mastery and loss of self-consciousness because I am in the moment of the challenge.

Flow in Education

Another example is when I stretched my current ability level or skills to learn a concept while at school. Since I found it challenging and wanted to learn about it, I could experience a flow state.

How to Be in the Right Emotional State

Set Specific Goals

One of the best ways I can achieve a flow state is when I know my goal. For instance, if my goal is to win a swimming competition, I can use specific responses to achieve it. This results in focusing on the competition until it is finished.

Remove Distractions

When distractions surround me, I cannot experience flow because they compete with my attention. Thus, I should remove any distractions that may hamper me from focusing on the activity.

Make It Challenging

Moreover, I can also experience flow when the task is challenging. Since I know that I have to overcome such a challenge, I can focus on dealing with it by learning new skills.

Choose What I Enjoy

Since I know the activities that I enjoy, I may have to choose the ones I know I will not get bored with. For instance, if I want to earn money, I might choose a passion and make it profitable instead of trying to work at a job I do not enjoy.

How to “Slow Down” and “Speed Up” Time By Changing Your Emotional State

I can do things to change my emotional state to speed up or slow down time. Since this is subjective, I can manipulate factors such as my emotions to make this concept serve me.

Shift My Attention

Since time slows down when I focus on more things, I can shift my attention to one task at a time. By doing this, I can make time fly by faster. This seems counterintuitive, but it is real.

Instead of getting bored during lectures, I will try to focus on the topic and challenge myself to understand it. By doing this, I will not divert my attention by checking my watch and anticipating that time is moving slower.

Engage My Emotions

Occasionally, when my emotions are aroused or engaged, I may experience slower time.

For instance, if I see faces that do not display emotions, I see them quite faster than seeing faces with emotions, like happy or angry faces. Another example is when I am in a high-stakes and emotional competition; I tend to feel that the time is moving slower because of feelings of anticipation.

Depending on the emotions and situation, I may slow down or speed up the time.

The Key Takeaway

When I learn how emotions can affect how I perceive time, I can easily control how I feel. Not only are emotions vital to how I react, but they can also change my time perception.

As a result, I can make time go faster during activities I do not enjoy by challenging myself to achieve a flow state. This will then make me engaged in the activity, making me lose track of time and be in the moment.

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