This is the most empowering thing Latinas can do By Mónica O. Duarte

Latinas are some of the most resilient women on the planet. We are known to create something from nothing. This has been part of our culture for centuries. It’s because of the oppression we’ve had to overcome – as minorities and as women. But what if true Latina empowerment meant life didn’t have to be so difficult for us? What if there was an easier way to navigate life, reach our goals, and live our best lives? Well, there is, and I will show you how.

Before I do that, it’s crucial to bring up a topic we’re not addressing in our community. Unfortunately, that topic is…success is not always what it appears to be.

I’m the first in my family to graduate from college. After I landed my first corporate job, most people would have thought I felt successful. That was far from the truth. Instead, I felt like an imposter. I could not comprehend how someone like me, who came from el rancho, ended up where I was. Was this new life I had truly real? In order to compensate for not feeling good enough, I became superficial to an extent. This superficiality is what I still continue to see in our community today. We try to cover up our insecurities and traumas with possessions and degrees, hoping they will somehow help fill the missing parts of us. The ugly truth is they can’t make us feel better. At least not long term.

We think these possessions, degrees, and accomplishments will give us our value as women, Latinas, and humans. Yet when we try to do this, we give our power away to these trappings and society. The only way to reclaim your power is to be courageous enough to do the inner work that’s required. Then, you can heal and truly see your value as a Latina – not from anything outside of you but from within yourself.

This brings me to trauma. Trauma is the number one factor contributing to us following inauthentic paths in our lives and this prevents us from reaching our goals. Let me explain.

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When we experience trauma – internally, it keeps us frozen in time. This distorts how we see ourselves, others, and the world. For example, after I went through my first near-death experience in a car accident, I was terrified of being in cars. Being a passenger in a car made me feel extremely anxious. I was always on alert to make sure I would not get hit again because this time I might not be so lucky. This happened because both my body and brain believed I was still in that experience, even though it happened several years ago. This is how trauma works.

I shared that Latinas have experienced a lot of oppression and struggle. I also used the word: overcome. To the outside world, it appears we have overcome these struggles, but the reality is that internally they remain with us. These traumas stay because only doing inner work can heal them. Whether we’re aware of it or not, these traumas are only lurking beneath the surface. They’re still operating unconsciously in us. When you don’t heal from your traumas they begin to dictate the way you navigate your life and see the world. Your goals and your ability to reach them are affected by them.

For example, a Latina may have a dream of starting her own business. She thinks that’s what she wants. In reality, maybe she’s had a history of traumatic experiences in her career. So working for herself now feels safer than working for someone else. She thinks this is what she wants when in reality her trauma is calling the shots.

Another example is a Latina who has a childhood dream that she now wants to finally pursue. But every time she starts to pursue it, internally, she feels blocked from moving forward. She can’t move forward, no matter how much she tries. This mental blocking is another impact of living with unresolved trauma. She cannot move forward because that dream feels unsafe in her internal world. In this case, no amount of encouragement from others can help her move forward because the trauma has a hold of her.

So as you can see in these real-world examples (taken from past clients I’ve worked with), trauma can have a lot of power over us. It can make you believe that you have desires and goals due to these traumatic experiences. It can prevent you from achieving your authentic dreams and goals. This is why healing from trauma is vital to help you reach your goals in life as a Latina.

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Once you start to heal from trauma, you’ll start to:

  • Clearly see yourself, your goals, and your dreams.
  • Develop true internal self-confidence and motivation to move forward and create an authentic life.
  • See and feel your God-given value that nobody can take.
  • Tell the difference between healthy people and people displaying toxic behaviors.
  • Assert your boundaries in a way that feels empowering and safe to you.
  • Unburden yourself from the traumas of your past.

You can finally move on with your life, dreams, and goals in a way that feels authentically empowering to who you are. These are some of the impacts of doing this profound work. Many more that are unique to you may reveal themselves once you do this work.

So how can you move forward with starting this type of work? There are certified coaches and therapists that can help you on your journey. However, it may take time to feel a connection with someone who specializes in a specific modality, so you must do your research first.

One critical thing about trauma is that it takes time to heal it. It’s vital to understand this from the start because there are coaches and therapists out there that will give you dishonest guidance. They’ll tell you they can help you heal quickly, which is a huge red flag. In fact, when you go directly to the trauma it can create a new trauma or reactivate an old one. This is why healing from trauma takes time. You should be aware of this to prevent it from happening.

Furthermore, not all trauma healing modalities have to be intense. For example, Parts Work (Internal Family Systems) is a gentle, and compassionate modality that includes and respects the whole person. This is the modality I used to heal from my own traumas and what helped me gain clarity of my goals and dreams. This is the modality I also use with my clients, and it works wonders! Whatever modality you choose to work with, know that it takes a tremendous amount of courage to take that first step, and if you do this work, it will transform your life forever.

Article originally published in Epifania Magazine on October 17, 2022

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