The Work IN to move out of stress, tension & anxiety

Post traumatic growth: Finding a peaceful, playful and purposeful life with Gina Rolkowski

December 20, 2021 Ericka Thomas Season 1 Episode 57
The Work IN to move out of stress, tension & anxiety
Post traumatic growth: Finding a peaceful, playful and purposeful life with Gina Rolkowski
Show Notes Transcript

Drawing on her 18 years in recovery coupled with her years of teaching experience and leading workshops on social emotional learning, Gina helps abuse survivors overcome the life altering impacts of abuse and discover hope and joy by teaching them how to nurture a relationship with God and themselves.  Gina helps her clients feel safe, seen and supported while teaching them how to overcome shame, fear and anxiety and build a peaceful, playful and purposeful life using the 5 Keys on her  Bridge to Breakthroughs program. 

Gina is a wife, mother of one grown daughter and passionate about serving others and the power of God's unconditional love. 

We coach all kinds of people working in the fitness industry. When you work with people you work with trauma. And the more I learn about trauma and effects of trauma the more I understand how important it is for instructors and coaches to be aware of how trauma can affect the body. We’ve all had clients and students who struggle to get the results they look for, or seem stuck in chronic pain. And while most of us are good about having our people fill out the medical & physical  histories before planning a program, none of us are prepared to dig deep into the mental and emotional histories our clients may have. That is outside our scope. However, the symptoms of a lifetime of trauma or stress exposure can show up physically. When we understand how the nervous system and stress response works we can design programs to help our clients start to move out of stress tension and trauma.  

Today on The Work IN Gina and I discuss
1.  The importance of being in your body in healing trauma.

2. How trauma is stored in the body (ie. back pain, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, etc.) and how to heal that.

3. The importance of brain and body in working with clients in the fitness industry. More specifically, why pushing clients without acknowledging and celebrating small victories can impede growth and discourage clients.

As a part of my mission to bring a legacy of resilience through movement, each month you can join me for a hike on the bike trail followed by a free trauma informed vinyasa class back at the studio on Main Street. Go to to see the calendar and join my newsletter, Yoga Life on Main Street, to stay up to date on all the latest studio news, events and gossip. And now… on to this week’s episode.

It’s time to stop working out and start working IN. You found the Work IN podcast for fit-preneurs and their health conscious clients. This podcast is for resilient wellness professionals who want to expand their professional credibility, shake off stress and thrive in a burnout-proof career with conversations on the fitness industry, movement, nutrition, sleep, mindset, nervous system health, yoga, business and so much more.

I’m your host Ericka Thomas. I'm a resilience coach and fit-preneur offering an authentic, actionable realistic approach to personal and professional balance for coaches in any format.

The Work IN is brought to you by savage grace coaching, bringing resilience through movement, action and accountability. Private sessions, small groups and corporate presentations are open now. Visit to schedule a call and get all the details.

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Ericka Thomas  0:01  

Hey there, everyone. I just wanted to pop in and wish you a very happy holiday season whatever holiday you celebrate, and I wanted to make sure that I let you know about a couple of really special opportunities that we have going on inside the studio right now. The first is a kinetic Grace guided meditation collection. Now, some of you may know that every month I create an original guided meditation to use during my final relaxations within our kinetic Grace studio, and I have collected over two years worth of those meditations and put them into a curated collection for you that you can purchase if you just want to skip to final relaxation, which some days that is just the best part of any practice, any movement practice, whether that's yoga or anything else, as we know the rest and recovery is aware all the magic happens. So this is an amazing opportunity to own these original meditations. I hope you'll take advantage of it. They're going for $49 and you will have 24/7 access forever. So check that out. You can find them at elemental And there's a pop up on the website. So as soon as you go to any page on the website, you will see an opportunity to purchase those meditations. Or you can click through to the online studio and go to the shop and you'll find them there as well. Now, the other thing I wanted to share with you is a personal invitation to join me at the well network shopping retreat. This is the first time that I am offering this retreat workshop to my listeners and my clients and I am really really excited about it. I wanted to create a space where fitness professionals and wellness providers could refill their energy personally and professionally with opportunities for mentorship, connection and community all of those things that go missing when we are working in that lonely frontier of this solopreneur fitness business. So check this out. The well is an all inclusive communal immersion weekend with an exclusive group of fitness sisters. We are combining a networking opportunity workshop and a retreat all in one. There's only 10 spaces available ladies and it's going to be incredible. We are rooting this first in giving you ways to shake off stress and tension for yourself and then setting personal and professional boundaries. To avoid future burnout. We are going to tap into a mastermind for fitness industry specific business skills including all of the systems to make anyone feel tech savvy, social media sanity tips and money mindset around how to place value on the invaluable work that we do. This is a place where you can get real with yourself about what you want to get out of your business without fear of judgment, expectations or any kind of competition it's a brilliant networking opportunity.

But what makes The Well different than other certification weekend's or wellness information retreats is that we are going to be able to continue our networking through a private, non Facebook online community. So the women that you meet the professional, badass fitness professionals that are going to be there at this retreat with you. You will be able to keep in contact with them, build accountability relationships with them, and really get the support and mentorship that almost every certification lacks. And I'm really really excited about that particular piece to the well net workshop and retreat. I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to tell you what the well is not. It is not another certification because nobody cares how many different ways you can do a bicep curl. Although if you need ideas about that I'm sure there will be people there who will be able to collaborate with you. The well is not a Foo Foo boutique experience. We are going to be in Kentucky in February. So you can leave your tiara and your fancy yoga pants at home. You can get comfortable and cozy hike in the beautiful countryside. This is a lakeside historic Airbnb so there'll be lots of things to do and just really get back in touch with yourself. The well is not a bitch fest where we sit around and complain for three days. We are going to share our struggles we can curse and cry if we need to. But the well is built on the idea that there's no problem without a solution. And even if that solution is simply a little bit of dark chocolate and a glass of wine, there is always a solution. So if any of that sounds good to you, or you know someone who might be interested, head over to elemental forward slash the well net workshop and you'll see all of the nitty gritty details. If you have further questions you can reach out to me through the website. And if you are already a hell yes I need to take a break, head over to elemental forward slash the well net workshop and click that join me at the well button. If you sign up to reserve your spot or pay in full by December 25 That's right Christmas day. If you can reserve your spot by Christmas day you will get some really special bonuses that will be waiting for you at the workshop in February. Those bonuses include a rocket book notebook and you do not want to miss that. So I hope you'll join me I'm so excited to meet you, Mary bliss miss everyone and with that let's get started on our working today. You're listening to the work in I'm your host Ericka Thomas, a certification collector and refugee from the body brand nation sharing 25 years of experience in the fitness industry. To recruit and support the next generation of fitness professionals, coaches and wellness educators join me and raise the standard of professionalism in the industry by bringing trauma sensitive training to the health conscious and health curious alike. Let's get started with today's work in

Gina Rolkowski  8:25  

our bodies are designed to keep us safe. You know God knew what He was doing and he was like, okay, that's gonna be too much. We'll just shut that part of the brain down or whatever it is. But this is basically a way of living out you know, after the trauma but in a group having a much better happier. You know what I call peaceful, playful, purposeful life.

