How to Heal from Emotional Trauma

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Trauma is a big and loaded word. In this post I am writing from my own experience of emotional trauma, and my healing journey, as experienced as an adult.

We often think of trauma in the frame of PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) which occurs when an individual experiences a terrifying and earth shattering event, such a war zone. However we all experience trauma to a greater or lesser extent in our lives through our relationships, life choices and painful events. It’s also worth mentioning that what is traumatic to some, may not be to others, we have different nervous systems and different ways of perceiving the world and what happens to us.

My most extreme experience of trauma was in my relationship with a long term partner. During the relationship there were toxic and destructive dynamics which led to the end of the relationship, by which time I was utterly depleted. The somewhat messy ending and aftermath was additionally traumatic, resulting in an emotional breakdown and eventually the onset of an autoimmune disorder; physical breakdown. My life ground to an abrupt halt in many ways and I was forced to focus on my healing.

Looking back now I can make sense of what happened and how the breakdown was inevitable, although at the time I was spinning trying to understand and hold myself together. My body getting sick was perfect because I absolutely needed to take a big time-out to heal and learn crucial lessons.

During the height of the breakdown my nervous system was high alert 24/7, I had panic attacks when I left the house, I was anxious all the time, I was medicated…I was a mess. Here are some of the tools I used to facilitate my healing:

Journaling

Now when I say journaling, this was no ordinary journaling, I was desperately trying to make sense of my life and hold onto any shred of hope and positivity I could. I would write down positive experiences I had, nice things people said to me and affirmations. I would also write down what I was learning; how this situation had happened and revelations from work with healers and coaches. I took my journal with me everywhere and the most important part was re-reading what I had written. I used it to remind myself that there was hope, there was goodness and there were people and a universe who loved me.

Healing professionals

A huge part of my healing process was working with healers and teachers, such as reiki practitioners, massage therapists, doctors, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists and intuitive coaches. In my opinion, deep healing requires some external support and guidance. The time and money spent on these experts was invaluable to my health and wellbeing and to learning the soul lessons, which are offered to us in abundance during the darkest of times.

Connecting with and receiving support from the people in my life 

When we are at our most vulnerable, we are also at our most open. I had a number of incredibly touching and healing experiences with family members, neighbours and even total strangers. For example I went to have tea with a neighbour who I didn’t know very well, but I knew she was a kind and spiritual person. She offered to talk me through a type of meditation to receive clear guidance from God, which I readily accepted. It was so vivid and so meaningful, it gave me hope and love and gratitude.

Surrendering to the greater, loving power

I had my fair share of ‘come to Jesus’ or ‘on my knees on the bathroom floor’ moments. Those times in the dark night of the soul when you are utterly at a loss as what to do, how to cope and how to bear this pain. It’s in these times that we realise we cannot do this alone, that living life from our very limited ego self (or mind self) is futile, exhausting and impossible. When we have tried everything and we have nothing left, we throw our hands up to God/ the Universe/ our angels (or whatever you call the divine power of creation) and surrender control, asking for help and healing. This was hands down the most healing and life altering experience of my healing process. To learn that I wasn’t in this alone, that there is a loving force that is guiding me and holding me, even when it feels like all is lost.

It is my most heartfelt hope that some of these suggestions, and sharing a little of my story, will help and encourage you if you are going through pain and trauma. Please do feel free to reach out and tell me your story or ask questions about mine – I want to serve and support you.

Sending so much love x

Image credit: Pottercounceling.com

Loosening your grip…

Hands

I have been noticing an interesting fact recently – we can hold more in our hands if they loosely open than when they are gripping tightly. In a practical sense, this is true. I noticed it when I was preparing my epsom salt bath, I tend to add epsom salts to my bath almost every day, I find it clears away the stagnant and cluttered energy and soothes my body – I love it! So I bought a HUGE tub of epsom salts which is a couple of feet from the bath, so to add the salt to the bath I pick it up in my hands. To start with I grabbed a handful closed my fist around it to carry it to the bath. After doing this a couple of times I realised I wasn’t being effective (I like a lot of epsom salt in my bath!). So I tried to hold my hand in the gesture of receiving, as you can see in the picture, and pick up the salt this way. I could hold so much more and was much more efficient! Hallelujah!

