Aug. 9, 2021

E96 How to love your inner child with self-compassion with Beverly Engel | Trauma Healing Coach

In this episode, I talk about how to love your inner child with self-compassion and what it means to take control of your life after trauma and sexual abuse with psychotherapist and author Beverly Engel. Listen as we dive into understanding the shame and guilt that many trauma and abuse survivors experience on their mental health healing journey and how to use tools like therapy, coaching, self-talk, positive affirmations, and journaling to build yourself. 

Learn about respect and compassion for victims of abuse, especially the difficulties they have due to debilitating shame—what are considered to be the most damaging effects of abuse.

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In this episode, I talk about how to love your inner child with self-compassion and what it means to take control of your life after trauma and sexual abuse with psychotherapist and author Beverly Engel. Listen as we dive into understanding the shame and guilt that many trauma and abuse survivors experience on their mental health healing journey and how to use tools like therapy, coaching, self-talk, positive affirmations, and journaling to build yourself. 

Learn about respect and compassion for victims of abuse, especially the difficulties they have due to debilitating shame—what are considered to be the most damaging effects of abuse.

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Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation, hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world. I'm Michael Anthony – author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Today a very special guest on the podcast, Beverly Engel who has written over 23 books and is a world-renowned psychotherapist. Beverly, how are you, my friend? Welcome to the podcast.

Beverly: I'm doing okay. Considering what's going on in the world but I'm doing okay.

Michael: I was having a conversation with someone yesterday and I was like, you know, it's actually okay to just be okay, we don't always have to be good.

Beverly: Yeah, yeah. Right, right. Exactly!

Michael: My okayness seizure, okayness, because I'm right there with you, I promise I am so tired of being in my apartment right now.

Beverly: Yeah. Yeah.

Michael: So there are so many avenues I want to dive in here with you, but before I do that, what I would love is to kind of create a little bit of a baseline for the people listening, who may not know who you are, tell me a little bit about the journey, your experiences and ultimately how you got to this place that you're in right now?

Beverly: Well, I was emotionally and physically and sexually abused as a child and raped as a teenager, and my very first book was about sexual abuse. In fact, it was one of two, the very first two books, the other one was the courage to heal, and my book the right to innocence was the other one that came out at exactly the same time. So that was my first book and I wrote it because I had a lot of clients coming in for the first time actually and acknowledging that they had been sexually abused and I started the book by just I wanted to have a little guide for people who come into therapy just to kind of answer some questions about what therapy is because I found myself repeating the same information at the beginning of each session and I wanted to kind of streamline, so people could actually get to telling me their story and so the book started with just me giving some guidelines, some information about sexual abuse and it as I was writing it, I kept getting longer and longer and longer and finally, it was a book, so that was my first book and then I wrote several books in between, but I also started having clients coming in and they weren't coming in because they were saying they were emotionally abused, they were coming and saying; ‘What's wrong with me? My husband was so unhappy, I could never please him. I'm never do anything, right. I'm not a good mother and not a good wife.’

And as I talk to the person more and more, I realized it wasn't their problem. You know, they were doing fine as a mother and a wife. In fact, they were overdoing it in terms of trying to please their husband or their partner. And so, we started discovering that they were being emotionally abused, and that's not as specific as sexual abuse, but is just as damaging. And so, I wrote the first book on emotional abuse, I was the one who identified emotional abuse as a huge problem in the recovery community. So that's a little bit about my background and then from then on, I've written several books on emotional abuse to follow up.

Michael: That's powerful. And knowing the impact of emotional abuse, which is something that often isn't recognized as abuse. It is a powerful testament to being aware, and I know for one, that in my own journey, emotional abuse, played such a profound role in shaping my trauma experience. What I'm curious about though, because, I'd like to pause and have a little bit of a reverse here. How do you as a survivor of these really horrific things, then step into this place of leveraging them and what I would dare say a personal power to create a life through it? I recognize that in myself where I go, wow I have an ace score of 10, I've been through hell and back, and yet, I decided I made a choice in a declaration that I would use this to help other people? Part of that is very scary, and the other part of it is, I feel like, I don't really have a choice in the matter. So, I'm curious, what happened between these moments of, okay, you're on this healing journey to actually, I want to put something in the world to help people?

