Voices InCourage with KL Wells | Cerita Yvonne | Emotional Trauma

Embracing our emotions has incredible healing power, yet can be one of the hardest acts to accept. It doesn’t have to be that way. Meet Cerita Yvonne, trauma coach and therapist, who guides us through the process of acknowledging the validity of our emotions and embracing forgiveness in the healing process from emotional trauma. Cerita shares her recovery from emotional abuse, unveiling the powerful realization that she was the soulmate she had been searching for all along. Discover the truth that, “You don’t have to be perfect to be loved,” and explore the significance of recognizing and understanding your triggers for authentic self-discovery. If you’ve ever grappled with shame or struggled to reveal your true self, this episode is a beacon of hope. Listen to this powerful conversation with Cerita, where healing, compassion, and self-discovery converge.

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Emotional Trauma The Power Of Resiliency With Therapist & Trauma Coach Cerita Yvonne

Welcome to the show. I am super excited for our audience to meet this bright, brilliant light in the world that I met, Cerita Yvonne. She is doing amazing, extraordinary work on so many fronts that I really truly believe is that arc that’s going to shift so many people and therefore humanity on the planet. As we talked, it felt like we were two little peas in a pod of different moms. There are so many similarities in our stories and who we are and our own little journeys.

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I’m thrilled to have my audience meet you because it was such a joy for me to have the opportunity to spend some time with you. Welcome.

Thank you. I’m delighted to be here. I’m grateful for you, the support that you give, the community that you create, and for giving people permission to be encouraged. I’m excited.

A couple of things I would say about Cerita is childhood trauma, a journey of her own, love that she declares, healing as a lifestyle, and doing some amazing work with relationship trauma. Anybody who’s in the addiction space, wherever you are, whether you’re a loved one or whether you’re dealing with the disease itself, is learning how to love ourselves, learning how to pick really good people that are in our circle that are going to support the best version of ourselves and the resiliency that it takes, and learning how to stand on our own power.

As you talk about addiction, it’s so important. I can only imagine the work that you’ve done in this space. For those of us on any kind of healing journey, it’s so important to give compassion and understanding to ourselves and everyone else. A lot of us are struggling with some form of addiction. Some are more acceptable by the culture in society. A lot of us are all looking for connection, authenticity, and relief from pain. A lot of our challenges, I do believe, can be resolved, or we can certainly lessen the impact when we show up authentically as who we are or at least be encouraged to do so to the best of our ability and allow ourselves to connect deeply with other human beings in the process.

Cerita’s Childhood Trauma Journey

Amen. If you would speak to your journey as a child with a challenged mom. We connected on this notion of picking a book off the library shelf, and then becoming avid, voracious readers and learners and trying to find our way out of our circumstances, so to speak, and reinvent who we are probably so many times, honestly.

It’s interesting you picked that word challenged mom. I will go with that because I recognize and I’ve learned a lot more as an adult about her extensive trauma history, the things that she went through as a child that she could not even verbalize or admit. The challenging aspect is that what you do not reveal, you can’t heal. Her trauma looked like, for me as a child, emotionally unavailable, sometimes what looks like physical abuse, and emotional invalidation. It looks like a covert narcissist where she was always the victim. Something was always wrong, and usually, it was me.

What you do not reveal, you cannot heal. Click To Tweet

I didn’t realize this probably until I became a therapist exactly what was happening and the dynamics in that relationship. I had to do a lot of grieving in order to acknowledge my own pain, which I had suppressed for a very long time, and recognize that a lot of my challenges with unworthiness, my low self-esteem, relationships that I tried to outwork, outdo, and outlearn was a source of my relationship with her. With that said, in no way do I want to blame her for my experiences. I do feel that we all have to be accountable in some way. I’m accountable for my healing. Even though my goal is not to shame her or make her feel bad, as trauma survivors, our feelings and our experiences are valid. Both things can be true. Both things are true.

We can still love them.

Sometimes, from a distance, but yes.

