Hello my friends. It is so good to be with you again. When I first started writing this post, my body seemed to be in a good place. I actually had half of this post written and then my body went through dealing with trauma once again. This time, however, I was able to implement some new practices and recover much better than I did in February. So, I will be sharing with you in this post what I have been doing to honor the stories my body is telling me.
Our bodies have a story to tell. We are actually created to listen to those stories. When something triggers the pain, trauma, etc. in our bodies, we are usually responding to an old story—something that happened to us years ago. The traumatic part inside of us is alerting us that something inside us needs to be tended to. I’ve learned if I don’t stop to listen, or keep ignoring what my body is telling me, the pain, grief, anxiety, fear, etc. will come out one way or another.
“Each of our bodies is a system that longs for and is created to move toward healing. When we don’t allow our bodies to process their experiences, they will certainly tell us—even if it means through panic attacks, chronic illness, depression, or more.” Kolber
My mom’s health makes me feel like I am living on a rollercoaster emotionally. When she fell recently, I tried to be more attentive to what was happening in my body. I sensed that I needed to stop and listen more than I have in the past. I grabbed my journal and decided that my body was more important than my to-do list.
I know, from many years of experience, that one of the best things I can do is take the time to sit and ask my parts why I am reacting the way I am. The different parts of me have a lot to say. It is my job to listen and help my parts work through the issues so we can receive healing.
I know it might sound weird to get to know the different parts you have inside you. Since we have different stages of life, we also have different parts that experience those stages. They have a story to tell. They want to have a voice. They want to heal.
When I am engaging with my parts, I always ask the Lord to be with us. I ask Him to be present and help us understand what we need to talk about. This work is holy and sacred. He helps me show compassion and gives me the ability to truly listen so healing can begin.
If you are struggling with issues from trauma, I believe getting to know your parts is one of the best things you can do. They live in your body and they have one thing in common….you.
I was so out of touch with what was going on inside of me for so many years. I denied what my body was saying to me. And because I just kept powering through instead of taking the time to listen, the panic attacks started. The anxiety flourished. The depression darkened my soul.
“When we assess our needs, we are absolutely thinking of ourselves as we “ought”. Learning to attune to ourselves is essentially the climax of trying softer—we are aiming to rewire our brains so they receive what they needed when they were young.” Kolber
God made us so that we can rewire our brains. For those of us healing from trauma, mental illness, etc.— this is wonderful news!!! This is headline news!!! What we didn’t receive when we were younger, can be rewired in our brains. Stop and let that good news marinate in your body, your brain, your heart and your soul.
Let me say this…I haven’t always been good at responding and listening to my parts. It has taken me years to understand the process and do the work that is required. The best advice I can give myself and you is…be patient; be kind; show compassion to yourself; listen; love yourself and your parts.
I want to share an exercise with you that has been extremely helpful to me when I am struggling with overwhelming anxiety. It is called grounding. Here is the explanation of how to do this technique in Aundi Kolber’s book Try Softer.
Before you begin, perform a body scan and mentally notice if you feel connected to your body. You can do this by picturing a laser beam across your body that starts at your feet and moves up to the top of your head. Can you feel your breath? Do you notice any tingling or other sensations anywhere? Don’t worry about figuring out where they come from; for now simply notice them. Next, do the following to ground yourself in your present environment.
Name five things you can see.
Name four things you can touch and touch them.
Name three things you can hear.
Name two things you can smell.
Name one thing you can taste.
Now repeat the body scan. Do you notice anything different? Use this exercise when you begin to feel disconnected or overwhelmed to help you move back into your Window Of Tolerance.
I like to be outside when I do this exercise. After I am finished, I stop to look for beauty around me. I listen to the birds chirping. I felt the wind blowing in my hair. The sun is shining. I get in touch with my body and the parts that need my attention. This exercise has helped me calm down. I feel like I have unloaded a heavy burden after I am finished.
“We know from Scripture that as Christ followers we are image bearers of our God; we were known by our Creator in our mothers’ wombs; we are temples of the Holy Spirit; we are members of a royal nation; and—my favorite —we are beloved. I think it’s fair to say that as we honestly assess our own needs, we are absolutely thinking of ourselves as we “ought.” Kolber
Getting to know who you are is so important. I bought into the lie that “I didn’t matter” for too many years. You are important. Your issues are important. You are valued. You are worth every cent you spend to heal.
My biggest fear is that I will lose my mind. I saw my grandmother, my dad and my brother die from mental and physical issues. And now, my mother is slowly losing her mind. I am scared. I’ve watched the mental decline in people I dearly love. That is one of the many reasons I work so hard to keep that from happening to me. I know I am in God’s hands and if that is my fate, then so be it. But, I am going down fighting every step of the way.
May is mental health awareness month. I wanted to have this post done at the beginning, not the end of the month. Obviously, there was much more to learn before I finished writing it. I have to say that our mental health is so important!!!!! We need to listen to the cries of our minds, bodies, hearts and souls. They are crying for a reason. They want to be held and comforted. They have a story to tell us. We just need to take the time to slow down, listen and show compassion.
I am not an expert on this issue. My healing has been slow. There are a lot of layers to go through. But, I am noticing this work is helping me heal. Just last week I listened to the part of me that felt like she didn’t matter. I cried and cried and then cried some more. I listened and found out that part of me has felt that way since I was a little girl. I’ve carried around the feeling that I didn’t matter most of my life. I tell myself every day now that I matter. I tell that part that she matters.
“We are invited to connect to and respond to our internal world because we are deeply valuable and loved by God and because that is true, we can rest in the fact that our needs matter.” Kolber
As I end this post, I would like to recommend two books by Aundi Kolber. They are Try Softer and Strong Like Water. Aundi has experienced trauma. Her words and her techniques are so helpful. I am learning so much from her.
Thank you Jesus for all the wonderful tools you give to us! Thank you for your healing power. Thank you for the ability to rewire our brains so we can receive what we didn’t when we were young.
If you are struggling, hang in there! You are worth it! Keep doing what you need to do to help your body, mind, heart and soul.
I want to dedicate this post to my brother David. His struggles with mental illness were devastating. But, I will see him again one day and his face will be glowing. His eyes will no longer be filled with darkness. He will be at peace and happy to be with his Savior. Oh, how I long to see him like that one day!!!
Until next time dear friends…. This is my journey to joy.