“When a child tells you they don’t feel comfortable around someone, pay attention”.

Martin Dearlove posted this recently on LinkedIn and it really struck a cord with me. I was going to repost but I felt I wanted to say more about this.

I think of myself in these situations when my children were young and said something like this and I didn’t know what to do with it. As a young mother without the skills and knowledge I have today I just didn’t have the resources within me to know what action to take. I hadn’t done all the personal work that I’ve done over these 30 years. What I found myself doing was to withdraw from the situation, which is one action and I would definitely act in a more empowered vocal way today.

So what I thought I would offer was some ideas if you don’t know what to do! Depending on the situation and who the child feels uncomfortable with, these ideas may or may not fit, and you can use them as a starting point for yourself.

  1. Validate the child’s feeling and support the child to trust that feeling;
  2. Keep your mind open and listen carefully;
  3. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly – The child may be triggered by someone who reminds them of another person that makes them feel uncomfortable;
  4. Explore the child’s disclosure to you – Most children love to draw – ask them if they would like to draw their feeling, encouraging conversation throughout the process;
  5. Seek support – find someone you can talk to that may be able to guide you.

The ‘gut feeling’ still doesn’t hold much weight and it is important to start acting from this point. What I mean by acting is to engage with the child and their feeling. Explore your own feelings about what the child has verbalised.

Even if there is no action taken after you report the child’s statement, stick with the child as much as you can in whatever the circumstance is. At the very least they will have someone who believes them and their ‘gut feeling’ and is listening to them. This support cannot be undervalued and may well avoid the child isolating and not speaking up further. We want to encourage their voice and keep them connected to their survival instinct – their ‘gut feeling’.

What other ideas do you have for this situation, I’d love to hear them. Comment below.

7 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health

We usually only consider our mental health when something goes wrong. Some mental health conditions are biologically based due to physical trauma, injury, genetics, exposure to toxic substances, such as lead, or physical disease. In these cases, medical and/or natural therapies are generally required to manage the symptoms.

Some aspects of mental health are believed to be highly susceptible to environmental influences. This means that we can contribute to good mental health based on our choices.

Unresolved trauma responses are unlikely to respond to the suggestions below. I’ll include a note to each making an adjustment for trauma.

  • Maintain Social Support: Stay connected to a network of people, groups and organisations that are supportive and/or fun, it’s imperative to good mental health. Example activities: book clubs, friends, volunteer opportunities, support groups, neighbours, yoga, singing groups, community events and extended family members.

Trauma Note: One of the signs of trauma is isolating ourselves, so to be social may be too big an ask. What you can do is bring into your consciousness the fact that you are isolating, isolate with full awareness. Then ask yourself if this is what you still want to do. Any time you do work with yourself you must make sure that you become the explorer of your own being and not judge it as wrong. Whatever you are doing is one way you have survived your trauma. You are gathering data on yourself and considering how you may like your life to be different.

  • Eat a Healthy Diet: The food we eat can support or impair brain function or illness. While there are many opinions about food and diet, most agree that eating wholefoods including plenty of fruit and veggies is ideal for most people. Can you spend some time and focus on improving your diet?

Trauma Note: Food can often be used as a replacement for what we are really craving. Often called emotional eating, we don’t feel the normal feeling of being full physically. We just can’t get enough of what we are eating because it is not actually meeting our true need. When you sit to eat next time, before you start eating without awareness, ask yourself – What am I actually hungry for? Wait a moment and see what comes into your mind. Again, remember this is an inquiry not an inquisition. You are gently exploring and working to understand your incredibly amazing being. The being that has helped you to survive your trauma.

  • Use supplements: I suggest here that you work with a natural health professional before you head to the chemist or supermarket to buy your supplements. It is important to know where your body is lacking and what it is lacking. We can actually create more imbalance by not knowing what our body actually needs. I personally work with a homeopath and/or I use Ayurvedic herbs and diet. Try out some therapists and see what you prefer.

Trauma Note: This may be too much to even think about managing. If you do feel you would like to explore this, then I would suggest that you have a call with the person you think you would like to see and get a feel for them. Will they listen to you or do they have their own opinions without really getting to know you? Interview them over the phone and trust your instinct when making a choice about who you will work with. Remember you can stop working with them any time you feel it’s not working.  Something people who have trauma forget, is that they have choice, because in the trauma there was no choice.

