The Impact of Trauma on your Mind and Body

We carry our experiences with us 

Trauma is not just a category of experiences, it is also about our response to those experiences. An ongoing stressor can be a traumatic experience, as can the betrayal of trust in a relationship, a physical accident, or suddenly losing someone important to you. There is a broad range of events that are typically considered to be traumatic. It essentially refers to a wound.

We all have wounds.

What matters more than the event is how your mind and body responded to it both in the moment and afterward. If something from the past keeps popping up in your present-day life, it’s a good sign that the memory wasn’t properly processed or encoded like your other memories.

The degree of danger or intensity in an experience does not mean that someone will end up with PTSD. Humans all over the world experience awful, stressful things all the time, and not all of them continue to struggle with it. So why is that?

For a moment, think of humans as pots of water. We all start off with a different baseline of water (this relates to our biological predisposition and generational trauma). Then, life happens and water gets added. Throw in some heat, and the pots will start to boil over. Humans are similar. There are things that serve as buffers for us, that can help protect us from the unavoidable difficult parts of being human. So, maybe in this metaphor that would look like someone present in the kitchen attending to the pot. There is nothing wrong with a pot of water that boils over. It is just a result of the capacity and the events that unfold.

Trauma + your Mind

Trauma creates changes in how your mind responds to stress, and it also changes the functioning of your midbrain (amygdala, hippocampus, and hypothalamus). Trauma can impair the functioning of your limbic system; which is involved in our emotional and behavioral responses, memory storage and retrieval, motivation, and learning. It can also impair our HPA axis, its role is to manage the effects of stress as well as our metabolism, immune system, and autonomic nervous system.

So, what does that mean?

It means that after experiencing a single or multiple incident(s), or on-going stressors your brain adjusts accordingly. In order to protect itself, the brain breaks up pieces of stressful memories instead of fully processing them. This is why you notice things we call triggers or flashbacks. Details like colors, sounds, smells, or images that are similar to a part of the fragmented memory will create a response as if the past experience were happening again in the present moment. On the flip side, trauma can also impair your ability to remember traumatic memories or important parts of the memory. These are normal changes in response to stressful and difficult experiences. Your brain does what it needs to in order to survive, not necessarily in order to return to your previous way of being.

You may notice yourself either being over-reactive (feeling on edge or overwhelmed) or under-reactive (numb and disconnected). Difficulty navigating heightened emotions, having a hard time getting in touch with positive emotions, or increased feelings of shame, guilt, self-blame, and despair are common emotional experiences.

Your mind’s perception of yourself, others, or the world around you often changes. You may notice yourself having a hard time feeling calm or resting. That is because your mind has been primed, or overly prepared itself for impending danger. This can show up as feeling on-edge, startling more easily, and feeling overly sensitive to your environment. Or the other end of the spectrum, this can be experienced as shutting down easily, feeling detached from yourself or disconnected from your environment, or feeling like you’re living in a fog.

“Let’s say you always considered your driving time as “your time”—and your car as a safe place to spend that time. Then someone hits you from behind at a highway entrance. Almost immediately, the accident affects how you perceive the world, and from that moment onward, for months following the crash, you feel unsafe in any car. You become hypervigilant about other drivers and perceive that other cars are drifting into your lane or failing to stop at a safe distance behind you. For a time, your perception of safety is eroded, often leading to compensating behaviors (e.g., excessive glancing into the rearview mirror to see whether the vehicles behind you are stopping) until the belief is restored or reworked. Some individuals never return to their previous belief systems after a trauma, nor do they find a way to rework them—thus leading to a worldview that life is unsafe. Still, many other individuals are able to return to organizing core beliefs that support their perception of safety.” (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2014).

Another difficulty may show up in your relationships, especially if you’ve experienced relational trauma. This can look like pulling away from friends and family, difficulty trusting, avoiding people in order to avoid reminders of your experiences, or for fear of burdening or negatively impacting others.

Trauma + your Body

Our entire being operates through systems and these systems are interconnected. So, just as trauma leaves its mark on our minds it also impacts our physical body as well.

“Diagnostic criteria for PTSD place considerable emphasis on psychological symptoms, but some people who have experienced traumatic stress may present initially with physical symptoms. Thus, primary care may be the first and only door through which these individuals seek assistance for trauma-related symptoms. Moreover, there is a significant connection between trauma, including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and chronic health conditions. Common physical disorders and symptoms include somatic complaints; sleep disturbances; gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and dermatological disorders; urological problems; and substance use disorders.” (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2014).

