Courtney Elmer, host of The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast discusses her easy framework for dealing with today's new normal and recovering from trauma from the Coronavirus pandemic.
In order to find a new normal with any curveball life throws your way, it’s important to first understand what trauma is and what happens on an emotional level when you experience trauma (which is what we did in the previous episode), and what needs to happen next so you can find your new normal and feel safe and secure once again (which is what we’ll dive into today).
WHEN YOU FINISH LISTENING TO TODAY’S EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
Now is the time to equip yourself with the tools you need to handle any crisis that comes your way, without falling victim to the stress, and fear that so many others choose to let overwhelm them.
You might even walk away from this episode with a new normal that was even better than the normal you knew before.
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You’re Listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode #14 which is all about recovering from trauma and finding the new normal.
Welcome back! I say welcome back because if you just jumped straight to this episode without listening to the one before this, I recommend you go back and listen to that first, because where we laid the foundation for what we’re diving into today. Of course, this episode will still be highly valuable on its own, however, it’ll be even MORE valuable (and really click for you on a much deeper level) if you pause this and go back and listen to episode 13 before you join me for this one. It’s all about recovering from trauma and the new normal.
Now at the time that I’m recording these episodes, we’re currently smack in the middle of the global crisis known as the Coronavirus. In fact I’m hiding out in my master bedroom closet right now, which happens to be the quietest room in the house, because we're literally on lockdown and my family is living life out there in the living room. Normally I’d maybe kick them out of the house for the afternoon and tell them to go find something fun to do, but there literally is nowhere to go. Every single business is shut down except for essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies. And here where we live, in New Orleans, it was just reported that we have the fastest growth rate of COVID-19 than anywhere else in the world. Scary that this is the new normal.
Life as you know it, as I know it, looks a lot different than maybe it did a couple weeks or a couple months before. Yet it doesn’t really matter if you’re listening to me here in real time while this pandemic is going on, or if you’re listening at a later date -- either way, there’s a very good chance you have been affected by this global crisis in one way or another. And not just the effects this Trauma has had on your life, your finances, your livelihood. It’s the after-effects that will ripple out for years to come and that will prevent us from recovering from trauma.
This is an event that is traumatic with a big T, as I call it. It’s a big deal for many, many people. Life will never be the same and we will be recovering from trauma for a long time.
So that’s why in the last episode, we talked about trauma. And I showed you the difference between big T trauma, which is what most people think of when they hear that word, and little t trauma, which are smaller, more everyday occurrences that still cause us emotional pain. And you learned that regardless of whether it’s trauma with a big T or trauma with a little t, its after-effects will continue to affect you and your ability to show up in the world and perform if you ignore it, or numb yourself from it, or try to hide from it.
And you learned why this happens, and what to do about it so that you can heal from trauma, rather than trying to stuff it down and ignore it.
Which brings us to where we are in this conversation today, because once you learn to heal through the traumas you've experienced in your life and learn from them then you’re free to move forward and find your new normal.
And isn’t it interesting, if you’re like most people, when something traumatic happens, our first instinct is to want to get back to “normal.” I can’t tell you how many times during this pandemic I’ve heard someone say to me that they just wish they could get back to normal.
Or a variation of this would be to find their “new normal” and to figure out what the heck that even looks like.
For many people, they’re dealing with a LOT of negative emotions right now, like fear, anxiety, stress, overwhelm, desperation, frustration, even anger… you name it, someone out there has felt it, maybe more intensely than they ever have. Maybe even you. Recovering from trauma is going to take a long time.
It is traumatic. In the truest sense of the word. And in order to find your new normal, both in this situation and with ANY curveball life throws your way, it’s important to first understand what trauma is and what happens on an emotional level when you experience trauma which is what we did in the previous episode, and what needs to happen next so that you can find your new normal and feel safe and secure once again which is what we’re talking about today.
So let’s get into it and explore what it means to find your new normal, heal from trauma, and the best ways to recovering from trauma. I’ll show you
I have to warn you: this episode is only for those who aren’t willing to take a deeper look at what’s really going on under the surface. You heard me say this last time that some people like to try to fix engine problems by going to the car wash, thinking that if they can just keep a shiny exterior, everything will be ok. This episode is not for those people. I am not going to tell you to keep your chin up and think happy thoughts because it’s going to take a lot to heal from trauma and accept your new normal.
