May 15, 2022

E301: The Personal Development and Overcoming Trauma in the Healing Journey

In this episode, I talk about something practical today that I believe you will carry with you in your life and how to overcome trauma. You're not responsible for the abuse, you're not responsible for neglectful parents or a community that doesn't...
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In this episode, I talk about something practical today that I believe you will carry with you in your life and how to overcome trauma.

You're not responsible for the abuse, you're not responsible for neglectful parents or a community that doesn't support you and take care of you, and that is true. You are not culpable for the things that happen to you.

So, what role does acknowledgment really play in an acknowledgment is about looking at life saying yes, this happened to me, and within the context of that, giving yourself space and grace, and freedom, to start doing the work, because if you don't acknowledge that something has happened, how do you look at it directly to create change around it, right?

So, when you're contemplating, and you're moving into action, you're making change happen in your life. That's where I believe that the biggest aspects of growth happen in your trauma recovery.


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Michael: I'm sure you've had the same experience that negative self-talk, the negative self-belief that shadow part of you that says you're not good enough, you're not strong enough like even though you're doing the work in your in it every day. How do you step up through it to solidify it and to build sovereignty within yourself, so you do show up every day even though it's not always noticeable immediately?

Thais: Yeah, it's a beautiful question because it's definitely something probably a lot of people are feeling on their journey. So, here at you, you touch on a rope, something really important like the emotional component and the conscious mind speaks the language the conscious mind can speak English, for example, right? The subconscious does not speak in language, it speaks in emotion and imagery. So when we are trying to like create a new behavior, a new pattern we're trying to wire that in. What we actually have to be able to do, is we have to communicate to our subconscious mind which is where the problems are existing from because once they're observing and we're making you know, strategies to move through things that are our conscious mind. We don't really suffer too much at that level, so it's our subconscious mind in those patterns, it really needs the help and the support, and the healing. And so, when we look at the pattern have to reprogram there. If we don't have that emotional piece, then we can get really stuck. So for example, if you are going, okay, now I'm going to change the narrative for, you know, why I'm accepted by people, instead of I'm rejected by everybody. Then we can't just say like an affirmation and go. I am accepted, I am accepted. I'm accepted. It doesn't do anything. Really, and that's why people have so much pushback with affirmations. We have to go, I am accepted and then we need to find evidence and evidence if we look at a piece of evidence, we go, I'm accepted or I'm worthy of being accepted because I have this characteristic or I've had these friendships in the past and I felt accepted then every time we give ourselves a piece of evidence, what that actually is is an image, we think of an image in our mind and all images in our mind, our memories. And I'll memory is colored with emotion. So we think, oh, I have this nice quality, I'm friendly and we think of the times we've met friends or been friendly and that contains emotion.

And now, we're actually using our conscious mind to speak to our subconscious mind, and the more we're doing that on a repetitive basis, the more naturally we're going to feel good doing the work because we're actually uplifting ourselves in the process, but then if we do get stuck I always say to people you have to make a pact in the relationship to yourself that everything you're going through when your intention is to heal, is you have to treat yourself the way you would treat a child. If a child is going through something and they come home and they had a bad day and they're crying or not going to be like, what's wrong with you?

You should have been better, you're not good enough, you're ruining everything you would never do that. So why are we going to talk to ourselves in that abusive way? Why are we going to put ourselves down when we're having a bad day or if we're falling off or something like that?  We instead have to be able to be like, in full acceptance in, full compassion and kindness, we are human beings, we are going to go through different things and we have to, from a conscious perspective, choose every single time to be gentle and compassionate to ourselves instead.


Michael: What I'm curious about is, you know, from your perspective and spending so much time and I could be wrong here, but I'm going to assume that I'm not in this position where your ones need interest are denied understanding that everything that happens in your life, for the most part, is out of your control, especially within your youth, and abuse and then stepping into these chaotic situations as an adult and recognizing, okay, I'm doing some things right, doing something's wrong, but all of a sudden or all the while being very much in a dissociative state. I believe I'm leading somewhere with this; I believe that one of the most important things that we can do is learn to re-establish trust within our own body because that is such a key cornerstone in baseline to this entire healing journey. How do you do that?

