The Books That Helped Me Transition from Trauma to Triumph: A Book Review Series – “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life”

As I sat here contemplating ideas for my next article, I glanced around my sacred writing space only to find myself staring at a beautiful stack of books. This assorted collection of signed copies of books, written by my podcast guests, their pages filled with the light of hope and healing, reminded me how a perfectly timed read can truly change a life. I am that person who makes a book my own by highlighting those ah-ha phrases or drawing five giant stars on a page so I can easily flip through the book to find those “spoke to my soul” words.

Today my eyes fell upon the small stack to the left of my podcast guests’ collection. And there it was . . . Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer. A deep, poetic, powerful, life-altering translation of the Tao Te Ching. While I can go on about what the Tao is and give you the low-down on its original author, Lao-tzu, I will merely allow you the opportunity to discover it for yourself in the reading of Dr. Dyer’s book, just as I did.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Instead I want to share its impact on me and my healing journey. Perhaps then you will be inspired to pick it up yourself and allow a similar transition to happen for you. There were many more books, which I will review in this series, which have had a powerful affect on my journey, such as Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma and The Power of Now: The Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I have been saying for awhile now that I finally learned to “find the gifts within the chaos,” meaning I am now able to search for the positives that resulted from traumatic or what I used to only perceive as negative events or circumstances in my life. I told my sister the other day that I now look for the positivities of growing up with an addict as a parent. Instead of seeing an alcoholic who struggled to offer her children emotional support, a mother who dished out criticism as a “joke,” one who chose nights out partying with co-workers over tucking her children into bed, I now say to myself:

My mom worked six days a week; she taught me work ethic. My mom drank after work with her followers and fans; she taught me loyalty to friendships. My mom was a partier; she taught me how to entertain. My mom was traumatized, too; she taught me how to keep going in the face of adversity. My mom was a “Jesus-freak”; she taught me how to believe even when in doubt.

Learning to find my gifts within my chaos has changed everything. Everything.

In the preface of Dr. Dyer’s book, is the following quote from one of his journal entries, which speaks directly to this philosophy:

Nature doesn’t create a storm that never ends. Within misfortune, good fortune hides.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

This review will be poetic in nature as I could truly write another book in response to this book’s based on my highlights and exclamation points and stars scribbled onto its pages. Here is my simplistic analysis of the first twenty verses as translated by Dr. Dyer and how I try to live them based upon the lessons I learned in their depth:

I try to be present in the moment.

I live to be me and the universe simultaneously.

I want to serve others.

I observe.

I give the gift of myself.

I let my creativity radiate.

I try to meet the needs of others.

I allow my thoughts to flow freely.

I seek joy in the act of doing in lieu of the results.

I let go of what is mine so it may become someone else’s.

I allow silence.

I treasure what is within rather than what I can possess.

I trust my own perceptions of me.

I practice walking meditations.

I allow my life to unfold as planned.

I observe life.

I allow others to travel their own path.

I am virtue, not virtuous.

I learn to let go of attachment through generosity.

I let go and let God.

There are eighty-one verses total.

Eighty-one gifts.

Eighty-one powerful lessons surrounded by and filled with an infinite number more. Different for all. Yet, the same.

I hope you gift yourself this transformative translation of the Tao.

The Healing Place Podcast: Christina Beauchemin – Let My Legacy Be Love

First off, I apologize for the feed issues with the sound in a few spots! I put forth my best editing efforts. Still on the learning curve with editing software. Thank you for your understanding.

Thank you, Christina Beauchemin, for sharing your beautiful insights with me and The Healing Place Podcast audience. Christina and I discussed her book, Let My Legacy Be Love, her work as a passionate speaker and truth seeker, as well as her coaching practice where she works to guide others along their healing journeys.

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunesBlubrrySpotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

Bio:

“Christina is an author, speaker, and truth seeker. She is an advocate of curiosity, courage and honesty as a path to personal transformation. She facilitates workshops as well as working privately with those who are serious about changing their life for the better.