Many people right now are trying to cope by trying to stay positive and focus on the good, which is all good and fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But in doing so, they may not realize they’re running the risk of spending MORE energy pushing away the negative emotions that are there to guide them in the first place.
That’s right, those emotions that you feel that we’d label “negative” like fear, hurt, anger, sadness, guilt, etc are all MEANT to be felt because they are indicating something on a deeper level that when you pay attention to them, it will help you HEAL from trauma. But what do most people do? They try to stuff them down or ‘think happy thoughts’ and ignore the fact that they’re having these feelings, that these feelings even exist, because that’s part of the coping mechanism they’ve created, based on our innate need to survive.
I’m going to get into all this with you today so stick with me, when you take what you learn in this episode it will really help move you forward because you’ll become more aware of the things going on under the surface that may be holding you back.
What I’m going to walk you through today are tangible, actionable, concrete steps you can take to find and embrace your new normal so you can better prepare yourself for ANY crisis situation or period of unease and uncertainty that comes your way, while recovering from trauma.
Because guess what, in this journey called life, things will happen, Things have happened before and things will happen again. So what better thing to do than to equip yourself with the tools you need to approach any traumatic events you face in your life feeling empowered vs. disempowered.
And dare I say, you might walk away from this episode with a new normal that was even better than the normal you knew before.
So last week we dove into the mindset portion of this topic, of understanding trauma and its role in our lives, and this week we’re diving into the strategy piece: the practical, actionable how-to steps that we doers love so much. I know you just want a list that you can check off and say ok, there, done! Now I’m on the road to recovering from trauma and seeing my new normal.
But a list on it’s own without knowing WHY the list is important doesn’t make any sense and it certainly doesn’t help you. What’s the point if you’re not recovering from trauma?
Sorta like going to the grocery. You might have a list of butter, flour, eggs, and sugar, and no single one of those ingredients really means much on their own. But when you whip them together to make your Aunt Stella’s favorite vanilla buttercream birthday cake for her 85th birthday, well, those ingredients take on a whole new meaning.
And when you have that meaning, that’s when things click and the magic starts to happen.
Now last week you heard me say that trauma, and how we experience it, is unique to each individual. And here's a great example to illustrate this: let’s think of it like catching a virus.
Your thoughts can act like a virus. Just like a virus causes you to have SYMPTOMS that are unpleasant, itchy nose, watery eyes, coughing, fever whatever…. Your thoughts, really those limiting beliefs that we talk about here on the show a lot, can cause symptoms in your life that you might experience and not like.
If you’re thinking to yourself, my ideas aren’t worth sharing, or if I share them I’ll be laughed at, like I was, then as a result, the symptoms that might appear would be slower growth in your business, feeling frustration that the content you’re creating doesn’t seem to be resonating with your audience, which at the end of the day translates into less INCOME coming in the door if you can’t get your messaging quite right, because there’s this deeper belief underneath there that’s causing you to not use your voice and speak what’s on your mind.
You with me?
Most people aren’t necessarily aware that there’s a thought buried deep in their unconscious mind that’s causing all these symptoms.
Now, let’s take this analogy one step deeper. What causes someone to get a virus?
Well, that depends on a lot of factors right? It might depend on how strong your immune system is, or if you’re genetically predisposed to it or if you have underlying health conditions that make you more susceptible.
Now, your predisposition to catching the virus is DIRECTLY correlated to your level of awareness.
The more aware you are, the less likely that virus, those limiting thoughts, will be able to creep in and undermine your results and cause you all kinds of unpleasant symptoms in your life. The less aware you are, the MORE likely those negative events that occur in your life, those traumas we talked about last week whether they are big capital T traumas or smaller events that cause you emotional hurt, will trigger you to create limiting thought patterns that translate into your life and give you results you don’t want despite how hard you’re working to avoid that from happening.
The SYMPTOMS are what you experience as a result of the virus -- the limiting thoughts -- under the surface. You can’t get healthy -- you can’t get your life and business to a good place because there’s something fighting against you on a deeper level. And whether or not you’re susceptible to this virus, to these limiting thoughts, all comes down to your level of awareness -- how you see and perceive the traumatic events that happen in your life, and your willingness to lean into them and work through them.
