Tag Archives: write-to-heal

How adverse childhood experiences or ACEs impact your current wellbeing

Often, people who have a history of trauma in childhood find themselves struggling to flourish in adulthood. Trauma affects the brain in ways that can make you more likely to experience difficulty when faced with emotionally stressful and demanding situations in your relationships, at work, and as a parent.

Throughout my life, both growing up and as an adult, I’ve faced a number of challenging life experiences, stressors, and traumas, and I understand this struggle on a deep, intrinsic level. I’ve learned, not only for myself, but through my many years reporting as a science journalist, that chronic unpredictable stress in childhood affects the architecture of the brain in ways that can impact negatively our everyday life. 

And yet it is possible though to create new, more powerful healing possibilities for inner peace and flourishing. The brain is wonderfully neuroplastic. And it’s never too late to begin the healing process. 

What are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)?

The term adverse childhood experiences refers to chronic, unpredictable stressors that children and teenagers encounter while growing up. The original ACEs questionnaire was first created in 1995 by a team of physicians who asked thousands of patients about their experiences in childhood, and then compared those childhood experiences to patients’ adult health records.

This original ACEs survey asks about 10 categories of adversity in childhood.
These include facing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; and experiencing different types of familial dysfunction, including growing up with a parent who suffered from a mental illness; or who had an addiction; or having parents who separated or divorced; or losing a parent. Our understanding of ACEs has since expanded to include growing up facing poverty, racism, community violence, and other environmental stressors such as the pandemic and climate change.

Adverse childhood experiences turn out to have a profound effect on adult health. Over 2,000 studies have shown that individuals with ACEs scores of 2 or more are more likely to develop physical and mental health concerns in adulthood. This relationship between adversity in childhood and health issues in adulthood is dose-dependent. In other words, the more categories of ACEs you experienced as a child, the greater the likelihood of later experiencing physical and mental health disorders in adulthood.

For instance, those with an ACE score of 3 have a 60 percent increased risk of later developing an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Type 1 diabetes. And those with an ACE score of 4 or more are four times more likely to experience depression in adulthood.

Trauma and the brain

Adversity in childhood can change the brain in myriad ways, altering neural connectivity in the amygdala, the alarm center of the brain; the hippocampus, where you process memories and emotions; and the pre-frontal cortex, the decision-making center of your brain. Changes also occur in how well these areas communicate and network with each other in what’s known as the connectome of the brain.

How brain changes affect you

These changes can profoundly affect how you feel on a day-to-day basis, including how well you’re able to:

  • Recognize your own feelings and fears
  • Accurately perceive and interpret events happening around you
  • Voice what you need and want especially when under stress
  • Focus on what you need or require to feel safe, calm, and centered in challenging moments 
  • Use your ability to calm yourself and self-regulate when you encounter challenges in your life—for instance, an argument with your spouse, teenager, or colleague

You may find yourself either overreacting or underreacting to the world around you more than you’d like, or feel powerless about how you can exert influence over your history of trauma and adversity, or experience a sense of inertia or hopelessness about how you can manage chronic stressors now.

What can you do?

You can begin to change the legacy of the past by learning and applying neuroscience-based techniques that have a self-calming and self-regulating effect on you, and doing so in a way that is compassionate, patient, kind, and accepting of yourself. Often, those with a history of trauma have more difficulty showing loyalty to themselves, engaging in self-care, and waking up on their own side.

The invitation is to become the “general contractor” of your own well-being and utilize simple, neuroscience-based tools to help replace old neural pathways that no longer serve you with neural pathways that promote your healing and flourishing. This is a process that I call Neural Re-Narrating™.

I know how difficult this past year has been for all of us. Many people with ACE’s are finding that the early #trauma and sense of unsafety they endured growing up are being re-triggered during these fear-laden times, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, political upheaval, and feeling isolated.

To help address the stress and uncertainty we are all facing, I’ve created a new course, Your Healing Narrative: Write-to-Heal with Neural-Re-Narrating™️, to help you work through your ACE’s and become resilient in the face of current stressors. 

In this course, I teach you a new way to talk to yourself by intertwining writing prompts with mind-body exercises to signal your nervous system to calm down, reverse negative self-talk, and begin to recover from ACEs.

