Dr. Nicole LePera | Heal Your Trauma and Forge the Life You Want

Dr. Nicole LePera | Heal Your Trauma and Forge the Life You Want

In today’s episode, we cover what it means to work on yourself with Dr. Nicole LePera. She is the creator of the popular Instagram account @the.holistic.psychologist, was educated in clinical psychology at Cornell University and The New School of Social Research, and is the author of the best-selling How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self.

It takes a lot of work to go from insight to effecting real long-lasting change, so how do you bridge the gap, why does focusing on the flaws of others hurt your own development, and how does your lack of emotional expressiveness take away from your life satisfaction? 

What to Listen For

  • Introduction – 4:00 
  • What does it mean to “do the work” when embarking on a path of self-development or healing after trauma?
  • Why is it important to bridge the gap between insight and action and why do so many people fail to, leaving them unable to make progress?
  • How do you overcome your own resistance to change?
  • Detangling trauma from an idealized past – 13:32 
  • What can you do to identify trauma in your life that is causing you to self-sabotage without even realizing it?
  • What are the most common self-sabotaging behaviors people do without realizing it?
  • What are trauma bonds and how does it show up in your relationships in destructive ways you might not even realize?
  • Your unknown expectations can destroy your relationships – 28:28
  • What role do expectations play in trauma bonds influencing our current relationships?
  • What do you do when you are ready to make a change but your friends or family aren’t supportive or ready to make changes themselves?
  • How should we think about emotions – 37:46
  • What steps can you take to start valuing your emotions instead of dismissing them or allowing other people to dismiss them?
  • Why is self-compassion important when it comes to “doing the work” and growing into the person you want to be?
  • What can you do if you’re an overachiever and feel like you need achievement to feel complete?
  • How do you overcome the fear of being who you want to be so you can get out of your own way?

Have you ever felt a fear so strong that it nearly paralyzed you or left you trembling? Maybe the event was a real-life trauma, like being mugged. Or maybe it was something more subtle but equally as debilitating – like walking into an interview for your dream job and feeling all those eyes on you, sizing up who they can’t wait to reject. All of these events can have long lasting effects on who you are and who you want to become. But you have to be willing to identify them, work through the effects they’ve had, and get out of your own way to be comfortable expressing who you really are.

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Resources from this Episode

Speaker 1: Little did I know once I peeled back the layers and began to really understand what the association was, what that results in into adulthood is differing degrees of disconnection, where some of us don't even feel like we're living in a physical body. If I were to ask you, are you hungry? What is your body saying to you? Do you feel any sensations? The answer would be no, I feel completely numb. Same thing goes with our emotions.

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Speaker 2: Thank you everyone for tuning in let's kick off the show today. We're speaking with Dr. Nicole Lopera. Dr. Lopera was trained in clinical psychology at Cornell university. She's the creator of the holistic psychologist, a platform with over 3 million followers on Instagram and her new book. How to do the work, recognize your patterns heal from your past and create yourself just came out in March and we absolutely loved it. We're super excited to have her on the show to talk about doing the work and how we can get out of our own way and stop. Self-sabotage welcome to the show, Dr. Lopera.

Speaker 1: Thank you. First and foremost, Johnny and AIG for having me, I was very intentional when we thought of the name of the book, how to do the work and what that really signifies for me is an awareness that I came by from a very disempowered, low place. When I was in my private practice back in Philly, I was a clinical psychologist, myself. I'm someone who has an intimate experience with all things, anxiety, being an anxious child, as long as I can remember having been on both sides of the couch, myself, several years into my practice, I saw quite universally, all of, mostly all of the clients I had been working with unable to bridge the gap between insight into action humans with increasing amounts of awareness, able to even piece together where some of the habits and patterns that weren't serving them came from yet again, unable to do anything differently to begin to make new choices.

Speaker 1: So from that space, I really began to explore the field itself, obviously how we can begin to work in a bit more of an empowered way, really blossoming and unfolding. My theory of holistic wellness that really emblematic in that model is that idea of action of beginning to again, actualize change and make new choices. So for me, that's what how to do the work really means how do I create change really honoring the universal difficulty that many of ourselves find our us in stuck. And of course, empowering ourself to create those new actions toward a future. That's different from that past, that many of us are just repeating.

Speaker 3: I love this idea of insight into action and in our classes, and for the 15 years that we've been doing this, it is the first step in recognizing those insights, these learnings, or what I've done wrong. Here's the patterns. And of course my question always is after, okay, well then what are you going to do about it? And that's what I met with. Oh, I haven't gotten that far. So could you expand on what maybe is the roadblock there for people?

Speaker 1: Yeah, so typically, um, the reason why we're not able to either make that first choice toward change or sustain the choices lives in our subconscious mind. And you'll hear me talk a lot about the differing modes of our brain States, labeling a very simplistically differentiating consciousness from unconsciousness and what lives in our unconscious is that autopilot that I think a lot of us are familiar with, right? All of the habits and patterns that we are again, living on repeat unable to create choice or change around them. And the reason why we remain stuck in that autopilot is because our subconscious actually prefers that familiarity of the paths that we've been down. And this is where it's not logical because I'm sure everyone listening, like you're a very beautifully saying Johnny, Oh, I have all of these negative consequences. Maybe we even have well-meaning loved ones around us reminding us of all our negative consequences, right.

