Avoid gaslighting yourself and not believing your truth that it is hurtful and that what happened is wrong. I was in denial of how much my childhood and the sexual assault hurt me; however, only when I started to come to grips with the reality that I needed to face the emotions did things start to improve for me.
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 Karisa Karmali.
Karisa Karmali is Founder of Self-Love and Fitness™, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, an ISSA Certified Online Fitness Coach, and a NASM Certified Nutrition Coach. Self-Love and Fitness™ is also an online retailer of fitness equipment. Her website is: https://selfloveandfitness.com/
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?
While I have turned growing up in foster care into fuel and determination, I did not fully come to terms with my childhood until recently. Having lost many years of my life, I view my time a lot differently and I am certainly not someone who will coast and take things as they come, I don’t settle and I create my reality and decide where to flow my energy, time, and attention and I want other people with similar experiences to be the main character of the rest of their life. Everyone has a choice to make on how they spend the rest of their life, even if their start in life was crappy.
Time may have been lost to trauma and there is no denying that; however, this drive and skill level can truly multiply the number of amazing things and dreams we can accomplish.
The main takeaway that I want others to see is that self-esteem and self-worth are from within, and we can build it ourselves, it does not need to be instilled in us from external sources.
The correlation between “self-love and fitness” and my trauma is that anytime our self-worth is shattered, we can stay bodied through movement that we enjoy, which will help us cultivate resilience and self-compassion.
As well, when our anchors come from within and when we are immune to the praise, flattery, hate, criticism, and judgment of others, except for a select few trustworthy people, we can be authentic.
How did I find a silver lining in being abused by my biological family and shipped from one foster home to another?
Authenticity is a springboard for self-trust and self-compassion. From a place of self-compassion, we can learn to see silver linings (if we choose to do so, should that be useful for our unique healing journey) and even possibly use the trauma as a propeller for our future.
When our anchors are within us, we also make decisions based on our future vision, rather than our present circumstances and we do not internalize the behaviors of others. I am not saying to stay in bad situations, but I am also saying not to let them permeate your aura while finding solutions (which can be moving through it or moving past it except for abuse of any sort, in which case, leaving as soon as possible is the best answer).
Using the trauma to better our skill, mental fortitude, and to better ourselves overall, in addition to sharing our lessons with others is a part of taking control of the steering wheel of our lives. It is all part of owning our main character vibes and energy. Fitness has a lot to do with being the main character as well.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
The friend who called me that night where I left the business partner who sexually assaulted me in front of other frat boys in the sexually explicit environment that was that room is the most inspirational person in my career I would say.
The meeting room we used was filled with chest-staring hooligans, aggressive demeanors, and sexually violating jokes. It’s about power, not attraction and she said that ending my life would make it so they successfully took my confidence: my Crown, Soul, and Spirit.
Attraction is a very sad excuse for abusing power and impositions. I never once felt less worthy because certain people need to go around dehumanizing others to feel good about their very weak ego; however, I did feel extreme stress and like my whole career and life would be over.
Thankfully, I usually never rely on only one source of income for the exact reason that I may run into more insecure people who pride themselves in destroying others.
They were super subtle at first about putting their faces near mine within a few inches to physically intimidate me and they’d make condom jokes about regular office items. One of the main harassers was hired by my business partner and would nitpick my work even when it was error-free because my competence made him look bad and lazy.
I left this unequal partnership because the person who says “enough” is the person who puts an end to it and stops it for others too. Although I didn’t go through the criminal justice system, I stood up for myself by leaving. I am certain that they will implode on their own. I cannot believe I stayed as long as I did!
Sometimes, we think leaving is defeat; however, can you really grow a business in toxic, slimy, demeaning, and barbaric environments that make very creative excuses for the treatment?
Who will they have left to demean and harass when people start to empower themselves and break off toxic partnerships, each other? Will they simply stare at one another’s chests and rub each other’s shoulders without consent? We can stop being in those types of environments more easily the smarter we get with our time and money and the more we invest in our own ventures is what I am trying to say.