Ericka Thomas  8:45  

The Work IN is brought to you today by elemental kinetics online resilience studio. Chronic stress and trauma lives in the body. Ready or not. That puts creative fitness professionals front and center as the first line of defense and support for Trauma Recovery. Yet few get the training they need to help them navigate their own stress curve let alone support for their clients. Elemental kinetics offers personalized coaching and mentorship for fit pros. So they can expand their professional scope, burnout proof their business and change the face of fitness through trauma informed class design for any format. Check it out at elemental

 Welcome back to the work in everyone. I'm Ericka and as you know we coach all kinds of people working in the fitness industry. When you work with people you work with trauma, whether you are prepared for it or not. And the more I learned about trauma and the effects of trauma, the more I understand how important it is for instructors and coaches to be aware of how trauma can affect the body. We've all had clients and students who struggle to get the kind of results they're looking for, or seem stuck in unexplained chronic pain. And while most of us are really good about having our people fill out all the medical and physical histories they need before planning a program. None of us are prepared to dig deep into the mental and emotional histories of our clients. Nor should we be because that is outside our scope. However, the symptoms of a lifetime of trauma or stress exposure can show up physically. And when we understand how the nervous system and stress response works, we can design programs to help our clients start to move out of stress, tension and trauma with empathy and intention. 

My guest today on The Work IN is going to help us understand a little bit more about that her name is Gina Rolkowski. And she's a trauma coach. Gina helps abuse survivors overcome the life altering impacts of abuse and discover hope and joy by teaching them how to nurture a relationship with God. And themselves. Gina helps her clients feel safe, seen and supported, while teaching them how to overcome shame, fear and anxiety and build a peaceful, playful, purposeful life using five keys on her bridge to breakthroughs program. Please welcome Jean arrow Koski to the work in hygena. Thanks for being here.

Gina Rolkowski  11:30  

Thank you for having me.

Ericka Thomas  11:32  

I am really interested to dive into your history a little bit. You are a trauma coach. What was it that got you to this particular area of coaching. Can you tell us a little bit about your story?

Gina Rolkowski  11:51  

Sure. Well, I grew up I was sexually abused growing up, and I honestly I for many many years. for about four years. I didn't even remember it. But my it kind of like very much in keeping with what we're talking about today. My body really kept a score of that. So you know when I was young I had stomach issues, stomach pains, you know when I got older and started you know puberty I had, you know, terrible period cramps, you know, there was always something and when I was 14 I started having seizures. You know, so I I really struggled for many, many years because I was sexually abused growing up, ended up in an abusive marriage. You know, I ended up in and out of psych wards. kind of addicted to drugs to try to commit suicide really, really struggled in basically being a functioning highly functioning member of society who could live you know, a purposeful life, but it was really basically due to the abuse that I had. And like you talked about earlier, you know, when you're talking about the body and all of that, you know, most of my memories were in I just didn't remember I had a lot of dissociative amnesia until flashbacks started coming up. And that's when most of my work really began on an understanding what had been going on in most of my life that I just thought I was crazy. You know, that was my determination. I'm just a crazy loser. And this so this was as sad as it wasn't as very difficult as it was to heal. It was the best it was really helpful for me to realize that I had there was a reason behind all of my physical and mental struggles in my life.

Ericka Thomas  13:35  

What was the turning point for you?

Gina Rolkowski  13:40  

Good question. I I think there was actually like two turning points. One was when I tried to kill myself, and I realized, no, I was raised Catholic. So for me, you know, I was taking a big risk and I took those pills because my mother always said if you did do kill yourself, you got to help. So I remember like laying in my bed thinking oh my gosh, it could be going to hell. That's a really big risk to take and this is a pretty bad life I have here but I don't know about this. So I reached out and I and I called my brother and said like I took all these pills. And I think then I realized that it was either have to live this horrible existence that I was feeling and living or get better. And I was actually diagnosed at that time with PTSD. You know, complex PTSD wasn't a thing, you know, wasn't really not if people didn't really know much about it back then. This was 18 years ago. But that was a big turning point for me because I was able to get into therapy with someone who they actually highly recommended from the psych ward. He was a really good trauma based codes for sexual abuse. And it made a huge difference in in my healing because I had a therapist who really understood how trauma impacts somebody's life. And you know, the other I think turning point I had was when I started having flashbacks growing up, of being sexually abused, and realizing, you know, like, wow, now that at least this all makes sense. But I was always very grateful because I had a very strong relationship with God and that really helped me to feel safe and unconditionally loved throughout the whole thing.

Ericka Thomas  15:18  

Can you explain what's what PTSD is and then what is C PTSD? So what is the difference? Because sometimes you hear, you know, the complex PTSD, what is the difference there? And why do why is there a difference there?

Gina Rolkowski  15:35  

Well, the difference really is is like PTSD is something that happens usually as a result of like an incident so to speak. So you know, maybe you're at war you know, it's something happens maybe you're in a car crash, or maybe you see somebody get murdered, you know, you somebody robbed you. You have this you know, so your body's days on high alert, you end up feeling you know, your nervous system gets stuck in fight flight, freeze, freeze or falling. And so you're living in fear, basically, and your body's just really scared so you're always hyper vigilant, etc, etc. You might have flashbacks in the incident might be causing insomnia. Anxiety, blah, blah. 

When it comes to complex PTSD, we're talking about an extended period of repeated trauma, especially as a child. So what happens is because children don't have internal language until eight years old, and because when you know, it's just the way the mind you know, kind of works and the the development of who we are as a person, that all gets impacted because children don't know this is something that's happening to me they automatically internalize, I am bad, you know, I'm it literally changes and impacts your entire sense of self so that you are ashamed, you're afraid you think you're no good, you're a loser, you're unworthy or unlovable. You know, it really impacts your sense of self and your you know, and that is going to really impact your ability to have healthy relationships, you know, including one with yourself and others. You know, being out there in the workforce, you're really really struggling because in addition to having this body that staying on high alert, you're also dealing with the fact that your sense of self is completely destroyed.

Ericka Thomas  17:17  

Yeah, it sounds like it changes your perception of everything. Yeah, everything much.

Gina Rolkowski  17:22  

Yeah, you know, I mean, it's, it's, it's all about survival in you know, it's why, you know, you put up walls so that, you know, I'll hurt you before you hurt me and a lot of it is so incredibly unconscious, that it's just a it's really, really a challenge to overcome that.

Ericka Thomas  17:42  

Yes. So what is that? What is the number one impact of abuse of any abuse?

Gina Rolkowski  17:51  

Or I would, my personal opinion about that is shame. I think shame, you know, and then the issue about shame for me is that it's it nobody wants to say they feel ashamed nobody wants to be in shame is awful. Like shame because you're very poor. It's, you know, nobody wants to believe I'm this horrible, disgusting. You know, I used to think I was just a slutty loser. You know, I say, you know, and it's, it's just, it's the sense of just not even wanting to be yourself. You know, in this, there's so many self help books out there and self this and all that. But I think the issue is, is that when you've been abused, you don't want to be the self that you think you are, so it's not even worth it. But I really think the number one, cause the number one problem and biggest issue, when you've been abused is shame and all that goes into, you know, this your sense of worthiness. Yeah, can

Ericka Thomas  18:47  

we just let's just tease out for people what we're talking about when we're talking about shame, because it's different than guilt, right? Yes. And shame is sometimes I think they're mistaken for each other sometimes. So can we kind of tease out exactly what we're talking about?

Gina Rolkowski  19:06  

Yeah, so guilt is, you know, Oh, I did something bad. You know, I stole something from the store that you know, that wasn't so great. Shame is I am bad. I'm unworthy. I'm unlovable. I'm no good. I'm a loser. I don't want people to see me hide, you know, you just it's it's a totally different situation.

Ericka Thomas  19:25  

Yeah. And when you are growing up in an environment that you know, as abuse as a child, that is where you're forming your ideas of self and so it kind of can twist those those meanings for yourself. Absolutely. Yeah.