  • Learn to Manage Stress: Learning to look after yourself when you are stressed can prevent a multitude of issues. Basic skills such as planning, prioritizing, organising and time management are critical to stress management. Exercise and good nutrition are also very important along with good sleep and creating space for down time and relaxation. Include things you love doing into your life to support lower stress levels. We have to fill our cup to be able to give from it.

Trauma Note: Most people who suffer from the symptoms of trauma live in a highly stressed state all or most of the time. They may feel anxiety, panic, depression, hypervigilance, lack of interest, isolation or have sleep issues. It is often difficult to regulate your stress which is exhausting and depleting to your body, mind and spirit. I would suggest you seek support for these symptoms from a trained trauma therapist. Again I would encourage you to interview the person you are considering going to. Get a feel for them, do they understand what you are saying, do you feel they are safe? Just because they have studied psychology or counselling doesn’t mean they have done their own work and are able to hold space for you. Your healing is about takingback the reins of your health and wellbeing and stop being done to. You have your own inner wisdom and the role of the therapist is to get you back in touch with that.

  •  Rest, Relaxation and Exercise: As mentioned above, rest, relaxation and exercise are important in stress management and overall good mental health. Exercise is recommended to manage and/or prevent anxiety and depression as well as other mental and physical health. This is such an important part of having health and wellbeing on all three levels of body, mind and spirit. Just pick one thing to start with and implement that. You can build upon this beginning point and reach the level you are happy with.

Trauma Note: Rest and relaxation are not usually in the vocabulary of a traumatised person. I’m sure it will have been told to you to relax and rest BUT how impossible is that? Your system is on high alert all the time and if you knew how to stop that you would. You need support to help you with the tools to settle your nervous system. Exercise may or may not work. You may be obsessively exercising or unable to move at all. Again, this does need support to understand what is happening with your own system.

  • Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drug Use and Abuse: Alcohol use in moderation has been reported to have some health benefits. However, I am someone who used alcohol to self-medicate most of my life. After my own trauma recovery I haven’t had alcohol for years and I know I will never need or want it again. I believe that any use of alcohol or drugs is a way of numbing yourself at some level. I’m sure I will get shouted down by this statement and that’s ok. What I have found is that if you have done your psycho-emotional work you don’t need alcohol or drugs (prescription or recreational). We can all reason away our behaviours and I challenge you to just take some time and bring into your consciousness what makes you take this drink or drug and see what you find out about yourself.

Trauma Note: Addictions of all kinds are one of the ways we can manage our trauma responses. Understanding what it is actually doing for you is the best place to start. Before taking a drink or drug, stop and ask yourself what am I looking for this to do? Listen for the internal response. Seek support of a trained trauma therapist to help you with a deeper understanding of addictions and specifically how you are using addictions to support yourself.

  • Ask for Help During Difficult Times: Know when to ask for and how to receive help during difficult times. Depending on the circumstances, reaching out to talk about it with family or friends may be sufficient. Other times, professional help may be useful. Whatever the need, reach out and connect with others for support. We are hard wired as community beings yet our society is full of isolated people who often suffer in silence.

Trauma Note: This is probably the most difficult thing you could be asked to do. Most of us feel like we are already crazy or there is something wrong with us. We don’t see or understand that it is the trauma response in the wrong place and time that is creating these feelings of crazy and wrong-ness. Most people who have suffered trauma don’t ask to have their needs met.

I hope that from this article you can see there are differences for those who have trauma responses. Most of us don’t even understand what is happening to us. We don’t even question our behaviours; we just accept this is how we are and often just beat ourselves up for not being different.

The good news is that you don’t have to keep doing what you have always done. With the right support you can change your life. In my opinion, trauma recovery can’t be done by yourself, you need someone to help you to see what is out of your awareness. You also need someone to highlight how your perceptions may not be accurate for your current reality.

I will be talking more about trauma and the impact it has on people’s lives in my brand new The Truth About Trauma TV which is launching on 3rd May 2019. I would love you to subscribe to my channel and please share with others. My mission is to eliminate all UN-necessary trauma from the world through education and training. Help me achieve my mammoth goal.

