Hi lovely friends. You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting as often recently. I’m getting married and going on my honeymoon next month, so the past few weeks have been incredibly busy getting ready for the big day! I will post intermittently until after the wedding and then I will go back to weekly blog posts in May. Thanks for hanging in there with me!
These past couple of months, I immersed myself in an intensive Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy training. The program teaches mental health professionals and yoga teachers how to work with those suffering from trauma, ptsd, panic disorder and more. I learned so much and I’d love to share with you a few takeaways I had from the training.
-You are not broken
It can be so incredibly easy when we’re struggling with our mental health to feel as though we are unfixable. We might seek out treatment after treatment, desperately trying to rid ourselves of this pain. And even after we’ve gained wonderful tools to implement into our lives, we still might continue to search, simply because we feel as if we’re broken in some way. We can even get addicted to the need to “fix” ourselves.
When my teacher mentioned this tendency, a little spark of recognition lit up within me. I think in a lot of ways I’ve been operating with a deep-seated belief that I am broken and that I constantly need to be working on myself. I need to be finding new and better ways to grow. While it’s great to want to grow and learn, it isn’t really helpful when it’s coming from a place of unworthiness.
For example, my fiancé and I are planning on trying to start a family within the next year or so, and I keep wanting to put off having a baby until I “fix” myself. I don’t even know what that means, but there’s this desire to be totally and completely perfect BEFORE I have a baby, and that I’m not ready or worthy to be a mom with all of my brokenness right now. That sounds really horrible as I write it. Why do we hold ourselves to such high standards?
What if we truly believed that we weren’t broken and we didn’t need fixing? What if we didn’t need to wait until we’re “perfect” in order to move forward with our lives? What if we could drop all of the trying and the doing and the searching and just BE, as we are, with our imperfectly perfect selves?
So lately when I’ve been noticing myself feeling like I need to fix and find answers and do more to grow, I close my eyes, place my hands on my belly and say to myself, “I am not broken. I do not need to be fixed. I love me, I love me, I love me.”
Changing those thoughts in the moment has helped me tremendously in breaking out of the pattern of this obsessive to fix myself.
-Trauma encompasses so much more than the big events in our lives
I was talking to several other students at lunch about how people often don’t recognize the trauma in their own lives because they don’t realize that trauma isn’t just going to war. Trauma can occur on a much smaller scale and perhaps that makes it less likely for us to recognize it or to seek help.
And trauma isn’t about WHAT happens to us, it’s about how our nervous systems react. For example, we watched a video where a man talked about getting into an MRI machine and having a panic attack. That was traumatic for him, even though it might not be for other people.
We can’t control how our bodies will react to a situation. And our reaction is based on so many factors individual to us, like genetics or previous life experiences.
So it’s really detrimental when we judge others for how they react in a situation, or tell them they shouldn’t be reacting that way. I’m going to try to be cognizant of not dismissing others’ feelings, but listening compassionately.
-Finding ways to come out of “fight/flight/freeze” is the most important thing you can do right now
If nothing else, find ways and make time to rewire your nervous system. Stop trying to figure out your “what if” thought that is actually unanswerable. Stop trying to fight the panic attacks. Stop trying to fix yourself. And just calm the body. From there, the symptoms will naturally begin to calm as well.
Some of my favorite ways to get myself out of adrenaline mode is by practicing diaphragmatic breathing, doing restorative yoga or yoga nidra, watching something funny, and being around people I love. Anything you can find that helps you slow down and feel relaxed is going to help your overall mental health.
When I feel myself getting “buzzy” and worked up, I immediately stop and slow down my breath. What we’re doing is retraining our nervous systems not to react so easily. We’re showing our bodies that it’s okay to rest and that we’re safe. Again, we’re not broken, we just need a little retraining. What can you do TODAY that promotes relaxation?
I hope all of you are doing well and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!