Beverly: Well, like many psychotherapists. I actually studied psychology in order to heal myself in order to get some answers, that was my primary motivation in the beginning. I had five years of really good therapy, which most people can't say to have, I had about for the therapist before that, but I had five good years with an extremely compassionate, knowledgeable therapist. And so I experienced a lot of healing, I also had Body Therapy, I had Neil Reichian therapy bioenergetics, you know, I did a lot of bodywork to get the rage out of my body. So I did a lot of work before I actually decided I was going to help other people. I didn't just decide, I'm going to do it without getting a lot of healing, I think that's important. So I always wanted to help other people, but I have to be honest and say, like many psychotherapists, my initial interest was in healing myself.

Michael: Yeah, I resonate with that. I think about, you know, spending well over a decade now into always doing the healing, right? Thebodywork was such a profound role in this journeybecause, you know, as we know our bodies, hold and store our trauma in our experiences, but more importantly, having the right therapist was a game-changer for me.

Beverly: Absolutely.

Michael: I went through 20 therapists before I found the right person because I made a spreadsheet and I went down that thing and I'm like, every box has to be ticked off, looking at it very much, as an experience of dating. One thing that I'm very curious about just because this is where we're at right now is so often people feel like just because they have a therapist, they have to stay with that therapist. How do you really determine the right kind of support for you when you are in this healing journey, where is the jump-off point for you to figure out, okay, this is what I need in order to accomplish my goal of stepping into health healing growth, whatever that may be?

Beverly: Right. Well I didn't make a list before I went to therapy but I did have about three or four very bad experiences until I found the right therapist and the right therapist kind of found me, I mean I was referred to her, but I walked into her office highly defended, that was one of those types of people that the way I coped with my abuse was to be highly defended, you know, I knew it all, I was, you know, smart and everybody looked up to me and you know, had that false sense of confidence that wasn't even real, that was hiding the pain inside, that was hiding the emptiness inside.

And within five minutes, I told her I walked in and I said, I'm looking for a therapist who can do this, and this and within five minutes, she said to me, boy, you are really controlling, aren't you? What's underneath with that? And she said it very compassionately and she just broke through my defenses right away and I started crying. Nobody was breaking through my defenses; they were just going along with the game, they were just going along with, ‘Yeah. She's smart, she's and you know she knows what she's talking about, yeah, she's been abused but she is so strong and confident, they just bought it and she didn't buy it. So I can't say to you, you know, I had a little store that I mean I did go in telling her, I wanted, wanted, wanted to work on this and this but I just lucked out, I had somebody that I trusted who refer her to me, but I just lucked out, but to answer your question, if you don't feel, you don't have to feel comfortable with the therapist right away, you know, that can take time, it can take time for you to feel comfortable with anybody, but you need to have the sense that their purpose is on your side. Certainly, you don't want somebody who's questioning you, you know, why didn't you leave your relationship if it was so bad? No, I don't want to work with some asking that question, you know. Are you sure that that happened to you? Does any question insinuate that you're exaggerating or making it up or making a big deal out of something? Somebody that has the energy around. Well, you can just get over it, why don't you just get over it? No, no, no, that's not gonna be a good therapist for a survivor of abuse of any kind. We don't need to be told that we should get over it. We don't need to, you know, the Facebook, you know, messages, you know, look on the sunny side or, you know, keep moving on and you'll get over this and all those positive kind of pseudo, positive messages. No, you don't want that from a therapist, if you're working through abuse, you want somebody who's going to meet you with your pain, who's going to have the capacity to have compassion for you.That knows what it's either they know what it's like to suffer the way you have or they've had lots and lots of clients who know it and they can meet you there, they can meet you with your suffering, they don't have a need to talk you out of it or to whitewash it, they know it about it and they want to hear about it and they want to be there for you. That's what I would look for.

Michael: Yeah, that's very poignantly said, and could not be in further agreement. And I think more so in that place of compassion as the willingness to be vulnerable like as someone's stepping in as a patient, like you have to, remember you're going there for you, they're not there for them, right? And what I think is so fascinating about my experience, was being in this position and sitting in this therapist's office, and yes, I had the list but that wasn't the ultimate precursor, it was the connection, right? Because I think about this journey is so much about human connection and so much about how do we relate our stories to get off the island? To not feel alone, to be a part of something great and, and be that as a self-defined narrative, and as we head further into this, you know what I'm curious about is there are often conversations of I found this in therapy or I found this through self-education or whatever it is. When you come through trauma though, there's that piece of the puzzle and which denial exist, and you just go either, a this didn't happen to me and you push it off to the side or be in my case, I was in the I'm over it, get over it, phase, not recognizing that, it's consuming every part of me. And so what I'm curious about is and I asked this question all the time and I love, I would love for you to have a different answer than what I think you're going to have. And that is, how do you create change in your life by being willing to step into seeking help prior to hitting rock bottom? How do we mitigate the risk of in my experience of; ‘Wow, my life is a fucking mess, I need help.’ How do you mitigate that moment and how do we get ahead of this?

