Author Archives: gftadmin

Importance of the Experience of Safety…

Safety is the largest part of true healing. We need to have physical, emotional, and psychological safety in order to establish a sense of self-regulation prior to being able to do a deep dive into trauma healing.

To start off being able to identify what safety looks like for you is key! — Naming past experiences where you felt seen, heard and valued would be a good start to unpack the meaning of safety for you.

Setting boundaries is a great next step. —- How can you voice your needs to those around you?

A challenge that can present for you within this work can be this cognitive dissonance that you’re undeserving of safety. This will be a helpful belief to unpack with a trusted professional to gain some understanding and validation on this fact.

The Concept of: Asking for Help and Offering Help

When Asking for Help….
The idea of asking for help can be a crippling experience base on our lived experiences, and both internal or external pressures and expectations. Which can lead to us struggling through alone and not understanding how to go about asking for help and/or knowing how to accept it.

Starting off give yourself a more comfortable starting point:
1. Who are my safest relationships that I can lean on? (Ie: Who can I be most vulnerable with).
2. What type of help am I needing?
3. What is the most comfortable mode of communication (texting, calling, face-to-face)?
4. What is the most direct language I can use to articulate my need?

When Offering Help…

Something we need to be mindful of, is how we offer support and help. Naming to someone “let me know if you need anything”, “I’m always here”, or “just ask if you need something”—— Are not the most ideal ways to show up for someone in need. These are however great openers to star the conversation; because depending on the individual that opening question could be too overwhelming for them to identify their need and then ask for it.

Breaking it down to size can be a more manageable start: I am wanting to be there for you and help. Would dropping off dinner or taking you out for dinner work for you? In this example you have given context and specifics to the type of help you are capable of offering, what that could look like, and ultimately asking permission if that would be helpful for them.

Our Emotional Capabilities…

Our mental load has a huge influence on what our emotional capabilities are. Understanding what our present day mental load is allows us to have an increase self understanding. This allows us to add insight to what might be causing: a lower ability to remain calm, being inactive in communication, and not functioning at the level we expect of ourselves.

Taking an inventory of what our mental load is, is a great spot to start:

1. What daily activities am I responsible for (for self and others— partner, children, parents, etc.)?
2. What weekly tasks do I track for (for self and others)?
3. What responsibilities are mine within my career, school, volunteer, etc. (for self and than the role I play in these areas for others)?
4. What are the larger goals I’m actively perusing (my role in them for self and for others)?

The purpose of this inventory is to understand what is running through our brains on a continuous basis and how we can off load what is not ours to carry and how to simplify what is.

The Need for Taking Care of Yourself: “Self-Care”

The idea of Self-Care can be a misunderstood concept that we lump into this idea of taking a bath, reading a novel, or going for a walk; with this understanding that these activities of care will “cure us”. Don’t get me wrong these three examples can be great start to self-care but there is more to it for each of us (and we are all needing something different, therefore, comparisons to others would not be effective for us).

This time of year especially with the holidays before us and having the time away from work-school-volunteering, and the overall change to our regular routines as a whole can equate to added pressure. Therefore, this is a heightened time to self-access what self-care measures are needed for yourself. So let’s take a few moments to prepare ourselves for what is to come:

Taking some time to reflect on what helps you recharge? (‘the idea of what adds to your bucket’).

1. Is there any physical movement activities that you enjoy? (sports, workouts, walks, etc.).
2. Is there any social events that add energy to your day? (who are those with, what are the environments like?).
3. Is there any activities you enjoy in isolation? (reading, reviewing helpful resources, etc.).
4. What allows for you to feel cared for? (do you need to share this with your support system to let them to be involved?).

Holiday Season and Expectations…

With our recent shift into increased amounts of darkness, colder weather, and snow falling—- the reality starts to sink in that the holiday season is around the corner (if not here already).

You might be embracing that holiday spirit, by decorating, shopping planning and looking forward to the upcoming celebrations/return of traditions. Or you might be dreading this time of year, holding anxieties, increased feelings of depression, and increased concerns of safety based upon other’s expectations. You might also be a sprinkle from column A and column B!

The importance to note here is however you’re feeling about the upcoming holidays and season change is completely natural and healthy. Naming that emotion, noticing it and leaning into it most definitely how to start meeting your own needs.

You are the priority here! Let yourself sit with that idea for a few moments. This can be accomplished by continuing or starting to set boundaries of what you’re able to be a part of and what you’re not.

The Realities within Grief…

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defines grief within five stages (1969). They include:
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

The realities within these different stages are important to highlight for yourself. Identify what each state of mind looks like for yourself by asking: “When you have felt denial, how does the represent for you (including both physical and mental symptoms)?..” Then noticing what those five answers are for you (it will be different for each individuals, though some experiences can be similar to others).

This insight is a needed aspect to give yourself understanding of where you are at presently and where you are headed within your grief journey.

There is no wrong way to grieve! We need to provide ourselves the opportunities to move through it.

Change in Seasons (and the Impact)…

As we shift into the next season –Fall; it is an needed time to pause and reflect. It is an important reminder that change can be beautiful and that it can create a significant impact! The colours, fresh morning air, and new flavours (welcomed back), can bring us a sense of hope. This time can also represent a point in time of returning to work, school, routine, and increase family expectations/gatherings. These items can be a positive focus, but also could be a trigger inducing reality depending on our circumstances and stories.

It is important to give yourself grace, time, and space to process all of these realities. We also need to provide others these same allowances (as we never know the full story of someone else’s life).

Challenge yourself to hold space for that.

Methods of Coping…

To feel well (and in control) we need to realize what behaviours set us up for success. What indicators can you see within yourself that highlight you are on a healthy path? What do you notice about your internal tone of voice when you are feeling well, and connected?

Then we need to self-reflect to determine what is needed in those moments we are not feeling well or connected. What is needed in order for us to manage and shift back into feeling well? What tone of voice do I hear internally during this period of time? What methods of coping have served me in the past? What do I need to force motivation with (rather than waiting for the motivation to kick-start me)?

Starting off with some self-reflection to see where our baseline is, our healthy, and our struggle.

Pressures to be ‘Organized’ within our Society…

When it comes to most settings within our society a question is often presented on “How organized are you? /Or How do you remain organized?” These questions can be loaded if you do not find yourself to ‘fit’ the Canadian standard of organization and reality of working yourself to excessive means. Organization is hidden within productivity! But the two are not exclusive. Organization is marketed to us as a means to work smarter not necessarily harder. However, our population as a whole has an increase in distracted thinking. Therefore, we are needing ‘more support’ in order to perform at the level that society is measuring us too. If we could take a moment to step back, reassess the need of each task/pressure and reevaluate what is truly needed versus forced upon us by another group’s standard; we could be performing at new levels without the need of excessive productivity.

Adults within our society that think different (especially those with ADHD) that are found or labelled to be disorganized (as they are compared to societal pressures and predispositions of what organization is). As founded in Judith Kolberg research—individuals that think different turn away from organization techniques as a whole because the worry around perfectionism comes up and the idea of not starting at all becomes more attractive because then “I cannot fail”.

How to start performing at new levels without excessive productivity:
1. What is your personal definition of Organization?
2. What is your personal definition of Productivity?
3. What do you need to internally feel organized within your life (personal and professionally)?
4. Is there a negative narrative occurring for you internally? If so, who’s voice is that?

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?