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In the Nick of Time, Rising to Resilience From the Depths of Betrayal

Learn about helpful, holistic ways to address long-lasting emotional pain and discover how to reach out for support in this webinar presentation.

In the Nick of Time, Rising to Resilience From the Depths of Betrayal

Estimated watch time: 52 mins 

Available credits: none

Presentation Materials:

Dr. Constance Clancy is a holistic and behavioral health practitioner and practices as a licensed psychotherapist, certified hypnotherapist, and Life Enhancement Coach using the BrainStyles System. Constance is the author of The Gift of Change: Embracing Challenges Today for a Promising Tomorrow;Balboa Press, 2013. Her latest book publication is In the Nick of Time: Rising to Resilience from the Depths of Betrayal, Palmetto Publishing, 2020.

Constance has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Indiana State University, Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Sam Houston State University, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

Valerie:
My name is Valerie Lopez, and I am a community outreach specialist for Advanced Recovery Systems. For those of you who are new and haven’t heard of our organization before, I will give you a quick rundown. We are a physician-led behavioral health company with a network of about nine facilities across the country. We offer all levels of care under one roof at all locations. So, that includes a full medical detox, residential care, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient, of course, due to the pandemic. Our outpatient services are via telehealth, just as our community events like this are now virtual as well. We are licensed for both substance abuse and mental health treatment, but our primary specialty is addiction. We do have other specialties, like eating disorders, seeing adolescents and also treating firefighters. So, if anyone has any further questions about the program or if you have a loved one in need, please reach out to us after the event and we will gladly assist you.

Now, let’s get to know our lovely speaker, Dr. Constance Clancy. She is a holistic and behavioral health practitioner that practices as a licensed psychotherapist, certified hypnotherapist, holistic stress management instructor and a life enhancement coach using the BrainStyles System. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana State University, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Sam Houston State University and a doctorate degree in educational administration from Nova Southeastern University. She has a private counseling practice in Aspen, Colorado, in which she offers healthy coping techniques on managing stress and anxiety.

She also helps clients overcome depression, anger, management and trauma by using EMDR mindfulness-based stress reduction and hypnotherapy. She facilitates a number of retreats throughout the country on stress management, healing from trauma and learning resilience. She’s been in practice since 1990 and comes from Sanibel Island, Florida. She’s also the author of two books: The Gift of Change: Embracing Challenges Today for a Promising Tomorrow and In the Nick of Time: Rising to Resilience from the Depths of Betrayal, which is her latest publication and the topic for today’s event. So, thank you so much, Constance, for being with us today, and the floor is all yours.

Dr. Clancy:
Thank you, Valerie, and I appreciate that nice introduction. Hi, everyone. I just want to thank you all for tuning in today, and it is exciting to see so many people from all over the place. I am speaking to you, actually, from Sanibel/Captiva Island today — Florida. It’s a bit chilly here, which is really nice because having lived in Colorado for years, I’ve gotten accustomed to that nice, cool weather. It’s a beautiful day here. So, I’m going to start out by just talking to you about my own story of betrayal, and as you know, today’s topic is rising to resilience from the depths of betrayal. My own story really started early on in life, but I’m going to start with my marriage and go back. I was married for the first time at the age of 53, and that in itself is a miracle because most people get married in their 20s or 30s.

So, I waited, and as I got married to what seemed to be the pillar of the community, another professional — someone who seemed to adore me and pursue me and love me and ask me to commit to him — I was elated because I really thought by the age of 51, 52, this is probably it. I’m never going to be married. And I always thought it would be wonderful to have such an expansion in my life. So, I was married for about six-and-a-half years, and about three years into the marriage, I started noticing he was more dismissive, kind of critical — actually, before three years into the marriage, but I really noticed it then. And I started thinking to myself, “What is wrong with me? What have I done? What have I said?” I would often get silent treatments. I would realize that something was off, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that was so off.

So, as time went on, I did find out and suspect that he was having, at the very least, an emotional affair with someone who I knew, and it got to be more intense. He would go upstairs and shut the door and be on the phone, and he was very secretive. So finally, I just flat out one day decided to confront him. He asked me what an emotional affair was; he played stupid, and I told him to look it up. And then, as I gathered more and more evidence, I realized that it was definitely going on for most of my marriage, if not all. So, I did confront him a second time, and he did look me straight in the eye, deny it again and lie to me. So, needless to say, after asking him to please go to intensive counseling and making up all kinds of excuses why he wouldn’t go, I finally decided that I had to end the marriage for my own healing, and I healed and I rose to resilience. So, any of you who knows somebody who might be going through a situation like this, or you are yourself, know that you certainly can heal and you can rise to resilience. I am living proof of that, and I’m very happy now; I live my life fully, and we’ll get more into that when we get into the resilience section.

Betrayal — it often occurs early on in life, as it did for me. I was betrayed and abandoned about age two by my biological father, who was an alcoholic, and he was also a narcissist. Now narcissism — we’ll get more into this later on — is on a spectrum, if you will. There are narcissistic traits that people have, and it’s with men and women. Often, we hear it just with men because I see so many women in my counseling practice whose partners have narcissistic traits, or they are fully developed narcissistic personality disorders. So, betrayal can start very early on in life, and what we do is we hold this betrayal, this abandonment, in our subconscious. Our subconscious operates about 95% of the time. Clinically, we do know this — that we carry this trauma. We carry this betrayal from childhood into our adult years. So, it’s not like when I got married, or even prior to that when I was in relationships, that I was saying consciously, “Oh, I’m going to choose this one because I have unresolved issues I need to work through from my father betraying me.” We do it unconsciously. So, as we know, this is something that if we were betrayed, if we were abandoned early on in life, we need to be able to learn how to let go, heal and rise to resilience. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

So, no matter what your programming is, no matter what your story is, there are practical tools that you can use and begin to survive and end up thriving. It’s not just about survival, and when you’re in it, you think, “How am I ever going to get through this? How am I ever going to heal?” But you do, and that’s the good news. So, what is betrayal? Betrayal is a deliberate act of disloyalty. It’s the most raw breach of trust, at its core, that I can think of. It makes you feel like you’re losing your mind. Now, when you’re a child, you don’t consciously realize this. You know something’s off, but when you’re an adult and you go through this, you usually experience things such as fear, confusion, bewilderment, anger, and it can happen to anyone at any time. It can involve deceit, manipulation, control, exploitation. I like to think of it as a slow undermining of your self-esteem and your identity. It reaches the very depths of your soul. It can last for years, and you can carry this and not really know which direction to turn, so it can even pull you. It’s like an emotional roller coaster that you’re on — just waves of grief — and it can pull you in a lot of different directions until you’re feeling so devalued and discarded and pulled apart you don’t know what to do next.

It only takes one breach of trust to feel betrayed. And as I said, it stays in our subconscious, and unfortunately, it does continue into our adulthood. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize why we select the partners we do until we come to the understanding that there was this early-on trauma, where there was this really early-on betrayal in our lives, and it does continue, unfortunately, into our adulthood. It can be a complete shock, and it can certainly affect our system physiologically, psychologically, and the long-term effects can really impact building trust again. So, you might say to yourself, “Well, I’ve been betrayed. Maybe I’ve been betrayed all my life. Maybe I’ve been in relationships where I’ve been betrayed, and how do I ever build trust?” And that’s one of the biggest challenges — when one has been betrayed and one has felt that trauma and that abandonment. But you can build trust again, but you have to initially start to have a relationship with yourself and start by realizing, “I am worth it and I can break the cycle.”

