Gentle Break Throughs - How and Why?

‘What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just breakthrough and move on?’

In the many years I’ve been doing my healing work, I’ve had a number of melt-downs, where I’ve ended up crying to my husband and saying things like, ‘I feel like I’m never going to get better. I don’t know what to do to heal this trauma, so I can move on and start living happily and true to myself. Why can’t I just get over this and start doing what I really want and am meant to be doing with my life?’

I’ve also had times where I experienced a surge of energy for transformation and change. I took big leaps in the direction I wanted to go in, it felt amazing, I felt ‘on-fire’, alive and expanded, only to end up in a state of contraction and freeze soon after, wondering if it was all for nothing; the steps taken, feeling unsustainable and hopeless.

Have you felt like this?

Chances are, if you’ve experienced childhood trauma, you have a set of protective selves within you hell-bent on protecting you from ever getting hurt again like you were when you were a child. Their job is to respond to real or perceived threat by shutting it down. They show up as self-doubt, self-sabotage, procrastination, anxiety, criticism, brain fog, apathy… and a myriad of other ways to get you to stop going towards the thing you think you want.

The good news is, when we work with these parts of ourselves to show them we are safe and that it’s now OK to step towards our goals, they can be re-wired to accept and allow growth. We do this by speaking the language of our protective selves – showing not telling. These parts of ourselves need to feel and be shown they are now safe.

Dr Gabor Mate reminds us that safety is not just the absence of real or perceived threat, it is also a feeling of connection (to ourselves and/or to others).

By working in harmony with our bodies and more specifically our nervous systems to create a felt sense of safety and regulation, we show our protective selves we are safe in the here and now.

Regulation is another word for presence; that feeling of being here and now in this moment, fully aware, relaxed and flexible to respond to life. It’s a state of ‘I can’.

Each offering of presence and regulation we offer our nervous systems, is a step towards healing our trauma and reclaiming our authentic selves.

This basic knowledge of neuroscience and how trauma affects us, is offering me so much hope for my own healing and the healing of the women who work with me. Healing is possible. Every incremental neural exercise experienced by our bodies is a step towards the growth we so want for ourselves.                                     

My latest intuitive process painting in progress. 

For me, each time I pick up a paint brush and mindfully allow myself to be guided by my intuition to make an authentic mark on my painting, I am healing my trauma and creating safety within.

What helps you to feel safe in your body? What helps you to feel connected to your true self?

Can you allow yourself to take small steps towards the life you want for yourself?

Can you hold yourself and your efforts with as much compassion as you would have for a small injured animal?

This week, I’ve been taking steps towards the life I want to lead. I want to feel free and capable of taking risks, adventuring into the unknown and holding myself as I expand and grow. As you may know I un-school my 16 year old daughter. We used to live a mile and a half away from the sea in Ireland, but since moving to the UK, we haven’t seen the sea for nearly two years! So this week, I put my big girl pants on and we drove to Brean on the Somerset coast.

This took a lot of courage for me to do. I’m not used to driving on the motorways in UK and I don’t know where I’m going in this country! My inner protective selves were giving me all the reasons why this was dangerous and not advisable. I didn’t sleep well the night before, I worried about everything – what if I need to go to the toilet, what if the car breaks down, what if I run out of phone battery, what if something bad happens and I have to deal with it alone…and on and on.

I supported my nervous system and self-talked to myself throughout the whole day, ‘You can do it. See you managed that step, now for the next thing etc.’ and we ended up having a really lovely day together relaxing at the beach.

I’m so pleased I gave myself this experience of overcoming my fears by gently coaching myself to take each moment as it came and to stay as present as possible to myself and what I was experiencing.

This is a relatively new way for me to be in my body. In the past,  I would have berated myself for not being brave enough to do it. I would have got fixated and overwhelmed by the challenges and ended up a ball of nerves at the end of it (if I even managed to get that far).

So I’m celebrating this new way of being, fuelled by the knowledge of why and how to love my nervous system.

Originally published on 17th June 2021