Christina is married to her best friend, Rick and is a mother to two grown boys. A combination of running, Zumba, and yoga keep her healthy and a positive attitude keeps her happy. Her only real complaint is her unfortunate allergy to many dark chocolates.” Learn more about Christina and her mission at: 

www.letmylegacybelove.com

www.facebook.com/letmylegacybelove

www.instagram/christinabeauchemin

www.twitter/com/christinabeauchemin @chrissiesings

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/741bdf08d718/hope-for-healing-newsletter-may-2019

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

Big News for Even Bigger Dreams!

A deep post (it’s been a long time since I’ve typed up one of these!) Today was big. Really, really big.

A few months ago, one of my podcast guests referred me to an entity for funding projects. The guidelines are pretty simple . . . must be an artistic venture AND benefit the community/world in some way.

I registered on the website, read all of the info they directed me to, watched all of the videos, and signed up for a webinar scheduled for this past week. During that webinar I asked if a podcast fell under the “artistic” realm. I was advised it most certainly does and it’s their newest addition.

I completed a very lengthy application including my personal bio, project goals and mission, a projected budget, and more.

This evening I was advised: “The Healing Place Podcast has been approved by our Board of Directors and is now active. Welcome to a vibrant community of artists and organizations who are critical contributors to the creative sector’s vitality, autonomy, and innovation!” 

My heart continues to overflow with gratitude and joy. This soul work I am doing is a blessing to many. But also to me. I have learned so much along the way. About . . . Healing. Hope. Editing. Interviewing. Marketing. And now funding.

I have self-funded for 2 years. Now it is time to take this to the next level. This is no longer a hobby. But a business. A trauma-warrior pursuit to help bring healing to the world. With a goal of reaching one million people with inspiring stories of hope and healing.

When I was little I wanted to be a doctor. I told my parents I wanted to “help make people feel better”. I may not be a physician, but I am a healer. A healer who welcomes other healers onto my show to help shine the light of hope into the world.

Right before I received the congratulations notice for the podcast, a beautiful friend and her adorable daughter stopped by to drop off this heart necklace she was gifting me. The timing was perfect. Most definitely a God sign.

heart necklace

I am sitting upstairs savoring this moment before heading into my sacred writing space to edit another podcast (this next episode is a conversation with one of the most adorable and brilliant bundles of energy I’ve encountered yet!)

Wishes of blessings go out to all those needing a reminder to never give up on your dreams. And hugs filled with gratitude to heart-bearing friends, boards of directors who believe in my podcast, brilliant guests who’ve helped me reach souls in thirty-eight countries, and a family that cheers me on every single day. Blessed beyond measure.

The Healing Place Podcast

You can listen in on iTunesBlubrrySpotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

Thank you for your support, cheers, and love. Being a part of the ACEs Connection community has helped this podcast continue to grow in its reach. Both through amazing guests who have reached out to join me on air to discuss their vital work in trauma-related fields and/or personal stories of triumph over trauma, but also in my audience. I feel blessed to be a part of this space.

Shared from my ACEs Connection blog post.

The Healing Place Podcast: Rob Rodriguez – Exploring Trauma: A Brief Intervention for Men

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunesBlubrrySpotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I thoroughly enjoyed this soulful and educational interview with Roberto (Rob) Rodriguez as we discussed his work as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, his books and curriculum, work in incarceration facilities, his upcoming curriculum: A Young Man’s Guide to Self-Mastery, his own personal story of triumph, and much more.

Bio:

“Roberto Rodriquez, M.A., has over twelve years of experience in the treatment of substance use disorder. He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has worked in intensive outpatient settings and residential settings, providing transformative experiences for adolescents, men, couples, and families. Rob currently works with Family Recovery Resource Experts in Saint Paul, MN, where they specialize in trauma-informed intensive family workshops. He is the co-author of Exploring Trauma: A Brief Intervention for Men with Dr. Stephanie Covington. This is the only research- based, brief intervention program related to trauma for men published by Hazelden. His latest project is the 12-session curriculum, A Young Man’s Guide to Self-Mastery, also co-authored with Dr. Covington, to be published Spring, 2020. Rob has been engaged as a national and international consultant and speaker addressing the concerns of families and their helpers.”