It not only pisses me off that people are afraid of speaking up, but that normally they are punished for doing so in both subtle and not so subtle ways. In my case, none of my other business partners believed me, but I didn’t care. I know what I saw with my own eyes and felt with my own body and no one wanted to be a witness.
I had never felt so alone until my friend called me and gave me the fuel to eventually start my own business and show survivors of sexual violence and foster care that we can not only recover, but we can live our best lives in spite of the confidence-sucking behaviors of others (which are a reflection of them, not us).
In essence, my brand, Self-Love and Fitness, was built as a mechanism for me to channel adversity into something positive.
I think in some way, that failed venture did a lot more than make me start that blog/business years later — it reinforced my sense of self and affirmed that regardless of how I was being treated, I was not their victim, I was my own person. Although I was victimized, I feel like a survivor and they did not keep me down for very long at all. Walking away is sometimes a sign that says: I deserve more.
My only “regret” was trying to change him/them and not walking away sooner from a space that condoned (any level of) harassment, but lesson learned for sure.
Any attacks on my self-worth have been fuel for me to undertake my start-up, even if I only started it a few years after I was sexually assaulted.
I built a foundation with insults on my personality traits (highly driven nature), the judgment of my anxiety (people telling me I was faking it), and the discomfort of being a woman who has faced many hyper-sexualized frat-house (locker room) boys clubs “just joking” types of business partners who abused the power dynamic.
Why am I sharing this?
You can turn pain into power too. Don’t let sexual harassment stop you. Create multiple income streams and remove yourself from the grasp of any unethical business partner faster than I did!
Also, let’s shame the perpetrators, even anonymously, and put the real blame where it belongs. Never accept the blame for their actions. Empower yourself.
Self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence are from within. When we empower ourselves, no one can take away our power permanently, maybe at that point in time, but not forever.
Is it a bit weird that I am thankful for it now? I was sleeping at the steering wheel of my life until the moment of the assault and allowing other people’s ventures (at the expense of my own purpose) and expectations of me to be the focus of my life. I was following the flow of life, rather than creating my own flow. It does not help that one of the foster homes I was in promoted the thought that women were created to be full-time breeders and pop out as many babies as possible. This limiting belief definitely did not help me later in life. At the time, I told myself I had to settle for this unequal business partnership while working for a poorly matched job. I know better now.
He thought he pushed me down and took my confidence using gender as the reason for the bullying, he actually woke me up to my purpose. I call that Divine redirection, as prior to the assault there was a build-up of subtle harassment and I can’t imagine still being around this type of insecure misogynist who needs to belittle others to feel powerful. I may have actually stayed if the assault had not made me realize how disgusting the whole situation was. It is very problematic to be around people who retaliate for the most basic boundaries and human rights. I have woken up to realize that I have a lot of talent and can make an impact in so many more ways than having stayed in a place like that.
I realize now that hateful people had issues long before I came along and I must have exacerbated their existing insecurities, his assaulting me was a way for him to exert control and power, using gender as a weapon.
My brand only came about a few years after the assault, as during that time I was simply exercising more and doing self-love rituals.
Without making it my fault that it happened in the first place, the healing was still my own personal responsibility in order to ensure that I was not being held back.
The motivator now, aside from helping people level up athletically and seeing how a strong body leads to a strong mind, is that this is a huge part of ensuring that I can be in a position to give back to the community. I support the Just One Person scholarship for Youth in Care because I was one. I feel like building my business was turning resilience into an action verb, the very act of creating my independence through my business is a form of mental fortitude for me.
I used self-love and fitness as a drug back then, and it worked, but now, it just maintains and levels up my mental resilience on a daily basis and I hope other people can see this as an example of the mental health benefits of fitness.
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?
