Statistics for childhood sexual abuse are abysmal, with some stats reporting 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys under the age of 18 experiencing childhood sexual abuse. Stats like that are enough to bring on a sense of powerlessness in the face of an epidemic like that; it's little wonder why it's one of the top concerns mothers have. But we are far more powerful than we realize to influence the prevalence of this experience. I'm on a mission to help women and mothers (and anyone who cares for children) realize just how powerful and influential they actually are to create the kind of environment in which this experience is far less likely to happen. Like all of what we do; it starts with us. It puts the power back in our hands to act and to act effectively. Listen until the end of this episode for a special call-out to hear from women and moms like me, who want to know what makes a child vulnerable to this experience and what makes the experience far less likely.
At the heart of what we often struggle with most as mothers is how we can provide for our children something we didn't have as kids. This is not a matter of blame more than it is taking an honest look at our lives and experiences. One area we often struggle most is in how we think about and work with our own emotions. We often either shut down and avoid “difficult” emotions, or we become emotionally volatile or easily triggered; both indicators what we don’t have an equanimous relationship to our own emotions. And we likely didn’t learn how to be with and relate to our emotions in healthy ways. It’s endemic in our culture and so our parents likely didn’t know how either. This imbalanced relationship to emotion can create havoc within us, and until we learn another way of being with emotion, we’ll likely pass on these patterns to our kids.
What does it mean to grow up? This question has driven my own search over many many years to find an answer. It doesn’t have to do with chronological age. To grow up, for me, is to take responsibility for our own well-being in such a way that we can regulate our internal states and emotions. We can learn to have an embodied sense of safety that comes from knowing how to guide ourselves back into balance when we get triggered in life. This happens automatically for a child who experiences co-regulation (when a parent helps a child regulate their stress responses and emotions), but for so many of us, that didn't happen. Our own ability to help our children depends a lot on our ability to do this for ourselves. And it's never too late to learn.
I have a couple of practical resources to share with you today as well. You can find them here!
An episode about the revolutionary power of someone's belief in us, and the world of possibility it opens up. We often struggle to connect with our creativity and imagination around how we can experience life. If you've ever had the isolating experience of depression or anxiety, you know how the kind and compassionate attention of another person can resurrect us from the depths of that experience. And when they relate to us in ways we've never experienced, and see in us things we've never seen, a radically new path can start to unfold beneath our feet. The people who believe in us, and who can help us see things in ourselves we've never seen, and who can teach us to love and to trust ourselves as we've never been taught to do, they are true a GIFT to this world. This episode contains a personal story about someone who revolutionized my way of being in the world.
Depression affects the lives of over 300 million people worldwide, according to World Health Organization stats. What's ROCKED me more recently is just how many women and mothers I work with, and also friends of mine, struggle with depression (diagnosed). Depression has been linked to our gut health, and it's been linked to inflammation in the body, but the prevailing perspective is that it's a chemical imbalance in the brain and that 40% of the time, it's genetic. This perspective is being dismantled as our understanding of trauma and the nervous system evolves and as we begin to understand the link between early childhood experiences (traumas) and the later development of mental illness and disease. This is important learning for us going forward as we explore a new model for thinking about and relating to the experience.
This episode is a short reflection on the stories we tell ourselves about other people and how those stories cut us off, and keep us trapped and disconnected. I'm also going to share with you why it is that I love being wrong (sometimes).
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (or ACES) has demonstrated an important link between adverse early childhood experiences, early trauma, and life-long mental and physical health problems. Understanding trauma and its effects has become an important topic of discussion, especially as it relates to health. Despite having many of the ACES on the list, I avoided using the word trauma because I refused to believe that my early adverse experiences determined how I could experience my life. But we DO need to acknowledge the weight of the past if we don't want to carry it into our future, but we're also EMPOWERED to become active agents in that process and in our healing. And in the process, do some major trauma chain-breaking as we go! This is the first in a series on trauma that I'll do.
After you listen to the episode, you can learn more about the topics and people I mention below:
Watch pediatrician, Nadine Burke Harris’s Ted talk about the importance of this study here.
Waking up is our path to freedom. Freedom to choose our relationship with ourselves and others. Freedom to experience our lives in new ways. Freedom to respond (to our children) in new and different ways. Waking up means to wake up from the unconscious and habitual patterns that keep us locked in automatic ways of being. Waking up is our path to freedom, but it's not easy to do.
The promise of neuroscience and neuroplasticity tells us, however, that that change is always - until our least breath - possible. And though it takes dedication and courage, no singular path (to me) is more worth cultivating.
Winter Solstice and the New Year present an opportunity to harness the energy of endings and beginnings. It's also a time of year to take stock of what matters most to us - what the heart wants - if we're willing to go deep and listen. Within each of us, in each moment, lies the seed of potential for how we relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us. Recognizing ourselves as creators of our life experience, we can harness the energy of Winter by recognizing what it is that we want to grow in our lives.
You are a powerful creator. What will you create this year? What are your top 3 heart desires for the New Year?
Grief can be bad for us, but can it also be good for us? In 2016, after actress Carrie Fischer died of a heart attack, her mom, actress Debbie Reynolds, died two days later. People said she'd died of a broken heart. Did you know that, not only can grief cause the uncomfortable feelings we associate with the experience of a broken heart, but it can actually negatively impact your physical heart, your physical health and well-being? But our experience of grief can also promote heart health (whaaa?)! And it can enhance emotional resilience as well as feelings of connection, belonging, joy, and even love in the midst of it. How we relate to the experience of grief shapes how we're impacted by it, that's what we're exploring today.
Don't forget to check out the center&ground mindfulness practice below!
The center & ground practice is a mindfulness/embodiment practice that you can do in under 10 minutes and, as a practice, it can help us find a sense of “ground” again when we meet the challenges of everyday life, and in the midst of loss. The key to a practice like this, however, is to practice in the calm moments so you’ll be prepared for the storm. Check it out, try it out, and let me know what you think!