Ok, so now we get to the point where we can stop talking concepts and start talking concrete steps.
Because what I’m going to tell you next will equip you with the skills you need to strengthen your mental immune system -- so you can better handle ANYTHING life throws at you, so no matter where you are in your life, in your career, it will help you hone your skills for dealing with crisis situations -- or really just ANY situation that induces fear, stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. These are skills that most people want and don’t have, I had to learn them the hard way, I want to show you the steps you can start taking right now to heal from trauma and not just find, but also EMBRACE your new normal.
Let’s talk first about what you need to STOP doing. I mean like stop, right now.
Stop trying to get back to normal.
You’re never going back there. That version of life as you knew it, doesn’t exist. So stop holding on to the way things were.
All there is is life as you KNOW it — the new normal.
Yes, the life you knew before can certainly continue to inform the life you have now, but there is no going back to the way things were.
I learned this first hand after overcoming cancer at 25. I couldn’t WAIT to get back to normal. I felt like a fish out of water, nothing felt comfortable. And what was really going on was my unconscious mind, operating on some old limiting beliefs, telling me that story, that I needed to get back to work as soon as possible to stay safe. See, my workaholism was part of my identity at that point--which hindered my recovering from trauma. That was who I was. I worked, and I worked HARD. And so suddenly, to not be able to work, felt terrifying. I felt like I was out there in the open, vulnerable, exposed, because the VERY CORE OF ME, my identity, was being threatened on a deep level.
It was bringing up all these questions, like, “who am I if I don’t have my work?” The question sounded more like “if I’m not working, how will I make money?” but on a deeper level what I was really asking, which I can see so clearly now, was WHO AM I if I don’t have my habit of working, my work addiction, to keep me safe and ease my mind and numb the pain so that I didn’t have to face the music and answer that question.
Fast forward to now where after many years, many limiting beliefs realized and lots and lots of mindset work later, I realize that my work doesn’t define me--it’s been my version of recovering from trauma. And that is liberating. My work does not determine my worth.
That’s worth writing on a sticky note and putting it somewhere you’ll see it every day.
So, you trying to “get back to normal” is your mind’s way of saying… I need things to be like they were before, because that felt safe. And I want to feel safe, therefore I need things to feel “normal.” Your life before was your comfort zone. Now your life looks different, and it feels uncomfortable.
And that’s a GOOD thing, because guess what? When you stop wasting your time and energy trying to get back to normal, you can START putting that energy into finding what normal NOW looks like for you and you’re able to start recovering from trauma.
Here’s the underrated silver lining in all this -- really whenever life throws curve balls your way:
It’s an opportunity to look at your life through eyes that you wouldn’t have had to look at it through otherwise had you not been forced to, and SEE more clearly what things you WANT to keep in your life, and what things you want to let go of. The things that weren’t serving you, the things that prevented you from being able to heal from trauma.
Look, I can tell you that before having to undergo a mandated quarantine, I wasn’t really thinking about how many little things in my day to day routine I really didn’t like. Things I really could do without.
Things that I was GRATEFUL we couldn’t do, because suddenly we had an excuse not to. And that removed the guilt of it.
Can you relate to this?
But guess what? No one was MAKING you do those things. That was you, telling yourself for one reason or another, that you needed to, or had to, or should be doing XYZ because you didn’t want to let someone else down. Or you were worried about what someone would think. Or for whatever reason.
But if you experienced a mandated quarantine like I did, suddenly, when those things were taken away, my guess is you breathed a secret sigh of relief. I know I did.
Maybe you’ve already started to notice there were some things in your life that were really sucking the energy out of you, and you didn’t realize how much until you didn’t have to do them.
And that taste of FREEDOM, if you enjoyed that, might be worth holding onto, wouldn’t you agree?
So no! Why would I want to go back to normal if I didn’t actually LIKE the way things were? Would this allow me to start recovering from trauma?
What if my new normal could be so much better than it was before, if I intentionally used this time to take inventory of my life, and shed the things I don’t want? Bless and release them. Without the guilt, without worrying about what anyone else might think?
Doesn’t that feel GOOD?
