Saturday, December 21, 2013

The "Disorder" in PTSD… and Some Empowering Solutions

We may be afraid and thats ok. 

Our fear becomes a problem only when we allow it to dictate our actions and interfere with our future. 

And asking or expecting others to change or accommodate us so that we don't have to face our fear? 

Serves to enable us in our avoidance and lets the fear control our future. 

Heres the thing I discovered

Is that "avoidance" is the "disorder" in "PTSD". 

The truth that set me free?

Knowing and learning that we can learn to calm our parasympathetic nervous system; that we don't have to "go

That we can take our life back from trauma. 

Tip: start noticing when you are feeling "amped" or as though you need to run away, fight back or shut down. 

Then start removing yourself from the "trigger" before you actually bolt, fight back or shut down. 

Develop the skills to use tools to bring these feelings of anger/fight, fear/flight and freezing/shutting down to a manageable place like:

  • Deep breathing 
  • Dancing it out 
  • Punching it out
  • Walking or running it out
  • Writing it out (without sending it :) )

The thing to remember is that most of us have been taught to run to others, to "ask for help" when we are feeling emotionally overloaded instead of being taught the life and coping skills to manage our feelings and that - leaves us feeling both powerless and hopeless for anything better.

These exercises when practiced over time - will empower you to be in control of your emotions vs your emotions controlling you. 

Keep in mind that this first step can take some time as we learn and choose to be in awareness of how we are feeling vs the disconnection that can come with experiencing chronic trauma over time. 

The key?

Is to practice this over and over and over….taking small steps instead of expecting big results "fast". 

Knowing that you are empowering yourself vs needing someone to tell you what is "wrong" and how to "fix" it. 

Heres the bottom line about dealing with "PTSD" issues that I discovered to be empowering….

Learning to bring things down to a manageable level before we "react" allows and empowers us to shift from "reactive" to "responsive" where we can consider our options and respond via choice vs the basic human need to engage in fight, flight or freeze as our only options.

So there you go. 

It's simple, yes. 

Not nearly as complicated as I was taught to believe it was. 

Is it easy? 

Nope. Not at all. Especially at first. 

Is it effective?

Yup. :) 

Is it empowering?

You bet. 

Discovering that I was in control of myself, my reactions, my choices….that I did NOT have to be in therapy or on drugs "for life"? 

Empowered me to start seeing myself as the creator of my "best life". 

May you discover your own "empowering solutions" and find freedom from your fears. 

Best always and forever,

Susan :) 

Resources Visit the archives to the Empowering Solutions podcast here for real life solutions to real life and relationship issues. Follow the Empowering Solutions community page here for daily tips on learning to live beyond the drama and trauma of our past… And the Empowering Solutions blog is here for articles and essays on life and life issues. 

 Please subscribe at the top for blog updates and join our mailing list. 

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Seeking Happy

Many of us are seeking happiness in people, places and things.
"If I get a new job and move to a different state then I can get away from all this bs"

"If I could just take a vacation - then everything would be ok"

"If I had this house, car, clothes, job, business ….then I'd be happy".

The problem I found with that? 

Is that if I wasn't happy with who I was by myself I would never be happy with that "someone" and in fact that relationship would go down the toilet just like all the rest of them did. 

I discovered that moving or changing jobs distracted me for awhile but in time things were the same as they were before. 

I found that no matter what I had, what I owned or what I did to make a living - if I was not happy where I was I would not be happy there. 

Happy happened when I learned to make it happen. 

And when I got happy with me

I no longer needed to be a "we".

I started looking at where I could move to instead of what I could move away from.


I discovered that I had everything I needed already; that I didn't need a new house, car, job or clothes. 

How have you found happy? 


I Was Looking For Happy In All the Wrong Places

Happiness is a choice? Then why am I not happy?


Visit the archives to the Empowering Solutions podcast here for real life solutions to real life and relationship issues. 

 Follow the Empowering Solutions community page here for daily tips on learning to live beyond the drama and trauma of our past… 

 And the Empowering Solutions blog is here for articles and essays on life and life issues. Please subscribe at the top for blog updates and join our mailing list. 

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 Thanks for following, reading and sharing!

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Happiness is a choice? Then why am I not happy?

