This week's episode is truly amazing.
We were honored to interview Katie Maloney from Katie Maloney coaching.
Katie's goal is to change the conversation around trauma, and she recently wrote a book about it called, Cake Pops and Coffee. You can find the book here.
In the episode today, we chat about trauma that Katie experienced, we discuss how she developed the book, sharing your story and how it can be positive and a negative experience, trust and everything in between.
Check out her blog post below and you can hear her podcast episode here.
You saw a problem, what was it, and was the change that you wanted to make?
I saw that, as a trauma survivor, the only part of me that was being represented was the trauma. But there is SO MUCH more to me than just my story of trauma. And I deeply need conversations that reflected that. I need conversations that connected me with people with similar experiences, allowed for lightheadedness and laughter, and helped me talk about working through trauma without all the heaviness of traditional movements/resources. I also needed guidance on how to work through all the things that happen after the trauma, such as recognizing negative beliefs that have developed as a result of the trauma and figuring out how to release them so that I can live the life I want to live, or identifying how I became addicted to chaos as a result of the trauma and started manifesting struggle, pain and chaos in my life, or learning how to experience sexual pleasure again after trauma, both for myself and with a partner. Everything I do - my coaching, speaking events, workshops and book, Cake Pops and Coffee: A New Conversation About Trauma - How to Laugh, Cry, and Love Your Whole Story - is designed to start those new conversations about trauma.
Why do you think trauma is such a stigmatized and heavy topic?
I think conversations about trauma feel "heavy" simply because we don't know how to have conversations about trauma. and when we don't know how to do something, it can make us uncomfortable. But showing ankle made people uncomfortable years ago, and having conversations about gender equality made people uncomfortable. However, once we learned how to have those conversations, we started to normalize them and people became more comfortable with them.
Right now, we have resources available on how to share our trauma stories. But there aren't a lot of resources available on having conversations about how to move forward from the trauma - Like, "Okay, I'm ready to date now but I get triggered when it comes to intimacy, how do I talk about and navigate that?" Or "I have been married for ten years but never talked with my partner about the trauma I've experienced, how do I have that conversation?" Or "I can see that there are cycles and habits in my life that I am stuck in, and I know they are related to the trauma somehow, but I don't know how to break them. Let's talk about it." These are all conversations that, as trauma survivors, we NEED to have but many of us don't even know how to start the conversation. So, that is my mission through my book and my work - to normalize conversations about trauma and to teach people how to comfortably and confidently have their own conversations.
We know that one in half Americans will be exposed to trauma in their lifetime. How can one that experiences trauma begin to move forward?
Talk to yourself. One of the biggest points that I try to make in my book and anytime that I talk about trauma is that you are everything that you need to heal. For a long time, I would frantically read books or join courses or seek counseling (which therapy is monumental and I recommend it for anyone who has experienced trauma) in order to try to get all the outside tools and knowledge that I needed to "fix" myself. It took me a long time to realize that everything I need for my healing journey is within me. Everything you need is within you. And the most foundational piece to that is talking to yourself. In my book and my work i talk about recognizing negative beliefs, identifying voids and how you try to fill them, nurturing yourself, discovering safety within you, and saving your past selves - and the basis for every single one of those practices is simply sitting down and talking to yourself.
It can be as simple as saying, when you're feeling stressed, "Baby girl, oh goodness, I can feel all the emotions you are experiencing right now. Talk to me, what is going on?" And you will answer. Maybe you'll list off everything that's stressing you out about work, or what you're worried about in your relationship, or triggers that are coming up. Then say something like, "Wow, that is a lot and I totally understand why you're feeling all of these emotions. I love you and I want to help you feel better, what can I do right now to help you feel a little better?" Maybe you'll want to cuddle up on the couch and watch movies, maybe you'll want to go outside for a walk, maybe you'll want to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies with your friends. Whatever it is, listen to yourself and then do whatever you need.
People think it sounds crazy when I say "talk to yourself," but really all you're doing is taking the time to listen to what you need in order to feel loved and then taking responsibility for giving yourself that love instead of looking for people, places or things outside yourself to do so.
That is the ultimate first step in moving forward from trauma - talk to yourself as many times a day as possible, every day.
How do you manage your own triggers? Do you have any suggestions for individuals that are working through triggers or trying to find ways to get through them?
The first thing I suggest when experiencing a trigger is to leave the situation. I used to think that I needed to push myself to stay in a situation in order to overcome a trigger - that doing so made me stronger in some way. The opposite is true. The most courageous thing you can do while being triggered is love yourself. So, leave the situation. The next thing I suggest is to listen for your true voice. Although it may feel almost completely drowned out by the fears of the moment, the voice of your true self is still with you through the entire trigger. Through every thought that convinces you to panic, your true voice calmly reassures you, “You are being triggered. This is just a trigger.” Your true self is who you truly are. It’s the part of you who can never be destroyed and was never damaged or even scratched by the trauma you experienced. This part of you - your true self and voice - never leaves you. And this voice will guide you out of a trigger. So, focus on this voice. Your thoughts may be racing, your emotions running wild with adrenaline and fear, but your true voice always remains calm and consistent. Listen for that consistency. Then, do everything you can to bring yourself back to the present moment. Triggers pull you back into the past. Just like you couldn’t start healing your wounds while you were experiencing them, you cannot move through a trigger when you are reliving your past through that trigger. To move through them, you have to get back to the present moment. Which, when you are panicked, is not always an easy process. Simply start by stating facts of the present moment. “I am outside of my apartment.” “I am in Pittsburgh.” “I see my car and it’s blue. I see a yellow bus.” “I am standing in the parking lot.” “My neighbor, Barb, is walking down the street.” Stating facts that are occurring now helps your mind stop racing through past memories and brings you back to the present moment. If forming entire sentences is too much in the moment, just list colors that you see. “Yellow, blue, green.” Lastly, do whatever you need to feel safe. This is ESSENTIAL. You wouldn’t tell a scared little kid to shut up and go back to bed if she were having nightmares, so don’t tell the scared little girl part of yourself to shut up and deal with your fear. Instead, listen to what you need at that moment and then do it. Sometimes, you need to call your friend and ask them to come over. Sometimes you need to turn on all the lights in your apartment for the third time that night to check that no one has broken in. Sometimes you need to curl up on the couch and wrap yourself in blankets. Sometimes you need to bake cookies with friends. Whatever it is that you need at that moment, do it. When you feel calm enough, simply ask yourself, “What do I need to feel safe right now?” Then do it, without hesitation.
