Would you say you’ve experienced trauma in your life? Most people would say no.
If I were to ask those who said yes what those traumatic experiences were, they would most likely share things like a car accident, serious illness, near-death incident, war, losing a spouse or child, becoming an orphan, or being sexually or physically abused.
But what if trauma wasn't only these notable dramatic moments in time?
The more I learn about trauma, the more I’ve come to understand that experiencing trauma isn’t about a dramatic event but about how you feel about an event.
So what does this mean? If there have been moments in your life when you have ever felt abandoned, terrified, never heard, never valued, worthless, waste of time, then you have experienced trauma.
When we experience trauma, we go into fight, flight, or freeze/shut down. We aren’t safe to express ourselves, or worse, told not to. When our nervous system enters this sympathetic state without being able to complete the cycle - process emotionally and mentally what’s happening and it is met with empathy and validation from another human - then those emotions become trapped inside our nervous system.
For those of us who perhaps didn't realize what trauma included, we would most likely have thoughts like: “Oh jeez, my childhood was great! I really don’t have anything to complain about,” or “sure, I was bullied, but it wasn’t that bad, they were just kids and didn’t know what they were doing after all.” This denial is a safety mechanism to keep that trauma locked away deep inside us to protect us from the pain.
When we start learning what trauma is, we can begin to free ourselves from it. If, for your entire life, you were trying to tell yourself that what you went through wasn’t a big deal and to get over it, those painful emotions stay trapped. What you felt was real! What you felt was painful and traumatic.
Learning how to overcome my trauma has been the gateway to understanding myself. Trauma is the root of anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, self-harm, and more. All of a sudden, I’m not “messed up.” I’m emotionally and mentally wounded, and I need to heal.
If you relate to this, I want to personally invite you into my Facebook community. Inside the guide section, I have a free 30-day transformation - Chomping at the Bit: Transition from Guilt to Freedom. This will help you get started on your healing journey. Click HERE to connect with others who want happiness, hope and freedom.
Learning to heal has transformed my life to find happiness, hope, and freedom! Becoming more whole has helped my anxiety and depression; it helps me be a better mom and prevent passing my trauma down; it’s immensely helping my marriage.
Let’s be honest! You love the fact that you have children; you love your children! But then, on the other hand, you're also missing who you were before your kids. You're missing what you used to be able to do. You're missing the amount of time you'd used to spend with your horses. You're missing freedom. You're missing almost everything about your life pre-kids, and you don't know how to navigate all of those big, ugly emotions, and then the guilt that follows them, right, because the guilt is going to follow. I know that because I went through all of this.Read more...
“It shouldn’t be like this”
“Why is it so hard”
“My horse should be doing -“
“Why am I still scared”
“No one supports me”
“This isn’t what I thought my life would be like”
When we get stuck in what we think life -should be- we totally miss what life really is.
This is commonly the root of our frustration, anxiety, depression, resentment, and suffering.
Life is what it IS.
Learning to accept and love what ‘is’ allows you space to then make a plan with action steps to move in the direction you want; my friend, that is true freedom.
Let go of what you think life should be.
Let go of where you think you should be.
Let go of what you think your horse should be able to do.
Let go of what you think your marriage should be.
Let go of how you think your kids should be.
Live in this moment. Love now. Embrace now.
If you’re looking for steps to help, check out the free 30-day challenge inside Horsewomen Who Rise Up & Ride in the guide section: “Chomping at the Bit.”
Until next time my friend 💜
Yesterday I hauled Ace and our new horse Greg to the arena. It was barrel practice night, and this was the first time going for all three of us.
Ace has been really learning to let go of his anxiety and fears during rope nights with my hubby's help, so I personally hadn’t ridden him the last few times he was hauled. On the drive, I mentally prepared myself to be a relaxed and confident leader for Ace while listening to a podcast. (The Journey On Podcast with Warwick Schiller interviewing Jane Pike)
This podcast really explained things in a way I had never thought of before, and it helped a lot! I want to share a few of those with you now summarized in my words.
My body and mind are amazing. It created defence mechanisms to protect myself during stressful/scary/traumatizing situations when I literally couldn’t process it. I am thankful my body has this ability -- but I am now aware it's time to release these defence methods as they are no longer serving me.
When I feel anxiety, stress or fear, it's like internal energy becoming bigger than my body that I cannot hold it in anymore. I am learning to tune into what my body is telling me and respond before my emotions become bigger than my body, creating a fight/flight/freeze. This is my body trying to protect myself from danger - which again is a beautiful thing! Accepting that nothing is wrong with me is extremely important.
