Earlier this week I spent a few days learning with Peter Levine* and I want to share a few nuggets we were studying that tie in with a new video I’ve got for you today that’s part of my ‘Trauma Tips’ video series.
There’s a question I get asked a fair bit that goes something along the lines of:
Irene, can everyone heal?
Yes, everyone can heal. But not everyone will.
* * *
Now I know this isn’t the most uplifting of answers, but it’s the plain truth.
In this article and this new ‘Trauma Tips’ video I dig into the deeper parts of this answer and dissect what I believe to be key need-to-know concepts missing in the self-improvement and healing industries. When we get these concepts online we are one step further to creating real ‘heal-from-the-root-cause’ healing that sticks.
So definitely hear me out for a few minutes while I explain.
This story starts with connection ….
We become unwell in our physical, emotional, mental, relational and creative worlds when we are unable to connect to ourselves, others and our environment.
But how does this connection get faulty?
It starts with how well we were connected to our primary caregivers (usually our mother and father and immediate family system) in our first few years of life.
I mentioned above that I’d share a few tidbits to what I’ve been studying this past week and it has to do with this. More specifically, it has to do with the toxic aspects of chronic shaming practices that use disconnection and humiliation as a way to control an infant and child’s behaviour. When this kind of, let’s call it ‘toxic energy’ is our primary entry point into the world and our relationships with others, it creates a high level of biological shame that becomes infused into our ENTIRE organism.
When you think about those pivotal first three years of existence, when the ability to make sense of the world with thought and reason is not yet on board, guess what happens to these forms of toxic energy?
They go internal; into our body posture and the muscles that move us and give us strength and confidence to take on the world. Or they don’t. That energy forms how we sense our gut and organ systems (our sixth sense). This will often be felt as an internal quality of deep despair and/or gut wrenching sadness (depression) that then sends a feedback loop up to the brain (because the gut sends more nerves to the brain than the brain does to the gut), which reinforces a sense of hopelessness (and that mind quality gets laser beamed back to the gut and gets reinforce even more).
Now you might be thinking, shit Irene, way to paint a bleak picture!!
I know, I know…but please stay with me as I wrap this up and explain why some people will heal, and others won’t.
Because here’s the clincher: having these devastating early experiences that imprint a sense of toxic and chronic shame into our biology WILL NOT predict if you heal or don’t heal.
When we are wounded so deeply, especially when it’s from those who were supposed to be our safe haven (our primary models for connection and goodness), we don’t know what it means to feel in our bones, guts and cells, true self-worth, agency and belonging.
Most who experienced this kind of toxic shaming in infancy and childhood will express (often throughout their entire life), until they address it head on and heal, something along the lines of: “all connection is bad and everyone is to be suspected as dangerous and a threat.”
Such early beginnings can also instil a quality of hopelessness and defeat such that the person, as an adult, will feel they are in fact the problem (enter self-harm and addictions), they’re not worthy of safe relationships and spaces (enter risky situations and abusive relationships), and they’re definitely not worthy and deserving of healing, health and vitality (enter the constant cycle resistance to doing the work, fleeing from healthy behaviours and supportive situations).
Do you see this remarkable conundrum?
This human crisis of dis-ease is not behavioural. Nor is it merely a ‘mind’ or brain-based issue. Nor is it just genetics. And yet, these are the vantage points which most of our self-care and health-based models work from.
I believe we’ve got to change this.
In this new trauma tip video I outline three essential ingredients I believe are essential for us to heal. In short, they are:
1 – We must believe we can heal and are deserving of it
2 – We must have the right support to heal
3 – We must understand how neuroplasity works and how to work with our stress physiology
When you learn how to put these three things in place and we understand the complexities of biological connection, plus we start to include the power of our intention and attention along with proven practices for re-connecting to our body and our relationship to it (more on this in future article and videos), some serious healing happens!
And it sticks!
I think this is why I am continually impressed with the work my mentors and colleagues do, Peter Levine included.
One might say there is an element of magic one witnesses when the work happens and happens consistently, and yet, for me it has never been magic, it’s what our biology is designed for.
To your healing and believing that you deserve it and so much more,
*In case you are new here, and aren’t aware of Peter’s work, he’s the founder of Somatic Experiencing (SE). SE is one of the methods I’m trained in and blend into my online and in-person work. In my opinion (and I think many would concur here), his work is THE gold standard when it comes to successfully working with and releasing stored traumatic memories and healing chronic illness as a result of nervous system dysregulation and early traumatic stress. His work with near-death experiences, surgical and anesthesia trauma, sexual trauma and restoring healthy aggression and lifeforce energy, just to name a few key topics, is like no other. I’ve been blessed to learn from him and assist at his master class level and it is tough to convey with the written word how essential his contributions to healing humanity are.