That’s true. My story is that over the decades, I kept elevating the story that I would tell as I matured, as I did my healing work, and so on and so forth to the point where I wholeheartedly forgave and embraced the divine configuration of the gift of my mom, my dad, my brother, and all the characters that have played a role on my life’s stage.

Forgiveness is essential. As we talk about healing addiction in any capacity,  forgiveness is a process that for many survivors must happen over and over again. This has been my experience and I see this with my clients. The more you learn, the more you can recontextualize your experiences. The depth and the richness with which you see yourself when you understand yourself continuously evolves. You will also probably become aware of some of your own patterns and how they showed up in relationships. Ultimately, you hurt yourself through these unconscious patterns, so self-forgiveness is mandatory. It’s a requirement on this healing journey.

Voices InCourage with KL Wells | Cerita Yvonne | Emotional Trauma
Emotional Trauma: Forgiveness is a process that for many survivors must happen over and over again.

I want to be very intentional with my words. It’s important to recognize that we can forgive ourselves and forgive everyone else and we can also hold them to this elevated standard. Meaning, we’re still holding boundaries and having authentic conversations. As we change, the relationship dynamics must change as well. We have to understand that not everyone is going to want to take that journey with us. Therefore, we’ll have to make a choice about how we want to respond to that.

That is such a big conversation in and of itself. I  talk to people who are in recovery and they have families that aren’t doing the work. How do they change the dance in their families so that they can maintain a lifestyle of recovery and dance with families that the families were like, “You need to get fixed. We’re fine.” That is a recurring story. That makes it an extra little layer of challenge.

You said recovery. I love that because what I would like to offer is that we’re all in recovery from something. I’m certainly a recovering relationship addict and recovering emotional eater. I used people and created false connections in order to feel something or in order to feel validated. When we have these patterns as a result of learned behaviors, we know very well the dances and these patterns because they feel familiar. Human beings love in a way that is familiar. I know how to attract someone who’s toxic and can’t meet my needs because it’s familiar. You remind me of my mom. We get to do it again. It’s called the hope for redemption or the compulsion to repeat.

When we grow, when we change, or when we’re in recovery, there will be people who are triggered by our authenticity and willingness to change up the dance steps and they don’t know the pattern. We do have to be prepared for that from a place of self-love and self-care because that is a real consideration. It doesn’t mean that we’ve done something wrong or we’re doing it wrong. It means we’re doing it right. It takes a lot of courage to be able to change the dance.

In terms of understanding the patterns that you grew up with and the patterns that you created, was that unlocked when you went into your social work program?

What’s interesting, and this is why I’ve had such a complex relationship with my mom, is that she really nurtured the love of psychology for me. Even though she had her challenges, she encouraged me to read. She encouraged me to ask questions. She encouraged me to explore my spirituality when she wasn’t being emotionally abusive, which is a very complex dynamic. I’ve always had this strong not just desire but ambition to seek. I was always in some kind of spiritual practice, spiritual school, buying books, reading, and taking classes a lot.

What I noticed, and it impacted my self-esteem, was no matter how many affirmations I was doing or no matter how many classes, things would change a bit. I was still seeing patterns. I still had this feeling that I didn’t have a name for. It was an emptiness or a void. I learned later that that void was I was missing me. All this time, I thought I was looking for a soulmate or something, but I was the soulmate that I was looking for. On some levels, I knew it, but I couldn’t get there.

I remember one New Year’s when I was in my early twenties. I’m only 25, so it wasn’t that long ago. I remember being with a spiritual group of people. What we did was we prayed over these seeds and planted them as a ritual of birthing ourselves. I remember I prayed over these seeds and the only thing I asked for was my voice. I’m getting emotional even thinking about it. I knew that somewhere on some level I didn’t have it. It was so close and yet so far away. The steps I was taking were getting me a little bit closer, but it wasn’t until I understood trauma.

School helped to unlock it a little bit. It was probably in the last couple of years. It wasn’t even intentional. Let me be honest with your audience. I chose to visit my soul. What happened was I wanted to work with women who were like me because I thought I understood. I did understand, but what the process required of me was for me to connect with my soul in a way that I had never done before. You cannot take anyone farther than where you have gone. This process of being hungry to understand and wanting to help others pulled me deeper into myself. That was the real unfolding that took place.

