Building Resilience To Find Peace From Anxiety With Hala Khouri
We live in a time when our lives can be overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Being in this constant state can perpetuate a feeling of helplessness. But at one point, we have to face all these negative feelings inside us to free ourselves from them by building resilience . Acknowledging that both positive and negative things can co-exist is the only way we can feel more at peace.
In this episode, Hala Khouri joins us to share the essential tools in her book, Peace from Anxiety. She talks about developing the concept of “tend and befriend” as a stress response and interoception as a self-regulation technique. Hala also discusses why she chose the theme of building resilience.
Tune in to the episode to learn how you can find peace from anxiety and transform your life.
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Learn about the three different aspects that might be keeping you from finding peace.
- Find out helpful tips on what to do when you’re unable to regulate your nervous system during high-stress states.
- Discover the concepts of self-regulation, interoception, and building resilience in transforming yourself.
Writing Peace from Anxiety
- Hala always knew the book was inside her. Many of her students and clients were requesting for the information to be more widely available.
- The book-writing process was a seamless experience for Hala. She was ready and merely wrote every smart thing she has said.
- The book is divided into three different parts. What will impact readers most depends on what’s missing in their lives.
The First Part: Physiological Aspects
- This part is about grounding techniques, self-regulation, and understanding our nervous system.
- It’s often the easiest for people to grasp and has the most immediate impact.
- These tools are the things people remember, implement, and do all the time.
The Second Part: Relationships
- We can’t be well alone.
- While we can have all the tools for our bodies to run smoothly, we still need to build relationships.
- This part is not something you can do right away. It involves working on prioritizing relationships, asking for help, and letting yourself need other people.
The Third Part: The Global Heart
- It’s about feeling like we’re contributing towards a better world.
- For some people, the missing piece is the sense of making meaning and taking accountability.
- We all need to have a larger feeling of purpose and meaning.
Relationship Divisions on Social Media
- Our thinking is very binary when we’re in a high-stress state.
- Separation can be a stress reaction. The disembodied relationships and biased algorithms of social media make it worse.
- Social media is the perfect storm to our massive division and intolerance for difference.
- Before judging other people in a black-and-white manner, remember that we all have different levels of access to information and education.
On Unhappiness, Forgiveness, and Giving Care
- Unhappy people tend to focus on their unhappiness because of the hypervigilance of figuring out how to be happy.
- Hala has worked with people with anxiety and depression. The “cure” they found was extending their care beyond themselves.
- We need to transform our stress response from “fight or flight” to “tend and befriend.”
- Tend and befriend is about seeing that our well-being is bound and extending ourselves to care for others when we’re stressed.
- With the coronavirus, nobody can be well until everybody is well. Getting vaccinated is more of thinking about the sake of other people than yourself.
What to Do When You’re Unable to Regulate Your Nervous System
- Sometimes, we need somebody or something else to hold us. It can be another person or a spiritual belief that is bigger than us.
- Connecting to the suffering of others intentionally makes us feel less alone in our suffering.
- If you have COVID-19, think about all the other millions of people who also have COVID-19 at the exact moment.
- Allow your heart to open and feel that you’re not alone in your suffering.
- Tune in to the full episode to hear about Rosie’s experience on contracting COVID-19!
Launching a Book
- Hala still feels surreal that her book is out.
- She hopes the book becomes a tool to support and impact people, especially at this high-anxiety time.
- One of her critiques about self-help books is their overly individualistic paradigm.
- Her book encourages people to need each other and allows them not to do everything right by themselves.
Parenting at the Time of COVID-19
- Her children understand how lucky they are to not be affected as badly as others.
- The issues her children experience are around missing milestones that allow them to feel themselves growing.
- Sometimes parents want to make their children’s bad feelings go away. Doing that is a disservice to your child.
- Instead, Hala teaches her children how to face difficult feelings while also acknowledging what is positive.
Self-Regulating When You’re Hyperfocused on Negative Feelings
- We tend to hyperfocus on negative feelings when we’re anxious, depressed, or scared.
- Numbing or denying the negative feelings don’t work. Allow yourself to notice what else is in your body that feels good.
- Build the capacity in your brain to hold something that feels pleasant along with what’s uncomfortable.
- The goal is not to get overwhelmed by anxiety or depression. Then, they can become just a part of who we are while we’re still able to focus on the good.
Interoception and Trauma
- Interoception is our capacity to sense what’s happening inside us.
- Since we live in a disembodied culture, most of us have to learn it. This process is even harder for people who have had a lot of trauma in their formative years.
- You have to understand that you can’t just stop being anxious instantly. But you can work on being more grounded.
- It would be helpful to have support, such as being in a yoga class or working with a therapist.
- You have to go slow. Otherwise, you will keep yourself in a high anxiety cycle.
- We get used to moving at a particular pace that’s comfortably uncomfortable. Slowing down is scary, but it is okay.
- Hala decided not to go for her doctorate. It was a tough decision, but she realized she doesn’t have to do that right now.
- We don’t always have to strive to be amazing; mediocrity can be satisfying as well.
Building Resilience in the Book
- Hala focused on building resilience because it doesn’t pathologize.
- Her favorite definition of resilience is allowing difficulties to transform us. It’s having this feeling that we can handle life.
- Resilience is a word that is more nuanced than some other positive words. It’s about our capacity to imagine things being better than they were.
- We’re all living in an imagined future. Trauma is a loss of imagination; reclaiming that capacity gives us hope.
How Hala Feels Radically Loved
- Hala feels radically loved in every moment by being surrounded by blessings, opportunities, and supportive relationships.
5 Powerful Quotes
[11:11] “The thing that ‘cured’ [people with anxiety and depression] was actually extending their care beyond themselves, making it about something bigger than themselves.”
[11:23] “I think what our planet needs is for us to transform our stress response from a fight or flight to a tend and befriend.”
[11:51] “Until everybody is well, nobody can be well.”
[23:33] “Maybe the goal is to not be overwhelmed by our anxiety or to feel like we’re bigger than our depression so that those things become just a part of who we are.”
[33:31] “Trauma is a loss of imagination. And when we reclaim our capacity to imagine, then that gives us hope.”
Hala Khouri is the co-founder of Off the Mat Into the World, an organization dedicated to bridging yoga and activism. She is a yoga and movement teacher with over 25 years of experience and training in Somatic Experiencing.
Hala is also a well-recognized speaker and trainer on yoga, social justice, and trauma. She has been doing clinical work and training for more than 15 years. The focus of her work is leading trauma-informed yoga training for individuals and groups. She trains educators and service providers on how to be trauma-informed and culturally responsive.
If you want to connect with Hala, you may visit her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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