Gina Rolkowski  19:49  

I mean, we're basically I mean, I sometimes think of it as like a reflection of our caregivers, you know, in a way, you know, and and we started thinking we are unworthy and we are bad because we were treated badly. And but we don't I mean, we don't you know, the brain isn't fully formed until, like, 25 years old. And so like, you know, and we talked to kids, like they're adults, too, which is because I was a teacher from it, you know, for several years. And so, you know, I really had to learn, you know, for me personally, I took a lot of coursework that wasn't required about brain and behavior and social emotional learning all that, and I was so grateful I did because, you know, you can't talk to a child like you can an adult, they don't have the brain for it, you know, and yet, this is what happens. We grow up with these, this in this formula, you know, basically our brains being formed by how we're treated. And how we grow up and it's like, okay, you know, when this is what do you know, and then what happens? The Body Keeps the Score of that?

Ericka Thomas  20:48  

Absolutely, absolutely. So what are some and you mentioned some of these in your story, but what are some of the ways that trauma can show up in the body?

Gina Rolkowski  21:01  

I think you know, honestly, I would say it's unlimited. Yeah, I would say that it's absolutely unlimited. You know, I'll tell you the funny when I first when I started having flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse. It wasn't long after that, that I started having really serious back problems, really serious back problems, and I had been in an accident like 10 or 12 more years prior to that, and it was barely a fender bender. I mean, barely a fender bender. So there was never any like, Oh, we've got this documented, you know, but I until I really worked through that. I struggled with very, very serious back pain. I mean, the chiropractor every time you turned around when I finally worked through the abuse, right? I haven't been the chiropractor and I don't know how I don't know how many years you know, I don't I can't even understand someone I don't remember. But you know, the body, you know, the body really is, you know, keeping the score. So you've, you know, there's diabetes, there's back pain, you know, I had seizures, you know, I really think there's, there's just no limit to really how the body you know, holds on to our trauma and impacts our our body, you know, I wouldn't, you know, I've seen people with, you know, the next thing you know, they've got gallbladder problems, they have this problem, they have that problem, you know, and stomach issues, period problems. You know, it's it's really unlimited, I would say,

Ericka Thomas  22:26  

yeah, the nervous system. controls everything. So if you have this for whatever the source of the the trauma or the stress is, doesn't matter where it's coming from, because it's a general system, it's designed to react to anything and everything right so even if it's something that you don't think is traumatic, your body sure does, yes, your body can so and that's where we kind of get a little bit twisty too because as adults like maybe for for women, childbirth can be a very traumatic event on the body, but we don't really see that as a trauma on the body,

Gina Rolkowski  23:13  

that we think we're a bad mom, because we you know, oh, I think I mean, the bottom line is would you know, the body's made to push the baby out. It doesn't mean it's an easy experience. So it's chancing it kidney stone, right. Yeah. What I mean, right, and it's, I think we can we can really, you know, look at the facts and not put the story to it and go it's really hard to push it, you know, 789 10 pound baby out of a teeny weeny, you know, home. That's the fact right, it doesn't mean you're a bad mom. It means, you know, I'm willing to admit that this had a big traumatic experience on my body. Yeah, I'm gonna nurture my body. Doesn't mean I don't want my kid right. Nobody said that.

Ericka Thomas  23:58  

Yeah, yeah. And it's interesting, because in my opinion, looking back, I have two kids and my I, I highly suspect that the kind of the low level depression that I had post postpartum with my daughter after my daughter was related to that whole birth experience because it was rough. And and not necessarily physically rough, but just like the whole overwhelming Oh, you know, emotional things. There's just so many layers. that go into that. And, and so, but I never would have occurred to me at that time. Of course, this is years, years ago, you know, 25 years ago, I didn't know anything like I didn't know anything about anything. Right. You're

Gina Rolkowski  24:46  

just supposed to hold your baby go.

Ericka Thomas  24:48  

Oh, yeah. And it's and yeah, and you're right, and like it doesn't make you bad mom, but gosh, you know, the messages you're getting from your body can trigger all kinds of depression and anxiety and and then you really think you're crazy. 

Gina Rolkowski  25:01  

exactly, that's what happens like you and I think too, that nobody the people don't listen, I was speaking 100% From my own experience. Nobody wants to admit that they were abused. Okay. Nobody wants to admit they're traumatized because especially by people, they trusted to love them and empower them, keep them safe, blah, blah, blah, right? That I mean, that is horrible. That's a horrible, horrible thing to think the people who I needed to love me just didn't even give a right is about me to the point that they were hurting me, right. That's horrible. And I think that when we that being so awful, often prevents people from admitting like you know, what, maybe this is related to the fact that, you know, I had this horrible upbringing, you know, maybe you know, because it's a lot easier to just, you know, take a pill, drink, binge watch TV, you know, whatever you want to do eat whatever it is, but it's the biggest step. I think to healing is just going yeah, like, this happened. This is horrible. It's very well could be that this is, you know, because I feel so sad that my parents didn't love me the way I needed them to.

Ericka Thomas  26:18  

Yeah, yeah. And it's, you're right that that is the biggest challenge to kind of detach the judgment that we have around the story, right? Yes. Yes. So it can it can just be Yeah, it can just be this happened to me. Not this is me. This is you know, this happened to me. So now we can move forward like you can. This is just a piece of the history. There isn't any judgment around it.

Gina Rolkowski  26:50  

I think when you can learn to grieve in a healthy way. It makes a big difference when you can make space to say, I this happened, I feel sad. I'm afraid, you know, I mean, I There were times you know, I can remember several years ago when I went to my therapist office. And and I started with a new therapist since we moved and and I said where are you? Are you going to just tell me that I'm crazy. And I should just like hang it up. Like, you know, just go check into the psych ward forever and like good luck. And she was like, I know how because I thought to myself, there was this fear that I had that somehow my belief that I wasn't crazy was not true, that I just kept pushing through this and pushing through this until I finally was like, I'm just gonna go iceberg. I'm just gonna go now listen, tell me are you going to tell me because I'm not going to waste my time working on this if it's the last cause you know what I mean? And it really, it meant so much to me to have her go no, like, no, no, because I think we do have these fears that if we say to someone, you know, I feel this way or I feel that way. I'm having this experience that they're going to go well, of course you do. You're just a loser. Like you're unlovable. You're unworthy. And there's this like fear that that going to therapy or getting help for it is going to what I used to call, like put a stamp of like, Yes, this is so the biggest fears that we have. It's just it's so common, and it's just not true.

Ericka Thomas  28:27  

Yeah, there's a lot of stigma that is surrounding all of that.

Gina Rolkowski  28:31  

What's the stigma, you know, like we're not supposed to be, you know, super strong and you know, workout and do these things, but it's like, you know, I'll tell you I know and I have things I need to work through because my back will start to hurt.

Ericka Thomas  28:43  

Interesting. Interesting. Yeah.

Gina Rolkowski  28:46  

I'll get out my journal and I will just right Right, right. Right. Right, right. And there's there's actually a woman, Dr. John Sarno wrote I forget, oh, God, I forget the name of the Pope. But it was it's a powerful book, and he trained a lot of people but about back problems and how it's related to trauma, even if it's like because of an accident or something else. And I went through that a woman who'd had that program, and I mean,

Ericka Thomas  29:14  

yeah, yeah, there's another Hold on. Just what is your your body speaks your mind.

