It’s always now ~ Create, don’t wait. Happiness is where healing starts and happiness comes in moments. Conditions will rarely be 100% optimal. You can be going through something very sad, but you don’t have to be sad all day long. When my father died I had deep sorrow, but then I would take my son to the park and play and I had deep joy as well. You create happiness from where you are by looking at and looking for the good. Don’t wait for the sad event to be over or the big change to settle before you allow yourself to be happy. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, time is of the essence. Decide to be as happy as you can right now.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Herrera.
Jennifer is a Reiki master as well as a certified mentor through Heartmath Inc. She coaches clients to increase their happiness and inspiration by strengthening their energy field. Jennifer uses the lessons in her life to help her clients trust their inner wisdom and intuitively find their own balance.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
My parents emigrated from Argentina and Puerto Rico. They worked hard so that we could move to a house on Long Island. I remember being quiet and shy as a kid. All these years later, out in the world, I teach and talk to many people in groups and one on one. Although I’m perceived as being funny and outgoing, I still see that shy kid inside. I’m glad for all the experiences that I was able to have thanks to my parents — traveling and school. It helped me to overcome fears and take chances.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.” — Joseph Campbell
Often we do not take action because it seems scary to try something new or different. To imagine how our lives might change for the worse if we take a chance.
Reflecting on my life and situations that have challenged me; a jump in faith always took me to a better space. We either fall and learn better for next time, or… land someplace wonderful, beyond what we imagined. The quote also means for me, that the limits and boundaries we set are all in our mind.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
If I can only pick three qualities, they would be:
- Following my intuition — I spent too much time doing what I thought I was supposed to do. Once I started to listen to the little voice inside, my life shifted. It’s what led me to study energy healing. I had been ill and my own inner guidance took me on a path to wellness.
- Mindset — I believe we create our reality with our thoughts. So much of our being is what we think and put out into the universe. When I had relationships that ended, I felt loss. I resolved not to let my mind wallow in what was or what could have been. An excerpt from the 20 principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi reads “That if a pet is lost, we go to great lengths to find them and bring them home. We must do the same when our mind becomes lost; find it and bring it back.” Reel your thoughts in to keep yourself on the right track.
- Resilience / Persistence — The ability to bounce back over and again. When events are not progressing as you’d like, keep putting your energy out into the world. Keep showing up and trying to make things happen. I went from one job to another. Nothing ever “felt right”. Many times I was frustrated, it was then I learned to have faith. I kept picking myself up and found ways to renew my enthusiasm.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?
I experienced a few big changes in a short span of time. My father died, a long term relationship ended, I was in between jobs, career changing again. I was grieving losses and everything felt uncertain.
I felt as though everything was turned upside down, day after day. Often I was overwhelmed but with time I got stronger and I learned techniques to help me adjust.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
It was scary to feel on my own with my young son. I had imagined that my life was headed down a certain path, all of a sudden the path was unclear. I didn’t know where the next step was. My father, someone who had always been strong and supportive was no longer there. I thought the worst thing that could happen was that the sad days wouldn’t end. That I would continue to drift without direction.
How did you react in the short term?
I threw myself into whatever activities helped me feel better. Time at the gym, as well as time with close friends. A sense of humor is a saving grace.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?
Good memories and perspective helped me to cope.
Looking back, I can see that every experience that I had prepared me for what was meant for me. I learned so much.
With the loss of my father and other relationships, I came to the realization that all the love and care we need we can provide for ourselves. Deepening my other relationships and my connection to the universe kept me from feeling alone.
My priorities became health, family / friends, and fulfillment in work. Organizing what was most important helped everything fall into place.
Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
Time is the great healer. Whatever negative aspects we experience, I honestly believe they are put there to help us grow and to learn to focus on the good. Also, looking forward to future happy times. Looking back is most valuable to track growth, not to linger on what has past, but what did the past teach? For example, I could negatively look at all the time I spent on education that was so far from where I ended up; or be upset that all the different odd jobs I had were a waste of time. Instead, I take all of the knowledge and experience with me into what I do. Many of the skills I learned are surprisingly useful.
My education taught me patience for mundane tasks, working as a fitness instructor taught me to speak in front of large groups. Instead of letting that past go, I take it with me and incorporate it to be able to work in a more diverse and powerful way.
Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
Energy work and the study of energetics made me happy. I took action and attended school for these studies. I continued practicing Reiki, got certified in Pilates and studied martial arts. This kept me occupied and learning. All of it helped me learn to regulate my inner world. Putting my mind and body to use helped me get strong. I don’t know that I let go as much as I took my experiences with me to a higher space.
