In our Braving Hope online coaching program we consistently work on mindset. Mindset is the beliefs that often originate in childhood and unconsciously drive your emotions, thinking and behaviors in ways you may not be aware of and that can work against the life you long to live.
Betrayal comes along and reinforces these old limiting beliefs about yourself, others, your Higher Power and the world around you. These old beliefs become supercharged by the betrayal which whispers in your ear that what you feared all along about your lovability, desirability, worthiness etc. is true after all.
One of our core values at PartnerHope and the Center for Relational Recovery is that we value and are committed to parallel process. What this means is that we do the same work we ask our clients to do and continually grow in our personal and professional lives and relationships.
As a result, I work on mindset for myself each day too. One of the core beliefs that I have been expanding and changing is the belief that it is all up to me and that I must take care of things by myself and for myself. This belief is rooted in a childhood where trauma was chronic, and I learned very early on that I was alone in dealing with all that was happening in my world.
As an adult I have carried this belief forward and often operate out of deprivation thinking that says I have to do it all by myself. I have been working on this in different ways for many years and it has changed significantly for me as I’ve learned to let others in and rely on them to carry the load with me.
This year, to continue growing in this area, I decided to focus on the belief, “I am supported” and to anchor that belief in emotionally until it becomes my new normal. I have been holding space and doing the same work I ask my clients in Braving Hope to do around this new belief.
As I’ve been in that process, a series of things have happened that would, on the surface, seem to challenge the idea that I am supported. Here is what has happened in my world since holding space for the belief, “I am supported.”
In January I hired a new Business Operations Manager, Angela Cook, to help take things off my plate and free me up. This was a long-awaited hire and I had set my year up to be able to focus on my book and PhD program while growing PartnerHope.
Five days after hiring Angela, our Intake Coordinator gave notice leaving a full-time very significant position unfilled. Angela and I stepped in to fill that role while we looked for someone new to join our team. A few weeks later the Office Manager/Bookkeeper took a new position elsewhere and that job also came onto my plate. Did I mention that we also moved the counseling center and PartnerHope into a new office building during this time and started doing a buildout to make the space fit for us?
But wait, there’s more.
About a month ago, Angela fell in her yard and broke her right leg in three places requiring surgery and a prolonged period of bed rest and no weight bearing while it heals. My right-hand woman went down, and we still had two empty positions.
Then, about ten days ago I went off a curb all wrong and fell and hurt my left knee, right wrist and severely sprained my right foot. I must do no weight bearing and no driving for the next 4-6 weeks. Sigh.
I have looked God-ward more than one time over the past six months and rolled my eyes and asked, “WTF?” After my ortho appointment where I was effectively grounded it took me 24 hours before I was able to stop erupting in tears of frustration. It has been a hard few months.
But I have also been curious and thoughtful and aware that I am loved and there is much to learn here if I am willing. I want to share with you some of the things that I am in the middle of learning (and trust me when I say I am in the middle of the learning).
One of the things that I have learned again (because even though I know this, I have to keep learning it) is that a belief like, “I am supported,” is not about what is happening circumstantially. It is easy to think that we can only hold certain supportive, healthy or positive beliefs if our circumstances are also supportive, healthy and positive. But that is not the case.
Our mindset and beliefs are what drive our responses. They are what we act and think out of when we are faced with daunting challenges and deep wounds. And it is possible to hold beliefs that serve you well even when in the middle of the kind of pile on I’ve described above.
Whatever belief we hold, we will then find references in our circumstances to support it. If I continued to hold the belief, “It is all up to me,” I could have built a tower of references to support that belief. I would have focused on the lack and the stress and the overwhelm as proof that the belief, “it’s all up to me,” is true. That old belief would have dug in deeper.
But because I have been focused on and committed to the belief, “I am supported,” and because I know that circumstances do not alter this truth, I have been able to look beyond the lack and stress and overwhelm. When I looked out beyond those things, this is what I found (and I’m going to name names).
I watched my new Ops Manager, Angela, step in and do a job she had not been hired to do with enthusiasm, determination, and perseverance. I watched Melissa Howard, our Marketing Manager, pick up parts of the vacant roles and add them to her plate without hesitation. I watched Gina Kaye our partner coach dive into a training program designed to help her hone her coaching skills so that she could more effectively support PartnerHope. I watched Bruce, Aja, Heidi and Laurie, our clinical team, steadily continue to serve clients without a hitch.