Gina Rolkowski  29:21  

I've never heard of that one. I know the Body Keeps the Score. Do you know that when you know Yes,

Ericka Thomas  29:25  

yes. Okay. So your body speaks your mind. I think that's the book. Yeah, you're Deb Shapiro's the author. And she goes through different areas of the body and like what each area of the body like when we are feeling pain and tension. And you know, all kinds of issues there in those areas of the body. What that can be related to. Oh, wow. And it's fascinating. It's fascinating that you speak that way about the back and you said a couple things there. I want to pull out first, the first piece is about just like

Transcribed by

Ericka Thomas  30:00  

letting yourself actually feel the feelings that are coming up. That is really hard for people. Nobody wants to feel anything. Yeah. It's

Gina Rolkowski  30:11  

crazy. Like I always I've always said that new that feelings are like new shoes. You know, you literally have to stretch them out a little, you know, first you're like, Okay, this is really uncomfortable. You know, when you got to get the new pair of boots and stretch them out and you're like out, right? Yeah, but once you start to get used to them, you're like, Oh, these aren't too bad. Like, look this, you know, I can walk in the high heels, you know? Yeah, but they really are. It's amazing how frightening a feeling can be when you feel it.

Ericka Thomas  30:39  

Right. And and some of that not just the feelings but also some of the thoughts that you know, are vitual thoughts that come through. And I see that quite often actually with people who refuse to go to yoga classes or something like that, right? Because they really have it's not that they don't like moving their body the way we do and yoga is especially challenging, but what is very challenging is being quiet and and being alone in your head. And allowing, you know sensations there's a lot of directed awareness that happens in any kind of movement that you that you are doing, you know, whether that's, you know, going for a walk or run or whatever you can choose to dissociate. You can choose to use exercise as a way to dissociate from your body, which many, many people do. And then there's the flips. The flip side of that is to kind of direct your awareness and then reconnect some of those relationships. Within the body in ways that are more friendly. Right? So you're not fighting the sensation that's coming up in your body that you can say, Oh, this is one of my defenses. Like I just right, yeah, I know what you are. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And, and then getting back in touch with that, so that it doesn't trigger some kind of other, you know, activation, some sort of fight or flight coming out of that. So it's really it's really interesting and, and your story about back pain. Really makes me think about some of the structural layers of tissues in the body, right we have muscle we have joint we have bone, we have fascia. And that fascia is really a fascinating piece. This this, this layer of tissue that kind of covers all of our muscles every single muscle everywhere in the body, and it's very, very structural, it supports you. So you know, you can stretch your muscles all day long, but if the fascia is still tight, you're still it's still feels tight, you still feel tension, it communicates it's like this bio communication through the body of all the tension and it maps out your history, your history of everything. Fine. So

Gina Rolkowski  33:05  

my sister has plantar fascia. Yes. So that's what that's looking like now as you're talking because it makes love sense. So

Ericka Thomas  33:11  

so the thing about plantar fasciitis, right, that's the bottom of the foot this likes can be excruciatingly painful. I've had it before and and and and I know people who've who are just like plagued by plantar fasciitis, their feet, but the fascia on the bottom of the feet runs from the bottom, behind your toes, the bottom of your feet, one line of fascia, one piece of tissue that goes from there all the way up the back of your body, your entire back of your body and comes all the way up to here. Wow. And anything that happens along the backside of the body will create tension anywhere on that line. Well, so just because your feet hurt doesn't mean it's the feet are aware that the trauma excellent and that's similar to what we're talking about here right because you know you you have back pain but the issue isn't really your back. Or you know, you have shoulder pain or neck pain or whatever the pain wherever the pain is stomach pain. It's not really in your stomach. And that was where my issues showed up was in the gut, right? So Oh, yeah,

Gina Rolkowski  34:17  

so did mine when I was like really young really young. Yeah. I've got damaged in the hospital of God.

Ericka Thomas  34:24  

Yeah. Yeah, but none of that like will show up as a on a test like you

Gina Rolkowski  34:29  

know, right yeah. Nothing ever shows up. That's what I was just gonna say, you know that the challenge is that that's when you go to the doctor and they go, there's nothing wrong with you and you're like, but I know that I have this pain. Exactly. It's me is that we are body, mind and spirit. We you know, it's like you know, a car has many parts. We don't only treat the tires, you know, I mean, we feel a broadcast tonight. We don't have it every time I get new tires, but my car doesn't go you know, I mean you're like we got to put your guessing you know and all that stuff. And so it is so easy for people to hyper focus on physical the physical part of their body of being a body and not the dress the spirit and the mind. And then you you're stuck. It's like, you know, you go from one thing to the other. This supplement doesn't work that something doesn't work. I'm going to try this new cool thing. I'm going to go to put my salt lamp on I'm going to do and it's like, well, you're not getting relief. Because it isn't just about your body. In fact, it most likely is your body just keeping the score of what's going on.

Ericka Thomas  35:29  

Exactly. Yes, yes, exactly. Yes. So tell me a little bit about well, let's let's let's expand that a little bit because you also talk about post traumatic growth. So this is something that I really liked that term post traumatic growth. I've always kind of been a little resistant to the D in PTSD because it sort of creates a label that is the puts you as a patient rather than a participant in in growing for a long time. PTSD, people used to say that there's no cure, right? So let's talk about what this idea about post traumatic growth. What exactly does that what does that mean? What does that look like for people?

Gina Rolkowski  36:22  

Right. Well, post traumatic growth is I mean, it's funny, it's like kind of it's funny when I thought oh, this is a brand new term, but it's actually had like 20 years of like, being under the radar so to speak, but there's several pillars of post traumatic growth. And the basically Post Traumatic Growth means you are living post trauma, but about also like, you know, because everybody's living post trauma is the trauma is over. You know what I mean? Yeah, but we're talking about living in posttraumatic growth. So we're growing we're growing in new possibilities. We're growing in new relationships are growing spiritually. You know, we're growing in all these different areas. I have a blog post a couple blog posts I wrote about, you know, post traumatic growth and what it is that people can check out, but it really is the idea that we are living in gross we're not stuck in abusive relationships, or, you know, dissociating, we're not afraid to leave our house anymore. We're, you know, trying to, you know, create new possibilities, new connections, you know, we're actually living post that not just the trauma but also our response to it. That was you know, and our bodies are designed to keep us safe. You know, God knew what He was doing. And he was like, okay, that's going to be too much. We'll just shut that part of the brain down or whatever it is. But this is basically a way of living out, you know, after the trauma but in a group having a much better happier you know, what I call peaceful, playful, purposeful life, you know, finding purpose in your life, etc, etc.

Ericka Thomas  37:52  

And, and part of that, correct me if I'm wrong, part of that would be, you know, replacing some of our protective habits. Oh, yes, absolutely. That that got us through whatever the trauma was, or, you know, helped us survive those moments and now don't necessarily fit the the circumstances we're in today. Yeah,

Gina Rolkowski  38:20  

it's funny because it's the very things that keep, you know, like the tactics, the defense mechanisms, whatever you want to call them. Those very tools that helped us stay safe, are also the ones that help us from moving some from surviving to thriving, because those tools work when you're in danger. But you're not in danger anymore. And yet these are the only tools we have so they might keep us safe but they don't keep us playful. They don't keep us peaceful they don't keep us they're not create purpose in our lives. The all they do is keep us safe. You know and safe is not happy. Yeah, I mean, safe is just safe, right? I can be in my house all by myself safe with food. But am I happy? Am I playful? Am I purposeful? No. Yeah, we really have to learn new ways, you know, these new skills of you know, how do I how do I deal with the anxiety that comes up because our bodies are literally going, you can't go out in the world. You're not safe, your heart races you feel anxious. So you assume a better just to hear or do this, but learning how to work through the anxiety learning how to work through the fear is gives you the new tools so that you can go out number one and number two, when the things come up like interactions, you know, you know, like when I first started dating my husband, I would shake for us the first six weeks we dated I'd be like really nervous because I was like, I really like this guy like it never works for me. I don't know about this, maybe you know what if I do this, and and I but if I had said oh you know this isn't for me. I'm too scared. I wouldn't I wouldn't be together 14 years, you know, he's my best friend. So you know, it's really learning the new new ways of dealing with a the body's response that tells you you're not safe, even when you are and then learning how to like interact with people and interacting with yourself and you know, relate to yourself and to others in a safe way that will you know, isn't walls but has some boundaries around it.

