Being a trauma therapist doesn’t mean I don’t still get triggered. I hope these self care ideas for trauma recovery help you and remind you of your existing resources…
I’ve done an enormous amount of healing over the decades. Especially in the last 15 years. But on days like the day I drafted this, when I just find myself blubbing (full on snot monster tears) in my own clinical supervision as I rage about ALL the hurt and abuse humans inflict on each other, I realise I need to go more gently.
Even though I have a gazillion self care ideas at my fingertips, 366 in the book, sometimes, it’s a matter of reminding myself that I deserve to clear the necessary space and time to let myself cry and rage and feel all the feelings.
With any kind of energy work (crystal therapy, EFT, yoga or anything else) the more water we drink, sleep we get and time we spend allowing ourselves to process all that’s coming up for healing (aka letting the shit settle), the easier life gets.
Naturally, when I needed to know this most, I DIDN’T HAVE THE TIME.
And yet I lost months and even years where I could have healed aspects of my past sooner had I given myself space to feel the feelings and work through them there and then. Even now, having created work (and life) that I love and a flexible enough schedule (forced by a chronic pain condition, endometriosis) a part of me is telling myself to just go under the duvet and cry some more now while another part is saying, ‘No, Evie. WORK. Also, you have a column and feature to draft. Other writing to catch up on. And a walk to go on and and and…’
[OK, I heard myself and am back from more tears and journaling…]
Guess how long that took?
To completely indulge myself? To go to my bedroom, hold Ted (the teddy bear I bought in my 30s while doing my therapy training), cry, journal then cry some more (for Baby Me, Child Me, Teenage Me, 20s Me etc etc), let the tears naturally subside and resources come more to the fore, moving into a little gentle yoga (including Happy Baby for my inner child to welcome all the good life has to offer, to connect with the trust it should have been safe to embody AS a child and teenager and young woman etc) before feeling ready to get back up and on with the day?
LESS THAN FIFTEEN MINUTES.
And if I’d resisted? If I’d endured and ploughed on and ignored my inner child’s increasingly snotty cries and screams? My whole day might have been derailed. Scratch that. I tried to ignore such pleas from my inner child enough to know it’d have been derailed for sure.
Wanna try this mini meditation to help you connect with your inner child?
Rub your palms together, place them on your heart centre and notice your breath. If it feels good, deepen the breath and lengthen the exhalation, helping to calm the nervous system – Ask your inner child, ‘How ARE you, sweetie? What do you need right now? What do you want?’ Listen to whatever comes up (maybe journal or doodle or simple sit, being present, with this inner wisdom and potential for healing and transformation). If this is new to you, it may take a while for your inner children – different ages, different moods etc – to trust you enough to speak up. Repeat often – at least once a day. Checking in regularly will help build trust. And there be GOLD beneath the snotty tears. I promise you.
Which of the following ideas feel friendly for you?
Depending on how vulnerable you’re feeling, how much time you have, who’s around etc etc, you can choose accordingly as well as letting your own inner children speak up and add to the list:
- Watch a gentle, kid friendly silly film or TV programme
- Hug a soft toy and let yourself connect with that soft, vulnerable, hurting and oh so powerful part of yourself
- Read or reread a favourite book from when you were a kid (I reread the whole Ramona series in my 20s and they held up as genius, imo)
- Make yourself some comfort food – a smoothie? Porridge? Banana bread? Soup? Rice? Curry? (Mmmm, memories of my grandmother’s curries is so comforting – what foods spring up for you?)
- Reach out to a loved one – whether you had perfect parents (as if they even exist) or not, it can feel risky to let others know when we’re feeling vulnerable and yet this allows co-regulation and deeper healing. A hug. A look. Someone listening. My supervisor was able to just let me sob and sob and sob on our Zoom call and I felt her supportive presence from 600 miles away. Sure, I still kept apologising… but I didn’t stop myself. I knew a lot was coming up for healing and that staying with the shittiness of it all (aka processing) it would help my clients as well as myself.
- Move in a friendly way for your body right now. A little stretch, maybe crawling around? Dancing in a silly way? Rolling down a grass slope?
- Get out into nature. This doesn’t need to be dramatic or spectacular. Look at a flower in a garden or hedgerow. Give yourself permission to go slow and watch where that adorable snail goes next.
- Listen to music you liked as a child or that you wish Younger Yous had had access to.
- Get creative. Make sounds (singing / music – no pressure to sound GOOD or anything). Draw. Use clay or similar. What are you drawn to?
- Buy yourself a gift to honour your inner child. I bought myself a beautiful recycled glass vase which isn’t kid friendly but which reminds me to buy myself flowers more frequently.
What are you going to do today to make space for your inner child without rushing the messiness that will often accompany her / him / them?
When I drafted this, I smugly believed that I had done all the necessary processing but having spent much of yesterday sobbing, I cried a little at lunch with a friend today too. I also had loads of fun and laughter but I haven’t cried tears of self pity like that in YEARS (I’ve become pretty adept at staying grounded and feeling all the feelings over the years but perimenopause seems to mean feeling them all at the same TIME. Advanced practice for sure.)
The irony of having drafted a blog post about allowing the necessary time to process all the feelings only to have to consciously remind myself to do the same (repeatedly) hasn’t been lost on me.
But you can learn faster than I have.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how you get on and any questions or comments you might have.
And feel free to share this post on your social media etc so others who may find it helpful can read it.
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