INNER TRAVEL COACHING with Tammy Faulds https://www.innertravelcoaching.com Life Coaching | Transition Coaching | The Daring Way Toronto Sat, 04 Apr 2020 18:49:08 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 How Grief Is Portrayed In Hollywood https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/hollywood/ Sat, 04 Apr 2020 07:50:00 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=19033 How Hollywood is (thankfully!) starting to portray more of the messy, uncomfortable but decidedly more realistic and relatable side of grief.

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There are few things better than curling up with a cozy blanket, some delicious dark chocolate, a glass of wine, and watching Netflix, amiright?! (it’s my perfect pandemic-friendly, or anytime activity, really)  And since I’ve been curled up a wee bit more on the couch these past couple of weeks I’ve noticed a trend and am wondering if you’ve noticed it too? 

Historically, Hollywood (and the media) have glossed over grief by showing characters who, after the death of a loved one, are shown triumphantly (and rather swiftly!) moving on. They keep busy. They stay strong. They find love again. Or they’re told by well-meaning colleagues and friends in the emotional violin-driven cinematic scene ‘OMG, don’t cry!!!’ and then are ultimately advised that with a little time, all wounds are healed.

Hollywood often perpetuates these myths of grief, and it’s infuriating.

When the media doesn’t show the messy, awkward, confusing, ugly, heartbreaking and uncomfortable journey from loss to the reality of life after loss, it makes us feel like we’re doing it all wrong. That we basically suck at grieving. We’re left wondering where the scene is where we miraculously move on to a bright, glossy future?

I want you to know, you’re not doing it wrong.

Thankfully, Hollywood is slowly starting to portray more of the messy, uncomfortable but decidedly more realistic and relatable side of grief.

Which is a really good thing.

Because we need to see our experiences reflected back to us, to see that other people feel this way too sometimes. We need to know we aren’t the only ones walking around in a proverbial fog, or bawling our eyes out for days on end, or struggling to get out of bed, or raiding the pantry (or not eating at all), and wondering if we’ll ever laugh again.

So, let’s shine a light on what shows ARE doing a great job of showing grief….especially since we’re all knee deep it in now during this global pandemic and looking for wonderful shows to watch.

After Life with Ricky Gervais (Netflix)

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I literally stood up in my living room and applauded this show. It’s such a beautifully honest, raw, emotional, and authentic portrayal of the grief the main character experienced after the death of his wife. This is what I wrote on social media after seeing it:

Honest.⁣

Heartfelt.⁣

Gut-wrenching.⁣

Beautiful.⁣

Vulnerable.⁣

Deep.⁣

Comforting.⁣

Heartbreaking.⁣

Hopeful.⁣

Poignant.⁣

Empathetic.⁣

Funny.⁣

Touching.⁣

Relatable.⁣

Pure.⁣

Genius.⁣

Yep, ALL the feels (and more) are delivered in what I deem to be the best.damn.show to thoughtfully explore the depths of grief from the magnificent mind of @rickygervais. ⁣’After Life’ is airing worldwide now on #Netflix and I encourage every.single.human.being reading this to sit down and watch this phenomenally written show about life, after death.⁣

Why?⁣

Because it will make you want to be a better person.⁣

Which is one of the most beautiful gifts of death. But we’re often so damn scared of the pain that we leave these magnificent gifts unopened.⁣

How do I know?⁣

For example, when a friend is grieving the death of a loved one we say things like ‘I can’t possibly imagine what you’re going through.’ No, you CAN imagine it, you just don’t WANT to. Because in order for you to empathize with your friend, you need to connect on a deeper level with the same painful emotions within you. And if you haven’t processed those emotions in yourself, you’ll fear a tsunami of tears will drown you so you slam the door on the connection and love that was desperate to be opened. ⁣

It’s not your fault. We weren’t taught HOW to surf the wide waves of emotions that surface after the death of a loved one.⁣ But death is a part of life, which means we’re equipped to deal with it. (I wrote a blog post on how to honour and process your emotions through your sacral chakra which you can check out here).

#RickyGervais – THANK YOU for sharing your comedy, wisdom, brilliance, and love. This was such a courageous piece of art. Now everyone, GO WATCH IT.⁣

Also, the second season is coming April 24th!!

Fleabag (Amazon) 

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The main character, ‘Fleabag’, responds to death by becoming obsessed with casual sex. And yes, grief sex is totally a thing! Patti Britton (a clinical sexologist & sexuality educator) says, “Grief…is about a loss of closeness – a loss of intimacy. That’s why our libido kicks in: to fill that void.” Helen Fisher (a biological anthropologist) echoes her thoughts by saying that grief sex is “…a distraction from the pain of grief – we’re flooded with dopamine during sex which gives feelings of optimism, energy, focus and motivation.” (And who doesn’t want more of that, especially when you’re feeling so damn lost?) I’ve always loved the British sense of humour and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is frickin’ brilliant. No wonder she won the Emmy’s for both Outstanding Comedy Series and Best Actress. 👏🏼

Big Little Lies (HBO) 

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This is a fantastic show for a lot of reasons but season 2 shows how everyone is dealing with the death of Alexander Skarsgård’s character in different ways. It’s messy and complicated and dark. This powerful scene with the incomparable Meryl Streep will give you a little taste of what to expect (click the picture above to watch it).

Dead to Me (another one you’ll find on Netflix)

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This shows how the 2 main characters (played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini) also deal with death in different ways. One with biting anger and the other with a forced, sunny disposition – it’s a great contrast (season 2 coming soon too!)

James Blunt – “Monsters”

Okay, so it’s not a TV show or movie but this song is definitely worth mentioning. It’s a beautiful song about some of the intangible parts of grief (which we just talked about over here). It’s a musical eulogy to his father (who is dying of kidney disease) called “Monsters”. It’s an emotional song so have your kleenex ready.  I love that James dismantles a bit of the belief that men have to be strong by crying in the video because…newsflash, YES, men do cry! (click the pic below to hear the track)

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I’d love to know which movies, shows, or songs you think do a brilliant job of portraying grief or have helped you through yours. Join me over on Instagram or Facebook where we’ll continue the conversation.

p.s. I know we’re all going through a lot right now and I’m here to help ease the burden. Sign up for my newsletter to hear about upcoming online workshop announcements focused on navigating loss, vulnerability, and uncertainty with greater ease and calm. ✨ In the meantime, know you can sign up for a free 30min Lifeline session so we can talk through whatever is coming up for you. 💛

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Intangible Loss https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/intangible-loss/ Fri, 20 Mar 2020 00:09:48 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=19008 Intangible losses such as a loss of safety, trust, and freedom can be just as devastating as the death of a loved one.

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How’s your heart in these wild times?

