Authentic Power, is when our personality works in alignment with our soul, when you get still and connect with your higher power or higher self.
This week on the Transform Your Mind podcast I interview Ashley Bernardi, author of Authentic Power.
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Ashley Bernardi opens up about losing her dad as an eleven-year-old and trying to save his life alongside her mother and sister as he suffered from a sudden death heart attack. She ignored the trauma, grief, and guilt from the horrifying experience for years after being told she was “so strong” in trying to save her dad’s life and attempting to move on. In her 30s, she suffered from a debilitating mystery illness that left her bedridden and unable to care for her three children.
It was then, in a state of despair and hopelessness, that she began to feel the pain and “mess” she had been ignoring – her illness, grief, and trauma – and found the true healing and growth that she had been searching for her entire life. For years, she had pushed her trauma aside to maintain a “mask” of strength for others, yet her feelings came out in other ways – in people-pleasing, alcohol use, in destructive relationships, and eventually, making the devastating effects of her mystery illness even worse.
Authentic Power, teaches us that our darkest hours are disguised as an opportunity to uncover and process, feel, heal, and grow from our mess.
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Finding Your Authentic Power
Myrna: What was your journey to finding your, authentic power?
Ashley: I was so horribly, physically ill. And on top of that had been diagnosed with, postpartum depression, after the birth of my third child, that I was forced, I had no choice, but to sit still and surrender to the pain, the physical pain, but also the mental image, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain that I had been bearing since I was 11 years old. But that’s where the healing happens. That’s where that little sliver of light in all that pain, I felt it, I saw it, I held on to it.
I taught myself how to move through and process all of this, trauma. And here I am today, that’s what my book is all about, authentic power, give yourself permission to feel. And I say, authentic power, because that really starts with accessing the wisdom within by getting still turning off all the noise around us. Finding your own authentic voice of what it is that that your body, mind and spirit are calling you to process. And so that’s where that’s really where the story begins.
Myrna: Yeah, that’s an amazing story. You’re right, when you said that, you hope that everybody goes through the long journey as you. You talked about holding on to your pain, and then having it come out as disease, depression and people pleasing. You got healed from, Lyme disease, and you started meditating and finding the power inside of you.
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Why choose Authentic Power?
So, tell us why, authentic power? Once you start to feel and acknowledge your feelings, how does that transform to, authentic power?
Ashley: Oh, that’s such a great question. So, this really goes into, has anyone asked you a simple question, how are you? We always say we’re fine, right? Usually, that’s not the truth. In that moment. It’s like, well, I’ve got a lot of things going on. So, I think like in society, teaches us to mask our feelings because nobody really wants to know, right?
We have social media, Instagram, where we post all the great pictures of the family. There’s just the lack of truth and vulnerability. And I found that in my own life, I was lacking that truthfulness to myself. And I was lacking being vulnerable with myself. And so, when I got truthful and vulnerable with myself, therein lies my authenticity, which is so powerful. You can actually create by going within and listening to that inner voice.
And you mentioned a couple healing modalities that I use to access my, authentic power. Meditation is one of them. Getting quiet and getting still work for me and so was healing yoga. And then also during my healing process, I discovered something that I call the field framework. Which is a technique for me to really go into those messy and uncomfortable emotions, process them in real time allowing me to move through those emotions, and therefore kind of clearing the space again, for me to access my, authentic power.
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You Don’t have to be strong all the time
Myrna: So yeah, when you can feel, you become vulnerable and don’t have to be so strong. Women we feel that we should be so strong, it’s a badge that we wear. We love hearing, Oh, you’re so strong. Oh my God. Nobody wants to be vulnerable. Right? They want to be the Superwoman. And you know, women usually are Superwoman, looking after the kids, they’re working, and taking care of their men.
Ashley: I’m so glad you mentioned that. It’s so funny because my original title for, authentic power, was not so Strong, because I really felt not strong, despite wearing that mask of strength for so long. And that’s something that we do in society. I did that before my health crisis, I wanted to look like Superwoman, I was the one that was pureeing the baby food and making sure my husband had dinner on the table every night, and people pleasing everyone around me, except myself.