Ericka Thomas  40:21  

Yeah. And and what you're talking about is reconnecting with what the the way the nervous system is. Supposed to work which is rising to whatever challenge and activation it is to a point and then being able to come back down rather than rather than living in this state of protection that prevents you from actually being present in the moment that is happening now and being present in the body. Because if you're in this state of Protection, who wants to feel that nobody, nobody wants to feel like exactly

Gina Rolkowski  40:53  

and it is a lot so much about the power of being able to be present like you were talking earlier about, you know, doing yoga. You know, I think there really is and this is why I think it's so great. Like what you're talking about is that we have to learn how to deal with our bodies. Because our bodies are the ones that are literally going you are going to die if you go out of your house. You're going to die if you try to join a new group. You weren't if you try to get a new job and have a happy career, you're gonna die. So you have to learn how to regulate, you know, self regulation is just so incredibly crucial. Because once we can feel calm, then all of a sudden there's a lot more doors that open up to us.

Ericka Thomas  41:39  

So let's talk about self regulation, because this is something that I you know, I work a little bit into trauma release exercise where we use the working through the body without retelling the story to kind of help replace some of those reactions right The idea is to kind of reorganize the reaction. And we do it with the little the tremor response and this that trauma release is from David Birceli. He designed this series of exercises but you don't have to use a particular series of exercise any movement can help access this kind of thing, right? So the only way that we are able to really safely co regulate with other people is if we can self regulate for ourselves. And for many people, we don't understand what that is like what exactly is going on there. How do you get back to that? When it's so easy to just have a glass of wine or, you know, take that pill or whatever it is, you know, we can externally regulate 

Gina Rolkowski  42:59  

short term fix that needs long term solution. Right. One of the things that you know when I used to do workshops for parents and teacher education, I would say you know these, you know, red, yellow green stickers are using our short term fix, but they are not a long term solution. You know, they're you know, and I think that's the issue that we find that it's a quick fix, not a long term solution that's going to empower us to transformation that we really longed for.

Ericka Thomas  43:28  

Yeah, so I mean, it's going to take a lot of time. It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of practice and and that's one of the things I think people maybe are disappointed by here. Like what do you mean I can't just go to my therapist once a week for one hour. I can't just show up for one yoga class a week and then it fixes everything because we are constantly under assault basically from all different kinds of stressors, right? So we have all of our baggage that we brought with us from childhood. And then so it's, it's, you know, we either have this much of that or maybe we have a whole bunch of that and then every little thing that comes out is on top of that. It's just one more thing on to the pile. until like the little straw that'll break the camel's back and pushes you over the edge. Right. Yeah, I

Gina Rolkowski  44:27  

mean, it really is a commitment to recovery, basically, you know, I mean, I, you know, I, you know, I went to a meetings I went to a therapist who is trauma informed. I used to go to yoga, I you know, I have a trauma group that you know, right now, I still have my to our trauma group that I go to I have my own therapist that I see. But and I work out, you know, four days a week. I also get up every morning and I have at least a half an hour where's that I spend with God? You know, a meditation it's a it's a commitment to having the peaceful playful life that you want. And you know, if somebody wants to learn to ride a bike, they don't, you know, go once a week and then not practice because you're fat. You know, I mean, like the other thing is too is because you know, the brain is pattern seeking. So if you need to make a new pattern, you know, you have to create the new pattern. You have to practice, pursue thing. Yeah. And you know, people who want to be Olympic skaters don't go well. I'm gonna get a coach and go once a week for an hour. You know, they practice in between, they might go three and four hours of coaching or whatever, you know, but it really is just a commitment to learning something different.

Ericka Thomas  45:38  

Yeah, and I love that you said that, that it's a practice. So when you start to pull in new skills that you can use, I call it rolling recovery, right? That you can roll in this recovery throughout your day that you don't have to take yourself out of your day to do it. That's right. That's a that's a big thing, because people are like, Oh, I don't have time to do that. Oh, I know, quote unquote, self care, right? Who does right?

Gina Rolkowski  46:03  

I know like, just to like give up three hours and take a bath with like, we're counting that salt like purified water in your like Fairtrade tub that's like handmade by children, you know, in Africa, it's like who had

Ericka Thomas  46:15  

no yeah, we just need to we need things that we can do in in the present moment, in the moment. Absolutely.

Gina Rolkowski  46:24  

It's, it's so near the power of learning what to do in the very present moment. Is I mean, I can tell you, you know, having learned to like speak to myself with more compassionately in the way my when I feel anxious, and I can talk to myself and learn it's like that, you know that the anxiety literally just because I'm noticing it and it's little things like that, you know, there are times when I'll go whoa, whoa, okay, whoa, gee, gee, if you're over here, okay. And I literally this is how I talk to myself now as a you are really feeling anxious. It's okay, like, it's okay for me or you, you know, and I literally just imagine just just noticing myself and going, putting my arms around myself. It's okay. You're really worried about the shirt you're gonna wear or you're anxious because you're running late, you're still loved. It's okay. And that's really all that my anxiety I think sometimes want is for somebody to see me and I have learned to be able to see myself so I don't have to go to somebody else or I don't have to, you know, and the anxieties not fearful anymore. It's like, oh, you know, my little girl inside me. It's a little bit of loving community. You're running around like a chicken without a head. No, but it's like in the moment and I can feel the difference by just going Whoo. It's okay. It's okay.

Ericka Thomas  47:45  

And that's a really powerful skill that you bring up there about kind of becoming your own expert witness like to be able to pull back and observe what is going on in your body without getting sucked into it and overwhelmed by it. Yeah.

Gina Rolkowski  48:00  

When my heart starts racing, it's funny because the more work that I have done, and like it's a practice, like you said, you know, the easier I'm can go, oh, I can't ignore that anymore. You know, my heart is racing. And I mean, if I dare try to push through it, my heart will race about a million times faster. And it's because I think my body now knows you know how to help me out here and you're not. So it's like, do you really want allow me to do this? So it's, it's really, really helpful to just be able to go oh, man, there's my heart racing. But you're right. It doesn't mean I have to take a three hour nap. It doesn't mean I have to like, do I can only come down on the site, go take my yoga class. I mean, now because what am I going to do say it people, excuse me, but I have to go render a yoga class because I'm feeling really anxious. Like, it doesn't work like that right now. And so it really does make a difference. When you have a way to, you know, be your own compassionate witness. And really just, you know, reparent yourself and just see yourself as it's okay, okay, you're freaking out. It's okay. There are times literally when I will say to myself, the other day I was just running around, I was just like, Oh my God. This thing, I had to get ready for it. And I really let it go to the end. And I was like, Okay, what? And I thought, Do I have time to really stop and talk to myself and I was like, I'm gonna be worse if I don't and I just literally just started saying to myself, gee, cheat here. It's okay. So it's alright. Okay. Hey, you're you are still loved. God still loves you. You're safe. It's okay. And it's amazing how I literally can feel my body just go. Oh, yeah, that's right. This really doesn't matter. I'm still loved and cared for. Okay, now what was I doing? You know what I mean? Because I really think that that is one of the things that I've learned is what I really want to know is that I'm safe and I'm loved. And I'm always safe, and I'm always loved by God. So who cares if the shirt doesn't look? Right, right.

