How Do You Know When You’re Healing?

How Do You Know When You're Healing

How Do You Know When You’re Healing?

Once upon a time, 2016’ish, to be more precise, I thought I was doing pretty well emotionally. I had officially closed my boutique photography studio, started a blog, and was writing regularly about what I had learned and experienced throughout the previous two years. I had also hired a life coach, was reading a lot of self-help books and landed a job that matches my desire for flexibility and variety. Things were on the up and up and, I was optimistic about my future. However, for two years straight, I felt like a trainwreck.

During those two years, as my health declined, and I felt like I was never going to do anything meaningful with my life (being a mom wasn’t enough for me), it was a discovery process of what I needed to address emotionally, what wasn’t working in my life, and what I needed to change. This was also on the heels of unaddressed post-partum depression. And ultimately, what started to happen was decades of unresolved grief started to manifest in my business and life during that time, too.

Fast-forward to 2017, after three years of personal development work, an opportunity fell into my lap and the book that I longed to write was starting to come to fruition. My dream of one day writing a book was actually becoming a reality! Nearly every weekday morning, for two months straight,  I got up at 5:30 AM to write. Then, while in the editing phase of the book, I would be hit with a loss that would bring up the deepest, unaddressed wound I had – the loss of my dad. My dad’s only living brother, and the one whom my dad was closest to, had brain cancer. And, the moment I heard the news that he was in the hospital, I decided right then I needed to see him, despite the thirty years that had passed since my dad’s funeral, which was the last time I ever saw him. So, the same day of receiving the news, I went to see him; not knowing if he’d want to see me, recognize me, or even if he was well enough to have a conversation. With a knock on that hospital door, the trajectory of my life would change, solely on that one decision, to knock on his hospital door. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and yet, I felt with every intuitive bone in me, that was exactly where I was meant to be.

The visit was incredibly healing, and the timing divine, because within fifteen minutes of my arrival, his daughter and niece arrived, neither of whom I’d seen since a kid. We were all shocked to see each other there and it was a moment I will never forget. And, the months that followed, were the greatest gift to my heart, as I would be gifted with several more visits with my uncle, and with his passing, I had felt we both received a gift we hadn’t expected, and one that would have never been possible had I not chosen to put my ego aside, risk my own heart, and knock on that door.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, grief makes us feel like we don’t have choices. Let this story illustrate to you that we always, always have a choice. And, doing nothing is a choice, too. That one act led to me realizing that I wasn’t okay. The inner-work that I had been doing up to that point, albeit not wasted, hadn’t actually addressed the root of all of my issues – the grief! It was that experience with my uncle that prompted a Google search that landed me on The Grief Recovery Institute website, which led to me registering for certification that was later canceled (I couldn’t believe it), that led to me booking a flight to Austin, TX to do my training there scheduled for the same time. I knew what I needed and I wasn’t about to let anything stop me at that point. Again, I had another choice to make. Do I take that cancelation as the end-all, be-all option? Or, do I find the resources to make, what I knew I intuitively was guided to, happen no matter the extra cost? I obviously chose the latter. Again, I had a decision to make; I could choose to live in my grief another year, which is what it would’ve been before another training within driving distance would’ve taken place, or answer the call of my heart. Thankfully, I chose wisely and, my heart has not been the same since.

It was not until after grief recovery where I knew I was healing. Surprise! But, it’s absolutely the truth. Because, for the first time in my life, I was able to have conversations I had never been able to have with the people closest to me, and not find myself a wreck for days that followed. The more I utilized the tools and knowledge of grief recovery, the less I looked to others to give me what I needed to be giving myself (love, affirmation, validation, etc.). My confidence started to grow and my self-awareness was through the roof. It was as if the veil of grief (which I’ve spoken about on my podcast) had been lifted and, I was seeing my life (past and present) with new eyes. I had the most life-changing experience when I went through the grief recovery method. And, it’s in knowing how hard it is to do the work, how emotionally and physically taxing it feels in the process, that I can guide others through the same process. It is anything but easy. And, it brings up stuff that you thought was long buried. However, in grief, you’re already suffering. You may as well be suffering and moving your feet. You may as well be moving one foot in front of the other, knowing that week by week of going through the process, you’re shedding another layer, and lifting that veil of grief higher and higher, until you, too, see clearly. Grief recovery is a clarifier of your life, a purifier of your heart, and allows you to be an emotional processing plant rather than the emotional storage tank you have been.

10 Ways You Know You’re Healing Emotionally

You find yourself changing your behaviors. Where you used to get angry about something someone said/did, you can step back from the situation and consider why that reaction provoked you. You may also be choosing healthier options in food, drink, or even friends.

 You’ve discovered what your boundaries are and have implemented them in your relationships and life.

 You’re no longer a pile of tears in the fetal position after you start talking about a story of loss or something that happened to you.

You no longer feel the need to share the story with anyone who will listen. By this, I mean that you’re not sharing with the intention of needing or getting something in return: sympathy, validation, affirmation, etc. You find yourself sharing because 1. you were asked 2. because you have found your way beyond the pain and want to share to inspire and connect. You understand grief because you’ve been there. You understand life beyond it, too, though, because it no longer dictates your life either. 