Speaker 1: Yet when I go to make a new choice, when I go to maybe sustain a new choice that I might've made on one or two occasions, typically I met with resistance, what I call resistance. And for some of us that lives in our mind, all of the endless thoughts, all of the other things I could be doing with my time or should be doing, or maybe just the idea that this won't matter, this is not helpful to me. Some of us, it drops into our bodies. We begin to feel an agitation or new sensations of discomfort, all of the reason to revert right back to those familiar patterns. So our subconscious to simplify it prefers the familiarity because it believes it to be safer than the uncertainty, the unknown, and the more we listened to that resistance, the more likely we are to stay in those familiar ruts, staying stuck.

Speaker 3: There's an important point in this book when you mentioned it, it was a glass of cold water in my face, and it seemed to be at least the way you've written the book, a glass of water, and you were faced as well, where that familiar Arity we don't see it as anything else, other than comfortable, no matter how toxic it might be for us, it's familiar. So it is comfortable. And it was the test that you had brought up and I've heard it been brought up many other times. I personally scored a one on it and you can go into that a bit. I believe you did as well, but admitting what that one was, was like, well, then now I have to accept that this has an impact on what is familiar to me, whether or not it was beneficial.

Speaker 1: Yes. And what becomes familiar too, are the ways in which we cope with whether or not we score the one on the scale or the 10. So I did score a one. And for me, Johnny, that was really a point of confusion because what I was taught, right, the higher, the traumas we accumulate now, remembering that the ACEs scale is based on a definition of trauma, where it is cataloged as the big key that many of us maybe have heard that concept, essentially the instances of abuse, sexual, physical, or extreme neglect. So in the nineties, we became aware that those things that happen, we do carry the effects with us in life. With the theory being the higher, the number, the closer to 10, we get, the more likely we are to be suffering those consequences, whether they're in our physical body with medical diagnoses or in our emotional bodies with the psychological diagnoses.

Speaker 1: So I took the test, I choose scored a one and I was left confused because what I saw in myself where the same habits and patterns, attempts to cope that I was seeing in humans that did score upwards of a 10 or a 10, because I worked with them as well. So what I began to realize is an advocate for in my work and it, now my book is that we remove right the definition of trauma. Cause we usually apply it to an event with this idea that if it surpasses a threshold, this event gets distinguished as a quote unquote trauma. And I'm of the belief that we need to remove that label from the event and apply it to the individual, experiencing that event, to their level of resources that they have available to them or jolt their essentially their ability to cope with either a small chronic stress or those of us who did have those big cataclysmic moments of stress with the idea being the same. If we don't have those resources and event can be traumatic and can carry those longtime consequences, nonetheless,

Speaker 4: Well, I think a challenge for many of us in recognizing these patterns is we don't even view them as events, or we don't even have much recollection or memory of them. And they're oftentimes imprinted in our childhood, by the way, we were raised and interacting with the people who are taking care of us. And it's difficult to even realize that the patterns there, so, you know, understanding the big T trauma, which everyone is very familiar with. How do we drill down to some of these smaller experiences that maybe we've never labeled as trauma, but are creating this self-sabotage pattern in our lives?

Speaker 1: Yeah, really, really great question. And Jay and I get asked this a lot because when I share about my past experience, something you often hear me share is actually a very limited memory. I don't really know. I don't have that movie of the past that some of us have access to, to view upon what life even looked like back there. Right? So this idea of, well, how do I know what happened? Can I change, you know, my trajectory into the future? If I don't know what happened, my response is always the same. I don't have access to those memories yet. I have access to my way of being now. And chances are right, the daily habits and patterns around how we identify our physical bodies needs and or meet those needs. Same thing goes with our emotional bodies. Same thing goes with our essence or the uniqueness.

Speaker 1: That is me. We learned how to meet those needs at some really, really early time. And some of us, right. Didn't have the safety to fully get those needs met at that early time. And again, we adapt and so we don't necessarily need to see what it is that happened. What we can do is bear conscious witness to our now our life. Now, how connected do you feel to your physical body? Do you feel well? Do you feel like you have energy? Do you feel, you know, kind of, do you sleep well? Are you tending to your physical body's needs, same thing, observe your emotions. How do you relate to others? What is your life look like now? And chances are, there's a remnant of that past in likely all areas of it. If you're living from that subconscious mind,

Speaker 3: I think it's also difficult to gain from the past when we have a tendency to romanticize our past or view it in favorable terms, when it's, it makes it difficult to look at it objectively or see any of those where some of those patterns might have been built from any coping mechanisms we had put together to deal with that past.

Speaker 1: Yes, absolutely. And I even think I referenced somewhere in the book that for a very long time, I would have fought anyone, even my closest person to me, my partner, lolly tooth, and nail, when she began to just point out observations, pointing out, you know, I would have fought her saying I had an ideal childhood. All of my needs were met. What do you mean? I came from incredibly loving, supportive parents. And it's not to say that's not true though. Again, sometimes we do idealize out of a defense because if we began to peel back that onion, as I very begrudgingly did over time and bear witness to maybe those areas that didn't serve me right. To those moments where I was in some state of self-expression and I didn't feel fully accepted or, or safe to be that person, right. It can be incredibly, incredibly uncomfortable as I began to peel back that onion. And as I began to see, so a lot of us prefer not to, and we either idealize or deny as a protection. And it's an incredibly vulnerable place to be when, as we're engaging in healing. And as we're beginning to peel back those layers, because we do see a lot of truth that can bring up a lot of wounding and you bring up in the book that self-sabotage

Speaker 4: Is not as grand as many people believe. So obviously self-harm and substance abuse clear self-sabotage, but many of us have coping mechanisms that are much, much, much more nuanced that we may not even realize are holding us back. And I'd love for you to go through a few that you see regularly that maybe listeners in our audience are doing and not even realizing that they're sabotaging themselves.

