Mental blocks. Distorted thinking. Cognitive distortions. Stinkin’ thinkin’.
There are a lot of names for it, but these are all ways to refer to a pattern of inaccurate thoughts or beliefs that keep us stuck and unable to heal old wounds and trauma. The other day, I was asked about one of mine.
“What will take you out, every time?” one of my coaches asked.
I knew well enough not to think too hard about it but instead go with my intuitive sense. “Criticism,” I said.
And then, working with that, I was able to narrow it down. It wasn’t just criticism. It wasn’t just uninvited criticism. It was uninvited criticism about how I expressed myself—my words and appearance. That pointed to an old wound, heavily criticized as a child by family members as well as peers about how I told stories, how I sang, how I dressed, my hair, my weight, my teeth, my height, my intelligence.
It’s as if one of my child parts got stuck as a skinny nine-year-old, deep-thinking weirdo with buck teeth, braces, long, stringy hair, and messy handwriting. A person assigned female at birth with severe body dysmorphia who talks too much, sings too much, cares too much, talks to invisible people, and spends too much time writing and daydreaming and not enough time doing chores.
That nine-year-old was convinced they were too much and not enough, all at once.
But adult-me doesn’t generally get that kind of criticism, and if I do, it’s from someone I don’t trust and don’t have room for in my life.
So, it’s not criticism that takes me out. It’s the anticipation of criticism. Because that nine-year-old is still expecting it around every corner.
What have I done in reaction to that fear, that anticipation? I silence and squash myself. I make myself small, unnoticeable, forgettable. I will even breathe so shallowly that no one can hear me, and I can barely feel it myself.
It’s almost as if I will myself not to exist anymore.
That’s no way to live. In fact, I could argue that that’s a kind of death.
When I work with my clients, we invite our soul guides in. What are soul guides? I use “soul guides” as an umbrella term to encompass spirit guides, angels/messengers, ascended masters, animal spirits, ancestors, our higher self, and the Source of All. Each one may have a different role to play in supporting us to experience what we’re here to experience.
It’s not about following their directions or doing what they say. (Real guides won’t tell you what to do; they’ll offer suggestions and defer to your free will.) Rather, it’s that our guides see us as we really are, underneath the self-criticism and shame. They see our true essence, with loving eyes, not critical ones.
Some people don’t silence and squash themselves. They make themselves bigger, better, best. It still hides the same self-criticism and shame. And their guides can see through it.
“If you saw yourselves the way we see you,” Dresden, my primary guide, said in my forthcoming book 10 Things Your Soul Guides Want You to Know: Especially If You Have Anxiety, Depression, Chronic Pain, or PTSD, “you would treat yourselves like the divine beings you are.”
It’s a process to begin accepting such a perspective. I argued for years against it, until I exhausted my arguments and came to realize that I was arguing for silencing and squashing myself. I was, in effect, betraying myself every time I shut myself down. I didn’t even need those uninvited, untrusted critics. I was doing their dirty work for them.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about four questions to ask in determining who earned the right to offer her criticism to which she’d listen. My guides meet all four of these criteria. My critical relatives did not. Nor does my inner critic.
Today, I’ve got that nine-year-old’s back. They grew up into a thoughtful, loving, compassionate person who still talks to invisible people, even (or especially) while doing chores. It’s time to stop silencing and squashing ourselves. It’s time to live from our whole essence.
Is your inner critic getting you down? Sign up to download my free mini-ebook, Self-Talk and the Inner Critic.
I’ve talked this week about trauma, especially unsupported trauma. This is where an event or situation takes place that overwhelms a person’s nervous system (their fight/flight/freeze/fawn response gets stuck in the “on” position), their brain senses a threat to them, and they feel powerless. And then they are alone with these feelings or when they try to reach out for support, they’re ridiculed, told they’re wrong, told not to be “so negative” and to only “think positively,” or otherwise invalidated.