I'd hear the saying "happiness is choice"…

And feel worse.

What was wrong with me that I wasn't able to be happy? 


There had to be something "wrong" with me. 

I mean seriously wrong with me.

I was angry.

I was sometimes mean.

I was oftentimes driven to be busy, busy, busy.

But I was not "happy".

So - when I sought help - it was confirmed that something was wrong - terribly wrong with me. 

My brain was indeed broken.

I had a "disease" - like *diabetes! 

I had an "illness" that affected my ability to be "happy".

Aha! That explained it!

A "diagnosis" made it all make sense.

Yet - the prescribed "treatments" that were supposed to make me "feel" better - never worked. 

I settled into a life of "less than" "for the rest of my life".

And stayed there.

UNTIL I met someone who had traveled this path before me and discovered their own truth and shared it with me…

That there was nothing "wrong" with me other than I did not know how to access the power that lives in each of us to see myself as the creator of my own "best life". 

Tip: if happiness has eluded you….set a goal for yourself and each day take steps toward that goal.

Maybe its a goal to move to a new home, get a new job or go back to school.

Maybe its a goal to learn how to become more self sufficient; to learn how to be less "reactive" and more "responsive". Or maybe to learn the difference between "boundaries" and "walls".

Whether your goal is to be-come your best self through personal development learning strategies or to do or have something that you have longed for…

The best remedy for chronic sadness is to focus on what makes us happy and find our own empowering solutions when we aren't'.

True stuff.

Susan :)

*Diabetes - the whole paradigm built on the idea that "mental illness" is a disease like diabetes is more true than we know. First we must differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 - there is a real physical issue that cannot be fixed. One is born with this. It is diagnosable through medical tests. In type 2 - this diabetes is brought on by overconsumption of refined sugar and can be reversed with diet and exercise. In considering the issues of "mental illness" in this context we must remember that there is NO diagnostic test for this - therefore these issues are not the same as type 1 diabetes which can be diagnosed and treated. In the context of type 2 diabetes - the issues of so called "mental illness" are also brought on by life experiences albeit more complex than just consuming enormous amounts of refunded sugar although refined sugar has been proven to cause issues that can be labeled "mental illness". For more on this I can recommend visiting Beyond Meds articles on gut health, this article at Mercola on sugar and mental illness, this article on gluten and schizophrenia, and there are numerous studies revealing the impact of childhood trauma to what is labeled "mental illness". In addition, very often the "medicine" we are given becomes the cause of the "illness" as I experienced. All this as food for thought and to point out - these issues do not have to be "for life" and the "mental illness" model is 1. not an effective life model and 2. it is not the only model, or paradigm, about the human condition, the life we live or the struggles we face - although it is the only one we hear about when we ask for "help". 

Be informed to be empowered. 

For more on these issues please visit 


Visit the archives to the Empowering Solutions podcast here for real life solutions to real life and relationship issues.

Follow the Empowering Solutions community page here for daily tips on learning to live beyond the drama and trauma of our past…

And the Empowering Solutions blog is here for articles and essays on life and life issues. 

Please subscribe at the top for blog updates and join our mailing list.

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!™
 Thanks for following, reading and sharing!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why do I feel so powerless? The difference between "acceptance" and "tolerance"

I used to think that I had to "accept" or "tolerate" bad behavior and being abused and mistreated by others because I could not change them - so I had to change myself in the hope that they would treat me better….

If I was ______ or did _______ or said _______ or had ________ or looked _____

THEN they would love, appreciate, see me as worthy and valuable to be loved. 

Then maybe they would _______________. 



Acceptance of "what is" does NOT mean accepting or tolerating being mistreated.  

In fact when I lived like this - I felt overwhelmed and overcome with feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. 

This is where I was doing the "dance" of dysfunction as I tried to figure out the steps

What could I do to make things better? 

How could I be different so they would love me, so they would stop being hurtful to me?

This is where I also lived in chronic "depression" and would "zone out".

When I started realizing "depression" and zoning out aka "dissociation" were not a "disease" but a natural response to not knowing how to own my power to change my life?

That is when my life started to change. 

Change can be painful

Change can be painful but not as painful as staying in situations where I was not happy about the way others treated me and knowing there was nothing I could do to change them or the way they treated me.

