Creating a Trauma-Informed World
In my September 2021 blog I wrote about embarking on a one year journey to learn a therapeutic approach called Compassionate Inquiry (CI). The originator of the approach, Dr. Gabor Maté, MD is a world renowned speaker, writer and expert on the topics of trauma and addiction. The CI training program is as demanding as it is life changing. I've already logged over 50 hours of study and practice in the first 4 months. With the first 18 weeks dedicated to self-inquiry, I have been able to address, and gradually heal from, relational and developmental childhood trauma in ways that were inaccessible to me through other forms of talk therapy and personal development work. Learning to be curious, rather than judgmental, about my reactions has helped me to uncover the roots of defense mechanisms that no longer serve me. Seeing my younger self through the eyes of compassion, rather than fear, shame, anger and sadness has opened me up to forgiveness - for myself and for those people and situations I blamed for my unhappiness and perceived failures.
Gabor Maté's definition of trauma: Trauma is not what happens to you, it is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you. Trauma is anything that changes you, in a way that makes your future responses to the world more limited. It interferes with the natural growth process which is the unfolding of insight, curiosity, development, growth, intelligence, relationship. You come out of the trauma more limited than when you went in. Your body awareness is limited, capacity to regulate responses is limited, mid-frontal cortex's response flexibility to external triggers is limited. The greater the trauma, the greater the limitation, the greater the state of being trapped in the past.
I have started to incorporate the Compassionate Inquiry approach into my coaching practice where my clients and I co-create ways forward in their current life situations by inquiring into the origins of limiting beliefs and self-defeating coping mechanisms that were borne out of traumatic experiences in childhood. In a few weeks, the 2nd level of the course begins and I will be expected to practice the approach formally with clients in dedicated CI sessions. If you are interested in working with me and are open to exploring the trauma you have experienced in life please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's a listing of Compassionate Inquiry Practitioners in (or near) your part of the world, all have completed the training I am going through now and have fulfilled additional requirements for certification.
Here are two books on trauma and one that helps readers connect with the authentic self (what gets cut off when we go through a traumatic experience), all recommended by the CI program, that I've read recently or that I'm currently enjoying:
As part of my mission to help create a more trauma-informed world, in February I'm partnering with AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM) for an online event for their members, volunteers and staff called Unlocking the Wisdom of Trauma. During this 2 hour interactive webinar, we will view clips from The Wisdom of Trauma, a documentary about Dr. Maté’s life and work, interspersed with mindfulness activities, somatic exercises and engaging group discussions. Hopefully if our local pandemic response permits, I'll partner with ACCM again in early spring for an in-person viewing of the film followed by a facilitated discussion. If you're interested in learning how I can support your company or organization in becoming more trauma-informed let me know by emailing email@example.com and if you want to check out the full Wisdom of Trauma documentary, it's now available for streaming here.
Living a More Creative Life
One of my goals for this year is to write a memoir. Writing a book (of any kind) has been a dream of mine since I was a child. Last year, in pursuit of this goal, I joined a program called The Book Incubator offered by author and writing coach Mary Adkins. Learning from Mary and being in community with other writers has been educational, inspirational and FUN. The program has taught me that book writing doesn't have to be a torturous endeavor. To ignite my creative fires I took Mary's advice and picked up two of her favorite book recommendations on creativity and I'm passing them on to you:
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is all about how to overcome fear to live a more creative life. Here's my favorite passage:
"Whenever anybody tells me they want to write a book in order to help other people, I always think, Oh, please don't. Please don't try to help me...I would so much rather that you wrote a book in order to entertain yourself than to help me. Or if your subject matter is darker and more serious, I would prefer that you made your art to save yourself, or to relieve yourself, or to relieve yourself of some great psychic burden, rather than to save or relieve us."