I’ve said that sources for that support can (hopefully) be friends, family, partners, therapists, and coaches.
Another source of support is your guides. Spirit guides, angels, animal spirits, beings of light, all can provide you with that needed support and validation.
I hear two primary arguments from people about looking to guides.
- Relying on non-corporeal beings is not as effective as relying on people physically present in your life
- Guides aren’t real
Let’s take these one at a time.
Relying on non-corporeal beings is not as effective as relying on people physically present in your life
It’s different, yes. No question. But different doesn’t mean worse or less effective. We’re trained to trust what we can see, smell, touch, taste, and hear. We’re not often trained to trust what we feel energetically.
Religion works really well for some people. And I’m sure they’d say that relying on God or Jesus or Allah or Hashem or Brahman or El or any of the other thousands of deities found in human religion is at least as effective if not more than relying on humans. Humans can let us down. Humans get caught up in their own lives. Humans forget. Humans sometimes put their own interests before others.
If you’re lucky enough to have a human in your life who has never once let you down, then more power to you. By definition, trauma survivors have known the less pleasant sides of humanity. Many of us have been betrayed, hurt, rejected, and worse.
Guides aren’t real
What reality are you talking about? The reality where people have a near-death experience (NDE) and their lives change? The reality where people experience miraculous healing, and their lives change? Or maybe the reality where there are numerous stories about a rescuer—tow truck driver, paramedic—who, when asked about later, no one has ever seen or heard of?
Or how about my reality? The one where the more I worked with my guides, the more I healed, the more I was guided to people who could continue to help me heal, the more I began to trust myself, love myself.
Look at the results. If a person has a mystical or spiritual experience, meets their guides, or is the recipient of what might be called a miracle, and as a result, they also experience more joy, more love, more peace, and more healing, then I’d encourage them to continue.
If, on the other hand, their health and relationships deteriorate, they trust themselves less, and they live in a constant state of fear, anger, or numbness, then whatever they’re doing isn’t working.
That said, with the hundreds of people I’ve worked with (professionally and informally) over the years, helping them with their guides, not one of them has suffered as a result of relying on guidance.
I say that I’m about helping people to live the life they’ve always wanted, the life that they were taught they couldn’t have or didn’t deserve.
Let’s talk about what that means. And what it doesn’t.
It doesn’t mean that all your wishes will come true or that your guides operate as genies or that your life will magically become easy, and you’ll never want for anything again.
Here’s the thing—well, three things—which I’ll be talking about again:
1. We don’t create our lives in a vacuum.
2. Everyone does not have equal access and resources.
3. Guides are not a quick fix.
We don’t create our lives in a vacuum
Despite what many Law of Attraction teachers say, manifestation doesn’t occur solely because you really want something and visualize it and think happy thoughts about it all the time. And not having what you desire doesn’t mean that it’s your fault and you just didn’t want it badly enough.
The truth is that we co-create this physical world. And we have free will. And all choices come with consequences, some of which are pleasant and some of which are unpleasantly unpleasant. Further, some of those consequences can last for generations or centuries. We live, to some degree or another, with the consequences not only of our own choices but also the choices of others.
And that leads me to…
Everyone does not have equal access and resources
Everyone has access to guides and their resources, yes. Not everyone is comfortable with that, for any number of reasons. But I’m talking specifically about access to and resources for the life you’ve always wanted but were taught you couldn’t have or didn’t deserve.
You can have some form of the life you’ve always wanted. And you do deserve it, simply for existing in the world. But how you get there may be easier or more difficult than it is for others, depending on what obstacles are in your way. What obstacles, you ask? Those same obstacles that are the consequences of others’ free will choices, which includes (but is not limited to) racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, inequalities in employment, housing, education, medicine, and law, food insecurity, and disability.
If you face one or more of these obstacles, it does not mean you can’t have the life you’ve always wanted. It does not mean there’s no point in trying. It means that it might not look like others’ lives, it might not even look like how you think it should look, but it will give you the experiences you want in your life. And your guides can help you.