I know what you’re thinking..wtf is she talking about?! And why do I care about her ‘salt tub to bath’ life issues? Well because it struck me that it was such a good lesson for our lives as a whole; when we grab at the things we want, when we try to hold onto them very tightly, the amount (abundance) we can hold is much more limited than when we open our hands to receive in an open and relaxed way.

We can apply this to so many areas of our lives, when we hold on super tight in a relationship for example we often experience the other person moving away a little as the energy we are putting out is a little grasping. If we are in sales and we are hounding people to commit to a call or a purchase, as if our lives depended on it, they tend to back off because the vibe we are giving out is off-putting and annoying.

Similarly if we are working on manifesting and creating what our heart’s desire in our lives the more we hold on tight to the specific outcome we want, the more the universe backs away because our energy is pushing it away. However if we keep our intention strong and our vision consistently clear AND allow our energetic hands to be open, we receive even more abundance than we had imagined.

This is a lesson for me, as much as it for you. It seems counter to so much of what we are taught and what’s in the media in the West ‘hustle, hustle, hustle’ and ‘chase after what you want’. But it’s such an important lesson to learn and practice in order to allow our dreams to be made manifest through us.

The magic is in setting your intention, clearing the space to receive it (e.g. getting rid of old negative beliefs and thought patterns), taking inspired action and letting go of your attachment to the outcome; holding your hands out to the universe in a gesture of receiving, having faith that what you seek is seeking you, rather than grasping at what you want and squeezing the life out of it.

Photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

Your heart knows the way…

Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. – Rumi

I remember my aunt telling me how beautiful and raw I was very soon after my marriage ended. I felt like I was on fire and like a total mess; sleep walking through each day and at times being in so much pain that I felt like I could spontaneously combust or break apart into little pieces. I had an inkling of what she meant then and now it’s much clearer; she was talking about the inescapable open woundedness that leaves ones heart completely bare and undefended during a very painful experience. Quite simply a heart and a soul that is open and raw allows a level of connection that is usually not available. It is beautiful and also magnetising.

It is this that people are referring to when they talk of the most exquisite beauty being found in the midst of the most unbearable pain. We are cracked open and the depth to which experiences are allowed to penetrate us is far greater than when we have our day-to-day, must get things done, ‘everything’s fine’ armour on.

I’ve recently been very busy and caught up in the day-to-day, I have been aware that my current day-to-day feels like it requires relatively hefty armour. By armour I mean the layers we feel we need to protect ourselves with in order to remain upright, functioning and achieving. Today I took some time to lay my armour down, to allow what usually must stay under wraps to have the floor. It didn’t feel comfortable and it didn’t feel good in the moment, because what I feel I must hide behind my armour is my pain and sensitivity and suffering.

However what I’ve noticed is that when we armour up to hide the parts of us we feel are not pleasant or acceptable to the wider world, we also shut out what could touch us deeply. The armour hides our dark shadowy aspects, but also blocks the exquisite beauty of deep connection to our hearts. It’s only when we put the armour down and allow all of ourselves to be seen and felt, that we are fully able to see and feel the majesty that surrounds us.

In this armourless state I read the Rumi quote above and my breath was caught by the simple beauty and meaning of these two lines; Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. I was touched in a way that most other days I wouldn’t have been, I would have scrolled on past without much thought or presence. It felt good.