 When other people share their emotional stories, it doesn’t bring up your emotional pain thereby, causing an emotional reaction in you. 

 You see opportunities where there was once fear.

You feel hopeful about your future.

You find yourself pausing, bringing awareness to your feelings, before responding to situations or people with your emotions. The phrase I tell myself, “I don’t know what I don’t know” is my go-to to help me with this one. 

When wounds from the past, that you long thought you buried, come up out of the blue, rather than resort to the same behaviors you used to, to feel better at that moment, you sit with all of the feelings, and seek support or help to work through it. 

You ask for help. We do not heal on an island. We heal in community with others; with support, guidance, and a heart with ears. 

I hope today’s blog post provided some good insight into healing; that it’s a journey of self-discovery and every choice you make can either make or break your path to healing your heart.

We go to the doctor when we have a broken bone. We go to the dentist when we have a broken tooth. And yet, when we have a broken heart, we somehow think we can intellectually and logically heal hearts.

You can’t heal the heart with the head. You must tap into your heart. It is necessary to dig up the past if you want to heal it. Those that feel differently about that are likely not ready (or willing) to face what has long been emotionally unresolved within themselves.

My word of caution to all those hurting today reading this: be careful who you take your advice from; it could potentially be more harmful and hurtful to your healing. Many people value freedom. However, where most people miss the mark is understanding that the most difficult prison to break free from is the prison of one’s own mind. Being attentive to your heart will bring you the kind of freedom that can’t be bought. The caveat? You have to choose to do the difficult inner-work to get there. And, doing that is also choosing a more fulfilling, emotionally stable, and joy-filled life.

much love, victoria

 

 

 

P.S. TODAY, 6/11, is the ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my podcast GRIEVING VOICES!!! 📣🥳Thank you so much for listening, sharing, reviewing, rating, being a guest if you have been one (or are upcoming), and overall support! I am a one-woman show when it comes to the podcast, and I’ve definitely learned a TON along the way. And to think, I was hesitant and unsure right away because I wasn’t sure anyone would want to share their stories. And now, people wanting to be guests pop up left and right. And, if you are wanting to be a guest, and share your story, please head HERE and fill out this form. I don’t care if you’re an expert in a field or not; the premise of the show is to share your grieving voice and story. Everything beyond that is secondary. 

What I Do & How I’m Different

What I Do and How I'm different

What I Do & How I’m Different

Today, I thought I would speak about what I do, how I’m different, and the type of client I resonate most with.

What I Do

Through grief healing programs, I walk you through the process of being leashed to grief – to being unleashed and emotionally free.

Through online and in-person programs, trailblazers like you realize that the one area of your life that’s always had a background presence is the one area you’ve also never addressed (i.e., grief). You have not connected the dots that loss, suffering, and grief have negatively impacted your life. But, you recognize that the chip on your shoulder, the poison (i.e., resentment) you’re drinking, hoping the other person dies, and the anger that’s been stewing from years past isn’t helping you live the life you envisioned for yourself. You know it could be better; you just haven’t found the how.

That’s where I come in – empowering and equipping you to help yourself.

There is no magic pill, and what I have to offer isn’t that. However, it does feel like a magical formula that works in magical ways in your life. When paired together, I believe I have found two programs that will be the key to you becoming unleashed from your past and unlocking your future. They have certainly done that for me. And I have already seen amazing results for my clients. While the Grief Recovery Method® was the light at the end of the dark tunnel (the hope and guidance they needed to leave the pain in the rearview), YouMap® was the lantern that has illuminated their path forward.

With empathy as my number one strength and the driver of my life, my approach is heart-centered. Please take a peek at my own YouMap® and, it’s clear to me that I am fully aligned in the work that I do with every service I offer, including Reiki and End-of-Life services (which I have yet to bring to the forefront). What brings me fulfillment is being of service in a meaningful way. I love helping others unlock their own potential, and, for the vast majority of us, the secret sauce is addressing the very stuff of our hearts we try so desperately to avoid or bury. And, an area of service I have yet to share fully is to help those dying die in a way that honors their wishes, helps them and their loved ones feel supported, and provide guidance for end-of-life, in general. There’s so much to share I haven’t even gotten to yet!

On a final note that supports what I do, I am the only Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist in the world certified as a YouMap® coach and vice versa. And, because 1 in 33 million people share the same top 5 strengths as me (or you), it is a particular skill-set I bring to grievers and those who want to uplevel their lives (and, in turn, their energy).

Be The Trailblazer of Your Life

The trailblazer is the go-getter, the do-er, a maverick, of sorts. You know you’re meant for more but have found yourself, year after year, stuck in the same old patterns of behavior that, well, keep you stuck. You may be the CEO of your home, wrangling all of the kids to their activities, all the while, you’re time is consumed by PTO/PTA, church council, city board, and the care of the household. Perhaps, on top of all of those duties, you also work outside the home, or perhaps, you have your own business, too.