The nervous system is one of the links between our minds and our body. Your nervous system’s primary job is to constantly scan your inner and outer environment for cues of safety or cues of danger. Trauma can result in encoding neutral cues, or even cues typically encoded as safe, as dangerous. Which can mean that you may logically understand that you are safe, or that you are in a situation where nothing is wrong, but your body may be telling you the opposite.

Our bodies are always sending us signals and attempting to communicate with us, we just may not always understand what it’s trying to say. I’ve seen a quote floating around lately that says; listen to your body when it whispers, and you won’t have to hear it scream. If you’ve experienced something traumatic, your body also holds these memories mostly in its muscles and fascia. That is, until it can be released. For some, this presents itself through pain or muscle tension.

“The majority of the body’s systems are adversely affected by trauma. Specifically, there is a significant disruption to gastrointestinal functioning, the cardiovascular system, immunological functioning, the reproductive system, the musculoskeletal system, neuroendocrine functioning, and finally brain structure and functioning. Not only are these systems broadly affected by symptoms, but the risk factors for development of future medical disease are exponentially greater following exposure to trauma” (D’Andrea, et al., 2011).

Let’s talk about healing 〰

Healing our wounds happens in waves.

Some trauma healing happens just by getting ourselves to a state of stability. We want to hone in on increasing feelings of safety first. With any traumatic experience, we had needs that didn’t get met — things that shouldn’t have happened or things that should have and didn’t. In order to do the deeper processing, we need to feel safe and rooted enough to go there.

Some trauma healing happens through re-connecting. Re-connecting with your body, re-connecting with your sense of self, re-connecting with others. We can use the mind-body connection to help reconnect you in to your body and your memories with tools to help support you in the moments when things feel too much.

Finding practices that help you feel safe, connected, and embodied are a good place to start.

The next wave of healing entails going deeper. This is best done with a trauma-informed therapist. Brainspotting, parts work, somatics, and self-compassion is my favorite combination when working with trauma. In order to allow your brain to reprocess these memories and allow your nervous system to regulate, we need a tool that allows us to go beyond our conscious awareness of these wounds.


If nothing else, know this. Your mind and your body are always trying to do the best they can for you and if you’ve experienced trauma all these symptoms are just signs that will take us exactly where we need to go. Healing is possible, I promise (:

Functional Neurological Disorder: The Silent Illness

What Is Functional Neurological Disorder?

The exact cause of FND is unknown, however it involves a problem with the body’s nervous system. Historically, the onset of FND was associated with physical or emotional trauma, although many people living with FND don’t report a history of trauma.

Symptoms can include motor dysfunction, seizures, vision and speech difficulties, and paralysis. FND is classified as a mental health condition but because it involves both neurology and psychiatry, it can take a long time to be correctly diagnosed.

What people should know about this disorder:


The disorder impacts us physically and mentally.The symptoms are very real and every symptom is actually happening.


legs would start feeling numb, whole body would start twitching; whole body would literally stop functioning. It’s like an off switch where you suddenly can’t control your movements or anything you’re doing.’


Our movements and mobility can fluctuate from minute to minute.


FND can have the same debilitating symptoms as seen in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, yet many health professionals lack knowledge and understanding of this condition. This can result in a lack of appropriate treatment, reduced support and feelings of isolation, and lead to enormous distress.


From an arm that shakes constantly, from just tapping to uncontrollable, huge movements; legs that don’t work; pain, uncontrollable emotions, not wanting to go out because of how people look at you or the fear of having a seizure in public.’


Family and friends need knowledge, understanding, help and support. Lack of understanding and acceptance by family and friends increases the feelings of isolation. FND doesn’t just affect our lives; it can have a major impact on our loved ones.


”None of us knew this could or would happen to us. Virtually overnight, our life changed and becomes so hard that even getting out of bed can be tough.”


FND can destroy a person’s ability to work; socialize; make plans; and participate fully in life. It becomes a very lonely and isolating illness.


‘I recognise now that my body needs more rest than the average person. I can’t work 9 to 5 like my friends and family. Initially I couldn’t accept my limitations, but now I remind myself to treat my condition with care and stop comparing myself to others and society’s expectations when they lack understanding about this mysterious condition.’


People are suffering and struggling every day, and no one knows how long it will take to recover from the illness, or if we will ever recover.

18 Life Principles For Greater Living

Life principles to guide you in this life.