I know in my marriage, I thought I broke the cycle because I didn’t marry an alcoholic. But I married a narcissist, and it didn’t dawn on me when I was in the courtship phase — and we’ll get to why — but it can be a complete shock. And that starts the whole shock, denial of the grief process, which we have to go through — the grief process. We can’t go above it, below it, around it. We have to go through it to come out on the other side to feel healed from this. And with betrayal absolutely comes grief and loss, and you have to get through it, as painful as it is. So, it’s a gut-wrenching breach of trust that changes life as you know it, and it can be embedded in one psyche forever. The good news is we know a lot more now about trauma, and there are a lot more tools that are for healing. You may want to seek counseling for such things as EMDR, hypnotherapy, EFT or tapping, and we’ll get into more of this as we talk about resilience. Because with some help — with some professional help — you can certainly use some of these tools or all of these tools to guide you to get through this gut-wrenching breach of trust and start trusting again.

So what is trauma? Well, according to trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, trauma is an emotional wound or shock that creates substantial lasting damage to the psychological development of the person. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is a real expert on trauma, and I would highly recommend his book — it’s called The Body Keeps Score. If you haven’t read it, it can really give you a lot of information on trauma, because betrayal is trauma. Like I said, it can happen to anyone at any time. It happened to me at age two, at a developmental stage where I had already tried to trust. And then I developed trust and boom, that trust was taken away because I was abandoned. No matter what age you would have the trauma or the betrayal, it gets locked in your central nervous system. And while trauma never really totally goes away 100%, you have a really good chance — with some healing tools and psychotherapy — to be able to let go and heal and rise to resilience.

So, betrayal of trust is one of the things that’s particularly traumatic. I work with a lot of clients who have a very difficult time trusting anyone, much less trusting in relationships again. One of the things that we work with is we have to understand a little bit more about trauma bonding and how, when we are in relationships and we’re bonded to these people, that betrayal is the trauma, and we have to be able to learn how to totally trust again. Sometimes, we get symptoms of PTSD, and these are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD has its own criteria in what we call the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I’m not going to read all of these, but some of the most prevalent symptoms of PTSD that you can get from betrayal might be recurring nightmares, flashbacks to the trauma, hypervigilance, maybe a sleep disturbance or a difficulty with appetite, feeling isolated. These are some of the symptoms that I see in clients, and trauma-related feelings, trauma-related thoughts that don’t seem to go away.

I want to talk a little bit about the hormones and their effect with trauma. We know that oxytocin is what we often get when somebody is loving us or cuddling with us. It’s noted as the cuddle or the love hormone, and oxytocin is that hit we get where we just feel good. Say someone brings us flowers or gifts — we get that hit of oxytocin and it just feels really good. We can get oxytocin from animals, from our pets. We can get it through working out. We can get it through just being given a hug, which is kind of hard to find these days with COVID. So sometimes, we’re missing out on that oxytocin by being so isolated, and so many people, especially the elderly in homes, are not getting it. It’s very much missed right now.

Adrenaline and norepinephrine. These two stress hormones — they prepare the body for fight or flight. So, if you’re in a relationship and you’re in waves of fighting or shutting down or having difficulty with just not being able to have a nice, easy, flowing relationship, chances are you’re running on adrenaline and your body is highly feeling it. That leads us to a rise in the cortisol levels, and our stress hormones get these highs and lows in these unhealthy relationships. So oftentimes, there is a rising cortisol, which adds to our stress levels, and serotonin that has to do with our mood. I know there are antidepressants that can help raise serotonin. Just going out for a walk, jog, anything that can make you feel better raises your serotonin level. So, just wanted you to be aware of this cascade of biochemical hormones that can be related with trauma when you’re in a relationship.

And if it’s a traumatic relationship and your oxytocin level is raised and then you’re devalued or you’re discarded, you’re not given the love and adoration that you’re used to, then your oxytocin level dramatically drops. Sometimes, people stay in these toxic relationships because they want that hit of oxytocin. They want the hit of dopamine, which is the pleasure center — the reward center in the brain. And oftentimes, narcissists — which we’ll talk about — they will throw you, I call them crumbs, so you get that hit of dopamine. You get that hit of oxytocin. That’s one of the things that is hard. And then you wonder why people stay in these relationships where they’re getting nothing but stress and drama; it’s because they’re so bonded to the oxytocin, to the dopamine, they want that hit. It’s really important for them to have that.

Betrayal in the grief process. One of the things we know, as I mentioned earlier — oftentimes, you can’t believe that you’re going through this kind of betrayal and you’re in denial, or you’re in that shock to the system. It’s like, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” And it’s hard to even fathom because you’re so upset and you might withdraw. You might be in tears all the time and just not knowing how to even begin to get your life back. Or you may just say, “This isn’t going to happen. I’m not going to leave this person. I’m going to stay in it.” But you’re obviously in a state of denial, going through grief, anger. A lot of times, the anger will come in after the shock, after the denial, and you’ll say to yourself, “How could he or she do this? How could he or she leave me or betray me this way?”

And then, of course, the depression comes in. That’s that lowering of the serotonin level and depression, the sadness, the overwhelming grief, the, “How can I go on? How can I pull my life together?” And then the bargaining — you know, “If only I would have done this, or if only I could have said that,” and we go through a lot of that. It’s only when we’re in the bargaining stage of grief that then we finally get to a place, after much healing occurs, where we can get to acceptance. I can heal from betrayal. I can heal from abandonment. I can move on with my life. And we have to be able to reprogram the nervous system and get our life back and self-regulate before we can really get to that acceptance stage.

I’m going to talk to you now about the spectrum of narcissism. Because what I find in many relationships — not all, but many that don’t work — where there is trauma and drama involved, it’s because one of the partners is a narcissist. Now, again, narcissism runs on a spectrum. You can have narcissistic traits; again, these criteria are from the DSM-5. If you have five or more of these criteria, you are considered to have full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. So, a narcissist is someone who has a lack of empathy. They can be charming, give you the moon in the beginning and they love bomb you. They are deceitful. They can be very manipulative, very controlling, exploitive. Again, there’s that whole pursuing of you, and then once they have you hooked, they drain all of your energy. They dismiss you. They discard you, they devalue you. They can lie to you. They can give you silent treatments. I had a lot of silent treatments in my own marriage, and I would say, “What did I say wrong? What did I do wrong?” And I would shut down because I was afraid.

I was afraid to really approach my spouse and ask him what it was with me that I’m doing to upset my husband. I had no idea. So, the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder — again, that grand sense of self-importance — they have a sense of entitlement. They exaggerate, they embellish, they are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, ideal love. They believe they are special and unique, and they also require excessive admiration. Interpersonally, they can be definitely taking advantage of you. They don’t have much feeling, they lack empathy and they often are envious of others because they feel that others are envious of them. But really, underneath the false mask, they have a big, dark, black hole, and chances are, they develop their narcissism very early on in life by having their own abandonment. But they learned to put up their psychological defenses and they used their own narcissism to make themselves look better than they actually feel.

So, there’s an overt narcissist and covert narcissist. Overt narcissists tend to be — they can be — politicians, they can be professionals, doctors. “I am great. Look at me, look at how great I am.” The covert narcissist: Again, they can be pillars of the community. They tend to be very underhand and they undermine and they tend to be the more secretive types, but ones that are really hard to put your finger on what it is that makes them so narcissistic. They tend to, again, love bomb; they will pursue you, they’ll do anything they can to get you under their spell, and they can have very hypnotic eyes. They can lure you in and then, once they have you hooked, that’s when you start to see the devaluation and that’s where you’re not getting that hit of oxytocin. You’re not getting the dopamine. You’re feeling the cortisol levels raise and you’re running on adrenaline and your serotonin level drops. So, some signs of narcissistic abuse: definitely the control, the manipulation, the silent treatment. You begin questioning what is wrong, what you said wrong or did wrong. What makes you feel like the crazy one? Because they want you to feel like the crazy one, and that’s something called gaslighting. They will gaslight you. That seems to be a popular term these days we’re hearing of. So, those are some of the signs of narcissistic abuse.

