Is RED really your colour?

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”  Nancy Rathburn

When I look at women in power, mostly I find it difficult to see their feminine. Seems like to be a woman in power we also have to lose our femininity. We put on a coat of toughness.

My curiosity takes me to the differences of women in power who didn’t lose their softness and those that showed that exterior hardness. Princess Diana and Mother Theresa and two women who to me allowed their softness to be public. Margaret Thatcher and Julia Gillard are two women that I saw as showing a hard exterior.

Of course we can always look at adaptations people make in their lives as part of surviving their families, which will have something to do with how we are in the world. For this piece of inquiry, I would like to look more from the place of the perceived perception of women in power. Acknowledging that we all have different perceived perceptions, I think you would agree with me that there is a huge difference in how the examples I have mentioned presented to the world.

One way we present ourselves is in how we dress. Why do we as women feel the need power dress? I’m sure you have heard to wear red if you want to present a sense of power in a meeting. There is a common perception in our society that women power dress by wearing red. The feeling in my body even as I write this is tension through my core, like a bracing for something. I hadn’t noticed that before when I have been contemplating women and power. I have many questions that rise in me as I write this.

  • What do women brace themselves for when they enter the male energy of their working environment?
  • What are they trying to prepare themselves for?
  • Do they enter the battlefield of a male domain?
  • What do they fight for?
  • What is the cost of putting yourself into this arena?
  • Is red supposed to be their battle armour!
  • How do we as women keep ourselves small when we struggle/fight for power?
  • How do we make others small in our fight for power?

I don’t propose that I have the answer to my musings because these questions are for individual women to contemplate for themselves, and, I would like to offer some insights. I believe that it is important for us as women to really look and feel into our bodies and see if we need to operate from this struggle/fight or is there another way?

To me, we as a society have lost the honouring of the feminine and the important place the feminine has in society. When I use the word place I am not talking about the 60’s type place, that a woman should be at home in the kitchen kind of mentality. This type of thinking is oppressive and from this, struggle and fight will always come. We are looking for equality in the wrong way. Should we look for equality or should we look for honouring? We as women do not have to take on the male energy, that will never work. We are not male!

When I think of what is happening in the workplace, what comes to mind is stress, bullying, endless hours of endless work, lack of satisfaction, exhaustion, no fulfilment, money focussed and disconnecting from our heart. Is that really how we want to live our lives?

There is another way!

We as women are responsible for how we wish to be honoured in our society and it starts with how we honour ourselves and each other. I believe the only way we have come to this place of fighting for power is because we have lost touch and connection with our inner power. The Goddess, the Warrior Woman, the holder and bearer of new life, the nurturer, the healer, the wise woman, the seeker, the nourisher, just to name some of the feminine qualities.

The question for me is what can the feminine offer male dominated work environments?

If we stop the fight for power, we become more powerful! And this is not meant as a tool to take power from men, I mean this as a way to work with men and to add our balancing yin energy. It’s about complimenting each other by honouring the place of both male and female energy in our working environments.

We need to start looking at who is right for positions and what energy does it need rather than meeting our number of females in departments or jobs for the boys. These ways won’t build us a strong and stable society. We need to move our focus from pushing into male dominated work environments and ask ourselves, is this the best use of my feminine or am I needed somewhere else. We as women don’t need power for the sake of power. We need to feel into the place we belong and stand there with all our power and authenticity of our feminine.

We are the nurturers and the bearers and holders of life, therefore, we can nurture and bear new life into our working and home environments. We need to become aware of the power of our feminine and use our beautiful qualities to bring what is needed at any given time. We also need to honour the men and give them their place. Without them we wouldn’t exist, just as without women the men wouldn’t exist. We need to find our rhythm again and start creating a balanced way of being in this world.

If you are curious like me about changing how the feminine supports our society then you may be interested in my Master Class: Women and Power.

May you be well and may you be happy

Linda

Blog

 

The Significance of a Healing Presence

This is an assignment I wrote for Midwifing Death training. What I write about presence here is equally relevant for working with traumatised people. Presence is an invaluable skill for professionals wanting to provide trauma informed care.

Mother Teresa said she “would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness”

Fear of saying the wrong thing when sitting with someone who is dying can be more about protecting us rather than them. If we come from the heart, connecting to our love and compassion we won’t be wrong and we can find the words to say or sit in silence. The most essential thing we can bring to someone who is dying is our presence.

Presence for me is about totally being with the other, listening without formulating my own response, allowing silence without discomfort and feeling connected. It is also having the courage to sit with the suffering of the other person which can have a profound impact on both people. In this space the dying person can experience the peace and relax a little. The dying person (and equally a traumatised person) is extremely intuitive and sensitive and easily picks up on our capacity to be present or not. Their mirror neurones are highly tuned.

