Helping people heal from trauma, increase mental health and feel happier is what Elizabeth Power is all about, having spent most of her life doing just that, so it is no surprise that her new book ‘Healer: Reducing Crises’ has been a huge hit with readers. In this book her message of healing and reclaiming life is real, dynamic and uplifting, giving reader’s access to the tools they need to help them deal with, and yes, heal from trauma.
This exceptional book has helped countless people find their way, and is a must read whether you are looking to have a better life, or help someone else. Recently Power was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her work, her life, and becoming happier and healthier.
‘Healer: Reducing Crises’ is a very powerful read, and it is one that has helped me a lot. Can you tell our readers what inspired you to write this book, and what you hope readers will take away with them when they finish it?
Thanks so much! I’m glad it’s been helpful. I wrote ‘Healer: Reducing Crises’ because I became keenly aware of an impossible situation. There will never be enough counselors and therapists to help the number of people seeking help. Medication, which takes less time to manage and deliver, only dampens the symptoms. It doesn’t help us learn how to think, feel, and act in ways that make it easier to fit in.
So much healing relies on knowing and doing differently, which doesn’t require a diagnosis. And if a person does need a diagnosis, going into therapy with higher levels of Emotional Intelligence only makes the work easier and lessens the severity of the diagnosis. This I know for a fact—and I know no one wants to go through life labeled “mentally ill.” It’s never been a good excuse, and it never leaves your healthcare record.
What I hope readers take away from ‘Healer: Reducing Crises’ is this. Every single one of us has something (or lots of things) in our life that have overwhelmed us and shut us down. There’s no competition. I want people to recognize that everyone benefits from learning about how being powerfully overcome impacts our lives. It can help us be better people to our family, friends, even our pets. Everyone also benefits from strengthening the inner (and outer) tools we teach—increasing and using internal connections (strong positive memories), exploring and managing feelings, and more.
The bottom line? I want folks to be happier, healthier, and more resilient using the knowledge and skills in ‘Healer: Reducing Crises’. I want them to have an arsenal of responses to use when times are tough to help them keep going a little longer. Of course, I want institutions and systems to change, and they’re made up of people.
When it comes to events, like Covid-19, you’ve talked about how people can grow or be injured. Can you talk a bit about this in terms of how people can grow through a traumatic event?
There’s a lot of study of “post-traumatic growth” right now. COVID was a mass trauma, as well as individual trauma. We grow as we make sense of what has happened, adapt, reframe our behavior and thinking, and focus on what’s going well. Don’t toss or ignore the pain—use it for growth.
For example, I had been traveling 42 weeks a year when COVID hit. Suddenly travel stopped—and I was stuck at home, where I’d only lived two days a week most of the time. And my business failed, with revenue dropping to ZERO overnight. I wasn’t eligible for unemployment or PPP. I lost count of the deaths among friends and family. My choices were to sink or swim until things changed.
I decided to swim. After 30 plus years, I re-engineered my business in ways that met my needs from now on (and I did). I chose to enjoy sleeping in my bed (instead of a hotel), getting to know every inch of my yard and all the plants. I decided I could experiment with getting exercise in new ways, walking around my house. Finally, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to eat my way through my freezer and canned goods and to share with neighbors.
The simple act of reframing, of deliberately choosing to think about things in a different way can have a profound and positive impact. Instead of being victimized by life, or becoming someone who victimizes others, you’re liberated to create a whole different experience. Others may feel alienated by your unwillingness to sink, or disappointed that you’re choosing positive growth—and truthfully, it takes no more energy than does being miserable and terrified (I know this one well!).
Discovering that we do have power and choices (even if only the color of the mask we wear) when times are tough helps develop grit and resilience.
When it’s time for you to relax, what are some of your favorite authors to chill out with and why do you love to read their books?
Ooohh… It’s quite a range. I enjoy Joan Borysenko’s work for wellness and health because she is both academic and personal. I can hear her voice in every word. For mystery murders, Wendy H. Jones can’t be beat—and neither can Dean Koontz. Two completely different styles, and both just wonderful reads. Jones writes local fiction focused on Dundee with exquisitely built, deep and strong characters. Koontz writes strongly masculine hard-driving thrillers. I also enjoy J.N. Chaney’s SciFi novels for airplane travel, although they sometimes get a little tedious in details. I read an average of two books a week, so my list of favorites is long, and includes these as well as books on spiritual formation, cooking, gardening, and even Young Adult literature series. I learn a lot from all of them.
If you could do anything in the world besides writing and Public Speaking – and do it anywhere in the world, what would you be doing and where?
That is a huge question. I’d love to live in the Pacific Northwest as a successful gardener, painter, and perhaps leather crafter. I used to make shoes and I really enjoyed it. I love to grow flowers and food, and I miss art. I’ve had a stained glass studio, done portraiture and even had a liturgical art business for a little while that was fun (mostly fabric art).
Otherwise, let me head to a place in rural Italy or Ireland and wander until I know what’s next!
You are prolific in your work life, so I have to ask – what is next for you?
Well, we’re busy moving The Trauma Informed Academy (thetraumainformedacdemy.com) around and shaping it, and I’d love to see many more people enrolled so they can maybe get beyond the pain of their past. I’d like to keep integrating trauma-informed thinking with emotional intelligence. I have four books in the works. And I’ve been asked to contribute to a couple more. So what’s on the plate now is continued dedication to the work of reducing the time, trauma, and costs of healing for everyone, and to keep focusing on improving mental health instead of managing mental illness. That’s a reframe.
You can find more information on Elizabeth Power on her website.