Beverly: That's a very difficult question because you're right, most people wait till they hit rock bottom before they go to get therapy about abuse issues. Abuse is so hard to face, it's just so painful and it's so easy to deny it, and minimize it, and walk away from it. So, it's very difficult to get there first. Maybe if you know, if you're super aware and you can make an assessment of yourself, if you could take, you know, do a very objective assessment and say, okay, I do want to get over this abuse, I don't want to go to therapy, don't want to face all this, but let me, honestly, look at like what you were insinuating, let me honestly look at how is this affecting me? Okay. How is my life being affected by let's say, sexual abuse?

Michael: I'd like to interject just quickly.

Beverly: Sure.

Michael: What if you're not aware of that in any capacity because so often people are just like, one day, I woke up and I was flooded, right? So, how have you been a person who either has full denial, or you just don't recognize that you were abused, but, you know, something was wrong, then how do you kind of bridge that gap on the way to, you know, being willing to ask for help?

Beverly: Right. Right.  Well, one would be if you could work at developing self-compassion because most victims, don't have self-compassion, they aren't able to look at their suffering and provide for themselves some validation or encouragement. So, I would encourage people to learn about self-compassion.

The one question you ask yourself, is let me think about one person in my life, who was kind to me, who was encouraging, who validated my experiences, and think about how did that person treat me? And how did that person talk to me? Kristin Neff, the person who started the research on self-compassion, has that exercise. It's a wonderful exercise. Sometimes, you can't think of, even one person that's not unusual in abuse survivors' background, they don't have even one person that they can think of, who was kind and validating and accepting. So, think about somebody that you read about in my novel or if we saw it in a movie and try to emulate that and treat yourself in that way, and even talk to yourself in that kind way.

That would probably go further in terms of helping you to have the willingness to face the truth about yourself. If you're willing to give yourself kindness and validation, maybe, you won't have to hit bottom before you get help, maybe you'll be able to give yourself that acknowledgment and validation enough to say, yeah, I need to go to therapy, I want to take care of me, I want to address my suffering.

 Michael: Yeah, I love that. That's really beautifully put. And I do think about this place of self-compassion being such an unnecessary overarching view of the way that we need to exist in the world like we have everyone to tear us down and I constantly ask people, why would you do it to yourself? Now, on the backside of that, I also understand in hindsight that becomes our programming, that is the narrative, that is instilled in us and youth; You're not good enough, you're not strong enough, you'll never be enough, you're not deserving, and then you have the physical side of it that then reinforces this, and so now you are in this place where you have it, coming at you, from both sides and faced with this understanding of am I really worthy.

One of the things that you said that I think is really beautiful, as you mentioned, having the willingness to face it, I constantly am in this thought, the process of, if we have acceptance of the fact that something bad happened to us, that doesn't mean we have to get through it or over, it just means that we can acknowledge it and decide to move into whatever direction we need to take, so that, that isn't the thing, controlling every part of our life. What is your thought on acceptance when it comes to trauma?

Beverly: Yeah, I don't have anything to add to that if we, you know, if we aren't willing to go to therapy yet and we're not really willing to validate our own memories yet. If we could just accept, you know, something happened to me. Maybe, I don't believe my memories, my flashes, maybe I can't find, I can't believe it, maybe even though I have this feeling inside me about what happened and it was a person I love and adore, maybe I'm not ready to face that but at least let me accept that there's something going on. I wouldn't be having these memories, I wouldn't be having these nightmares, I wouldn't be having these flashes, I wouldn't have the behaviors in my life that I do, if something horrible hadn't happened to me, so let me just start there. That's perfect. What you said was perfect. Let me just start with acceptance. Yes, something happened to me.

