In this episode, I read another chapter of my book, Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma. And this is all about “The First Step to Healing Trauma." Taking the first step can seem impossible, but it's not. And I'm going to...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e136-the-first-step-to-healing-trauma-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, I read another chapter of my book, Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma. And this is all about “The First Step to Healing Trauma."
Taking the first step can seem impossible, but it's not. And I'm going to share how I did. I believe that each of us knows what we can and should do to create the life we want. How to identify your wants and your first step? And what is your idea that you need to take the first step?
Listen as I share with you another chapter of my book today!
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THE FIRST STEP
Decide who you want to become, make that the center of your focus. – Tom Bilyeu
I believe that each of us knows what we can and should be doing to create the life that we want. I also know that it is easier said than done. I didn't get to where I am in life, without some massive fuck-ups.
Becoming who you are, is the most empowering and challenging choice that you will make, it may sound odd, but becoming you is a choice and you'll explore that choice in the pages to come.
Taking the first step can seem impossible, but it's not. And I'm going to share how I did. In order to take the first step, you must be willing, to be honest with yourself first.
When I was at my heaviest, I knew that if I would go to the gym and change my diet, then I would be able to lose weight and feel better about my body and I'd be healthy, but and that's a big but it was much easier for me to smoke a cigarette, go on the treadmill for 15 minutes at barely a walking pace and then go home and down an entire chocolate cake, that is not hyperbole Portillo's Chocolate cake with Gummy Bears on top was my life book.
When I was depressed anxious and suicidal, it was much easier to blame everyone else around me for the unhealthy choices that negatively impacted me to the point of putting a gun in my mouth. I knew that my lifestyle was indicative of the mental and emotional stress that I had suffered. I knew that my drinking was making me depressed because alcohol is a depressant. I also knew that the sugar I was consuming was destroying my gut, which science shows leads to panic attacks, but I continue to eat like shit anyway. Ultimately, I knew if I changed at least my diet, it would profoundly impact my life. I spent several months reading every book and listening to every podcast that I could on panic attacks, mental, health, and diet, and everyone pointed to nutrition and sugar intake as critical components to eliminating stress and anxiety.
So, I decided if I change my diet and my exercise routine then I would have a chance to get healthier less than the frequency of my panic attacks and not die young. Before I could identify those secondary benefits, I had to first identify my primary goal of feeling healthier by losing weight and exercising. After researching and clarifying my goals, I was ready to take the first step. I started seeing a therapist again in my mid-20s, however, rather than being honest with my feelings and emotions, I paid them, hundreds of dollars a week to tell them what I thought they wanted to hear. Stupid, I know. That was my trauma brain having full control over me and my lack of agency and accountability in all of its glory.
If I had been honest and shared the things that were really on my mind and touched on my vulnerabilities, I may have seen radical changes before I hit rock bottom. However, it took hitting rock bottom for me to realize that I needed to take therapy seriously. Amongst other things like diet, nutrition, mindset, and movement. I was able, to be honest, and vulnerable with myself and my therapist but only years later and after making a decision. I cheated on my girlfriend instead of sharing that I had a fear of intimacy. I was scared of being truly loved and sharing that I wanted to be explored because I felt rejected and shame. It was easier to cheat on them than to share my vulnerability.
I was so incredibly scared of being open with the people whom I should have been the most open with because I knew based on past experience that being myself and talking about my wants, needs, and interests tended to lean to bad things happening. If I would have tapped into my agency and set the parameters for accountability, and a baseline of vulnerability being acceptable, with both my partners and everyone else, the outcome of many of my relationships may have been much different.
The reason that I am sharing each of these if-then scenarios is that there is one commonality that I want you to take into consideration. I knew what I should have done and I did not use my agency to be accountable to myself or the people around me. Deep inside each of us, we have a radar that guides us in the direction that we should head call it a gut feeling if you will and it is our internal GPS.
It tells us not to lie to our partners and friends, not to cheat on our taxes, not to hit our children, not to scream out to our co-workers, and not to eat that triple cheeseburger with fries and a milkshake that the same GPS is also regulating the good things that we do.
And I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for how incredible we truly are. Take a moment and acknowledge yourself for how fucking awesome you are. Seriously, I don't care where you are right now, and I don't care who can hear you I want you to say out loud.
