Lisa Verhnjak

Conversations on Trauma and Awakening: Lisa Verhnjak

Interviewed by Gabriella Evans
"Ask yourself what you want your story to be. You are the author. We can't control what happens around us, only what we choose to do with it. That choice can never be taken away from us."

Thank you Lisa for your gorgeous and inspiring written submission to our Trauma & Awakening project!

Describe yourself in three words.

Adaptable, genuine, straight forward.

How would those you love and respect you describe you?

You'd have to ask them, but I would hope to be known for the traits I've listed above as that is what I strive for. More than likely though others may say a little anxious at times, independent and hard working. Stubborn maybe, but I'll choose to phrase that as dedicated or persistent.

What helps you feel safe and grounded?

Music. Nature. Journaling. Educating myself, which gives me a sense of power towards my life. Staying focused on what is going right in my life. Allowing myself to be in alignment with what is best for me and keeping that in my awareness.

How would you define trauma?

Trauma is a wound that - over time - we can heal. Our wounds may be deep and patched with stitches at first. The healing process can be gruesome and painful, but eventually all wounds heal. The more traumatic the event, the bigger the scar. It's how we choose to perceive that scar that will define our outcome. When we choose to leave the wound unattended it will not heal properly. We cannot just patch it up with a bandaid and pretend that will suffice. If we make the effort sooner rather than later, the process will be much easier. A broken bone that has healed incorrectly will later need surgery.

How has trauma contributed to your suffering?

It has contributed in many ways including many positive aspects of my life and who I am. I had to find strength within myself that I never knew existed in moments I never imagined possible. Becoming aware of how greatly trauma was affecting my day- o-day life was traumatic in itself, yet liberating. There are a lot of things I am still working on and probably always will be. Becoming aware that there is more to life than a constant state of fight or flight gave me the strength to strive towards a better outcome.

How has suffering contributed to your personal awakening or evolution?

Without it I wouldn't have accomplished most of what I have. I have no idea who I would be or where I would be without each event in my life. Healing has been such a rewarding journey - though not necessarily an easy one. All the pain that I have suffered during the fight to get better has been worth it. My fight has been for something, which has given me the power that I've needed to persevere. I have learned so much about myself. Every personal trait that I have taken on because of my past has a negative and a positive. It's all about finding the balance between the two and being patient with yourself as you develop the skills to be better. For example, my lack of trust in others has lead me to be very ok with being on my own; I have proven that I can catch myself when I fall. On the other hand, it's also led me to know that having good people in your corner and building meaningful relationships is equally as important. The moments that I was feeling powerless and didn't know where to turn or how to show up in the world have led me to educate myself and develop personally as well as professionally.

What words of wisdom would you offer to those who are stuck in suffering that is similar to what you have been through in the past?

Ask yourself what you want your story to be. You are the author. We can't control what happens around us, only what we choose to do with it. That choice can never be taken away from us. Utilize that and make a choice for yourself about how you'd like to perceive your life. What would you want your future self to say about this moment right now and the days that follow? Who do you want to be and how do you want to show up in the world?