Dec. 12, 2021

E154: Fear and Excitement | CPTSD and Trauma Healing Coach

In this episode, I read a chapter of my book Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma and share fear and excitement with you.    We find ourselves scared to ask for our wants and needs due to the fear of punishment or...
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In this episode, I read a chapter of my book Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma and share fear and excitement with you. 

We find ourselves scared to ask for our wants and needs due to the fear of punishment or persecution. We pretend that everything is all right, despite knowing the truth is the opposite. We tell people what we think they want to hear to avoid being vulnerable. We avoid our potential to know, love, happiness, success, freedom, health, peace, understanding, and the chance to be whole.

What do you think would happen if you took the fear that embodies you and switched it into excitement?

Remember, you have to be in control of every action and decision to shape your life into what you want it to be.

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We only get to play this game one time, one life. – Gary Vaynerchuk

Within the scope of a single idea, we can change the way we see ourselves in the world and the way we are impacted by the world. The idea of fear is embedded deep within childhood trauma survivors.

Fear strips us of our innocence and idea of self, it is in abuse that we lose our identities as children. The impact of being forced to adhere to parameters that are not conducive to growth, compassion, care, and love weaves has to be in a state of arousal. Being in a heightened state leaves, little room for seeking the pleasures of childhood, and by default, our childlike perception that the world is safe, and nurturing is replaced with fear, pain, still an agency, broken promises, hurt, and emptiness.

It is within the darkness of fear and hurt that we are kept from having healthy relationships, reaching goals sleeping at night, and loving ourselves. Our stolen childhood shape our behavior as adults.

We find ourselves scared to ask for our wants and needs due to the fear of punishment or persecution. We avoid going to the doctor or hospital because we are used to our bodies and minds being in pain.

We pretend that everything is all right, despite knowing the truth is the opposite. We tell people what we think, they want to hear to avoid having to be vulnerable. We avoid our potential to know, love, happiness, success, freedom, health, peace, understanding, and the chance to be whole.

What do you think would happen if you took the fear that embodies you and switched it into excitement?

I'm not saying that you should be excited about the trauma, you have suffered, that is an unreasonable request. In fact, I say that you should be very pissed off. What I mean is this, imagine for a moment that you wrote a list of what you want to do in your life from this moment forward. This list could include travel, getting married, starting a family, opening a business, running a marathon, painting the next Mona Lisa, writing a great novel, or walking the almost 12,000 steps of the niacin Railway.

You already know that you can't change the past, what you can do is create a new future, the future that you want, starting by identifying what that future looks like. No matter how outlandish your thoughts of the future might be, the reality is you can without question have the life that you want to have.

There is work involved in having the life that you want and deserve in just the same way, you explored climbing Mount Everest, you can identify and reverse-engineer every attainable goal of your life. I often experience anxiety, when I write down my life plans and goals every month I sit down and I write what my future looks like. It's a simple practice and in doing so I am able to not only have a direction in which to navigate my life but in writing, I also create accountability for myself. The truth is that I may always have reservations about my goals and what I want to accomplish, that's the nature of the impact of abuse.

You will always work towards restoring the part of yourself that believes in your potential and it's in the effort, it's in taking the steps that you will be able to put the pieces back together. The victory is in the effort of showing up for yourself.

I don't think it's unreasonable to doubt yourself or what your future looks like for lack of a better term, it's fair. Why wouldn't you doubt yourself that has been your foundation? And you are working to rewrite, the narrative of self-doubt and unworthiness. I think it's unfuckin reasonable for you not to have everything that you want in life.

If you want an amazing partner, a great job, a thriving side business, a passport full of stamps, a safe home, a refrigerator full of food, a car that doesn't break down or a PhD, then you can have those things.

Now I know what you're thinking, Michael, you're full of shit, you're special, you're blah, blah, blah, fucking blah. Look, I'm not special, I don't know anything that you don't what separates us and makes us the same is a mindset. If you want to get out of the vortex, you have to change your mindset. Changing, my mindset transformed my life from laying on the ground with a gun in my mouth to laying on beaches around the world. I made a choice, it was fear that propelled me into Oblivion.

It's so easy to tell yourself that you are not capable, good enough, pretty enough, tall enough or talented enough. When you have heard that dialogue on repeat since you were four years old.