You know your life (and/or business/career) could be better. You know you have a hard time making decisions. You likely feel inadequate in some ways, and if in business especially, you struggle with people skills and time management. You’re often feeling scatter-brained, have difficulty focusing, and most days could use a personal secretary. All the while, it feels like everyone around you isn’t struggling like you are. They go about their day unaffected by the little things that seem to set you off into a tailspin. – life could be better. You want life to be better. You want to feel better about your life. You know there’s potential for amazing things to come to fruition, but all of that seems out of reach. And, you also recognize that there’s a good reason for the struggle. You just haven’t connected the dots – yet.

You may not see yourself as a trailblazer, but if there’s one thing I have learned doing this work myself and with others, it is with momentum, you will become one. Once you start paving your path and blazing your own trail, you realize there’s nothing that can stop you. And, you’ll also feel far more prepared for the curveballs and sh*t-storms that happen in the future when you have the tools you learn through Grief Recovery to fall back on and rather than respond, approach the situation with a proactive mindset because you will have learned how to prevent yourself from further unnecessary suffering (through the knowledge gained in your YouMap®).

Connecting the Dots

You may be drinking more than you know you should be some nights. However, given the stress and anxiety you feel, it brings you relief and an escape for a time. The credit card debt may be racking up because spending money on things you don’t need has become another past-time to feel better. As a result of the shame and added stress these other behaviors (or behaviors like these) are causing in your life, you’re quick to anger. So, to combat the conflict at home, you’re becoming a workaholic.

Consider the losses in your life since childhood. These losses stack up. From losing a beloved pet, a grandparent that was more like a parent to you, a traumatic experience, or growing up in a dysfunctional home – perhaps with an alcoholic or witnessing domestic violence – your upbringing impacts your decision-making well into adulthood.

The cure to understanding the who, what, and why is to dig deep – in a guided, supported way. Unlike years of therapy (which has its place) and popping pills, tipping the bottle, or relying on mantras and affirmations (although these do have their time and place, too) – grief recovery is action. Through grief recovery, you go emotional mining, however, not in a willy-nilly way. Through an evidence-proven method, you’re guided through your inner, emotional experiences, thereby transforming your outer experience.

If a transformation of your heart, and your life, is what you seek, there is hope. If, what you’ve been doing, hasn’t been working, seriously ask yourself what you believe to be true about your life with grief. Are you exhausted by the emotional weight you’re carrying?

That boulder can be lifted, believe me.

And, I promise you – grief recovery is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. There is nothing else like it. It’s trademarked for a reason. Kent University studied it for a reason. It works. Experience the difference for yourself.

For those that believe you don’t have to look back to heal – I’m talking to you, too.

How has sweeping the pain under the rug been working for you?

I know it hasn’t because I did the same. And, because we’re all taught the same myths about grief, we’re all “under-the-rug-sweepers” to some degree.

Start sweeping your doorstep today, and you’ll see how the dust begins to settle in all areas of your life.

I’ve so been there, friend. I was you. It’s pretty amazing on the other side of the pain. I hope you join me.

much love, victoria

 

 

 

P.S. Would you like to learn more? Schedule a free, no-obligation, free consultation!

Where Healing Is Found

Where Healing Is Found

Photo by @mayurgala via Unsplash

Where Healing Is Found

Just today, I listened to this thought-provoking, self-reflective podcast episode with Krista Tippett of On Being. So much of what her guest, Resmaa Menakem, shared about trauma, energy, the energy of trauma in our bodies, healing and, the responsibility we have to ourselves, and society to do the inner-work spoke to me. Also, his words had me reflecting on what I believe to be true about myself. Like it or not, I’m a white woman living in rural America. I didn’t ask for my “whiteness,” or the generational trauma white people have inflicted on others and, too, experienced in the dark ages as Resmaa shares. Just like I didn’t ask for the personal trauma I’ve experienced. You didn’t ask for your generational and personal trauma either.

I’m including the episode here because I feel it’s important to give it a permanent space here on my website. I’m wanting to learn and, I feel it’s so important to always, always consider the perspective of others. There is a lot of learning lost when we get so wrapped around one point of view and don’t open ourselves up to hearing the stories of others. I LOVE hearing other human’s stories; it’s what I love most about podcasting. And, I would love to include the voices of others whose life experiences have been starkly different from mine. It’s in contrast where we have the opportunity to find the golden nuggets of sameness of what it means to be human.

Our humanness doesn’t request adversity. Our humanness is born into it, as much as it is a byproduct of the environment in which the human body and human spirit will either struggle or thrive. – Victoria Volk

What do we do with the trauma and the grief that’s left? Listen to Resmaa’s interview for some science behind the body’s response to trauma, suggestions for addressing it, and how he beautifully articulates what is plaguing our society today.

I share my perspective below, in the context of interpersonal relationships, which echoes some of what Resmaa speaks to in terms of the energy of trauma.