Elisabeth: I think I agree with you 100%. That is the root of where all my healing has come from is really establishing a connection to my own body and trust in its internal wisdom. And honestly, I have to say, I was able to get there because of quarantine because I was able to have all this space and time to be by myself and to spend time with myself and that was forced in the beginning, and I was so used to working myself into the ground, and to stay in constantly busy, and to caring for other people, and I lost the relationship, I lost the job, and then quarantine happened, and it was very still, and it was very quiet. And I spent so much time taking really long pads in the middle of the day, going for long walks and realizing, how much more space I needed for myself? To get to know myself again and in that space and in that time is where I really found my path to healing. And I don't know if I would have found it otherwise, but I do think that it is something that is necessary time and space with yourself to build that relationship. How do you build a relationship of trust, if you don't ever spend time with yourself?




Michael: Literally when I stood in front of the mirror and I was like, Michael, what are you willing to do to have the life that you want to have? And for me the words, no excuses, just results started, just permeate my brain. Talk to me about the conversation that you were having internally with yourself in terms of your dialogue before and after the moment that you decided, you know what, I'm going to do something about this?

Iris: Yeah, I mean before it was pretty gnarly. I mean, I was just vicious to myself and I felt pretty hopeless up to that point. So, yeah, I just, I thought it was absolutely irredeemably, messed up, broken, unfixable, and all of those things. And I honestly thought of myself as kind of a monster, like – there's just nothing that can be done and I think after that moment, there was still a lot of that but it became this equation were was like – well, maybe that's true but if I operate under the assumption that is the only possible truth than I'm done like – I'm absolutely gonna die. And so I have to, at least try to consider, it's very hard to consider, but maybe try to consider that maybe that's not true. And if that's not true, then what do I need to do? And sign me up because I'm going to do it. So from that time, I threw myself, into group therapy, which was the first time I'd ever done that. That was a huge turning point for me because prior to that point, I was operating under the assumption that I was the only person who was, you know, this screwed up and of course, that wasn't true in a lot of experiences that I was having a lot of my internal dialogue was, unfortunately, relatively common, and it wasn't until I started hearing other people talk about their experiences, I started to feel some sense of okay, like – maybe this is part of the human condition, maybe this isn't just an Iris fundamental flaw.

And I think I was very selective about what I shared with therapists and coaches up to that point and by that, I mean, I didn't tell them pretty much any of the most important things that I probably should have told them because I was like, no, they can't handle, it's like too much. No point. I'm never going to fix it anyway, so I wasn't sharing those things.

And then in group therapy, unless you're just sitting there plugging, your ears, you're going to hear what other people are saying, and if they have similar experiences and you're listening to them getting feedback, you're going to start to internalize some of that. So, that's a huge part of the reason why I like to do group work is that it has this shame dissolving component that also unless you're just not paying attention at all. You're going to be absorbing a lot from other people in the group.




Michael: What is the correlation between trauma, whether that be physical, mental-emotional, abuse, and youth, or accidents, or whatever that thing, maybe, and the correlation with the impact of the vagus nerve has on regulation?

Melanie: So, well, a lot of the research around the vagus nerve and certainly the polyvagal theory that Stephen Porges is brought forward focus a lot on how stress and trauma, basically leave us in a state of fight or flight. And that we're not able to get into that more relaxed, that calmer state. We know through that research, that trauma always affects the voice in the breath, and your vocal cords and your diaphragm are horizontally oriented in the body, your diaphragm is a muscle that you breathe with, and when people nobody experiences stress or trauma of any kind, whether it's physical, mental, emotional and has really beautiful arm swing when they walk, we all lock up our trunks lock up. And so we really embody trauma on our transverse plane on the plane on which we rotate, we embody trauma in rotation or in through lack of rotation. So what I've developed over the years is that this system of evaluating rotation head to toe in the body and it's been really amazing to me and I'm I really want to take this to research it on a bigger scale. When I see people that are really severely locked up at multiple joints in rotation, and I asked them if they're having suicidal thoughts, or if they've, you know, how their mental health state is, the answer is always either. Yes, I'm in having suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts, sometimes suicidal planning or I feel like I'm dying on the inside.

 Michael: That is so super fascinating to me. How how does one make the hypothesis that those are somehow correlated? I'm curious about what you saw that legend of the place to go. Oh, I think there's actually something here.