When I first started creating my business, many people thought that building programs and plans from scratch and making them tailor-made would be impossible, clearly that was false. I simply manage the amount of people I can work with at once and do so according to how long a from-scratch plan takes me. Of course, there are principles, but the order of the steps will be different even if two people have similar goals.
The other thing for which I got opposition is allowing people to have fun foods when they are shedding body fat, but I believe that if it fits their calorie ranges and they get enough protein and fiber and other nutrients, they are fine with having fun foods here and there. I will never be the person to tell others to stop eating sugar altogether and stop living their life. I am all about moderation and sustainability.
I owe myself the respect of making sure that I listen to my gut because anxiety is a barometer in terms of what I need to be around in order to be at my best.
I have lost my childhood to a lot of trauma and the rest of my life will be the best of my life.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
It is not enough to sell a combination of workouts or plans, each detail should be built from scratch, this takes longer and is far more expensive, but that is the quality control mechanism I have in place. I deliberately work with fewer people at a time to ensure my quality control standards are there because at the end of the day if people are not helped in a thorough and accurate manner it’s not really possible to solve the problem properly.
My company, Self-Love and Fitness, stands out because the actual programs and plans are built from scratch every single time. I don’t believe that even people with similar ages, goals, and body types should have the same plan as not everyone responds to the same exercise and diet the same. This also means that one person’s starting point on a health journey may be different than someone else’s.
How will I expand my mental capacity and scale?
I can scale by selling courses and e-books if I want to help more people, but I refuse to sell pre-made plans as I cannot create a plan or give solid advice without onboarding and having conducted a medical-level assessment done on each individual I serve.
I have learned that it is impossible to cater my niche to all fitness levels and I may start a spin-off brand, but each brand, in my books, should be specific to a certain group of people with a need or want. Think of thriving brands like Starbucks and Uber — even in a pandemic… They didn’t drop/change their niche. They may have changed the service delivery model but not their “want” model — people don’t “need” Starbucks, they want Starbucks — and building a “want” brand is a luxury brand with a cult-like level of appeal. That’s awesome because that’s what works for certain industries, mine included. Even if the majority of coaches help with weight loss goals, I view it from a different perspective… Just because the usual goal of fitness is weight loss, the goal of my brand is getting back on track or leveling up, I do things my way and cater to people with the goals for which my brand was designed.
Fitness can be for quality of life, increasing performance, and many reasons outside of looks.
I am also very passionate about dismantling myths and ensuring that people who are simply trying to improve their health do not get scammed by shady skinny teas and fake detox pills. This is a very unpopular opinion and I very much do not care, I stand for what is right, fair, and ethical.
The skinny teas and “detoxes” all insinuate that fat can be burned through a random substance or pill that we ingest, but the bodily functions that trigger fat loss are not at all related to ingesting some sort of pill. While I am talking about detox pills, and not fitness performance enhancers, usually, the people these marketers target, most of which have no fitness qualifications, are weight loss patients.
Pills and potions have dehydrating and damaging (acidic) ingredients like high doses of citric acid and black pepper, which is another reason I enjoy dismantling false hope and fake myths.
Many of the false-hope-giving trends might make people money, but it is at the expense of misleading people to think that they are doing something good for their health when they are not. These trendy pills come with a side of metabolic damage, water retention, heartburn, unhealthy gut flora, and diarrhea.
If these magic potions inhibit fat digestion even minimally, then it just means “stopping digestion” and it also means not digesting food correctly, nutrient malabsorption, and also inhibits muscle growth.
Increasing metabolism and muscle mass are both required for actual weight loss, so these pills and potions may help people lose water weight and see immediate changes on the scale (not fat loss, but just water weight loss), but truly derail real weight loss.
Laxatives and diuretics give the illusion of weight loss due to water weight. If you’re a potential consumer, please don’t.
Let’s get back to the basics of nutrition and ensure we burn more than we consume by exercising or portion control and not over-complicate our lives.
I do not push products on my clients and I customize every detail.
