Addicted to Trauma – Learning to Let Go

I recently watched the movie Addicted, which is based upon the fiction book by Author Zane. Although both the book and movie contained a lot of sexual content, it wasn’t the graphic material that grabbed my attention. Instead, it was the underlying message about the role that trauma plays in our lives.

What is trauma?

Trauma simply refers to an injury.

The movie Addicted focused on emotional and psychological injuries as a result of a sexual trauma that occurred. Sexual traumas are estimated to impact about 10% of the population. However, trauma can also occur in other forms. Injuries can also be physical, emotional, or psychological in nature. And the number of individuals who will face some kind of trauma by young adulthood skyrockets to over 50%!

So half of us have experienced some kind of trauma, at some point in our lives. However, I would hazard to guess that many have never dealt with the pain, hurt, and suffering that resulted from the injury.

Most of us have found a way to create a life that allows us to side step and avoid the difficult situations that may annoy, frustrate, or trigger our old wounds.

However, you do have a choice… As Michael Singer states in the Untethered Soul: “you have to decide if you want to continue to walk around with stored pain blocking your heart and limiting your life”.

I want to remind you that you must choose to let the pain go so that you can become unblocked, no longer stuck in repeating familiar patterns and being triggered by predictable circumstances.

Here are a few quotes to inspire you to let go of the old injuries and allow true healing:

  • It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on. It takes a lot of strength to let go – J. C. Watts, Politician
  • Let go of yesterday. Let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you’ll get to where God wants you to be – Joel Osteen, Preacher
  • Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today? – Mary Morrissey, Life Coach

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna


Are you enjoying life?

I have been in a very reflective mood today. It seems that I am divided between two different places, the me I am today (that is based upon past decisions resulting in my present circumstances) and the me I know I shall be in the future (that is based on the decisions I’m making now, even in this very moment).

At times it feels hard to reconcile those two Donnas, the one of yesterday and the one of tomorrow. The Donna of old is familiar but her life was stunted and without purpose. However, the Donna of new is propelled by a clear vision of things to come but she is still unknown. She holds great promise but the future is not yet here. So it leaves me with the unknown… The unknown, don’t we all fear the things we are uncertain about?

It is within these moments of contemplating an ambiguous future that I start to question: “am I enough to make it?” and “do I have what it takes?”

It’s so common to be hesitant about the unknown, but fear can cause us to drift back into old habits, settle for less than we deserve, and give up on desired dreams. And if the reaction to run or turn back is so typical, what will make me any different?

I don’t know.

But I am certain that I made myself a promise to never stop trying, even in moments where things are unclear and my future on shaky ground.

I share this hoping you get the message that you must keep moving forward, for each step (no matter how small) is a sign of progress, which brings you one inch closer to the finish line. Don’t waste today, for it’s your actions today (in this moment) that will provide the open doors of tomorrow (your future).

In the book the Untethered Soul, Author Michael Singer states: “… you have limited time left in your life, and what’s really not reasonable is to not enjoy life.” So what are you willing to do today to start living a life that you enjoy?

For the life you’re living today is setting up the life you shall live in the future…

I am still in contemplative mode – trying to exercise my patience muscle so that I can allow the Donna of the present to catch up with the Donna of my future. Until then I am going to work on enjoying the life I’m living right now.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Hope, Happiness, Excellence… It’s all a Matter of Choice!

Hope is a decision we make…

Greek philosopher Aristotle expressed that “excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny”, a sentiment that was later echoed by American politician William Jennings Bryan when he stated “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

Both men believed that our path and course in life is won through the choices that we make! Did you know that? Do you believe it?

I believe it… yet I often see so many others who doubt their own power to choose. They opt to remain in hopeless situations that range from dead-end jobs to abusive marriages.

Let me share a recent experience with you. I took a position in a work environment that was blatantly toxic. The poison running through that place was evident by the various employees taking a cocktail of prescription medications just to make it through the workday. They thought I was strange that I believed in changing the environment, and I wondered how they could stand to remain in such a state. I urged them to believe in their own personal power to create a positive present. However, they doubted their capacity to make a difference. I spent day in and day out trying to bolster their courage and belief in their own abilities, until it struck me that the change would not and could not occur until…

Until, they made a choice.