Now, empaths. The reason I bring up empaths today is because, often, narcissists target empaths. I’m an empath; my relationships were heavily with narcissists. Like, my father, my marriage was with a narcissist. And the reason I want to talk to you about empaths is because narcissists know how to target an empath. An empath can be a magnet or a sitting duck for a narcissist. So, what is an empath? Someone who is highly sensitive. They are highly sensitive people who absorb the energy of others. Narcissists love empaths because they have a way of bringing them in and doing all of the things that they do, which is the love bombing in the beginning to get the empath hooked.

Empaths are very caring people. They really love helping others. They’re very kind, they’re very considerate. They are people who love to help others. They’re givers, and narcissists tend to be takers. So, you have an empath/narcissist relationship — you have someone who’s giving, someone who’s taking, and yet it could be very underhanded. An empath, often, is someone who has had a difficult childhood, who may have been betrayed or abandoned, and the empath will do anything to please or to get that approval. A narcissist, initially with the love bombing, will make the empath feel good. And once that empath is hooked into this narcissistic relationship and trauma bonded, it’s very difficult to leave.

So, the narcissistic trauma bonding — that was what we talked about with the oxytocin and getting the crumbs fed to them because they are trauma bonded and they definitely are hooked. It’s very hard to pull away because, again, they love that person. They don’t want to leave. They want to make it work. But oftentimes, with a narcissist, you are not self-regulating, your nervous system is in shambles and you get to the point where you’re doing all the giving. The narcissist is doing all the taking, and it’s a real toxic relationship. So, to be able to leave and to become resilient and whole, you have to learn to self-regulate and get your life back.

First of all, to do this, we have to learn about what resilience even is. What is resilience? Well, it’s the ability to recover fully from a misfortune, to bounce back or leap back. It can be cultivated, and we need to find that inner strength. It doesn’t come from somebody else or something else — it has to come from within, and chances are you’ve had that resilience all along, but maybe you don’t know that you have it. So, it’s about leaping back, building yourself back up. Putting your boots on, if you will, and lacing them up and bringing yourself back to where you were before you got into this relationship, before you ended up with a narcissist. Empaths, they love to get that approval, get that hit of dopamine, and they have a hard time getting to resilience because they tend to have a low self-esteem, especially when they’ve been in a toxic relationship, and empaths can get to resilience.

A resilience action plan basically involves some self-protective coping strategies. So, I always tell people to have a partnership with yourself first. This is the beginning of rising to resilience. To have that partnership with yourself first, one of the best things to do is — if you’re with a narcissist or know somebody who’s with a narcissist, go no-contact with that person. Because as hard as it is — as challenging as it is when you can go no-contact and block that person on your texts or your phone, don’t respond to emails, don’t respond to the person at all — that might sound really extreme, but I can guarantee you the quickest way to become resilient and to be able to heal.

So, if you can go no-contact, I would say that is the best way to start getting on your own path to rising to resilience. And you’re always going to be an empath. You were born an empath. Empaths have many gifts, empaths are loved, but you don’t want to get yourself in the throes of a narcissist relationship because if you do, you end up becoming more submissive. The more they will want the control, the more they’ll throw you a crumb to keep you hooked. So, you’ve got to be able to rise to resilience, go no-contact and get yourself on your own path to healing.

Some of the coping techniques that you can do to raise resilience — I love self-soothing techniques. Self-soothing techniques always start with yourself; when you’re in pain, you’ve got to be able to learn to cope. You have to be able to get plenty of rest, plenty of sleep. You gotta be able to exercise your way. Again, this raises your serotonin level, whatever that is. Not everybody likes to exercise the same way — it might be going and joining a yoga class. There’s tons of Zoom classes for yoga. There’s meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, hanging out with yourself, being in the present moment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a great way also to be able to shift the negative thoughts, the obsessive thinking that you still may have after a narcissistic relationship, and be able to say to yourself, “Stop,” and shift the negative thoughts to positive thoughts. Being able to journal — write down all the positive affirmations that you can, even if you don’t believe them in yourself right now, to start writing. I know that’s one of the things I did when I was learning too. If you really get over, you heal from a relationship and a marriage. You have to start to journal and write down positive affirmations. “I am worth more. I am deserving of love. I have a beautiful relationship with myself. I have a partnership with myself.” This is the beginning of becoming resilient again.

Exercise is important. Take an Epsom salt bath. Meditate when you wake up in the morning; before you get out of bed, take a few deep breaths. I recently heard a program by Gregg Braden, and he gave a beautiful talk about resilience. One of the things he said is — every day, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, say to yourself, “I feel safe, I feel safe.” Then, he said, you will start to feel the shift. That’s a great coping technique. In addition to meditation, read up on narcissists. That helped me a lot, even though, as a therapist, I knew about narcissistic personality disorder. But being married to one — it was a whole different ball game. So, I read a lot, I educated myself more on how to leave a narcissistic relationship, learn from your own experiences and resolve not to repeat the lesson again. Easier said than done, but once you get on that path and you start to feel resilience again, you will learn to avoid narcissists and you will see the red flags. I think we all see the red flags, but what we tend to do is we turn our head. We ignore those red flags. This time, we need to look at the red flags head on that are really staring us straight in the eye, and we need to say nothing. “I’m not going down that road again.”

Eat healthy when you’re going through pain. When you’re going through healing, it’s really important that you give yourself proper nutrition. In addition to exercising, learn every single day not to repeat the lesson. If you’re tempted, ask yourself, “What am I getting from this? Is this serving me?” And you’ll probably end up saying, “No, it’s not serving me any longer.” The trauma bonding will subside. You will learn to get your serotonin up, whether it’s through some medication, whether it’s through just being healthy and walking or jogging or doing something active to raise your serotonin level. Be open to some humor. Watch a funny movie. Get a good Netflix series going that can get you laughing. Laughter is a great medicine. It helps loosen up the solar plexus. Soothing music therapy is a great thing for a coping technique. Put soothing music on every night before you go to bed. Be open to surrendering. Allow yourself to just let go.

Some people say, “I give up on ever finding love again.” And I say, “Don’t give up; just let go and allow it to show up when the time is right.” Keep your chakras or your seven emotional centers in the body open. Often, when our chakras are locked, that’s when we are challenged to rise to resilience. You can clear your own chakras. There are some healers out there who can work with you on chakra clearing. You want to get them clear through meditation, and get some hobbies — do some things that you enjoy. Ask yourself, “What are my passions? What do I love? What’s important to me?” With COVID, I know it’s been very difficult. It’s hard to get out and socially gather. There are some great Zoom social gatherings that you can do. Just be open to some new activities, some new hobbies. If you live in a city, of course, when you’re outside, we have to put on our masks and just get out and walk and have a support system. Whether it’s friends who live near you, whether it’s friends from afar and you need to pick up the phone and reach out, be sure to do that often.

I work with clients on creating a mandala. A mandala is this circle, and I have it divided into four quadrants in mind and body, in emotions and in spirit. I have the clients write their name in the middle of a mandala, and I ask them to think about, “What would you write in each one of these quadrants to start to feel an integration of balance, of wholeness, of feeling connected,” and all of these areas. You might start writing for the mind section — being able to read, maybe take a new class online, maybe go back to school, something that you’re using your intellect to make you feel like you’re really doing something good for yourself. Body — what is it that you’re doing for your body? Are you doing self-soothing techniques? Are you meditating? You’ll find that all of these things connect in the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit.