Reading this passage, and the rest of Big Magic, freed me from the expectations I was holding about who I was writing for and why I was writing in the first place. I realized that if I'm going to do this, the writing of it has got to be an entertaining experience for me. If writing about my trauma is going to save anyone, it has to save me first.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is another recommendation by Mary Adkins that has motivated me to get started writing now. Pressfield's focus is on resistance and how to win the internal battle against it. The promise is that if we show up with discipline and devotion to do the work, the muses will reward us with the creative inspiration that we seek.
Podcasts Worth A Listen
Sounds True: Insights from the Edge - A Soberful Life A conversation with Veronica Valli, sober coach and author of the new book Soberful. While her focus is on alcohol addiction, I think there's something in this episode for anyone with any kind of addiction or addictive behavior (read: all of us). My key takeaway are Valli's five pillars of personal development: movement, connection, balance, process & growth. Instead of focusing on drinking or not drinking, Valli says that we should focus on these pillars to achieve greater (re)connection to our authentic selves.
The desire to share my personal story with the world is the same drive that makes me want to hear other people's life stories. The following podcasts all take different but equally effective approaches to giving voice to first person experiences:
On Being A Better Coach & Branching Out
2021 was the year that I launched Silverstone Coaching. What I didn't know in those early months of the process is that it takes, on average, about three years for a coach to build up their practice to the point it is profitable. In case you were wondering, having a beautiful logo, an engaging website and social media presence does not immediately translate into new clients. There are many approaches one can take to build a coaching practice, but the way that feels most aligned to my beliefs and values will require time and patience.
Here are some of the insights I've gained in the first 6 months of my journey. The best way to get clients that are committed to transforming their lives is through positive word of mouth. And the best way to get current clients talking to potential clients is by being the best coach I can be. To that end, and in addition to the the Compassionate Inquiry training, my priority has been to grow my skills as a coach. I do this as a program participant in Tapestry - a year-long learning program offered by Coaches Rising. In this program, coaches from around the world learn together from some of the most revered masters in a variety of disciplines. Every month we focus on a different topic; think of it as different threads in the tapestry of what makes a great coach.
Mixed in with the excitement of launching my business was a growing sense that the pressure to make ends meet was negatively effecting my ability to be fully present with potential new clients in discovery sessions. I decided to use a technique I turn to whenever I'm faced with a dilemma that my thinking brain can't find a way through. It's my variation on: go to bed with a problem and wake up with a solution. Before going to sleep I think about what I'm struggling with and put it in the form of a question that starts with: "What do I need to know, do, or learn about myself in order to..." In this case the end of the question was: "...in order to grow my coaching practice in a way that feels right for me." The fun part of this technique is that you get to free your mind from trying to do something it's not equipped to do on its own.
Our minds are basically a storehouse of past experiences. There's nothing new going on in there, so stop looking. Innovation and creativity come from our other, more powerful brains: the one in our hearts and the one in our guts, those parts of ourselves that are connected to source energy and cosmic intelligence.
Once you ask the question, the goal is to get into receiving mode as quickly as possible. That means being open and available to the support and wisdom that the universe is always offering us. The answer came to me the next morning while listening to a podcast as I prepared the dogs' breakfast. Out of nowhere I heard the statement: "Earn your daily bread as you build your empire, don't expect to earn a living off of your dreams." In that moment I saw a way forward, a path free of the pressure I was putting on myself. I became excited thinking about all the things I'd happily to do to earn my daily bread.
Within a few months, I not only started consulting organizations on Leadership, Learning and Culture, I also showed up very differently in potential client discovery sessions, resulting in more new client sign-ups in one month than I had in the previous 3 months combined.
In these most uncertain of uncertain times, organizations need the skills to adapt with agility and inspire an exhausted workforce. Leveraging over 20 years of expertise in learning & development, leadership, employee experience, diversity & inclusion and change management along with my newer passions for coaching & bio-energetics, I want to help your company, charity or non-profit organization build a better tomorrow. If you want to learn more about my consulting services you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , call 514-266-6253 or visit me at SilverstoneCoaching.com
Thank you for reading. I'll see you in the field.