You can’t take anyone farther than where you have gone. Click To Tweet

The Power Of Boundaries

Do you remember the light bulb moment when you realized that that’s what you were looking for?

When you say that, tell me.

In fact, you were looking for your soul. You were looking for you. This was really all about you connecting all the way through you.

Let me tell you that I always felt that I was looking for me. That was the drive in terms of my spirituality and spiritual practice. There was a me in there that I knew. Here’s when it began to become clear and crystallized. Is your audience generally spiritual? I didn’t want to go too far down that path.

I’m willing to go anywhere you want to go.

There was a knowing of the disconnect, but I didn’t understand. It was almost a wall, a block. The numbness, I learned later, was my trauma response. It was like there was a wall that I couldn’t get through to get to me. What started to chip away at the wall was when I was willing to see that the person I had loved with every fiber of my being my entire life was the source of my pain not just from yesterday, but from her own patterns and behavior that still goes on.

The dynamics never changed, but my perception of them in order to deal with the trauma and cope changed. The things that I accepted, what really cracked it open for me is to become clear about what I had learned to endure. Since I learned how to deal, be adaptable, be a people pleaser, help everyone, and suppress my own needs, I had no contact with that pain. I had no contact with the disappointment, the betrayal, and the heartache.

Intellectually, there was something there, but it wasn’t until I was really ready and had some tools and some understanding about the complexity of my own trauma of being both loved and abused by the love of my life, my mom, and having to admit that and recognize that the relationship that I thought I had was a fantasy. I looked at most of my relationships and they, too, were fantasy.

It was born out of a need to protect yourself.

That is exactly it. When I really dove deep into understanding attachment beyond what I learned in school and began to encapsulate the idea that when we grow up in environments where it’s not safe, we’re not loved, it’s unpredictable, we’re neglected, or we don’t get our emotional needs met, as human beings, we all are driven to survive. If your survival demands that you become inauthentic and you learn how to bond with people who are hurting you, you will sacrifice yourself. It must happen. The sacrifice was done probably before you even had words or before you could even remember. That becomes a way of operating. That was my story.

As you’re saying that, what I’m thinking about is the journey of addiction is the same story.

It is the same story. I know you’re familiar with Gabor Maté. I love him so very much. When we get to the root of the human condition of understanding our defenses and our need to soothe our pain or avoid pain by any means necessary, when we understand that and understand ourselves and our drive, then we can better contextualize and bring compassion to any and all forms of addiction.

Part of my journey over the last couple of years with Sam’s addiction has been these very clear moments of cracking wide open and continuing to crack wide open to allow me to feel the depths of despair, pain, suffering, and all of the things. When I felt like my life was falling apart, it was falling together.

This is why I am grateful for what you do. When a parent is faced with the challenges or the experience of having a child struggling with some form of addiction, it’s a lot. Naturally, most parents want to save their children. They want to help. They may feel some sort of guilt or they may not understand. They may internalize it and make it about, “What could I have done differently?”

When we can show up with hope and allow ourselves to be supported and to go through the process, t hat hope can carry so many people in that phase where it can look like it’s falling apart. This is why community is important because it can help you reframe. They can help you process. They can help you understand not just what is going wrong but what may potentially be going right in terms of how you can care for yourself, how you can show up, and how you can support. You can still set boundaries because there has to be a balance between giving love and being love and enabling. That does take support and tools.

Voices InCourage with KL Wells | Cerita Yvonne | Emotional Trauma
Emotional Trauma: There has to be a balance between giving love and being loved.

I generally think that we grew up in a culture that is about enabling, so most of us really do have to learn how to love with boundaries and clarity. We have to relearn how to be loving of ourselves first and then what is truly loving another person. There are so many things about that. I realized that my job was to love Sam through his journey. It wasn’t to change his journey because his journey was his journey.

To be able to hold the space where you’re watching the suffering, the destruction, and all the things that generally happen with addiction , they’re either going to pop out the other side at some point in a real space of recovery or they’re not. It’s to honestly, to the best of your ability, be okay with whatever is.

Thank you for that because that is such an empowering perspective. It’s a very clear and self-aware position to take. For some, it can be inspiring because there are some who will fear that somehow, they’re doing something wrong if they allow their child, spouse, or friend to have this experience even though it might be destructive for them.

It is being able to separate oneself in terms of boundaries. We do have to have all kinds of boundaries, like emotional boundaries. We do have to respect other people’s decisions as adults to live their lives the way that they choose even if it’s not the life that we would’ve chosen for them. When it comes to what you explained in terms of allowing people to have their journey, that can apply and does apply to all relationships.

I work with trauma survivors. One of the biggest struggles, and I know it was for me as well, was setting boundaries. It was understanding where I ended and another person began. When we struggle with certain things like self-worth, we may unknowingly or unconsciously get our sense of worth and purpose by trying to help other people. It, in some ways, may be trying to control other people.

We do have to check ourselves because we could unconsciously or unintentionally enable because we’re really trying to fill our voids. We’re trying to get something out of it. Creating that balance and respecting our own boundaries and the boundaries of others can be more supportive of someone on their healing journey versus trying to save and rescue them.

Respecting our own boundaries and the boundaries of others can help us be more supportive of someone in their healing journey. Click To Tweet

I have a larger spiritual belief about all of this. That allows me to step into the space. Certainly, as the years have gone by and my work for myself has been deeper and more pervasive, I don’t begin to know what his purpose for being on this planet is.

That is so powerful.

Who am I to try to interrupt by imposing what I think is the truth or what should happen in his journey? He’s an adult at this point. He’s almost 33. I don’t begin to know. What I do know is I lean into the question on a routine basis, “What are the gifts and lessons embedded in this experience for me?” Quite frankly, voices incurred would never have been born if it hadn’t been for this journey with Sam.

I’m sure the universe would’ve found another way to get at me, but you go through your kids to have your transformations brought up right before you where you need to do your work. For me, that has been the most powerful way. My mom was an addict. My brother was an addict. I married an addict. I did work along the way, but nothing like the days I was brought to my knees with my son’s addiction.

That is so powerful. It speaks a lot to how you have broken the cycle, how you are balanced in your perspective and not caught up in what we might call the ego, and being willing to be open to the grander, larger picture, the spiritual aspect. This is why I think having a belief system can be extremely empowering for us as human beings. It puts it into perspective.

It does for me. I don’t prescribe for anybody else what that should look like, sound like, or any of it, but I do believe personally that there is a larger energy, universe, or spirit that we all are a thread of.

I appreciate that you made that clarification because it’s true. That goes back to what you were saying about allowing people to have their journey. We are all allowed to clarify what that looks like for us. I would like to add that the takeaway is that we have an opportunity to be supported with our ideas, our perspective, and our growth. You get to choose what that looks like if you want it. Thank you.

Healing As A Lifestyle

If you would, speak a little bit about healing as a lifestyle. I love the way you frame that. I’m sure there’s a lot that informs and influences that belief.

I live by that. One of the questions I often get as a therapist is, “How long is it going to take me to heal?” My answer is always, “If I told you 3 years and 5 days, what difference would it make? If I gave you the end date, how is that going to help you next week when your mom triggers you? How is that going to help you a month from now when you are having a disagreement with your child? It’s information that will not solve a problem at all.” That’s number one.

Number two is understanding for me what it means to be a human. We’re so complex. You have an innumerable amount of emotions that if you’re a trauma survivor, you can’t even identify but three. You’re like, “I’m frustrated. I’m angry.” You probably don’t even identify with sad. I know the people that I work with have all kinds of words and perceptions that they have come up with in order to avoid your feelings.

As a human being, you have a defense system that allows you to distort reality and allows you to avoid dealing with things. You can certainly change your perception. While things like denial can give you a cushion or a buffer of time, especially if we’re children and we don’t have the support or capability to understand, when you become an adult, if you’re interested in the healing journey, it has become a lifestyle.