Which brings me to…
Guides are not a quick fix
Quick fixes are popular. What’s not to like? Do something that requires minimal effort, minimal time, preferably minimal cost, and get what you want. Sounds awesome, right? Whether it’s in the form of something you ingest, something you apply, something you wear, something you keep nearby, or something you use in another way, these quick fixes can make our lives easier, more comfortable, more convenient. But they don’t always (or even often) create lasting, permanent change.
Some people do teach connection with guidance as a quick fix. They have you listen to a meditation, meet your guides, and then—voila!—you can ask them anything you want and get answers. I saw one promotion for an inexpensive, self-guided, online class where you’d allegedly learn to connect with your guides and then life would become easy. Rainbows and unicorns.
Guides do not dispense vending machine advice. What they offer is a partnership with you. What they offer is a relationship. And that takes some time and effort.
What “living the life you’ve always wanted” really means
Living the life you’ve longed for means learning to trust yourself and your guidance to discern what is for you to do yourself, what is for you to do in community, and what is for others to do (or stop doing). It means learning that you are not broken or unlovable, that there is nothing wrong with you, and that you have permission to have the life you’ve always wanted. It means asking for help and support. It means showing up and taking action to make that life a physical reality.
It is not our guides’ job to intervene to make life more fair, or to even the playing field, or even to ensure that all human beings are treated with dignity. It’s not their job to intervene in our free will at all.
What they can do is remind us of the truth of our divine essence, help us experience what we came here to the planet to experience, and guide us to truly know authentic, messy, tear-stained love of self and others along the way.
SET IN MOTION
This is how everything changed.
This is how a life was saved.
This is my story.
Trigger warning for a brief mention of past suicidal intention.
Also, bonus content in the last minute.
Can you guess which of the following paid occupations I’ve NOT had?
1. Law clerk
2. Mental health counselor
That was…a trick question. I’ve had all of them. But I want to talk a bit about my work as a mental health counselor.
In the early 1990s, I was hired by a residential addiction treatment facility for women who were pregnant or had children under age three. My job was initially to create a relapse prevention program that offered additional resources and tools to residents who were survivors of trauma (most notably child and domestic abuse). I then began counseling these women, as an adjunct to other required therapy, on how they could cope with their manifestations of trauma instead of self-medicating.
In this facility, we focused on those who self-medicated with drugs or alcohol, but there are many more who self-medicate with shopping, gaming, gambling, sex, relationships, self-harm, food, exercise, and on and on. It was the beginning of trauma-informed addiction recovery there.
Fast-forward thirty years and I’ve healed decades of abuse I endured. I’ve raised two children to healthy, well-balanced adulthood. I’ve been through my own intense trauma treatment with EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and Somatic Experiencing®. I live a trauma-informed life.
I am not a mental health counselor anymore. I’m not licensed and I don’t practice therapy. I also don’t consider myself a healer. I do, however, offer coaching.
What’s the difference?
Here’s my take:
A therapist helps a person heal their present by addressing what led them to this point (e.g.: trauma, core beliefs, emotional avoidance, etc.). Especially in clinical settings, it requires a “problem/ solution with measurable progress” paradigm. It is the surgery of the psyche, going after the root of the issue.
A coach helps a person change their present by addressing their thoughts, beliefs, and actions in the present moment and moving forward. It can operate as both problem/solution and also support/ celebration/accountability. This is the physical therapy of the psyche.
A healer helps a person change their present by addressing their energetic and physical health in the moment and moving forward. This is the medicine of the psyche.
While there are some overlaps, they largely have their own areas of focus.
When I’m coaching, we honor the past and acknowledge that it has an impact, sometimes profound. But we don’t go digging for it. We don’t go back to the past to try to heal it. That’s for therapy, which I usually recommend be trauma-informed.
