… Put some fun music on, and dance like nobody’s watching! Dancing allows us to tap into rhythm, which can settle our Nervous System. Additionally, dancing and moving our bodies activates more areas in our brain. This helps to bring the thinking part of our brain online, so we are not functioning primarily from our emotional or fear brain. This helps increase resilience by allowing us to think through situations to determine how best to proceed. Plus, dancing can be fun, bring out laughter, and change how we feel inside.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angie Berrett.
Angie Berrett is a child abuse survivor, Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Trauma Informed Yoga Instructor (A-TIY) and Intuitive Movement Coach who understands the human body and how it works. She helps people suffering with mental health struggles through play, breath work and movement. Angie is the Owner and Creator of Angie Berrett Movement, coaching folks how using play and “Non-Traditional” movements releases stored trauma in their bodies, transforming their lives.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Absolutely! I’m Angie Berrett (she/they). For many years I endured child abuse that left me feeling broken and unlovable. I grew up to be a Registered Nurse caring for others, feeling like I needed to earn a place in this world.
In 2017 everything in my life hit rock bottom, and something needed to change. I started on a journey to heal what I called my “Black Hole of Pain”. I have struggled on my path of healing, needing to learn new and various tools to build my resilience.
Around that same time, I got burned out working as a nurse. I decided to pursue a Master’s Degree, studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. Halfway through completion of my degree, I started questioning my decision. I chose to take a break from school to evaluate what I wanted to do with my life.
At the same time, the studio where I attended yoga classes was offering a Yoga Teacher Training. I took the training and loved it! Yoga and movement became such important parts in my healing and resilience I decided to switch careers. I started teaching yoga and movement and haven’t looked back.
Now as an Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga Instructor, Advanced Trauma Informed Yoga Instructor and an Intuitive Movement Coach, I help others struggling with stress, anxiety, depression and trauma use play and movement to change their lives.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I take clients out for private and semi-private stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga lessons. I had a client who had practiced yoga for a while. She was determined to try SUP Yoga. However, she did not know how to swim and was absolutely terrified of being on the water. Leaving the dock, she was on her knees gripping her paddle board for dear life. As we moved through a slow, gentle yoga practice she started feeling more and more comfortable. By the end of the practice, she was hooked. She came back out on the water with me multiple times, brought friends, and even ultimately did a headstand on her paddleboard.
The “take away” for me was do not let fear hold you back from something you want to try. You may love it, and it may change your life!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company is unique in how I use playful movements to help people heal. Learning to be a Trauma Informed Yoga Instructor taught me the power of play in healing trauma. This led me to create a proprietary way of moving that helped heal my own mind and body. Now, as an Intuitive Movement Coach I teach people how to learn the cues their Nervous System is giving them, and playful “non-traditional” movements to shift and release their pain.
I had a client who had experienced trauma growing up. She had done multiple forms of healing, yet still carried residual emotional and physical pain. For years, she suffered from shame, self-hatred and a limited range of motion in one of her shoulders. As we worked through some of her childhood traumas, she was able to release a lot of her suffering. Ultimately she learned to love herself and regained almost complete mobility in her shoulder. Her transformation was amazing to watch!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am so grateful for my therapist Liza Hicks, LCSW-C. I would not be where I am today without her! She has been my cheerleader, my support, my listening ear as well as my teacher and guide.
3 years ago I was exhausted and tired of working through such heavy and painful memories. I needed time away from therapy, but felt I could not escape the burdens I carried. Liza and I worked to discover a way that I could feel safe leaving my burdens with her to take a break. Finally we came up with the idea that I would write those emotions and memories I wanted to leave behind on a piece of paper and wrap it around a rock, representing everything tormenting me. I placed all those rocks in a box. I left this box of physical and emotional burdens with her for 3 months while I left the country and traveled. This allowed me time to heal. When I came back, I felt strong enough to take those burdens back and to work through them.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I define resilience as the ability to be stretched to one’s absolute maximum, and to bounce back stronger than before. I think of a balloon being blown up to its max ability. As it deflates, instead of being stretched out and weakened, the rubber is strengthened and reinforced. That is what resilience is to me.
Characteristics resilient people have are courage, strength, humility, curiosity, motivation and hope.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I think courage is a part of resilience, but there is much more to resilience than just courage. Resilience requires courage to continue to pull yourself up over and over. Courage is needed to face things that are scary, painful and overwhelming. Resilience involves being willing to look at the dark places, bringing them out into the light, which takes courage.
