I lived most of my life following the “shoulds”.
What my parents told me I should do. How I should be as an East-Indian girl and then a woman. How a daughter-in-law should be. And so forth. All handed down from their parents and parents before. No blame. Simply understanding, awareness and growth.
I went to a strict all girls school where we had to wear a uniform, were only allowed to wear certain types of earrings, have our hair a certain way, stand a certain distance from boys (if they visited our school), behave a certain way in classes and with teachers. So many rules and rigidity.
Then we immigrated from Kenya to Canada when I was 15 years old. My parents did it for my sister and I, so we would have a safe environment, be able to get a good education and become “something”. I am grateful for this opportunity, however within it was also immense pressure to “become something”, re-inforcing the childhood beliefs that I was not good enough just as I was and just as who I was becoming.
The deeply engrained pressures from culture and history of how a daughter in law “should be” only deepened the stress on my body. And then as a new mother – how one “should be”. Somehow that as a brand new mom we are supposed to know exactly what to do.
Amidst all these “shoulds” there was also the shoulds of how to express emotions – rather it was how NOT to express them, but rather keep them bottled up inside. To not ask for help as that was some sign of weakness.
All these things – so deeply engrained in our genetics.
The shoulds and emotional suppression took such a toll on my body, constantly leaving it in fight/flight and often even a freeze state. I came to believe that threat was around me and that survival meant ensuring I did all the “shoulds”. Without doing this – I would not be loved or accepted.
This was exhausting – literally leading to chronic fatigue. The nervous system can only stay in fight/flight/freeze for so long before it starts to attack it’s own body.
Nervous system work and somatic experiencing work has been profound in uncovering how much power our nervous system has in healing our body. Our body does know how to heal – if we provide it what it needs at that level.
Years of fatigue limited what I could do personally, professionally, as a mom, wife, friend and more.
Nervous system regulation, personal Somatic Experiencing sessions and a beginner level training – and the fatigue lifted in ways that I had not experienced in years. Social jittery-ness and I suppose anxiety lifted. I felt playful, connected, present, creative and joyful. Laughter came with such ease. It was a profound experience. And thus of course a passion and interest of mine both personally and for clients.
There is so much power in feeling safe, connected and attuned with others. In having choice, control, comfort and freedom. Even if it is in the smallest ways – it continues to feed our nervous system in amazing ways. Our resilence and capacity grow and thus the feeling of being alive returns.
I continue to be aware and mindful of what my body is feeling and needing because I am still not like who I was many years ago in terms of health. However it is a gift to start living a more embodied life. To be tuning into my needs, rather than all the shoulds and external pressures. And to be returning to who I am.
Join us at our One Day Self-Care & Self-Love Womens Retreat – Friday May 10, 2019 from 10 am to 5 pm at Nirvana Retreats in Caledon, Ontario. Learn more here
Join us on-line for this HeartMath coaching program – connect with a like-minded group, build your resilience to stress, enhance emotional awareness and self-regulation using simple, practical tools. Wednesdays June 5 to 26, 2019 from 8 to 9:30 pm EST/GMT-4 Learn more here!
Avdeep Bahra is an occupational therapist that guides clients to enhance emotional health – particularly since emotions affect the body and can result in chronic illnesses. She creates safe spaces to share what is on your heart, to express your voice and connect with like-minded others. Through deep listening and various techniques she helps clients to process emotions. She inspires clients to let go of judgment, to live with self-compassion and to reconnect with their spirit. She beautifully blends her formal training with intuition to create change with clients. She brings mindfulness, somatic work, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), HeartMath Coaching and energy work into client and group sessions.