Well, I say fuck that work your ass off and you can have what you want. Though trauma may be our foundation, it is not our future. Holy shit, Batman! Have you ever felt like despite all odds that you did something incredible? How about right now?

It's incredible that wherever you are in the world or in your life that you have chosen to get a better understanding of your past so that you can create the future that you want. Does that make you excited? It should. Your back has been against the wall time and time again and yet you have persevered because of your resiliency until now, perhaps those efforts have been unidentifiable because it was the mechanism of survival that has driven you.

Taking action and being resilient without realizing you are doing it is autopilot. Being on autopilot, will not get you to the next stage of life, being controlled versus being in control are very different. You have to be in control of every action and decision in order to shape your life into what you want it to be. Fear, can and will interrupt your ability to take action. Fear tells you no, don't, can't, shouldn't, and won't. Fear wants to keep you in the vortex because that's when it's in control. Turning the autopilot off and taking control of the will is a decision and choice you have to make if you want to create change.

Now, the question becomes, how do you do that? By turning fear into excitement you are already opening yourself up to a never-ending realm of possibility. Reframing fear as excitement will change the trajectory of your life, reshaping, how you make choices and take action.

Implementing the principle of shifting fear to creating excitement about goals, ideas, relationships, and self puts you in the pilot seat.

This is not to say that you won't have reservations, but you will be moving forward.

Trauma doesn't magically go away because you do the work and move towards the life that you want for a little while. I wish that was the case. You are going to have to put in work and just when you think you've done enough; you are going to have to put in more.

What will happen is that you will start to own your story, instead of being owned by the fearful stories, swirling around in your head while on autopilot. Fear tells you not to do what satiates and satisfies you, excitement drives you to do the opposite.

The science of fear is based on the chemical reaction that occurs in our brains and bodies. The chemicals released are a part of the primordial reaction that is predicated on self-preservation. If you choose to associate future events with fear, then they will be fearful. If you choose to associate future events with excitement, then those experiences will be exciting, those are two very different feelings. The limbic system, which is the electronic wiring of the brain is connected to the hypothalamus, which controls the response of stressors.

In moments of fear, the hypothalamus increases your breathing and heart rate, switches your focus, and causes you to perspire, this is the same physiological reaction that occurs during excitement perhaps with less sweat. Think about the last time you had a promising date or job interview.

Here's an example of the principle of fear and excitement;

  • You go to an open mic night at a local coffee shop to read a poem that you wrote.
  • When you arrive your brain and gut, begin to communicate with each other.
  • You get nauseous.
  • Your heart starts beating faster and harder.
  • Your ears begin to ring and your vision begins to blur.
  • You can feel the anxiety of the upcoming moment overtaking you.

These are all signs that the body is releasing adrenaline to prep you for a fight-flight or freeze reaction. If you interpret getting on stage as danger, or if your childhood memory of being shunned or embarrassed at a recital pops into your head, then you may sprint for the door or be stuck like a deer in headlights on the stage. This is programmed into you based on your experiences leading up to that moment.

Now, flip that same scenario to consider what would happen if you stepped into that coffee house, feeling excited about the opportunity to share something beautiful that you created with the world. Imagine that you are challenging yourself to do something that will make you more fulfilled. Imagine that moving towards speaking at that coffee shop, makes you more aligned with who you are and where you want to be. It is the excitement that will drive you to fight at that moment instead of fleeing. It's our perceptions and reactions that ultimately determine outcomes. This is not to say if you were in pending doom that you shouldn't flee.

If a T-Rex was hunting you down, then you would need to freeze and be as still as possible, that is self-preservation. However, not moving towards the life that you want due to fear as self-harm.

A mindset changes in the way you consider situations will change everything. I was so fearful of the possibility of being who I am now, the future self that I sabotage, every aspect of life that I could, perhaps, you can relate. I was afraid of success, love, companionship, self-actualization, happiness, and community. So, I did everything I could to burn those houses to the ground. My 20s weren't the first time that I took a can of gasoline, doused my house, and struck a match yet I've often wondered, what's the point of striking a match when your house is already on fire? That self-harm.

Somewhere along the way, I realized I could be excited about the idea of becoming who I am and who I wanted to be. Ultimately, there was no light bulb moment that I can share the realization that it was finally heading in the right direction came from a series of little moments and reminders when I encourage the power that I had within myself.

