Nervous system and trauma work can be very incremental, so it can be difficult to see the benefits clearly. I had an experience that showed me clearly how my nervous system has increased in resilience. This is a vulnerable episode because the experience I had was intense, but I thought it was worth it to share with you how somatic work can help us become more resilient.
I have an experience to share with you today, and this feels a bit vulnerable, but I think it highlights the benefit of doing nervous system trauma work.
My Experience Last Week
So it’s been a week and a half or so since I had this experience. I had posted in a Facebook group that I’m involved in, and there was some back and forth in the comments, some people that disagreed with me, which is totally fine. I’m only one person with one set of beliefs and feelings about things, and I noticed that one particular person commented and then deleted a comment. Sometimes when you go into your notifications, In Facebook, it says, you know, so-and-so commented on your post.
And then I went to go to it and it wasn’t there and I was really curious. So I reached out to her in a DM and I said, I would actually really like to hear what you have to say. She wanted to set up a zoom call. So we did that. And then, it wasn’t for a couple weeks from that point in time, and she started the call saying, “I almost didn’t come to the call cause I don’t know how effective this will be.”
So I was kind of a little confused. I thought we were just having a conversation about her thoughts about my post. So first of all, it’s like how effective this is gonna be. I should have been like, “Hmm, maybe I have a different idea of what this conversation is gonna look like than she does, which is fine, everybody has different ideas.”
But it kind of just sort of set me back a little bit, like put me on my heels. And so she started telling me about all the problems she saw with my post and what I was saying. And obviously I had the feeling that, you know, She wasn’t agreeing with me. I had a very strong suspicion that she would be disagreeing with me.
And I felt like I came into the call very open and wanting to learn and understand. So I was quite surprised when the call turned into basically her attacking my character. She did say a couple of things that I thought were very useful for me, that helped me see things in a different way that than I had been seeing things, that I think will actually help me change in the future.
But of the 55 ish minutes that we were in the Zoom room together, probably at least 35-40 of those minutes were her basically just attacking my character. And you know, in the moment I didn’t necessarily see that. I wasn’t like totally activated in the moment. I think I was trying really hard to stay open and to try to listen to what she had to say.
I wasn’t planning on countering her points necessarily. So when she started telling me that I was sort of weak-minded and had unprofitable thoughts, I was just kind of like, whoa, whoa, whoa. I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t like coming to this call to like fight, right?
So maybe she was coming to the call to fight. I wanted to come to learn and be open and hear another point of view. So the one thing that she did say that I think had a kernel of truth to it was that I was acting in an untrustworthy way. On the surface, I totally didn’t think I was acting untrustworthy.
But when she said, “you know, this post made me feel like, you know, you were trying to tell people how to be, how to show up, and that in and of itself is untrustworthy.” I was like, okay, that certainly wasn’t my intention, but I could see how one might perceive it that way. And part of my post had to do with trust and, and eroding trust in each other and how we build trust in each other.
So I certainly did not mean for that. Of course she was like, “well, your intention doesn’t matter. That’s what you actually said.” I disagree with that. I think intentions matter a lot, especially if someone is, is in a position of asking for feedback and being open and willing to hear it. I think your intentions matter a lot.
But basically, long story short is she said I was dishonest, I was unethical. I didn’t hold myself to a professional standard. She basically said that I was doing illegal work, which is just ridiculous. She told me I was wasting her time, which I didn’t make her sign up for the call. I said, I’d really love to hear your point of view, she’s the one that suggested we schedule a call. She could have backed out at any point in time. I would’ve had no hard feelings. So I thought that one was interesting. She told me, “based off of my experience with you in this call, I can tell that you are doing your client’s a disservice”, which I take that to mean I think you’re a terrible coach.
So maybe that’s just my thought about it, but now, you know, several days out from this experience, I can look back and just kind of laugh at it almost. But on that day, I was feeling a lot of emotion. I was feeling completely humiliated. I definitely had some like shame and like, my body was going through a thing.
My mind was more like flabbergasted, like surprised and ambushed kind of in a way. I was just like, wait, what? Like what is happening here? And this is, this is another coach, so I certainly wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting it to be so attacking on one side. And I was a bit shook that day.
As you know, when we go through experiences like this, we would expect to be a bit shook. Um, I actually didn’t have time to kind of process my emotions in the moment, the way my day was scheduled that day, as that call was back to back with other calls that I had, and so I just had to kind of shove it out of my mind.