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 grateful for a close friend who holds me accountable to my vision for my business and my fundraiser and ensures I protect my time off for the gym (critical for my mental capacity). He ensures that I do not spread myself too thin. Having buffers in my schedule for unexpected delays and detours for my content marketing, discovery calls, and revisions on plans for clients that are built from scratch is a form of quality control.
I am also grateful for my friend who stopped me from ending my life two years ago. When I left that toxic business partnership, I felt hopeless. My friend reminded me to not lose my life-force energy to anyone who is sexist (who gets their false sense of feeling high and mighty by bringing others down). My self-esteem comes from my self-belief and my self-belief alone.
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?
Resilience is an action verb and a mental state. Resilient people do not internalize the actions, inactions, behaviors of others, or life circumstances as a statement of their self-worth. Their self-worth comes from within.
Resilient people can ride the waves of uncertainty and trouble when such situations arise without losing their self-worth. I have mental breakdowns as much as anyone else does; however, I rise to the occasion, and I prefer to face challenges head-on. I get affected by each blow, but I never lose the war by giving up. My vision will never change based on circumstances, as I may adjust the “how I get there”, but I will never adjust the end goal.
If we can’t leave a relationship or life situation or setting right away, we can work through solutions, while not allowing it to stop our momentum or mess with our aura (energetic alignment). Resilient people also understand that creativity comes in stillness and quiet. If you do not carve out time for peace, you will not know which inspired actions to take. Our intuition speaks when we are in pure joy. I understand that bad situations don’t allow for a lot of joy, but if we can do our best to create mini-breaks in our days when possible, this is when the Universe will speak to us.
Resilient people believe in their ability to manage storms so they don’t feel the need to shrink back.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage is taking action to adapt to or change your circumstances with the resources you have (tackling things head-on, while being as joyful as possible, if possible). Resilience is the mental state of a person who does not get brought down for much longer than necessary and whose self-belief is restored as if the act of violence or negative circumstances towards the actual victim never happened. I am not talking about selective amnesia or gaslighting oneself, as the memory of the trauma will stay, as will the cellular wiring that was caused by it from a physiological perspective, but it does not affect the future potential of the person who suffered the event or harm. The action verb portion of resilience is not feeling like a victim forevermore and realizing that we can transform trauma into skill and transform it to our advantage.
We mentally reframe what happened as something that was meant to be and find the silver linings when we are ready. No other way to see it will serve us! We then turn the pain into power to 10X our future success, the intense drive is very helpful and without certain negative experiences, would we be this driven? Probably not. If the goal of a hater or a bad situation is to stop us, let’s please do the opposite and use it as ignition to fuel the fire within our soul.
Resilience as an action verb means staying bodied while bad things are happening and not losing that deep connection with yourself. Meaning, if you are victimized, you may fall for a while, but you never allow it to permeate your self-worth or the way you view your potential, and it does not cloud your vision. Working on my future vision on a daily basis has helped tremendously.
I am sending so much positivity to anyone reading this and please know that whatever made you feel less than, whatever hindered your worth, it does not matter in the end and while we may still live in an unjust world, keeping our self-worth is a form of justice and so is paving our own way through owning at least one of our streams of income fully! Resilience, for me, is taking ownership of our self-worth and while the justice system may not always be on the side of the victim, we can stop playing in the situations and environments that are against us and create our own path and remix the traditional path as we please. Not allowing gremlins to permeate our aura is a form of justice that we create for ourselves and it is a form of taking back our power. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen many unjust businesses and places implode, especially those who treated women like crap… so karma does catch up!
Think about it differently and you do not need to feel like you are worthless and take back control in your own way. Maybe you could not report it and maybe no one believed you, but the Divine sees everything, and happiness and success is the best revenge is also a form of embodying resilience. If I inspired you right now, think of who you will inspire by staying in your power! Of course, release and process all of the emotion, but please do not let them take your Crown.