Speaker 1: Yeah. There's so many ways what I define as self sabotage or the word that I sometimes use self betrayal. Um, it's all of the ways that we're showing up for ourselves that aren't in service of our needs, all of the roles or the masks or the, or the ways of being that we inhabit that aren't really authentic to what we need. So, so many of us again, are cycling from that autopilot. So what we're living day to day, oftentimes isn't really directly connected to what I need in any given moment. So the most common example that I use for my own journey is when I heard the word dissociation back in school, it was only really applied to dissociative identity disorder, otherwise known as multiple personality disorder, which is big and scary sounding. It's this expression of literal multiple personalities. So outside of having that, which I know I didn't, I didn't really feel like that label was applicable to that many of us, what I came to realize.

Speaker 1: And I think this is quite a common one because dissociation is a function of our nervous system. When we're in that state of overwhelm, that we continue to talk about sometimes our best protection when we're young and when we can not control the environment or the people around us is to check out or to dissociate. So little did I know once I peeled back the layers and began to really understand what the association was? I think that's one of the most common things that many of us do. Um, and what that results in into adulthood is differing degrees of disconnection, where some of us don't even feel like we're living in a physical body. If I were to ask you, are you hungry? What is your body saying to you? Do you feel any sensations? The answer would be, no, I feel completely numb. Same thing goes with our emotions, our emotions map onto physiological changes and our body's energy systems or our hormone systems they register.

Speaker 1: So if we're not connected to that body, another consequence is a flatness, a lack of emotionality in the world, or a cycling through one emotion. For me, it was stress. So dissociation is the one that I like to talk about because I think, and again, there's different degrees of it. Yes. Dissociative identity disorder, being a very severe degree of it, where there are personalities that are emerged that are completely unknowable to the other cells. However, I think a lot of us are dissociating out of protection and are suffering the consequences of some degree of disconnection. Some of us, it lives in our bodies where we're suffering symptoms because we're not tending to our body's actual needs. And again, some of us lived in our emotional bodies where we're not tending to our bodies, emotional expressions,

Speaker 3: Detaching from all these emotions. Do you see this as a symptom of depression where people are just numb to what is going on around them? They're so separated from their identity.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Depression can be that, that numbness that also comes out of, um, a state of our nervous system actually deactivation. Um, again, I'm really going to simplify this. As I often do for understanding purposes, we essentially have two nervous systems that work in tandem. We have our sympathetic or our fight or flight when we're locked in that a lot of times we speak of anxiety or panic, always on edge. Our heart rates always, you know, really high I'm, maybe sweating. I'm feeling tense. I'm hypervigilant. A lot of times when we're stuck in that parasympathetic or opposing nervous system, it can mimic the symptoms of depression. I have no energy. I can barely get out of bed. I have no interest. Everything is flat. And again, we call it depression and we believe it originates in our mind. The reason I now work holistically is to honor that a lot of this actually is originating in our body in a state of dysregulation driven by our nervous system. So I'm really appreciative Johnny, that you asked that because a lot of times the symptoms that we're labeling, all of these diagnoses are actually markers of deeper imbalance.

Speaker 4: It's so important that we pay closer attention to our bodies. What we're putting in it, the information we're consuming, and many of us are getting advice of just reaching for the doctor or a medical intervention with chemicals and much of what we're talking about here. A good partner, a good friend, a healthy relationship will often be that one who points out this dissociation. If you're living in it and you're immersed in it, you may not even realize that this is going on because it's become normal to you. And then you have that partner, that friend who feels something is off and is not getting the full you. And all of a sudden you realize that there's a problem. And now it's very scary because you realize, well, how I was living is not normal. How do we untangle that? And the pressure that comes with realizing, Oh, maybe this is trauma. Or maybe these are patterns that are sabotaging me because the rationalization can take over. And that could cause even more pain.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And I think, you know, what we want to honor is that in some way, actually they are normal. They're the, body's very normal adaptation around pain, around, you know, compromised environments around various something very real. Um, that happened to us. And the reason why I say that is because we want to honor that, that aspect of our experience. So many of us sit in judgment and do go to criticize and throw these labels on ourselves. Like I'm not normal. I'm not worthy. All of this just means that I'm not lovable in some very deep way. When in reality, I think for some of us, the most healing of this work is understanding where all of this is coming from is actually normalizing. It is being able to reframe and say, no, actually, yeah, I'm living the accumulated consequences of maybe a life lived disconnected from say my physical body though. It's not because I'm broken. It's because at some time, in some place I began to adapt to an environment where I did not have control. And for some of us that's the most relieving, you know, initiation into healing, which is okay. Now I can shift from being broken to an attempt at actually creating change by harnessing how I got stuck in the first place.

Speaker 4: Yes, you bring up this concept of trauma bonds in the book. And I was very unfamiliar with it, as I'm sure many in our audience are and how trauma plays a role in our relationships that we may not even know. What do you mean by trauma bonds? And how is this trauma showing up in those relationships?