Resilience is different from courage in that curiosity and hope play big roles in finding resilience. A person has to have hope that things won’t stay the way they are forever. Resilience requires curiosity to continue exploring different ways of trying to find healing and peace. Humility is a big part of resilience in that resilient people are willing to be beginners, trying new things, ideas or ways to increase their capacity for growth.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Simone Biles is the first person that comes to my mind! She is inspirational in her resilience! She has received numerous awards, titles, and medals being one of the best gymnasts of all time. That itself requires an incredible amount of resilience; to keep pushing her body and mind to their limits over and over. More than that, I find her stepping away from the Tokyo Olympics to protect her mental health her greatest show of resilience. She faced mocking, outrage and shaming comments. Rather than retreat or hide, she shifted her messaging to become a spokesperson for mental health. I find her resilience, strength and courage incredibly inspiring!
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Many years ago, I was a long-distance runner. One day I was hit by a car walking across the street. My right leg was broken pretty badly. While it healed, and even after it healed, doctors told me I would never walk without a limp, let alone run again. I refused to accept that outcome. I now walk without a limp. Additionally, I got back into running, ultimately running my fastest half marathon.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I got married at a young age to a person who had their own emotional problems. Our marriage was very unhealthy and abusive. We were married for almost 9 years when I finally decided I could no longer continue in that harmful relationship. We belonged to a fundamental Christian religion where divorce was not acceptable. I still chose to leave my marriage. In the process, I lost many friends and the support of my religious congregation.
I went into therapy and started the process to heal from the wounds of my marriage. As I worked through that trauma, I realized that I have a right to be happy, and to feel loved. Now, I am very lucky that I have self-love and no longer allow myself to stay in situations which are harmful to me.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I am a child abuse survivor. I endured many years of abuse that was concealed from my parents. I had to learn resilience at a very young age in order to survive.
One thing I learned about building resilience was the importance of finding moments of joy and freedom. As a child, I loved to ride my bike. I rode it all around the neighborhood, as much as I could. My bike gave me freedom to go as fast or as slow as I wanted, opportunities to move, and the joy of being a child. All of this together allowed me times of peace. These moments allowed me to find strength, courage and resilience to grow into an adult without letting my abuse destroy me.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Here are 5 steps I recommend someone can take to become resilient
- Gratitude journaling, especially in the future tense — Gratitude journaling, especially in the future tense is incredibly powerful! Gratitude journaling is looking for things throughout the day you are grateful for, and writing them down at the end of the day. This gets our mind looking towards things that are going well, or at least not as bad. Gratitude journaling in the future tense is writing down your gratitude’s for things that have not yet happened, but you want to happen. For example, when I was working to book my first client, for days in a row I wrote in my journal “I am so grateful to book my first client. I am so grateful that I get to be a part of watching someone transform their life. I am so grateful someone finds my services to be beneficial to them.” Writing gratitude’s as if they have already happened helps to release fear and worry. This builds resilience by giving us energy to make things we want happen rather than spend time doubting and uncertain.
- Playful “Non-Traditional” Movements — All mammals, humans included, are born with our brains wired for play. Play is how children learn and experience joy. As adults, our play loses that sense of delight and wonder. Playful movements empower our bodies with freedom, curiosity and exhilaration, allowing us to release stress, tension, anxiety and depression. One of my favorites is to pretend I am an “Octopus on Roller Skates”. Imagine you have 8 limbs with no bones, and each one has a shoe with wheels on it. How would your body move? Try it out and see what shifts inside of you!
- Dance parties with upbeat music — Put some fun music on, and dance like nobody’s watching! Dancing allows us to tap into rhythm, which can settle our Nervous System. Additionally, dancing and moving our bodies activates more areas in our brain. This helps to bring the thinking part of our brain online, so we are not functioning primarily from our emotional or fear brain. This helps increase resilience by allowing us to think through situations to determine how best to proceed. Plus, dancing can be fun, bring out laughter, and change how we feel inside.
- Create a “Your Name’s Amazing List (mine is Angie’s Amazing list!) — Write a list of at least 10 things you have done in your life that you are proud of, amazing, challenging, and/or fun. Put that list somewhere you have easy access to it, such as in your phone. When you start to doubt yourself, or feel discouraged, pull out the list and look over it. You will be reminded of how truly amazing you are!
- Connection with other people, pets or nature — Connecting to something outside of ourselves can help build resilience by building attachments and feeling engaged. If you have people in your life who build you up, reach out to them. Sometimes trying to connect to people can be too overwhelming. Instead, try connecting with animals or nature. Better yet animals in nature! Take a walk outside, listen to the birds, or the wind in the trees, or water moving. Experiencing nature helps us feel a sense of belonging, decreasing loneliness.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am trying to start a movement of using play and movements to release stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD! I want to empower people to discover safe environments to recognize cues their Nervous System is giving them. Then, utilizing playful, “non-traditional” movements, discharge trapped energy in their bodies and release stored trauma. This pathway allows people opportunities to feel the discomfort of healing without being overwhelmed.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with author and activist Sonya Renee Taylor! Her work around radical self-love and her activism around body image, and breaking down the systems that oppresses marginalized groups inspires me. I admire her passion and her willingness to discuss difficult topics and issues.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!