Find out more about Rob’s mission at https://frre.net/.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/741bdf08d718/hope-for-healing-newsletter-may-2019

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

ACEs and C-PTSD Series: Lessons in Healing – From Trauma to Triumph

In this series, Teri Wellbrock, host of The Healing Place Podcast, shares lessons she has utilized along her healing journey from trauma to triumph. Join Teri on iTunes, Spotify, Blubrry, and her website for audio versions.

Visit https://teriwellbrock.com/ and http://unicornshadows.com/ to subscribe to her monthly Hope for Healing Newsletter, follow her informative blog, and for information on ACEs, trauma-healing, C-PTSD, and more. Your feedback is encouraged and welcome!

ACEs & C-PTSD Lesson 1: Safe Space
ACEs & C-PTSD Lesson 2: Release
ACEs & C-PTSD Lesson 3: Positive Affirmations
ACEs & C-PTSD Lesson 4: Support Circle
ACEs & C-PTSD Lesson 5: Unconditional Love Prayer

Thank you for listening, sharing, liking, and commenting. Your support is greatly appreciated.

The Healing Place Podcast: Rev. James Encinas – Wheeling to Healing

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunesBlubrrySpotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

Rev. James Encinas joined me on air for a heart-felt conversation to discuss his work with teachers on a trauma-informed and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) healing level, his personal story of triumph, along with a discussion on his books: Wheeling to Healing: Broken Heart on a Bicycle and Your Own Wheeling to Healing: A Guide to Healing Yourself and Groups of People Who’ve Experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and much more.

Bio:

“A former actor and grade school teacher, now a parent education specialist, teacher trainer and public speaker, James Encinas uses his creative skills in experiential workshops to instruct participants about the impact of trauma on childhood development. The non-judgmental space he creates allows probationers to engage in healing their emotional damage, learn about prevention of future child abuse and domestic violence, and to educate teachers to work with students who live in unsafe environments. James wrote Wheeling to Healing…Broken Heart on a Bicycle: Understanding and Healing from Adverse Childhood Experiences, a book and curriculum.  He is a Fellow from the first class of Aspen Institute’s Teacher Leaders, a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and an activist for healing.”

Find out more about Rev. James’s mission at https://www.jamesencinas.com/

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/741bdf08d718/hope-for-healing-newsletter-may-2019

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

The Healing Place Podcast Guest Request

Hello to all of you #traumawarriors (both survivors and advocates alike). Thank you for the work you are doing to help shine the light of hope into the lives of those with ACEs history.

I am back from my summer hiatus from interviewing guests on The Healing Place Podcast. Exciting news to share is that, as of today, the podcast has been downloaded in audio format in 38 countries around the world, along with video format views at 4,629. That is beyond exciting! People have been listening in on iTunes, Spotify, Blubrry, YouTube, and my website. Thank you for helping spread the word!

If you know anyone interested in joining me on air to discuss hope, healing, ACEs, trauma-informed practices, stories of triumph, book publications, etc., please feel free to share their contact info with me or have them reach out to me at info@teriwellbrock.com. I am looking to schedule in September, 2019 and beyond.

Thank you again for all you are doing to help others along their healing journey and helping me achieve my goal of reaching one million healing souls with stories of hope!

I wish you tranquility and joy 

Teri

www.teriwellbrock.com

Recent guests include:

Promotion-Cedric-Bertelli-with-bio-PixTeller

Promotion-Karen-Salmansohn-with-bio-PixTeller

Promotion-Dr-Amir-Rashidian-with-bio-PixTeller

Promotion-Carolyn-Forrester-with-bio-PixTeller

Promotion-Elisabeth-Ann-Pitt-with-bio-PixTellerPromotion-Robyn-Baldwin-with-bio-PixTeller

The Healing Place Podcast: Carolyn Forrester – The Matrix of Emotional Health

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunesBlubrrySpotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with Carolyn Forrester to discuss her upcoming course utilizing The Matrix of Emotional Health, her nature-based artwork, and her own healing journey. Please join us on The Healing Place Podcast to listen in as Carolyn shares her thoughts on overcoming trauma and moving toward a place of peace.

Bio:

“As a woman who has struggled to fit in and who has lost herself to pleasing others (so much so that she spent 15 years of her life on someone else’s dream), Carolyn Forrester knows what it’s like to feel lonely, unsupported, and disconnected.