1. Love More

Not just people or things, but yourself. Many of life’s problems result from a lack of self-love. To love more means to connect with the deeper intelligence that guides your being. You are the embodiment of love, irrespective of whether you’re hurt or betrayed. Set aside those feelings and know that you are the ocean swimming in a sea of love. Drown yourself in it.

2. Be Vigilant With Your Thoughts

Be mindful of your thoughts and don’t let them consume you. Do you think uplifting thoughts or are they filled with self-doubt and pessimism? Do you look for the silver lining in situations, or do you consider what could go wrong? Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? Despite people’s beliefs, our thoughts are not fixed. They’re shaped by being aware of them and not believing everything you think.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Bring your thoughts to the forefront of your mind and resist being a victim to unconscious behaviors. Mindfulness invites you to bring your attention to what’s taking place in your life instead of reliving past events. It means connecting with the present moment instead of being a victim to the past.

4. Regular Personal Development

Immerse yourself in inspiring material that encourages you to become someone of character. If we don’t shower, brush our teeth, or exercise, we fall victim to destructive habits and pay the price in illness. People claim since they can’t see the benefits of personal development, everything is fine.

5. Attitude Is Everything

Your attitude is more important than your outlook, because it influences how you show up in life. How is a positive attitude developed? By overcoming life’s obstacles rather than retreating from them. As you approach life with courage, you overcome your fears that once crippled you.

6. Be Of Service To Others

We all have a purpose, some discover it early in life while sadly, others die with a song in their heart. You can be of service to others in the smallest way through your thoughts, words, and actions. You needn’t lend your time to charities to be of service, although it’s helpful. Give of your time and resources by enriching other people’s lives. Even sending peaceful thoughts to another person is a step in the right direction.

7. Character Is More Important Than Reputation

Your reputation can be destroyed in moments, while character takes a lifetime to build. Consider celebrities involved in scandals who squander their character and reputation. Be mindful of whom you’re becoming. Don’t forsake this for a reputation that lasts a fraction of the time to build good character.

8. Let Go Of Worry, Fear, And Anxiety

Have you noticed that what you worry about rarely happens? We’re notorious for fabricating stories to protect us in case such events transpire. Yet if we continue down this path, we will attract these circumstances because of the energy devoted to it. Replace negativity with enriching thoughts that bring you closer to the life you wish to live.

9. Make Peace With The Past

To avoid excess baggage in the future, we need to heal the past. You’ve heard it said that the past is a figment of your imagination and no longer exists. Reliving the past derails a bright future because your mind is stuck dwelling on something no longer relevant.

10. Happiness Comes From Within

The biggest fraud sold to mankind is that happiness is attained via success, fame, wealth, or a suitable partner. Yet one need only look to people who have these things and are still unfulfilled, sometimes depressed. If you’re unhappy and gain wealth, you’ll continue to be unhappy because having more of these things amplifies what is lacking.

11. Surround Yourself With Great People

Especially those who bring out the best in you. If we lack self-esteem, we attract like-minded people. They are likely to notice the disowned parts within us we disapprove of. The other person will then reflect this through their interaction with us and we retaliate to prove them wrong. Surround yourself with people who see your greater qualities and don’t take you for granted.

12. Be Here And Now

Stop worrying about the future until it arrives. We worry about circumstances and miss out on the aliveness of the present moment. The future never arrives as we expect, so it’s pointless to worry about something that exists as thoughts. It’s wise to have goals, dreams, and ambitions. Yet if we’re not aligned with the motivation to accomplish these things, when they arrive it will not be as we expect. This is how a midlife crisis ensues because our vision of the future does not match reality.

13. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude means to appreciate what you have in your life instead of what is lacking. We can focus on the negative or positive, and either way we’re right. One brings unfavorable circumstances, while the other carries positive aspects. Be grateful for the smallest things because somewhere, someone is longing for what you take for granted.

14. Forgive Yourself And Others

Forgiveness is a doorway to heal the past. Many people forgive others, yet they’re unable to forgive themselves. I invite you to start with yourself first. Forgive yourself completely and open the window for love to heal. Remember, forgiveness does not mean to forget; it means to see the past in a new light.

15. Practice Acceptance And Detachment

Acceptance means not resisting what’s taking place in your life. Irrespective whether it’s an unfortunate situation, it can pave the way for something wonderful to transpire. Detachment means to distance ourselves from a desired outcome and allow circumstances to play out until the complete picture has emerged. Only then do we realize everything that takes place unfolds as it should, for our greater purpose.