I’d like to leave you with my favourite Rumi quote, one that has been my constant mantra in very difficult times:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

The third way…

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I have been thinking a lot about ‘the third way’ recently. I was listening to a podcast a few months ago and the subject was about complex loss, such as when a loved one goes missing and there are no answers as to what happened to them. Dealing with these traumatic emotions and grief is somewhat different to more clearly defined loss, like a death from natural causes. During the conversation they discussed closure, whether it can be achieved after a complex loss, they said closure is not necessarily the aim or the end result, that there is a third way. The third way in this instance was rather than be swallowed by the grief and stay in the obsession of the loss, or shut it out in an attempt to reach ‘closure’, there is a messy, uncomfortable, but more authentic, third way. This third way is acknowledging the suffering and feeling the painful emotions, along with reaching for and moving towards the future without necessarily having a sense of closure. Can you feel in that description the third way feels vulnerable and messy, and yet honest and real?

In so many cases the third way is the way of healing and most true way to move through challenging times. In my case I have been trying to reconcile, in my mind and heart, a failed marriage; it was toxic and painful, but there was deep love and connection. The first way to process it could be; it was toxic therefore it was bad and unhealthy so chalk it up to a negative experience – put it in the ‘bad’ box. The second way could be; the love was so deep that I may never get over it, or feel that way again, the love of my life is lost, wallowing in the loss. And then there’s the much messier, but more authentic third way; there were parts that were unhealthy and toxic, they were bad. There were parts that were magical and loving, they were good. There is no box to put it in, it moves between the two extremes. This means there is no closure per se, it’s an ongoing organic process; there are happy memories which can hurt because it’s over, and there are painful, angry memories which can bring relief that the situation isn’t current anymore.

The third way runs between the first and second ways, which are both the more extreme options. The third way combines the two, it’s therefore a meandering path that traverses both sides without a pre-planned route or destination. This is what makes the third way so uncomfortable for us humans; we like to know exactly where we’re going and how to get there. I feel it’s so important to honour both the beauty and the pain, to feel the full spectrum of the feelings and flow with the third way.

This concept of the third way is applicable in so many facets of life; politics, health, the environment, day-to-day experience. For example when it comes to drinking alcohol, we have a growing binge drinking problem in the UK; large numbers of people don’t drink during the week then drink as much as they can at the weekend. Both of these are extremes; no alcohol and all the alcohol. The third way is the way of moderation, in this case it might be having a few drinks a couple of times a week. You often hear people say they find it possible to either not drink at all, or binge drink, that the discipline of moderation is the most difficult. You see the same when it comes to food; people yo-yoing between eating whatever they want, often to excess, then going on very restrictive diets in an attempt to counter balance the excess. When in actual fact the balanced approach of listening to your body and eating what you need, with some treats thrown in for fun, is the healthiest approach.

In Buddhism it is called the middle way; The Middle Way refers to the Buddha’s enlightened view of life and also the actions or attitudes that will create happiness for oneself and others. It is the rejection of extremes, which is depicted in the story of Shakyamuni; he first lathered himself in luxury, then deprived himself of everything, he realised neither extreme would take him any closer to spiritual enlightenment. ‘In his rejection of both self-mortification and self-indulgence, Shakyamuni awakened to the true nature of life—its eternity, its deep wellspring of unbounded vitality and wisdom.’

The Cambridge English Dictionary explains ‘the third way’ as a political movement in which the development of business is balanced with the needs of society. It is proposed to be the third way between capitalism and socialism. Taking the example of American politics at the moment, in some ways its easier for people dehumanise President Trump and his followers, and even hate them, than it is for them to have their own opinions and at the same time have compassion for, and see the humanness in, the opposition.

The tricky thing is choosing either extreme can often feel more exhilarating; there is usually adrenaline associated with the high of excess, and there may even be a sense of accomplishment in the extreme of denial. Taking the third way can feel unstimulating, boring and overly measured. There are of course circumstances which require an extreme response; a high level of adrenaline and life or death commitment to a cause. For example it took a World War to neutralise the threat and horrifying atrocities committed on behalf of Hitler.

