What a world we live in these days.
My heart breaks with the news of all the chaos, death and destruction.
So, what do we do when the emotions rise and feel like they'll pop at any moment?
Maybe they already have.
The last three years have been challenging, traumatic, scary, and downright hard. The grief is palpable. Usually, as adults, you’d think we have a pretty decent handle on managing what's been happening, but these are different times.
Some background thoughts to consider.
There are factors, layered upon layer, that make us who we are today.
There are situations from the past that are joyful. Happy. Exciting. Fun. Surprising.
There are not-so-good moments: of bullying, betrayals, loss of friends, death of loved ones, seemingly ‘harmless’ words from others, divorce, sudden shocking changes, and the list goes on. These incremental experiences create a foundation of our perceived reality.
We experience trauma in our system. Especially when we are young. Most is unconscious and hidden away. As a baby, we have implicit ’body’ memories that we would not be able to label with a word. It's a 'feeling' or a felt sense. They are there and they are real. IN the body. IN our cells. And they might get activated in moments of stress and pressure.
These somatic experiences are unseen and hidden. The body and mind might hold them under the water, like a beachball, where they wait to pop out because our arms get tired, but we don't know when or where it's going to fly.
As Gabor Maté says, there is BIG T trauma, and small t trauma.... there is no comparison, no contest between the two. It's a simple fact that each one impacts us in different ways.
Maté says trauma, from the Greek word for “wound”, “is not what happens to you; it is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you … It is not the blow on the head, but the concussion I get.”
These echoes (trauma concussions) from the past surprise us in moments of conflict or anger, or emotional anxiety. They are sign-posts for us. When activated in our nervous system, they jump into the driver's seat of the bus, slam on the gas and start driving - unable to see over the steering wheel - leaving a wake of who-knows-what behind. Then, depending on our tools and the place we are at, we might move to repair things, tidy the road behind us or perhaps we ignore what’s happened. We may feel some guilt or shame. We might freeze, which again, is a valid state of pausing our nervous system to create safety within. The coping strategies that appear are vast and wide - from addictioning to zoning out, from a to z, you name it.
So - what might we do?
With some gentle courage to dive into our delicate past wounds, there are beautiful modalities like Compassionate Inquiry, Internal Family Systems, Focusing and Shamanic Practices, that support what resides inside of us, and offer a gentle hello, to perhaps begin welcoming them back into the fold.
Our hope and intention: To learn to live with Authenticity and build a sense of Wholeness.
There are many ways to start this process, but one thing you can consider is this. When your body, mind and spirit are not in sync, it's time to find ways that align with you and your system, to reclaim some balance:
a walk in the forest
a meditation or contemplation practice
a hug from a friend (or a butterfly hug)
self-care practices like a bath or a nap, breathwork
soul coaching (*wink)
a glass of water
therapy or counselling
creativity or doodling
wrapping yourself in a blanket ....
even closing your eyes for 30 seconds, and focusing on gently breathing.
All these practices offer you access to self-compassion and calming the system.
And to end this, for now - please watch the video below - and maybe grab kleenex. It came across my path and is an incredible creative piece that touches on a universal experience - for me, my little one wants to be seen and acknowledged. I am also more certain than ever - as this beautiful video portrays - that there are ways to remove the chains and shackles of the echoes that may haunt us.
So much light ahead to you, and please, know I'm here to walk with you if or when the time feels right.
The Butterfly Hug:
A “butterfly hug” is a therapeutic self-soothing technique used in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, which was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. EDMR is used to treat anxiety and trauma, and one of its calling cards is a technique called “bilateral stimulation,” by which you work to engage either hemisphere of the brain and mitigate the effects of stress.
A butterfly hug is one example of bilateral stimulation. Here’s how to do it:
Cross your arms: Place your arms across your chest so that your hands reach your shoulders, forming a “butterfly” with your arms and hands.
Alternate taps: Gently tap each shoulder in an alternating rhythm. As you tap, consider closing your eyes and focusing on your breath or a soothing memory.
Just breathe: Breathe deeply and focus on the sensation of the taps. The rhythm should be soothing and grounding.
If you’re self-conscious about doing them, try hugging your midsection and tapping your elbows. Or sit and breathe for a bit while alternately tapping your knees.