Her nature based art is created to help you pause, feel a sense of peace, and connect with your deepest Self.

Her teachings using the Matrix are an enlightening guide to help you discern your Truth, identify any stuck spots, and heal the traumas of the past.”

Find out more about Carolyn’s mission at https://www.artofemotionalhealth.com/

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/741bdf08d718/hope-for-healing-newsletter-may-2019

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

Seven Benefits of Working with a Therapy Animal from a Handler’s Perspective

Having a C-PTSD diagnosis myself due to my complex trauma exposure during the first twenty-two years of my life, I know the craving for relief from overwhelming symptoms. I find such comfort even in just touching the softness of an animal’s fur. When I was a child I used to create a stuffed animal fortress around me before falling asleep. I found comfort in holding them close to me or reaching out to touch them when afraid.

There was Lenny the Lion (a royal blue lion with a cherry red main), Bobby Bear (clad in his Pampers diaper I took from a babysitting job in our apartment complex), shorts and a t-shirt, along with Billy Bear (also wearing a diaper covered up by his baby blue overalls). I had Greenie and Brownie, two worn little creatures who possessed broken music boxes for insides, one being green and the other brown, surprisingly. Sammy the Snake was always tucked along the small space left where my mattress didn’t quite meet the wall. Just in case anything might try to sneak up on me in that crevice. I still have Lenny, Bobby, and Billy in a bag in my basement, tucked among some other treasures. There were a few others, whose names I now forget, yet they stood guard each night, protecting me from the boogie man. Or in my case, a drunken mother standing in the shadows, watching me sleep, her blank stare concealing murderous ponderings of sending me to “be with Jesus.”

Jump ahead a few decades and I no longer sleep in a stuffed-animal fortress. Instead it’s a dog snuggle-fest. Max, our Schnoodle, thinks he’s a bad-ass in his little thirteen pound body. Except at bedtime he wants to sleep on my pillow and bury his nose into my neck. Sometimes he places his little paw on my shoulder, just to make sure I’m safe. Personally, I think he likes the reassurance, but don’t let him know I’m on to him! Sammie, our Labradoodle, curls up as close as possible somewhere behind my legs. If she could, she’d sleep on my pillow, too. She thinks she’s a lap dog trapped in a fifty-five pound body.

Sammie recently passed her two year re-test for her therapy dog registration. She was amazing. Truly amazing. A perfect score as she followed my every command (or as I like to refer to them . . . suggestion). She watched me for visual cues and listened for words of encouragement.

That’s my girl.

You’re my favorite.

I’m so proud of you.

Way to go, Sam-Sam!

Nice job, Sammie.

You’re a rock star.

Following is a list of seven benefits I find as I work with this sweet pup (whose 5th birthday we celebrated yesterday! Happy Birthday, Sammie Doodle!):

Pure Joy

Sometimes I feel selfish for walking away from our therapy dog sessions with my heart overflowing with joy, a smile radiating from my face AND heart. I love watching this dog turn a child’s tears into giggles. Sammie has a thing for kids. Her tail wags every time she sees one. Whether we are walking the halls at a school or the trails at a nature preserve. She wants to meet them all and offer a snuggle. As a result, her tail thumps in canine happiness, and I just can’t help but grin.

We were visiting a school last year when the counselor asked if it would be okay if Sammie had an unscheduled visit from a child who was having a difficult morning. Of course he’s welcome to visit with Sammie! Immediately, upon this nine-year-old boy entering the room, his face stained from tears, Sammie moved toward him. He found his way onto a bean bag chair and Sammie was instantly next to him. Her pointy elbows tickling his belly as she climbed closer to love him.

That’s her secret.

Love.

Pure, simple, unconditional love.

And that kind of pure love can only result in pure joy.

Find out more about working with Pet Partners here and clicking the book link below:

Self-Healing

I love it that I absorb healing benefits while doing healing work as a therapy dog team with Sammie. Whether she is comforting a child experiencing anxiety symptoms, offering solace to a room full of teachers headed to a co-worker’s funeral, or just greeting kids in the hallways on testing day, she is happy to be there radiating comfort and compassion. I usually step back and witness, avoiding my human interference in a wordless exchange. A hand reaching down to pet Sam’s head, her snout pressing up against a leg, even just a pause in time as she locks eyes with someone needing reassurance.