What are you doing nutritionally to heal to get your body feeling good again? And emotions — what are you doing in terms of your feelings? If you’re feeling down, of course, embrace that and then ask yourself, “What is it that I can do to start to feel better? What can I do to start feeling good again? To start feeling a healthy self-esteem? To get my identity back?” And ask yourself, “If I can start to feel better, what is it that’s going to get me there?” Start writing in your feelings. “I can turn sadness into joy. I can turn feeling betrayed into resilience.” I am worthy and you are worthy because love is available to all of us. Remember, it starts with the self first, and you can show up and start to feel better. And people say that, “Doesn’t this take forever?” Well, again, that breach of trust — yes, it takes a long time. These things just don’t happen overnight.

You have to be patient with yourself to rise to resilience. You’re not going to feel resilient the next day after a breakup or going through a divorce, but you can start to feel emotionally better knowing that you’re never going to allow yourself to go through this again. You’re going to bounce back. You’re going to leap back, get a support system going again, whether it’s something online, whether it’s picking up the phone, talking to friends — have that support system. Have a list of people that you can call or email to reach out to so you don’t have to be alone going through a difficult time. I did this and I was on the phone a lot during my divorce, and it helps tremendously. I had somebody always there that I could reach out to. So, know that you’re not alone, know that you can have support 24/7 and use it. You will be glad that you did.

You may want to seek some counseling. I highly recommend it for the trauma — for the trauma that may very well, like it did for me, go back to your early childhood, and you’ve just held it in your subconscious and you’ve never really resolved it. You may want to look into getting some EMDR — eye movement desensitization and reprocessing — desensitizing the trauma from early on in your life and linking it up with how you would rather feel now. I’d rather feel like I don’t have trauma in my life anymore. I am resilient. I can move on. I love myself. I have a good relationship with myself. It’s found to be very effective, and you might want to check on EMDR website; there will be EMDR practitioners listed on the website. Hypnotherapy. Again, we talked about the subconscious programming. The first seven years of programming is not your programming. If you’ve ever read any of the work of Bruce Lipton, he talks a lot about your programming. Wasn’t yours those first seven years, and we know this. And my first seven years, I was programmed by somebody else. And I held onto that programming and I held onto those core beliefs, and it was through hypnotherapy EMDR that I was able to release those core beliefs I had about myself to be able to climb that ladder to resilience.

There’s also EFT, or tapping the acupressure points and being able to shift how you feel about yourself in a negative way to a positive way. I mentioned CBT — cognitive behavioral therapy — reframing, shifting those negative thoughts to positive ones. And what about forgiveness? A lot of people ask me about the path to forgiveness, and that’s a tough one. When you’ve been betrayed over and over by the same person, different people, it’s really a challenge to forgive, and it’s a very personal decision. One of the things that I tell people is you really have to learn to forgive yourself first. If you can learn to forgive yourself first and realize you’re human and what you were handed — maybe it was a bad deck, but you can learn to forgive yourself and say, “You know what? I have an opportunity in this life to forgive and move on.”

Forgiving myself first will help me to be able to forgive others, because many of you may have even heard — if you don’t forgive others, you’re really hurting yourself. What I have learned in the forgiveness realm is I can forgive someone as a person because, most of the time, they’re a tortured soul. They have their own unresolved issues. They are hurting deep down inside, and I may not forgive their behavior because behavior can change. If they haven’t been willing to change their behavior, that’s a really tough one for me. But as a person, as a soul, I am able to forgive, and that’s helped me a lot. I’ve forgiven myself for repeating the pattern. And I can honestly say that rising to resilience, enjoying some of the things that I have learned to do, has helped me to be able to forgive myself.

Set healthy boundaries, avoid narcissists, get centered and get grounded to the earth. It’s really important. I know some of you live in the cold right now, but if you can just go outside in your bare feet and just put your feet on the ground and just feel the earth and feel the centeredness and the groundedness — even perform a letting-go ceremony. I did this, and I even went to Sedona and went to a special vortex to do the ceremony to let go and to send my former husband with former partners, who I learned so much from, love and light and wished them well. And then I felt better. Some of you may say, “I’m not ready for that,” and that’s okay. It might take a while to be able to get to that place.

As I mentioned earlier, the best way to let go of a toxic relationship is to go no-contact, trust your intuition and allow yourself to go within intuition. The solar plexus area, that third chakra area. Trust your intuition because he or she is going to tell you — yes, thumbs up, no, thumbs down. It’s how much do we pay attention, and oftentimes, we don’t pay attention to that intuitive voice here. She never lies. Your intuition will never lead you astray. So, trust your intuition, pay attention and be open. Use this mandala — I’m finishing up the mandala, by the way — the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit. The spirit, sometimes, is a challenge for people. And what I mean by spirit — it’s the fourth quadrant in the mandala — is ask yourself, “What is my purpose? What is my meaning? Who inspires me? Do I inspire others? Inspiration in spirit — what does that mean for me?”

You’ll find as you draw the mandala and you draw these four quadrants — the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit — you will be drawing arrows, or you’ll be writing certain things that are very similar or alike in all of these quadrants. And once you’re finished with the mandala — I’ve done it on a poster board with markers and crayons — put it somewhere. If you just do it on a piece of paper, maybe your nightstand or the refrigerator, and tell yourself, “This is what I want to be each and every day. I want to be whole. I want to be balanced. I want to feel whole.” And that will help you to remind you who you truly are and that you’re coming from within to feel that wholeness and balance in your life. You know, love really is available to us all in this life. You all deserve everything good that life has to offer you. So, rise up and live your best life ever.

You don’t have to give your power away to anyone. You are worthy, and be worthy of it — because you are mindful of the nice, kind and caring persons that are impacting you. And let somebody show up who is available for you, and allow yourself to have the courage to believe in yourself. That self-love is going to take you to what I like to call a higher vibration, because when you’re operating in a higher vibration, you’re going to pass out that signal to others, and other people are going to pick up on that someone like-minded is going to show up, whether they be friends, whether they be relationships. And in the meantime, along with the forgiveness, along with all the coping techniques, we’re talking about practice gratitude every day. When you wake up, just say or write down things that you’re grateful for with all the challenges that we have today.

If you know someone who’s in a very difficult or toxic relationship, or who’s going through a breakup or a divorce and having so much trouble, just help that person with realizing all the gratitude they have for who you really are. The potential to create anything you want is timeless. It’s limitless, and you can do that. Just know — because again, I rose to resilience. I am three-and-a-half years from being divorced, and I still have my moments and you will. That’s being human. And sometimes, it is sad — I think my biggest loss — and going through the grief process was that loss of opportunity. I waited so long thinking I had the most wonderful person, the love of my life, only to have that betrayal happen all over again. Another trigger, another sadness, another loss, that loss of an opportunity. So again, you can go through the pain and you can come out on the other side. And hopefully, these coping techniques are something that will help you in the days, weeks, months ahead — whether you’re a practitioner and you’re helping someone or whether you have gone through it or you’re going through it yourself, know that the potential to create anything you want is really limitless.

Well, I think that’s it. We’re getting lots of remarks about the presentation, but thank you so much. Again, everyone, have a great rest of your day today, and thank you all who reached out to us with any further questions. Take care, everyone. Thank you.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Objectives and Summary:

It can take a long time to heal, especially when the pain stems from trauma. However, there are different types of treatment and holistic therapies that can help you recover in safe, effective ways. In this presentation, Dr. Constance Clancy talks about her own traumas, how she worked through them and how people can use certain techniques to help overcome their own emotional pain and begin healing.