It’s hard to stay open, grounded and, let’s face it, sane amidst all the anxiety, fear and panic with COVID-19. Globally we are struggling with a loss of normalcy as events and travel plans are cancelled. A loss of routine as schools are shut down.  A loss of freedom in countries where there’s a lockdown. An overall huge loss of safety and security. And a loss of trust with some governments clearly mismanaging the situation and the often contradictory information that makes it difficult to know the next right step.

We’re all attempting to reorient ourselves and adopt new behaviours as we get a handle on this virus. These intangible losses (both the personal and the global ones we’re all dealing with right now) can be difficult to verbalize, to get a grasp on, to even figure out what it is that you’re grieving. And they can be just as devastating and disorienting as the death of a loved one. So let’s be compassionate with one another and understand that we are all just trying to find the best way forward.

Here’s the thing, we can’t heal what we can’t identify.

I’ve put together a guidebook to help you navigate these uncertainty of these times. I’m hoping by sharing more about the intangible losses that we experience I can help you name it so you can begin to heal it.
Here’s an incomplete list of some of the intangible losses that we grieve.

  • Loss of safety
  • Loss of trust
  • Loss of security
  • Loss of innocence
  • Loss of identity 
  • Loss of your vision for the future (divorce, miscarriage, unfulfilled dreams)
  • Loss of community
  • Loss of freedom 
  • Loss of health
  • Loss of financial stability / income
  • Loss of routine / normalcy
  • Loss of your sense of purpose
  • Loss of youth, vitality
  • Loss of sexual function
  • Loss of approval
  • Loss of control of your body
  • Loss of control of your mind
  • Loss of love
  • Loss of life skills
  • Loss of faith
  • Loss of agency
  • Loss of dignity
  • Loss of your sense of sel
  • Loss of self-worth (self-esteem, self-confidence)

We all have stories of intangible loss. We’ve all experienced events in our lives that have left us not knowing which way is up without being able to express WHY we feel so lost.

Let me share a personal story with you. I believed since my preteen years that I wanted to be a physiotherapist. I did my Grade 11 co-op placement in physio and went on from there. But after years of working in the field and a final year of working full-time in a hospital and then part-time in a physio clinic (gawd, remember when we had that kind of energy!?) I realized it was too repetitive for me. I tried every aspect of the field (neuro, ortho, paediatrics…) and it simply wasn’t fulfilling to me. I wore a white coat and cruised hospital hallways, it was as close to a doctor as I could be and it still wasn’t enough. I knew I had to leave. But who was I without it? I thought I was going to be a physiotherapist my whole life! What the heck was I going to do with my life now?

Job loss comes with all kinds of intangible losses. Whether it’s retirement, getting fired or laid off, or like me, realizing you chose the wrong profession. And it’s something we ALL experience.

There’s a loss of routine, loss of community, loss of financial security, loss of your vision for the future, loss of your sense of purpose, loss of identity (who am I if I’m not a physiotherapist?) and sometimes loss of self-worth (because society has tricked us into believing we’re only valuable when we’re making a contribution to the betterment of the world).

Is it any wonder then that so many people struggle to adjust to retirement?

Or that some reports say up to 60% of Millennials suffer from a quarter-life crisis after becoming disillusioned with their careers, relationships and finances?

So how do we navigate the decidedly grey waters of intangible loss?

I love what Brené Brown has to say about it (though, let’s be honest I love what Brené has to say about most things):

“There are two reasons why most of us are slow to acknowledge that what we’re feeling is heartbreak. The first is that we normally associate heartbreak with romantic love. The second reason we don’t acknowledge heartbreak is its association with one of the most difficult emotions in the human experience: grief. If what I’m experiencing is heartbreak, then grieving is inevitable.”

In her research, Brené found there were 3 elements of grief – loss, longing and feeling lost. These elements 100% apply to all the types of intangible losses we’ve mentioned today. (PS all these quotes are taken from her book Rising Strong, highly recommended read.)

“Grief seems to create losses within us that reach beyond our awareness-we feel as if we’re missing something, something that was invisible and unknown to us while we had it, but is now painfully gone.”

“Longing is not conscious wanting; it’s an involuntary yearning for wholeness, for understanding, for meaning, for the opportunity to regain or even simply touch what we’ve lost.” 

“Feeling lost – Grief requires us to reorient ourselves to every part of our physical, emotional, and social worlds.”

Brené’s research revealed that writing about our heartbreak and loss helps us to be able to articulate it to others so we can connect and feel less alone.

This is the process we go through in the Grief Recovery Method. Through various writing exercises, we’ll explore your loss history, how those losses impacted you, where they’re still hurting you, and what you need to do to heal your heart so you can move forward.

Then you share what you’ve written in a non-judgmental safe space where you can be truly witnessed and validated and finally begin to set down this heavy heartbreak you’ve been carrying.

FORGIVENESS

It’s the beginning of a process of forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for the choices you made or for circumstances that were beyond your control.  And forgiving others. So often we weave stories about the wounds and hurts that live on in our hearts and minds. Forgiveness allows us to begin to let go of those stories.

“In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face into the pain. You simply have to hurt.”  – Joe Reynolds, Episcopal priest 

“Forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live”. – Brené Brown

If there’s a loss that you’re struggling with, even if it’s one you can’t quite put your finger on, the Grief Recovery Method can help you find clarity and complete it. You don’t have to keep carrying it forward with you. If you’re interested in learning more, drop me a message via the contact form and I’ll tell you about my online coaching options.

And since so many of us are struggling right now with all this uncertainty in the world, I’ve developed a Navigating Intangible Loss Guidebook for you. Learn more by clicking the button below.

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Digital Death https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/digital-death/ Wed, 11 Mar 2020 22:13:24 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18940 Have you considered what happens to your digital presence when you die?

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We all know we should have a will because legal repercussions are real. Just ask the siblings of ‘his purple greatness’ Prince…he died 3 years ago and his estate still isn’t settled

And we all know we should come up with a plan for our funeral/deathday celebrations so our grieving loved ones don’t have to figure out things like casket or cremation?  Church or graveside? Amazing Grace or Let’s Go Crazy by Prince? The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony or Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo ‘ole? 

But have you considered what happens to your digital presence when you die?

Tech Crunch has calculated that as of 2016 roughly 4.2 billion people (aka half the planet!!) use at least one social media platform.

What happens to all our social media accounts?  Who has access and do they know what to do with it all?

Facebook

So far, Facebook appears to be the only social media platform that has considered what happens when their users die.  And they’re still figuring it out. Guess not even Zuckerberg knows what happens when we die!

Right now, (keep in mind how fast things change in the tech world) you can appoint a legacy contact (general settings -> memorialization settings) did you know this was a thing?  Your legacy contact has the power to download your data (the digital equivalent of passing on Grandma’s ring), stop people from tagging you (#awkward….) and set up a tribute wall.

Tribute walls are an opportunity for your Facebook friends to gather and share stories and condolences.  They stay separate from your regular wall. And they function as a digital gravestone or online memorial.  30 million people view memorialized profiles every month so it seems Facebook has tapped into a genuine need.