When I had my own self, my own health crisis, I had to, I had to look at my own self-worth and value my self-worth, not what other people thought of me. And that really stopped me in my tracks. So now, I don’t try to be superwoman at all. I get a lot of help and I put boundaries in place saying. I tell my husband dinner on the table is not happening tonight. I tell my team this project not going to get done today.
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Stuffing Down Guilt and grief
Myrna: Awesome now I’ve read your book, I know that you felt a lot of, guilt, because on your father’s death, because you felt that there’s something that you could have done. So, what was it that you stuffed down for 20 years or so? Was it, guilt?
Ashley: That’s a great question. It was 100%, guilt. I felt guilty because when my dad was actively having a heart attack, I didn’t run to go by his side to give CPR. My mom and sister did, I ran to go call 911. I also ran to the neighbor to get help. So, for so long, I was like, what if I had gone and given him CPR to help my mom and sister? What if I had been the one to do that? There are so many what ifs. As a child I buried that guilt within me very, very deeply. I also buried the, grief.
So before, before my health crisis, which you know, really is was my greatest awakening, I see, Lyme disease, as my greatest gift, and I’m so grateful for it. It allowed me to really look deep and face my, grief.
Facing your grief
I never visited my father’s grave, alone. That’s how much I did not want to deal with facing his death. I did not allow myself to grieve. I’m sure there were sometimes when I cried, but in the early days of, grief, it was just straight up in shock. My dad died very suddenly, it wasn’t a slow death, one day he’s there the next day, he is not. So, the, grief, was a very uncomfortable feeling for me. It was very, very scary, and I didn’t want to face the fact that my dad was gone.
And even afterwards, in middle school, and high school, I would have friends come over, I wouldn’t even tell them that my dad had died. They didn’t know my dad had died. They had to ask other people like where’s Ashley’s dad? Oh, yeah, we heard he passed away. So that’s what bearing, grief, looks like. But I can say now, here I am. 27 years later, just this year, because of all the healing work that I’ve done. I visited his grave by myself for the first time ever.
And I’m so proud of myself, because it was just an incredible way to show how far I’ve come, how long the journey has been. And when I did, it was so beautiful. And I found that it is possible to have relationship with your loved ones, even in death. And that’s something that’s very important. I want to stress that I thought that once my father was dead, he was gone, but I talked to him. I pray for him. I visited him, I cried with him at his gravesite.
What is authentic power?
Myrna: That’s awesome. What does it mean to have, authentic power? How did dealing with your, grief, give you, authentic power? Why do women need, authentic power?
Ashley: That’s a great question too. Therein lies our truth. It’s also about surrendering to your power because I would also stuff down my power. I’ll give you an example. My entire life, I’ve been told that I’m too sensitive. Oh, Ashley’s more sensitive than the average bear. And I thought that being sensitive was a flaw of mine. I feel everything. I’m an empath. I feel other people’s feelings. And I what I learned when I went through my health crisis, when I began to really feel into this emotion was that my sensitivity is my superpower!
It was then I got really quiet and still and listened to that inner wisdom, which is our, authentic power. I use that sensitivity when I’m feeling a little bit energetically overwhelmed. I know that I need to go step away and be by myself for a little bit. I know that I need to go recharge, I know that I can pick up on other people’s, emotions, and so, authentic power, can also help us accept and honor our gifts.
So, for me journaling helps me unlock my, authentic power, but that can also be done in a quiet meditation and walking through nature. This could be done in prayer, too. That is the inner wisdom, that could be from the Divine, it could be from your higher self, or it could just be from that, that within you, which is what your, authentic power, is.
Myrna: Yeah, that’s awesome. A lot of nice little nuggets there. Yes. You know, I’m a meditator, myself, I meditate every morning. Sitting on my meditation cushion, I listen, and I get still.