It is important to be mindful and considerate of the fatigue level of the person who is ill or dying. If our intention is to support and create a healing presence then we don’t want them feeling like they need to entertain us. What I have observed is they give subtle verbal or non-verbal messages which can be easily missed.

Bearing witness is a gift to all of us and especially at the end of life. Having a safe space to be able to speak what needs to be said and to have it acknowledged without judgement is a significant act of compassion. Every life matters! A lack of witnessing can leave the person emotionally isolated (Evans & Davison, 2014). Being genuinely curious about what is happening for the person who is dying allows you to ask open questions which may deepen the communication and open the possibility of witnessing at a deeper level. Questions that are closed only require a yes or no response and are not very useful. Be guided by the responses to your questions, as they will help you to gauge how willing the person is to look into their illness or death.

Our non verbal behaviour accounts for 60-70% of meaning making in an exchange (Evans & Davison, 2014). Respectfully allow the person to remain in denial or choose to not to talk about their suffering, if that is where they need to be. If your intention is truly to be present to the other then there is no need to probe. It is my belief and experience that if you remain fully present, whatever is needed, will come. It’s like the person who is dying or very ill knows if you can hold space for them or not. Be careful not to assume you understand what has been said, it is helpful to feedback what you have understood to the other, which will allow them to correct any misunderstandings. It also shows them you are really listening and wanting to understand them.

Part of healing a life limiting illness often seems to include the refusal to consider death, instead focussing on positivity at all costs. For me, this is a mistake! Firstly the presence of an illness is an opportunity to listen to the body, it has something to tell you. Secondly to have an aversion to any emotion is a recipe for disaster. Dr Malcom Parker says, “Healing occurs when both polarities, positivity and negativity (looking at death) are allowed. A patient who feels distress can end up feeling much worse if the therapeutic focus is on the positive…because this may be interpreted to mean that negative feelings are unacceptable, and so they must be more deeply buried” J Law Med 2011;19(1):36-42.

I love Michael Barbato’s explanation of healing – Healing doesn’t necessarily mean curing especially in relation so life limiting illnesses. Curing usually means making better and involves someone doing something to you, such as doctors administering treatments. Healing on the other hand relates to the emotional and spiritual dimensions, where a person sits with and ultimately transcends their suffering (Barbato).

To be a healing presence you don’t need to be holding someone’s hand or be sitting next to them. Everyone is so very different and this is also true when we die. I remember being with one man who came back to the city to be with relatives to die. He was used to being on his own and in his death this was also true. When I went to visit him he would be in his room and I would be in another room for my whole shift. He didn’t need me to be sitting by his side. I can’t remember where I heard this, and it has always stayed with me, ‘people die how they live’ and from my experience this is very true.

“Love is the optimum condition for healing. The healer uses whatever he intuits will be of the greatest aid, but his energy cannot come from the mind. His power comes from the openness of his heart. He senses something greater than the body’s predicament. He goes to the source out of which all healing occurs, not attempting to disturb or obstruct that which may allow the next perfect step. He does not second guess the universe.” (p. 202  Stephen Levine, Who Dies?)

Holding space is another term used together with presence. It can be described as “being willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re  on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support and let go of judgment and control” (Plett, 2015). Anyone can hold space for another. Plett offers eight ways to do it well:

  • Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom;
  • Give people only as much information as they can handle;
  • Don’t take their power away;
  • Keep your own ego out of it;
  • Make them feel safe enough to fail;
  • Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness;
  • Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma etc;
  • Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences.

In conclusion, we cannot know death until it is happening to us (Halifax, 2008). To be a healing presence and have an understanding of healing we do need to work on ourselves. James Miller says in his book The Art of Being a Healing Presence, “The depth to which you can go within yourself corresponds directly to the depth at which you can connect intimately with another.”

What we can do is have the courage to look at our own mortality so we can sit with others who are facing theirs. We can practice active listening and learn to be comfortable with silence. We can learn to have compassion for ourselves and then in turn have compassion for others. His Holiness Dalai Lama starts his day with words like “If this is the last day of my life may I be of service to others”. By holding our own death at the forefront of our mind, we can live our life more fully.

 

 

 

 

References

Barbato M. (2015) Healing. Article

Evans S., Davison A. (2014) Caring for the Dying: A practical and pastoral guide.