But perhaps that’s not surprising because grief from losing an online friend is just as painful as losing an in-real-life friend. People often dismiss this grief saying you didn’t really know them but the part of them you DID know (true and accurate or not) is still a REAL loss.

Other Considerations

Passwords

You can use password managers like Last Pass, 1Password or Dashlane to gather all your passwords together in one place and leave access + instructions on what to do with someone you love and trust.

Security Keys

A security key is a physical gadget that allows you to give someone access to all the 2-factor authentication you have set up.

Go Old School

Write it alllll down, passwords to all the things (phone, computer, social, etc) and put it with your will in a super safe place along with instructions for your executor on how you’d like all your digital assets dealt with. You’ll need to be diligent though and keep this list updated since passwords change all the time.

As for me, I’ve let my people know where I keep my will and they’ve got access to my ‘Funeral Jams’ playlist…and they know that Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy is the first up.

What about sharing grief on social media?

Do you remember that Chinese proverb “shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow”?  Like all ancient anonymous wisdom, there’s truth to it.

When we’re struggling with a loss we NEED to share the story of our grief as part of the healing process.

And these days it’s just so darn easy to post our grief stories on Facebook or Instagram.

Here’s the thing…

People who are grieving need a safe space free from judgment, criticism and well-intentioned Freudian analysis to talk about what they lost.

And we all know that social media is not a judgment-free zone.

Things to consider if you’re posting about grief…

1 – Set Expectations

At the very beginning of your post tell people what you need. Example: “Please no advice. Virtual hugs and cute animal gifs to make me smile are welcomed.” And then remember that not everyone will respect your boundaries.

2 – Consider Turning off the Comments

If you want to avoid the well-intentioned advice and judgment just turn off the comments. It’s totally okay if you don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with anyone else right now. People will still be able to “like” your post with a sad face or heart…and maybe that’s all you need to feel not so alone.

3 – Don’t Forget Face-to-Face Support

And Skype/FaceTime/Zoom totally counts as face-to-face. Whether it’s a friend, a coach, a therapist or that one cousin who always seemed to “get” you, it’s important to find someone who can show up with compassion. Someone who can hold space for all of your big emotions without telling you to “be strong” or “keep busy”.

When you encounter a post about loss on social media…

1 – Don’t give advice

Unless specifically asked for, keep your best advice to yourself. It’s NEVER helpful to tell someone how they should feel or what they should do now. Trust that they will figure it out and do what’s right for them.

2 – Don’t share YOUR stories of loss

“When my Mom died we….”

“When I lost my job I….”

“After I divorced John Doe (that jerk) I…”

Nope. This isn’t the time to show you know what they’re going through. Remember every relationship is unique and individual so is everyone’s journey through grief.

Instead, validate the feelings they’ve expressed.

“I see/feel/hear your pain.”

“It’s okay to be sad.”

“Your anger makes total sense in this situation.”

3 – Do share stories of the person who died

If the post is about a mutual friend who died it can be comforting for the griever to read stories of your favourite memories. Heartwarming anecdotes, hilarious shenanigans, and memories that truly epitomize the person are all dos. 

4 – Do consider what you’d like to hear.

What would bring you the most comfort if it was you experiencing this loss? What do you wish someone had said to you?

A few ideas to get you started…


“Thank you for sharing your story.”

“Holding space for your heartbreak.”

“Always here to listen if you need a heart with ears.”

Or maybe just a virtual hug gif.

Learning how to navigate the world of digital death is constantly evolving and will hopefully become easier as time goes on. What I do know right now is we can show up and take care of each other both on and offline.

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The Dark Side Of The Moon https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/dark-side-of-the-moon/ Wed, 04 Mar 2020 23:08:45 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18963 How I healed my heart ... 20 years later.

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Before you read:

I need you to know that this post comes with a trigger warning.

If you’re already feeling a little vulnerable and raw today then go ahead and star/save/bookmark this post and circle back. Because it IS important that we talk about these things, you can’t heal what you don’t acknowledge. But I want you to read this when your heart is ready.

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Good, let’s do this.

I want to begin by saying I LOVE The Morning Show. It’s got brilliant writing and outstanding acting. Seriously, it’s phenomenal, you are emotionally invested in every character and the show has you riveted until the very last scene. 

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Anyway, I was watching The Morning Show over the holidays and it triggered me profoundly.  As I’m sure it triggered many other women as well. Specifically, it was episode 8 where they showed a remarkably honest portrayal of sexual assault in all its terrible detail. And for that…I applaud them. It’s the first time I’ve seen a show detail both perspectives and the fallout of that experience.

But what I wasn’t ready for was how this scene would so clearly echo my own experience. My own personal story. Hmm, how do I say this, it basically sucker punched me in the emotional fortress I built in the sub-basement of my soul.

That’s the only way I can think of to describe that trigger in words and it somehow still doesn’t do it justice. Perhaps I should start by telling you what happened. 

My story took place at the end of September, 2001 just as I was wrapping up an adventurous and liberating year abroad, travelling alone across Australia and South East Asia. I was super excited to be in Koh Phangan for the infamous and fabled full moon beach party.

And it was everything I’d imagined. A clear sky full of stars and a brilliantly bright moon. Hundreds of people from all around the world were partying barefoot on the beach. The drink de jour was ‘vodka red bulls’ which felt like both a privilege and a risk because red bull was still illegal in most of the world at that time. The drinks were served in big plastic sand buckets, the kind that you see kids using on the beach. They’d pour in the vodka, the red bull, and a smattering of straws and you were off to the races. 

I giddily sashayed my way to the beach with my new gal pals and I was simply elated to be dancing on the sand in the warm tropical air. You can picture it, right? The smell of frangipani flowers, the thumping beats from the tiki hut DJ, the fresh salty air, and that feeling of the hopefulness and freedom of youth. It all felt so surreal.

I soon locked eyes with this handsome guy across the beach. I’m not even kidding when I say it was a full on Hollywood movie moment….we stared at each other, he slowly moved closer through the crowd, we didn’t break eye contact the whole time, until suddenly, magically, he was in front of me. He coyly smiled, placed his hands on my hips and we started swaying together under the light of the moon. I quickly discovered he was Irish and my heart swelled (any man with an accent is my kryptonite). My friend even noticed the instant chemistry and kept checking in with me as we seemed to become more enveloped in each other. I smiled and assured her I was fine…more than fine. 

And shortly after that, is when things start getting a little grey..a little foggy.

I remember leaving the party and slowly walking hand-in-hand with him down the beach. 

I remember arriving at his coveted beachfront cabin.

I briefly remember being in a shower.

Then it goes from grey to black.

Quickly.

Then I remember sensing I’m in his bed and he’s on top of me.

Then it snaps back to black again.