Healing from Lyme Disease
How did you heal yourself from, Lyme disease? You were bedridden, you couldn’t do anything for yourself. It dropped you on your back. Literally.
Ashley: I’ll paint the picture of what it looked like and then I’m, I will share how I feel. So, this is what it looks like. I mean, for anyone who’s had, Lyme disease, it can show up in so many different ways. For me it went undiagnosed for a very long time and wasn’t diagnosed until after I delivered my third baby.
This is how it started. I believe it was the summer of 2014. I started having symptoms that felt like the flu. I couldn’t keep any food down; I was nauseous all the time. Those symptoms didn’t go away, and it kept getting worse. I had headaches constantly I started losing weight, I got down to the weight that I was before high school. I mean it was very dangerous. I seem to develop a food intolerance to everything I ate. Then I had so many weird things happen, my body would go numb, including my arms and legs. I would have muscle fat isolation so it would feel like I had things crawling on my skin at all times.
I saw so many doctors, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, postpartum depression, you name it. Then when I become pregnant with my third baby those symptoms mysteriously went away and I remember my OBGYN I am saying, pregnancy can do this. It really does turn off the immune system because it knows you’re growing a baby inside you. The day that I delivered my third baby those feelings came right back.
Spinning out of control
I was sent home from the hospital four days later and it was downhill from there. I remember one time (and this is this was really my turn turning point in the journey) after continuing to see doctor after doctor, nobody could figure out what was wrong with me, the room started spinning and I started blacking out. I lost control my bowels and started Like urinating all over myself.
I just surrendered I said alright God you either take me now because I don’t want my family to suffer anymore or we going to heal together. So, I started the healing process. Healing was the slowest, most excruciating, physical, spiritual, mental and emotional process I ever went through. But I will say that the physical healing was only like 20% of the work that I needed to do. The other 80% came down to me working with energy.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Finally, I was diagnosed with, Lyme disease. I was so far off the deep end physically that they couldn’t treat me with just antibiotic pills. I had to have a PICC line installed to my heart. And for eight weeks I couldn’t lift my baby, so we moved in with my in laws. I had I was on the highest dose of antibiotics Rocephin that they use to treat meningitis patients. I had a nurse come to my house, my husband would administer the antibiotic nightly, the nurse would come once a week and change my dressing.
I was not better after eight weeks; the healing took a full year. And this is where I say that, Lyme disease, was my greatest gift, because it allowed me to get still and finally address all these other feelings that had been buried since I was 11 years old. Those feelings of, trauma, and, grief. I learned about the power of, affirmations, and journaling. Every day I would write in my journal as if I was already healed. I would write in my like little book “I am feeling Awesome, my health is vibrant. I am well, I am healthy.” I would affirm it.
I found that journal the other day, the book is this thick of me affirming my health and wellbeing every day. And in addition to that, having a spiritual mentor and joining a church community and sharing my pain with others, being vulnerable and open helped with my healing. I could no longer wear that mask of strength because I was too sick. So, I finally opened up to my friends and loved ones what was happening to me.
Authentic power: Give Yourself Permission to Feel
Myrna: So, finding that community as well as the power of connection is the path to healing and finding, authentic power. You’ve talked a little bit about your book throughout the conversation. Tell us about your book “Authentic Power.” What is it that you want the reader to walk away with after they closed the book?
Ashley: The book is for anyone who is faced with any sort of adversity in their lives, you know, I described my, trauma. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have to ever experience, trauma, like I’ve experienced, because every single person’s, trauma, looks very different. It could be the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, the end of something.
My book is for anyone who’s looking to provide holistic healing in their lives and learning that these messy and uncomfortable emotions like, grief, trauma, despair, depression, that there could be a reason they might are there to actually teach us something.
I’m a true believer that these, emotions, that we feel on a physical level are meant to be addressed. We have something to learn from every single, emotion. I want my book to teach readers how to become aware of these messy and uncomfortable, emotions, and then get curious about why they are there. Check out Ashley on the web at https://ashleybernardi.com/