Traumatic events such as military deployment in a war zone, being victim to any type of assault, childhood trauma, and depression, can affect our relationships in various ways, even many years after the event. When our mind is under attack, many are left with scars that they carry on their psyche for years.

Some questions I’ve asked myself have been:

How does trauma affect our minds?

How does trauma affect our relationships?

Why is dealing with trauma alone the worst thing for our mental health? 

The Energy of Trauma

I think to understand trauma, we must understand the energy of it. Pay attention to what happens within your body in response to a personally experienced traumatic event. Pay attention to the response signals your body puts out in response to reliving an experienced (or generational trauma) felt within the body.

The book, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, is not an easy read if you have unaddressed trauma. Personally, I have yet to get through it; it’s a heavy read but informative all the same. If you wish to understand the trauma of someone close to you or wonder if it is trauma that is stuck within your body, this book will shed light. However, if you have experienced trauma, I need to share the disclaimer that it is a high likelihood that it will bring up buried grief within you.

For many years, I put my trauma in a little box and tucked it down deep. As much as I tried to avoid it, it showed up in my early 20s in a big way. I still did not connect what was happening to the grief that was residual to the childhood trauma. So, as grief does, it created this divide within me. I would have experiences in my life that did not deem the reaction and meaning I would assign to those experiences. I was out of touch with reality in a lot of ways. In a way, I walled myself off from my heart and was intellectualizing everything I experienced. In essence, I was disassociating myself from my physical body and outward reality. When something happens that isn’t normal, we think to ourselves, “this shouldn’t be happening.” Logically, we know it isn’t normal. However, when a sense of safety and security is stripped away, what is left but to go somewhere else in your mind? This is how I would describe my experience. Seeing your life as if it were a movie. Memories become scant or vague. But the feeling, the feeling is there. It’s buried so deep. Until one day, like a volcano, you erupt and everything seems to go to hell in a handbasket.

So, how does trauma play out in relationships?

Dissociation is a natural response to trauma. Any person facing an experience that involves too much pain and terror, and whose mental mechanisms are incapable of dealing with it, will develop a dissociation. Shock is a response to something that erupts at us sharply, and thus the disconnect allows the mind to adapt immediately and cut out the pain, horror, and belief in the impending physical or mental death. This saves the brain access to a dangerous state of mind that contains feelings, memories, and thoughts that are unprocessable. When you think about this in a relationship, it can make you feel afraid that the other person will leave, that you’re not capable, or that things are destined to go wrong. Sometimes it can send you the opposite; overly obsessed and perhaps have a love addiction.  

The Rise of Obsession & Fear

Because this process involves many mental conflicts, pain, grief, and touching the heart of the mental trauma, it can feel unbearable. Disconnection allows us to erase, anesthetize or cut out of ourselves the same aspects of ourselves associated with trauma so that we can live without worry again. Typically, people suffering from a severe dissociative disorder in adulthood experienced severe childhood trauma. In these difficult cases, a person can develop disorders. In a lot of cases, the person will simply isolate and distance themselves from those close to them, lower themselves in different ways, be detached from their emotions, and have difficulty developing true intimacy that is the result of attention, presence, and sharing in pain.   Anyone who feels that this is affecting their life should seek therapy in some way; because there is no need to feel this burden and let it affect your life for years on end. The solution starts with firstly being able to admit that there is an issue.

And my goodness did this play out in my relationships. Add resentment and betrayal to past trauma, and that’s a recipe for troubled relationships ahead. My solution? Don’t let people get too close. I became obsessed with working out at the gym, usually two hours at a time. I became obsessed with having a good time and abused alcohol. I lived in fear of being betrayed and would make mountains out of molehills. I often created issues where there were none.

Fortunately, my husband came along and was my first safe harbor, who I attempted to push away at first, mind you. His persistence of care is what I needed in my life. He provided the affirmation that I was worth the effort when I didn’t feel like it myself. 

Truly feeling cared for was only the start of healing for me. My husband wasn’t going to walk through the hard stuff for me. I needed to do that. And, as more and more stuff would rise to the surface over the years, he’s been there, every step of the way. Every moment I felt I was going crazy. Every moment where I felt like I was unworthy of his love, he persisted.

Seeking Emotional Security

My husband provided emotional security, something I had never experienced. And, this is something so many people don’t believe they have access to. That being said, it’s also important that the person you believe is that for you, is capable of being that person for you, too. Fortunately for me, I have someone in my life who did not bring the baggage of trauma into my environment. That would have been too much for me; I can’t even imagine. Bring two people who all they’ve known is grief and wowzas…is it any wonder the divorce rate, although has come down, is still 40-50% in the U.S.?

People who have experienced a lot of trauma and grief throughout their lives likely cannot, and probably should not, be helping others when that energy would be best put forth to themselves first. It’s that whole analogy of putting your oxygen mask on first. This is why I believe before people get married, it’s beneficial to go through The Grief Recovery Method. Do yourselves both the favor of dumping your past luggage or risk bringing it into your marriage. I have not stopped doing my personal work. I continue to utilize the tools and practices of grief recovery and reiki in my life. 