After watching this presentation, the viewer will:

  • Understand how betrayal in relationships and trauma from childhood can create a vicious cycle of emotional dysfunction
  • Be aware of helpful and holistic therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR and hypnotherapy
  • Have a basic knowledge of simple mindfulness techniques, such as the use of chakras and mandalas

Presentation Materials:

Dr. Constance Clancy is a holistic and behavioral health practitioner and practices as a licensed psychotherapist, certified hypnotherapist, and Life Enhancement Coach using the BrainStyles System. Constance is the author of The Gift of Change: Embracing Challenges Today for a Promising Tomorrow;Balboa Press, 2013. Her latest book publication is In the Nick of Time: Rising to Resilience from the Depths of Betrayal, Palmetto Publishing, 2020.

Constance has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Indiana State University, Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Sam Houston State University, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Administration from Nova Southeastern University.

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

Valerie:
My name is Valerie Lopez, and I am a community outreach specialist for Advanced Recovery Systems. For those of you who are new and haven’t heard of our organization before, I will give you a quick rundown. We are a physician-led behavioral health company with a network of about nine facilities across the country. We offer all levels of care under one roof at all locations. So, that includes a full medical detox, residential care, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient, of course, due to the pandemic. Our outpatient services are via telehealth, just as our community events like this are now virtual as well. We are licensed for both substance abuse and mental health treatment, but our primary specialty is addiction. We do have other specialties, like eating disorders, seeing adolescents and also treating firefighters. So, if anyone has any further questions about the program or if you have a loved one in need, please reach out to us after the event and we will gladly assist you.

Now, let’s get to know our lovely speaker, Dr. Constance Clancy. She is a holistic and behavioral health practitioner that practices as a licensed psychotherapist, certified hypnotherapist, holistic stress management instructor and a life enhancement coach using the BrainStyles System. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana State University, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Sam Houston State University and a doctorate degree in educational administration from Nova Southeastern University. She has a private counseling practice in Aspen, Colorado, in which she offers healthy coping techniques on managing stress and anxiety.

She also helps clients overcome depression, anger, management and trauma by using EMDR mindfulness-based stress reduction and hypnotherapy. She facilitates a number of retreats throughout the country on stress management, healing from trauma and learning resilience. She’s been in practice since 1990 and comes from Sanibel Island, Florida. She’s also the author of two books: The Gift of Change: Embracing Challenges Today for a Promising Tomorrow and In the Nick of Time: Rising to Resilience from the Depths of Betrayal, which is her latest publication and the topic for today’s event. So, thank you so much, Constance, for being with us today, and the floor is all yours.

Dr. Clancy:
Thank you, Valerie, and I appreciate that nice introduction. Hi, everyone. I just want to thank you all for tuning in today, and it is exciting to see so many people from all over the place. I am speaking to you, actually, from Sanibel/Captiva Island today — Florida. It’s a bit chilly here, which is really nice because having lived in Colorado for years, I’ve gotten accustomed to that nice, cool weather. It’s a beautiful day here. So, I’m going to start out by just talking to you about my own story of betrayal, and as you know, today’s topic is rising to resilience from the depths of betrayal. My own story really started early on in life, but I’m going to start with my marriage and go back. I was married for the first time at the age of 53, and that in itself is a miracle because most people get married in their 20s or 30s.

So, I waited, and as I got married to what seemed to be the pillar of the community, another professional — someone who seemed to adore me and pursue me and love me and ask me to commit to him — I was elated because I really thought by the age of 51, 52, this is probably it. I’m never going to be married. And I always thought it would be wonderful to have such an expansion in my life. So, I was married for about six-and-a-half years, and about three years into the marriage, I started noticing he was more dismissive, kind of critical — actually, before three years into the marriage, but I really noticed it then. And I started thinking to myself, “What is wrong with me? What have I done? What have I said?” I would often get silent treatments. I would realize that something was off, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that was so off.

So, as time went on, I did find out and suspect that he was having, at the very least, an emotional affair with someone who I knew, and it got to be more intense. He would go upstairs and shut the door and be on the phone, and he was very secretive. So finally, I just flat out one day decided to confront him. He asked me what an emotional affair was; he played stupid, and I told him to look it up. And then, as I gathered more and more evidence, I realized that it was definitely going on for most of my marriage, if not all. So, I did confront him a second time, and he did look me straight in the eye, deny it again and lie to me. So, needless to say, after asking him to please go to intensive counseling and making up all kinds of excuses why he wouldn’t go, I finally decided that I had to end the marriage for my own healing, and I healed and I rose to resilience. So, any of you who knows somebody who might be going through a situation like this, or you are yourself, know that you certainly can heal and you can rise to resilience. I am living proof of that, and I’m very happy now; I live my life fully, and we’ll get more into that when we get into the resilience section.

Betrayal — it often occurs early on in life, as it did for me. I was betrayed and abandoned about age two by my biological father, who was an alcoholic, and he was also a narcissist. Now narcissism — we’ll get more into this later on — is on a spectrum, if you will. There are narcissistic traits that people have, and it’s with men and women. Often, we hear it just with men because I see so many women in my counseling practice whose partners have narcissistic traits, or they are fully developed narcissistic personality disorders. So, betrayal can start very early on in life, and what we do is we hold this betrayal, this abandonment, in our subconscious. Our subconscious operates about 95% of the time. Clinically, we do know this — that we carry this trauma. We carry this betrayal from childhood into our adult years. So, it’s not like when I got married, or even prior to that when I was in relationships, that I was saying consciously, “Oh, I’m going to choose this one because I have unresolved issues I need to work through from my father betraying me.” We do it unconsciously. So, as we know, this is something that if we were betrayed, if we were abandoned early on in life, we need to be able to learn how to let go, heal and rise to resilience. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

So, no matter what your programming is, no matter what your story is, there are practical tools that you can use and begin to survive and end up thriving. It’s not just about survival, and when you’re in it, you think, “How am I ever going to get through this? How am I ever going to heal?” But you do, and that’s the good news. So, what is betrayal? Betrayal is a deliberate act of disloyalty. It’s the most raw breach of trust, at its core, that I can think of. It makes you feel like you’re losing your mind. Now, when you’re a child, you don’t consciously realize this. You know something’s off, but when you’re an adult and you go through this, you usually experience things such as fear, confusion, bewilderment, anger, and it can happen to anyone at any time. It can involve deceit, manipulation, control, exploitation. I like to think of it as a slow undermining of your self-esteem and your identity. It reaches the very depths of your soul. It can last for years, and you can carry this and not really know which direction to turn, so it can even pull you. It’s like an emotional roller coaster that you’re on — just waves of grief — and it can pull you in a lot of different directions until you’re feeling so devalued and discarded and pulled apart you don’t know what to do next.

It only takes one breach of trust to feel betrayed. And as I said, it stays in our subconscious, and unfortunately, it does continue into our adulthood. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize why we select the partners we do until we come to the understanding that there was this early-on trauma, where there was this really early-on betrayal in our lives, and it does continue, unfortunately, into our adulthood. It can be a complete shock, and it can certainly affect our system physiologically, psychologically, and the long-term effects can really impact building trust again. So, you might say to yourself, “Well, I’ve been betrayed. Maybe I’ve been betrayed all my life. Maybe I’ve been in relationships where I’ve been betrayed, and how do I ever build trust?” And that’s one of the biggest challenges — when one has been betrayed and one has felt that trauma and that abandonment. But you can build trust again, but you have to initially start to have a relationship with yourself and start by realizing, “I am worth it and I can break the cycle.”