Michael: Yeah, and I think so often, we kind of subconsciously know, this or even consciously, but it's dark, it's hard, like, I think about my own triggering memories my own flashbacks, although, all the experience leading up to that moment of ultimately, my breakdown a decade ago, that forced me into this place of making a decision either heal or die effectively as where I was at, and stepping into this journey and recognizing the power of the human brain, to be both malleable and plastic, and willing to step into growth and healing and change. We're in this journey, do you think that it's important to leverage community and have reached out? Because what question, I get all the time is should I share my story? I personally, don't have a recommendation for that, that is your story, but is there an in stepping into that in a public forum in any capacity?

Beverly: Well, it depends on what you mean by the public forum. I'm definitely...

Michael: I think we live in the time of social media and everyone jumps it there, right?

Beverly: Yeah. No, I don't think you should be telling your story just randomly publicly but we do know that survivors need support, they do need to feel like they're not alone. So there are support groups on the internet, you know, there are groups that you can go to and just be in the presence of other people. You don't have to tell your story until you're ready or maybe never, but you can be just being in a group of other people who had the same experience, hearing their stories, hearing their experiences is so healing because abuse is so isolating, we feel like we're the only one, we feel like we're the only one to have these feelings and we feel like a so much shame that my book is about healing the shame of emotional abuse because we have so much tremendous shame about any form of abuse, not just sexual abuse. And so to hear other people have the same experience that's going to help heal that shame. We're not so alone, were not so unusual, we're not such a terrible person, you know, we're not a monster. Other people have experienced the same things and yeah if you ever get to the point where you want to tell your story, that's great but that isn't necessary. What's necessary is the connection with other people.

Michael: Yeah, such a great point and I constantly think about shame and guilt that ties a long matt with thinking about being weak or powerless or whatever that thing was in the time that you experienced it. And I often think about childhood trauma being the elephant in the room of mental health care right now. It is something that is so incredibly disturbing about it, yet we sweep it under the rug, like, it doesn't happen and I'm so curious just as your general thoughts because there are the people who listen to this podcast are people who survived dark things and yet societally, it's not talked about it is the only socially acceptable form of violence that exists in the world, and yet, it is destroying everything that it touches I think about my journey and ultimately, my goal is, how do I help a million people at an exponential rate, step through this and remove it? Ultimately putting myself out of business, is my goal, I don't want to do this job, but I can't seem to find a way to navigate it when we have the shame of addressing it, to begin with. So how do you move through that? How do, I was a trauma survivor who fills this immense amount of shame and guilt for things that I am actually not culpable for a step into it?

Beverly: Yeah, well interestingly, Trump may have given us a little opening here. Okay? We never talked about gaslighting before Trump was President. Now, we talked about gaslighting all the time. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, that is integral to most emotionally abusive relationships. Now, everybody's talking about gaslighting, we have the perfect example of an emotional abuser, in the White House, not for very long, he's leaving, thank God, but you know, he wasn't, he wasn't is an emotional abuser and it was right in our face. We've talked about narcissism for the first time, I've never heard so many people, talk about narcissism never heard. So many books being written about it or therapists talking about it, and so, you know, as I don't want to get into politics. If you're a Trump supporter, but we do openly talk about his narcissism, and he is lying, and we talked about the gaslighting aspect and those are aspects of abuse. So I think because of that opening, we're going to have more openings to talk about abuse now. You know, his book came out written by his niece that talked about his childhood experience, you know, there are so many people who don't even connect their current situation with their abuse, they don't connect their current situation with their childhood and when it becomes evident and therapy, they go, ‘Oh wow, I didn't think about that I didn't think about the fact that, you know, I was physically abused as a child, and now I have this emotionally, the abusive husband didn't even make that connection.

So I do think there's hope for us to start talking about it even more than we ever have. So I don't know if I can answer your question, but I do see some hope in all this chaos and all this horror. I see some hope that we're talking about what creates a person. You know, like Trump, I'm sure you must have some Trump supporters and I'm probably insulting them and I don't mean to but we’re talking about what causes certain behaviors and that's a beginning because most people have been abused. We carry with us a lot of baggage; we carry with us a lot of behaviors that are not healthy for us or for others. So if we can make that connection between our present behavior and our past and others' present behavior in their past, that's a beginning.