Then I briefly come to and realize he’s inside of me. But I’m paralyzed. I literally can’t move a single limb of my body.

I can’t speak.

I can’t push him off.

I’m terrified.

And it snaps back to black again. 

Then I remember groggily waking up and wondering where I was. Trying to piece together what happened but struggling to remember much of anything.

I collected my things and slowly managed to make my way down the beach in the early morning sun. When I got to where I was staying, I saw my friend who so lovingly kept an eye on me the night before and her response was exactly what I needed to hear. With relief in her eyes she says ‘Tammy, what happened to you?!’ and I told her “I think I was raped last night. But I’m really tired and just want to sleep.” 

When I woke up my pelvis was in pain so my dear friend took me to the pharmacy. This Thai pharmacy was more or less set up like a drive-thru window, which was weird on its own. Even weirder was how I struggled to articulate what it was that I needed since I wasn’t entirely sure what happened. The woman at the pharmacy took one look at me and knew, immediately.  As she handed me the medicine I realized I was not the only woman to show up at her window that morning. The whole scene confirmed that I was indeed raped…and likely roofied.

And you know what the bitch of it all is? I still don’t know or remember his name. He stole my virginity for a few moments of HIS pleasure and I don’t even know who he was. I highly doubt he knows my name either. Yet his impression on my soul shaped my life and my relationships for decades to come. 

 As I look back now, what’s especially wild to me is how I immediately intellectualized it all. When that pharmacist handed me those pills I remember looking down and thinking that I was now ‘1 in 3 women who will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.’ Hmmph, how about that Faulds?! And because of that I didn’t want to give it any more attention because this wasn’t a rare or special case. Obviously, MANY other women have dealt with it and moved the f*ck on with their lives….and so should I.

And so I did.

Many of my coaching clients say similar things like ‘I don’t want to give this ANY MORE ENERGY.’  They’re exhausted, and I get it. 100%. You don’t want to drudge up the past, or trace those scars. But trying to move forward without healing the past means you’ll eventually get stuck…and may not even realize WHY you’re stuck. Which is why I’m telling you this now.

This experience also forged my mantra of becoming a STRONG woman, how NO ONE would ever do that to me again. Nor would I ever put myself in such a carefree situation. Nope. From that day forward, ‘Control’ would be my middle name and since then I’ve slapped on so much armour around my heart and forged so many shields and swords that I’m ready to go into battle at the drop of an Irish dragon.

And let me tell you, it’s exhausting.

“If we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.” – Warsan Shire

Because I didn’t heal this (and at the time I honestly didn’t know HOW to heal it) the fear of making sure it never happened again fueled stories of distrust that I generalized to all kinds of situations and relationships. I know this loss has blocked me from experiencing loving and lasting relationships with men these past two decades. It reinforced the story that I had to be in control at all times to be safe.

I’ll say it again, it’s exhausting.

I was a TEXTBOOK reaction to the loss….intellectualizing, keeping busy/avoidance, numbing out with food (even when the tv show triggered me 20 years later, I consumed mountains of chocolate but blamed it on the overindulgence of the holidays). I told myself I had to be strong, and of course, give it time.

It’s been 20 years. Time does not heal.

In speaking to a client recently, I realized that we both used the same language of intense shame, blame, and guilt even though our experiences were vastly different. We’d both been rehearsing stories in our heads and hearts that laid a disproportionate amount of responsibility at our feet. 

“You knew better.”

“You put yourself in a bad situation.”

“You should’ve screamed louder.” 

We were both our own judge and jury who gave ourselves life sentences for crimes that we didn’t commit!! HOW MESSED UP IS THAT?!

Intangible loss like this strangles our ability to articulate everything we’re feeling. Through this experience I now realize I lost my sense of security and safety, my innocence, and a whole lotta trust both in men, and in myself.

Which is precisely why I had to do the Grief Recovery Method (GRM) on this intangible loss. I realized how I was trying all these years to convince myself that I was fine. I, Tammy Faulds, was 1 in 3 women. Others have suffered much worse, who am I to complain or even share my story 20 years later?!  Nope, it was better to be strong, stuff it down, and move the f*ck on.

But doing this grief work with others means I have to complete my own pain. And this was by far one of the biggest rocks in my proverbial backpack.

And it was time to take it out.

I knew it was heavy.

I knew it was hard to hold.

I knew I needed to give it a voice because I certainly felt like I didn’t have one then, or for those 20 years.  

So, here we are. I did the GRM first on my mistrust of men as a whole and then on him specifically….’the Irishman’. I shared my journey with one of the women I did my training with who empathetically listened to the pain in my heart and held such sacred space for me.

I unleashed it all. I released the anger, shame, hurt, confusion, guilt, rage, despair, and fear. The medieval walls I built around my heart were no match for the sheer tsunamic force of those buried emotions. I felt immediately better, and I then gave myself permission to lay down my armour and soften into my bleeding heart. I saw that younger version of me who just wanted to be seen and heard and hugged. I honoured her wounds and scars and her toughness and bravery. I cried and cried and then cried some more.

Then I exhaled.

I felt lighter.

I liberated myself. 

And woooweee, I have never experienced a ‘grief hangover’ before but ohhh, did I ever with this one. 

The story that I always needed to be “strong” makes it hard to reach out and admit when I’m sad, frustrated, disappointed, and angry. But the Universe kept cueing up the reminders (like that powerful scene from The Morning Show, then my grief coaching client) that I needed to untether myself from these men that hurt me. It kept knocking on my door and urging me to use my tools.

So, I heeded that call and:

I reached out to friends instead of isolating.

I owned my truth and shared my story instead of making up stories like ‘Nah, it’s fine, it’ll pass’ and silencing the emotions.

I cried multiple times, triggered by disappointment, despair, unresolved grief, and getting real with myself.

I did the work….the real, hard work and I’m all the better for it.

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, but it was most definitely necessary if I wanted to let love in again. To trust fully again. I think the bravest kind of love is a love that embraces even our darkest parts…and it starts with you.

We rise and begin again.

Thank you so much for reading all the way through. Thank you for holding space for my story and allowing me to break my silence. I’m truly grateful for you and I’m grateful for the Grief Recovery Method that gave me the tools to finally unpack and complete the pain I’d been holding onto for 20 years. It’s never too late to heal your heart. 

p.s. if my story resonated with you and you’ve realized that you’re carrying some pain from a recent, or long ago, loss…let’s talk. And please forward this email to someone you know who may need to hear these words of support. We’re stronger together.  

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Grieving controversial celebrities https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/grieving-controversial-celebrities/ Sun, 02 Feb 2020 00:47:36 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18919 Can we separate the art from the artist?

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I’m about to get controversial, and I’m a little scared to have this conversation to be completely honest.

I recently posted about how it’s completely normal to grieve the death of a celebrity. But what if that celebrity led a morally questionable (or downright corrupt) life away from the spotlight? 😱

Can we separate the art from the artist?