I believe, as healers, we can only be of service to others to the depths we’ve gone ourselves. 

Essentially, it’s unwavering love and support we all desire. However, with unaddressed trauma, one can give off the double message: “get closer but keep your distance”. Therefore, in a relationship with another who asks them for a deeper encounter, they will find, to their surprise, that their way of preserving themselves brings them the exact opposite. A partner may argue towards them that they are not present enough, burying their heads in the sand, being passive and imperceptible. This is why you must communicate and be open and honest. My husband could have rightfully felt I was being cold and distant more times than I can count in the nearly twenty years we’ve been together. In fact, I have been accused of such. But, what has been important for him to know is that I process my emotions privately first.

What has been the most beneficial to my marriage is me working through my shit. As a society, I believe that’s the responsibility we all have to ourselves and society – focus on healing ourselves. Healing is found within; you have to dig through the shit to get there, though. I don’t care what anyone tells you; no amount of wishing or surface-leveling talking is going to erase the past. Action is your friend. Add healthy support to that, and you will be well on your way to reinventing yourself – beyond the grief and trauma.

No matter what you’ve experienced, don’t lose hope. Hold onto the possibility that life will get better. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Surround yourself with people who have done their own work. Follow the nudges that are guiding you; keep moving your feet.

From My Heart To Yours

The worst has already happened. No matter if it happened two hours ago or two years ago, it’s already happened. What matters most is what you do next. It is possible to sit with the feelings as you work through the feelings. It feels a lot more empowering to be feeling the feelings and knowing you’re taking action than sitting with the feelings and not feeling even an ounce of relief or hope for tomorrow. It’s never too soon and, it’s never too late.

Be your own biggest fan.💛

much love, victoria

P.S. I’ve launched the YouMap® page. When combined with Grief Recovery, it’s seeing your pain and your potential in one program; offered and available only by me in this way in the entire world! 

Intention versus Impact and Grief

intention Impact Grief

Today, I want to share my thoughts that have been swirling around intention, impact, and grief and how they’re intertwined.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a phrase that came up during training I recently participated in. It was “Understand the difference between intention and impact.” I knew I wanted to write about it but wasn’t sure how I would approach it, given the context in which the phrase was used in the class and that I’ve since seen online. If you haven’t heard this, it’s a phrase typically shared when conversations involve QBIPOC (Queer, Black, Indigenous, People of Color).

As a white woman in the midwest, “Who gives a rip what I think?” could’ve been my stance, and said the heck with it, and completely decide not to address it. However, I will present this with my thoughts (and opinions) while wearing my Adv. Cert. Grief Recovery Specialist hat on, offering my thoughts on what I see happening from my empathetic perspective.

Intention

According to the dictionary, intention is a thing intended, an aim or plan. Interestingly, it’s also the healing process of a wound (which makes me think about Reiki, which is all about intentional healing).

Wikipedia says intention is a mental state representing a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.

Impact

The dictionary defines impact as the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another. As a verb, it is to have a strong effect on someone or something.

The importance of understanding the difference between intention and impact is an idea that could apply to all sorts of scenarios, including grief. And, when it comes to the situations and issues QBIPOC faces, which I won’t even pretend I know, I imagine that grief has a strong presence in their lives.

Grief doesn’t care about how you identify yourself, the color of your skin, where you grew up, or about your ancestry.

GRIEF DOES NOT CARE

Let’s strip down the many issues in society today down to one word – GRIEF, and address that – with compassion and individual action.

Regardless of where, when, or how it originated, your grief is important because it is yours. But, your grief is not like my grief, just as your grief is going to be different than every other person, regardless of how similar the experience.

Collectively, there is a lot of grief. However, again, it’s important to reiterate that grief is individual.

And, no matter where, why, or how it originated, there is only one person who can do the inner-work – you.

How we raise the collective vibration of this world, elevate our lives, and harness our pain is for each person to sweep their own doorstep individually.

No amount of rallying around me, no amount of pat on the backs, or offers of help or understanding was going to change my situation without me doing my part. The cyclical patterns and behaviors I repeated for over thirty years did not change until I DECIDED to do something about what was happening and what I was feeling.

Do I understand that there is a privilege in writing this as a white woman living in the midwest? Absolutely. If you’re reading this on your smartphone or computer, you, too, have privilege. Privilege exists across all races, social classes, and even between males and females.

Intention versus Impact and Grief

So, let’s get back to this idea of intention versus impact as it relates to grief (which is individual, remember) and all of the issues we face in society today.

I do not intend to offend with this blog post today. However, I may not know the impact it will have on someone reading it unless I hear from someone that specifically shares the impact it had on them. I am not a mind reader; no one is. But, there’s a level of sensitivity that I wish to honor and express. Will I get it perfect? No. Will you get it perfect? No. I intend to speak from a place of empathy, love, and compassion. Despite my beliefs or thoughts around any number of issues, I can choose to show empathy, love, and compassion, despite what I believe to be true for me.

