Defining Resilience Series: Step 8 – Be Gentle with Ourselves

Defining Resilience

Step 8: Be Gentle with Ourselves

Before diving into step 8, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences. 

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 8: Be gentle with ourselves.

I had two moments when I first transitioned onto a healing path that stand out as life-altering. My therapist at the time had mentioned to me, “Just notice” during one of our sessions, in the midst of a pretty intense flashback when panic attack symptoms were overwhelming me. Allowing myself the opportunity to just notice those sensations without judgment created an incredible shift in their power over me.

The other shift-inducing incident involved a friend suggesting to me, “Be gentle with yourself, T.” It was one of those smack-to-the-head moments. Be gentle with myself? What the heck does THAT mean? How do I even do that? I realized in that brief exchange that I had been so incredibly hard on myself about my trauma history and attempts at recovery. 

I want to share with you a few of the steps I took to learn a more patient and loving approach with myself:

  • Forgive yourself: If you are holding onto any blame, shame, guilt, or a burden of responsibility for anything that happened to you . . . give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Write yourself a love letter releasing you from that weight. For decades, I carried a self-blame banner when it came to certain incidents in my life. If I hadn’t been drinking so much then I wouldn’t have put myself in that vulnerable position to be taken advantage of by a man. If I had just told my parents what was happening. If I hadn’t been so needy. I stopped all of that blame and shame talk. Remind yourself that you were not to blame. Know this on a soul level. And forgive yourself for burdening you with that heavy load. You are so very worthy of the resulting peace.  
  • Practice being gentle with yourself: I started to utilize the idea of being gentle with myself throughout my day. If I noticed any negative self-talk, such as, Why can’t you just get over this, I would remind myself, Something is surfacing, Teri. Just notice is. What is being triggered? I then would meditate or journal about it, but continuing to not judge any of it. Just gentle observation.                               
  • Give yourself the gift of self-love: Sounds simple enough, but, wow, can this be tough. Especially for those of us who experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Practice positive affirmations by repeating mantras such as, “I am calm. I am beautiful. I am peace. I am loved.” The gift of time is a precious self-love commodity, too. Allow time to pursue your passions – whether that’s a stroll in nature, absorbing the beauty, or creating art or taking a new yoga class.   
  • Be patient: As you continue traveling along this healing journey, there are days when you’ll be baby-stepping along oh-so-carefully, other days where you will be leaping into new discoveries, and others when you turn around and retreat. That’s okay. Again, this is a journey, an exploration into sometimes scary territory. Gently remind yourself you’ve got this. Continue to ask, every day, What is the lesson I am learning with this? You are allowed the opportunity to learn in those set-back moments. 
  • Reward yourself: I recently visited a classroom with my registered therapy dog, Sammie. We met with forty-two 4th grade kiddos. One of the questions asked during our Q&A session was, “How did you train Sammie?” I took this opportunity to discuss positive reinforcement. Sammie learned her needed therapy dog skills through classroom instruction along with positive reinforcement outside the classroom. Lots of “good girl, Sam!” and treats. The same goes for us as we learn to live a life free from trauma burdens. A “Way to go!” or “You got this!” goes a long way toward building our confidence.

Coming up next month: New series – Positivities of Persistence 

Excerpt from my upcoming Hope for Healing Newsletter – February 2019. Find previous versions and subscribe to future editions: https://mailchi.mp/293195d4a027/hope-for-healing-newsletter-january-2019

Defining Resilience Series: Step 7 – Learn to Become Our Own Hero

Defining Resilience


Step 7: Learn to Become Our Own Hero

Before diving into step 7, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences. 

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 7: Learn to become our own hero.

One of those ah-ha moments in my life came when I realized that it was not up to anyone else to “save” me. Instead, I started to look to myself for empowerment. I experienced what I call “a shift” in 2013. Think of it as a change in philosophy, a willingness to open myself up to healing and answers. I allowed myself the gift of becoming my own hero. We all have the capacity for becoming our own superhero; we just need to open our hearts, minds, and souls to the possibility.

So, how did I learn to become my own hero? A whole helluva lot of research . . . along with some trial and error. The sole purpose of my Unicorn Shadows: From Trauma to Triumph – A Healing Guide book that I am finishing up the manuscript on is to guide others through the research I completed and allow readers an opportunity to engage in the steps I utilized. 

I will give you a head start here and offer five suggestions for starting your superhero work (go ahead and put that cape on!):

  • Build your knowledge by reading, watching, listening, and absorbing all you can about healthy self-care strategies: I have a resource library full of books I have read (filled with mark-ups for ideas that spoke to my soul). I will be adding those titles to my website some time over the next few months. I’ll be sure to send you an access code once I do so you can dive into those books and articles. I also have a bookmark folder on my web browser filled with articles and websites that provide healing guidance. I would list them all, but what speaks to MY soul might not speak to YOURS. Therefore, I recommend you search for self-help topics that pique your interest. Do searches on your local library site (did you know you can check out books online, too?), Amazon, YouTube, Vimeo, web browsers, by key words, Pinterest, Facebook – the options are endless. 
  • Be open to crazy awesome options for healing: When I started opening my mind up to new possibilities for healing my trauma wounds and relieving the resulting symptoms, miracles started to happen. No, seriously. For real. I started practicing exercises such as Ho’oponopono Hawaiian healing technique, the Ah Meditation, energy healing, and so much more. Next on my list is goat yoga! Watch my beautiful podcast interview with Belinda Farrell of Huna Healing for more information on Ho’oponopono. 
  • Choose one and try it: This seems pretty self-evident, but how many times have we made grandiose plans, done the research, but then stopped right there. It’s scary sometimes to try something new. Right? But, the best way to learn if something will help you feel more empowered is to simply DO it. Give it a whirl. Maybe a few whirls. If it works . . . yay! You can add that patch to your superhero cape. If not, see the next suggestion.
  • If it does not work, file it away, see it as a learning lesson, and move on to the next idea: This can be tough, too. We feel like we are giving up. Or maybe questioning, “Why does this work for other people, but not me?” Please know that we are all different with an eclectic mix of backgrounds. What works for one person might not work for us because of genetics or experiences (such as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs) or a combination of factors. Regardless, it’s okay. Put it in the “life lesson” file folder and move on to another superhero adventure. 
  • Build your superhero portfolio to use as needed: Once you have established a collection of tools . . . think of Batman’s utility belt . . . you will feel more empowered just by having more choices from which to turn to for your self-care strategies. But, keep on adding options as you grow stronger. Get yourself ready for your superhero strut. Watch out, world. Another bad-ass trauma-warrior is in the making.

Coming up next month: Step 8: Be gentle with ourselves.

*Excerpt from my upcoming Hope for Healing Newsletter . . . I would love to welcome you onto the Hope for Healing team! Join me here!