ACES, or Adverse Childhood Experiences study, looks at childhood experiences like divorce, neglect, abuse, loss and trauma and the connection to long term adult health problems like heart disease, cancer, depression, autoimmune disease and more.
One of the comments I got from a client last summer in a group coaching program is that I “took away the stigma” from seeing a mental health professional because I talked so openly about my own relatively high ACES score.
I am lucky in that I have been in and out of therapy since I was 10 years old and realize how much better off I am because of that experience. I feel it really saved my life and I’ve been able to heal so much of my ACES experience and build up my resilience.
The long and short of it is if you’ve had early trauma and you haven’t yet dealt with it, now is the time. There are long term health consequences that might lead to early death.
Watch this TED Talk from Nadine Burke Harris — she breaks down what ACES is and what the study is finding long term. She also brings up the point that many people write this off as something that happens to other people’s kids ie the poor kids.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. People across all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders have high ACES scores.
If you’d like to find out your own ACES score and learn more about what it means, click here.
If you’d like to learn 8 Ways People Recover from Post Childhood Adversity Syndrome, click here.
I have done 7 of the 8 practices mentioned in the article: taking the test, writing, yoga, meditation, therapy, EMDR, building community are all part of my healing.
There is hope. We can heal from our past. But first we must admit that we bring our past into our present.
What practices will you do to help recover from your ACES?
Today I’m sharing the 6 Common Mistakes That Get In Your Way of Developing Healthy Habits.
The first mistake I see people making is in wanting to change everything at once. This is so common! Every client I work with comes to me wanting to make change in their lives and they are ready to get to work.
The secret to making change is to add one small step at a time. It’s not sexy, but it works.
We will use exercise as an example. (I like to call it movement because exercise has too many negative associations with it).
If you want to become someone who moves their body daily and you currently don’t move at all, an every day goal is unrealistic when you are starting out.
Set your movement goal to be 20% of where you’d like to be. Once you have mastered that 20% you can add another 20%. Keep mastering your smaller goal until you reach your ultimate goal.
The second mistake I see people make is in their mindset: it is all or nothing. The thinking goes if I do not move my body every single day, I might as well do nothing.
Nothing will set you up faster for failure than a black and white way of seeing things. Progress over perfection every single time.
The third mistake I see people making is they fail to keep track of their progress. What we monitor grows. I have been wearing a Fitbit for the last three years and just the simple act of noticing the number of my steps motivates me to move my body.
The forth mistake I see people making is they fail to set reminders of their desired new habit. It is hard to be what you can’t see.
If you want to be someone who is a daily exerciser, how will you remind yourself of that? Some of my clients are visual and love making checklists to hang next to their beds, others let their phones remind them by setting daily alarms and others use the remind features in their activity trackers.
The fifth mistake is failing to set up accountability. If you aren’t someone who is internally motivated, you are not alone! A big part of the population are Obligers (otherwise known as people who need outside accountability). This could look like hiring a coach, finding a friend to meet you for walks, or joining an accountability group.
The sixth mistake is failing to celebrate your accomplishments along the way to reaching your goals. Some clients celebrate by shouting it from the rooftops, others buy themselves gifts they want, others want gold stars. No matter what each milestone is worth celebrating.
You can apply these same principles to making new healthy habits.
Let’s face it, most people don’t keep their resolutions because they don’t really know how to break down their goals into actionable steps.
The other big barrier to success is lack of accountability. Most people try to start a new habit the first week of the new year only to abandon them by the end of January. Most people don’t build in accountability to their plans.
Working with me you not only get a realistic actionable plan, you also have built in accountability for your goal. Together we come up with a plan that will work.
If it doesn’t work, we revise the plan and get back to the goal rather than feeling bad about ourselves and giving up. Again.
If this is the year you really want to make lasting sustainable habits and crush your self-care goals, I am here for you.
Less that two weeks before we flip the calendar over into the new year.
How do you want 2019 to feel?
We get to decide how we feel.
Revolutionary, I know.
For the last decade plus I have been choosing a word of the year. Those words have helped me feel the way I want to feel and to practice a different way of being in the world.
Words I have chosen over the years:
That last one was so freakin hard (Enneagram One here), that I ended up changing it to Lighthearted (also so freaking hard see Enneagram One).
I also have feelings that guide my life:
In choosing these words and feelings I want in my life, it doesn’t mean I am not also experiencing a range of feelings good and bad. That’s real life.
But by choosing to have a touchstone intention for the year, I feel THAT feeling more often. Perhaps because I am focusing on it. Perhaps because the universe is giving me what I asked for.
All I know is that since starting this practice I have felt so much more intentional in my life. Like paying attention to the details of how I want to feel gives me the prompt to check in with myself frequently about how I am actually feeling. That in turn helps guide me back to what I’d like to feel more often and make life choices to support those feelings.
If you’d like to be intentional with your feelings in 2019 there are many ways to do that:
I teach 100% guilt-free self-care to busy women who want to drop the story that self-care is selfish and start feeling powerful and strong as the leader in their own life. All without them feeling overwhelmed or breaking the bank.