Michael: Yeah, I love that you used the word hopethere because I think so often that is a word that is so incredibly powerful when leveraged because ultimately sometimes that's the thing that gets us through, right? Just know that on the other side, there's something there and my hope is that you are correct in that, this now will continue to open that floodgate because I think about the fact that we live in such a violent country when it comes to the violence that happens in our own homes and yet it's acceptable and I can't imagine wanting to continue to live in a world where that holds true and as we're on this journey together, I think it's conversations like this, it's a connection which you pointed to multiple times, being the catalyst for the change that we seek. Ultimately it is about that, how do we put ourselves in a position to come together to create change out of the communal level which then exponentially in hope, right creates the long-term change that we're after? One of the things I'm very curious about is in this place where, where you are in this daily, you're in it the day-to-day with clients in the books and all of it, what role does mindset play in the healing journey for you?

Beverly:  Well, there is a victim mindset, and there is an abuser mindset. And I have I work with abusers, and I've noticed that they have a certain mindset that mindset tends to be, I'm always right, I'm special, and I deserve special treatment, I need to be followed, my word needs to be followed and believed, so they have a mindset that they are different than they are each person and they deserve to be treated with respect and for people to do what they want and they deserve to even control other people.

And so when I point out that mindset, sometimes they're really shocked, but they have to admit, that's true. You know, I do feel like that, I do feel superior to other people and then we talked about how that is a defensive wall, how that is the way they have defended against their own shame. We know that narcissists are really just blown up, they've just blown themselves up to protect themselves from the horrendous shame that they feel. And when we can get past that wall, or we can pop that balloon, what we see is a person who's just overridden with shame.

I had one male client say to me, he took his finger and put it under his nose and he said, I'm this full of shame. I can't take anymore and he was explaining was that's why he was so he wouldn't take any criticism from anybody. He refused to take any feedback or any criticism because he was so full of shame, he thought he was going to drown if he took on anymore and that's very typical of a lot of abusers. They're so full of shame, that's why they don't want to listen, that's why they don't want to see any of their faults, that's why they don't want to any feedback at all because they can't handle it, they can't handle criticism. And again, once we start working together and they start having self-compassion for themselves and they recognized that the wounded child inside themselves, and they can feel that suffering of that wounded child and be there for that wounded child, they don't have to defend themselves so much, they don't have to keep the shame at bay, they can feel their shame and yet heal with some self-compassion.

So if that's what you meant by mindset, that definitely there's a mindset that a lot of abusers have, and there's a mindset that victims have.

Michael: Let me ask this question because I think this would be, I'm probably more curious about this than anything is, if self-compassion, actually, the catalyst, that is the most important in the reframing process when it comes to working through shame, or is there something else that you can point to that you go, let's try this when navigating shame because this might be the expected result?

Beverly: Yeah! I say that self-compassion is probably number one and then anger releases number two. Those people those victims who are constantly blaming themselves and so full of self-hatred, and so, full of shame, need self-compassion, for sure, but they also need to release their anger. The reason they're blaming themselves, so much is because they're taking their anger and they're turning it against themselves. If we can get them to externalize their anger and acknowledge this is why I'm angry, this is why I'm depressed, this is why I feel so horrible about myself it's because of what my partner is saying to me and doing to me and I need to get that anger out, it will be empowering, I mean, we found that with me to the movement that women who felt empowered now get their anger out and they're no longer blaming themselves for their sexual abuse or the rape or whatever happened to them. So anger, the release is very, very important. It's more important for victims to start with than abusers, abusers are real comfortable with anger, okay? It's not that they don't need to work on their anger toward their original abusers, because they do but they're really comfortable with anger, they need to start with self-compassion. Both need both, but victims I have them start with anger and work toward self-compassion and with abusers I have them start with self-compassion and work toward releasing their old anger.

Michael: Yeah, that's really fascinating to me. And I think, you know, when I was in the depths of a period of time in which I was doing gestalt years ago, I had this moment in which it was pointed out to me that I did not know how to be angry.

And I thought about that and then the moment I was so incredibly defensive leaning on, I do, I know how to be angry. What I actually knew how to do was be self-destructive. Can you define? Because I think it's going to be really important. There are people listening right now who have no idea the separation of church and state between anger and destruction. Can you touch on what that actually means to be able to step into that place of understanding the emotion of anger?

Beverly: Yeah, well, anger can certainly have caused us to be self-destructive, like I was saying, victims, typically will blame themselves for what happened or they blaming themselves for the relationship. And so they're essentially taking their anger and they're putting it on themselves and that's very self-destructive.