I know in my marriage, I thought I broke the cycle because I didn’t marry an alcoholic. But I married a narcissist, and it didn’t dawn on me when I was in the courtship phase — and we’ll get to why — but it can be a complete shock. And that starts the whole shock, denial of the grief process, which we have to go through — the grief process. We can’t go above it, below it, around it. We have to go through it to come out on the other side to feel healed from this. And with betrayal absolutely comes grief and loss, and you have to get through it, as painful as it is. So, it’s a gut-wrenching breach of trust that changes life as you know it, and it can be embedded in one psyche forever. The good news is we know a lot more now about trauma, and there are a lot more tools that are for healing. You may want to seek counseling for such things as EMDR, hypnotherapy, EFT or tapping, and we’ll get into more of this as we talk about resilience. Because with some help — with some professional help — you can certainly use some of these tools or all of these tools to guide you to get through this gut-wrenching breach of trust and start trusting again.

So what is trauma? Well, according to trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, trauma is an emotional wound or shock that creates substantial lasting damage to the psychological development of the person. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is a real expert on trauma, and I would highly recommend his book — it’s called The Body Keeps Score. If you haven’t read it, it can really give you a lot of information on trauma, because betrayal is trauma. Like I said, it can happen to anyone at any time. It happened to me at age two, at a developmental stage where I had already tried to trust. And then I developed trust and boom, that trust was taken away because I was abandoned. No matter what age you would have the trauma or the betrayal, it gets locked in your central nervous system. And while trauma never really totally goes away 100%, you have a really good chance — with some healing tools and psychotherapy — to be able to let go and heal and rise to resilience.

So, betrayal of trust is one of the things that’s particularly traumatic. I work with a lot of clients who have a very difficult time trusting anyone, much less trusting in relationships again. One of the things that we work with is we have to understand a little bit more about trauma bonding and how, when we are in relationships and we’re bonded to these people, that betrayal is the trauma, and we have to be able to learn how to totally trust again. Sometimes, we get symptoms of PTSD, and these are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD has its own criteria in what we call the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I’m not going to read all of these, but some of the most prevalent symptoms of PTSD that you can get from betrayal might be recurring nightmares, flashbacks to the trauma, hypervigilance, maybe a sleep disturbance or a difficulty with appetite, feeling isolated. These are some of the symptoms that I see in clients, and trauma-related feelings, trauma-related thoughts that don’t seem to go away.

I want to talk a little bit about the hormones and their effect with trauma. We know that oxytocin is what we often get when somebody is loving us or cuddling with us. It’s noted as the cuddle or the love hormone, and oxytocin is that hit we get where we just feel good. Say someone brings us flowers or gifts — we get that hit of oxytocin and it just feels really good. We can get oxytocin from animals, from our pets. We can get it through working out. We can get it through just being given a hug, which is kind of hard to find these days with COVID. So sometimes, we’re missing out on that oxytocin by being so isolated, and so many people, especially the elderly in homes, are not getting it. It’s very much missed right now.

Adrenaline and norepinephrine. These two stress hormones — they prepare the body for fight or flight. So, if you’re in a relationship and you’re in waves of fighting or shutting down or having difficulty with just not being able to have a nice, easy, flowing relationship, chances are you’re running on adrenaline and your body is highly feeling it. That leads us to a rise in the cortisol levels, and our stress hormones get these highs and lows in these unhealthy relationships. So oftentimes, there is a rising cortisol, which adds to our stress levels, and serotonin that has to do with our mood. I know there are antidepressants that can help raise serotonin. Just going out for a walk, jog, anything that can make you feel better raises your serotonin level. So, just wanted you to be aware of this cascade of biochemical hormones that can be related with trauma when you’re in a relationship.

And if it’s a traumatic relationship and your oxytocin level is raised and then you’re devalued or you’re discarded, you’re not given the love and adoration that you’re used to, then your oxytocin level dramatically drops. Sometimes, people stay in these toxic relationships because they want that hit of oxytocin. They want the hit of dopamine, which is the pleasure center — the reward center in the brain. And oftentimes, narcissists — which we’ll talk about — they will throw you, I call them crumbs, so you get that hit of dopamine. You get that hit of oxytocin. That’s one of the things that is hard. And then you wonder why people stay in these relationships where they’re getting nothing but stress and drama; it’s because they’re so bonded to the oxytocin, to the dopamine, they want that hit. It’s really important for them to have that.

Betrayal in the grief process. One of the things we know, as I mentioned earlier — oftentimes, you can’t believe that you’re going through this kind of betrayal and you’re in denial, or you’re in that shock to the system. It’s like, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” And it’s hard to even fathom because you’re so upset and you might withdraw. You might be in tears all the time and just not knowing how to even begin to get your life back. Or you may just say, “This isn’t going to happen. I’m not going to leave this person. I’m going to stay in it.” But you’re obviously in a state of denial, going through grief, anger. A lot of times, the anger will come in after the shock, after the denial, and you’ll say to yourself, “How could he or she do this? How could he or she leave me or betray me this way?”

And then, of course, the depression comes in. That’s that lowering of the serotonin level and depression, the sadness, the overwhelming grief, the, “How can I go on? How can I pull my life together?” And then the bargaining — you know, “If only I would have done this, or if only I could have said that,” and we go through a lot of that. It’s only when we’re in the bargaining stage of grief that then we finally get to a place, after much healing occurs, where we can get to acceptance. I can heal from betrayal. I can heal from abandonment. I can move on with my life. And we have to be able to reprogram the nervous system and get our life back and self-regulate before we can really get to that acceptance stage.

I’m going to talk to you now about the spectrum of narcissism. Because what I find in many relationships — not all, but many that don’t work — where there is trauma and drama involved, it’s because one of the partners is a narcissist. Now, again, narcissism runs on a spectrum. You can have narcissistic traits; again, these criteria are from the DSM-5. If you have five or more of these criteria, you are considered to have full-blown narcissistic personality disorder. So, a narcissist is someone who has a lack of empathy. They can be charming, give you the moon in the beginning and they love bomb you. They are deceitful. They can be very manipulative, very controlling, exploitive. Again, there’s that whole pursuing of you, and then once they have you hooked, they drain all of your energy. They dismiss you. They discard you, they devalue you. They can lie to you. They can give you silent treatments. I had a lot of silent treatments in my own marriage, and I would say, “What did I say wrong? What did I do wrong?” And I would shut down because I was afraid.

I was afraid to really approach my spouse and ask him what it was with me that I’m doing to upset my husband. I had no idea. So, the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder — again, that grand sense of self-importance — they have a sense of entitlement. They exaggerate, they embellish, they are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, ideal love. They believe they are special and unique, and they also require excessive admiration. Interpersonally, they can be definitely taking advantage of you. They don’t have much feeling, they lack empathy and they often are envious of others because they feel that others are envious of them. But really, underneath the false mask, they have a big, dark, black hole, and chances are, they develop their narcissism very early on in life by having their own abandonment. But they learned to put up their psychological defenses and they used their own narcissism to make themselves look better than they actually feel.

So, there’s an overt narcissist and covert narcissist. Overt narcissists tend to be — they can be — politicians, they can be professionals, doctors. “I am great. Look at me, look at how great I am.” The covert narcissist: Again, they can be pillars of the community. They tend to be very underhand and they undermine and they tend to be the more secretive types, but ones that are really hard to put your finger on what it is that makes them so narcissistic. They tend to, again, love bomb; they will pursue you, they’ll do anything they can to get you under their spell, and they can have very hypnotic eyes. They can lure you in and then, once they have you hooked, that’s when you start to see the devaluation and that’s where you’re not getting that hit of oxytocin. You’re not getting the dopamine. You’re feeling the cortisol levels raise and you’re running on adrenaline and your serotonin level drops. So, some signs of narcissistic abuse: definitely the control, the manipulation, the silent treatment. You begin questioning what is wrong, what you said wrong or did wrong. What makes you feel like the crazy one? Because they want you to feel like the crazy one, and that’s something called gaslighting. They will gaslight you. That seems to be a popular term these days we’re hearing of. So, those are some of the signs of narcissistic abuse.