Living according to my own definition of what was right for me was comfort. Now when I feel thrown off balance by events I come back to those tools — Energy work, mindset, movement and meditation.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
My martial arts teachers. They taught me that we are all so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. The physical work was a mirror for all the internal strength I needed to build at that time. The conditioning was so physically grueling, the only way to get through it was to build mental toughness. I am extremely grateful for the dedication these teachers have. They put %1000 into their own conditioning and set the example of what strength and honor is.
Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?
Everything is about how you frame it. Every mistake is an opportunity for learning. The Thomas Edison quote reads “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Challenges present a way to look deeper into ourselves for love and happiness.
The good times are like subway trains, another one will be coming along soon.
I’m still a work in progress and by no means have anything perfected. I do my best to practice thoughts that uplift and energize. If you look to the external you will always be unsatisfied, I learned to look within. Have faith that every setback is pushing you forward to be stronger so you can rise to your next level. There is no status quo on growth; we will always be tested and how we view those tests is everything.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?
I learned all my failures were perceived. I decided to view them as an invitation to persist. All of my losses had gains if I could value the experiences and the growth that they provided. Most importantly I learned about my choices in viewing situations. I could choose to be sad or grateful, hopeless or determined. Strong weapons are forged in the fire.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Managing your energy through outlook and belief. ~The Rose Colored glasses theory. Our attitude is more important than circumstances. Although we may not be able to control an event, we can 100% control our response to that event. Acknowledging that is responsibility; we all have the power of choice. Healing is a process, big changes effectuate stress. Stress affects our nervous system and physical body as well. It’s important for our health to be happy. We can manage our energy to decrease that stress. In relationships where I’ve had painful loss, I reflected on what I had learned, how I grew as a person and by remembering the parts that brought me joy. We have a duty to our energy, although we do not decide the outcome we can decide our outlook. Choose to find the good where you can through perspective.
2. Ride the Wave ~ Understanding cycles in nature and how it mirrors our own lives. Not allowing ourselves to get carried away by the tide of events. If you are in the ocean, you can feel lost in the all-encompassing water. However, if you look at the ocean from the shore, you can see the continuous crash of the waves. We crest and crash in the highs and lows of our lives. To help heal, remember everything is in constant motion, always changing. I learned through my own losses that tomorrow is another day; up or down hang on and ride the wave. Understanding the cycle helps us work from our inner place of peace and stillness.
3. Mind-as-muscle mindset. Whereas managing our energy reflects how we behave and interact with the outside world, mindset is internal. We create reality through our thoughts. We have to be mindful of the thoughts we allow to loop in our brain. If you went to the gym, you wouldn’t get a great body in 1 visit. It takes consistent effort and a good diet. Keeping self-dialogue positive is essential to healing. Speak to yourself kindly and nourish your mind with thoughts that help you arrive at a place of optimism. Similar to working out, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Train your mind to make good thoughts your default button.
4. Strength in numbers ~ Connection; remembering support helps heal. It’s easy to feel alone in difficult times. Sometimes there’s an urge to shut everyone out because we feel they don’t understand what we’re going through. The opposite is actually true. A sense of connection with others strengthens us to keep going. Examples include hobbies, nature, friends, family, and volunteering. Reach out to others, helping others helps you and takes you out of your own worries. Friends keep you laughing; a sense of humor is essential in all things. Connection lifts our spirits. By sharing stories and difficulties we gain strength. When my father died, teaching my students was solace, it took me to a place outside of myself where I could help and connect with others.
5. It’s always now ~ Create, don’t wait. Happiness is where healing starts and happiness comes in moments. Conditions will rarely be 100% optimal. You can be going through something very sad, but you don’t have to be sad all day long. When my father died I had deep sorrow, but then I would take my son to the park and play and I had deep joy as well. You create happiness from where you are by looking at and looking for the good. Don’t wait for the sad event to be over or the big change to settle before you allow yourself to be happy. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, time is of the essence. Decide to be as happy as you can right now.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I have a movement that I’m working on, it involves empowering others to trust their wisdom and to handle adversity with grace. Then expand that empowerment by teaching others to do the same.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Vishen Lakhiani the founder of Mindvalley. He is doing amazing work in the world and helping so many people. His work has personally helped me and inspired me to keep moving forward all the time. A coffee with Vishen — yes, I would love that!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
-Linkedin — Jennifer Herrera https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-herrera-68495514/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!