And if you’re listening and you notice a little voice saying in your head right now, “but Courtney, I can’t do that because…” I’m going to call you out on that right now because whatever you’re about to say next is most likely a STORY you’re telling yourself! That’s one good way to find those sneaky limiting beliefs is to listen to what comes out of your mouth after you say the word “but.” It’s tough, because you're not always aware that you’re operating by a belief or story you’re telling yourself -- it all comes back to that survival mechanism we were talking about -- it’s your UM’s way of keeping you in the zone of the familiar. It’s what prevents you from recovering from trauma.
But the familiar doesn’t always serve you. And it’s your job to become more aware of that, and present to it.
So PAY ATTENTION when you feel your heartbeat start to quicken and those excuses start to bubble up inside, because that’s your fight or flight -- that survival mechanism kicking in. And if you let it run away with you, that’s really going to hurt you. That’ll keep you in a space of always operating based on the way things have always been, vs how you want them to be.
Let me say that again. When you choose NOT to cultivate your self awareness, and if you choose to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them expecting a different outcome, you are giving up your power. And allowing that to be your default state will hurt you. Fight or flight is NOT a great place to be long term. Sure it serves a purpose but not long term.
Your unconscious mind is designed to keep you safe and help you heal through trauma… but sometimes it does so to a fault. And it does it in a way that actually keeps you stuck. I gave you a really clear example of this in the last episode of what I experienced in the 3rd grade, this painful experience that led me to create a belief to shield and shelter me from feeling those painful emotions every again. But now here almost 30 years later, I realized I was STILL OPERATING by the same belief, and started seeing all the ways it was holding me back. What I unconsciously thought was keeping me safe, was actually keeping me stuck.
Because when you DECIDE to cultivate your awareness, and look out for those beliefs and stories you might be telling yourself, you can challenge them.
Which brings me to my next point.
Here’s what I want you to start asking yourself: “Is this something I’m telling myself I SHOULD do because I’m afraid of what’ll happen if I don’t”? To start asking yourself, “is this something I want?” and “how will it feel if I let this go?”
Really simple questions that will give you really profound answers.
I believe we ALL know deep down inside what we truly want, what feels aligned, but we let others’ voices get in the way of that. We listen to those voices instead of our own.
Here’s another question you can ask yourself anytime you’re facing a difficult situation: “have I handled difficult situations in the past?” Has this prevented me from recovering from trauma?
If your answer is yes, then what makes you think you won’t make it through this one?
See the worst case scenario in your mind is often not really that bad. Some people might get mad at me saying that right now in a time like this but it’s the truth. Our minds paint a picture to be worse than it might actually be in reality. It’s fear of the unknown that kicks in -- that threatens you more than the actual situation itself will. YES there can be DIRE situations. It can feel SCARY. And there are tough decisions you will have to make. But you can make them. You can choose what’s best for you and cross those bridges as they come. And you will make it to the other side, and you will be ok.
Look at how you navigated difficult situations before. That’s proof you can do it again.
So finding your new normal is really simple.
You get to create it.
And that’s a gift.
That should feel really good. That should empower you. Yea maybe it also feels a little scary. And maybe, depending on your situation, you’re not quite sure where you’ll land just yet.
But I can promise you this: when you decide to land on your feet, you always will.
So, I’ll leave you with this:
Stop wishing for what was. Let go of the things that weigh you down so you can start recovering from trauma. And get excited about creating your new normal, because that is going to help you find your rhythm again, and make sure your life is filled with GOOD things, truly good things. And only you can determine what those good things are.
I hope this episode was helpful for you. Let me know if it was. DM me on Instagram, I love hearing from our listeners because as you’ve heard me say before, I don’t see this podcast as a one way conversation. This is a conversation I’m having, right here, with you.
And as always! If you feel you are needing support and to learn how to reframe any of those unconscious beliefs that might be keeping YOU stuck, and you’re unsure of the first steps to take, I want you to know I’m here for you. I’m always ready to help you heal through trauma. This is one of the most important things we empower our students to do here at The EffortLESS Life®, so just send us a message either by email or DM me on IG so my team can reach out to you and walk you through some of the ways we can help you on a more personal level — whether it’s recovering from trauma in the new normal or something else.
That does it for today guys.
Here’s to your new normal my friend. I am raising a glass to that. See you back here next time on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast.