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Tune in Now with our amazing guests Beverly Engel, Michelle Chalfant, Sue Bowles and Ashley Ryckman.
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HOW TO LOVE YOUR INNER CHILD WITH SELF-COMPASSION WITH BEVERLY ENGEL
Michael: 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.
HEALING YOUR INNER CHILD WITH GESTALT CHAIR WORK WITH MICHELLE CHALFANT
Michael: There's something about the practicality of it that I think that maybe other modalities miss out on. For this sake of conversation and those who perhaps formed kind of take us through the top to bottom of what Gestalt is what it means and how it works in the healing journey?
Michelle: Yeah, for sure. I'm just going to put it through the lens of the adult chair model that I created, if that's okay with you because it's all good stuff, there are a big part of it as goes about. The salt is all about really, you hear people use the term, the empty chair technique, so you can put different personas or parts of ourselves in these chairs and it can become your mother, your father, or even a part of yourself. Let's say the perfectionist, let's say it's the victim and then you can work with those parts whether they're part of you inside, or part of you outs, or partners or someone outside of yourself, it's powerful work. But with the adult’s chair model is based on three distinct aspects of your life, it's a whole life journey that we take so, we start out as children. So, the first there's three chairs; the first year, as a child chair is from the age of 0 to 6 this is when we learn all about true emotions, true needs, spontaneity, passion, intimacy, and vulnerability from the age of 0 to 6, after the age of six is when the ego starts to drop in that is from the age of about 7 to 24, this is what we call the adolescent chair, so it really is from pre-adolescents, adolescents to adolescents, so the Adolescent chair is all about ego stuff.
So again, victim, codependent, narcissist this is where learned not to live in the moment because the ego is lives in the past and the future. It's always on guard, it's based in fear, this is where we make up stories and assumptions, we really want to go in and we go into our heads. This is where we are reactionary, this is where we have rage, this is where we defend instead of feeling or emotions. So it's not a bad part of who we are, but it does take some understanding of what we want to do with the Adolescent is get to know these parts.
The third part of who we are, what I call the adult chair, this is the healthiest version of self. We move in here around the age of 25, if we had modeling that showed us how to do it, we quite naturally slide into this adult chair. In the adult chair, we are present moment, we live with fact and truth or compassionate. We know how to tune into our child part, the inner child, which is where we feel our emotions and we don't react to them but instead we process and then we respond. This is where we have compassion again, for self, for others, this is where we're strong we can set boundaries. We're very aware in this chair so that's the goal. No matter what ailment or what issue that we have were able to plug into these three chairs.
So when I have client, when I used to have clients, they would come into my office out of three chairs that were set up, and I say, do a check-in from the chairs. So this is that Gestalt therapy and I have people, let me give you an example. Remember, this girl came in and she was hysterically crying and I said, what's going on? She said, oh my God, I'm going to lose my job, I know me to lose my job and I still will do a check-in from the chairs and she jumped in the adult chair and she says I'm going to lose my job and I said is that fact and truth because from our adult, we live in acting truth in this very moment. She says it is true and I said, how do you know she says well everyone else that has been hired up to me has been let go or after me has been let go, so I'm next on the list I said, so is that an assumption that you're getting fired or is that truth? She says, well, it's an assumption; I said get over here and your adolescent chair and she says, oh wow, okay, and I said, so that's not true, that's an assumption and I said, what do we know that's true and then she said, well, my boss loves me, he says he can't do anything without me, I'm his right-hand, she went on and on and I said, so we don't even know that you're ever going to get fired. I said, but we do want to be adults about this, so let's go ahead and send a resume out, let's start thinking through this just in case as it turns out, she never even got fired.
In fact, she ended up leaving on her own because she was always worried about getting fired but this is how we typically show up from this adolescent chair. We show up from this part of us that lives in fear that lives and storing and assumption that's not even, I mean, and when we ask ourselves, what's fact and truth? We snap out of that fear, because most the time that fear isn't real and that's where we live.
THESE TOOLS WILL HELP YOU HEAL CHILDHOOD TRAUMA WITH SUE BOWLES
Michael: And I think that there's some truth the truth will set you free. And I want to go into that a little bit deeper here, because I wanna know about the impact that going on, this journey has actually had in your life.