16. Honor Your Feelings

Medical doctors now realize the harmful effects of toxic emotions which can lead to illness. Perhaps you were told not to express your emotions, apparent in cultures where it’s viewed as a sign of weakness. To connect with your emotions invites you to honor your feelings and express them in a healthy way. This doesn’t mean acting on your feelings of anger. Rather, investigate what the anger is seeking to represent.

17. Discover And Live Your Purpose

People who live their purpose lead healthier and robust lives. They’re happy pursuing that which makes their spirit come alive. There’s a purpose within you waiting to reveal itself. Dependent on your age, you may have realized it or are still discovering it. The key is to experiment until you find a purpose that resonates with you. Your purpose will bring joy to your life and those you serve.

18. Be Kind To Everyone You Meet

We’re often unaware how tough some people have it until we get an insight in to their story. Don’t judge people like an oil painting because there’s greater depth to a person than you realize. We don’t get an impression of them until we really know them or walk in their shoes. Assume the best in everyone until they prove otherwise. Be kind and withhold judgement, since that only defines you as a critic.

This Is How You Start To Let Go, Even If You Don’t Feel Like You’re Ready Yet

You cannot force yourself to let go, no matter how much you know you want to.

You cannot force something out of your brain space, no matter how much you don’t want it to be there.

You cannot just simply loosen your grip and relax a little and will yourself to stop thinking entirely about something around which your entire world used to orbit.

This is not how it goes.

You are not going to let go the moment someone tells you to “move on,” the day you realize you have to admit certain defeat, the heart-dropping second it occurs to you that hope is, indeed, futile.

You do not let go by simply willing yourself not to care anymore. This is something that people who have never been really, really hung up on something think. This is something that people who have never been deeply attached to something for a sense of safety and security and love and their future believe.

There is nothing wrong with you because you almost get angry when people tell you to just “let go” so nonchalantly, as though they couldn’t fathom the storms in your head and heart.

How can you become so passive about something you have spent so much of your time, and your life, actively working to maintain and restore?

You can’t.

You don’t.

You start to let go the day you take one step toward building a new life, and then let yourself lay and stare at the ceiling and cry for as many hours as you need.

You start to let go the day you realize that you cannot continue to revolve around a missing gap in your life, and going on as you were before will simply not be an option.

You start to let go the moment you realize that this is the impetus, this is the catalyst, this is that moment the movies are made about and the books are written around and songs are inspired by.

This is the moment you realize that you will never find peace standing in the ruins of what you used to be.

You can only move on if you start building something new.

You let go when you build a new life so immersive and engaging and exciting, you slowly, over time, forget about the past.

When we try to force ourselves to “let go” of something, we grip onto it tighter, and harder, and more passionately than ever before. It’s like if someone tells you to not think of a white elephant; that’s the only thing you’ll be able to focus on.

Our hearts work the same way as our minds in this regard. As long as we are telling ourselves that we must let go, the more deeply we feel attached.

So don’t tell yourself to let go.

Instead, tell yourself that you can cry for as long as you need. That you can fall to pieces and be a mess and let your life collapse and crumble. Tell yourself that you can let your foundation fall through.

What you will realize is that you are still standing.

What you build in the wake and the aftermath of loss will be so profound, so stunning, you will realize that maybe, the loss was part of the plan. Maybe it awakened a part of you that would have remained dormant had you not been pushed the way you were.

If you are certain that you cannot let go of what is hurting you, then don’t.

But take one step today, and then another tomorrow, to rebuild a new life for yourself. Piece by piece, day by day.

Because sooner or later, you’re going to go an hour and realize you didn’t think about them, or it. Then a day, then a week… and then years and swaths of your life drift by and everything you thought would break you becomes a distant memory, something you look back at and smile.

Everything you lose becomes something you are profoundly grateful for. With time, you see that it was not the path. It was what was standing in your way.

Congratulate Yourself—You Are Stronger Than You Ever Imagined

It starts out a day like any other. Everything is on track until a bombshell turns your world upside down. Everything is good and beautiful until the news poisons the mirage. Everything is going well—until all of a sudden, it’s not.

I remember thinking throughout my journey that I could never ever stand tall as weak was all I could be. Standing tall felt honestly like an insurmountable task. I wanted the floor to absorb me most days. All I could think was ”I wished I knew how to be soft yet strong, too”.

I did not know it then, did not know it until many months or even a couple of years later; in my weakest moment, I was the most strong. Out of my most fragile state, the broken pieces stitched themselves back together from fibers of heartache and steel.

