Author Archives: gftadmin

Understanding our Trauma Responses

“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.” (p.97)”
― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Trauma responses show us many different realities. Often leading us to mistrust ourselves. One of the many processes within healing from trauma is leaning into trusting yourself again. Starting by listening to what your gut response is in different situations.

What is my gut (and body as a whole) telling me:
1. Am I feeling safe?
2. Do I trust my environment?
3. Do I feel okay with the people around me?
4. What am I needing in this moment?
5. Am I attempting to numb my emotional experience?

Holding Ourselves Accountable (with Compassion)

Within our current times, I feel it is important now more than ever to ensure we’re holding ourselves accountable to the realities of our current world. The challenges that can come within this are not to be dismissed or devalued, but highlighted to the importance of this work.

Some important questions to self-reflect upon:
1. Identify what your personal values are?
2. What do you stand for?
3. How do you see yourself?
4. What is important to you (professionally, personally, in terms of social justice, etc.)?
5. What am I working towards/wanting to accomplish?

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”– Maya Angelou

It is great to note that as a whole, we are doing the best we can with what we have (Brene Brown). It is also important to acknowledge; that the reality is that we are evolving, adapting, and growing. So we need to hold ourselves accountable to that standard, but also ensuring we’re showing ourselves the compassion and kindness of this reality.

Resisting the Labels of Others

Recognizing the impacts of others perceptions of us is an important reality to name, but can be a debilitating reality to sit within. It is important to know that other’s labels are theirs; their understanding, judgement, and comfort. You do not need to accept that label. It is important to note: That this concept goes both ways. We do not have the right to label others, just as they do not have the right to label us. Regardless of rights, labelling occurs. The value of your identity is the important factor to consider and name for yourself.

We become free from the labels when we face them, reflect, and determine what identity we choose and move forward within that. Take a moment to pause, turn inward and see what that is for yourself.

Resources to read to dive into this concept further: Dr. Edith Eger: The Choice; and The Gift.

*Understanding the there are many factors within our world that add to these labels (stereotypes, discrimination, racism, hatred, and the list goes on!) These are further reflections that need to be considered/named as well.

Realities of Attempting to Please the World…

“When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.” –Glennon Doyle

The pressures, stereotypes, stories told, and expectations placed upon woman from all angles; family, partners, work places, society, and the list can be never ending are the impossible. Finding ways to unlearn, activate our critical mind (trusting and listening to it more importantly), asking questions, and taking a step out of this impossible world. By doing this it allows for a lot of new opportunities, internal wants, and desires to be heard that often woman are unable to access for themselves.

To start that reflection ask yourself a few questions:

1. Why am I in the field of work I am? What led me to this path (who’s expectations am I fulfilling)?
2. What role do I play within my family system? Is this the role I’d choose? (Who’s needs are being fulfilled with me in this role)?
3. How am I seen by my support system around me? (What pressures am I absorbing from this)?

The State of Vulnerability

Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.” Further, it is the state where we give up the need to know the result of the situation, have control over, and hold power over influencing the end result. Vulnerability is a required state for us to become connected, grow, and expand our abilities. It also is a truly challenging state of mind to hold ourselves within on an ongoing basis.

We have been conditioned within our society to look at individuals within a vulnerable state as weak, when the reality of vulnerability is truly a strength (and a high level ability). Reminding ourselves of this fact is key to our ongoing ability to put ourselves within a vulnerable state of mind. Holding our understanding as truth and accepting that.

We are faced with many realities on a daily basis and we have a choice in how we respond. Certain situations, or with some individuals it might not be a safe spot for us to become vulnerable, this is something we need to consider and take inventory for ourselves. These situations might also provide us the further insight, understanding of ourselves and the situation. By giving us some new perspectives.

Give yourself the ability to make choices (you know what is in your best interest), just trust in yourself.

Burnout within Lockdown:

As humans we are wired and programmed for connection. We are driven to develop and maintain connections with other people, animals, and living things. Within are current state of the world: Ontario Lockdown (due to the global pandemic) we are requested to isolate and distance. This reality is leaving a lot of individuals feeling disconnected and ultimately leading us to feeling burnt-out. This can be a heavy weight we are left carrying.

Rather than remaining within this heavy reality of disconnection. We can shift our perspective to what is within our control and abilities.

How can we maintain meaningful connection within our current times?