Whether you know it or not, hope is indeed a choice. For example:

  • Do you allow negative situations to roll off or do you hold on to them?
  • Do you engage or disengage with people who think and speak negative?
  • Do you believe that your circumstances are hopeless or changeable?

For each question, notice there is an option.

After reading this, I hope you walk away with determination to examine the areas of your own life where you undermine and discredit your ability to make a choice.

And may you make the effort to consciously choose happiness, peace, and positivity. But remember, when things come your way and attempt to rob that positivity, may you have the conviction to refuse the negativity or misery.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Your Gifts and Talents… Get to Work!

I sit here reflecting on a recent sermon I heard in church. The pastor spoke about the importance of “working your gift”. I thought this title was quite fitting and a bit ironic because earlier that same morning I was singing along to the contemporary gospel song “The Gift” by Donald Lawrence and Company. Both that song and the sermon expressed three important points:

  • We are each “gifted”
  • No one else on the earth can exhibit our gift the way that we can, for we each are divinely unique
  • We have to work our gift

Although all of the above points resonated with me, it was the last that I seemed to fixate on… the importance of working the gift that we’ve been given…

That third point held a lot of weight because it reminded me that although we are given talents and gifts – it’s not until we do something with the endowment that we get to see and feel the power of the blessing.

How many of you have talents that you are just “sitting” on? Gifts that are going wasted because you feel you’re too busy, tired, or afraid to step out on faith?

I can relate to your reluctance, for at times I too want to shy away from using my gifts, for with gifts comes responsibility.

For even the bible talks about this greater responsibility in Luke 12:48: But what about the servant who does not know what his master wants? He also does things that deserve punishment. But he will get less punishment than the servant who knew what he should do. Whoever has been given much will be responsible for much. Much more will be expected from the one who has been given more.

And with increased responsibility, comes increased pressure. Sigh. Yes, pressure!

However, despite the heavy load of responsibility and pressure, I know that I can’t not walk in and make use of the talents I’ve been given because there’s always this little push or voice from within that keeps propelling me forward. And more importantly, I know that my gifts were meant to be shared, to be a blessing to someone else. Or in the words of the pastor delivering the sermon: “the gift is given TO us but NOT for us… so be not prideful and be not a hoarder…. Bless the world around you.”

I hope you find the inspiration and the courage to share your gifts and talents with others, knowing that we each have something valuable to contribute to this planet we call Earth.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Are you Important? Relevant? Do you Matter?

Am I making any difference?

Sometimes I experience frustration, as I wonder if my small voice is making any contribution. Just like it would be difficult to see the ripples if you threw a pebble into the ocean, so too at times it is hard to see if I’m making a difference. Leadership expert John C Maxwell has been quoted as stating:

“Every person has a longing to be significant; to make a contribution; to be a part of something noble and purposeful.”

So it would seem that my longings to know that my actions are valued, is just a part of the human experience. We all want to matter.

But there are days when I wonder how could I, little ole me, truly make a difference that will impact the masses? How could I impart something that would reach the people that I touch?

And then I stumbled across a quote that serves as a good reminder, that each and every one of us has the power to make a difference. The quote states: “Rosa Parks was the queen mother of a movement whose single act of heroism sparked the movement for freedom, justice and equality. Her greatest contribution is that she told us a regular person can make a difference” (Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League).

After reflecting on both of the quotes I understand that we all want to matter, to make a difference. And I see that even us regular people have an important role to play in our world.

However, I still had no answer for the uneasiness that I felt within… Is my contribution enough? And if it is, why can’t I see the difference that it’s making? I continued to struggle with this unrest until I came across this quote from Mahatma Ghandi:

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result”

The moral of the story – sometimes we have to keep doing the right thing, keep doing what feels in concert with our soul’s purpose, keep doing it – even if we don’t see the immediate fruits from our labor.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Want Success? Then you must Ask and Receive…

How specific are YOUR requests?

In life we are each on a journey, and along the way there are various things we desire, dream, and want. However, when I look around I see that there are those who attain what they want, and those who seem to fall shy of crossing the finish line. I wonder, what is the difference between the people that make it and the others that don’t? Is it based on luck or chance? Or is it based on the idea that some people are just more fortunate than others?

