so, as i write about my mental breakdown and the road to recovery, i remind myself that the desire to share is beautiful. messy, complicated, sure - but also so pure and well-intentioned. people write me after i share pieces of my personal stories of healing transgenerational trauma, addiction and mental health and express thanks, hope for their own journeys toward feeling free from the pain that comes with struggling with these issues.
we live in a world that is changing so rapidly and in such macro ways that influence our daily micro experiences. we’re lacking the fundamental principles that have helped us feel safe and grounded. community, our elders raising us, handing down their wisdom. we’re disconnected, challenged on almost every level on the daily - think of the fucking husstttllleee we grind every day. for what? to come home and zone out on netflix and a good cab sauv? i mean, i get it, trust, i do. but this level of simply surviving is leaving many of us confused and in pain. unable to untangle all of the reasons we’re wound up so tightly!
the longer i stay on this journey of personal development the more i see that it really does come down to managing our thoughts, reactions to stress stimuli and finding new ways to identify with our thoughts and emotions. healthier ways. more acknowledgment of the pain and trauma and processing them in more strategic and health-supportive ways.
fuck the days of spiritual bypassing where we pretend everything is ok and to “just stay positive”. allowing others to penetrate our loosely established divine circles with their own traumas and reactions. becoming boundaried, both internally and externally is part of the work. parts of us finding other parts of ourselves we’ve never had the chance to get to know. no wise elders passing down wisdom, teaching us of our worth, our magic and how to release anyone who approaches with less than goodwill.
what i’ve learned in these years post-childhood abuse and neglect is that our recovery is about owning our stories and pain, acknowledging it. becoming friends with it. learning to love the pain, see it as a part of ourselves and transmuting that pain into wisdom so to better understand ourselves.
when we acknowledge our pain we’re no longer abandoning that part of ourselves that so desperately wants to be seen. without acknowledging it remains a shame-fuelled ball of energy that builds speed and power as the days go by. mounting pressure, like pushing a beach ball deep underwater.
when we acknowledge our past hurts, the shame lifts. it’s researched and proven that speaking of our pain with those who’ve earned our trust is a bankable path to beginning the healing journey.
by owning our shame, and pain, without judgement, we can begin to ask others for their learning and wisdom. we can hand-pick our own tribe of wise elders who teach us how to process others’ energies, projections, and implement healthy boundaries. how to love and protect ourselves and collect strategies that double as armour from our reactivity from triggers.
building strategies to process our past hurts diffuses the negative impact on our brains, bodies and hearts.
after years of counselling, researching, therapy, reading, painful relationships, soul searching, family harassing years this is what it's boiled down to. a mind that’s trained and wide open to more…
without further adieu, let me introduce you to My Top 5 Brain Strategies That Re-Build Self Trust.
self-betrayal is a new concept for me, but it’s had a huge impact on my self-awareness surrounding co-dependent behaviours. in the past, i would see my emotions around interpersonal relations with so much self-judgement. i’d think it was ME who had all the issues - so much shame and i took on 100% of any dysfunction. i learned in therapy that i can only take on 50% (max) of any interpersonal issue and that the emotions i was feeling were/are actually red flags, clues and valuable insight into what my deep self needed me to pay attention to.
feeling scared, anxious, angry? don’t discount it. pay attention to those emotions and ask yourself “what are you trying to teach me right now?”. whatever comes up is yours to protect and honour as opposed to convincing yourself it’s wrong or a sign of your damaged self. even if it is something you could work on improving, it still deserves to be seen, heard and felt…then protected.
in any given moment i’m monitoring my thoughts for self-judgement. something that goes hand-in-hand with being a victim of childhood abuse and neglect. if our own parent(s) don’t love, cherish and respect our every facet how can we? well, the truth is we can. and the trauma we experienced wasn’t our fault but it is our responsibility to manage in our adult years.
one of the most integral pieces of my recovery is finding self-compassion in every. single. scenario. there’s no room for self-judgement. self-awareness, sure. but the violent thoughts that come along with self-judgement are for laterrrrr. what i’ve learned about the pathophysiology of mental illness and the physical side-effects which trail not too far behind is that whatever is happening in the brain is happening in the body. ‘trauma brain’ is a boss at keeping us hyper-vigilant and pumping out stress hormones, staying stuck in a constant stress state, further reinforcing a body that isn’t detoxing, digesting, problem-solving or simply enjoying the small beauties in life.
there was a time when i questioned the time and money i was investing in therapy. it was a lot. like over 10k, easy. more like 15-20k. money i thought could maybe be better spent on real estate, my business and education - but in hindsight, it was the biggest investment i could’ve made. without building awareness around the events and interactions which left me hella reactive and confused, no amount of money would lead to a business or portfolio that felt good. my emotional rollercoaster would’ve surely sabotaged it.
investing in coaching and therapy and doing the soul-searing has reorganized my trauma brain, allowing me to see an opportunity, clients, business and a multitude of personal angles in a more calm, grounded and mature way. a way that can support me versus catapult me, limbs flailing and all.
in my experience ‘spiritual by-passers’ would tell me that triggers meant something was wrong with me. ‘just be positive” and “find forgiveness” were constants in conversations where i was looking for learning and wisdom. maaajjjooorrrr problem if you’re working through trauma. they were missing key coaching points which might’ve looked like:
triggers are there to protect you. listen to them. lean into them.
triggers are information stored in your nervous system based on past hurts. they can be re-patterned but repatterning them does not include self-abandonment.
learning how to effectively and calmly express what’s coming up for you during a trigger is emotional freedom. pretending they aren’t there or forcing them away is not helpful.
until about 40 years ago scientists believed that the brain had a certain amount of neurons and that amount would only decrease as we age. they also believed that the brain could not repair itself after trauma; both physical and emotional.
new research is proving that the brain is actually plastic. we can completely rebuild and rewire the way it functions based on conscious directives through something called neuroplasticity.
this form of self-healing includes the following:
get to know your negativity, patterns and unhelpful belief systems via non-judgemental mindfulness and awareness.
re-route those patterns by playing out the ideal scenario. visualize, smell, taste and feel what it's going to look like. the job, the relationship, your health, your family. even if you don’t believe it now, forget that. focus on the possibilities, over and over and over. feel it. see it.
those are 2 main points to focus on when re-patterning your grey matter. the important thing to know is that it’s possible and in-the-know folks are doing it. they are self-healing post-trauma. when we choose to not cultivate a beautiful and happy, safe space for our brains to function in, i believe we are abandoning. our true selves, the un-hurt, child-like part of us who is pure, loving and whole is desperate to be set free …the way we do that? by healing the past-hurts that have had us in shackles for so long.
there are many ways to re-build self-trust. these are my go-to’s for mine and my clients’ healing. in this place in my learning and practice i now see that we can eat all the healthy and beautiful foods, take allll the great supplements but if we don’t address the brain in a strategic way, we may end up spinning our wheels for decades.
have questions about any of these points? comment below! i love getting to know you guys 💛
be well with hope cassandra hope, RHN | NLP | CPT
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