Should we?

I honestly don’t know. Maybe that’s a question we all have to answer for ourselves.

I DO know that death has a way of overshadowing the person’s actions while they were alive (and this applies to everyone, not just celebrities). Death tends to polarize our views and we end up villainizing them or elevating them to the status level of a saint.

Villian or saint, I believe we CAN show up with empathy. Both for those who are grieving and those who are outraged that we’re celebrating the life of someone whose actions caused them pain when they were alive.

A great example of navigating these murky waters is the exchange between Cara Delevigne and Jameela Jamil in the wake of Karl Lagerfeld’s death.  

Cara was grieving the death of her friend.

Jameela wanted to acknowledge that he was a racist, homophobic misogynist whose actions and opinions hurt a lot of people.

While Jameela never let Lagerfeld off the hook for what she called “decades of abusive rhetoric towards minorities” there were apologies on both sides. Neither resorted to personal attacks and in the end, they “agreed to disagree”.  [read more here]

Another example is the way Obama spoke about Michael Jackson after his death. He acknowledged that while Michael was a “brilliant performer” he also had a “tragic and sad personal life”.

Whether a celebrity was controversial or not, a study from CU Boulder found that grief-policing on social media was rampant. After studying thousands of comments in the wake of the deaths of Alan Rickman, Prince, and David Bowie they found people were not at all shy about telling others how or why they should be grieving (this doesn’t help anyone).

While algorithms are partly to blame for promoting these toxic comments we can’t ignore the fact that so many people are willing to leave compassion at the door in an effort to be heard. 

Frank Sinatra, Ike Turner, and Marvin Gaye were all celebrities whose abusive behaviour was mostly forgotten/overlooked in death. Thanks to the #metoo era we now live in we’re not as willing to ignore abusive behaviour (this is definitely a good thing). And maybe we’re just starting to figure out how to call out the bad behaviour while also recognizing their artistic contributions.

So what can we do?

Show up with empathy. Always. Especially when others forget. And empathy doesn’t mean we need to dismiss bad behaviour or sweep criminal actions under the rug. It just means we need to show up with a sensitivity to all points of view.

Can we separate the art from the artist?

Should we?

Maybe it’s better to acknowledge the hurt they caused while also respecting those who might be grieving.

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Grieving Celebrities https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/grieving-celebrities/ Mon, 27 Jan 2020 01:31:33 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18917 We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.

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I think we’ve all been affected by the death of a celebrity.

Sometimes we can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news.  For me, hearing that Prince died stopped me in my tracks. 

Whether it was tragic like Princess Diana or Robin Williams or it was natural causes like Maya Angelou or Toni Morrison there’s no doubt that the art that moved us most can make us feel connected to the artist and leave us grieving their death.

I know it can seem irrational because you didn’t really know them but I promise it’s a super common thing and you are most definitely NOT crazy. Maybe their music provided the backdrop to an important moment in your life. Maybe their words comforted you in your darkest moments. Or maybe someone you loved and lost (parent, friend, sibling etc) was a big fan and the celebrity’s death highlights the loss you suffered all over again.

This tweet sums it up all beautifully:

And have you noticed the rush to post about a celebrity’s death?

I have.  And it’s got me wondering why we do this because it’s important to connect to our “why” before we hit publish. Is it because it’s “juicy gossip”? Is it to gain social street cred because you were “first on the scene”? Or is it because you want to find support and connect with others who are grieving?

Before you post…

Skip the platitudes and gory details

“RIP Robin Williams” doesn’t move the conversation towards empathy or help anyone who is grieving.

Studies have shown that reporting on celebrity suicides actually contributes to an increase in suicide. It can normalize the behaviour and make it seem like a viable option for people who are already suffering and at risk.

We’ve experienced so many celebrity suicides from Kurt Cobain to Robin Williams to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and more recently Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. If you choose to post about a celebrity suicide it helps to avoid any mention of HOW or WHY they killed themselves.

What does help is to link to a mental health crisis number or services near you and to encourage anyone who’s suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts to get help.

Show up with empathy

Talk about what the celebrity meant to you. How they impacted your life. How you’re grateful for the contribution they made to the world and how you’ll miss their presence.

If you see a friend struggling with a celebrity death

Be a heart with ears. Reassure them that even though they may never have met that person the impact of their talent and art in your friend’s life is real and leaves a mark on their heart.

Let’s keep talking…tell me which celebrity death had the greatest impact on you and why you connected deeply to their art.  Join the conversation.

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Grieving Our Less Than Loved Ones https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/grieving-our-less-than-loved-ones/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 17:51:00 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18644 Not all of our relationships are sunshine, glitter, and rainbows. How to cope with grieving your 'less than loved ones'.

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If you’re a human who’s been living on this planet for any length of time you’ve realized by now that not all of our relationships are always sunshine, glitter, and rainbows. That sometimes you encounter some really shitty people in your life (and you just can’t seem to shake ’em) or perhaps things started off great but ended horribly and left you wishing things had gone differently.

Maybe it was a parent who was physically or emotionally abusive. Or a sibling who always saw you as the enemy & undermined your every move.  A close friend who crossed some major boundaries which caused the relationship to end. Or perhaps it was an ex who cheated on you.

Then you get the call that this ‘less than loved one’ has died. It immediately kicks up a ton of conflicting (yet completely normal) reactions and emotions. You begin to review your relationship with them and find yourself yearning for unrealized dreams, hopes, outcomes, or expectations. They leave us wishing our relationship with them had been different, more loving, more supportive, calmer or at least found a peaceful resolution.

Their death and the complicated relationship you had with them leads to a potent and confusing mix of emotions. Relief. Guilt. Shame. Peace. Sadness. Anger. Regret. Calm. 

Oftentimes, we were unable to say what we needed to say. Any attempt at communicating our truth while they were still alive always turned into another argument. Another wound. Another frickin’ painful memory. We’re left replaying those scenes over and over in our heads for days or years afterwards, desperately wishing for but unable to change the narrative or achieve a different outcome.

Any reminders of the ‘less than loved one’ (a song, a car, a movie) that we bump into sends us back to relive the pain again and again.

Here’s the thing…

It’s NEVER too late to complete unfinished emotional business.

It’s never too late to grieve those unmet hopes and dreams and expectations. But you MUST be willing to revisit some of the painful memories so you can finally communicate what you need to say.

It can be scary to do this work (full stop).  

The thought of tracing the lines of those painful scars and memories can feel overwhelming. But if you’re walking around feeling like you’re always holding your breath or waiting for the next trigger, wouldn’t you want to be free of that constant anxiety? This unresolved grief and stress can cause us to hold back (out of fear or mistrust) with the relationships that we actually cherish the most and want to cultivate further.

The great news is you can complete YOUR PART of a relationship with a less than loved one. Whether they died years ago, died recently, or are still alive.  The Grief Recovery Method provides a proven path to resolving your grief. 