When I start to feel anxious, an easy method to help refocus my brain is to move my body: wiggle my toes in my boots, tap my thumb against each fingertip. Yesterday I also became aware of how I wanted my body to feel to Ace while riding. I envisioned my body being connected to him through my seat and thighs, like in Avatar minus the ponytail hehe. I wanted to feel soft, relaxed, gentle and curious about his own movements. This helped me ride so much softer I was shocked!
Everything I learned about myself is exactly the same as my horse. When Ace reacts anxiously or fearfully, this is his natural response to keep him safe and protected. I don’t want this to disappear, or if a bear ever came for a visit, then he would be in trouble! I want to show him he can trust me and that I’ll keep him safe.
His anxiety can feel so big it's pouring out of his body, putting him into fight/flight/freeze; it is up to me to recognize when his cup of anxiety is getting too high and help him empty it before it overwhelms him.
Asking him for simple body movements can help him come back inside his body, getting his mind off his stress, but it's important to keep things very simple and basic, so it doesn’t become an additional stress source.
There is nothing wrong with feeling fear or anxiety or stress, for either you or your horse! This is an instinct meant to keep us safe from harm. Learning to accept this is the first step to understanding and moving past our fears. Invite your fear to sit at a table beside yourself; what would you say to it? Invite your horse's fear to sit at your table; what would you tell it? Loving ourselves through these feelings is so important.
Thank you, Jane, for the amazing reminder.
How come talking about the loneliness, guilt, resentment, anger and shame that comes with motherhood isn’t a thing?
How come when we try and reach out for help, we are told, “Yes, being a mom is hard, isn’t it,” or, “It’s just your hormones dear, it will all level out soon enough,” or my ultimate favourite, “don’t worry about that stuff, your babies are only babies once, sit back and soak it all in and just cheer up.” How isolating is that? We have just confessed we feel like we are drowning, and we are told to swim better.
Have you ever heard something that gave you a bit of a revelation? One of those ah-ha moments where you went, “wow, I wish I figured this years ago!” I had that experience a few days ago. What he shared wasn’t a new thought, but the way he explained it caught my attention. I was driving, so I couldn’t write it down word for word or the gentleman’s name who said it, but here is my version of what he said.
Our mind doesn’t care about time. All the thoughts and emotions throughout our lives are forever stored in our minds within an eternal filing cabinet. What becomes the challenge is how easily we can access a specific file. Some are filed so long ago and pushed right to the back that we cannot access the memory easily at all. Others are at the forefront, and we can quickly go back to that moment. Some are stored in the pleasant and happy files; others are put in the traumatic and terrible feeling files.
This idea was a perfect explanation for ingrained, knee-jerk reactions I have. Some responses are pleasant, like rushing to see a loved one for a hug. Others are bad, like jumping to the defence and lashing back verbally if I feel vulnerable or attacked. These are reactions based on specific files created by particular memories and feelings. I might not understand why I am reacting that way because I cannot access that file. I buried it so deep in hopes of losing it, but in reality, that event in time changed me. That file I pushed to the back, hoping it would get lost only becomes ingrained in me; the emotions and feelings associated with it altered my DNA.
Then I started to think about it like retraining a horse after a traumatic event. The event could be something huge like being in a significant accident or something that we view as minor; however, they perceived a very real scary threat. After a while, the horse might not remember how or why something awful happened. They only remember that when they did something (got in the trailer, got close to that shed, went through that door), that something terrible happened as a result. I think humans have the habit of assuming time should take care of these traumatic/scary events. Feeling that after a set amount of time, the horse should just “be over it by now.” Have you felt this way? In reality, we have to help them retrain their brain to release that bad memory.
This thought process is no different when it applies to us. We react, think, feel, function and are-who-we-are because of every single thought and emotion stored within us since the beginning of our existence. I find this incredibly empowering! Knowing that I am shaped because of stored memories and emotions means I can change my perception. I’m not at the mercy of it’s-just-who-I-am mindset anymore. I have immense power to heal and evolve my deepest self.
As much as I wish I knew this years ago, I also recognize we all learn things when we are ready for them. We find people within our lives, hear their stories, see their examples, and we can choose to be curious. We can decide to be vulnerable and open ourselves up just a tiny bit to try a new perspective. Or, we can let our inner child who is scared of change keep us exactly where we are.
I encourage you to start taking action and empower yourself by acknowledging you can release and heal from the past. Comment “I RECLAIM MY POWER!”