Acceptance is peace not tolerance

Acceptance means living in peace with what is vs trying to control or change others or circumstances to change outcomes.

Acceptance does NOT mean tolerating things that are intolerable. 

This -  is where we feel helpless and powerless. 

That is where we lose hope.

I found my hope when I found my power. 

Acceptance - yes.

Tolerance - no.

We can make a plan and learn how to change our lives when circumstances are such that we can't change them.

In the meantime

When we know that we can create the change that can change our life and allow us to live in that place of peace….

We can learn and practice living in acceptance of what is until we can achieve what could be. 

Q: What is it in your life that feels overwhelming and intolerable that you have been "accepting" and leaves you feeling hopeless and helpless?

What would life look like for you if you were to change this? 

What do you need to learn to create this change?

Life skills? 

How to set and maintain healthy boundaries?

What the difference is between healthy and unhealthy dependence and relationships? 

Coping strategies for difficult moments?

Do you want to go to school so you can have the career that would enable you to create this new life? 

Once we identify the "problem" we then identify potential solutions and start acting on those ideas vs staying stuck in telling the story of the problem over and over and over. 

The idea of taking that journey can feel scary yet - it is in facing our fear that we find our courage. 

You're a rock star.

True story. :) 

Until next time,



Visit the archives to the Empowering Solutions podcast here for real life solutions to real life and relationship issues.

Follow the Empowering Solutions community page here for daily tips on learning to live beyond the drama and trauma of our past…

And the Empowering Solutions blog is here for articles and essays on life and life issues. 

Please subscribe at the top for blog updates and join our mailing list.

 Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!™ Thanks for following, reading and sharing!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Staying Stuck vs Finding Freedom

As sometimes happens - I will post something that I wonder how it will go over. Todays post is one of those times. I posted this at the Facebook Empowering Solutions page last week fully expecting to receive no comments or response or expecting a response where readers became defensive of their "support groups". Instead - I received several comments that said things like "AMEN!", "Love this page!" and "Beautiful!". 

Since it went over well there - I thought readers of A Journey might appreciate the lessons I learned as I was seeking solutions and instead - often found myself stuck in the problems.

Along the way I realized there are plenty of "pages" and "groups" where I could go to get my ego stroked. 

Lots of ways I can get involved with others who are still full of anger at what others did to them that harmed them. 

Places where I can talk about and learn to recognize "abusers" and "narcissists" abound aplenty. 

Many opportunities to become enmeshed in self pity. 

Tons of places where I can find others who are not wanting to "trigger" me, to take care of me - instead of teaching me to take care of myself. 

Lots of places where I could hang out where my anger at what others had done to me was fanned and fueled.

Yet - there are few places where I could go to learn to grow beyond that place of chronic victimhood. 

Few places to learn how to trust myself instead of feeling like I could trust no one. 

When I was a part of those places and sought out those groups that made me feel good about being a "victim" and a "survivor"… 

I did not grow. 

To find my path to freedom from the past I had to be willing to start seeing myself not as a victim and more than a survivor. 

I had to be willing to walk away from those places where it felt really good to be wrapped up in the caring of others who had had similar experiences; where I could remain that powerless child waiting for someone to "help" me, to "fix" me. To tell me that I was amazing, powerful and capable. 

Until I realized that only I could give those things to myself.

I had to be willing to walk toward the light instead of staying in the darkness. 

I had to stop focusing on what had happened to me and how it had left me feeling broken…

I had to stop seeking others who were so willing to soothe my wounds and learn to make myself feel better. 

I had to decide to "get a life" instead of wanting and wishing for a perfect life where I was someone - except who I was.

I had to start seeking solutions that empowered me to start telling a story not about what happened to me but about how I overcame what happened to me. 

Empowering Solutions is the result of that search for the answers that set me free from that darkness that consumed my days, my nights and my life. 

Welcome to Empowering Solutions

May we all find our power and create our "best life".

In eternal gratitude that we share this journey.


PS…does this post speak to you? 

Do you see yourself as wanting to grow but still stuck in the muck of the past, telling your story over and over; commiserating with others in telling their stories over and over? 

Are you tired of not being able to trust anyone? 

Are you ready to start learning how to trust yourself instead of blindly trusting everyone? 

