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Finding Your Heart Through Turbulent Times

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 
-Anais Nin-

This quote has always been one of my favorites. It inspired the name of my practice, Heart Bloom Therapy.

I’ve been a psychologist for decades and have studied and practiced several well-regarded evidence-based approaches. I’m struck by how they all, in different ways, help people come back to the “self.” For example, if someone carries the limiting belief “I’m not enough” the various approaches would have the goal of helping them to believe that they are enough in all of who they are. How do we find our true selves again after we’ve been hit with a lot of trauma and stress? It can be the kind of stress that hits you all at once, or it can be the kind that sneaks up on you over time. It was the culmination of these ideas that led to the creation of Heart Bloom Therapy.

Over the past four years, for many of us, there have been many waves of stress, loss, and transitions. We do our best and try to power through. Our sense of vitality and creativity can get lost during times of stress or trauma. Through the pandemic, I believe that we all had some degree of collective trauma. The experience of being locked down, the fear of illness, and dealing with so many changes and transitions in our lives and in the world were overwhelming. When we’re dealing with trauma, major stress, or loss, the brain kicks in with the most important function it has – to protect us from threat by going into fight-or-flight mode. When this happens, our energy goes toward protecting and defending. We can feel a tightening and contracting. Our energy is not focused on being connected, compassionate, or creative. Perhaps you can recognize this in yourself. There can be a slow burn of flight-or-flight. In survival mode, we often don an outer covering of protection that keeps us from our heartfelt sense of self.

The word “heart” comes from the Latin root “cor.” In Old French the word “corage” meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart.” When we think of courage, we often think of heroic acts like running into a burning building to save someone. However, the word is more about following your authentic self. Brene Brown, the renowned researcher, author, and public speaker on issues of shame, courage, and vulnerability, translates the word to mean “wholeheartedness.” She said, “heroics is often about putting our lives on the line and courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.” So, courage means connecting with what matters most in our hearts. Many of the therapeutic approaches that I practice such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, EMDR, Internal Family Systems Therapy, and Yoga Nidra have culminated in the awareness that all roads lead back to the discovery of one’s true self.

“Choose what makes your heart bloom.” 

We can begin to recognize the ways in which we protect ourselves. We can discover what our defensive and protective strategies are, connect the dots, and learn how to face our fears. We can recognize when we’ve tightened and contracted, and then turn to our true selves and let our hearts bloom. It's about leading with your core self instead of fear and doubt. Therapy can accompany us to a space of being open, curious, compassionate, and creative. We can heal and grow, and return to who we are, and always have been. I invite you to reach out and see how you can find your true self again.