Typically when one experiences trauma, the mind and the body lose connection, how can we reconnect them?
One of the biggest challenges I've faced after experiencing a trigger is dissociation. The trigger may have passed, I may have worked through it, but then I realize that my mind and body are still disconnected. It's like my mind is a little girl who got scared and ran away during the trigger, and now I can't seem to convince her that it's safe to come back. One of the most significant practices that I have found in helping me come back to myself after dissociation is choosing a meeting spot. My meeting spot is a pier on a lake at sunset. I know that whenever I start to dissociate, I visualize sitting on that pier and waiting for mind to come back to me whenever she's ready. You can set a timer for just 5 minutes and during that time choose a spot where you feel safe and serene. Sit down in that spot and say "Hey self, I know you got scared and I completely understand why you're a little nervous to come back. But I promise you that I am here to love you and keep you safe. So you take as much time as you need to feel safe again. Whenever you are ready to come back, I'll be here waiting for you." This will be your meeting spot. It's like when you go to a theme park and your mom is like, "Okay, if anyone gets lost, just come back to this giant apple ride and I will come find you here." It may take a few days of you doing this visualization and returning to your meeting spot before you come back to yourself. But I can tell you from experience that this practice is powerful and, through it, you will be able to establish your mind/body connection much more quickly and happily.
I was reading your blog and read the 3 identities that individuals of trauma identify with: The Lone Wolf, The Victim, I am Special. I found this to be interesting as I can identify with two of them for sure. How do we figure out which one we are to move forward?
I love this question because this is one of m favorite things to talk about. Understanding what identity you've created based on your trauma (and we have ALL created one) will change your life. The first step in figuring out which identity you've created is reflecting on what "keeps happening to you." If you find yourself asking "Why does this keep happening?" it is a powerful indicator that you are manifesting certain circumstances in your life based on the identity that you've attached to through your trauma. The day I realized I had based my identity around being a victim, every shitty life circumstance I had created for myself was illuminated. I couldn't ignore it anymore. Not only that, but it became so apparent that I could create better circumstances just as easily as I had created shitty circumstances simply by shifting out of the identity I created based on the trauma. I encourage everyone to check out my blog about this topics and learn which identity you have created for yourself. Doing so will be a monumental catalyst for change in your life. https://www.katiemaloneycoaching.com/post/the-top-3-identities-we-create-from-our-trauma-and-how-they-keep-us-trapped-in-the-past
What kind of coaching do you offer?
I offer one-on-one coaching for trauma survivors who have either been in therapy previously or are currently in therapy and are looking for additional ways to move forward from their experiences. I also offer couple coaching for couples where either one or both have experienced trauma and want to learn how to navigate their healing journey within a relationship.
Why do you feel couples coaching is important if one or both individuals have experienced trauma?
I believe that relationships can be some of the most potent learning experiences we have, as well as the most powerful containers for healing our trauma. Even just saying that I get chills because I truly believe that romantic partnerships can be incredible spaces for healing from trauma. Unfortunately, because there aren't a lot of resources available for couples who want to navigate trauma together, instead of being life-changing and connective spaces for healing and conscious love, relationships can often become spaces where our most deeply rooted negative beliefs, fear, insecurities, and voids developed as a result of the trauma, start to sabotage us. The most frustrating part is that many times, we know that our experiences of trauma are affecting our relationships but we have no idea how to pinpoint what exactly those effects are let alone work through them, heal them, and communicate them to our partners. The couples coaching I offer helps each partner work through their own experiences first for themselves, and then with their partners. Each session includes an individual practice for each partner to do on their own and a couple's practice for them to do together. This creates a habit for both partners to deepen their connections with themselves, their thoughts, emotions, and past experiences first, which creates the space for a healing, beautiful, conscious relationship that they can then develop together.
Can you provide us with your social media handles, website and the best way to get in touch with you?
Katie's mission is to create a new conversation about trauma. When she first started working through the trauma she experienced, all she could find were conversations that focused only on resharing the trauma. But there are so many other parts of her story - parts that are beautiful, lighthearted, meaningful, funny, and significant. She needed those parts of her story to be included in conversations about healing from trauma. Through her work as an Author, Speaker, and Trauma Survivor Coach, Katie's goal is to remove some of the heaviness that often surrounds conversations about trauma and to start new conversations that feel like just that - conversations with trusted friends with experiences similar to your own.