Hmmm…. Well it can’t be luck or the idea that “some people are just more fortunate” because there are many who have been elevated to success but they started out from humble, meager beginnings. So what is it?

I wonder if the missing piece is that the successful are very specific in their requests. Let me explain…

The bible suggests that we should “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). I have often heard this verse, as it is commonly cited. So much so that even secular references have been made to this idea in books on the Law of Attraction. But I found something even more interesting when I went to re-read this verse. I discovered another translation of the Matthew 7:7 verse, it states:

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you – Matthew 7:7, New Living Translation

Wow… now this is really powerful because the key word in that verse is KEEP! Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking…

So it would seem that the successful have attained that status because they kept on asking, seeking, and knocking on various doors until they found the very specific requests of their heart.

I am seeking from God: a book deal for my memoir, a job that is not toxic/constantly stressful, a supportive husband, a biological baby, and financial freedom.

What things are you seeking for your life?

In the Untethered Soul Michael Singer states:

“Does anything in God’s creation, other than the human mind, actually pass judgment? Nature just gives and gives to whoever will receive. Should you choose not to receive, it doesn’t punish you. You punish yourself because you choose not to receive”

My hope for you is that you find the courage to keep asking for, seeking, and knocking on the doors of your dreams. And may you be ready to receive the overflow when it comes!

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Stop the Depression Train… Dealing with the humdrums of life.

Ho Hum… day in, day out… at times it feels like life follows a repetitive and never ending pattern. Similar to a hamster running on a wheel, the routine can feel quite mundane. The monotony and predictability of the daily grind can be so boring. What is one to do about the doldrums of everyday life?

Sometimes the lack of change causes me to get restless, and the restlessness can usher in feelings of discontent, aimlessness, and doubt.

I start to wonder – could it be that I’m always going to spin in circles, without making any true progress?

When am I going to experience my breakthrough?

When is life going to turn around for me?

When will I get to my next level?

As the questions continue to swirl in my mind, and I start to spiral down the dreary, bleak, but familiar path of depression – I suddenly stop in my tracks.

I decide to turn on some music and I opt to hear the song Faithful is our God by Hezekiah Walker. And from amidst the song lyrics, these words stand out and resonate with me:

“I shall recover it all”

And that’s all it took, those 5 simple words to remind me that no matter how long it takes nor how long I wait, I shall receive my breakthrough. I encourage myself that my life has already begun to turn around, and I will get to my next level!

It was from this firm and determined mindset that I remind myself about the power of choice. I exert my power to choose, by adamantly stating – I choose happiness… I say it’s a choice because though I can’t control the events that happen, I always control how I choose to respond to them.

So I choose to focus on my future being one of success. I choose to remain steadfast in my current day-to-day happenings, trusting that each present action contributes to the future I am headed towards.

Former US Secretary of State Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved

So even on a day to like today when I am bored and unmotivated by the humdrumness of it all, I am reminded that I choose the future destiny that is awaiting me.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

I’m a GROWN woman…

What is a woman?

I’ve been on quite the journey, as I grew from a young girl to the woman I am today. There were many changes as I shifted from my beginnings (as a Tomboy), into my young lady stages of being a “handful” (think of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderful), and finally into the more balanced and centered woman I am today. I have evolved, akin to the process that a caterpillar embarks on to become a butterfly.

As I reflect on my evolution into womanhood, I can’t help but think about my distorted views of what it meant ‘to be a woman’.

Psychologist Sigmund Freud has been quoted as stating: “Where such men love they have no desire and where they desire they cannot love”. This statement alludes to an invisible division – women are either loved (the Madonna) or lusted (the Whore).

For years I struggled to answer the question: do I want to be loved by a man or desired by him? I wasn’t sure, so I opted to create my own answer. I wanted to be feared, because then I would be viewed as powerful and in control. My chosen path of control and domination seemed to be the best option because loving hurts and control doesn’t, or so I mistakenly thought. I would soon discover, the hard way, that my controlling thoughts, reactions, and mannerisms were not only blocking me from loving a man, they were blocking me from loving myself!