I’m sure you can think of many circumstances, in your own life and globally, where navigating a third way between the extremes would bring more peace and healing. However as we have seen it’s not necessarily the easy option for us, in most cases it takes discipline, vulnerability and radical honesty. Cultivating this third way in our own lives, in our own struggles, and on a global scale, is a worthy practice. It will feel messy and uncomfortable, the path may not be clear, but it is where we find wisdom, acceptance and true healing.

Just because you’re doing nothing, doesn’t mean nothing is being done


My very special mentor once said to me ‘just because you’re doing nothing, doesn’t mean nothing is being done’. This phrase has been playing over and over in my head recently; it means we don’t only have to rely on our own individual actions or power to create and experience life, we have the whole universe to support us. 

This concept is pertinent at the moment because I’m in a place where I need to wait, be patient and be very gentle with myself, rather than steaming ahead taking bucket loads of action. Don’t get me wrong, taking action is essential and wonderful, but there are also times when it’s in our highest good to step back and slow down to create space and a sense of peace. Even if we want to create something amazing and huge, you could argue especially if you want to create something huge, allowing space for the universe to birth it through you is a key part of the manifestation process. 

I have been talking about this with one of my clients recently; she is creating a beautiful, soulful business and she feels guided to slow down and drop into the feminine energy of allowing, rather than the masculine energy of pushing. I can totally relate; I’m a doer, proactive and if there’s a problem or a goal I want to ‘do’ something about it. Doing makes me feel like I’ve achieved something, like I’m moving forward, like I’m a little bit more deserving of what it is that I want. But at this time I’m being strongly guided to ‘do’ less and ‘be’ more. 

Some of the things I do to create space and slow down are; watch tv for as long as I feel like, take a walk with no destination and in no hurry, take my time to cook a beautiful meal just for me, lie on my bed with my cats doing nothing, meditate, practice yoga, read a novel, have a bath with no distractions, daytime naps (my favourite!). 

Sometimes doing less and giving myself time to just do nothing, or do things which feel good but are unproductive in a practical sense, feels very uncomfortable for me. My mind can start to get anxious that I haven’t done enough, that I’m missing an opportunity, that there’s no forward motion. When I do allow myself space, time and stop doing for a while, I can feel my creativity blossoming and all the cells in my body start to hum with a contented peacefulness. It feels good! And feeling good is the best possible space from to attract what you most want into your life, according to the Law of Attraction.

It takes a little faith, patience and surrender to really create the space inside of you, and in your life, for the universe to come along and fill it up with more than you could have ever imagined. Not to mention you get to feel like you’re on a bed of marshmallows surrounded by chocolate fountains of ease and grace along the way 😉 

📷 credit The Londoner 

Guides, change and butterflies 

Butterflies signify change or spiritual transformation. The Native Americans associated change and vibrancy with butterflies because of the incredible transformation they undergo from caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful, winged butterfly.

I’ve been seeing a lot of butterflies recently; on cards, in the park, carvings on benches and all sorts. To me this is a message from my guides that change is coming, and is needed. Change can be scary and unsettling, however the sight of a darting, colourful butterfly reminds me that change can also be magical and create a sense of freedom for me. A much desired freedom! 

All you need to do is ask your guides for guidance, ask them for a sign, to gain their support. Then be open and present to notice it when it comes. If you have a decision to make or a problem you’re turning over and over in your head, ask for the support of the universe and your guides to show you which direction to move in. 

You don’t need to know what all the animals in the world signify, or anything in particular, they will send you signs that you can understand. They won’t always seem logical, however, and it’s up to you to follow the guidance of you choose. Repeating signs are a clear message from your guides, such as me seeing butterflies everywhere. 

Try it – ask your guides to support you – see what happens… 

With so much love, Gemma 💖

How do you manifest your dream life? 


Do you ever have the feeling that you’re on a merry-go-round and not really getting any closer to what you really want? That it feels just out of reach; the job, the relationship, the ideal body?

If I were to ask you to explain to me exactly what it is you desire, what it looks like, what it feels like – would you be able to tell me? So often we have an idea of what we want e.g. A family or a well paid job. But we are not very clear on exactly what that is.