The emotion of anger is palpable, you know, we can feel it in our body, we feel it in a tenseness in our jaws, we hold our jaw tight, you know, we can feel it in our hands, we used to have a fist all the time may be, we can feel in our chest by having a really tight chest, we feel it in our eyes, we don't feel it, but we experience in our eyes so releasing anger and getting anger out. For example, the eyes are very important, one of the things that I always instruct somebody, if they're going to be releasing anger, especially like if they're going to be hitting with you know, a foam bat or hitting with their fist on their bed, is to make sure their eyes are open and they're expressing their anger through their eyes. We express a lot of anger through our eyes or we contain a lot of anger in our eyes. So you're expressing your anger with your eyes often there's a scream that needs to come up, we're expressing it, it releasing our motions, eye muscles, I mean so anger is very embodied. Anger is in our body and it needs to be released.

You know, we can go in, and, you know, it said that it can cause a lot of problems, you know, physiologically for us, but anger is of absolute emotion that we can feel and it's not a negative emotion, you know, if we release the unhealthy rage inside from abuse, that's going to be very healthy for us,but we use anger all the time to empower us to motivate us to get us to take action say against someone, to create a cause that's anger too, and that's positive, that's why victims need to make it, make sure that they can express anger.

 We're often afraid of our anger, where if you were raised as a child and in a household where your father was beating your mother up or your mother was constantly screaming at you because she was enraged. We get the idea that anger is destructive, and we don't even want to touch our anger because we're afraid we're going to become abusive like them, and so we need to realize that, you know, there are reasons why we resist, our anger, we're afraid of what we could become, we're afraid of being the monster that we experienced.So there's a lot of work on getting past the obstacles to anger and then there's a lot of work on finding a healthy way to release your anger.

Michael: Yeah, I love it. And I'm such a proponent of this and I think about anger being leveraged to do something beautiful.And that's how I got to where I'm right now recognizing that this entire thing, like realistically, I did not sign up to be the spokesperson for childhood trauma, nor do, I actually want the job, but I'm driven by it, so innately that I cannot remove it from my being, it is who I am.

And I have leveraged anger, because, trust me, I have a huge chip on my shoulder, that is fuck you, watch what I can do and watch how I can change the world, despite the things that happened to me and I encourage people often to leverage that.

One of the things, I’m curious about is thinking about anger and being able to tap into that emotion. How important is it? Or I guess I would frame this is, what are your thoughts in the truth of an order to feel all emotions you need to actually feel all the emotions because I'm so curious about what you think about that.?

Beverly: Absolutely! If we cut one emotion off, we're always being told to be happy feel joy, you know, but if we don't also feel our anger or sadness or fear or shame, we're not going to be able to fully feel happiness and joy.You know, they all come as a package, we can't decide to shut off one emotion without affecting all the others.

Michael: Yeah. And that can be really scary for people, right? How like what is, if you were to give anyone one piece of advice, who feels dissociated an emotional recluse, they have no capacity to feel human or in my case, fifteen years ago, I felt like a sociopath. How do you step into that place of acknowledging human emotion within yourself?

Beverly: I would start with self-compassion again; I would start by asking them to journal about, how did you expect, what did you experience when you were being abused? Yeah, you may have dissociated and gone out of your body. And so, maybe you can't answer that because maybe you don't know what you felt because you're numb, but find out about that. You know, write about that, write about how you disassociated because it was so painful that you have to leave your body and then write about how can I come back into my body in just small ways even so journaling, I think is great to help you get in touch with whatever emotions you haven't, even if you're having just tiny emotions, write about them, write about how it feels right about it, you know, completed in it a second exercise, where you have a sentence completion. I have people do feelings check every day and the feelings check is you address the feelings of fear of anger, fear, sadness, and guilt, shame, those for and every day you ask yourself, you start with; ‘Am I feeling angry?’ You always start with anger and my feeling angry and the answer is probably, yes. You can probably think of something you're angry about, and then the sentence completion is, I'm angry, because, or I'm angry that, and write as many responses as you can too how you're angry, why you're angry, and then move down to sadness, I'm sad because, I'm sad that, this is just to help you connect with feelings. Help you even address feelings, so, anger, sadness, fear, guilt shame, those are like the four primary feelings and that's like the first step is just to get acclimated to feelings and then express them just a little bit in the sentence completion. That's like a first step to connecting with feelings.