I watch all of this and allow it to radiate into my being, as well. There is a magic that happens. An energy exchange so powerful I can’t help but pick up on it. And, again, my heart smiles as a result. Perhaps I sense it because I’ve opened myself up to healing. I seek it, I welcome it, I treasure it. Therefore, when I see it and feel it, I know it’s happening and let it in.

A Course in Compassion

This amazing therapy dog has taught me so much about compassion. Whether a child is crying or a teacher is nervous, if a kiddo is expressing his needs through defiant behavior or a grieving adult is standing quiet and still in a corner, or maybe there’s the high end-of-the-school-year energy pulsating through a classroom making for loud voices and stressed staff, regardless, this dog treats them all the same. All she knows is there is a human, usually a smaller and younger one, that just might be interested in a hug.

She listens without interrupting or offering her input.

She offers a snuggle but isn’t offended if she’s turned away. She merely moves on to the next soul needing love.

She’ll stand in quiet solidarity with anyone needing silence, perhaps leaning against a leg just as a little added support.

She won’t nip or bite or growl if hurt. A woman accidentally stepped on Sammie’s tail and foot during a job fair. She happened to be wearing a heavy plastic boot to stabilize an injured leg. Sammie yelped in fear. But then wagged her tail at the woman. As if to apologize for startling the lady with her yelp for help. A child once stuck his finger into Sammie’s ear. Sammie shook her head and moved away as I gently reminded the child to respect Sammie’s body and use gentle touches. But, all the while, Sammie stayed calm.

She is just there to love. To comfort. To listen. To allow. Compassion at its finest.

Learned Patience

One of Sammie’s best qualities is patience. I witness it first-hand when we hike. I’m in my fifties and my knees and ankles just aren’t as nimble as they used to be. Therefore, when we hit the steep treks, as I slowly make my way down the rocky trails with protruding roots and crooked rock paths, this sweet dog will pause and look back at me as we descend steep grades. I never taught her this. It just . . . happened. She is the essence of patience.

I witness this same gift being shared with children. She teaches them through modeling as she patiently listens as they talk her ear off, or patiently wags her tail as they rub the same spot on her head for fifteen minutes.

As I sit here typing this, Sammie is sitting in my office, staring at the closed door. She hears our little dog, Max, playing with our daughter. I look at her and she nods at me, as if to say, “When you have a minute, could you let me out.” I can’t help but smile. No barks. No whining. No digging at the door. Just a patient stare. And a wag of the tail as I open the door.

Develop Friendships

As we walk the trails at our local nature center, Sammie approaches all dogs with a wagging tail. She looks to me for guidance. I usually remind her to leave it as we keep moving forward. Every now and then, however, the hiker coming towards us will ask if Sammie is friendly and if we can stop to allow a doggy meet-n-greet. I always agree. Which makes Sammie one happy girl. The dogs do their usual dog-thing when it comes to meeting another dog. And Sammie walks away knowing she has made a new friend. I will say, though, that there is one particular breed of dog that cannot stand Sammie. Every time we encounter this breed, they always try to eat her. Without fail. Yet, she still wants to be friends.

I’ve studied this. In regards to my own interactions with people. Do I approach with a “wagging tail” and welcoming aura? If so, most people will respond with reciprocatory warmth. And if they are one of those rare few who do not, I’ll just walk away . . . wagging my tail behind me.

Sammie has brought new friendships into my life not because of anything I’ve done, but because of her willingness to approach each and every person she meets with gentle curiosity. As if she’s inquiring, “Do you need some love?” A beautiful thing to witness really. She could care less about skin color, what someone is wearing, religious affiliation, what car they drive, if they have stinky feet or a pimple on their forehead, whether smiling or frowning, upbeat or beat up . . . she just wants to meet them and offer her support.