Ericka Thomas  49:57  

Right. And yeah, and you bring a good point up there because sometimes the body reacts in just because that's just it's habit. It's a habit, response for the body, not necessarily what you're you're thinking. What we know is different from our body experience. 

Gina Rolkowski  50:18  

Yes. And there were times when I would have to do that many, many times. And and

Ericka Thomas  50:23  

that's the whole idea there. Right? That's the whole idea with the practice, right? So if you've, you, it doesn't have to be one particular thing for everyone. Everyone's gonna find whatever they like. There

Gina Rolkowski  50:33  

was so many different things that you kind of wiggle your toes by and you see breathing purpose, but this was one thing that I find right really worked for me because I really need to feel loved and safe,

Ericka Thomas  50:45  

right? And whatever it is that you pick for yourself. It should be something that you can do many times during the day that you can come back to anytime that it can't be something so complex, that you are somehow blocked from doing it when you need it. So

Gina Rolkowski  51:04  

that's a really good point. I mean, there are times that all I'll do is wiggle my toes. Because I remember I had a therapist said to me one time, just wiggle your toes. And I just was like, you know, but I have that yesterday I was feeling and I was like oh and I just don't wiggle my toes and I could feel my body just go. Like, you can move your toes anywhere, right? You know, but you're right. It's the greatest thing when you're like, I can take this out anytime, anywhere. And it works. And it's not like I'm paralyzed and to like call my therapists you know, they mean, right? It's just how I used to live, you know, it means I gotta call my therapist, you know, finally my one therapist said to me, you know, I'm not gonna answer the Tony, where you have to start trusting yourself. Ah, yes, you can handle this. Like you can handle this and I literally started saying things myself like, no, wait a minute. I I can handle this. I can handle this. I don't like it, but I can handle it.

Ericka Thomas  52:05  

Yeah. Yeah, that trusting yourself, I think gets broken sometimes. And so it takes slowly Yes, yeah. Through that gets broken. And, but once you get it back, wow, it can just be

Gina Rolkowski  52:19  

it. Oh my gosh, it's just amazing. You're like, wow, hmm. I mean, there are times still when I'm like, Well, I go man, look at me. For so many years where it was like I have to call my sister I have to call my therapist. I have to tell my husband. You know, and now it's like, Oh, wow. Like, I bet that like it really does work in the moment. And it comes from me and it's okay. Like yes, like I am going to see me. I don't need other people to see me. You know, to be okay, I can handle it. I can be okay. You know, and I when I think I can't, you know sometimes all I will say to myself is Gee, it's okay. You can handle this because I think sometimes our body responds making us feel like we can't handle it. And when I can go no, I noticed my heart racing. I noticed my shoulders are really tight. Okay, I can handle this. You know, it makes such a difference sometimes just to like describe what's going on in your body. That's another one of my favorite things to do. You know, I noticed my heart is racing. I noticed my shoulders. You know, I had my trainer one time say to me, he knew what kind of day I would have when I was a teacher. Because I block in the gym and I would be up near my ears. And I never realized it. I never you know, like, I never realized that I was just like, you know, and I thought like it's amazing when you really stop and think where's this in my body? And I learned that you know I get I keep a lot of anxiety or like tension in my in my jaw. There's little funky places on my face that I'll even feel like oh, like but I I started really just in the moment when I'm feeling upset. or anxious. Sometimes we'll go to that. Just describing what I feel. Where's it in my body? What does it look like? Does it give it a color and all of a sudden it just kind of dissipates. So it's nice to have a couple little things to pull out that make my body calm down without having to tell myself now let's stop racing heart you know, because that's the only thing. Don't ever tell me to price. Still don't ever tell me to breathe. I'm going to breathe. It was like one of those things that used to make me feel like I was crazy. When my girls that you and I were to take a deep breath but to me like what I heard was you're so out of control and crazy you better calm down. So for me I still have this weird thing about take a deep breath to me it's like a no no I got other tools. Oh my nervous system. Don't tell me

Ericka Thomas  54:54  

that is funny. I think I suggested we breathe before I hit the record button.

Gina Rolkowski  54:59  

Now but like there are times like if I'm like whatever, you know who that if you even need to breathe like

Ericka Thomas  55:09  

Well, here's the thing. What you are describing is directing awareness, which if you can find for those of you listening if you're not if you've never done that before yourself before. That is one of the wonderful things about a guided meditation like a guided body scans.

Gina Rolkowski  55:26  

Oh my god, I used to do them over and over and over and oh my gosh, I couldn't believe how incredibly helpful they were. Yeah, that's fine. Nice because it's not totally quiet. You've got somebody kind of leading you. So it's not like this. Be still and be totally quiet which can be awful when you're not Oh yeah, you know, so I heart body scans highly recommend Yeah, and the body so great because some of them can be five minutes some of them can be 10 minutes some can be a half hour for you know it's really runs the gamut, but it's a great way to train your body without even realizing that you're kind of your mind without realizing you're doing that.

Ericka Thomas  56:06  

Right and and you know, people suggest meditation quite a bit, but it is it is challenging for people to because a lot of times we don't understand what what meditation really means. Right? And and really, you can't tell your mind what to think. It just doesn't work that way. I'm gonna

Gina Rolkowski  56:25  

You are speaking my language. I'm sorry, but I'm gonna be honest on here this nonsense of change your thoughts change your life mindset is nonsense for people who have been traumatized. It's bullshit. It doesn't work. You can't hear because I used to literally blame myself thinking I guess I'm not trying hard enough to change my thoughts. Oh gosh. Right. And so guess what? That is more shame. So this whole change your thoughts change your life is like your dummy. That doesn't work. Sorry. That's terrible, right? Just like when you talk about, you know, we're talking about being trauma informed, you know, people you work with, it's for business coaches. It's for life coach. It's for everybody. You cannot tell someone who has been traumatized. Change your thoughts and change your life because it starts in the body.

Ericka Thomas  57:18  

Yeah. Let's let's talk about that idea of being trauma informed. Right. I really would like to dig a little deeper into that because we hear that a lot. I can tell when something is more trauma informed and less trauma informed. But, or maybe the better term would be trauma sensitive. In fitness industry like that, in my opinion, trauma sensitive training or trauma informed training is a gold standard

Gina Rolkowski  57:52  

It is

Ericka Thomas  57:52  

 like if you have somebody then that that knows how to communicate in a trauma trauma informed way that is that has some awareness of that nervous system connection, and what's going on there. If you can build that knowledge base and you've got that for your clients. I mean, you are that is gold standard right there.  And most of us don't get that kind of training outside of the yoga space and even in the yoga space. It's very niche. Right, like people don't take specific training for that. So what are some, first of all, can you explain a little bit about like, what does trauma informed mean? Okay, yeah, we'll start there. And then how can how what are some ways that we can bring that to clients outside of, you know, a therapist office, so we're talking about like in a group fitness or one on one training, like, what are some things to look for?

