Recently our Chief Executive Coach, Natalie Hore provided a speech at the #HealthLove event on ways to find your path back towards empowerment after experiencing trauma. She provided this speech as a journalist, life coach, yoga teacher and sound therapist as well as a survivor and an explorer! Here is an excerpt of her speech:

“As illustrated by history, philosophy and even religion, no human can go through life, without experiencing setbacks, heartaches, pain, sorrow, and suffering. In fact, in the words of Buddha; “Life is Suffering”…. or if you would prefer, as I do, the words of phycology professor, Gordon Allport; “to live is to suffer, but to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”

Life is a complex journey filled with both joy and pain, triumphs and challenges. Along this path, however, some of us encounter trauma; experiences that shake us to our core.

Definition of trauma

I want to take a moment to think about our own definition of trauma, because for many years, I was of the view that a traumatic experience, was associated with a plane crash, the loss of a limb or being held at gunpoint for example. However, as scientists are now able to better understand, trauma is, at its core, an experience that at the time caught us unprepared on how to deal with it, mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. This helps to explain why some people can manage situations calmly, while others have a melt down over what can appear to be a minor incident…. And the key reason for this, is our inbuilt resilience, formed as a result of past experiences, our upbringing and our personalities.

Yet, despite the darkness that trauma brings, there is a glimmer of hope—a path that leads us towards empowerment, towards a life of resilience, strength, and purpose.

The impacts of trauma

To truly understand this path to empowerment however, we must acknowledge the gravity of trauma. Trauma robs us of our sense of safety, shatters our self-esteem, and casts a shadow over our future. But the human spirit is remarkable. It has the innate ability to heal, to find light in the midst of darkness, and to reclaim power from the clutches of despair.

Acknowledgement of our trauma

The first step on this path to empowerment is to acknowledge our trauma and not feel ashamed or guilty as a result of it. We must confront our pain, face our fears, and acknowledge the wounds that have shaped us. This may mean reliving the trauma and playing it out as you say or write down your personal experience. I know, that this is not an easy task and it can take many attempts to finally push through our protective barriers. It requires immense courage and vulnerability. Yet, in doing so, we take the first step towards reclaiming our power. By recognizing the impact of our trauma, we validate our experiences and open the door to healing.

At this point, I would like to share my own personal story. At age 22 I was organizing an offsite work event, when a male I did not know, overpowered me with his size and build, as I entered the washroom. With one hand over my mouth, the other forced me over the wash basin. He lifted my dress and grabbed at my underwear. I was so shocked by what was happening, that I froze. Feeling safe that I was not going to put up a fight, my perpetrator would eventually remove his one free hand from my bruised hips, which were being smashed into the wash basin, and tugged at my ponytail, so that my face would lift so that I could watch him defile me in the washroom mirror. 

Afterwards, my mind went straight into denial mode. I so desperately wanted to pretend that nothing had happened, that afterwards, I cleaned away the smeared lipstick on my face, dried my tears, flattened down my hair, slowed down my breathing and got myself together again ….. and returned to the work event.

I was so ashamed of freezing instead of fighting, that I did not tell anyone else of what happened. Not the police, my work colleagues, my parents and not even a friend. In fact, I only told my husband of 20 years, two years ago….or 24 years after the encounter.

I wrote it all down, screamed, cried and finally, let go of my shame. I forgave myself for not biting his hand and for not stomping my heel into his foot. With my hands over my heart, I finally treated myself with kindness and for doing the best I could do as a 22—year old girl that did not have the insight, resilience or strength that I have today.

Prior to this, I suffered with anxiety, panic attacks, low self-esteem and a complex view of intimacy. Displaying the power of the mind, and how far I had gone to protect myself, I did not even think of my sexual abuse when seeking help, so the encounter was not raised as a potential reason as to why I was having these symptoms. Therefore, receiving inadequate professional care and support.

It was only when I fully faced my trauma that healing finally took place. I can now proudly say, that it has been just over two years since I have had an anxiety or panic attack.

Healing however is messy, non-linear, and unique to each individual. What works for one person may not work for another. Healing requires patience, self-compassion, and the willingness to seek support. It may involve therapy, counseling, support groups, or various holistic practices. Healing is a journey of self-discovery, an exploration of our own resilience and strength. It is about finding the tools and strategies that work for us and using them to rebuild our lives.

Along this path, we must also learn to be gentle with ourselves, to forgive ourselves for the past, and to nurture our minds, bodies, and souls. Self-care is not selfish; it is a vital component of healing. It means prioritizing our well-being, setting boundaries, and engaging in activities that bring us joy and peace. Through self-care, we relearn our own worth and regain the strength to move forward.

Another important aspect of empowerment is reframing our narrative. Trauma can create a distorted lens through which we view ourselves and the world around us. It can breed feelings of helplessness, shame, and unworthiness. But we have the power to rewrite our story. We can choose to see ourselves as survivors rather than victims, as warriors who have overcome adversity. By reframing our narrative, we reclaim our agency and create a foundation for resilience.

Finally, empowerment comes from finding purpose in our pain. Our experiences, no matter how challenging, can be catalysts for growth and transformation. Through our healing journey, we develop a unique understanding and empathy towards others who have experienced similar struggles. We become beacons of hope, guiding others towards their own paths to empowerment. Our pain becomes the fuel that ignites change, both within ourselves and in the world around us.

The path to empowerment is not an easy one. It is filled with twists and turns, moments of doubt, and setbacks. But it is also a path of incredible strength, resilience, and growth. By acknowledging our trauma, embracing healing, practicing self-care, reframing our narrative, and finding purpose, we unlock the doors to our own empowerment.

Natalie’s own healing tools include:






Gratitude exercises

For further information regarding these tools, check out this fantastic article in Yoga Life Digital which delves into our 13 scientifically-proven ways to overcome stress!