Filling a Personal Need to Give Back

I have this compelling need to give back to the world. I want to give out hope by the fistfuls, money in anonymous surprises, and time in a I-have-more-of-it-than-I-really-do way. Maybe because I grew up in home where money was always a problem. Or, I guess I should clarify, the LACK of money was always a problem. My dad struggled to keep a job and blew through my mom’s paychecks with his latest “get rich quick” schemes. They never did pan out. Maybe because I spent the first forty-something years of my life struggling with heartache and trauma-related anxiety and panic disorders. And now I know peace. Maybe because I’ve battled my way through darkness and currently celebrate the light.

Working with Sammie as a volunteer therapy dog team truly makes my heart happy. I love the kids, the school staff, the giggles, the joy, the tail-wagging, and the love I witness transcending between souls. Beautiful on so many levels.

Offering hope to children through Sammie’s gentle ways gives me a sense of creating change in a world where sadness and anger seem to be gaining traction. Maybe that’s just social media. All I know is that having a sweet lady offer me hope as an eight-year-old second-grader changed my world. I still treasure the gift of that teacher. I’m hoping Sammie and I can offer that same gift to children. A pay it forward kinda thing.

Brings Stardom

This dog is truly a rock star! We were hiking through Cincinnati Nature Center last year when someone stopped us on trail and asked, “Is that Sammie?” I laughed and responded with an enthusiastic YES. This person went on to explain, “I know her from the internet.” I mean, seriously, rock star status, Sammie!

Sammie joins me on The Healing Place Podcast, as well. Not as a co-host. That’s Max’s job. He has his own chair and everything. Sammie just insists on being in the office with me when I record shows. She lays at my feet or snoozes in a corner. Every now and then she pops her head up to greet my guests. And whenever she does, the response is always the same. A huge smile appearing on my interviewee’s face. Along with, “Oh, hello, Sammie!”

Max co-hosting The Healing Place Podcast

I love it that this sweet pup has a reputation in Cincinnati for offering love and support to children. We have a project called Sammie’s Bundles of Hope. We fill bags with donated trinkets of hope (PlayDoh, journals, stress balls, bubbles, and more) and disperse them to children with trauma-history, anxiety struggles, recent loss, homelessness, etc. These bags represent everything Sammie. Relief from pain, fear, worry, stress . . . by focusing on something soothing.

This super-star dog even has a book written about her, The Doodle with the Noodle. My daughter and I wrote a book geared toward preschoolers a few years ago when my daughter was in fourth grade. We wrote, illustrated, and published it through Kindle Direct Publishing. And now we donate a copy in each Sammie Bundle of Hope we disperse.

Sammie has her own website, Facebook page, and Instagram page.

We love our sweet shooting star. To infinity and beyond.

Click on image below to read more!

Anticipatory Anxiety: What Is It and How Do You Stop It?

By definition:

Anticipatory anxiety is where a person experiences increased levels of anxiety by thinking about an event or situation in the future. Rather than being a specific disorder in its own right, anticipatory anxiety is a symptom commonly found in a number of anxiety related conditions, such as generalized anxiety. Anticipatory Anxiety can be extremely draining for people as it can last for months prior to an event. The worries people experience specifically focus on what they think might happen, often with catastrophic predictions about an event. The nature of negative predictions about the event will be the difference between an anxiety level that is incapacitating or merely uncomfortable.

as defined by Anxiety UK

A friend recently reached out to me prior to her drive from Cincinnati to Chicago to inquire about mindfulness practices. As she spoke, she talked about her fears of traveling alone, the possibility of heavy traffic, not knowing where she was going once she arrived in Chicago, and the known fact that she would be driving over bridges. All of which were causing her to experience heightened anxiety. I love it that she reached out to me, trauma-warrior research guru that I am, to discuss options.

I advised her to begin practicing mindfulness as that is my favorite go-to when experiencing anticipatory anxiety. I just happen to be working through my own bout with that pesky little symptom of my C-PTSD right now. We are preparing for a trip to Denver to visit my oldest son. While I am super pumped to see his cute face and the beauty of Colorado, I am also fretting flying, the high elevations, and being far from home.

I am well aware of these fears and why they are present, after my four year stint in EMDR therapy, so I honor their presence and just notice them without judgment. I remind myself these are physiological responses triggered by chemical surges in my brain in relation to past traumatic events. I am working at re-wiring my brain and creating new neural pathways, but that is still a work in process.