Reaction and working through
I had three more client calls that day and, and then afterward I felt like the floodgate’s opening and I just felt like I felt shaky and confused and I could feel my body like holding a lot of tension and I kind of let my body just do its thing. And I reached out for help.
I reached out to a few different coaches asking if they might be available for an emergency session, and none of them responded right away. So then I was like, okay, I’m gonna have to do this by myself. And that brought up a ton of emotion for me, feeling really alone in it. So I grabbed a journal and I started writing out a bunch of thoughts.
And then I checked my messages again and one of the coaches said, “yeah, I’m available. Let’s hop on a Zoom call.” And she helped me process these emotions. She helped me make a connection with how I felt with my dad when I was younger. This sort of like, In your face, you’re wrong, you’re stupid. And not like wanting to defend myself, but not really feeling like I had time or space or words even to know how or what to say.
And so that was an interesting connection that I made. But really, she really helped me get to a more kind of grounded, centered, peaceful place. And I felt tons and tons better. This particular coach friend of mine helps with sort of processing emotion more in like a spiritual way than grounded in the nervous system.
So I walked away from that call feeling much better, more relieved. I also noticed some of the, the other coaches I had reached out to messaging me saying like, you know, they were available, but I was already on this other call and just reminding me like, you’re a good coach, you’re a good person, don’t let this get you down, kind of thing.
So I had some support I had some resources to go to, which is really important in nervous system and trauma work. A lot of trauma centers around the fact that we don’t have resources, we don’t have support, and that’s what kind of makes it more traumatic. That’s what makes it so that our bodies are overwhelmed and puts you into that freeze response because it’s just overwhelming and you can’t handle it.
So that’s what I noticed immediately afterward, and then I went to dinner with my husband and my son, and this is an hour or so later. And during dinner, I noticed a bunch of emotion coming up again, and it’s not that I was trying to hide it, it just didn’t feel appropriate, in a public setting to start crying or anything like that.
So I would take some deep breaths and I would allow my emotion, as much as I could, to do its thing. As much as I could. I could tell that my husband could tell something was up with me, but I wasn’t ready to say anything in that setting, with our son there and just being in public, and I was anticipating crying and all of that.
So when we went to bed, I said, “Okay, I need to tell you something that happened.” And he was like, “Uhoh.” And I said, “I’m sure you can tell that something’s been up with me.” And he’s like, “Yeah, I just didn’t know if you, you know, wanted me to ask you about it.” And so I just told him what happened. And that was so useful for me.
I definitely am a verbal processor and while it was super useful to meet with a coach, somebody who knows how to hold space and help me process emotion, it totally was useful. I’m so grateful for that. It was also useful for me to have someone who wasn’t directly involved. He’s not a coach. He doesn’t understand coach things, you know?
But for him to just listen and for me to say “and then she said this, and then this happened, and then I tried to say this, but then blah, blah, blah…” For me to just kind of recount my experience after that, I felt like a load, another load was lifted off of me, and then I went to sleep, and the next morning I felt like, 95% fine.
There was still this lingering, like, “I can’t believe that happened” kind of thing. But for the most part, I felt like I was over it in less than 24 hours.
So I wanna contrast that experience with one that I had three years ago. So three years ago I was in a group coaching situation. And it was actually really helpful for me. During that time, I went from making $8,000 in my business, and by the end of that group coaching, which started in January of 2020, in the first six months that this group coaching I was going through, I made like $28,000.
So I really upleveled the group. It was great for me. And there was this one situation. In the group where another coach got coached, we were all in this group together, and she got coached and then I just felt really strongly afterward to message her privately.
And I honestly don’t remember the details of the situation. I don’t remember what she got coached on. I don’t remember what I said to her, but I do remember her response to me was really critical. She basically said that I was not being helpful, and in fact I was making it worse, which was one of my big kind of fears is that I wouldn’t actually help my clients, that I would make things worse for them.
And so I felt all this shame, and at the time I was calling myself a shame coach, and so I thought, okay, this is a great opportunity for me to just feel shame and process it and really remember what it feels like when it’s really intense in my body. And I remember sitting at my desk. In front of my computer and having my journal and just journaling out my cheeks feel hot, my chest feels heavy, like just all the sensations of what that shame felt like and kind of riding the wave of the emotion.
I remember after that, my brain really wanted to go do something else. Anything else? It was like, we need to go make dinner. No, we need to go fold laundry. No, we, and it was like this scattered like anything, but sit here feeling this shame. And I was just like, wow, this is really strong.