When we give our ‘order’ for what we most want in life to the universe we must be very clear and specific. Imagine going to a restaurant and placing your order with the waiter like this ‘I’d like something warm, perhaps cheesy, moderately healthy and I want to feel full after I’ve eaten it’. With this vague order you could end up receiving anything from a burger to cheese on toast or a ploughmans. This principle is the same when are making our ‘orders’ from the universe, if we are vague and unsure the universe gives us vague and unsure. It’s essential that we get very specific and clear about what our dreams are.

Getting clear can be a scary process, especially if you’ve been hurt or experienced failure in that area of life before. It feels like you’re putting yourself on the line and making yourself vulnerable to disappointments if it doesn’t work out. It feels safer to stay vague and not ask for the world, than it does to ask for exactly what you want and have faith the universe will guide you towards it. Think about it, are you ok to live your life like the restaurant example? To take a gamble that you might like what you get, or you might not?

The key is to get specific, paint a picture for the universe, write it down, create a vision board. I know it can feel scary, but it’s so worth it isn’t it? Start by choosing one area of your life and write down what your dream is in that area. For example if it’s your career it could go something like this…’I love working from wherever I choose on my business. I wake up in the morning feeling energised and excited to get started on my work and make a difference in people’s lives…’ Write in the present tense, as if it’s your current reality, this helps to convince your mind and subconscious that it is a reality – we are literally writing it into being.

The most effective way to manifest is to connect a strong emotion to your dream. We’ve all experienced how passion can achieve far more than neutrality, take Martin Luther King, look at what he created in his short life because he had passion for his dream. So as you’re writing your dream infuse it with words and scenes that elicit a strong emotion in you; love, excitement, joy. Feel the feelings in your body as you read back over it, feel free to make changes and adjustments to make it feel more emotive.

Once you are happy with your dream read it everyday, out loud if you can. Create a vision board to bring it life visually, you can even include pictures of yourself on your board. Create the scenes in your imagination as often as you can, feel the feelings of gratitude and joy for living out your dream. And of course be open to guidance and signs for actions to take in order to move closer and closer to your dream. It can be fun! The more you bring your vibration and feelings in line with those of your dream, the more you will naturally attract it into your reality.

Think of your life as the canvas and you are the painter, or your life is a book and you are the author, you hold the creative power to bring it to life in which ever way your heart desires.

The top Life Coaches and personal development gurus do this…


I’ve been loving that Super Soul with Oprah is now a Podcast! Listening to the best in the business share their experiences and wisdom while going about my day is one of my favourite things to do.

Listening to Tony Robbins, Life Coach extraordinare, and Iyanla Vanzant, creator of The TV show Fix My Life and incredible speaker, they both focused on the same practice at the core of spiritual growth and living in alignment with your true purpose…connecting with your heart (your intuition, God, the universe). One of my mentors, Sonia Tully, has taught me a very similar practice that I use all the time to get guidance and I love it because it’s quick, easy and so clear.

Tony describes choosing something in your life that you’re struggling with at a level of 7 out of 10. Closing your eyes and putting your hand on your heart and bringing to mind 3 separate experiences you are grateful for e.g. The birth of your child, achieving a goal or a special time with friends. Then once you’ve got yourself into the state (vibration) of gratitude you ask your heart what to do about the problem you are facing and listen for the guidance.

Iyanla talks about being in the God space in prayer, feeling completely connected and at one with creation. She emphasises that your intuition is key to the choices you make and is how we receive guidance from God. Oprah says if you’re out of alignment with your higher purpose God hits you first with a pebble, then if you don’t listen the rock gets bigger and bigger until it’s a boulder. This is a metaphor for the intuitive nudges we get that we ignore, for example if you bring on a new business partner you may have some misgivings but ignore them. Then a few things start to go wrong in your business, but you soldier on. Eventually the business may fail and you go bankrupt (the boulder!). This is not a punishment from God or the universe, it’s purely because that situation or relationship, in the form it’s in, it’s untenable for you and out of alignment with your deepest desires. So eventually it has to break down completely if you don’t listen and act on the red flags.