I made a choice to become excited about the prospect of finding success in love, happiness, and community, and self-actualization. It was almost like a switch had flipped in my head when I change the way I considered moving towards scenarios, that would otherwise be terrifying. The difference between where I was, and where I am and will go, is all mindset.

Let's Michael science this.

If fear plus self-sabotage times, denial of wants, needs, and interests equals chaos, then excitement, times time plus hard work and courage squared times freedom plus mindset plus community equals healing.

Obviously, I'm not a scientist, but you get the point.

You must honor yourself by being excited about the possibility that you can have the life that you want to have.

There are going to be pivotal moments in your life that will require you to frame them as exciting rather than fearful. Otherwise, you will run away from those moments full of fear, like in the coffeehouse. I have come to a place of complete, openness, honesty and vulnerability, only because I looked at what my life could be on the other side of the coin of the impact of trauma.

 I forced my mindset into a new gear and evolved from I can't, won't, and shouldn't and started asking myself, what if? What if people see and connect with the ideas and strategies I put into the world? What if the hours I spend in this therapist’s office lead me to fewer panic attacks and lower stress? What if one day I can fully love and be loved? Doesn't that sound fucking amazing? What if you chose to Think Unbroken?



A study at Dominican University showed that people who wrote their goals, were more likely to reach them by writing exactly and specifically, what your future looks like, you are at a massive advantage and more likely to create the life you envisioned.

In this exercise, you're going to write your future. Here's mine.

  • I will stand in front of 20,000 people and speak about Think Unbroken.
  • I will share my story to show child abuse warriors around the world that no matter what you come from you can have the life that you want to have.
  • I will be a New York Times bestselling author.
  • I will have a house that will give me the space to foster children with my partner while being in a happy, healthy, honest and loving relationship.
  • I will love myself more everyday by doing the things that make me feel fulfilled.
  • I will become wealthy and use those resources to create exponential change for childhood trauma survivors.
  • I will own an Audi A8 spider and arc motorcycle.
  • I will die knowing that I gave every inch to make the world a better place than the one I came into.

What do you want? Do you desire to love children, a stable job, to write a book, to go to Disneyland, on a rocket ship, or love yourself? Those are all wants, needs, and interests that you can have, no matter how outlandish. I wrote that I want to have an Audi A8 spider and Arc motorcycle, which is outlandish, but people used to tell me I was a loser and I would end up dead or in jail yet here I am. You can have anything that you want.

In this exercise, I want you to close your eyes and create your ideal future and then write it. What does your future look like?

Now, I know that I've said this a couple of times, but this is without question my absolute favorite exercise in the entire Think Unbroken curriculum, outside of the workshops and my one-on-one coaching, and everything that I do. This is my favorite exercise because this is the baseline of creating self-belief.

There are so many times in which we exist in our lives, where we measure the possibility for success against what everyone else, has dictated in our lives should be. And for the first time maybe ever, this is your opportunity to change that narrative, to build the life that you want to build in the parameters, in which you want that life built, and that is special, and that is important, and that is something that no one can take away from you.

And as I sit here, and I read what my life is.

This was the truth; I wrote; this is how my life has existed for years.

Now, I want to stand in front of 20,000 people, I want to be a New York Times bestselling author, I want to do all of these things. One of the important things that you notice, as I read that, as I said, I will, I will do these things, I will stand in front of 20,000 people, I will share my story, I will be a New York Times bestselling author, I will have a house, I will be wealthy, I will own an Audi A8 spider and the thing about this is that those statements in the reframing in the way that we step into our power is by taking ownership of it.

When I say that, I will there's no room for negotiation, there's no space here for anyone to have input, this is my life and my journey and because this is my life and my journey, what that means is that I'm willing to do whatever it takes. And because of that willingness, I'm going to step into it with the full understanding and acknowledgment that the only way that this works is by doing and it may take me the rest of my life to reach these moments.

I don't know if some of these Pinnacles will ever happen in my life, but I do know this, I will do everything in my power to do that. I will do everything that I can, to make sure that I have that life. That is the declaration that you have to make in this exercise. What are you willing to do? Because here's the reality and I've said it again and I will say it until I die, you can't have everything that you want, but will you?



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Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.