Now, empaths. The reason I bring up empaths today is because, often, narcissists target empaths. I’m an empath; my relationships were heavily with narcissists. Like, my father, my marriage was with a narcissist. And the reason I want to talk to you about empaths is because narcissists know how to target an empath. An empath can be a magnet or a sitting duck for a narcissist. So, what is an empath? Someone who is highly sensitive. They are highly sensitive people who absorb the energy of others. Narcissists love empaths because they have a way of bringing them in and doing all of the things that they do, which is the love bombing in the beginning to get the empath hooked.

Empaths are very caring people. They really love helping others. They’re very kind, they’re very considerate. They are people who love to help others. They’re givers, and narcissists tend to be takers. So, you have an empath/narcissist relationship — you have someone who’s giving, someone who’s taking, and yet it could be very underhanded. An empath, often, is someone who has had a difficult childhood, who may have been betrayed or abandoned, and the empath will do anything to please or to get that approval. A narcissist, initially with the love bombing, will make the empath feel good. And once that empath is hooked into this narcissistic relationship and trauma bonded, it’s very difficult to leave.

So, the narcissistic trauma bonding — that was what we talked about with the oxytocin and getting the crumbs fed to them because they are trauma bonded and they definitely are hooked. It’s very hard to pull away because, again, they love that person. They don’t want to leave. They want to make it work. But oftentimes, with a narcissist, you are not self-regulating, your nervous system is in shambles and you get to the point where you’re doing all the giving. The narcissist is doing all the taking, and it’s a real toxic relationship. So, to be able to leave and to become resilient and whole, you have to learn to self-regulate and get your life back.

First of all, to do this, we have to learn about what resilience even is. What is resilience? Well, it’s the ability to recover fully from a misfortune, to bounce back or leap back. It can be cultivated, and we need to find that inner strength. It doesn’t come from somebody else or something else — it has to come from within, and chances are you’ve had that resilience all along, but maybe you don’t know that you have it. So, it’s about leaping back, building yourself back up. Putting your boots on, if you will, and lacing them up and bringing yourself back to where you were before you got into this relationship, before you ended up with a narcissist. Empaths, they love to get that approval, get that hit of dopamine, and they have a hard time getting to resilience because they tend to have a low self-esteem, especially when they’ve been in a toxic relationship, and empaths can get to resilience.

A resilience action plan basically involves some self-protective coping strategies. So, I always tell people to have a partnership with yourself first. This is the beginning of rising to resilience. To have that partnership with yourself first, one of the best things to do is — if you’re with a narcissist or know somebody who’s with a narcissist, go no-contact with that person. Because as hard as it is — as challenging as it is when you can go no-contact and block that person on your texts or your phone, don’t respond to emails, don’t respond to the person at all — that might sound really extreme, but I can guarantee you the quickest way to become resilient and to be able to heal.

So, if you can go no-contact, I would say that is the best way to start getting on your own path to rising to resilience. And you’re always going to be an empath. You were born an empath. Empaths have many gifts, empaths are loved, but you don’t want to get yourself in the throes of a narcissist relationship because if you do, you end up becoming more submissive. The more they will want the control, the more they’ll throw you a crumb to keep you hooked. So, you’ve got to be able to rise to resilience, go no-contact and get yourself on your own path to healing.

Some of the coping techniques that you can do to raise resilience — I love self-soothing techniques. Self-soothing techniques always start with yourself; when you’re in pain, you’ve got to be able to learn to cope. You have to be able to get plenty of rest, plenty of sleep. You gotta be able to exercise your way. Again, this raises your serotonin level, whatever that is. Not everybody likes to exercise the same way — it might be going and joining a yoga class. There’s tons of Zoom classes for yoga. There’s meditation, mindfulness-based stress reduction, hanging out with yourself, being in the present moment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a great way also to be able to shift the negative thoughts, the obsessive thinking that you still may have after a narcissistic relationship, and be able to say to yourself, “Stop,” and shift the negative thoughts to positive thoughts. Being able to journal — write down all the positive affirmations that you can, even if you don’t believe them in yourself right now, to start writing. I know that’s one of the things I did when I was learning too. If you really get over, you heal from a relationship and a marriage. You have to start to journal and write down positive affirmations. “I am worth more. I am deserving of love. I have a beautiful relationship with myself. I have a partnership with myself.” This is the beginning of becoming resilient again.

Exercise is important. Take an Epsom salt bath. Meditate when you wake up in the morning; before you get out of bed, take a few deep breaths. I recently heard a program by Gregg Braden, and he gave a beautiful talk about resilience. One of the things he said is — every day, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, say to yourself, “I feel safe, I feel safe.” Then, he said, you will start to feel the shift. That’s a great coping technique. In addition to meditation, read up on narcissists. That helped me a lot, even though, as a therapist, I knew about narcissistic personality disorder. But being married to one — it was a whole different ball game. So, I read a lot, I educated myself more on how to leave a narcissistic relationship, learn from your own experiences and resolve not to repeat the lesson again. Easier said than done, but once you get on that path and you start to feel resilience again, you will learn to avoid narcissists and you will see the red flags. I think we all see the red flags, but what we tend to do is we turn our head. We ignore those red flags. This time, we need to look at the red flags head on that are really staring us straight in the eye, and we need to say nothing. “I’m not going down that road again.”

Eat healthy when you’re going through pain. When you’re going through healing, it’s really important that you give yourself proper nutrition. In addition to exercising, learn every single day not to repeat the lesson. If you’re tempted, ask yourself, “What am I getting from this? Is this serving me?” And you’ll probably end up saying, “No, it’s not serving me any longer.” The trauma bonding will subside. You will learn to get your serotonin up, whether it’s through some medication, whether it’s through just being healthy and walking or jogging or doing something active to raise your serotonin level. Be open to some humor. Watch a funny movie. Get a good Netflix series going that can get you laughing. Laughter is a great medicine. It helps loosen up the solar plexus. Soothing music therapy is a great thing for a coping technique. Put soothing music on every night before you go to bed. Be open to surrendering. Allow yourself to just let go.

Some people say, “I give up on ever finding love again.” And I say, “Don’t give up; just let go and allow it to show up when the time is right.” Keep your chakras or your seven emotional centers in the body open. Often, when our chakras are locked, that’s when we are challenged to rise to resilience. You can clear your own chakras. There are some healers out there who can work with you on chakra clearing. You want to get them clear through meditation, and get some hobbies — do some things that you enjoy. Ask yourself, “What are my passions? What do I love? What’s important to me?” With COVID, I know it’s been very difficult. It’s hard to get out and socially gather. There are some great Zoom social gatherings that you can do. Just be open to some new activities, some new hobbies. If you live in a city, of course, when you’re outside, we have to put on our masks and just get out and walk and have a support system. Whether it’s friends who live near you, whether it’s friends from afar and you need to pick up the phone and reach out, be sure to do that often.