It begins with a balanced remembering.

People are often idealized or demonized after death (read more here).  Neither narrative is accurate or helpful. We need to recognize that there are 1625 shades of grey (approximate number 😉 ) that exist between the extremes.

Our society has taught us not to speak ill of the dead. It dates back to the 4th century (De mortuis nil nisi bonum – of the dead say nothing but good).  Back then we believed that what we said about the dead affected the quality of their afterlife. But when it comes to less than loved ones we need to be honest. To pretend that they were a saint dishonours the difficult experiences we had with them. And if we do nothing but vilify them we remain forever a victim.

So how do you mix honesty with compassion (for those who are grieving) and speak truthfully about the dead?

Perhaps we can look to another centuries-old tradition (this time from yoga) and the 3 gateways of speech.

1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?

A great example of a balanced remembering is how President Obama’s spokesperson described Michael Jackson as a “spectacular performer” whose life had many “sad and tragic” elements.  There was honesty without anger.

Or my friend, who eulogized a drug addict by saying they were all too familiar with his demons but now they were also choosing to remember the good in him.

Create Boundaries

Share your honest memories and conflicting feelings with those who have earned your trust.

Don’t share with someone who’s also in crisis dealing with this loss – they likely don’t have the bandwidth to handle your emotions too (read more here).

Don’t share on Facebook.  Social media isn’t a safe space to have your feelings acknowledged (read this article on Karl Lagerfeld).  And the support you receive there will be mixed at best.

The Grief Recovery Method is a safe place to share your thoughts and sort through your feelings. It’s a framework that will help you complete YOUR part of the relationship with a less than loved one (living or deceased) so you can move forward without reliving painful memories or haunted by how things might’ve been.
I would be honoured to take you through this process.  You can find out more here.

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MAID…with love. https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/maid-with-love/ Fri, 17 Jan 2020 01:51:21 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18877 It can be heartbreaking to hear that a loved one facing death has decided to give up the 'fight'. Here's how to love them through it.

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It’s mid-January. The post-holiday glow has most definitely worn off and I’m now leaning on my fave comfort food to help get me through winter. Yep, am here nibbling on some chocolate almonds while writing this to you because I’m about to dive into a touchy topic. 

Let’s begin by saying…

Death is deeply ordinary.  100% inevitable. And as natural and necessary as being born.

As a society, we treat death like the enemy (instead of the goddess of wisdom that she is). We fight ‘til the bitter end, this “battle” that we won’t ever win. This battle against death (and the obsession with youth it creates) is seen everywhere in our science and culture.  

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas

Which means it can be heartbreaking to hear that a loved one facing death has decided to give up that fight. To accept what’s coming. To make peace with a battle they know they aren’t going to win. To refuse any more treatments. And sometimes, even to choose a medically assisted death.

M.A.I.D. stands for Medical Assistance in Dying and it’s been legal in Canada since June 17, 2016.

First, a few stats to set the scene. The total number of medically assisted deaths in Canada between December 2015 and October 2018 was 6,479 or roughly 1% of the estimated total deaths in Canada during that time.

It’s split pretty evenly between men and women. But those of us in urban centres are more likely to seek out these services.

There are a number of guidelines in place to make sure that MAID isn’t abused. You have to be “eligible” and of sound mind. Three doctors must all independently agree that you qualify. Currently, there’s a minimum 10-day waiting period to make sure this is really what you want. And you can change your mind – right up to the last second – if you want to.

But it’s still controversial.

MAID bumps up against our morals and ethics and religious beliefs. It asks us to think about how we want to live and more importantly how we want to die (if you even believe that you have the right to choose).

It can be agonizing to hear that a loved one is ready to die. Especially if we aren’t ready to let them go.

There’s a fantastic episode of Grace and Frankie (season 6 is out now!) called “The Party” where their friend has decided not to fight the cancer that’s returned. We watch Grace and Frankie navigate their friend’s request to throw an epic ‘exit’ party and help her die. The show deals with this subject with such compassion (and of course, their signature sense of humour) it’s definitely worth watching

“We should die as we live, fully, deeply, bravely and with love.”

So let’s talk this through, shall we?

How do you support a loved one who has chosen MAID?

 Acknowledge that this is NOT ABOUT YOU

Which is hard because their death most definitely impacts you. And your ego, once it’s recovered from its shock, will start wringing its hands and wondering what your life will look like without this loved one. It’ll be afraid of losing the person you were when you were with them. And your ego will most definitely not want things to change, or the pain that comes with change. It’ll want to avoid this at all costs. Even if it means asking your cherished one to extend their life, to keep fighting, just a little longer so you can avoid the pain and grief their death will bring.

Here’s what I want you to remember: it’s not about you (no matter how much it feels like it is). This is THEIR journey. Trust that they know what they need. And, deep down your soul knows it’s going to be okay. It’s going to hurt, yes, but it’s going to be okay. So listen to your soul.

Get help

For you. Find support for yourself so that you can show up for your loved one who has chosen MAID. Maybe this looks like talking to a trusted friend, therapist, or coach.

Establish rituals that will help YOU during the transition. What do you need?  Maybe you can schedule some time off. Or, one of my personal favourites is hitting the yoga mat.  Allowing movement and breath to begin to allow those emotions to move through me. Maybe you can light a candle for your loved one.  Pray. Journal. Meditate. Walk. Do some kick-boxing. Take a bath. Let your intuition guide you. (more ideas for honouring your grief here)

Empathize

Be a heart with ears for your friend or family member choosing medically assisted death.  We can’t ever truly know what it’s like to walk someone else’s path. But we can listen with open hearts. Connect with compassion. And if the moment calls for it? Grieve together (more ideas on how to show up for someone who’s grieving here).

Plan

If planning is your forte help them with plans for their funeral. Or a living funeral.  Or a celebration of life service. Whatever they want. A big, loud, joyful party or intimate, sacred and peaceful. There’s no wrong way to do this.

The rituals and ceremonies we create around the ending of life aren’t just a reflection of our culture or beliefs.  These rituals allow us to begin processing all the complex emotions that accompany grief. They help us to take meaningful action.  To gather in community. Because action is necessary to heal from loss and helping plan their ‘exit’ party can be a beautiful offering.

Shift your perspective

This is gonna fall under the category of “easier said than done” advice. But what if you saw this time together (however much is left) as a gift?

When death is unexpected one of the things grievers want more than anything…is more time. Time to say I love you. Time to just be with the person.  Even just one more day with their loved one. You’ve got that. Cherish it.

Honesty

Take time to ask the questions you have to. Resolve any conflicts. Ease any discomfort between you. Above all, have honest conversations because we certainly don’t have time for bullshit in our last days on earth. And if you can’t quite say it out loud – try writing it in a letter.