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=oyD1BgAAQBAJ&pg=PT44&lpg=PT44&dq=silence+as+a+form+of+communication+when+dying&source=bl&ots=rGMqhou0wo&sig=ygNOb-dhadEfM58ZwtTrvShMH_A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDgQ6AEwBGoVChMIwLWavdulyAIVxCumCh1xvQ-4#v=onepage&q=silence%20as%20a%20form%20of%20communication%20when%20dying&f=false

Halifax, J. (2008). Being with dying: Cultivating compassion and fearlessness in the presence of death.

 Levine, S. Who Dies?

 Miller, J. The Art of Being a Healing Presence.

Trauma isn’t always what you think it is! – Part 3 of 3

I hope that part 1 and part 2 have given you some insight into what a trauma response might look and feel like. This last post is about healing unresolved trauma and what can be involved in that process.

First thing I want to share is that – You Can Heal From Trauma!

I know that can be hard to believe for some who may have been battling trauma symptoms for many years and those who have worked on their “stuff” for years. Especially if you have lived your life in a trauma response and everything you have tried hasn’t really made too much of a difference.

It’s hard to take if you find that you are still having to deal with things you thought you had dealt with. Let’s reframe that!

REFRAME: All the work you have done on yourself up until now has been exactly what you needed at the time. None of it is wasted. Trust that whatever is showing up now is the next step in your healing.

For me being recovered from trauma means that I can see the trigger, recognise where it comes from and I can leave it in the past. I can do this because the old neural pathway has been replaced with a new neural pathway. That has come about by lots of practice!

Can you imagine being free from your reactive way of being?

At one point in my life I felt resigned to the fact that this is how it would always be and I wasn’t overly happy with that idea, I can tell you!

I want to share some of the basics of recovering from trauma.

  • To do the trauma recovery work it is important to be able to regulate yourself. Focus on strengthening your own resources…yes you do have them even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Build your regulation muscle up so than when you are triggered into a trauma response, you can come back quite easily.
  • Understand what is happening to you. You are not crazy, you have unresolved trauma and your body feels as if the trauma is still happening. It really feels like it is under threat.
  • Help your body to know that it is not in danger right here, right now (if that is the truth). Build up your places where you feel safe. When you are hypervigilant all the time it is exhausting. Establishing and recognising additional places you feel safe, allows the body to relax a little.
  • Build your awareness muscle. This is where you get to practice noticing your reactions and begin to recognise the patterns of your reactions.
  • Work to uncover and stretch out your response process so you can see where the trigger actually starts. The trigger is what causes the response. There will be warning sensations in the body way before you are in the response.
  • None of this can happen without support. I deeply believe it is not possible to recover from trauma on your own. It certainly was true for me and my clients who have done tons of work on themselves already.  The reason it was impossible is because when I was in my “stuff” I couldn’t see it. I needed someone skilled to help me see what was out of my own awareness.

Trauma recovery is about seeing how your past is in your present, then having the tools and skills to do something different.

It’s also about starting to be compassionate and gentle with yourself. As human beings we seek what is familiar even if it doesn’t serve us very well. If you do slip back to the old pattern it doesn’t mean you have failed. As soon as you catch yourself you have a choice of what to do next. Each piece of work you do even if it feels like a step backwards is important. Even if it feels like you have gone back….we can never go back to exactly where we were. When you feel like you have gone backwards just take a moment to think back to 6 months ago and ask yourself, “how far have I come in the last 6 months”. Celebrate this!

Leave me a comment and let me know how are have found this 3 part mini series on trauma.

May you be well and may you be happy

Linda

Blog

Trauma isn’t always what you think it is! – Part 2 of 3

In this second part of this series on trauma, I want to share with you what the symptoms of trauma might look like as a physical manifestation. In part 1 we talked about how trauma could show up in relationships and as blocks in your life. We also explored the notion that most of us are living our lives with unresolved trauma and don’t even know it. My hope for this mini series is to shed some light on the effects trauma can have and that recovery is possible.

Let’s start with a list of what I see as some symptoms of unresolved trauma. See how many you tick.

·     Anxiety

·     Panic attacks

·     Depression

·     Numb feeling

·     Sleep issues

·     Overwhelm

·     Mistrust

·     Nightmares/Flashbacks

·     Sense of hopelessness

·     Shame

·     Chronic pain

·     Addictions

·     Self-destructive behaviour

·     Risky behaviour

·     Headaches

·     Eating disorders

·     Very little or no memory

·     Difficulty concentrating

·     Lack of interest

·     Not feeling right – not in your body – out of body

·     You isolate yourself

·     Feeling of no purpose

How did you go? Did you tick very many of these? If you have resonated with any of these then maybe you would benefit from making a time to speak with either myself or someone who specialises in trauma recovery. If I can give you one message to take away from this post, it is – You don’t have to do this alone, in fact you can’t do this on your own. The reason for that is that when we are in our pattern of being we are not able to see how we are continually reinforcing that pattern. It takes someone else to help us see what is out of our awareness.