So I went on a quest to find a new definition, my definition for womanhood. And, in time, I reached a place of understanding and acceptance. Soft does not mean weak! A woman, a real woman – can balance strength and calm, initiative and grace, and achievement and nurturance.

I could no longer relate to the disconnection or disharmony Freud referred to. I now know that I can be sexy and I can be lovable – all at the same time! A man can love a woman that he desires, when that woman first loves and desires herself. And when she comes to understand that this entire journey is what we choose to make it – we just have to decide to start making that choice consciously.

I love being a woman! It’s awesome. We are the makers and givers of life.

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

P.S. Stay tuned because in my upcoming memoir entitled Shedding Perfection: A Psychologist’s Journey to Self-Healing, I will share my journey with you.

And, if you want to see visual images of my evolution, you can see pictures here:

I’m Annoyed! Accepting my flaws…

I’m annoyed…

He rattled off a play-by-play of the activities taking place, as he drove in the car. I held the phone to my ear and listened for a bit, until I couldn’t take it anymore. “I don’t care to hear about what’s taking place on the roads”, I impatiently snapped. He simply replied “okay”, and I excused myself off of the phone.

That very short and simple exchange had me wondering is something wrong with him for his topic choice? Or is something wrong with me that I was experiencing annoyance? I wasn’t sure of the answer, but it did cause me to stop and think.

Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to be easily annoyed. And the immediate and typical conclusion that I come to is to avoid the source of my annoyance. However, in the spirit of seeking to grow and learn, I challenged myself to dig deeper in order to better understand my annoyance.

“Hmm, I wondered, is it that I don’t like this guy?” But then I stumbled across this quote by Swiss author Alain de Botton: “You have to be quite heavily invested in someone to do them the honour of telling them you’re annoyed with them”. As I read that quote I couldn’t help but to burst out into laughter. Ha! So I guess lack of interest was not the impetus for my annoyance.

I then decided to peruse some of my old reading materials and I found these two very important points:

The minute you start to close and defend yourself, get back up” – author Michael Singer

“Try to stay open to learning, not judging yourself for the things you do” – authors Erika Chopich and Margaret Paul

These quotes both echoed the point that it is important for the heart to remain open. So instead of running from my annoyance (prior way for handling things), I was on the right track by seeking to understand it (current way of handling things). The moral of this story is that we each have a choice, everyday, to learn something new about ourselves. We can grow and welcome new life into our atmosphere, as long as we stay courageous to remain open.

As for my feelings of annoyance, each day I am learning to make peace and accept myself, just as I am – flaws and all…

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna

Love means Accepting HELP…

Would I accept help?

I was down to my last dollar and running low on gas. I shared my plight with him, not because I wanted sympathy and/or assistance, but only to explain why I needed to bail on our plans due to monetary reasons. His reply – “will you allow me to help? Will you receive it?” I found his question somewhat baffling. I had never voiced that I was opposed to help, but I guess by not requesting support I inadvertently communicated that I didn’t want it.

This disconnect was somewhat perplexing to me… he wanted me to ask for help.

Why would I ask for help? It was so confusing and somewhat in opposition to my independent and go-getter personality. I rationalized that my struggles were my responsibility to handle. However, he clearly saw it differently. He believed that he was somehow responsible for my welfare.

I continued to mull over this situation, until I ran over this quote about love:

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

That quote reminded me that we are each here to look out for one another, that we are each responsible for one another, and that when we love – love won’t allow us to turn a blind eye to someone in need.

But I continued to ponder my discomfort with asking for help. And I finally realized that my resistance to asking for support was based on my unwillingness to be vulnerable. You see if I always did things for myself, then I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else. However, when I reflected further I realized that to refuse the hand of another was to keep myself separate and to make a decision based upon pride. If I were honest with myself, both are limited ways to live one’s existence.

So I decided to push myself to do something different. The art of growth – is allowing change and doing something new. In the end I allowed him to provide me gas money. He felt good that he could assist, and I felt better that I was continuing to be brave enough to be a new me.

“Generosity is giving more than you can…pride is taking less than you need” – Poet Kahlil Gibran

“It’s only in our minds that we are separate from the rest of the world” – Psychologist Gay Luce

Life According to Me,

Dr. Donna