Gina Rolkowski 59:02  

I mean, I would, I mean, I guess it does kind of change. A little bit depending on like, the job, so to speak. Maybe like for for let's just say for a, a therapist who's trauma informed, I would say they've had, you know, high extensive training in what complex trauma is and how to heal it appropriately, experientially, you know, because anybody who was just a cognitive face therapist, I don't care what you say it doesn't work on healing complex trauma period. And a lot of therapists out there are talk therapists. So I would say like, that's one kind of area so to speak. But those, those trauma those therapists, you know, no, like, the whole gamut of you know, how to kind of deal with this, you know, trauma triangles and how to do you know, different parts of speaking yourself and all that kind of stuff. I would say when it comes to like the fitness industry, for example, I would say you know, being trauma informed is really understanding

Transcribed by

Gina Rolkowski  1:00:01  

how to be present in the body. Especially if you're working with the body. Because I think that there are a lot of fitness people out there who are very headish. You know, I mean, you know, Do this, do that lift the thing, curl thing, 10 pounds, but they're not very like notice when you're doing that, that if you are feeling it in this part of your body that is stretching that muscle, you know, or let's just say for example, we're going to start and we're going to take some deep breaths. I want you guys just to notice, you know how your heart feels, you know, during a short body scan or something like that, but really helping people to be present in their body and really kind of almost guarding them, like where you should feel that you know, because I've had, you know, fitness trainers who you know, Do this, do that do that and I'll be like, Well, no, I'll be doing it and be like, This can't be right. It doesn't hurt. You know, like, you know, we're like where am I supposed to feel this? You know, and so I've had other she'll go notice and when you do this, what you've noticed your hands curling around the the weight for example, because you know, remember, you're not currently it because you're making a fist, you know, you're just kind of holding it gently but little things like that are really going to be helpful and helping someone truly learn to be present in their body in the moment without hurting themselves. And also, you know, complementing the fact that that's going to help in you know, healing their their trauma by being more conscious in their body

Ericka Thomas 1:01:29  

and none of that is going to take away from the good workout. Right?

Gina Rolkowski  1:01:35  

So got it right, we only make it better because this is what happens. You're injured. You know, suppose you're holding your weight like this, and you're, you know, and it's doesn't, you're going to injure yourself. Right and I think that's another important piece to say it's only going to make that it's only going to enhance the workout. 

Ericka Thomas  1:01:52  

Right, right. And in the important thing for instructors, especially in the group setting to remember is that your students aren't going to come in and tell you their trauma history if they have one. No, no, no, no and no one is going to share that.

Gina Rolkowski  1:02:06  

And say I'm not sure what we're doing. Yeah, and the only one and I'm when I did my Orangetheory class, I'm the only one it's like, what was that now

Ericka Thomas 1:02:13  

with Orangetheory 

Gina Rolkowski 1:02:18  

it's closest to my house. It's what I can afford. And so I do it. It is a lot of questions.

Ericka Thomas  1:02:24  

Yeah, it's good. It's good. Good. You know, you're not the only one who had I mean, there was real fast

Gina Rolkowski 1:02:29  

stuff. And I'm like, I just, you know, using the TRX things like this, and I'm like, silly. What, uh, how do I do this? Now, you know, I'm going to put the time energy and I want to get the best workout that I can. And there are times that I literally I'm just like, I don't know what I'm doing. And I don't even have to talk to myself then because, um, you know, in the beginning, I was so sure everybody in the class was pointing at me going to her, and I had to literally go No, I know that you are really scared and you feel afraid to come here. You think everybody's looking at you. You're safe with me. I packed up my little feelings in my cart like imaginatively and went the first couple times and it's like, okay, everybody pack in. We're nervous. We're hopeful. We're scared. You know, we're gonna go where are we in my body and I just kind of went

Ericka Thomas  1:03:16  

yeah, yeah. And that visualization piece is huge. Like,

Gina Rolkowski  3:20  

oh my god, I'm never like strapping them in and my feelings in the side that I told him. So I said, Listen, you can come but you got to keep it down. I know you're here, but we're just you know.

Ericka Thomas  1:03:34  

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. That's great. Yeah, that's so important. I think for anybody who is working in a helping profession where you have to work with other people to be able to just acknowledge the fact that hey, this other person has got stuff going on, and you've got stuff going on. And here's that self regulation piece. I think it's super important that CO regulation and self regulation piece for instructors that we have to understand, like I when I was teaching a million and a half hours a week or whatever. Like I was very conscious about not bringing my baggage into the room, but that takes a lot of energy, right? It takes a lot of energy to leave all your baggage outside the room, so that you can do this job here for this one hour for these people in front of you because you're not working out for you. You're working out for them. So you are there and present for them. So that you're not writing all your stuff all over them. Right. And that you can protect yourself from all of their stuff that they're bringing in to the room and not...

Gina Rolkowski 1:04:42  

That's a really good point co regulating and not being codependent like oh Susie's having a bad day everybody. Let's just you know, roll let's just pull your little roller, you know, like you really have to learn to to co regulate and self regulate, you know, not not take on what else you know, compartmentalizing learning, okay. You know, I can bring it with me but you know, you guys are gonna stay over here. You know, I can see you your my sadness, my grief, whatever. And I think the concept of duality of learning, like I can be sad, and I can still teach my class. You know, I can be afraid and still go to it's a new experience. You know, it's it has like you know, it used to be all or nothing for me, you know, very cognitive lot of cognitive distortions, and I'm either happy or I'm sad. I'm either going or not going, but it's like, Okay, I'm going to go and I'm still going to feel a little nervous about going and hopeful that maybe it will be a good thing you know, but learning the concept of and is a really big deal. Oh, that's huge. You know, all that as well.

Ericka Thomas  1:5:46  

Yeah, that's huge. That's huge. Yeah. So much. Great stuff, Gina. Great stuff. So can we talk a little bit about your five keys and and the bridge to breakthroughs your program that you teach? Yeah.

Gina Rolkowski  1:6:04  

My the program that I came up with is based on my 18 years of experience in recovery myself, a lot of the work that I did you know, when I was training being trained in brain behavior, and my master's degree in early childhood, which is amazing how so much of that overlapped with the healing my own self and all that kind of stuff. And it's also you know, a program based on you know, nurturing really getting to build your relationship with God, but the five keys include recognize, you know, that's where we kind of recognize some of the things that we're talking about that help kind of normalize it a little so all of a sudden, it the fear of being told you're a crazy person diminishes and it makes it easier to kind of go the next step and then the next key is relate and that's when I you know, we teach help I teach my clients how to relate to an unconditional loving died and really to themselves with more compassion, like we talked about. Next key is rest. Lots of different types of rest, spiritual, physical, mental, you know, intellectual blah, blah, technological, right. And the next one is recover. And that's where we do a lot of inner, you know, role playing interaction and stuff like that, you know, building the emotional toolbox a little more, etc. And then last key is renew. And that's when we kind of talked about the five pillars of post traumatic growth and what does that look like for each of those pillars and it's a six month program, and the program is called the bridge to breakthroughs. Because I think we forget that healing from trauma is about breakthroughs. There's no like one major breakthrough and all of a sudden, everything's better. Like it's a big breakthrough just to go. I think I might have been traumatized and willing to look at that. That's a huge breakthrough. Right, you know, so I really wanted people to know, this is a bridge, do you know to bridge the gap between, you know, where you want to be the healing you might have done with the happiness you want to experience? You know, and learning that it isn't just about one big breakthrough, but about little breakthroughs that add up to this peaceful, playful, purposeful life. Yeah.

Ericka Thomas 1:8:05  

Yeah. So who exactly would this program be for?

Gina Rolkowski 1:8:10  

Well, my program there's two kind of pieces to it. So I I will do crisis consulting for people who are like maybe you know, want some help, but don't know where to start so I can help them do the back work. You know, I'm affiliated with the aiming clinic and so I've a lot of different people that I know of where I can help you. Besides going to 50 different therapists and feeling off one, I can help you find several and get started and then check in with you. So that's crisis counseling or consulting rather, the people who are like my ideal clients for the breakthrough program are people who may have done some work with therapists for example, or you know, maybe be functioning okay in the world so to speak, but they know they have, you know, repeated they're not going to be happy in a job. They're not happy in their relationships. They're still really struggling with anxiety. They've tried, you know, therapy, but it hasn't really been very helpful because it's just been a bunch of talk therapy, so to speak. You know, women in recovery, who are really anxious to kind of know, how do I work the third and 11th step and also, you know, making boundaries and things like that. So, it's really for women who have some level of awareness of what's been going on or not in a crisis. You know, my clients are not in current crisis. They're not in person. They're not active users. They're not in an abusive relationship. That's, you know, unsafe, etc, etc. Got it.