Speaker 1: Relationships are often the arena, as I say, for like you were saying, right where our partners are, the ones who are saying or where there's active conflict or where we're just not feeling fulfilled or connected. I wanted to share something earlier when you were mentioning, you know, hearing feedback. What replays in my mind is I had a boyfriend in high school and he had said to me, one time, I think we were together for honor around a year. And he had spoken to me. He made the statement that Nicole you're emotionally, you're not connected. You're not here. And I thought he was crazy flash forward in time. I ended up identifying as a lesbian, I date women. So then I made sense of, Oh, of course I wasn't connected to you because you're a boy. And I don't like you, long story short. I came to realize that he wasn't wrong.

Speaker 1: I wasn't connected with him. Just like, I really wasn't connected to all of my relationships yet. I kept blaming the other person. I kept wondering why I didn't feel emotionally bonded. And the reason I didn't feel emotionally bonded is because I wasn't, I was so disconnected. So trauma bonds, what are they? There are relational patterns that we begin. We create it in childhood based on a state of dependency. When we are born as a human infant, we are in a complete state of dependency, meaning we cannot meet our physical needs on our own. We can't sustain life. So some, some state, some listeners might have heard the statement we're wired to connect or we're interpersonal creatures as humans. Here's the reality of it. We are, we can't sustain life unless we're in a relationship first meeting our physical needs. And then of course meeting our emotional needs or safety when we have people around us.

Speaker 1: So from that place of dependency, what we begin to do to maintain those bonds for survival is we adapt. We begin to morph and wear masks and fit in to ensure that whatever needs our caregivers were capable of. Meaning at that given time continued to be met though. Oftentimes what we're doing is we're compromising. This is where we begin to inhabit the roles that I call in my book. We maybe become the caretaker, right? The helper, the overachiever in childhood, and that never goes away. And then we become school age, and we begin to develop pure friendships. And we still inhabit those same roles for the same reason because they're familiar. And that's how we've been taught. We get the, most of our needs met that we can. And then obviously flash forward in time with some of us repeating these roles for decades, we become an adult that doesn't necessarily have authentic relationships that we might have a million relationships around us.

Speaker 1: As I know I did, I had a lot of, I had a very active social life living in major cities. I always had people around me, like I said, I wasn't though authentic or emotionally connected with them because I was still repeating those relational patterns from childhood that didn't allow myself expression. So trauma bonding, I believe is quite natural space in the human dependency. And again, relational patterns that we inhabit it at one time that we just never grew out of. So in adulthood, we want to identify those patterns and begin to create change in better service of our needs.

Speaker 3: Nicole, you've brought up something very important here, and it's these relationships that allow us to feel safe and we tend to carry those one's needs and desires into our adult relationships as a continuation. Have you noticed more and more people having issues as they're adults because they're, they're viewing relationships more flippantly rather because of the, the technology that is around us. And it's sort of loosened our, our connections with a lot of it just seems to me that people are so quick to give up on certain relationships that they have spent so much time in and building where the stronger path, the better path, the healthier path would be to serve that relationship through, to amend it, to fix it, to cultivate and build it and strengthen it.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I mean, we each know for ourselves the relationships that are safe and the relationships that we can create and cultivate boundaries in to cultivate safety and those that don't. And yeah, perhaps I hear a lot of people talk about, especially in the digital age of dating, right? Endless swiping partners are bounding. If I don't like you, I can find the next person. So maybe to some extent though, again, like I said, we have to kind of as our own individualized way of being typically be that person that looks outside, right? You didn't meet my needs. So onto the next partner, similar to how I described myself being, um, that's not to say though, that as we heal, we don't evolve out of relationships. We don't see right. That some relationships aren't serving us or aren't safe spaces. And then similarly remove ourselves to some creating new boundaries or outright separations from those people.

Speaker 1: We can find our way through by doing the work by beginning to identify our needs by beginning to self express, you know, more authentically. And then by seeing how safe we feel to continue to do that into those relationships around us, romantic included. So yes, some of us are cycling are using the digital age of endless distractions with other partners, you know, possibilities include it. But typically that's the person that's doing that outside of social media as well, right. With whatever else existed before, if we can even remember before it was social media right before that. So again, it's, it's nothing new. I talk about this often with social media, social, or the internet, the whole digital world that we're all living in, that just becomes a new expression of a lot of the underlying coping that's already been present in our lives. That's of course now ever available. Um, and to a very grand scale,

Speaker 4: What role does expectations play in this trauma bond relationship? Because I've found that I started to realize that I needed to grow and do some work in the expectations I was putting on others and the reaction I was having when they weren't meeting those unspoken expectations. And it took a partner in my life to, to ask me, why are you expecting that of someone? And why do you need them to show up in that way? And here, I had no idea that this pattern was running rampant in almost all of my relationships. And then I was getting frustrated with the people around me, not realizing that one, I wasn't vocalizing those expectations. So there's no way that they could meet them. And two that they have vastly different expectations of me. And I might not be meeting those expectations either, which was really eye-opening

Speaker 1: Expectations are incredibly powerful, very common. We set expectations for ourselves, for others, for our relationships, for our futures. We are often operating at that expectation level. And then, yeah, we're left with disappointment. We're left with inflexibility, right? If I set a very direct expectation or very detailed and you don't meet it exactly, I've left myself, no flexibility for the possibility that you might've met it in your own way. And we're doing that the longer the relationship existed, the more expectations have probably been enacted and validate it. So as we begin to change, we are often violating expectations or violating our own expectations. What's important to note, like I said, it's very quite normal expectations are very active in a lot of our lives in our relationships. What's important to explore for each of us. And this is where the answer gets very individualized. What is the meaning that's coming up for you based on this expectation?