And I remember sitting there until I had kind of come to an ebb in the emotion, and then I went out into my living room and just laid down on the couch and then I felt it all come back up again. And I just felt like crying and like I was the worst person and I should quit my business, and I am not a good coach, like all these things, right?
And honestly, it probably lasted a good two weeks. I distinctly remember not wanting to show up to the call the next week, which was a week later because I didn’t wanna see this other coach and I felt ashamed of myself. But I think it was even like another week or maybe a couple weeks, so maybe like two to three weeks of like feeling this shame over and over again.
Similarities and Differences
And I’m sure looking back, I wasn’t able to completely feel it without some resistance. I didn’t reach out for help from any other coaches. I tried to just do it all on my own. I did feel very alone in it. And it was before I really learned anything about the nervous system. Now these situations are similar because I kind of asked for both of of them, right?
I was the one that reached out. In both cases. In both cases, I was perceived as doing it wrong somehow. In both cases I had this really intense feeling and then, like the first time, the three years ago when I had reached out to this other coach, I really just wanted to hide. I wanted to quit my business.
I wanted to just go get in bed and like, bury myself in a book and forget that the world existed. But this time that happened a couple weeks ago, I was open and willing to ride the waves and to tell other people about it. And in fact, telling other people about it and, and allowing myself to process in that way was one of the best things that I could do for myself.
So some similarities, some differences, but the biggest difference that I am still kind of like, wow. Wow. Is how short a period of time it took me to get over it. And it was, I mean, it was intense. This other woman looking across me through Zoom saying that I’m untrustworthy, I’m unethical, I’m doing illegal things, I’m a terrible coach. Like all of these things, right? The other experience happened in Slack, like it was just like a written response. It wasn’t even verbal over, over Zoom, right? And so it was intense and it was almost a full hour. And it only took me like less than 24 hours to process through and to feel confident and like myself again.
Nervous System Resilience
And that is, just so amazing to me. That is, I think, resilience in my nervous system. Me showing, I can get activated and I can come back from that activation into my window of tolerance within a matter of hours, whereas before it would’ve taken days if not weeks. Right. So that is such an amazing testament to me of the power of somatic work.
It can be very incremental, slow, slow process work. And so sometimes it’s hard to see like, is this even working? How is this affecting me? How, like, I feel better, but like I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. And so having this experience helped me see, oh, yes. Yes, I am much more resilient. I am much more grounded in who I am. That might be part both somatic work and mindset work. It was much easier even though this experience recently felt so much more intense than the experience three years ago. It was much, much easier for me to quickly go to, oh, I’m gonna learn so much.
And that is exactly as I was researching a little bit for this episode, I thought, “I wonder what the definition of resilience is?” And it says, resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.
And I’m like, yes, amen. This feels like adapting and, and like letting myself be challenged, but then coming back. At first I thought, “am I hiding at all? Do I genuinely feel good or is there something else here that I’m resisting or hiding?” And as I asked that and like, kind of felt into it, I was like, no, I feel very grounded and normal. It doesn’t feel like there’s this underlying like buzz or anything like that. And honestly, I’ve had a couple people that I mentioned it to, reach back out to me and be like, “Hey, are you okay?” And I’m like, “what are you talking about?” I genuinely have forgotten.
And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m actually doing really, really great.” So it’s been so good for me. It really has been a learning experience in so many ways. First of all, I wasn’t even planning on talking about this, but. It helped me see what kind of coach I really want to be and really don’t want to be.
There were some moments in that conversation that helped me realize some of what I believe about coaching and about. Specific tools and how I’ve evolved over time. So it has been a really great learning experience, even though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone because emotionally it was very intense. But it has helped me really see how doing somatic work for the last year and a half is really helping me. It’s helping my nervous system not get stuck in the active response or stuck in the freeze response and coming back to that parasympathetic rest and digest window of tolerance. Sometimes I think, “Is this working? Am am I doing it right? How do I know?”
You know, because I’m so in the weeds about it. But this experience has helped me see, oh my gosh, yes. I have come so far and this is amazing. Like amazing. Less than 24 hours and I just feel like Okay. That’s just a thing that happened instead of feeling like the emotion is still stuck with me.
So I wanted to just share that with you because I do believe in the power of this work. And if you are someone who feels stuck all the time in anxiety or feels stuck, In depression or like, the transitions in life are very jagged. They’re very up and down instead of kind of these smooth waves of flowing through, um, that you might benefit from some somatic work.
That’s enough for now. And so are you.