Instead, we focus on the now. And that’s where intuition and soul guides—mine and yours—come in. Because guides can see patterns and what can happen if you continue to engage in the same patterns of thought, belief, and behavior. (Some humans, including me, can do that too. Guides are better at it.)
If you’ll pardon a food metaphor, you’ve been picking at a plate of rubber chicken, cold lima beans, and undercooked Brussels sprouts for a lot of your life, because that’s what other people told you that you were supposed to want. That’s the life that would please others. It doesn’t please you.
You want a plate of, well, your ideal meal. Food that makes your taste buds come alive and your brain sing with dopamine. Some people—and sometimes society in general—have told you that you can’t have that ideal meal because of who you are, or because of your race, your income, your religion, your sexuality, your gender, your job, your weight, your intelligence, your mental or physical health, or something else.
Working with your guides and/or your intuition is the fork or spoon (no sporks here) that is going to get that ideal meal to your mouth, bite by divine bite. (Usually not all at once; divine stomachaches are not a walk in the park.)
And I offer more than one-on-one coaching, because not everyone is into that. I’ve been writing articles for years on these topics, and I have a new book coming out later this year: 10 Things Your Soul Guides Want You to Know: Especially if You Have Anxiety, Depression, Chronic Pain, or PTSD* *With arguments and questions from a human with all four
If you’re at all interested in any of this, sign up for my weekly email list, with informative articles, resources, book updates, fun with guides, and more: https://bit.ly/SheynaGalyanNews
Photo credit: Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
You’ve probably seen the memes: the text I have a feeling my guardian angel looks like this often and a photo of an angel statue facepalming. It’s meant as humor, self-deprecating though it often is, and it hides a very real fear that no one wants to talk about.
What if my guides have given up on me?
What if I pissed them off?
What if my guides—or Source/Spirit/the Universe/God/Goddess—hate me?
What if I’m not worthy of divine guidance?
These are natural, human fears, ones that many of us wrestle with at various times, and they are all based on one forgotten truth: You are part of Source and Source is part of you. If you want to go even deeper, Source Energy is Love Energy and Love cannot unlove itself.
But, one may argue—and I know this because I have elevated arguing with my guides to an art form—what if I am the exception that proves the rule?
You’re not, and here’s how I know: no one incarnates alone. The task of selecting a potential lifetime, of choosing a family or childhood situation that will best help your soul experience what it wants to experience as the full expression of itself, is not done alone. There are guides and helpers, teachers and mentors, friends and loved ones all along the way. Your soul may choose to have more hands-on guides after incarnation or more hands-off, but even if your soul chose one or the other prior to incarnation, you can always change your mind later. Guides are huge fans of free will.
Guides will never tell you that they’re done with you, that they’re giving up, that you’ve done something unforgivable, or that you don’t deserve them. It’s simply not in their metaphorical DNA to do that. What’s much more likely is some trauma, perhaps buried, perhaps not, in which someone in power—parent, adult relative, clergy, teacher, caregiver, partner, etc.—told you one or more of those things. Perhaps they said or implied that there was something wrong with you. Perhaps they said God couldn’t love someone like you because you weren’t or you’re not [fill-in-the-blank]. (Straight, well-behaved, quiet, normal, a particular religion, obedient, etc.)
They are wrong.
Perhaps they cannot love someone who is [fill-in-the-blank], but they do not speak for the All That Is. Perhaps they do not know how or are unwilling to love unconditionally, but the Universe does and can.
We are all connected. We are part of Source and Source is part of us and anyone who denies love to another based on subjective classifications like skin color or gender identity or sexuality or religion or nationality is also denying that connection with and being part of Source.
I have this sort of trauma in my background. My parents must have thought I was extremely powerful because I had the ability to ruin entire holidays by not behaving exactly as they wanted. I was blamed for my father’s heart attack and my mother’s cancer. When they were still alive, my parents cast themselves as victims and me as the perpetrator when I called some of their treatment of me abusive. Relatives sided with them; some betrayed my trust. For years, my parents gaslit me, giving me every reason to believe that there was something wrong with me.
