You Are Not Broken

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!

 

 

The Bravery of Not Letting Fear Win

I recently got back from a four day trip to Orlando with my sister for a little pre-wedding weekend away. The weeks leading up to the trip, my anxiety flared big time due to outside circumstances and not taking care of myself the way I should have. I was having panicky sensations and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could handle this vacation. I imagined every worst case scenario and wondered if I would be okay. I was scared.

But even though having flare ups is a totally normal and expected process, we can never un-learn all the tools we’ve already gathered. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned (and now teach) about how to work with the fear that keeps us trapped and small, it’s that we have to keep pushing forward. We have to keep doing the things that scare us until they don’t scare us anymore. Continue reading

When You’re Really Hard on Yourself

I’ve spent most of my life being hard on myself. I’ve expected perfection from everything I do or say, and when I’ve fallen short, I often berate myself and drop into shame. When my anxiety turned me nonfunctional years ago, I noticed how awful I made myself feel for feeling awful. I was already experiencing difficulty and I chose to add even more unworthiness on top of that.

But I realized that, when I was kind to myself during a panic attack, the intense fear went away more quickly. When I sent myself love and compassion, the sensations of panic became easier to handle. Continue reading

The Choice of Peace

To be honest, the past few months have been challenging for me. Outside circumstances keep popping up and throwing me off and recently, something happened with family that caused me to question everything, and spiraled me into my old habits of anxiety and depression. I caught myself gripped in fear with worst-case scenarios and immobile with pessimism that things will never change or get better. I was walking around completely STUCK in my own misery. Continue reading

Meet Yourself Where You Are

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I’ve been struggling with some awful fatigue the past week or so. It’s the kind of exhaustion that makes it almost impossible to function, and this inability to do as much as I want has caused a lot of old fears to surface for me. Mainly, the fear of being lazy/ not accomplishing a lot/ not being worthy. Continue reading

Stopping the Comparison Game

I have to be honest, I can fall into the trap of comparing my life to others quite often. Social media and the little snippets of contrived goodness we see of others’ lives only makes it that much easier to think that others have it great, especially if we ourselves are struggling.

I remember when I was in the midst of panic disorder and completely nonfunctional, I would see other people doing simple things that I couldn’t do, like going out with friends or holding a steady job, and I would subsequently feel awful about myself. I would wonder why others had it so easy and I was barely making it through the day. I would get jealous and angry. Continue reading