Damaged and broken is not the real you, and stuck is not a place you have to stay. It’s time to get out of your own way by making one simple, yet profound shift in how you view your self.
On a random Tuesday afternoon, I sat down in a cafe with integrative life coach Angela Benck. I arrived to lead what I thought would be a basic question and answer interview to glean insights for my readers. Half way through the session, though, I found myself in tears. In less than 30 minutes, she cut through my agenda and honed in on my three main areas of struggle: parenting, career, and family dynamics. To my surprise, I walked away with a self-directed action plan for each challenge and a newfound appreciation for the philosophy that inspires Angela’s work:
No matter what you’ve experienced and where you’ve been, you are whole right now, in this moment.
When we go through trauma or major life change, we tend to think of ourselves as damaged or broken, in need of filling and fixing. While there’s no denying the pain we feel or the healing we need, the vision of ourselves as in need of repair can be problematic. Instead, Angela encourages her clients to view themselves as a mirror and the effects of hurtful experiences as smudges that block us from seeing our true reflection.
“There is this whole place inside each and every one of us,” says Angela. “I help people come to that place of remembering and awareness. From this place, we can often remove what has been blocking us from experiencing and expressing our true self.”
Most people don’t know who they really are or how to experience being connected with their whole self, says Angela. The disconnect starts in childhood, where we often experience not feeling loved or accepted for our true selves. We have to function at a particular level to come into our family unit, so we lessen who we are to fit in and have some sense of belonging.
Clear the Gunk
Angela speaks from personal experience. Much of her own healing journey has been peeling off her layers of conditioning, sort of like how a dog shakes off water or fleas to get rid of what is not serving it. While she urges professional, mental health support for clients healing from trauma, she uses the insights from her own life experiences to tune people into where their blocks (aka smudges) are sitting in the body.
“A lot of subconscious messages are being fed from the body into the brain,” says Angela. “If you have memories that you’re reliving, it’s about making the conscious choice to change that story.”
Breath work, guided meditation, and mirror work are some of the tools and techniques she uses to help her clients clear blocks and feed new information to the brain. When you reframe your story and master the mind-body connection, you’re literally creating new neural pathways, she explains.
“It takes 21 days to create an entirely solid new pathway or story,” says Angela. “Within three months, you can have a completely different life.”
Change for the Good
Our past self is always creating our next now. We are all living the thoughts, choices, and feelings that we’ve had up until this moment, says Angela. If you don’t understand why you keep attracting the same type of romantic partners, your jobs always fail, or you don’t have a healthy relationship with friends or family, it can almost always be tied back to an experience, feeling, or condition from childhood.
“You imprinted that experience into your brain, and you replay it again and again because you’re just trying to get yourself to love yourself,” she says. “If you don’t take the time to heal, it’s always going to bleed into your life.”
For most people, change is scary. Especially if trauma is involved, people are afraid they have to relive what they went through. But Angela reminds her clients that whatever their experience has been, they don’t have to go back and have memory of it to be free from it.
“You’re literally just unplugging from it and redirecting that mind-body connection in a way that will be healthy and healing,” says Angela. “I’m not saying there won’t be pain. But the pain is in the letting go, not in reliving it.”
When we sit with those feelings that we’ve stuffed, they can rise up and go. It’s a radical act of self love—the kind that surpasses the in-love emotional rollercoaster feelings and anchors into the wholeness that has been waiting for you all along. The result, says Angela, is a life that can be lived from a more joyful, happy place.
Take Back Your Power
This next step can be a hard one to grasp. To be truly empowered to live in wholeness and move our lives forward in the way we want, we have to be ready to reframe our stories and accept total responsibility.
There’s no way for change to happen from the mindset of victim and blaming, says Angela. If we stay at that level of consciousness, we’ll continue our patterns and keep tumbling head first in a self-defeating cycle.
“People have a hard time with this concept around things like violent crimes,” says Angela. “I’m not here to defend or excuse any of that, but when you start believing I’m 100% responsible for what I’m co-creating—the choices I’m making, what I think and feel, and how I behave—it empowers you to change all of it.”
When it comes to 100% responsibility, Angela says it took her 13 years to get it and own it. The time has to be right, though, and the initial period following an intense experience or trauma is not.
“Spiritual woo-woo stuff is not what you need to hear at first,” cautions Angela. “It can actually be a bypass. You need to give yourself presence and awareness to just be with it and feel it all.”
Only we know when the time has come to begin the work of liberating ourselves and reframing our stories.
Uncover the Diamonds
As we move forward on our healing path and manifest the changes we want, it’s important to acknowledge that our past never completely goes away. We are whole, but we are forever changed. What matters is what we do with it, who we become because of it, and how we rewrite our stories in spite of it.
“Healing from trauma helped me become who I am today,” says Angela. “Because I’ve freed myself on an emotional and mental level, if I do glance back or see how it’s impacting my current life, I can use it for good.”
Angela’s experiences are the reasons she’s able to so effectively help people like me and her clients heal and make meaningful changes in life. Without her experiences, she says, she would probably be somebody totally different and doing something totally different.
“I can actually help someone out who’s in a hole because, guess what, I’ve been there,” she says. “I can be that bridge because I am the person that I am.”
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Angela Benck is an integrative life coach who has been meditating for 20 years and teaching it for more than 10 years. In her mid 30s, she answered the call to walk the El Camino de Santiago, a spiritual pilgrimage that has been walked for centuries by hundreds of thousands of people each year. With no plans, next to no money, and no contacts, Angela was led by nothing more than an open heart. Her journey taught her the truth about family, love, and life and how to honor and be her true self. She believes we are our own best teachers, and that we each have a significant part to play in the whole of the universe. It is her privilege to take the knowledge and wisdom of the past 20 years to hold space for her clients toward a greater level of integration, wholeness, and a deep remembering. Learn more at www.angelabenck.com.