Speaker 1: Why is it this person needs to show up in this particular way? And chances are, there's some version of that's how I feel loved because that's how I feel connected because that's how I know I'm worthy men again. So exploring kind of what's driving and the meaning around the expectation gives us a bit clarity. And then, like I said, over time, flexibility allows the opportunity for people to begin a, for me to maybe be the person that meets my own expectation first, and then B to extend a bit of flexibility where you don't have to be as you know, exact, I can be a little more open to how you're able to meet my need in that moment and be a little more flexible.

Speaker 3: I think that there's a motivation tie as well to our expectations. It's very difficult to get up and do something. If what I'm going to get out of it is going to be worth it. So if I'm thinking about implementing this new workout, I'll want to make sure that the expectations that will get me off the couch and into the gym is I'm going to be fit and look great. And it's only going to take 30 days and I'm going to achieve Chivas. So, and that may be enough to trick me into getting moving. And then all of a sudden, the reality starts to settle in of this is going to be a much larger task than I had originally thought. So it's about certainly having to recognize when our expectations have gotten us in trouble and temper them with the right motivations so that we continue to be excited about doing the things we need to be doing.

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. With the more appropriate expectations or also with perhaps acceptance, I think a lot of times a helpful practice on we are someone who operates with a lot of expectations is begin to cultivate a practice again, back to this concept of the work, you know, around acceptance for what is right. Not expecting it to be different, seeing a bit more clearly what, what, so, um, in any given moment, um, and I think that can be a really, really helpful practice. And it is a practice learning to accept the self where you are in your journey without looking to where you could be or where you should be or where, you know, someone else is in reference to you. It's an incredibly empowering practice to learn how to be with what is for yourself without always operating on the expectation of what could be.

Speaker 4: We know that doing the work is tough. It's not easy. And it does get slightly easier when your partner, your friends, the people that matter in your life are supportive of you doing the work and helping you, guiding you. How do we approach those relationships, where we've recognized these patterns and what we're bringing to the relationship, and it's not serving us, but maybe our partner or friend isn't ready to do the work or do the change. We hear that time and time again from our audience. And they often ask us, well, how do I determine if this is a toxic relationship? And we love to go to the extremes, right? It's like, we'd have to then write this person off and cut them out of our lives. But let's be honest. The work is hard. Change is not easy for ourselves or for others, and do immediately with expectations. Think that the other person in the other side of the relationship is ready to do it with us because we've made the self-discovery is often not the case.

Speaker 1: And I think this also touches on a really difficult reality or truth for most of us humans, we can't change someone. We can't will them to be somewhere different or ultimatum them to be elsewhere than where they are. Like you're saying very beautifully agent. The work is a daily commitment we make to showing up for ourselves in some way, in some conscious way. So meaning the person on the other end, our partner right, has to make that same commitment and it has to come from them to some extent. And so this idea of willing someone to change or threatening them into change just doesn't work. It only creates more resentment, more expectation and more difficulty for the relationship. And that's not to say that it isn't complicated as we're navigating life, perhaps in home with people around us, right. That are stuck in their old patterns.

Speaker 1: However, even more so important in those moments to continue to refocus within, to find the space. And now I can create for myself, assuming you're going to keep going as you are for now and beginning to create the safety or the change, or to honor my needs in a new way. And the beautiful thing that happens oftentimes is we do inspire the change by modeling change by having our partner look over and begin to experience us different lamps, begin to one, a little bit of what we are having for ourselves that can very much be the point of inspiration, helping them to pivot into their own healing journey. So it's the refocusing on the self, perhaps the utilization of boundaries, right? If we do need to have more physical space now separated from this person, maybe I need to carve out a little nook in my home so I can energetically have some separate space, or maybe I need to learn how to navigate my emotions with other supportive relationships that I might have in my life, continue to focus on me. And then oftentimes the relationships around me shift and change.

Speaker 4: I love that be the light, be the change yourself and those relationships that matter will oftentimes be completely different in the way that you're showing up. And now all of a sudden, the way that your partner or your friend would love to show up and meet you there. But so many of us, when we realize, Oh, there's work to be done on our end, it's very easy to then turn the mirror around on our partner and start looking at all of their patterns and reading the books and seeing the videos and saying, but you're doing this and you're doing that. And that really stifles our growth and our work and our change.

Speaker 1: Absolutely. And what's important is to learn how to navigate the effects of whatever they're doing, right? Assume that they're going to keep doing and how can I receive this differently experiences differently or remove myself so that I can feel safer as they continue to do those things. And then to speak to your question earlier, we do get clarity whether or not this is a relationship that it can evolve into a new way of being that's more sustainable for both of us or whether or not I do have to make the very difficult and often grief, you know, contained choice to leave the, or to create more distance. And again, that's also part of the healing journey is coming to that conclusion that not all of the relationships that some of us might've carried right for a lifetime continue to serve us into adulthood. And then of course the goal becomes to find those people that are more in alignment or safer around whom we can begin to express our authentic self. So it's not to say that some relationships don't shift and change and or come to an end. Absolutely. I saw a lot of my relationships come to an end and I'm warned a lot of the grief that came up with those endings. And that's part of healing too. I love to

Speaker 4: Look at relationships as having a time and a place and a value in your life and not being so attached to them, having to continue for your entire life. There are lessons to be learned from every relationship and value in every relationship we have and we've cultivated, and also not being so quick to dismiss them. I'd love to shift gears a little bit because for me, growing up in my household, my emotions were very often dismissed. And then you layer on pop culture and how we label emotions as negative. And now there's this movement to always be happy and positive and the light and not showcase those emotions that are labeled negative or bad. And in turn, it has really led me to, to disassociate from emotions and not know how to feel them fully. And I know that I'm not alone in, in, based on the questions that our audience sends us as well. So someone in that situation, who's now realizing like, man, I don't even know what I feel or how to feel into my body because I have disassociated so much. What are some of the steps that we can take to start

Speaker 1: Feeling again? Yeah. The first foundational step that you'll always hear me mention, um, in terms of emotion, the emotional body, reminding ourselves that emotions live in the body, their sensation changes their areas of tension. They're energetic shifts. There are hormones cortisol, and the heart rate increases that come along with that they're in our body. So the foundational practice that we want to build into our daily life consistently is how to be consciously present in our body, how to embody body consciousness, how to be connected safely in this self so that we can begin to tune in to those sensations, not to here's where you can use expectation and throw it out the window, not to expect if you're listening, like, Oh gosh, I'm on a spaceship. I'm so dissociated. Oh, I have emotions. Okay. Tomorrow I'm going to feel them. Chances are you won't, you'll still be dissociated, right?

Speaker 1: So it's cultivating safety beginning the practice of reconnecting with our body tuning into either the ever present breath as our focal point for attention. Attention is such a powerful muscle and choice that we can begin to gift ourself with making most of us aren't, we're allowing our attention to be grabbed and distracted with the endless stimuli in environment. Some of us it's our internal worlds that are endless entertainment, always in our minds, always running through narratives. Right? So the more we can begin to tone the muscle, as I say, choosing where our attention goes and bringing it in the context of this conversation, always back to our physical body, using our breath as the hook or using our sensory experience of any given moment. I have a very beautifully smelling candle right here, smelling it. If I'm eating, tasting it right. Really being present in our body. And again, cultivating that as a practice doing it consistently. So that over time you can begin to tune into, Oh, I am feeling my heart rate increase. Oh, I do feel like I carry a lot of tension up here. My body is beginning to speak to me now.

Speaker 3: Well, and the book you brought up this concept of reparenting and is this to get the attention and the care that you had been missing as a child later on in life was that the concept laid out

Speaker 1: It's that? And it's also in addition to that, beginning to show up more in service of our own needs, understanding that even if we're just talking to keeping with the physical body, likely the daily habits, how I'm caring for my body is probably based on how I was modeled to care for my body or what my family's relationship with body was, or maybe the resources I had or didn't have to meet the needs of my body. Chances are when I flash forward into adulthood, I'm probably repeating those patterns. Even when, for many of us, my environment has changed. Even when my body has changed is now aged. Maybe its needs have changed right yet. I haven't updated my subconscious programming around that. So reparenting is much more inclusive in terms of the holistic model. That for many of us, it means creating new lifestyle habits, learning, maybe how to be more consciously present to my body, that while it might look and appear similar to the bodies of my family, that I was raised around it, isn't, it's my own body with differing needs, right? So updating for some of us, that means my physical lifestyle choices. And for others, again, it's the more complicated, emotional worlds that also contains our ways of being so reparenting is a very individualized, I call it a menu type process where really what it just means is showing up as a lot, a wise parent, as a wise figure conscious figure. Now that can learn how to better be in tuned with our full self physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Speaker 4: And I feel like that has a level of self-compassion tied with it as well because to fully show up and fully understand yourself, you have to not worry so much on those expectations you didn't meet or all the ways that you internally viewed yourself as flawed. Instead, you actually have to sit with that acceptance and realize that in order do the work, there has to be a level of self compassion and understanding that it's going to take time being patient with yourself and forgiving yourself for letting these patterns run wild for as long as they had

Speaker 1: For many of us Aja that path of rebuilding a more consistent practice of daily self-compassion is the path of healing because so many of us sit in judgment. And now we have an endless stream of other humans to judge ourself against the whole world of social media, of people who are doing things differently than us, or look differently or are different in some way. Um, so self-compassion, I think is very understated in terms of its utility though, reminding ourselves that it's a practice, right? It's not enough to read about compassionate in a book and say, Oh right, let's go do more compassionate life. We actually have to do it. Which means for some of us removing the attention from the endless critical negative voice that's running through our head or removing the attention from the endless desire compulsion to compare, right? We have to break the habit of actually doing that.

Speaker 1: And a lot of us live under that habit. So in addition to refocusing and removing the attention from the negative, we want to begin to action. And oftentimes we action before we develop the self-love or the self care that a lot of us hope to come beforehand. We wait to love ourself to show up in love for ourselves. Um, so what I mean, when I say that is, it means beginning to re-parent beginning to show up and honor our needs. Even before we feel worthy of doing it, knowing that over time, the more we action in that new way, the more we will cultivate the worth behind it, or the love behind it. And I'll be the first person to say I waited, or I was waiting to feel differently or to think differently or to right. Be inspired in a new way to be loving of myself, to then follow with action. And I really became, came to realize that because of our subconscious and the power of it, that's not actually how change happens. Our feelings are often the last to change. And again, we have to learn how to walk through the resistance, empower ourselves, to keep doing these new actions until our feelings follow suit until six months from now, six years from now, we can wake up and actually say, I feel compassionate. I might actually like myself.