Just as people who have never experienced grief to the extent of someone else may not know what to say, how to say it, or how to show up for that person, I can’t begin to claim to understand the personal experience of the QBIPOC community. So, there may be things I say or do that may be offensive without me realizing it because I don’t have that same personal experience. I have heard so many stories repeatedly about the absurd, hurtful, and harmful things people (of all walks of life and ethnicities and backgrounds) have said to grievers – simply not knowing any better, which is why I am so passionate about educating about grief. Again, grief does not care who you are, where you’re from, or what you look like.

Empathy plays a major role in societal issues today, too. Because not everyone has the strength of empathy, which, yes, is a strength, some people have it more than others. Because of mental illness, some people may not have it at all or little of it. It’s not an excuse for behavior, but it is a reality for many people. It’s also a reality you cannot see just by looking at someone. When it comes to sharing the message (or argument) of understanding the difference between intention and impact, it’s also important to realize that all of us are a product of our upbringing. We don’t ask for the families, beliefs, or indoctrination we’re born into. We don’t ask for our skin color either. Every human goes about this world trying to find where each fits, all the while fighting individual internal demons and internal struggles. Not to mention ancestral grief passed down, stacked on top of all of the grief we accumulate over our lifetime as well.

Considering that in a study conducted in 2017 that states 792 million people worldwide (or slightly more than one in ten) live with a mental health disorder, screaming to the masses about intention versus impact isn’t ever going to solve anything. Also, there’s fascinating research on the brain that describes how, as newborns, our brains develop based on our environment. I recently listened to this podcast episode where Lisa Feldman Barrett, who is in the top one percent of most-cited scientists globally for her revolutionary research in psychology and neuroscience, shares more facts and fiction about the brain. I couldn’t help but think about how misunderstood so many people probably feel in our world due to our own internal wiring.

All of this being said, every one of us can treat everyone we meet with compassion. I can write from a place of compassion in my heart. You could look at someone and see them as a child, asking yourself how you would speak to that person if they were a child standing before you?

What if, instead of seeing how we’re different, we’d instead see each other as grievers and children who are products of our upbringing. And show and give compassion. Be open to hearing the stories of each other. Be open to learning and teaching from personal experiences rather than those of a group. And be open to connection.

Grief Is a Catalyst For Disconnection

The crux of connection? It’s tough to develop a connection to others as long as we’re disconnected from ourselves.

Do you feel like you’re going crazy?

Do you feel like a foreigner in your own body?

Do you feel uncomfortable in your own skin?

If you answered yes to these questions, you’re likely experiencing grief.

How, then, can you ever see others with compassion and be fully present in your own life if your own pain consumes you?

Many issues in our society today could be solved if each of us put the intention of healing into our own hearts and worried less about whatever everyone else is doing or saying.

When you have a broken bone, you don’t hesitate to go to the doctor. Regardless of the cost, you see a doctor who can help you heal your broken bone. When you have a tooth that is causing you so much pain you can’t sleep at night, you go to the dentist to rid yourself of the relentless pain. Why, then, would you not honor the pain in your heart the same way? A pill is not going to rid your heart of its emotional pain any more than if I gave you a Tylenol when you should have a root canal. The Tylenol may numb some of the pain, but it’s only a band-aid solution.

And, this is where grief recovery is different. It’s not a band-aid solution. Grief recovery gets to the root of the emotional pain. Grief recovery ends the daily suffering. Does it end the sadness when you think of the person? No. But, sadness, because you loved and lost, is a much different life experience than feeling the physical and psychological torture and suffering because of the loss. See the difference? This is also no different if the relationship was less than loving and whether they are dead or still living. We experience grief at 100%, too, when it was a toxic, harmful relationship. As a result, a griever can feel a loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations and things they wish would’ve been different, better, or more for the relationship.

You’re already suffering; you may as well suffer while moving your feet and taking action toward healing. 

If you believe that “we are one,” then look in the mirror, friend. What impacts one impacts all.

Grief Is a Ripple Creator, So Is Healing

Rising tides lift all boats.

Focus on raising your tide and watch the ripples of that in your life.

Find a way. It’s up to you.

And find support. It’s your individual choice to ask for help.

But, this notion that people need to understand the difference between intention and impact, “get woke,” or any other buzzphrase catching fire these days, is somewhat of a moot point if, all the while, people aren’t sweeping their own doorstep. In fact, I would argue that all of the outward screamings to the masses is an outcry of inner turmoil, a projecting of inner pain, and a whole lot of generational, ancestral, and personal grief imploding and exploding.

And, addressing all of that? Well, that’s an inside job.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: GRIEF IS OUR PANDEMIC. It always has been and forever will be until we become “woke” to that fact as individuals.

What is the impact of this post on your heart today? Did it stir up some emotions? I imagine it likely did.