You see, when you feel like your world is ending; when you feel like you are shattered beyond repair and that you will never be okay again; this is where the magic happens.

It is only in your most honest moments, it is only when you feel utterly exposed, it is only when you are stripped bare of everyone and everything that has comprised the construct of who you are, that you can truly transform. Observe, learn, grow. You are the only one who can unbreak yourself. It is out of the ashes that your strongest self emerges bright with resolve.

Weak? You were never weak. To be raw is real. To be open is to be courageous. To be vulnerable is to be brave. You turned out to be stronger than you ever could have imagined. Your heart is a garden, and within it blooms strength.

You’re Allowed To Thrive

You’re allowed to thrive.

You’re allowed to dig deep into your soul and find the things that lift you up and give you purpose and feed them. You’re allowed to nourish them and cultivate them in your own life each and every day. You don’t have to wait for someone to give you permission to begin. You don’t have to coast by, you don’t have to fly under the radar, you don’t have to live in a way that doesn’t let people see your shine – you are allowed to flourish.

You are allowed to thrive.

Yes, you.

You’re allowed to thrive in a marriage or a partnership that makes you want to lasso the moon. You’re allowed to wait for the kind of love that sticks. You’re allowed to wait for that person who feels like home, and your best friend, and your biggest cheerleader all rolled into one human being. I hope you hear me when I say that you do not have to merely settle into your marriage or your forever partnership.

You don’t have to settle for struggle – you’re allowed to thrive.

You’re allowed to thrive in a career that makes you feel excited to get up for work every day. It’s ok to want something that fills your heart and your bank account with meaning. It’s ok to wish that the two would co-exist. (They can.) Just as you wouldn’t settle for the great love of your life, I hope you wouldn’t settle for a career that leaves you empty, either. Let yourself shine in the skills that you have, and stop beating yourself up if you flounder within that discovery. It happens to the best of us. The trick is not believing the lie that you will flounder forever – you don’t have to. You’re allowed to thrive.

I’m not telling you that there won’t be moments of struggle. Of course, there will be. There will be moments of struggle, and moments of floundering. There will be moments when you think that you’ll never break through the surface or see the sun again. The key is remembering that you don’t have to stay hidden beneath the dirt for forever. You were built to grow, to bloom, to blossom and to flourish.

You were made to thrive.

Sometimes Pain Is The Best Way To Learn What’s Important

Disappointments, pain and suffering are probably the hardest ways to learn any lesson but if I’m being honest, they’re the best ways to learn what’s important.

That gut-wrenching feeling in the depth of your heart, those uncontrollable tears, that moment of utter despair when you feel like you have failed yourself or you were taken advantage of or the temporary brain freeze after a shocking reality of a situation or a person, these are the moments you actually need to never let yourself stoop to that level again. This feeling will haunt you every time you face a similar situation, like an alarm bell that goes off every time you’re in danger and it will remind you of how you felt, what you went through, how long it took to get over it and in that moment, you’ll realize what’s important. You’ll put yourself first. You’ll promise yourself never to feel that way again.

You’ll get disappointed in a lot of people but that’s how you’ll learn not to make excuses for the ones you care about if they’re not treating you with respect. You’ll learn not to give someone the benefit of the doubt if they’re constantly giving you reasons to doubt them. You’ll learn that you don’t have much left in your tank for people who are in your life for the wrong reasons. You’ll finally learn how to say goodbye and drive off alone.

Your life will not always teach you the important lessons in a tender way and maybe that’s not how you’re supposed to learn such life-changing lessons. That’s why the things that shake us up the most are things that live with us. The incidents that change us and the circumstances that force us to face our fears, our demons or our weaknesses do not come in a subtle and comforting way, they come in like a storm wiping away everything you once knew and believed in. They come in and reverse everything so you can see things from a whole new perspective.

And maybe it’s a little unfair that every time we have to learn something so valuable, we have to go through a hurricane of emotions or our lives have to fall apart but if it will save us from a lifetime of the same disappointments or mistakes, then maybe it’s worth it.

If pain is an inevitable part of life, then the least we could do is try to minimize it. We may not be able to get it right every time or sniff the pain from miles away and run but maybe we can armor ourselves with tools like strength, resilience, wisdom, logic and faith so we can protect ourselves from the severity of that pain or the agony of these tragedies.

Maybe we don’t pick our pain or our suffering but we can pick how to cope with them, we go back to those hard lessons and we remember what’s important, we remember what’s worth suffering for and pick ourselves up again faster every time because we’re well equipped. We’re well prepared.