Speaker 4: Well, one of the archetypes of the book that stood out to me was the overachiever, the constantly accomplishing and doing. And I think many in our audience are in that camp. And don't even realize that that's one of the ways they're disassociating from their feelings, their body. And what's really going on this constant loop of comparison and needing that next bit of admiration, adulation achievement to feel complete. And of course we know that's a hedonistic treadmill that never ends. The speed never slows down. So for those in the audience who are disassociating from themselves by overachieving, how can they start to slow it down and actually get into tune if that's the case? Yeah. That person I'm,

Speaker 1: I'll be the first, that's the most resonating archetype for me, especially now in periods of busy-ness. I M I, I shift into that, go, go, go mode. I also notice, and I think this is important to mention a version of overachievement in relationship and endless seeking. We can do this in our relationships, even if it's not achieving milestones or things like that. I think that we traditionally think of when we think of achievement, a lot of times we're trying to achieve in our relationship, right. Be the person that's always there meet everyone's expectations. There's that word again, all the time, never disappoint anyone in our lives. And that's a really active part of my subconscious still. It's very alive for me. And when I don't feel like I'm living up, I feel badly. So the pathway out is the same consciously becoming aware that that patterning is there for ourselves and beginning to make new choices. Oftentimes that means for the overachiever, because we love doing spending a little less time doing more time. Dare I say, doing the thing that's most uncomfortable being right. Learning now how to not action all the time, how to pull back, how to sit and rest, how not to be always on to the next, trying to fulfill expectations and how just to be. And for a lot of us, that's the most difficult thing when you identify with overachiever.

Speaker 4: Yeah. One of my favorite questions is to simply ask, what do you enjoy doing for fun? And it's like almost a deer in headlights. Like, what do you mean? Like, what is fun? Oh, am I supposed to find that I have this giant to-do list? That's never ending and I have things to accomplish and you know, that comes up in our programs of, wow. Okay. So I have been going about things again, looking outward, you know, there are these expectations are these achievements outside of us when the answer is actually inside of us, tuning into our body, recognizing what we truly want. And if we don't know, spending some time to really figure it out and not distract ourselves with another accomplishment or another task

Speaker 1: And not to judge ourselves from not knowing, just to throw that in there too, because a lot of is, do we see markers of age? I'm 30. I should know I'm 40. I should know. God forbid I pass 60 and I don't know something's wrong with me. I don't know. Cause I never stopped to listen.

Speaker 3: A lot of folks know what they need to bring into their life, to help with that. Well rounding and to have a more complete life. It is those steps towards that, which means a change in habits, a change in daily routines, which makes everything difficult. And then as long as we've been doing this, I think there's a lot of folks who also have a fear of success, more so than a fear of failure. I don't know how to behave in this new world or this new life that I'm going to have. So I'm going to double down on the familiarity that I know keeps me miserable. As, as,

Speaker 1: As that sounds, you're not wrong, Johnny, a lot of us fear stepping into our power, fear, being successful fear being before we even successful scene. A lot of us don't even express parts of ourself because we are so vulnerable in doing so. It's so unfamiliar and there's such an incredible fear of rejection of abandonment of what someone will do if they see the full us. Um, so for a lot of us, we don't even express our full self. Um, and again, that's, that's a practice in doing that in being vulnerable to allow that to be

Speaker 4: Myself, I've personally struggled with this and I'm sure many in our audience have as well when you start to make the recognition that these patterns came from our interactions with our family members. And even though they were well-meaning and well-intentioned and doing the best they could, they still had this negative impact on us. And it's easy to blame them and get really frustrated that that was your experience. And oftentimes that could block us from doing the real work, because again, it's so much easier to point the finger at someone else and say they were wrong. They were the problem than it is to fix and repair the problem in ourselves. So how do we manage that? When we come to this recognition that there was trauma there, maybe not the big T and the people in life that we really care about and care about us. We're the cause of that trauma?

Speaker 1: I think it's really important as it is very natural, as we become aware and right, the discomfort and the wounding comes consciously to the surface where we're now experiencing it. I think it really is natural to begin to feel a million different things, grief, sadness, anger, resentment at whether it's the caregivers or the family structure where we know right. Those habits were born out of. I feel like the first step that I want to offer here is allowing that to be what so right. Here's another great place where we can practice that. Self-compassion not judge ourself because we're feeling angry based on now what we're observing to allow that anger to be. What is so many of us who disconnect and dissociate squash and suppress that anger, right? It doesn't go anywhere. It just stays disconnected from ourselves. So feeling it is part of the healing journey then, right?

Speaker 1: So many of us want to go back and have someone change or apologize or now do something different as a result of what we've observed. Some of us might have the gift of having that pivotal conversation of sharing these new awarenesses with our caregivers and getting perhaps the apology or the empathy that we feel like we want, or we deserve. And not all of us will, um, because we have to remember, and this is what can help us cultivate. The now compassion for our caregivers is that they too were humans raised by humans that were compromised by their own trauma and their own conditioning and their past. So that doesn't mean it doesn't override the anger that I might feel. What we want to do is become flexible, expands that we can hold space for both. I can be angry and I can also understand why my caregiver was limited in the way that they are.

Speaker 1: And then I get to still choose an adulthood, how I navigate the relationship with this person. And I want to add that piece in, because I know for me, I became a professional at empathizing away my feelings and showing up. Anyway, if I could understand your wounding and I have an uncanny capability of doing that. So I believe with people, if I can understand why you're behaving the way you are, I can explain a way and still show up for this relationship. That doesn't mean we still have to show up for this relationship. If it's making us feel unsafe, or if we're living compromises that don't serve us. So we want to hold space for whatever comes up. I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel hurt, right? We want to expand that space that maybe we can cultivate an understanding for why things were the way they were. And we can still gift ourself with choice, with how we navigate that relationship into the future.