I AM AWESOME!
That part of the GPS tells you to make your bed, put on your shoes and go for that run, be kind to strangers, communicate, your wants, needs, and interests, and do your best to maintain your core values.
Trauma is the ultimate interrupter of our GPS, when we suffer trauma our brain short-circuits and needs to be reprogrammed. Trauma tells you to eat fast food over a salad, to have sex with a stranger in a club instead of your partner, and to lie to yourself instead of telling the truth because self-sabotage is much easier than self-actualization, that's just the truth.
How do you regulate and calibrate your GPS?
Since trauma has made our brains go Haywire. You have to make it functional again, by getting very clear on the direction that you want to head in life. It's one thing to think about the first step, and it's another to create what the process looks like by reverse engineering, what your goals are, this applies to all aspects of your life.
Let me break it down for you. We know that there is going to be an outcome based on the actions, we take due to the agency that we have. Since we are reverse engineering, this process, means that the steps you are about to read are actually backward.
For example, I have never climbed Mount Everest and I have no formal mountain climbing experience, but because of my GPS, I can make some solid guesses and assumptions about the steps involved in reaching the goal of climbing Mount Everest are. And that is what creating the baseline is about. Can you craft an idea of what it is that you need to take that first step?
Here's an example of reverse-engineering the first step.
The middle steps from beginning to end may look something like this.
And then your second step, you walk up a flight of stairs because the first step to choose to climb Mount Everest begins, with making a choice. There are likely a million more steps between the first and last step, but you get the point.
The goal is to identify the big picture and break it down to its smallest common denominator, that is your first step. You can't climb Mount Everest if you can't walk up a flight of steps. After determining to climb Mount Everest, the question then becomes, where do I begin? My GPS has led me to climb Mount Everest, in my soul that climb is what beckons me. The climb can be anything that you can identify as something that, you know, you need to do or should do to make your life, what you deserve.
You have to ask yourself, what am I willing to do to have the life that I want to have? Do you need to rectify past mistakes? Quit that job? or go that trip? Do you need to take better care of yourself? Stop making excuses or find support in your healing process. Climb Mount Everest.
When you identify your want and your first step, you must be viciously honest with yourself. It's time to be accountable. No more excuses. I identified my first step to find a therapist and I had to be the most honest I had ever been and acknowledge that I actually needed real professional help. I couldn't make any more excuses, or I was probably going to die. My agency came and chose my therapist. I created an entire list of therapists and a series of questions for each one. I saw seven different therapists before ultimately deciding on the one that I still work with to this day.
My accountability came in choosing to show up for myself at that moment because at baseline, I knew my goal, my Mount Everest was at, I needed, professional help. And how did I find that right help? Well, I had to create all of the steps in between that began at the first one, which was a choice, find a therapist.
BECOMING UNBROKEN, THE FIRST STEP
What is the most important goal that, you know, you need to set to move towards or reach in your life right now?
Create a roadmap and reverse engineer The steps that you need to take to reach that goal. This exercise is so important and like the other exercises, I do not want you to go forward until you have taken the time to do this because as you are in this process of healing, one of the things that you have to do is have accountability for yourself. And sometimes accountability means simply writing down that goal.
We have these ideas that spin around in our brain so often that we never really move towards them because it's not in our face, it's not real until you take it and you write it down on a piece of paper. Think about how many times in your life, you didn't move towards something because you were unsure about it.
One of the best parts about writing down your goals of whatever capacity they may be is that it starts to give you DIRECTION. What do you do from here? You define what that looks like, first you have your goal because ultimately that's what we want to accomplish that is our Mount Everest and then you have that last step. What does the very last thing that you need to do before reaching that goal because ultimately the goal is not a step. No, the goal is that plateau before you move to something else.
And so that last step, what does that hardest thing that you think is probably in the way between where you are and where you want to be. And then your middle steps, those could be anything. There are a litany of different options and all the things that we do that can lead us down the path to what we want but most importantly is that first step.
What is the one thing, the one singular thing that you can do right now in this moment or within the next day or whatever time makes sense for you that is in alignment with the direction that you want your life to move? And once you write that down, here's where it gets hard. Now, you have to challenge yourself to actually do it.
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
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