Trust me when I say that those who put you through hell will eventually watch you be Crowned with all of the success that you worked hard for, do not give up, and be resilient with me! If I can do it, you can too.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Simone Biles is amazing and is making it easier for others to call out rape culture in all industries. It takes a lot of courage to speak up and speak out. The only people who will have an issue with those who speak out are the unethical types who think justice is too much work. Eventually, any space, even an organization like the one she dealt with, that fails to be progressive and get with the times, is going to implode, I have seen it so many times and I love it when karma catches up to unethical people and places (i.e. companies that exploited women heavily in their marketing). They think they have success by evading ethics, but it does not last long.
I used to feel bad about the fact that certain people are still thriving despite all their evil deeds (like that previous business partner); however, what they will never experience in life unless some serious exorcism happens is true self-worth, and frankly, who cares what they have or do not have, the beauty is that they did not rob me from my future as I create it!
I have skills that I can take anywhere and so does Simone.
I lost nothing by no longer working with him and his cronies and Simone lost nothing for taking a break for her mental health and starting amazing projects is just Divine Redirection, whether that redirection is temporary or permanent.
Every hater, mean girl, and harasser has made me stronger and stronger, and I have a lot of pride in my ability to use their fake sense of power that comes from bringing others down into my sense of fuel and confidence.
I have walked away from many battles where it seemed I was weak and should have fought more. It’s not about whether they were worth my saliva or not… We all know they were not worth a bigger battle, but it was about walking away due to being worthy of not fighting for the basics and directing my energy elsewhere. Queens don’t fight for the basics, and we are all children of the Divine (or whatever we believe in) which means that we are Divinely protected and we can decide to which extent of justice to fight each battle presented to us. People who do not cause others intentional harm as certain evil creatures do will always be restored and justice will always be served through karma or other means.
I love that Simone Biles is taking a break for her mental health because there is power in restoration, and there is a lot of power in pausing. The other concept that she is indirectly teaching others is that feeling the full spectrum of human emotions is far more powerful than berating yourself or others for feeling unpleasant emotions. It is about managing storms, not escaping them, or fearing negative emotions that are a healthy response to a bad situation (provided we do not make decisions from that space). Understanding how to manage the polarity (good and bad) of all emotions is more powerful than avoiding pain which is an inevitable part of life and has to be processed and felt to be healed.
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?
I had no idea I could build a start-up from scratch with two jobs! I was determined to not allow anyone external to me, including possible investors, to tell me how to run my business. This is more than a business, it is my creation and mine only and I have a select few people that I choose to work with, but other than that, I will put in ridiculous amounts of work to ensure this vision is exclusively mine. I will scale at a pace that works for me.
I also had many people tell me that building programs from scratch was impossible and I am too young or not experienced enough in fitness, yet I have a brilliant gift of intuition and empathy and the ability to customize each repetition and detail for clients, I learn fast and I innovate. I think innovation beats being set in one’s ways especially in a post-pandemic world and who are they to judge the quality of my experience anyway? I suppose they saw me as a threat and wanted to stomp my flame, they did not realize that this simply gave me more fuel. While this market is saturated, I do things my way and I serve those who I am willing to serve to the fullest and I put my unique twist on things and I am fully happy with how I do things and so are my clients. I measure success through the quality of the service, not the number of clients served. When people choose a coach, they also choose philosophy and expertise. It is not just how many clients they have served in the past based on hourly consultations and pre-made generic plans which are easy to show high number scores, it is about resonance and customization even more so now than ever! Attention to detail when it comes to health is critical, someone having sold generic plans for 50 years no longer impresses people.
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 had to take a few weeks off from fitness when I got my wisdom teeth pulled out and I almost ran out of the dental office because of my anxiety, not only did I follow through on the surgery, I came back even stronger with my training which is very important to me on many levels. I was on applesauce and protein shakes for a few weeks so I did see some physical differences in my body composition and given the industry I am in, this did hurt.
