Healing Your Mind, Body, and Heart After Trauma

I recently had a great conversation with Deirdre Fay, who is the author of the book, Becoming Safely Embodied: A Guide to Organize Your Mind, Body and Heart to Feel Secure in the World, as well as a tremendous personal life coach. Deirdre works with “people who have crummy histories to develop an inner platform for success to get their needs met for life.” With decades of experience as a psychotherapist and educator, Deirdre brings together modern neurobiology and ancient wisdom into a practice of what she calls “becoming safely embodied.”  

First off, I want to point out that Deirdre is living in France! How cool is that? After living across Europe during her childhood she eventually moved back and settled in France. I say this as an encouragement to anyone reading this, that you should chase your dreams and find what, where, and who makes your heart feel content. 

Deirdre’s journey into personal development started when life “kicked her in the butt.” It’s funny, I think life often kicks us in the butt in a lot of ways and in so many of those situations a good result ends up happening. 

“I was in a very safe cocoon of life. My trauma history came up, and I didn’t know I had a trauma history. Then I was like, what do I do? So I was piecing it together, one by one, and I had been doing a lot of yoga, a lot of meditation, training for triathlons. All of the sudden I went from a good experience with my body to ugh, I could bear it. It was so awful. I thought what happened to me? How could I go from that to this… and how do I get back? So that is really what started me on my journey. I went to school got a degree, worked with some of the biggest names in trauma healing, and that’s how I got my training.” 

By working in personal coaching and development, a common issue that Deirdre and I come across is how can we live a life of purpose? Our biggest desire as humans is to feel like we belong and have meaning behind our day-to-day. So many of us, including myself at times, struggle to identify what we are chasing after, and the real motivation behind our actions.

I think it is important to separate our goals from our purpose and knowing the difference. For example, I wanted to win Miss Missouri and Miss USA, that was my goal. But my life continues on after I reach that goal or not. Knowing what drives your life before, between, and after goals is your purpose. Deirdre shares the same message with her our clients. 

“If you’re in training for eight years and your goal is to become Miss the state, Miss USA, whatever it is. At some point, you’re going to reach that pinnacle or not. Even if you reach it, you’ve gotta have a life after that. So that pinnacle is really how do I get there and keep opening up and expanding. Rather than what do I do when I win or don’t win? Do I have enough of a solid steady, secure self inside to be able to ok with whatever happens?”  

Deirdre is passionate about seeing life as a journey of experiences. Each one, whether good or bad, is building you into who you are meant to be, or unbecoming who we thought we were to be. She wants people to be conscious of this, and think about the process that we are using to become ourselves. 

Discovering your process and finding your life purpose is a big task, and it isn’t going to be figured out in just one moment. It can feel overwhelming, to put it bluntly. That overwhelm can snowball and make it difficult for you to make any progress. Pretty soon you feel like you’re drowning. It’s important to notice overwhelm and stop it before it gets worse. Deirdre recommends for her clients to journal about their thoughts, write their I AM statements, and acknowledge their gratitudes to help slow the feeling of overwhelm. 

“So you’re overwhelmed. Overwhelm is a concept. What thoughts are you having that are making you feel overwhelmed? What’s the feeling that is going on in your body? What’s the body sensation? You really tease out what exactly overwhelm is in the body, not just the thoughts about it or the feelings about it. Then you have a choice. You begin to navigate.” 

Deirdre has worked with a lot of people, from all walks of life, all with different experiences and traumas. Her lasting advice to anyone who is going through a tough time is to remember that you are loved. 

“There are a world of people out there that want to see you, love you, care for you, rejoice in you, reassure you. So don’t get isolated in whatever overwhelm you’re in so that you can reach out, and the more that you reach out people know, the more the world knows and can be there to support and care for you.”