May you be well and may you be happy

Linda

Trauma isn’t always what you think it is! – Part 3 of 3

I hope that part 1 and part 2 have given you some insight into what a trauma response might look and feel like. This last post is about healing unresolved trauma and what can be involved in that process.

First thing I want to share is that – You Can Heal From Trauma!

I know that can be hard to believe for some who may have been battling trauma symptoms for many years and those who have worked on their “stuff” for years. Especially if you have lived your life in a trauma response and everything you have tried hasn’t really made too much of a difference.

It’s hard to take if you find that you are still having to deal with things you thought you had dealt with. Let’s reframe that!

REFRAME: All the work you have done on yourself up until now has been exactly what you needed at the time. None of it is wasted. Trust that whatever is showing up now is the next step in your healing.

For me being recovered from trauma means that I can see the trigger, recognise where it comes from and I can leave it in the past. I can do this because the old neural pathway has been replaced with a new neural pathway. That has come about by lots of practice!

Can you imagine being free from your reactive way of being?

At one point in my life I felt resigned to the fact that this is how it would always be and I wasn’t overly happy with that idea, I can tell you!

I want to share some of the basics of recovering from trauma.

  • To do the trauma recovery work it is important to be able to regulate yourself. Focus on strengthening your own resources…yes you do have them even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Build your regulation muscle up so than when you are triggered into a trauma response, you can come back quite easily.
  • Understand what is happening to you. You are not crazy, you have unresolved trauma and your body feels as if the trauma is still happening. It really feels like it is under threat.
  • Help your body to know that it is not in danger right here, right now (if that is the truth). Build up your places where you feel safe. When you are hypervigilant all the time it is exhausting. Establishing and recognising additional places you feel safe, allows the body to relax a little.
  • Build your awareness muscle. This is where you get to practice noticing your reactions and begin to recognise the patterns of your reactions.
  • Work to uncover and stretch out your response process so you can see where the trigger actually starts. The trigger is what causes the response. There will be warning sensations in the body way before you are in the response.
  • None of this can happen without support. I deeply believe it is not possible to recover from trauma on your own. It certainly was true for me and my clients who have done tons of work on themselves already.  The reason it was impossible is because when I was in my “stuff” I couldn’t see it. I needed someone skilled to help me see what was out of my own awareness.

Trauma recovery is about seeing how your past is in your present, then having the tools and skills to do something different.

It’s also about starting to be compassionate and gentle with yourself. As human beings we seek what is familiar even if it doesn’t serve us very well. If you do slip back to the old pattern it doesn’t mean you have failed. As soon as you catch yourself you have a choice of what to do next. Each piece of work you do even if it feels like a step backwards is important. Even if it feels like you have gone back….we can never go back to exactly where we were. When you feel like you have gone backwards just take a moment to think back to 6 months ago and ask yourself, “how far have I come in the last 6 months”. Celebrate this!

Leave me a comment and let me know how are have found this 3 part mini series on trauma.

May you be well and may you be happy

Linda

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Trauma isn’t always what you think it is! – Part 2 of 3

In this second part of this series on trauma, I want to share with you what the symptoms of trauma might look like as a physical manifestation. In part 1 we talked about how trauma could show up in relationships and as blocks in your life. We also explored the notion that most of us are living our lives with unresolved trauma and don’t even know it. My hope for this mini series is to shed some light on the effects trauma can have and that recovery is possible.

Let’s start with a list of what I see as some symptoms of unresolved trauma. See how many you tick.

·     Anxiety

·     Panic attacks

·     Depression

·     Numb feeling

·     Sleep issues

·     Overwhelm

·     Mistrust

·     Nightmares/Flashbacks

·     Sense of hopelessness

·     Shame

·     Chronic pain

·     Addictions

·     Self-destructive behaviour

·     Risky behaviour

·     Headaches

·     Eating disorders

·     Very little or no memory

·     Difficulty concentrating

·     Lack of interest

·     Not feeling right – not in your body – out of body

·     You isolate yourself

·     Feeling of no purpose

How did you go? Did you tick very many of these? If you have resonated with any of these then maybe you would benefit from making a time to speak with either myself or someone who specialises in trauma recovery. If I can give you one message to take away from this post, it is – You don’t have to do this alone, in fact you can’t do this on your own. The reason for that is that when we are in our pattern of being we are not able to see how we are continually reinforcing that pattern. It takes someone else to help us see what is out of our awareness.