That being said, I got back into it quickly with intense focus and beat my PR (personal record) for deadlifts, pull-ups, and increased my cardio efforts. The fitness game is based on mental discipline and mental visualization. I learned that it was mental when I did strength training fasted, not intentionally as I do not recommend it, but I genuinely forgot to eat that day before the gym and needed to get my workout done. I visualized the finish line (the end goal) and pre-paved my way to accomplish more pull-ups than last time before each movement, and it worked. Of course, there is a lot of strength training that goes into it, but self-belief is truly where resilience starts. You cannot push your body at any level that your mind has not gone first. At this time, I was testing how long I would need to prepare if I was to compete and this entire wisdom teeth thing derailed me, but not for too long!
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?
My childhood is where my unstoppable drive comes from. Having overcome foster care has shaped me.
Except for needles, dental surgery, and blood tests, not much scares me for too long. I hated my life and childhood for the longest time, but what fruit will I bear if I see it as a negative even if it is innately negative? That does not serve me at all! It also does not help others at all! I realize now, the only reason I can handle this many ideas, business ventures, and so on, is due to the expanded mental capacity that my childhood gave me. I am starting to understand that now. My brain’s processing speed is what my childhood gave me. I have been in dangerous situations since birth, this sharpened my instincts and redirects me to the right paths for me very fast when I listen to my intuition.
It gave me the mental skill and the ability to continuously push myself mentally and in the gym, past the point of muscle overload. While I ensure that I rest enough, I enjoy constantly expanding my capacity.
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.
The SPACE method to healing that I shared in the “5 Things You Need to Heal” is the exact same method I use for resilience as the outcome is the same, we have to heal to become resilient and through healing, resilience follows.
S-P-A-C-E stands for:
- S: Self-responsibility means taking ownership and initiative for the inner work and showing up for yourself.
- P: Processing emotions fully means feeling them without judgment or repression and doing so on an ongoing basis.
- A: Acceptance of the depth of the pain means not sugar-coating anything and accepting how bad it was.
- C: Confronting the pain to find solutions is the opposite of hiding from it, it means focusing on solutions.
- E: Elevation of your body, mind, and soul through creativity/movement is about daily rituals that consciously keep your spirits high
1. S: Self-responsibility means taking ownership and initiative for the inner work and showing up for yourself.
Self-responsibility can be used interchangeably with self-authority or self-love.
The moment I realized that no single healing method was going to be my savior or holy grail and that I would need to exercise self-trust in choosing bits and parts of a few different methods to merge them into what worked for me, is the moment the game changed for me. I realized that no one was coming to save me and no one else was responsible for my healing. Just me. This was simply me freeing myself from expecting the healing to come from external people, places, and things, which empowered me to own the trajectory of it!
Self-responsibility also applies to the fact that while the wound is not our fault, the healing is our responsibility to avoid being dragged down by the wounds themselves.
How I healed may not be how someone else heals. Essentially, developing enough self-trust to customize your own approach is basically what self-responsibility comes down to. Some days, you may feel like writing, some days, you may feel like exercising, and some days, you may feel like doing some other self-care ritual. It is important to stress that there is no single method that should be prescribed to everyone!
Part of doing the inner work is cultivating that self-trust to be able to discern which methods, at which times of the day, at whatever point in your life is what you need at that moment and this will change from one moment to the next. I do not drop what I am doing in the middle of an anxiety attack to start writing or meditating, I manage those moments of panic at that moment with more practical tools like self-talk, for instance. In another moment of panic, I might go for a walk, so it all depends.
When it comes to self-responsibility for healing, I do not mean that tools and resources do not exist, as they do, but what I mean is that they cannot do the work for you, and they cannot figure out what you need in every moment nor can they truly know what will resonate with you personally as they cannot know you better than you know yourself, that is where the inner work comes in.