Ericka Thomas 1:9:25  

Got it. Yeah. And so what you're talking about here is interesting, because we're not talking about like, I love what you said that this isn't just like one thing one breakthrough happens and you're fixed and it's all better and because because that's not how we heal trauma. It's it's an ongoing thing. Is it forever? 

Gina Rolkowski 1:9:49  

Well, I'mgonna I'll say this much about that. One of the things that I learned over the years is that the frequency and intensity of my anxiety fear etc, will significantly decrease over time. I might ever like, you know, am I just never never anxious ever will know, because that would my body would be like probably on Xanax or something. But am I so anxious now that I can't go out of my house? Like I used to know am I so anxious now that I literally beat myself up in my head to the point that I can't really have create new relationships? No. Can I manage my anxiety pretty quickly and kind? Hardly, absolutely. But it's, you know, I don't like people to think, Oh, it's a lifelong thing. And then no, because it's just the intensity and frequency of what you're experiencing is going to significantly decrease. The more you work on this. You know, I couldn't go in bathrooms. It was awful for my husband stand outside the bathroom when I started. But like now, you know, I don't think about it. It doesn't. Or there's some things maybe once in a while it's the door shuts or something weird. I might go, okay. I'm safe. I'm going to open the door. That was then you know, but it's not paralyzing me anymore. Does that make sense?

Ericka Thomas  1:11:09  

Yeah, totally. Yes. Yes. And so that's what we're talking about, really, with post traumatic growth, right. We are moving through these, these moments and replacing them so that you can you know, get more out of your life

Gina Rolkowski  1:11:23  

right you have. You're not repeating old, the old patterns of old cycles that

Ericka Thomas  1:11:28  

are Yeah, yeah, exactly. Wonderful. Wonderful. Okay, so, can we talk a little bit about some concrete ways for people to manage anxiety, the kind of anxiety that survivors experience?

Gina Rolkowski  1:11:46  

Right? I mean, I would say, like we talked about earlier, you know, fight try different things. You know, I mean, there's different things. I've several blog posts, you can take a look at those two about this. But I would say what you know, find one thing and start with it, you know, one of the things that I you know, like I said earlier breathing. I mean, it works if you're willing to do what you know, you're going to do the fight was it for seven, eight, you know, breathe in through your nose for seconds. Hold it seven seconds and breathe it out eight times or something like that. But you know, sometimes that can for me breathing at that time when I felt so anxious, I just couldn't even start to do that. So I mean, I would say one of the things that's a really helpful thing to do, it doesn't even feel like you're doing something is the whole, you know, the idea of find five things you say and just describe them. You know, I see my green ivy plant I see my bright light, I see my, you know, my gold candle over here. You know, four things that I can hear three things I can see, hear taste, you know, two things I can smell or one thing I can taste you know, so how something like that really does regulate the nervous system without trying to so to speak. You know, getting your toes, you know, just wiggling your toes. You know, little you know, there's just little things like that, that really, really do make a big difference in the nervous system without feeling like oh, I consciously need to calm down because No, that's another thing. Don't don't I would never never tell a trauma survivor calm down.

Ericka Thomas  1:13:20  

Oh my gosh. Yeah, I don't think that works for anybody.

Gina Rolkowski  1:13:27  

All my tools will go right out the window if you tell me to calm down, I'm gonna have to get out every tool I possibly can and make sure I use it like

Ericka Thomas  1:13:35  

so you've seen we've talked about anxiety a little bit is that the main response for trauma survivors would you say it was the anxiety?

Gina Rolkowski  1:13:47  

I would say the nerves like the nervous systems respond? Yes, it's pretty much the anxiety to the point that it's paralyzing. You just don't feel safe. It's the it's this. I mean, it really I guess it depends on you could say dissociation blah, blah, blah. But I think the biggest probably struggle is this is anxiety that can be paralyzing. You know, it can prevent you from relating to yourself relating to others, having a career that you really enjoy having relationships that are fulfilling, building connections, you know, that's, you know, and one of the other things going back to the question was about, you know, tools for anxiety like if you're his connection, you know, what gets wired, gets what gets fired gets wired, right. And so, one of the fastest ways to calm the nervous system is connection. And that's, you know, like I just wrote a blog post about that recently. You know, you connecting with your pet. I mean, there's a big deal when you are like rubbing your Kitty's belly or you're, you know, taking your dog for a walk and you're playing fetch or you know, and that's part of like my relationship with God, I many times will just close my eyes. And because the brain doesn't know the difference between perceived you know, perception and reality, if I'm closing my eyes and taking a walk without on the beach, my body goes, Oh, we're taking a walk with God on the beach. Right? So connection is another really quick way to calm the nervous system.

Ericka Thomas  1:15:13  

I love that. I love that. That's That's awesome. And not something you hear very often. I mean, we talk about the 54321 all kinds of breathing techniques, blah, blah, blah, Do this, do that. But the connection piece is huge. And it's one of the things wired for connection. Absolutely. And it's one of the first things that we lose, actually. Right.

Gina Rolkowski  1:15:36  

And you can't heal in isolation from something that happened in connection. And that's the other thing that is was really interesting for me to learn that isolating myself was never going to work. I was going the only way I was going to heal it was in connection if that's connecting with the same therapist. You know, connecting with God, you're connecting with the safe person, but starting some level of connection makes a huge, huge, huge difference.

Ericka Thomas  1:16:03  

Yeah, yeah, that's beautifully said. And I think that's one of the things that people are looking for, like when you go to a fitness class, right? Part of that is connection is connection with other people, right? It's not just with the coach in the front of the room or whatever. It's, it's the community that you get in that room, and you just cannot get that anywhere else. And it's really it's barely there over zoom. So we're gonna hopefully we're gonna get back into the real world here.

Gina Rolkowski  1:16:36  

I know totally.

Ericka Thomas  1:16:39  

Wonderful. So what if someone is struggling to overcome trauma on their own? What would you what do you recommend for them? What kind of resources

Gina Rolkowski  1:16:50  

I would absolutely say find a find a trauma informed therapist who knows what Complex PTSD is. Look for an experiential trauma trained therapist when he does, psychodrama, experiential therapy. From that would be my first thing to say that somebody who really understands how to help you. Yeah, yeah, that's,

Ericka Thomas  1:17:13  

that's awesome. Well, Gina, this has been an amazing conversation. I loved every minute of it around me too. Thank you. Well, where can people find you? And how should they get in contact with you if they're interested in Bridge to breakthroughs?

Gina Rolkowski 1:17:29  

Well, they can find me on my website, Gina And that's ROLKOWSKI and Gina So I'm also on Pinterest. I'm on Instagram. You can probably find me on Facebook. I don't do quite as much there and I'm on Instagram. Um, you know, if somebody wants to make an appointment, you know I have free discovery call so you can miss out on one of my website and send me an email through there and that's another way to get in touch with me if you're interested. Awesome.

Ericka Thomas  1:18:00  

And all that will be in our show notes. So if you are interested in getting directly in touch with Gina quickly, you can go to elemental and the work in we are going to have all of those available in our transcript from today's episode. Thank you so much, Gina for being with us today.

Unknown Speaker  1:18:22  

Thank you for having me. Ericka.

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