Since March 2020, I have had the incredible opportunity to be a team member of the Ford Global Fellowship program. Yes, that is right..as the pandemic started, the Fellowship launched with 24 Fellows from regions across the globe.
As the Lead for the coaching program, there are 10 coaches from across the world that support these amazing leaders who are challenging and changing inequality. Navigating the pandemic over the last 18 months has required all of us to find new approaches to preserving our energy and well-being.
Recently, the coaching team met for our first book club discussion of the book, Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Care for Others, written by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and Connie Burk. As coaches, we can be the one safe space where social change leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable and express their true experiences of feeling depleted physically and emotionally.
As I read this book it became very clear to me that all of humanity is currently living with some level of trauma because of the pandemic. van Dernoot Lipsky defines trauma exposure response as
“the transformation that takes place within us as a result of exposure to the suffering of other living beings or the planet. The transformation can result from deliberate or inadvertent exposure, formal or informal contact, paid or volunteer work.”
So what is trauma stewardship?
van Dernoot Lipsky describes trauma stewardship as a daily practice through which individuals, organizations, and societies tend to the hardship, pain or trauma experienced by humans, other living beings and our planet. By developing a deeper sense of awareness needed to care for ourselves while caring for others and the world around us, we can greatly enhance our potential to work for change, ethically and with integrity, for generations to come.
During our conversation, we explored how different cultures have different perspectives on what is acceptable in defining and stewarding trauma. Coaches shared approaches to self-compassion to sustain energy and resilience so that they are able to create a space of compassion for leaders. We all agreed that it is essential to engage in daily practices to center ourselves; connecting our heads, hearts and hands, creating an integrated state so that we don’t get stuck in our primitive brains where fear resides. Daily practice of moving energy flow through breathing, exercise, laughing and singing all help move us out of our primitive brain. The Trauma Stewardship Institute offers a wonderful “Tiny Survival Guide” that shares 15 easy ways to not only survive but build resilience during this period in our history.
Do you have a life raft that allows you to float above water during this time of continued rough seas? If you are feeling shipwrecked or unmoored, let’s connect to discover your path toward trauma stewardship. We are all in this together.