The impact I hope to have and share is this: You have so much power within you to change the trajectory of your life, regardless of your circumstances and upbringing. People do not rise above their circumstances by accepting what was and what is. I have interviewed people from all walks of life and backgrounds for my podcast who have created a life of joy and are thriving, despite their upbringing, gender, geographic location, sexual preference, skin color, or grief they’ve experienced in their lives. Incredible humans have crossed my path, which took their life experience in their hands and took action in some way – to heal themselves – not their neighbor, best friend, spouse/significant other, brother, sister, parent, etc. – they addressed their own heart. And, if you need more examples (and does of inspiration) of people doing this from the direst of circumstances, head to a library to read books written by countless more who have done the same.

The impact you choose to have in your life is in your hands—no one else’s. Likewise, the grief you have in your life is yours alone to heal. And, when you’re ready to do that, I’m here for you.

I continue to do my own inner work, too. We are meant to evolve and grow. As one of my guests shared on the podcast recently: “When you lay, you decay.”

How about we work to, individually, create impact, with intentional healing, in our own lives. That’s when, I believe, we’ll start to see ripples of change. 

Sending you love and light today.

much love, victoria

P.S. Are you interested in hearing more on the topic of the ripples of grief and healing? I released a solo podcast episode on this topic in early March. And, if you want to hear grief described and defined in a way you’ve never heard it before (if you’re new here), then check out the other episode below, too.

One Question To Ask When You’re Suffering

one question to ask yourself when suffering

March was a chaotic and somewhat emotionally heavy month for me. I know I wasn’t alone, as several others I had spoken to throughout the month expressed their own version of chaos and emotional heaviness. Although we often create our own suffering, don’t we?

We procrastinate on having the tough conversations we know we need to have. All the while; stewing, brewing, and ruminating.

We don’t share our needs and then get upset when our unknown needs aren’t being met.

We don’t have boundaries but then get angry when we’re taken advantage of or taken for granted.

One of the best quotes I’ve heard in a long time was this:

The more you know yourself, the less likely you’ll look to others to tell you who you are. – Kristin Sherry

A part of knowing ourselves is having an awareness of our strengths, values, and how we’re wired. When we know these things about ourselves, and out of respect for ourselves, communicate from this inner-knowing, we can look at others and consider that they, too, have differing strengths, values, and are wired differently.

This week was another death-versary of my dad being gone, and this one felt a little heavier than usual. Perhaps it was the End-of-Life Doula training I recently finished or, the conversations I’ve been having for the podcast. Either way, “stuff” came up for me this week that I didn’t expect.

I journaled about what I was feeling and here is an excerpt:

…The past two years have been the most incredible period of growth for me. Had I not sought to sweep my own doorstep, I would have never realized my potential of being a healer and lightworker that is here to serve and be a beacon of hope. I would have continued to blame, point fingers, or be a victim. None of these behaviors woud have moved me forward. It is as if I had been driving my car of life while looking in the rearview mirror. What is done is done. I can’t change it. I can’t changed all that I’ve experienced since my dad died. It is what it is. But, I’m so glad I got tired of telling myself the lie that suffering was my destiny.

We live into the stories we tell ourselves. We fulfill our own prophecies if we believe them. If you come from a poor family and believe your life is one of being poor, you will live into that self-proclaimed prophecy of living a poor life. And, I don’t just mean monetarily. We fulfill our own prophecies of being poor in health, physical appearance, qualify (and quantity) of relationships, etc..

And, grief is the one thing we can rightfully blame. There is a lot of loss represented by the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations, and anything we wish would’ve been (or could be) different, better, or more. Add in and end of, or change, in familiar patterns of behavior and, that’s grief, too!

Grief makes us feel like we don’t have a choice. But, we do.

So this week, I looked at my sadness, wrote about it, listened to some inspiring podcasts, and realized something…

the compassion I so readily give to others, I needed to give to myself. 

And, after asking myself what would I say to a friend, I decided to take the day to do some things that bring me joy or lift my mood. I went on the treadmill, while listening to an inspiring podcast episode, took an extra-long shower, enjoyed a cup of tea and looked out the window (just BE-ing present), played with my pooch, Gizmo, and made a heartfelt, end of the first quarter donation, to the Fisher House for ND veterans and their families. My dad, a Vietnam vet, received his healthcare at the Fargo, ND VA Hospital after his colon cancer diagnosis. We could not be there as a family, as a place like the Fisher House did not exist. I’m so glad to see there will be a place for a family to be together.

What is the one question to ask yourself when you’re suffering? 

What would I say to my friend?

More often than not, the helpers of this world have the hardest time giving to themselves what is given to others so readily – compassion.

Give yourself compassion; speak to and treat yourself kindly.

As an empathic, compassionate person (compassion is also one of my top ten values), I need to remain mindful of when the compassion scale is tipping too heavily in one direction. This is so often why those in the helper, service-based roles (therapists, doctors, nurses, counselors, healers, etc.) often burnout. We want to serve and help, but the person we often forget to serve first is ourselves. There is a reason why, during my grief recovery training, there is specific education around what is known as “compassion fatigue.”