Think: brain pep talks! Do what scares you, Teri. You got this, girl!

My personal anticipatory anxiety goes something like this:

Lying in bed. Thinking about staying at The Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver with its rooftop pool and tennis courts. Then my knees start to sweat. Rooftop pool? How does that water not crack the roof and cause the building to crumble? Is there a guardrail? How high is it? Will I be able to ride the elevator up there? Will I feel it swaying? I swear, if that kid of ours goes near the edge, my heart will stop. I wonder how the drive is from the airport? I’m hoping we aren’t in heavy traffic. Especially on a busy highway. I’ll have to sit in the back. You should check out the city and enjoy it, Teri. No. What if you have a panic attack. You haven’t had one of those in a long time.

That all transpires in a mater of seconds. Ah, the joys of racing thoughts. But, then I reach into my coping skills tool box and start to pull out my calming strategies and redirect my thinking.

Deep breath. Closing my eyes slowly, I savor that breath. Now another. A smile creeps into the corners of my mouth. Another breath follows, even deeper. I reach over and grab a grounding stone lying bedside. I love this stone. It’s cool to the touch. And heavy in my hand. So smooth. Other than that rough little edge where it dropped into the gravel on a hike once. I wonder sometimes how long it might take for me to rub it smooth again. My fingers engage in their rhythmic dance along that edge.I’m excited to walk the one block trek from our hotel to the 16th Street Mall. I’ll let John pick a fun restaurant since he’s now a Denver pro. My sweet boy. The best hugger ever. Looking forward to that hug. If something triggers some anxiety, I’ll just hold onto his arm. He knows how to help his momma stay grounded. So blessed to have these children in my life. This trip is going to be amazing. I am going to savor every one of my senses. The sights of the city and atop the mountains in Estes Park. The tastes of new eateries. I wonder how crisp the air will be without Cincinnati humidity? I look forward to breathing it in, smelling The Rocky Mountain flora. We will definitely need to rent a boat on the lake so I can feel the cool water mist splashing onto my face. Oh, to hear the laughter of my children as they catch up with one another after months apart.

My anticipatory anxiety is now silenced. Perhaps it will poke its annoying head out of hiding again. But, I know how to put it in its place.

Back to my friend who was traveling to Chicago.

She called me today as she drove back home to Cincy. I was happy to hear her voice sounding perky. When I asked about her trip, she replied, “Oh, Teri, it was wonderful!” Yay! I then inquired about the six hour drive. She spent the next thirty-one minutes telling me about the strategies she used throughout her trip. How she brought along one of her stuffed otters someone had gifted her from the Cincinnati Zoo, having stuffed the little guy into a pocket of her purse, and reaching for him to touch the softness as she approached a sky-way bridge into the city. She discussed the pep talks she gave herself, You’re fine. You’re doing great. Just stay focused on your lane. The songs she sang along with and the phone calls she made in order to pass the time and keep her mind re-directed from anxious thoughts.

Her friend lives on the fortieth floor of a high-rise condo overlooking Navy Pier so her fear of heights was another anticipatory anxiety. She explained how the elevator ride was smooth and quick and her friend kept the shades shut in the bedroom in order to allow her to settle in. She took stunning photos of the scenery from forty floors above the city streets, but avoided stepping onto the balcony. Honoring her needs. I love that.

She also challenged herself to new adventures, such as an architecture tour of the city from a boat cruising along the Chicago River. Her friend praised her for how well she was doing throughout their escapades. She even watched the fireworks display through the windows of her friend’s condo upon returning from their day of tours and sight-seeing. She told me she continued to use mindfulness techniques to shake off her anxieties and enjoy the present moment. Again, I love this!

Mindfulness as defined by me: reminding myself to re-direct any old habitual scary thought patterns back to this moment, right here, right now, and all the joyous beauty to be found in it by use of my senses. I open myself up to all things smile-inducing in this moment in time.

So, how do you stop anticipatory anxiety? Practice mindfulness. As often as possible. Soon you will be living mindfully aware. And anticipatory anxiety may try to sneak in a word or two, but you can mindfully remind it to sit down and shut up. You have a beautiful life to enjoy without its input.