While other people, like therapists, or coaches, may provide guidance, you are the person that is with you through the panic attacks and the actual journey right? For me, realizing that no one external to me has all the answers forced me to tune into myself and take the bits and pieces of guidance that resonated with me. It is not a bad thing to look for guidance in people who are trustworthy; however, ultimately, the person living through it is you and just because a method has worked wonders for someone else, that does not mean it will work for you.
Have the self-trust to choose what is right for you and make tweaks from one method to the next, go with your flow.
2. P: Processing emotions fully means feeling them without judgment or repression and doing so on an ongoing basis.
Processing emotions is key to ensuring that we feel them in full. Managing the triggers is far more humane, realistic, and healthy than trying to avoid triggers. It is important not to be misled by the myth that humans should avoid suffering and pain, the goal is to move mindfully through all moments, and getting to an objective and neutral place from a place of sadness and sorrow is a more realistic jump than going from super sad to super happy. When we do not feel, we cannot heal, and sometimes, repressed emotions can resurface as mysterious illnesses. Ask me how I know? I have been there! Back when I thought that avoiding my feelings was a good idea, I would have ridges on my fingernails and skin rashes.
I do not believe that people should be trained to never feel anger, we should talk more openly about healthy coping methods instead. Avoiding pain only leads to various forms of unhealthy coping mechanisms that can range from overeating, to overdrinking.
Processing emotions is not only healing, but it is also resilience in motion.
3. A: Acceptance of the depth of the pain means not sugar-coating anything and accepting how bad it was.
Accepting the depth and ugliness of the pain is crucial. This is critical to avoid allowing the people, places, and situations that hurt or harmed us to further permeate our energy, our heart, our soul, and our zest for life past a certain point in time. Accepting how we feel, accepting ourselves despite feeling that way, and accepting that what happened actually happened, is also key.
Avoid gaslighting yourself and not believing your truth that it is hurtful and that what happened is wrong. I was in denial of how much my childhood and the sexual assault hurt me; however, only when I started to come to grips with the reality that I needed to face the emotions did things start to improve for me.
4. C: Confronting the pain to find solutions is the opposite of hiding from it, it means focusing on solutions.
Confronting and facing the situation that happened, in a manner that is safe within the context of the situation, is also crucial. Only when things are faced can they be healed.
Sometimes, facing it means putting boundaries in place, sometimes, it also means moving forward and moving on without those situations in our future, when that is the healthier option. It all depends on the context, but for sure, we cannot heal what we do not face. Accepting and forgiving situations is for you, not for them.
Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation and it certainly does not warrant unsafe people a place in your future or re-exposing yourself to abusers in any way shape or form. You can keep the lesson, not the person. That is your choice and no one else’s.
The idea that we cannot focus on something unwanted because if we do, we will attract more of it can cause people to self-blame for having been the recipient of horrible acts of violence of all sorts! To find solutions or leave, we have to focus on the problem to an extent, handle it, while finding ways to maintain some levels of joy in our lives during those times (as best as possible).
5. E: Elevation of your body, mind, and soul through creativity/movement is about daily rituals that consciously keep your spirits high. Fitness is resilience in motion!
Same as the other components of S-P-A-C-E, they do not have to happen in any order and they can all happen interchangeably and at once, so it is not a step-by-step thing. The “elevate” step can happen alongside other steps. Elevate means elevating your body, mind, and soul with the physical movement that best resonates with you. It can be walking, biking, jogging, running, bodyweight exercises, yoga, Pilates, or lifting weights. Lifting weights saved me while processing the sexual assault. Within the realm of what is realistic for you, the importance of the gut-brain axis through proper nutrition also helps healing. The gut has a lot to do with mood regulation.
All of these concepts or steps come down to managing our relationship with trauma, while healing, which means that healing can start while we are processing it.
Resilience in action is essentially getting grounded within ourselves, while moving through things.
Getting grounded in ourselves, while things are happening to us, can happen when we accept the existence of the trauma, rather than resisting it and trying to mentally remove ourselves from it, which is difficult; however, this can strengthen our resolve in the end and disallow the trauma to overcome our entire self.