Michael: Yeah, I love that. And writing has been such a practical tool in my journey, that it's the first thing that I leverage, whenever I'm in a place of the unknown, I literally have four journals on my desk right now because I'm always thinking about how do I take the burden of the mind and put it out in a place where it can exist, unbiasedly. One of the things that I'm curious about as we start to wrap up here is in this position that someone is now starting to tap into this a little bit more, they're getting some support. What role does patients play in this journey?

Beverly: Hmmm, it's a good question. Yeah, most clients get very impatient with themselves. They get very impatient with therapy, they think that if they come in and work a couple of months on the problem, they're going to get over it, and I say to them right away, be prepared for a very long journey, this does not happen quickly recovery from any form of abuse is going to take some time. So please be patient with yourself, please know that you're doing the best you can, don't judge yourself because you're not as much better as you'd like to be, and just be patient, it will take time, but it will pay off in the end and you won't necessarily see the changes as you move along.

So, if you're expecting to go in and you know, go one, two, three, four-step, and now I'm fine that's not going to happen. And you won't see the progress, your therapist might and might not it, but the progress happens. It happens if you stay in it and if you're patient and if you're compassionate with yourself.

 Michael: Yeah, I love that. And I think to a point you have to be unrelenting, you have to just keep going and doing it and going and showing up for yourself, and in that you build self-esteem and you build value and you build understanding who you are and it might take the rest of your lifeand I always tell people, I can't promise ever that you'll have this moment but there is a potential that one day, you'll put your feet on the ground and you'll be okay with who you are and to me as I think about my own journey and what I want out of my life, I recognize that as this moment where I go, I'm good with that, that feels pretty solid in comparison to what it used to be I think I can live with that.

Beverly: Yeah.

Michael: But really this conversation has been absolutely incredible. I could talk to you all day and I'm absolutely going to have you back on so we can dive deeper. I feel like there are so many layers to this, but before I ask you my last question, where can everybody find you and especially, read your books?

Beverly: Yes. Well, they gonna scope, they can email me at, that's, they can I have a website have two websites, that's but I have another website called healmyshame. And in that on that website, I have tons of articles I've written, tons of blogs I've written, and it's a really great resource for anybody who's been abused in any way. You can buy my book, the title is escaping, emotional abuse and the subtitle is healing the shame, you don't deserve. I love that subtitle, and you can get that at any online bookstore Amazon or any others, or encourage you to, you know, support your local independent bookstores.

Michael: Yeah. I love that. And as one final note I just remind people you are not culpable for the things that you don't have control overand I love this idea of removing shame. I love this conversation Beverly, my last question for you is what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Beverly: Well, I have peace of mind that I never had before. Before, I had more healing, I have a columnist inside and peace of mind, before, you know, I always talk about what abusers tend to do is they have anxiety, a lot of anxiety and uncomfortable feelings inside, and the first thing they do is they look outside themselves, and that they say; ‘What did you do to me, to make me feel anxious?’

Okay. Victims tend to somebody accuses them of something or they feel anxious inside the first thing they do is blame themselves. What's wrong with me? Why did I do that? Okay. And so I've gotten past doing either one of those I'm not blaming other people all the time, if I'm uncomfortable anxious, I go inside and I ask myself. What's going on with me? What am I feeling? What's happening? I journal. So what I try to answer your question, I have a rarely anxious inside and if I am anxious inside, I know how to deal with it, and so I have a calmness about me that feels wonderful.

Michael: Yeah, I love that peace of mind, beautiful. I resonate in such a great way.

Unbroken Nation! Thank you so much. Thank you for listening Beverly, and for being here.

Please like, comment, subscribe, share, rate and review.

Tell a friend because as I promised, they probably need this.

And until next time.

My friend, Be Unbroken.

-I'll see you.

Beverly EngelProfile Photo

Beverly Engel


Beverly Engel is an internationally recognized psychotherapist and an acclaimed advocate for victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. The author of 22 self-help books, her latest book is entitled, It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing Yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion. Engel is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and has been practicing psychotherapy for 35 years.

I have dedicated my career to helping those who were abused in childhood or as an adult. As a survivor of child sexual abuse and emotional abuse myself, I have a great deal of respect and compassion for victims of abuse, especially the difficulties they have due to debilitating shame—what I consider to be the most damaging effect of abuse. I am so dedicated to helping former victims heal their shame that I created this website solely for this purpose.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


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