Fortunately, I had my guides with me. They countered the angry, shaming messages with their own messages of unconditional love and acceptance. They might be the reason I survived.
Until one day when I was about fifteen, a day when my mom found out I was talking with my guides and writing down what they said, and for my own safety, I shut it down. It wasn’t conscious. I really wanted to know they were with me. But for three months, it was silence from them.
I worried that I had done something wrong. Maybe I’d failed them by not hiding my journals well enough. Maybe they weren’t even real, and this was all some sort of mental illness like my mom said.
Things went from bad to worse at home and I created a plan to end it all. But my guides literally—and rather physically—stepped in and stopped me.
I had done nothing wrong, they said. There was nothing to forgive. There was no reason for me to blame myself. No matter what, I would always be loved. No matter what, even if I couldn’t hear them, they would be there for me.
There are no conditions on unconditional love. You do not have to think, believe, behave, or look any certain way to be loved by Source/Spirit/the Universe/God/Goddess and your guides.
The only question is: are you open to receiving it?
If you are open, or if you’d like help becoming open to meeting or deepening your relationship with your guides, set up an Illumination Call today and we’ll have a conversation and see if we’re a good fit.
One year ago today was the last time I gathered with people who were not my household family members or medical personnel for required medical appointments.
One year ago today was the last time I hugged a friend.
One year ago today was the last time I ate in a restaurant.
One year ago today was the last time I left the house without a mask.
In the past year, I have permanently lost friends, some to COVID-19, some to conspiracy theories. Both have hurt deeply.
In the past year, I have also been witness to incredible resiliency, patience, courage, determination, and authenticity, some of it my own.
In the past year, I simultaneously felt like I lost faith in humanity and renewed my faith in humanity.
In the past year, I have become even more conscious of what’s truly important to me, of where I need to grow, where I need more compassion, and where I can stop holding back out of fear.
One year ago today, everything changed.
As I write this, it’s my birthday.
Like many trauma survivors, my birthday has never really been a day of celebration and joy. Rather, it’s been a collection of traumas big and small, a message layered year after year that I’m not worth celebrating.
Until this year. Because this year, with a lot of help, I processed the trauma around my birthday.
I see now how I was taking other people’s words and actions (or lack thereof) and making it about me. That’s easy to do, and a normal part of child development. And as happens with trauma, we can get stuck with unprocessed trauma, in the same stage of development we were in when it happened. So the child who blames themself for being unlovable, as children do when they are rejected, overlooked, ignored, punished unfairly, and so on, becomes the adult who blames themself for being unlovable. And every time those old wounds get triggered by current words or actions (or lack thereof), it’s taken as proof that the old wound’s message was right: I am unlovable.
When we process the trauma, we can separate ourselves from it, create a more empowering belief from it, and place it appropriately into the narrative of our lives that makes us who we are today.
But it must be processed. And to process it, we have to be honest about how we feel, be willing to feel the emotions, accept that the emotions are a natural and necessary part of who we are as human beings, express those emotions in a way that does not cause harm to ourselves or others, and love ourselves on the other side.
The day before my birthday, I sobbed. I grieved for the child who so often was rejected or ignored. I grieved for the child who believed that a pleasant birthday experience had to be earned. I grieved for the child who never wanted to have another birthday because it was only a reminder of being unloved.
I had a call with my coach that day. Knowing she’s a safe person, and our calls are sacred space where I can freely be my full self, I sobbed in front of her. She saw my tears, witnessed my grief, and heard my pain. And when I had shared enough for her to understand why birthdays were so painful, she gently reminded me that what others say or do (or don’t say or do) does not diminish my worth one iota.