When we implore our loved ones not to give up, to keep fighting, we rob them of the opportunity to go peacefully on their terms. We take away the deep KNOWING they have about their approaching death and ask them to doubt themselves. We give false hope.

We’d never ask our family member or friend to live their life according to our terms.  We can’t ask them to die on our terms.

If we loved them in life, even when life got messy (and really, when is it not messy?!) then we need to love them enough to make dying okay too.

ps

How do you feel about MAID? Right now you can tell the Canadian government what you think. You can take this survey until January 22, 2020, and the results will be used to help shape the legislation. Make your voice heard here.

^^^This is from Grace & Frankie – ‘The Party’ episode. And that shirtless man is who Babe chose to put her to bed for her ‘eternal rest’. 🙂

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It’s time for Radical Responsibility https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/radical-responsibility/ Fri, 10 Jan 2020 01:55:57 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18860 Are you ready to feel radically empowered and free? Then dive on in here!

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Raise your hand if you love to blame. 🙋🏼‍♀️

And if you don’t have your hand up, you’re lying. 

We humans loooove to blame!  It’s so easy because we can blame, well, almost anything.  The issue is, we’re often not aware that we’re in blame mode…it has simply become our default/kneejerk reaction anytime we’re uncomfortable.

And although it’s true that we can’t really control our in-the-moment reactions, you CAN control how you respond.

Because you always have a choice. 

Always.

Let me paint the picture for you of how blame often plays out in everyday life (especially when we don’t choose the circumstances we find ourselves in):

  • Your car breaks down and fixing it means draining your bank account leaving you feeling vulnerable and stressed.  Not your choice. So you blame it on bad luck.  
  • Being declared “redundant” at work.  Not your choice. So you blame it on the economy.
  • A partner leaving you after 10 years of marriage.  Not your choice. So you blame the failed relationship on them.

Blame shows up when we don’t want to own our part in the situation. It’s how we discharge our anger and hurt. It’s 100% natural to react with blame and again, we all do it (myself most definitely included).  But blame never helps us heal.

Blame allows us to avoid feeling vulnerable and admit that we’re hurting (or that we effed it up).  It’s so much easier (aka ego-preserving) to blame others, your job, the weather, your lack of time, God, bad luck, the traffic, the randomness of life, etc. for the uncomfortable situation you’re in.

Blaming others also automatically puts us into victim mode. We don’t have to be accountable for our lives – we see it as something happening TO us instead of FOR us.  And we definitely don’t have to muster the courage to look at our role in whatever it was that happened.

If you’re waiting for the circumstances to change, it means you don’t have to.

It gives away your power.

The choice we have is how we show up in those circumstances. Once you understand that you always have a choice in how you respond you can begin to take responsibility for your words/thoughts/actions and change the stories you’re telling yourself. Freedom from the stories that are keeping us stuck starts with one brave new choice at a time.

So, how do you know if you’re avoiding the trauma/deeper issues in favour of the blame game? 

Follow the clues the world is giving you.

  • You’re always dating X type of person and it never ends well.
  • You’re always getting a new job only to find yourself disheartened in 6 months.
  • Look at the times you feel triggered and you’re not sure why – when the reaction is disproportionate to the crime.
  • Whenever you find yourself saying, “I don’t know why this keeps happening to me?!”, look for the patterns that keep showing up in your life…when was the first time you remember feeling this way?
  • When people bring out the worst in you (texting this very message to my friends is how I knew my ex wasn’t the one for me)

When you look outside yourself for the answers you miss the deeper message.  You miss an opportunity to heal. These patterns are repeating because they’re trying to get your attention. You need to goldmine (a.k.a. explore with openness and curiosity) those shadows and find the clues to WHY these patterns keep showing up in your life.  

Another clue you might be trying to avoid doing the REAL work is always looking for the quick tips and tricks (i.e. 5 easy steps to mental clarity and flat abs!)  You need to go to the basement of your soul, the shadows, the root of your stories to heal the patterns and begin to make new choices (remember freedom is found one brave new choice at a time).

What does REAL work look like?

  • Sometimes it’s a damn good cry. Or releasing anger in a kick-boxing class. We’re often so scared of feeling anything bad that we fight it. We rally against it and what it really needs is just space to be felt and seen.
  • Meditation – even 1 minute daily will work wonders!
  • Journalling – it’s easier to process it all when it’s in front of you.
  • Talking with a friend/coach/therapist who can ask the right questions and hold space for you to find the clarity you’re craving (high-fives to all my verbal processors!)
  • Choosing thoughts/words/actions that are in alignment with what you want. What can you do/say (or not do/not say) that helps you get a little bit closer to your desired outcome?

No one has the answers FOR you. Only you do. This is the difference between coaching and traditional talk therapy. Traditional therapy is a safe space to dig into old traumas. In coaching, I ask a lot of really annoying questions that you’ve probably already asked yourself but were too scared to take the time to dive into and answer. I help you get unstuck and move forward by uncovering the wisdom already inside you (hence the biz name ‘INNER Travel Coaching…see what I did there?!).

When you stop blaming external factors for your current reality it doesn’t negate the heartache you felt – if frees you to make radically different and empowered choices for yourself.

And isn’t that what you want for your life? To feel radically empowered and free?

Raise your hand up if you do. 🙋🏼‍♀️

If you want to talk about how coaching could help you rewrite the stories that are keeping you stuck, make new choices and take fierce responsibility for your life, schedule a Discovery Session call right here.

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Oh, the places we’ve gone. https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/oh-the-places-weve-gone/ Mon, 30 Dec 2019 03:01:53 +0000 https://www.innertravelcoaching.com/?p=18841 Looking back with compassion & courage can be EXACTLY what we need to write a more joyful future.


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We’re officially in the FINAL days of 2019 – high-five to us for surviving the holidays! And now as we inch closer to 2020 I find myself slipping into a ‘slow down and get reflective’ phase (said in Barry White’s deeply seductive voice). 

What is it about a new year that makes us do this?  Somehow changing the calendar asks us to step outside our daily routines, obligations, and distractions (just for a moment) so we can pause to see how things went. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Sometimes when we look back we can feel trapped by our history, doomed to repeat unhealthy patterns, at the mercy of circumstances beyond our control or like we’re reliving the shame and guilt that go hand-in-hand with regret.

But looking back with compassion & courage can be EXACTLY what we need to write a more joyful future.

Don’t believe me?  Take it from Maya…

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” – Maya Angelou

One of my favourite exercises to help clients look back so they can move forward is a Loss History Graph (from the Grief Recovery Method). As the title suggests, it’s mapping out your losses so you can see how they’ve impacted your life…and how unresolved grief may be slowing you down or stopping you dead in your tracks.

Given we’re about to turn the page on not just a new year but a new DECADE, I thought it would be interesting to look at our lives in a similar lens, but with a more holistic overview. 

Why will it be different from any other year/decade/life-in-review you’ve done before?