Are you ready for some "empowering" solutions? 

Please join us at the Facebook community page for daily notes and inspiration to support you as you travel this path to your own "unlimited life" and don't forget to subscribe at the top of this page for both blog updates and our very occasional newsletter. 

You can also subscribe at Empowering Solutions Radio where we talk about the "how" behind breaking free from the drama, trauma and dysfunction that has been our life. 

Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!™  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Found My Freedom When I Found My Power (Interdependence v.s. Dependence)

As things would have it - it is perhaps not quite time to retire this blog. I'm still not sure about the direction I'm going but I do know that my Journey is not over. 

Therefore, todays post....

For a very long time I firmly believed that my "moods" were a "disorder". 

I had been led to believe that the reason I struggled in life and relationships was not because of the pattern of trauma and abuse in my life but because there was something wrong with my brain.

What I discovered was that while this particular paradigm is the only one that we hear about most often in the context of "mental health"...

It is not the only way to view the life issues that left us feeling unprepared to deal with life on life's terms.

This brings me to this...

In a recent post (elsewhere) I responded to an article where the focus was on "managing" "symptoms" of "disorders" like depression, anxiety etc via human connection. 

This essay went on to say that this person was falling back into their anxiety and depression because on the weekends they did not have the structure they do during the week. The thing that "saved" them from falling into their dark hole was a friend who called to invite them to do something. 

The response was "you just gave me a reason to get out of bed". 

And - yes. 

We DO need human connection and love in our lives.

Yet - when we need others to "give us a reason to get out of bed" we are in fact being "dependent" vs "independent". 

And the idea that one must "live with" and "manage" "symptoms"....

Well - I see this as part of the issue with being dependent on others to do something in order for us to feel better. 

Healthy "interdependent" relationships do not depend on others to do for us that which we can and should be doing for ourselves.

If we are struggling with "symptoms" we can learn how to meet our own needs vs waiting for someone to rescue us. 

If there is "disorder" - we can create "order" - and that began for me in realizing that waiting for someone to "give me a reason to live/get out of bed/go to school etc....

Was giving my power away. 

The "Empowering Solutions" project is about us learning to take control of changing our lives v.s. needing others or circumstances to change in order for our lives to change. 

If we are feeling hopeless we can find our hope by finding our power.

Tip: if you are feeling like you are falling into that dark place - try calling a friend to go do something instead of waiting for them to call you. If that friend is not available - call another. If that friend is not available just go for a walk or a bike ride and purpose to smile and say hello to everyone you pass. Make that human connection you are craving instead of waiting for someone to connect with you. 

We can own the power we have to create the life we want instead of living a life we tolerate. 

Is it easy? 


Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!™

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This Blog is Not Dead ....

This post will remain as a holding place and thank you note for following A Journey and on twitter - Zebdot :) I have enjoyed your notes, comments and emails over the past years. Please join me at my newest blog Empowering Solutions here as I spread my own wings and live my passion to help others who felt hopeless and powerless to find their hope by finding their power. Thank you for sharing this journey with me and I hope to see you there and perhaps back here one day. Susan

This Blog is not dead - not by a long shot. 

Although - it may seem that it is to the readers and followers who haven't seen me here in some time and that posts have been long in coming - when they do come.

The thing is....

Life changes - and as it does....we need to be ready to change with it or risk getting lost in it. 

This blog began in 2009 when I was still experiencing the early aftermath of being lost in the mental health system that told me my life "issues" were really an "illness". You can read more about that here. If you are interested to read more about the journey I experienced when I came off the drugs that I was told I would need "for life" you can read about how I realized it was the drugs that were causing the "illness" and how my journey to freedom from them started in 2007 here at Beyond Meds. And here you can read about how I found myself on an adventure of making sense of this paradigm of "illness" and how I discovered truths that "set me free".

2009 was a year where I was trying to find my voice - literally. After a lifetime of being told by others that I held no value of my own - only what they gave me - I literally had no "voice"; I was shaking in my boots. I had no sense of "self"; I had no opinions of my own. I was a true "chameleon".

I struggled with knowing who I was, what I wanted, what I liked or disliked. This Blog became part of my journey of self-discovery; along the way I separated myself from those who needed me to be "less" so they could be "more". I made the decision to exist. 