Sonia, my mentor, teaches a beautiful tool called ‘My heads says….and my heart says….’ Choose something your worried about or struggling with, then speak out loud ‘my head says….’ and say all the thoughts and stuff your head is saying to you e.g. I’m not sure I can do this, am I good enough? What will they say? Etc. Then take a deep breath, put your hand on your heart and tune in – then say ‘my heart says…’ and allow the words to come naturally. Can you feel the difference in energy of your head and your heart? What do they both feel like?

I love that there is so much emphasis on how essential it is to connect to your heart and your intuition. That is the space we create from and heal in.

Sending love ❤️

Image credit: upliftconnect.com

How do you connect to your intuition? 

My first experience of actively connecting with my intuition was using a very practical tool – oracle cards. I started using Angel oracle cards created by Doreen Virtue; there are so many different card decks out there for you to choose from. I loved this tool because I could hold the cards in my hands, there was a guidebook with instructions & explanations. It was practical rather than conceptual. I would pull cards to answer all kind of questions and use the guidebook, in conjunction with my intuition, to interpret the message. There are even apps you can download onto your phone now.  

How you start to interpret messages is by reading words on the cards, looking up each card in the guideboook and asking yourself what the images mean to you. Bring your awareness to your thoughts, feelings, ideas and visualisations to piece together the guidance that comes through. There is lots to learn about card readings, I completed an Angel Tarot Card Reader training which was fab, but you certainly don’t need to have heaps of training to use this tool to connect to your intuition.

At first it can feel very uncomfortable trying to figure out ‘what’s my intuition & what’s my mind or my imagination’? Which is why it’s recommended to start by asking questions or seeking guidance on subjects that not too heavily emotionally laden. For example – what do you suggest I focus on today? Rather than will my current relationship last? 

The gut feeling. We’ve all used the phrase – I have a gut feeling about this; meaning I have a feeling in my body, specifically in the tummy area, that is giving me information on this subject that I can’t verify externally. This is most often your intuition. I like to use my ‘gut feeling’ to help me with a yes or no answer. I pose my yes or no question and bring my attention to the sensation to my tummy. For me a yes feels like a lifting and lightening of the energy around my middle, whereas a no is more of a sinking, lowering feeling in my tummy. Test it out with questions you know the answer to and see what a yes and no feels like to you in your body. For example my name is….say the wrong name to get a no & the right name to get a yes. 

Another tool I use almost everyday is a little more subtle and may take a bit more practice, so don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t feel clear straight away. Before I go sleep at night, when I’m in bed with my eyes closed, I thank my intellect for all the hard work it’s done during the day and suggest it has a break. I feel like my prefrontal cortex (the front part of my brain) is almost moving back a little into my skull – I’m sure it isn’t, it’s more my visualisation. Giving my intellect the back seat allows space for my higher self, my intuition, my angels and guides to come in. If you’re not comfortable with the words angels or guides just think of it as your inner guidance system. 

You might feel a shift in energy, more subtle and peaceful, like a safe space. From here I communicate with my thoughts and ‘listen’ for answers. There are a number of different ways we can perceive intuitive guidance; clairaudience is the ‘hearing’ of guidance. This usually doesn’t mean an external sound, like the sound of others talking, but rather an internal perception of words. It is similar to thoughts but it has a very different quality to it. I find thoughts usually have lots and lots of words, they run quite fast and feel almost energetically jaggedy. Whereas my intuitive guidance has few words, is very clear and comes in quickly and has an energetic quality like clear glass. So if thoughts feel like the opaque glass you have in bathrooms, guidance feels like completely clear glass. I know that sounds pretty abstract! Give it a try and see how it feels to you, remembering not to put too much pressure on yourself and start with simple, unemotional requests. 

Let me know how you get on! 😘