This program combines a series of writing prompts with mindfulness techniques and the latest neuroscience to help you engage in Neural Re-Narrating™—creating a new, more powerful and resonant healing narrative that will help you change neural pathways in ways that will help you to flourish in your current life, even in these unprecedented times of adversity. 

Learn more here.

Your Healing Narrative: Write-to-Heal With Neural Re-Narrating™️

Happy 2021!

2020 was a year unlike any other. But it also brought home for many of us what matters most, including the importance of nurturing and harnessing the power of our nervous system and brain toward equanimity so that we can flourish even in the face of adversity.

Your Healing Narrative: Write-to-Heal With Neural Re-Narrating™ is my 2021 offering for individuals, parents, teachers, social workers, therapists, and health care professionals, to help ease a little bit of the anxiety, suffering, and trauma we are all experiencing.

Over my three decades as a science journalist, in the course of writing seven books and exploring the intersection of neuroscience, emotion, and the mind-body connection, I’ve sat with many individuals who’ve suffered from adversity and interviewed hundreds of leading neuroscientists. Your Healing Narrative: Write-to-Heal With Neural Re-Narrating™ is a compilation and distillation of all that I’ve learned – a synthesis of all the best strategies I know for flourishing in the face of adversity. In this program, which combines writing-to-heal techniques with science-based trauma-healing interventions and mindfulness approaches, I’ve set out to help you learn how to override your brain’s old, habitual reactions and create new, healthier responses that reset the brain and nervous system for peace and possibility.

In the past, I’ve shared how I faced a number of challenging life experiences and traumas throughout my life, both growing up, and as an adult.

I know what it’s like to feel as if you’re swimming hard against an invisible tide of challenges and stressors – whether it’s trauma from the past, stressors in your current life, chronic health conditions, or concerns over someone you dearly love. And I know how hard it is to utilize healing strategies when facing uncertainty and adversity. When the world around me, or the lives of those I love, spin into chaos, these are the moments I’ve become most caught up in rumination and self-criticism, and resisted taking care of my own well-being. 

All too often, especially if we are women or serve in the healing professions, we may be so busy caring for others that we don’t turn our attention to our own inner well-being with the self-compassion we deserve.

This year has been chock-full of adversity, uncertainty and distress on so many levels: the worst pandemic in a hundred years, millions facing economic uncertainty, global climate change, and mounting political discord. Over time, facing unpredictable, chronic stressors can deliver us into a low-grade state of fight, flight, freeze, sabotaging our immune system and our nervous system. Perhaps you’ve noticed changes in your mood, mindset, or health. Or, perhaps you’re not aware of the tension you may be holding onto as you keep on coping, and caregiving for those who need you. Either way, over time, chronic stress can begin to take a physical and emotional toll your long-term health. 

Knowledge in and of itself is not enough to change old, neural patterns. When we try to change our thought patterns and reactions on our own, we automatically overlay old, ingrained thought patterns onto newly learned approaches. 

That’s why I’ve created Your Healing Narrative: Write-to-Heal With Neural Re-Narrating™ in which I carefully guide you step-by-step through over 100 lessons, activities, and strategies. Throughout this course you’ll go on a journey, using the process of writing-to-heal to recognize old, painful thought patterns; observe how your history of adversity may be affecting your health, relationships, and well-being; and begin rewriting your inner story to create a new, more powerful, resonant, and purposeful healing narrative that will help you to flourish in your life, even in the face of adversity. 

My hope is that through this course, you’ll come away with simple but powerful tools to create a deep and lasting inner sense of resiliency. By doing this transformative work, you will not only help yourself through difficulties from the past, as well as in your present life, you’ll also begin to extend that inner sense of safety, and the resources you learn, to help those around you thrive.

In truth, I wish I had been able to take this program myself decades ago, earlier in my own healing journey, both as a parent, and as an individual with chronic health conditions. And so, I created it for all of you, to help you thrive through these unprecedented times. 

I’ve created two versions of this program: one for Healing Professionals and one for Individuals. You can learn more here.

I truly believe that Neural Re-Narrating™ holds the key to creating more powerful healing possibilities for inner peace and flourishing, even in these times of adversity! 

You can learn more about the different program offerings here! Be sure to use the code CALM2021 to get $25 off the introductory price!