Jeff Henderson who helps us recruit and hire encouraged and supported us by providing free assessments when we kept striking out as we looked for the right fit to join our team. My business coach Mark Sanna problem solved and encouraged and held the faith right alongside me. My mastermind family welcomed my PartnerHope team and I in and supported and encouraged us as we learned new skills and got clear about our vision and purpose.
I am supported.
I celebrated a big birthday during this whirlwind of events. I spent my birthday answering the doorbell. My doorbell rang all day long with flowers, chocolate, orchids, balloons, jewelry and more. A large group of my friends all combined forces to put together an incredible birthday package that they presented me with. It was an overwhelming parade of love.
I am supported.
When I fell, I fell into a road and could have been hit by a car but was not. A woman came running over and said to me, “I am a paramedic can I help you?” She had my shoe off, and my foot wrapped and iced in five minutes. I was texting all my peeps and could not get hold of any of them so two older gentlemen who had also run over to see if I was OK put me in the back of their car, drove me home and helped me through my front door.
I am supported.
My best friend has moved in with me to help me. A friend drove down from New York the weekend I fell to hang out. I was supposed to be throwing a fancy birthday party two days after the accident (yes more birthday) and instead, everyone came over and we ordered food and had a great evening while my foot was elevated and iced. My friend and physical therapist Andre texted and told me he had me in his schedule twice a week and was sorting out transportation to take me back and forth.
I am supported.
I have had a choice these past few months. I could have looked at the hard and challenging things, the lack and the stress and taken that all in as proof that it is all up to me. I could have allowed the circumstances to feed my old deprivation thinking. I could have believed that what is most true about me is that I am not worthy of support.
Our beliefs are always attached to our sense of self. This is why it is so vitally important that we pay attention to our beliefs and bring the old tapes that do not serve us and that are based on lies fed by trauma and neglect into our conscious awareness where we can change them. My belief, “It’s all up to me,” comes out of an even deeper belief about whether I can count on anyone to be there for me. That then comes out of an even deeper belief that maybe I am not worthy of support. See how that works?
When we become aware of the beliefs that do not serve us well, we are able to then choose a new belief that is a better reflection of who we truly are and what we are truly worthy of. Changing these deeply embedded beliefs about who we are and what we are worthy of is not easy and takes perseverance. My old belief and my new belief have done some wrestling during these past few months. But I am no longer available for the lie that the old belief represents and so it has less and less power each time it dances by.
When I tally up the scorecard of challenges versus support and care over the past six months there are a lot of checkmarks on both sides of the sheet. Both have been very present and very real. I’m pointing this out because I want to make sure that you are not associating mindset and changing beliefs in any way with denying what is really happening. My foot being injured is awful and a daily hour-by-hour struggle. Angela breaking her leg has been a horrific ordeal for her and a challenge for me and the business. The lack of staff has created, chaos, stress and overwhelm. These challenges are very real.
However, what we focus on grows. Period. When we focus on limiting or trauma-based beliefs about ourselves and others, our world shapes itself to these beliefs and they grow. When we focus on what is true about who we are, our worth, the love and support available to us, that is what grows, and our sense of self grows and expands and changes along with it.
You may have noticed that for several months there have not been many new blog posts and no new videos if you are in the Hope After Betrayal Facebook group. This is because of all that I have shared with you here and simply not being able to cover all the bases. The good news is that we have found two new lovely team members to join PH and CRR who are going to be great assets both to us and to you, our clients. Angela and I still have many weeks of no driving and no weight bearing ahead but we are being creative about getting work done while also elevating and icing.
The last several blog posts have been about the importance of mindset in healing from betrayal trauma. I wanted to pause here in the middle of the series and take a moment to share with you some of the journey that I have been on throughout the past few months in the hopes that it will help you to understand more about mindset and the importance of bringing our beliefs into awareness so that we can change the ones that do not serve us well.
Look for the last post in our series about mindset next week.
About the Author:
Michelle Mays, LPC, CSAT-S is the Founder of PartnerHope.com and the Center for Relational Recovery, an outpatient treatment center located in Northern Virginia. She has helped hundreds of betrayed partners and sexually addicted clients transform their lives and relationships. Michelle is the author of The Aftermath of Betrayal and When It All Breaks Bad and leads the field in identifying and crafting effective treatment strategies for betrayed partners.
Braving Hope is a ground-breaking coaching intensive for betrayed partners around the world. Working with Michelle will help you to move out of the devastation of betrayal, relieve your trauma symptoms and reclaim your life.