I have written an e-book ‘7 Ways to Reduce Your Stress in 7 Days’ that may also help with some ideas and strategies to bring into your daily life.

What I know about myself and those I have worked with to recover from trauma, is that isolation is one of the main things that we do. We can be embarrassed or ashamed that we are in the state we are. We have become very good at doing things for ourselves mainly because we don’t trust others to be there. We learned very early in our lives that we can rely on ourselves and we stop seeking support yet deeply desire it. If we are lucky we may have one person in our life that could support us, and mostly, we feel on our own.

Have you ever had the feeling of isolation in a group of people/friends. You know that feeling of being social yet there is this knowing that these people don’t know the real you. That part of yourself who has the dead-ness inside. The one who is empty beyond words. The one who lost their spirit while surviving their life circumstances. No-one would know by the outward expression we have, often appearing happy and helpful.

If you are ready to move out of isolation and to be seen and heard fully, then I’d love to sit with you. If you are not ready yet that’s ok too. It can be a scary place to think about really facing yourself. Trying to image who you would be without what you carry now, holy cow, what would that look like?

Just know there is no right or wrong way to move yourself along your healing path. Little seeds are planted every day, with every interaction you make either in person or with what you read or listen to. It is usually the feeling of being at the end of one’s tether, that feeling that you really have to do something now that moves people into action. Don’t wait! If you feel you need to talk because you can see yourself in what I have written here, make a time to come and talk to me…..NO CHARGE……for 30 minutes. This may be the next seed to be planted or it may be the beginning of recovering from trauma, I never know and I trust that whatever you need for now, whether it’s working with me or not, will be the right next step for you.

To book your 30 minute Free Insight Session with me click the link.

In Part 3 of this mini series we will be exploring the how of recovering from trauma.

May you be well and may you be happy

Linda

Blog

Trauma isn’t always what you think it is! – Part 1 of 3

“There are people who have gone through worse than I have.”

“I just got on with it.”

“No use worrying about it.”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“They did the best they could.”

Have you said these words? I know I’ve used some of them in the past!

Most people think of trauma as a catastrophic event such as cyclones, tidal waves, earthquakes, murders, suicide, terrible traffic accidents, wars and the like.

They don’t consider surviving their family, living with avoidant parents, violent family life (unless someone is being physically abused), death of a parent, addictions of parents or depression in parents as traumatic. This is not about blaming parents…I am one….I am a grandmother…and I get it. I am the product of a violent home and didn’t realise until my late 40’s that I had unresolved trauma.

Then what about our school or religious experiences!!!! How many people do you know that still have issues around learning and don’t consider themselves intelligent? Speaking as a former Catholic, how many years does it take to free oneself from feelings of ingrained guilt and poor relationship to your body from religious teachings?

I see it and hear it all the time….minimising of our experience. An example of what that means is:

A child may have suffered the loss of a father at a young age, their mother is unavailable to them because of her own deep and unexpressed grief. The child then has not only lost the father, they have also lost the mother and has no idea their experience is traumatic and unresolved. It becomes normalised. They adjust to survive their circumstances.

An example of how quickly little ones can start to feel destabilised is shown in the Still face experiment. It is difficult to watch and it really gets across how important it is to child development to have sound attachment and engagement to the mother or significant carer.

How might this unresolved trauma look in adult life?

It might show up in your relationships as:

  • an inability to trust a man will stay;
  • inability to stay in a relationship;
  • unavailable to your own children;
  • feeling disconnected from yourself and others;
  • not feeling like you really belong anywhere;
  • lack of purpose and meaning in your life; or
  • all of the above plus more!

What do I mean by unavailable?

It doesn’t mean that your aren’t there doing things for the children. It means that you are unable to truly connect with them. It’s like a part of you is not available to anyone including yourself. It died at the same time as the trauma.

Great, so the dead-ness inside has been highlighted, now what?

The good news is that you can heal and recover from these unresolved traumatic experiences. Peter Levine says it so beautifully, “Trauma is a fact of life, it does not, however, have to be a life sentence.”

If you or someone you know fits these descriptions please share this article with them. Help them to know there is hope.

In part 2, I will discuss how unresolved trauma might manifest physically. If you would like to explore the possibility of your own unresolved trauma you can apply for a FREE 30 minute Insight Session with me.

Blog