How many thoughts did you have today that you also had yesterday?
Ever think about it? We’re broken records, ruminating on the same events, people, hang-ups, and to-do lists over and over again. Are you ready to hear about the impact those thought loops have on our actual, well, lives?
As co-founder of Handel Group and a life coach for over 20 years, I’ve seen countless numbers of people stay stuck in their day-to-day lives until they make the conscious decision to change and evolve into something better.
Photo Courteys of Langley Group
Luckily, you don’t have to wait another day or be stuck any longer. I have a quick roadmap to use when determining what is keeping you “stuck” at any time of year, and it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with you:
Personal Integrity: When what you say and do aligns with your highest values.
You can break integrity down into three connected components: physical, emotional, and spiritual. In any given moment, from the lens of these three categories, you can understand why you are where you are in reference to how you think and see your life. I’ll elaborate:
Physical: Exercise, diet, sleep, personal space, and any actions you are taking in this arena.
Emotional: How your physical actions are making you feel and how you react to the actions of others.
Spiritual: In a macro sense, how you feel about your life, how you see your path, and how you relate to the bigger picture. How connected you feel to what’s going on around you.
Here’s a fact: whether you know it or not, these three factors are already at work in your own life. So often, we can’t see their patterns because we invented the patterns ourselves, through our beliefs, habits, and character traits. Many of my clients come to me fully aware of their space in those three arenas, but totally oblivious to the connection between them. Like a little black box in our head, that information reveals the how and why of what’s really going on in our lives.
Photo Courtesy of Parenting Hub
So how do we change the message?
Breaking into that inner black box is the key to becoming unstuck, but it requires a thorough investigation of your inner dialogue (thoughts). Most people are hesitant to admit that their inner dialogue is controlled by fear and negativity, or they don’t even realize it’s happening. They continue to self-sabotage and then feel all the worse for dropping the ball, breaking their promises, and selling out on their dreams.
You can gain insight into your own Personal Integrity by asking yourself the following 10 questions, and being honest:
1. What have you accomplished in life that you are most proud of?
2. How were you the driver in those accomplishments?
3. What areas of your life are not working for you?
4. How are you responsible for those things that aren’t working?
5. How would you rate your integrity in these areas on a scale of 1-10: physical, emotional, and spiritual?
6. What are you saying to yourself about your life in the areas that aren’t working?
7. What actions are you taking (or not taking!) in the areas of life that aren’t working?
8. What are your dreams in the areas you want to improve?
9. Can you spot the pattern linking your actions to the way you feel on a daily basis?
10. How do you think changes in one area would affect another area?
Truth is, in areas where you are succeeding, you have harnessed your mind. If you have a great career, a hot and healthy body, an awesome family, you have indeed figured something out in those areas. You have figured out how to smell the fresh bread at a fancy restaurant, hand the bread basket back to the waiter, and order and eat the kale. You can be powerful in a meeting, even if you’re premenstrual (or your partner is). You know how to harness your mind and tell it to stop talking smack to you. Heck, you have even figured out that if you don’t listen to that inner voice of yours, it shuts up.
But in every other area of your life where you are not winning (yet), you haven’t dealt with this. You haven’t separated yourself from your inner dialogue, your thoughts, and your theories. Who is catching them?
Answer: no one.
Except now you are going to start separating yourself from them. This exercise does more than just revisit the New Year’s resolutions you’ve half-committed to. It’s the “why” of your promises, and connects you back to your dream for the big picture of your life. It lets you see how any one thing you’re doing (or not doing) has a ripple effect on other areas of your life, and shows you where your attention is most needed. More than anything, it addresses the voices in your head that are calling the shots, and gives you the opportunity to change the message you are sending yourself.
The good news is that every single day is a chance to experiment -- with a new plan, a different practice, or a modified perspective. “How will I feel if I meditate four days in a row?” “What will happen if I alter this one thing?” Experiment, and then watch the changes as they happen before your eyes.
Whatever you do, don’t wait for spring cleaning to take an inventory of your current situation and do a thorough integrity check. Just as an action plan for “bathing suit season” starts months in advance of summer, an action plan for your life starts today, and it starts with changing your mind.
Give it a try!
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."