Melanie: So, a number of years ago, I had a patient walk in and I got a phone call from an industry colleague, she's in the fitness industry here locally and she called me up and said; ‘my friend really needs you, can you see him?’ like how soon can you see him? And it worked out that I was able to see him that day and I didn't have any information on what was wrong with him. I figure it hurt his back or something like that and so he comes into my office, and he had an acute situation where that left him in a hallucinogenic state and he could make eye contact with anyone because their faces were melting, and this has been going on for several days and he had tried to get help in other ways and he just couldn't get anybody to hear him listen to him, you know? And so I listened to his whole story, the this was something that at the time I had zero experience in treating people that were in that kind of acute onset, hallucinogenic state, and so I contacted the psychiatrist that I know, you know my initial response was like oh this is not in my wheelhouse but it was very clear to me that it was not the right thing to turn him away either. So I got him set up with help outside of my office and I said, well, you know, I'm going to decompress your vagus nerve while you're here and we'll, you know, and hopefully that'll at least make you feel a little bit better, and he was, I would say that he was not even in vagus nerve decompression, he was in vagus nerve locked down, and you wouldn't have imagined that his rotation was that limited based on how he walked. But as a physical therapist, one of the things that I know how to do is check people's uncompensated range of motion. So I can tease out where they're cheating and whether or not cheating and we are all masters of compensation. We are very, very clever beings and we will all take the path of least resistance for the movement. So it was not so much like he was walking like Frankenstein or anything like that, you would have thought he was moving fairly normally when he walked. But when I went in and isolated his upper neck range of motion and his trunk range of motion, and even looking at his hip rotation, and his tibial rotation, which tibias your shinbone, it was all gone, like, it was just minimal, minimal, minimal amounts of a range of motion there. And I took him through my, I did all of my vagus nerve decompression techniques on him, and I will say, I showed up, not only with my technical skills, but I really showed up also with my softer intuitive skills, and it really taught me a lot about bringing all of myself to the table and not segmenting myself as a clinician or between my personhood, in my, clinician hood, between my soft and my hard skills, because that has been a, I think a challenge for me over the years in terms of integrating those, but he at the end of our session, you know, an hour hour and a half later, 90% of the hallucinations were gone, and he texted me later that night and said; ‘Melanie, you saved my life and not in the cute, kind of way. I was planning on killing myself tonight, and now I feel like I can go forward.’

Elisabeth KristofProfile Photo

Elisabeth Kristof


Elisabeth Kristof is an expert in using applied neurology to move people out of pain, unwanted behavior and stress response. She is the founder of Brain-Based Wellness, a revolutionary online platform that trains the nervous system and body to resolve old patterns, improve performance and increase well-being. Elisabeth is a certified applied neurology practitioner who has been in the wellness industry since 2007. She works with entrepreneurs, athletes, leaders and creatives to improve resilience, manage stress and regulate emotions through intentional, science-based brain training. Her research and work with hundreds of clients taught her that healing and change must occur in both the body and the mind, that each body, mind, and nervous system is unique, and most importantly, that with the right tools, we are all capable of healing.

Iris McAlpinProfile Photo

Iris McAlpin


Iris McAlpin is a certified trauma coach and NARM® Practitioner specializing in self-sabotage, eating disorder recovery and complex trauma. After recovering from severe bulimia, C-PTSD and depression, she now spends her life helping people all over the world overcome similar struggles through trauma-informed education and coaching, in both group and private settings.

Melanie WellerProfile Photo

Melanie Weller


Melanie Weller is the world’s leading expert in opening the door to health, performance, and innovation through the vagus nerve, the bridge between our narratives and our physical experience. A storyteller for the human body, Melanie has an extensive background in stress
management, chronic conditions, and people who haven’t yet found success. She now focuses on strengthening the leading edge in businesses, speakers, entertainers, athletes, artists, and
medical professionals.

Melanie is a Physical Therapist, Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Certified Athletic Trainer, and Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


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

Thais GibsonProfile Photo

Thais Gibson


Thais Gibson is an author, speaker and co-creator of the Personal Development School. She is extremely passionate about personal growth, the subconscious mind and connecting with others. With an MA and over 13 different certifications ranging from CBT to hypnosis, Thais strives to continuously learn and grow.
Thais is best known for her contributing work and research on Attachment Theory and the impact of attachment trauma on our adult romantic relationships. She overlaps attachment trauma challenges with personal core wounds, limiting beliefs and emotional patterns at the subconscious level to give us deeper insight into ourselves and our relationships. Her book, TheAttachment Theory Guide, was written on this topic and her YouTube channel often focuses on educating people on how to subconsciously reprogram this area of their lives.
After overcoming her own challenges with addiction in her early years, Thais is profoundly determined to educate people on how they can reprogram painful or limiting programs in their own mind. She is focused on helping people retrain their brain to achieve relationship fulfillment abundance and personal freedom in their lives.