Sue: If you had told me eight years ago, I'd be doing today what I'm doing now, I would laugh you off the face of the earth because I've mentioned a retreat program. I went into that first retreat, calling myself the holy exception. I'm a Christian. So, my life's based off the Bible and I went in saying that everything in the Bible was good enough for everybody else, but me, I was too screwed up too far gone, I was a waste of space. I was imploding again. And I went in with that mindset and just through the opportunity to be real to kind of start taking off those masks. And we talked a lot about having to forgive ourselves and that's a hard part, that's a critical part of this healing and the grieving. You talked about needing to grieve our stories. I did not realize how much loss my story has and some of this, I learn about myself the more I speak. You know, when I say I didn't have a chance to have a normal childhood, that's more of a realization that's come up in the last year. And I think I knew that, but I didn't know how to put words to it, but it starts making more sense. So, I think the whole grief journey is a critical part of our stories that cannot be bypassed. I had different times where I just totally lost it, my greatest fear was realized, and my greatest fear was shattered all at the same time. My greatest fear and probably the same for many of your listeners, if I tell somebody I'm gonna cry and I'm never gonna stop. And that was my greatest fear and yeah, I cried, and I cried hard and I'm like heaving crying for 10 minutes. And yet that circle of friends, you talked about came upside me, they knew it was going on and they just, they just loved me and accepted me and let me cry, and they grieved with me. And then my greatest fear stopped. I did stop because at some point in time that well of grief will empty. It may not fully empty, there's still little things like now, you know, when it comes back, but it's not a debilitating grief, it's more of a sadness and a thankfulness for the healing that has happened. I never want to be disconnected from the emotion of everything I have gone through because I disconnected myself emotionally for decades - for over four decades. Because again, I just went into recovery from an eating disorder in 2016. So, I had all that time where I didn't know how to deal with emotions, I never want to disconnect again, but because of the hard work, those emotions don't overtake me to the point that I can't control them, the anger I feel at the injustice that was done to me is no longer rage. I have reached a point and for some, this field sounds really weird, but I have reached a point where I am able to have compassion against my rapist not everybody gets to that point. But I get, I'm able to get to that point now because my situation happened in the early seventies, rape was not on the radar, it wasn't something be to be discussed. No one knew to ask anything and I didn't know to say anything. So, if it wasn't on the radar for me, what was Bobby experiencing where he acted out on it? That was an angle it took me a long time to get through and to get to, and not everybody gets there and you're not expected to get there, that's just where I've ended up with my work. But that is the power of grief because until we own our story, we can't grieve our story.
That first year at retreat, that's what happens, I owned my story. I was in denial about my story, I hated my story and I hated myself. And I didn't think I was lovable because I had no experience saying I was lovable far as I knew nobody cared because they sure had a funny way of showing it. And I left that experience of being around these people, knowing that I had some value, but mostly I learned to forgive, start forgiving myself not that I did anything wrong that day, but forgiving myself and letting myself off the hook for not dealing with it up to. And healing when Michael and I were saying that those first three years of healing are hell, this is what we mean, this is some of the stuff that gut level stuff that has to be worked through in order to be able to start building on that foundation, because you're not going to believe that you're worthy if you're still blaming yourself for something, and you might be blaming yourself for something that's a total lie. But it's truth to us because that's all we've ever known until we have other people in our lives come in and help shatter that lie and start speaking that truth to us because just like Michael said, it's the truth that sets us free and we have to set that story straight. We've told ourselves a story about what happened ever since it happened, but that story isn't fully accurate, and that's what has to get worked out. And that's where that gut wrenching first few years comes in because you're facing your story. And that means letting somebody challenge you to the different characters that are in it and did this person really play that role. And what role did you really play? And you, okay. So, for me, it came into blaming myself. I would've should have and would've should have land for so long. And I learned that I was putting 50-year-old expectations on a seven-year-old, and I wasn't being fair, I wasn't helping that seven-year-old little girl heal, that seven-year-old little girl was just, you know, thinking, hey, the cools, there's something to see in the woods, childhood curiosity. But I had to forgive myself for that because again, not that I did anything wrong, but the story I had told myself is what was wrong. And that's where I had to let myself off the hook so that I could then own the real story of what happened. Put the responsibility where it really belongs and continue to own that and then start feeling that grief so that I could work through that. And finally realize that the rape was not my fault, that was the hardest homework my counselor ever gave me.
When I first told her when we were first dealing with it was 10 times a day, look in the mirror and say out loud, the rape was not my fault. Up to then I had said it wasn't my fault. And she's like, no, not it names it. The rape was not my fault. And the first two days it was the rape was not my fault. The rape was not my fault, you know, very dispassionate. And then I started changing the rape was not my fault. The rape was not my fault. The rape was not my fault. And it became emphasis on different words, and now, its truth, it was true before, but now I believe it, that's some of the stuff that we're talking about.
BECOME CHIC AFTER CHILDHOOD TRAUMA WITH ASHLEY RYCKMAN
Michael: My codependency lived in trying to get other people to acknowledge me through sex, through all these things, and not understanding and realizing like, it started with the reflection in the mirror. Talk to me about the shift of reframing in that, you had within the relationship of yourself, despite the hardships of the lessons that you learned.
Ashley: So I think the easiest way to tell you is to tell you a quick story. When I was 25 years old and I spoke about this on stage. I come to this precipice in my life where I had, adopted for children, but it had been incredibly tumultuous that year. We would go to court and I would think they were going to walk home with my last name and this is a five-year journey. Five years trying to adopt them and so we would get a court date and I had all the best dresses for pictures and all the signs that would say, I became a Ryckman today and three times we went to Port expecting that, their last name would be Ryckman and three times, it was postponed and I was heartbroken. I had lost a baby that year, I had pulled away from my husband, I mean everything was falling down around me, everything.