We’re going to focus on your heart. ❤

We’re going to map out the highs and lows based on the impact they had on your heart.  We’re going to forget, even if only for a second, everyone else’s opinions (your family, partner, boss, colleagues, friends, society, etc) and recognize your heart’s journey.

Why?

Because our knee-jerk reaction is to intellectualize/analyze/rationalize everything that happens to us. We try to use our brains to heal our hearts. But it’s how these events made us FEEL that has the greatest impact on our lives. So many people repeat patterns in relationships because it goes back to the lasting impact of their first heartbreak (uggh, BRAD) And it’s only when they look back over time that they see the patterns emerge, how they didn’t realize the same thing kept happening with different people.

For example, when I did my graph I realized that one of my patterns boiled down to dating men who were unemotionally available.

Or as Liz Gilbert so eloquently put it ‘I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.’

Realizing this pattern helped me see that truth and adjust accordingly. Although, I’m still human and definitely fall victim to it regularly. The good news is I catch myself waaaay earlier and I don’t let myself get too ensnared in my tendency to ‘romance the future’.

So, are you excited to do your Heart History Graph?  Are you nervous? Are you curious to see what your finished graph will look like?  I’m not gonna lie, it’s kinda cool to see your journey visually mapped out like this.

When you’re ready…find a quiet cozy space, grab a pen + paper, and have your favourite seasonal drink nearby. We’re going to dive right into creating your Heart History Graph.  We’re going to map out EVERYTHING important from your first memory to the current day.  We’re going to map out the highs AND the lows.  

A key element of this graph is to ensure the lines are reflective of the impact these events had on your life and more importantly, your heart. The longer the line, the bigger the impact. Go for what it meant to YOU and not what society, family, your partner or your friends thought about it. For example, when a pet dies it can be a HUGE line but others think it should be barely a blip on your graph.

How to create your Heart History Graph

All you need to do is grab some paper and a pen and strike a big ol’ horizontal line across the page. Then begin to map it out. From your first conscious memory to current day. All the highs, all the lows, and ensure the line length reflects how you FELT about those experiences. Some lines may go both above and below. If you find there’s a string of similar events you don’t have to list them all…a couple examples are enough. The goal here is honesty and accuracy because it is for no one else but YOU. You’re in the driver’s seat, might as well be authentic!

Tip: section it out by decades if you’re having problems remembering anything. You can do this by years or by age (my preference). For example, 0 – 10 years old, what happened during that time, 11 – 20 years old, and so on. 

Once you’ve got your graph mapped out…take a break! Seriously, that’s some deep head and heart work to look back over your life.  Set aside your graph and when you’re ready, come back and I’ll show you how to look for patterns.

Before you begin to look for the patterns…

Take a moment (and 3 deep breaths) to ensure your butt is firmly in the EMPATHY AND SELF-COMPASSION seats of your soul. There may have been detours, crossroads, decisions made that didn’t turn out the way you wanted. It’s alllllll a part of life, so please don’t beat yourself up for any of the patterns you see emerging. The aim here is to be compassionately curious so we can build the awareness we need to shift into healthier behaviours in 2020.

Grab your Heart History Graph and a separate piece of paper to make notes.

As you look at your graph, what do you see happening over and over again?

Here are some examples of possible patterns to get you thinking…

  • Do you tend to ‘cut and run’ when things get uncomfortable? 
  • Do you hold on too long (like Liz Gilbert attested to?)
  • Do you sacrifice relaxation and fun because you’re always striving to do your best or be perfect?
  • Are you afraid of showing people who you really are because of a fear of rejection?
  • Are you drawn to relationships with people who are selfish?
  • Do you trust easily or not at all?
  • Do you self-sabotage when things feel too good?
  • Do you avoid feeling weak and vulnerable by putting up walls or refusing to ask for help?
  • Do you over-analyze everyone’s behaviour (to the envy of Freud) always assuming the worst?
  • Do you withdraw and isolate yourself when things get hard?
  • Do you take responsibility for others’ actions (so you can keep the peace) leading to resentment?
  • Do you always end up choosing partners you need to “save”?
  • Are you constantly disappointed by people, jobs, etc because they don’t live up to your expectations?
  • Do people keep crossing your boundaries? Or are you lacking boundaries?

These are not easy questions to answer, so again, take a moment to high-five yourself!  That’s some serious gold-mining you just did there in answering those. 

Now, for the purposes of this next exercise, let’s focus on the decade we’re just finishing up, 2010 – 2019. Start with the longest low lines and ask yourself:

  • What did you need to hear at that specific time?
  • What lessons did you learn from it?
  • What would current day you tell past you at that time? 
    • Or given you know what you know now, what would you tell yourself? 
  • Might any of the answers above help with anything you’re currently struggling with? (i.e. I need to remind myself that everything will be ok, just like I wish I had heard in 2014 during my divorce) 

Take a deeeeeep breath. Now repeat after me (and if you’re not into affirmations, humour me and give it a shot)

“I now release and let go of every thought, action, and word that was out of alignment with my values and highest self.  I recognize that being human means making mistakes. I hold infinite compassion, love, and forgiveness for my past self. I accept and integrate all the lessons and wisdom life has given me so I can move forward with confidence, joy, and grace now.”

One more deeeep breath.

Your willingness to wade through the past, sift through the pain, and dig up the wisdom will help you create a more joyful 2020.

While life definitely shows us what we need to learn through the challenges and losses it can also whisper what we need to learn and remember through the beautiful, joy-filled, heart-lifting moments.

Now let’s pull out your Heart History Graph one more time and look at the highs (you can choose to look at just the last decade if it’s easier). 

Start with the longest lines and ask yourself the following questions…

  • What role did vulnerability play? 
  • What role did courage play?
  • What steps and decisions did you make to get there?
  • What can you ‘rinse and repeat’ in 2020?
  • How do you want to FEEL in 2020?
  • What word or mantra would encompass this feeling?
  • What support do you need to make 2020 your best yet?

Want to continue the conversation?

Head over to Insta where I’ve be shared my biggest lessons from the last decade and what I want to create more of in 2020.

Want to go deeper?

Join me for my small group, in-person, Grief Recovery Method 7-week program at Align Wellness Studio where we’ll dive deeper into your losses and complete the pain of your past so you can stride into 2020 with greater clarity and ease.

Lastly, know I’m wishing you nothing but the absolute best for 2020 and beyond! Personally, I’m making some big ol’ changes in my life and would love to have you along for the ride (and virtual support!)  Stay tuned to this channel, my social media channels, AND my new YouTube channel to watch it all unfold before your very eyes! <<< trying to make it sound as enticing as a sideshow announcer, but really hope it’s not that dramatic.

Walking bravely alongside you into 2020,

Tammy

The post Oh, the places we’ve gone. appeared first on INNER TRAVEL COACHING with Tammy Faulds.

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