I work with clients on creating a mandala. A mandala is this circle, and I have it divided into four quadrants in mind and body, in emotions and in spirit. I have the clients write their name in the middle of a mandala, and I ask them to think about, “What would you write in each one of these quadrants to start to feel an integration of balance, of wholeness, of feeling connected,” and all of these areas. You might start writing for the mind section — being able to read, maybe take a new class online, maybe go back to school, something that you’re using your intellect to make you feel like you’re really doing something good for yourself. Body — what is it that you’re doing for your body? Are you doing self-soothing techniques? Are you meditating? You’ll find that all of these things connect in the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit.

What are you doing nutritionally to heal to get your body feeling good again? And emotions — what are you doing in terms of your feelings? If you’re feeling down, of course, embrace that and then ask yourself, “What is it that I can do to start to feel better? What can I do to start feeling good again? To start feeling a healthy self-esteem? To get my identity back?” And ask yourself, “If I can start to feel better, what is it that’s going to get me there?” Start writing in your feelings. “I can turn sadness into joy. I can turn feeling betrayed into resilience.” I am worthy and you are worthy because love is available to all of us. Remember, it starts with the self first, and you can show up and start to feel better. And people say that, “Doesn’t this take forever?” Well, again, that breach of trust — yes, it takes a long time. These things just don’t happen overnight.

You have to be patient with yourself to rise to resilience. You’re not going to feel resilient the next day after a breakup or going through a divorce, but you can start to feel emotionally better knowing that you’re never going to allow yourself to go through this again. You’re going to bounce back. You’re going to leap back, get a support system going again, whether it’s something online, whether it’s picking up the phone, talking to friends — have that support system. Have a list of people that you can call or email to reach out to so you don’t have to be alone going through a difficult time. I did this and I was on the phone a lot during my divorce, and it helps tremendously. I had somebody always there that I could reach out to. So, know that you’re not alone, know that you can have support 24/7 and use it. You will be glad that you did.

You may want to seek some counseling. I highly recommend it for the trauma — for the trauma that may very well, like it did for me, go back to your early childhood, and you’ve just held it in your subconscious and you’ve never really resolved it. You may want to look into getting some EMDR — eye movement desensitization and reprocessing — desensitizing the trauma from early on in your life and linking it up with how you would rather feel now. I’d rather feel like I don’t have trauma in my life anymore. I am resilient. I can move on. I love myself. I have a good relationship with myself. It’s found to be very effective, and you might want to check on EMDR website; there will be EMDR practitioners listed on the website. Hypnotherapy. Again, we talked about the subconscious programming. The first seven years of programming is not your programming. If you’ve ever read any of the work of Bruce Lipton, he talks a lot about your programming. Wasn’t yours those first seven years, and we know this. And my first seven years, I was programmed by somebody else. And I held onto that programming and I held onto those core beliefs, and it was through hypnotherapy EMDR that I was able to release those core beliefs I had about myself to be able to climb that ladder to resilience.

There’s also EFT, or tapping the acupressure points and being able to shift how you feel about yourself in a negative way to a positive way. I mentioned CBT — cognitive behavioral therapy — reframing, shifting those negative thoughts to positive ones. And what about forgiveness? A lot of people ask me about the path to forgiveness, and that’s a tough one. When you’ve been betrayed over and over by the same person, different people, it’s really a challenge to forgive, and it’s a very personal decision. One of the things that I tell people is you really have to learn to forgive yourself first. If you can learn to forgive yourself first and realize you’re human and what you were handed — maybe it was a bad deck, but you can learn to forgive yourself and say, “You know what? I have an opportunity in this life to forgive and move on.”

Forgiving myself first will help me to be able to forgive others, because many of you may have even heard — if you don’t forgive others, you’re really hurting yourself. What I have learned in the forgiveness realm is I can forgive someone as a person because, most of the time, they’re a tortured soul. They have their own unresolved issues. They are hurting deep down inside, and I may not forgive their behavior because behavior can change. If they haven’t been willing to change their behavior, that’s a really tough one for me. But as a person, as a soul, I am able to forgive, and that’s helped me a lot. I’ve forgiven myself for repeating the pattern. And I can honestly say that rising to resilience, enjoying some of the things that I have learned to do, has helped me to be able to forgive myself.

Set healthy boundaries, avoid narcissists, get centered and get grounded to the earth. It’s really important. I know some of you live in the cold right now, but if you can just go outside in your bare feet and just put your feet on the ground and just feel the earth and feel the centeredness and the groundedness — even perform a letting-go ceremony. I did this, and I even went to Sedona and went to a special vortex to do the ceremony to let go and to send my former husband with former partners, who I learned so much from, love and light and wished them well. And then I felt better. Some of you may say, “I’m not ready for that,” and that’s okay. It might take a while to be able to get to that place.

As I mentioned earlier, the best way to let go of a toxic relationship is to go no-contact, trust your intuition and allow yourself to go within intuition. The solar plexus area, that third chakra area. Trust your intuition because he or she is going to tell you — yes, thumbs up, no, thumbs down. It’s how much do we pay attention, and oftentimes, we don’t pay attention to that intuitive voice here. She never lies. Your intuition will never lead you astray. So, trust your intuition, pay attention and be open. Use this mandala — I’m finishing up the mandala, by the way — the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit. The spirit, sometimes, is a challenge for people. And what I mean by spirit — it’s the fourth quadrant in the mandala — is ask yourself, “What is my purpose? What is my meaning? Who inspires me? Do I inspire others? Inspiration in spirit — what does that mean for me?”

You’ll find as you draw the mandala and you draw these four quadrants — the mind, the body, the emotions and the spirit — you will be drawing arrows, or you’ll be writing certain things that are very similar or alike in all of these quadrants. And once you’re finished with the mandala — I’ve done it on a poster board with markers and crayons — put it somewhere. If you just do it on a piece of paper, maybe your nightstand or the refrigerator, and tell yourself, “This is what I want to be each and every day. I want to be whole. I want to be balanced. I want to feel whole.” And that will help you to remind you who you truly are and that you’re coming from within to feel that wholeness and balance in your life. You know, love really is available to us all in this life. You all deserve everything good that life has to offer you. So, rise up and live your best life ever.

You don’t have to give your power away to anyone. You are worthy, and be worthy of it — because you are mindful of the nice, kind and caring persons that are impacting you. And let somebody show up who is available for you, and allow yourself to have the courage to believe in yourself. That self-love is going to take you to what I like to call a higher vibration, because when you’re operating in a higher vibration, you’re going to pass out that signal to others, and other people are going to pick up on that someone like-minded is going to show up, whether they be friends, whether they be relationships. And in the meantime, along with the forgiveness, along with all the coping techniques, we’re talking about practice gratitude every day. When you wake up, just say or write down things that you’re grateful for with all the challenges that we have today.

If you know someone who’s in a very difficult or toxic relationship, or who’s going through a breakup or a divorce and having so much trouble, just help that person with realizing all the gratitude they have for who you really are. The potential to create anything you want is timeless. It’s limitless, and you can do that. Just know — because again, I rose to resilience. I am three-and-a-half years from being divorced, and I still have my moments and you will. That’s being human. And sometimes, it is sad — I think my biggest loss — and going through the grief process was that loss of opportunity. I waited so long thinking I had the most wonderful person, the love of my life, only to have that betrayal happen all over again. Another trigger, another sadness, another loss, that loss of an opportunity. So again, you can go through the pain and you can come out on the other side. And hopefully, these coping techniques are something that will help you in the days, weeks, months ahead — whether you’re a practitioner and you’re helping someone or whether you have gone through it or you’re going through it yourself, know that the potential to create anything you want is really limitless.

Well, I think that’s it. We’re getting lots of remarks about the presentation, but thank you so much. Again, everyone, have a great rest of your day today, and thank you all who reached out to us with any further questions. Take care, everyone. Thank you.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

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