Thinking about trauma, issues, situations, and talking about it is often banned by people who say that “what you think about you bring about”, which makes sense; however, we still need to process our emotions and put focus on the solutions. Sometimes, we are not at a place where we are seeking solutions and need to grieve the loss of our childhoods, loved ones, jobs, and so on. It is important to understand that talking, writing, processing situations does not bring more of that to us, we cannot just avoid our emotions in the name of not attracting more of it and I can assure you that mentally and emotionally processing emotions from a place of moving through it is not the same as putting your attention on it for the sake of it. I almost find that whole “what you think about you bring about” taken out of context when it comes to healing.
Elevating ourselves can also mean walking away from what is not meant for us. Moving from healing into resilience requires filling our own cup, visions, and dreams first and never doing things to our own detriment. Doing things to our own detriment and staying in situations that are not meant for us can stop us from fulfilling our truest visions.
Energy can be transformed through processing things, not avoiding them. Only when things are faced can we move in the direction of the next logical step in the context of each situation.
Improving our relationship with pain and trauma is about honoring ourselves, accepting and respecting our feelings and this is about creating that emotional freedom WHILE undergoing loss or difficult situations, rather than waiting until after.
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. 🙂
The movement is to help survivors of sexual violence take their power back, and I started experimenting with a social media campaign already, so any re-shares of my existing content around this would be so appreciated!
It is about sharing awareness about my “SPACE” (adaptable) healing method with as many people as possible through an Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok campaign called “Take Your Power Back” through the hashtag: #takeyourpowerback.
People who have survived any form or level of sexual violence and abuse, in any setting, are encouraged to share their self-care habits and stories (without naming names necessarily) with others as an example of overcoming adversity.
The end goal would be to create a fund for people who lose their jobs or partnerships for standing up against harassment, but for now, I can start with raising awareness and putting the shame back on the insecure power abusers, bystanders, enablers, cronies, and the perpetrators!
I used to think raising awareness was not that significant, but when people can see that self-worth and self-care can help them take their power back and that there is a lot of dignity and self-respect in walking away, they can start to define justice for themselves. We may not always be able to change the laws or institutions that protect the perpetrators, but we can create our own paths and pave new lanes where we leave behind the people who perpetrate abuse and unethical behavior.
If you’ve ever been sexually harassed, assaulted, or anything of that nature to any extent… I can relate to not being believed and not having any justice system back you up because they usually side with the perpetrator out of convenience.
You’re worth more than a flawed institution or justice system and your worth is not based on how they treated you (it’s a power play, not attraction). If you stop living or healing to live your life to the fullest, you have given them your Crown, Soul, and Spirit (they want your confidence and self-worth). I also share side-hustle tips for financial empowerment which would have helped me in my toxic partnership from two years ago to be able to leave sooner.
When self-trust, self-worth, and self-assurance are cultivated from within us, we are not shaken for as long as we would be without those strong anchors.
While the circumstances around us may shake us deeply, our self-love does not drop since we do not internalize the circumstances or things done to us as a statement of our worthiness as a person.
Your eventual happiness is the best revenge. Break free from their damage to your self-confidence. Stay alive and shock them with your resilience. We are in this together.
You’re welcome to join the movement by sharing a photo of yourself or a photo your self-care routine (coffee, tea, journaling, gym time essential oils) along with your personal story (as detailed as you want to get, and without naming names preferably as that is not what this is about) and how you survived, and use the hashtags below:
#takeyourpowerback, #wearetheevidence, #standyourground, #healingfromsexualabuse, and #believesurvivors
You are helping others by showing how you helped yourself and showing that happiness is a form of justice. So what if the legal systems are not on our side? We do not need anyone to believe us or believe in us when we believe in ourselves, and that is the point here, self-worth is from within.
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 Simone Biles.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!