The calendar turned and 2010 rolled around. I had given much to doing the "hard work" of healing myself and my life from an early life of physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse that spanned my entire childhood. I understood the meaning of the poem by Patrick Overton and wrote my own version of it here. The photo on that page tells the story well; I knew I could not NOT move forward - yet that was the only option I had at the time; I could live or die trying.

I was willing to "go through" the pain and struggle in order to "get out of it" in order to get to my "best life". I also realized that there was no one to "blame"and as much as I wanted "justice" I had remind myself that while I was not responsible for what others did to me - I am solely responsible for what I do with what they did to me .  Here I also wrote a blog post about how I learned to find my own courage to do this. I learned a lot about Compassion and learning to let go of the need for justice that I would never get. 

I shared my story publicly for the first time in April of 2010 when Michele Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD invited me to do a radio interview. This in turn led to my own Blog Talk Radio series with Heal My PTSD and then in 2011 my own Blog Talk Radio channel - Empowering Solutions and a Facebook page here. 

The year 2012 continued to be part of this amazing journey. My private Facebook posts had become a community page; people who were in pain and struggling continued to reach out to me as I continued to post all the while wondering just what it was that I had that they found themselves drawn to. And what I kept hearing over and over was "thank you. I have never heard this before", "Your post today hit home with me".

And I realized that it was true - this journey is NOT about "fixing" something that is "broken" but about LEARNING how to do life differently; how to "be" and be separate from those who tell us we don't exist or exist only to serve their purposes, what they give us "permission" for.

 As 2012 came to a close I realized that a lot of what I had written in the past 4 years was about the story we tell ourselves and how in changing the story - we could change our lives.  My posting schedule began to wax and wane. 2012 closed with less than 40 posts - all year and 2013 has left me wondering: "What is it that I am supposed to be doing?". 

So here we are. 

2013 is slowly coming to a close and I do not feel that this is the "end" - but rather the beginning of a new adventure. An adventure that I'd like to invite you to join me on as we continue to explore the bigger world beyond our pain and struggle, finding our hope for a better future for ourselves and our families by finding that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, we had the power all along:

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda, the Good Witch: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda, the Good Witch: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

I hope you'll join me here at the Facebook Community page. 

2014 is going to be a very good year - for all of us. :)

Namaste, bells, whistles and a little bit of Glinda's glitter.....:)


Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!™  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Task of the Journey

I found the task of the healing journey was to learn how to feel that which I had to not feel in order to survive. Beyond that it was learning to live in a world that had before been unsafe and engage in relationships when I'd not had healthy relationship modeled for me. This was learning to live from the inside out as the creator of my life instead of the outside in where I live on "hyper alert" and on guard, a victim of life. ~Susan Kingsley-Smith

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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

This journey?

The path to our "best life"?

Begins here.


Right now.

The past sucked.

The task is to learn how to let it go - not "get over it".

How do we do that?

By choosing to "let go" instead of trying to pretend it never happened, didn't hurt and did not affect us. 

By choosing to "let go" instead of holding on as though without our pain we would not exist.

How do we do this? 

We feel and express the ANGER. 

We "let it out" in ways that are safe for us and does not hurt or offend others. We stop expecting others to "help" and we just let it out when it comes up.  

We feel the deep, gut wrenching GRIEF instead of letting it consume us. 

We fall on the floor sobbing and bawling. It would be nice to know someone will comfort us but if we wait for that to move on - some of will be waiting a lifetime. We grieve the sadness of all we lost and will never have. We grieve the losses and let go of the hope that "maybe they will change". We grieve and give our souls time to mourn for as long as we need. 
We CHOOSE to move on and let the past go as we learn to focus on creating the life we want instead of blaming those in our past for the life we have. 

We CHOOSE to learn to let go of the anger and the grief for a moment that we might learn to live for a lifetime.

How often do we do this?

As long as we need to and then maybe longer.

In the beginning it will be often and in time it will be less.

The key is - to just do it and then do it again. 

This is the task of learning to do life differently in order to have a different life. 

This is how we reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

You can do this. 

Is it hard? 


And I am so sorry for your pain. 

Yet it is learning to let it go that it no longer consumes and cripples us. 

I know its hard and I know you can handle it. 

My heart is with you.


Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!™

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