An image from my three years of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy came up. In the image, I was standing on a crowded beach, in pain. Everyone around me was wearing sunglasses, but as I looked more closely, I realized that some of these glasses didn’t just block the sun. They also blocked the ability to see others, or others’ pain, or only certain people.
It wasn’t that they didn’t care. It was that they couldn’t see me. It’s no one’s fault, including mine, and it also doesn’t change who I am. How others see me (if they do), has everything to do with their perspective (glasses) and nothing to do with who I am.
I am neither diminished nor elevated based on how others perceive me, including if they don’t perceive me at all.
On the morning of my birthday, I woke with a physical feeling in my body that what others say or do is not about me. And making it about me is what I as a child did because that was developmentally appropriate for a child. I don’t need to do that anymore.
I felt a complete separation between what others say or do and who I am. I felt in touch with the truth of who I am as a spirit being of love. I felt joyous. I felt loved by the universe. I loved myself.
At 11:56 p.m. the night of my birthday, I saw the clock and that internal, critical voice noted, “Only four more minutes of my birthday, and then it’s over.”
“No,” I said aloud, shaking my head. Because every day is a day to celebrate the truth of who I am, to love myself, and feel loved by the universe. Every day can feel like my birthday, and I can celebrate everyone who comes into my life and invite them to celebrate love with me.
Every day is another opportunity to experience life from a place of love. Every day is an opportunity to truly know that we matter.
I spent several weeks in June helping my oldest son get all the practice he needed to take his driver’s license road test. And he discovered, as all of us who learn to drive do, that when driving on the highway, even small movements at the wheel can significantly change the trajectory of the vehicle when you’re traveling at 60 miles per hour.
The refrain he most often heard from me during those highway trips was, “Stay in your lane.”
So imagine the surprise and a certain amount of frustration when that became the refrain from my guides to me.
It went like this.
I was scrolling through Facebook, as one does, finding myself getting sucked into reading arguments about Covid-19, about masks, about the USPS, about racism, about the upcoming election, and about politics in general. People were doubling down on conspiracy theories, supplementing them with QAnon talking points. And my energy went from open and peaceful to fear and anger.
“You need to get off of Facebook,” Dresden, my primary guide, cautioned me.
“How are people believing some of this?” I asked. “Have you seen this?”
“What I’m seeing is you not getting off of Facebook.”
“This is just wrong!” I continued. “This isn’t true at all. Science debunked this years ago.”
“Don’t go there.”
“Here, look. Someone else posted a well-written rebuttal from a verified source. I should copy this source for use in the future.”
“Sheyna,” Dresden said in a tone I hadn’t heard in a while. “Stay in your lane.”
“What? I’m not driving.”
“You’re heading in a direction that will not take you where you want to go,” Dresden said. “Remind me what you uncovered as your mission.”
I remembered a kind of psychic download that I’d just recently received. “I connect you to your true self and your own kick-ass team of guides, who are ready to help you live a powerful life of love, joy, and freedom.”
“And what did you then discern was your mission on social media?” Dresden asked.
“I share what I’ve learned and experienced — both pleasant and unpleasant — in my journey to that powerful life of love, joy, and freedom.”
“And how is this,” Dresden waved toward my phone, “helping you stay true to your mission?”
“You think you’re just browsing posts,” Dresden said, “but is it taking you anywhere close to love, joy, or freedom?”
“I need to know where people are, where they’re coming from,” I argued, knowing already it wasn’t helpful.
“How is allowing yourself to get mired in anger and fear going to help you experience love, joy, or freedom, or for that matter, helping anyone else experience that?”
“And what will?” Dresden prodded.
“The things I’m drawn to: meditation, time in nature, talking with you, laughter.”
“So, I don’t need that rebuttal? Or any other evidence that would support where I stand on these issues?”
“That isn’t your mission,” Dresden said. “Not this time.”
“I need to be very mindful of what I consume on social media,” I said. “Stay true to my mission. Stay in my lane.”