March was my lesson in compassion fatigue. I really had to assess my schedule and look at where I needed to step on the breaks. So, I created more breathing room at the end of March, and then the death-versary came, and so did fatigue out of seemingly nowhere. The body is always speaking to us, my friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new month, a new quarter, and I’m looking forward to implementing some of the things the first quarter taught me this year. I’m also looking forward to sharing what I learned about end-of-life and through YouMap®.

I will be incorporating YouMap® into my grief recovery one-on-one program. This will entail an increase in pricing to reflect additional sessions and knowledge/information that will be added, however, it will only make the grief recovery experience that much richer. You will know why you’re grieving the way you grieve, recognize trouble areas, and gain a greater understanding of how others in the same household are grieving differently (which doesn’t make them wrong). Knowing your YouMap® will also help you to see exactly where your pain points are, and together, we’ll work toward a solution after grief recovery in an additional session. It’s one thing to receive an assessment of your strengths, values, skills, and how you’re wired, but what I love most is, you learn what to do with the information; something every other assessment out there doesn’t address. And believe, me, I’ve taken a lot of them.

I’d like to close with a journal entry from this week:

If we’re traumatized in childhood, we grow to be traumatized (reactive) adults who often become people-pleasers. We become adults who lack self-confidence, self-worth, and inner-peace.

The past two years have been learning how to navigate these things and find inner-peace about what cannot be changed. And rather, bless the past, and continue to evolve and grow – use it for good in my life. Because, the only constant is change.

I want to share with others what I’ve learned and walk with them in their suffering. However, always with the intention of lighting the path forward when all feels lost. Taking the last bit of hope that a hurting heart has been white-knuckling and using it to UNLEASH their heart of the darkness of their pain and into the light of what’s possible.

And, to never forget – when you unleash your heart, you unleash your life. 

much love, victoria

Pain Is Inevitable: Suffering Is Optional

Pain is inevitable suffering is optional

Pain is inevitable: suffering is optional. – Haruki Murakami

The above quote is an old Buddhist saying. I’ve found it applicable to my life many times over; that’s especially true before grief recovery.

The hurts of life are inevitable. Each of us will find ourselves in situations that challenge our beliefs, values, or something happens where someone (or something) is taken from us. As we say in grief recovery, we’re taught how to acquire things (or people) but not what to do when we lose them.

No one enjoys affliction, discomfort, brokenness, physical pain, or emotional heartache. We weather many seasons throughout our lives, and it’s never enjoyable to be in the thick of the difficulties life presents to us.

What is the difference between pain and suffering? Do you believe there is one?

Suffering is different because it involves resistance to pain and usually involves attachments to outcomes. In grief recovery, grief is described as the loss of hopes, dreams, and expectations, and anything we wish would’ve been (or could be) different, better, or more. With that description, you can see where many of us have attachments to outcomes.

Pain is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. Suffering, however, is not a part of life, and we (more often than not), do it to ourselves. For example, let’s say we’re having a conversation, and I kick you in the shin. That would be painful, right? A couple of weeks later, you find yourself thinking about that and wondering why on earth I did that to you and may find yourself hurt all over again or even getting angry at the thought. The more you think about it, the more upset you get. Heck, I may as well be standing beside you and continually kicking you in the shin all over again. You find yourself ruminating in the story of what happened in the past in an event where you can’t change what happened but where you now can change how you feel about it. Choosing to ruminate and be angry and upset and replaying the story in your mind is causing unnecessary suffering to yourself.

We are all guilty of this. I know I am – even as recent as this past week. This is life, my friends. But, having the awareness around situations like this is where we then have a choice. Grief makes us feel like we don’t have a choice. But we always do. It’s important to experience all of the emotions that come up for us and not stuff or distract ourselves from what’s going on. However, it’s very empowering to know you’ve chosen a more self-serving path for yourself that honors how you’re feeling but yet, doesn’t prevent you from fully living in the moment. Allowing this unnecessary suffering robs us of living in the moment.

Perhaps I needed to write this blog post today to remind myself of this today. In fact, I know I did. I do feel so much better about a situation that is what it is. And, causing myself to stew and ruminate isn’t serving anyone. In fact, it’s left me feeling like I’ve been going a bit crazy lately; unable to focus or concentrate, loss of productivity, emotional rollercoaster of emotions, and yes – unnecessary suffering. It ends today. Today, I’m choosing to take the high road, to be true to who I am and in integrity for the compassionate and honest person I know I am. I will no longer allow that to be compromised by the situation. It is up to me to choose differently for me (and those who live with me, let’s be honest). At the end of my life, will I look back at this situation and think, “Gee, I sure wish I would’ve stewed about that for another year” or, “Well, I’m sure glad I took that blip in time and made it so much more important than it was.” Nope. It won’t matter then, so it shouldn’t carry that much weight on my heart now, either.

This brings me to my point with the phrase my husband brought up jokingly, “Time heals all wounds.” He knows this is a myth of grief because he’s married to a grief recovery specialist. In truth, time only passes. It’s the action we take within time that matters. Today, I am choosing to take a different action – of letting go of the suffering. It is not serving me. And, it certainly does not serve you, either.

much love, victoria

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