Speaker 4: I'd love to point out here that we've sort of touched on the negative impacts that this might have in our relationships, but doing this work has a ton of positive impacts in our relationships. The more in tune you are with your own emotions and willing to communicate them, the more life is blessed into each one of those relationships. And the more you're able to see your friends, family, and partners, and their struggles and their emotions. So this getting back to our body and our feelings has a ripple effect in every relationship in our life, in a positive manner. It's not just about labeling people and cutting people out and blaming, but it's recognizing that we all have our trauma and the more that we work on our own and the patterns and understand our emotions, the more compassion we're going to bring into these other relationships and empathy, as you say, so that we can be a better version of ourselves for everyone. I'm smiling

Speaker 1: Because I very intentionally ended the book with a chapter on interdependence because that's what I believe the goal here is though, again, like I said earlier, it's not just showing up in relationship. It's showing up as our authentic self, right? Sharing our gifts with the world, living in purpose. And we can only do that when we feel safe in our relationships and within those around us. So yes, that might mean that things shift things change though, the more authentic I can be to myself, the more I do create those ripples around us, the more I become a safer person to be out in the world, in my full self-expression, in my opinion, impacting the entire world around me. So self-healing the hashtag I created when I started the account was to me in service of collective healing. Because until we're in full self-expression, we're showing up as a compromised human that sending sometimes messages of lack of safety. We're sending energetic messages to the world around us, that isn't serving the world around us.

Speaker 4: Yes. And it's influencing the behavior we're receiving in return. And the way people are showing up for reacting us, you touched on this just before, but we love to end every interview with what our guests thinks their X factor is. So what is that skillset or mindset that has allowed you achieve great success in your life? So I think my X factor is me

Speaker 1: In my uniqueness, the more conscious I become and the more connected to myself, I can safely say, AJ and Johnny, no one is me, right? So we all have an X factor. The more in our full self-expression we are. And I assure you, everyone listening, it's in there. We all have that space of inner knowing whether we call intuition or our higher self, or just that purpose, it lives within. And when we connect to that and express that in the world, we all have an X factor. Cause there's no one

Speaker 4: Like us. And we believe that journey is worth it to finding it. And to go along

Speaker 3: With that, I mean how we were raised the love and maybe a lack of love that we receive and the environment in which we're raised, it's going to enhance some aspects of our lives and D hands, other aspects of our lives. But I mean, this is going to produce a uniqueness that is going to be you. And if you're able to tap into the things that enhanced made you better for, and you're going to be a much more powerful person, and then you can do the work on the places where those things are lacking and build that up to make yourself whole,

Speaker 1: I don't think anything is back to my intentions of going on social media and they begin with, as we share our stories, right, as we step into our authenticity, we become the, the change in the world because we show people, right? The journey, the way we, we are able to express a truth that I do think has impact for everyone around us, experiencing and living and finding their own journey toward that truth themselves.

Speaker 4: Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story and your work. And I know it's deeply impactful for every member of our audience who is going through some pain and trauma, and you may not realize it yet. Of course,

Speaker 1: Thank you both for having me. I was truly honored to spend this time with you and your community. So thank you, AJ and Johnny

Speaker 4: [inaudible], you know, Johnny, we hear that term, do the work thrown around on Instagram, social media, but many of us don't even know what that actually means. And it was so great to have Dr. Lopera on the show today to really unpack that for our audience and to share her personal experiences and doing her own work well, when you say that term, do the work,

Speaker 3: The people who have done that work know exactly what that means. And one of the most amazing things about this, if you are in sales, if you're doing a presentation, you have to believe in yourself in order to have the confidence to bring your a game. And it is doing that work that will allow you to discover who you truly are and lean in on the super person that

Speaker 4: Is you. We got a shout out this week. Yeah.

Speaker 3: This week, shout out, goes to our boot camp, alumni, Alex. He came through in 2018 and he wrote us a message on our community, mentioning how his company has grown exponentially over the last few years. And that as an engineer, he had come to our classes, looking for the two plus two paint by numbers processes that will lead him to success only to realize that it was about energy, that he was matching and going with the flow, being in the moment and enhancing the energy that is already there, that allowed him to reach the goals that he had set out for him. And when you have that realization and you're able to channel that a whole new world opens up

Speaker 2: That's right. He finally realized the power of conversation and connection in business to grow his company, revenue and crush his sales goals. Are you ready to get results? Like Alex, our world famous immersion bootcamp is coming back for just three weekends in Las Vegas. And we want to help you obliterate your business and professional goals with the lead social skills and success mindsets. Spend the weekend with us learning what makes people tick so you can grow your influence and unlock your persuasion skills. Over the last 15 years, CEOs, entrepreneurs, sales teams, military special ops and young professionals have attended our bootcamp to get more out of life. And the results speak for themselves

Speaker 3: Are extremely limited with only three weekends available this year to learn more and apply today, head on over to the art of charm.com/bootcamp. That's right. Pause this podcast right now and apply immediately and reserve your [email protected] slash bootcamp AIG. And I can't wait to see you in Las Vegas.

Speaker 2: Yes, that's right. And follow along on social media. You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at the art of charm, as well as submit your listener questions or shout outs for the show. The art of charm podcast is produced by Michael Harold and Eric Montgomery until next week. I'm a J and I'm Johnny go out there and crush it.

Speaker 5: [inaudible] [inaudible].

Check in with AJ and Johnny!

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