And as my version of rock bottom, I looked myself in the mirror and I knew like if I can't figure out what's missing, if I can't figure out in me, what can spark me again? I'm gonna lose everything and I started on this healing journey by going back to church and I had these mentors that would talk to me and I really started recognizing I think that my relationships, I couldn't change how my husband treated me or how my mom responded to me or how people in life respond to me or chose not to when they you know, kind of turned away, but I could control my response to it. So I could control not firing back if someone was negative to me and I could control a loving environment when my child, and we're having hard moments and really things started getting better because I stopped living reactively and I really gave the opportunity for kind of a breathing moment before I would respond, and I would start winning in my relationship.
So, my marriage got better, because when my husband would say something hurtful and there's so much to impact their, my husband is amazing, man, we have a great relationship. I grew up, I was very verbally abusive to him especially in our younger years and we would be loyal and vinegar and I stopped being that version of me. I really started controlling what came out of my mouth and what went into my brain and I started controlling the narrative in my head about my day. And I started setting intentions about what my day would look like and what I was going to accept and not accept from other people and from myself in the way that they treated me. And I started to when I answer to winner relationships, I believe that confidence is really a small series of wins. So I started winning in my relationships because I started changing the narrative by changing the way I responded even to negative feedback. And then professionally, I started with thanks small micro wins, it might be that I made and I got an email from someone that said, hey, you changed my life. Now, I don't want to miss communicate that affirmations from the world or what you need in order to build your own confidence. However, it all works simultaneously because when you're a part of a good community, they will help build you up when you're weak because we all have these moments where it's hard for us to pull ourselves out. So, being involved in a right community, I think will help build your confidence, but for me, confidence isn't like you can wear a certain kind of clothes or it's not you look a certain way.
Confidence is the ability to step in a room, 100% comfortable with who you are regardless of what's going on around you, that would be the definition of confidence, in my opinion. Confidence is the ability to be able to step in any room and be comfortable in who you are regardless of what's going on around you because for a lot of time in my life my confidence depended on what the temperature of the people around me, or how I thought they felt for thought about me. And when I became really confident with who I was, and what I had to offer, it was almost the spirit of just rest instead of this anxious, anxiety of am I going to be accepted? Hopefully I communicated that well.
Master Certified Life Coach / Speaker
Sue Bowles is a survivor turned author, speaker, and Master Certified Life Coach. Having done the hard work of healing from a childhood rape, an eating disorder, other sexual assaults, and being twice suicidal, Sue now defines the effect the life-altering events have on her. The events no longer define Sue; she defines them.
Sue leads My Step Ahead, an organization committed to breaking the stigma around mental health struggles. “You only have to be a step ahead to help the person behind you” is the bedrock to the value Sue brings. She helps stuck people get unstuck by discovering Hope, journeying together for the next step ahead. Whether speaking on a podcast, a stage, or one-on-one, Sue's enthusiasm is contagious, shining the light of hope wherever the listener needs, cheering them to see their dreams become present reality.
Sue's award-winning first book, "This Much I Know...The Space Between" is available on Amazon and Kindle.
Michelle Chalfant, MS, LPC, CHC
Michelle Chalfant is a licensed therapist, holistic life coach, author, podcaster and developer of The Adult Chair, a transformational model of self-realization. Her extraordinary work has helped people all over the world improve their relationships, become unstuck and develop healthy self-love.
With over 5 million downloads, The Adult Chair podcast is where simple psychology meets grounded spirituality. Michelle’s audience receives practical tools and techniques they can use to access their personal power and transform their lives.
Michelle brings a sense of passion and over 25 years of experience to all areas of self-healing. To learn more about Michelle and her transformational model, visit theadultchair.com.
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.
Hi, I’m Ashley, Wife, and Mompreneur of six beautiful humans! I’m passionate about what I do and committed to helping women worldwide believe they deserve a life of love and abundance! Whether I’m teaching women about contour, wigs, and bougie lashes on my Ashley’s Chic Boutique Facebook live shopping shows, coaching social media business strategy with the Online Boutique Club, or guiding women just like you through my process of Becoming CHIC, my mission is simple, to inspire women to believe they deserve all that they dream of.
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
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In this episode, we have a guest speaker, John Lee Dumas. He is an incredible human being, a former officer in the Army, entrepreneur, and host of the number one rated business podcast that I've had the privilege of being …
In this episode, I would love to share my back story with you. I'm going to include the preface to my book Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma. This is a dive into my background, story, journey, and what's …
In this episode, we have a guest speaker Cole Chance. She is a yoga teacher, instructor, and educator who I've known for quite a long time, who actually played a pivotal role in my healing journey. We talk about her …
In this episode, I speak with my friend, the unstoppable Anthony Trucks. Listen as we break down how to turn pain into triumph and why becoming the hero of your own story starts with making Shift Happen. Please Rate and …