I have written an e-book ‘7 Ways to Reduce Your Stress in 7 Days’ that may also help with some ideas and strategies to bring into your daily life.

What I know about myself and those I have worked with to recover from trauma, is that isolation is one of the main things that we do. We can be embarrassed or ashamed that we are in the state we are. We have become very good at doing things for ourselves mainly because we don’t trust others to be there. We learned very early in our lives that we can rely on ourselves and we stop seeking support yet deeply desire it. If we are lucky we may have one person in our life that could support us, and mostly, we feel on our own.

Have you ever had the feeling of isolation in a group of people/friends. You know that feeling of being social yet there is this knowing that these people don’t know the real you. That part of yourself who has the dead-ness inside. The one who is empty beyond words. The one who lost their spirit while surviving their life circumstances. No-one would know by the outward expression we have, often appearing happy and helpful.

If you are ready to move out of isolation and to be seen and heard fully, then I’d love to sit with you. If you are not ready yet that’s ok too. It can be a scary place to think about really facing yourself. Trying to image who you would be without what you carry now, holy cow, what would that look like?

Just know there is no right or wrong way to move yourself along your healing path. Little seeds are planted every day, with every interaction you make either in person or with what you read or listen to. It is usually the feeling of being at the end of one’s tether, that feeling that you really have to do something now that moves people into action. Don’t wait! If you feel you need to talk because you can see yourself in what I have written here, make a time to come and talk to me…..NO CHARGE……for 30 minutes. This may be the next seed to be planted or it may be the beginning of recovering from trauma, I never know and I trust that whatever you need for now, whether it’s working with me or not, will be the right next step for you.

To book your 30 minute Free Insight Session with me click the link.

In Part 3 of this mini series we will be exploring the how of recovering from trauma.

May you be well and may you be happy

Linda

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Trauma isn’t always what you think it is! – Part 1 of 3

“There are people who have gone through worse than I have.”

“I just got on with it.”

“No use worrying about it.”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“They did the best they could.”

Have you said these words? I know I’ve used some of them in the past!

Most people think of trauma as a catastrophic event such as cyclones, tidal waves, earthquakes, murders, suicide, terrible traffic accidents, wars and the like.

They don’t consider surviving their family, living with avoidant parents, violent family life (unless someone is being physically abused), death of a parent, addictions of parents or depression in parents as traumatic. This is not about blaming parents…I am one….I am a grandmother…and I get it. I am the product of a violent home and didn’t realise until my late 40’s that I had unresolved trauma.

Then what about our school or religious experiences!!!! How many people do you know that still have issues around learning and don’t consider themselves intelligent? Speaking as a former Catholic, how many years does it take to free oneself from feelings of ingrained guilt and poor relationship to your body from religious teachings?

I see it and hear it all the time….minimising of our experience. An example of what that means is:

A child may have suffered the loss of a father at a young age, their mother is unavailable to them because of her own deep and unexpressed grief. The child then has not only lost the father, they have also lost the mother and has no idea their experience is traumatic and unresolved. It becomes normalised. They adjust to survive their circumstances.

An example of how quickly little ones can start to feel destabilised is shown in the Still face experiment. It is difficult to watch and it really gets across how important it is to child development to have sound attachment and engagement to the mother or significant carer.

How might this unresolved trauma look in adult life?

It might show up in your relationships as:

  • an inability to trust a man will stay;
  • inability to stay in a relationship;
  • unavailable to your own children;
  • feeling disconnected from yourself and others;
  • not feeling like you really belong anywhere;
  • lack of purpose and meaning in your life; or
  • all of the above plus more!

What do I mean by unavailable?

It doesn’t mean that your aren’t there doing things for the children. It means that you are unable to truly connect with them. It’s like a part of you is not available to anyone including yourself. It died at the same time as the trauma.

Great, so the dead-ness inside has been highlighted, now what?

The good news is that you can heal and recover from these unresolved traumatic experiences. Peter Levine says it so beautifully, “Trauma is a fact of life, it does not, however, have to be a life sentence.”

If you or someone you know fits these descriptions please share this article with them. Help them to know there is hope.

In part 2, I will discuss how unresolved trauma might manifest physically. If you would like to explore the possibility of your own unresolved trauma you can apply for a FREE 30 minute Insight Session with me.

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