1. Virtual communication (text, telephone call, video), while possibility sharing food
2. Socially distance walks
3. Socially distance camp fires
4. Game Night/Dance Party with a virtual twist

*Taking a reflection on all the ways we found connection in the past is seeing if we can put a twist on it to make it a safer option within our present times. Giving ourselves some grace to be able to ask for what we’re needing and being open minded to trying something within a different context.

Changes within this Holiday Season

Holidays within the best of times can be a stressful time for many individuals (with the potential of also being exciting and joyous). The following will influence how the holidays have been viewed by yourselves in the past: your family relationships, traditions, external and internal expectations, present day grief experiences, and personal boundaries within these elements. This year especially has several added elements that are beyond our control in terms of living within a global pandemic. Restrictions are needed to be imposed, and therefore traditions and past behaviours are being forced to change.

Change is not a simple transition. It is challenging, emotional, and heavy at points. But change is the only way through a growth experience. Therefore, looking into this holiday season what can you do to support yourself throughout this change?—

1. What new traditions can you start?
2. What old traditions needed to end regardless (that weren’t serving your needs any longer)?
3. What old traditions can be altered to work?
4. What boundaries do you need to put in place with others, or
5. What boundaries do you need to enforce with yourself?

From this experience you’re going to be able to self-evaluate further as to what you’re needing and what you’re needing closure from. Give yourself that permission this holiday season.

Transition into Winter Season: COVID Edition

With the transition into winter often the first few items we notice is the early darkness setting in (that reality of leaving work/school and only able to witness 60-90 minutes of daylight), the cold (starting to hit temperature of below zero), and individuals natural desires to withdraw socially (often looked at as isolation or some hibernation).

This year in particular there is a few added pieces, as a huge benefit we had a gentle transition into the winter cold (plus 20 degrees several days within November +), but we are also living within a global pandemic where a lot of our once comforts are not necessarily an option.

We then need to develop new traditions, coping mechanisms, and strategies to ensure we are taking care of ourselves within these times. Checking in with yourself around what have I done for myself (within and outside my basic needs today)? Have I had a social connection with another human outside of work/school (virtual, in-person with safety measures in place)? What resources can I reach out too? What am I noticing that I am feeling (pulling upon some mindfulness, mediation techniques)? How is my body doing within this time (have you exercised, stretched, or done any movement)?

Beauty within Grief

Certain times of year, events, smells, sounds, and slight changes are often reminders of those special individuals that are no longer here with us in the physical sense. Grief Moments— These reminders (or/triggers) can be a sense of comfort (often when we’re ready for them and see the beauty within them) or can be a sense of guilt/loss (when we are holding onto the negative belief around ownership or blame). These two different angles provide us with a lot of information to our certain situation and what we are requiring to heal, and the possibility we hold to move forward and bring that individual’s memory with us (in a positive sense). As I have determined many years ago, grief does not end— it shifts and changes as we move forward.

One of the most grateful moments within grief for us, is the reminder of the reality of the present moment. Take in each moment! You never know it is the last phone call, hug, laughter, text, etc. Until the moment is gone. Learning to embrace the moment for what it has the potential to be is the ideal practice to cherish those that are important within our lives.

The realization that grief does not need to be this dark cloud we carry with us, it can be the light that shines through.

Suicide: Tough Conversations

Every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide! Over 800,000 people die each year by suicide! Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those individuals between the ages 15-29! (WHO, 2020). It is important to note that Suicide is a lot more than just numbers, statistics, and facts!

Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors and should not be attributed to any one single cause. Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.

People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.

Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end their life. Factors such as loss, addictions, trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.

World Suicide Awareness Day is marked each year on September 10th. This is where we take a moment to reflect as a dignified, respectful, day to unite a community around a common cause, and beautifully celebrating the life of every individual that has been impacted by suicide. It is a healing day; and an opportunity for the community to come together and mourn as one!

Suicide prevention is all of our responsibility! By reducing the stigma through the language we use, and the support we offer those around us. Leave the judgement behind!

Let today be the start of each of us opening our ears (setting our cell phones down) and starting to truly listen to those around us! Listening does not mean you need to have all the answers; listening allows those that are struggling to know they are not alone! Connect them to someone who can continue to support them throughout this struggle: Here 24/7 & WRSPC provide free crisis services that you can access. Reach out: Know that you are not alone, and that you matter!