Every day, you have the choice to be compassionate to uncover your triggers, discern your emotions, and recognize the ways where you were triggered and responded and you didn’t even remember until the next week. You’re like, “I realized I responded to this person with anger.” When I sit down and process that, I realize, “I was angry because my mother talked to me that way with the same tone of voice. I interpret it from my own past and not what the person is saying.” We are doing that on a regular basis.

Voices InCourage with KL Wells | Cerita Yvonne | Emotional Trauma
Emotional Trauma: You have the choice to be compassionate, to uncover your triggers, to discern your emotions.

I think about the healing journey as being in a relationship with yourself. If healing is a lifestyle, I have to be in a relationship with myself constantly. If you have a relationship that you’re not nurturing, you’re not getting time or attention to, or you’re not meeting the other person’s needs, then you’re not in a relationship. You’re in a fantasy. Your relationship with you requires the same, if not more, commitment. It’s a commitment because you’re always growing and always experiencing.

There is one last thing I want to say about this. I’m very passionate about it if you haven’t noticed. Human beings are so amazing that we can get comfortable in our comfort. If we’re comfortable, we’re not growing. Yet, when we are trying new things, whether it’s entering into a healthy relationship, going out and getting a new job or a new career, starting a business, or whatever it is, we can naturally feel anxious.

If you don’t understand that it is a natural part of not knowing and it is natural to all humans and not something being defective within you, you will keep yourself from exploring and expanding. You will hold back. You will self-sabotage. You have to be in a relationship with you. You have to be able to connect with yourself and comfort yourself or regulate yourself when things happen.

One thing that we can guarantee is that something somewhere somehow will trigger you. You’ll have some kind of insecurity. If you are not healing as a lifestyle, you can make up a story, you can reinterpret it, you can make yourself wrong and feel shame about something that is very normal and you can support yourself through.

That’s a deep well there. What I am grappling with is the simplicity of peeling all of that back to get back to being able to love ourselves first and foremost. From that space, we can be an expression of love.

What is simple is not always easy. You’re right. It’s like love. Love yourself as you are. It’s recognizing that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved and that you don’t have to earn it. For some of us, we have to, and this is why healing has to be a lifestyle, peel back those layers because we have so many beliefs about who we’re supposed to be and things that we’ve learned that we can struggle with the idea, “I am deserving of love because I exist.” There’s no qualifier. This is what I get. This is part of the human package. The default setting is you are loved.

When we are willing to learn some tools to look at some of the ways where we’ve created obstacles, whether it’s from our trauma, our way of thinking, or the expectations we place on ourselves and we look at the things that are an obstacles to love, and shame being a big one, when you have the courage to look at it, a lot of the things that we fear are nothing at all. When you look at the shame, the unworthiness, or whatever it is, you realize that it really has no power. We fuel it. We give it energy. You have the power of perception. That is your gift.

When you can discern the difference between a fact that is showing up and who you are, you can make it okay that, “I was triggered with a little bit of shame. Let me understand why. It’s this story that I’ve told myself, which is a very familiar story. I’m going to love myself through it.” It’s a feeling. I can own all my feelings and still be whole and complete in love. It’s okay.

Shame in particular is rampant in the addiction community and recovery community.

The human community.

How I think about that as an external orientation, for me, is that loving ourselves unconditionally is an internal orientation versus an external orientation. Shame comes from us judging ourselves about who we should be or who others think we should be. We’re looking outside of ourselves to determine whether we are worthy or not. That’s how it feels to me.

Can I add one thing to that?

Yeah, absolutely.

Decoupling From Toxic Shame

I would agree. I would like to add that one thing that we’ve discovered as a result of trauma research, and I can tell you from my personal experience, is that for some of us, shame develops at a very early age. For example, challenging parents. F or example, you had your authentic emotions. You had your natural feelings. If those feelings were judged, punished, or criticized, the message that a human being can receive is that “Who I am at my core, my authenticity, is broken. I’m bad,” because I’m processing everything I’m experiencing.

When we are children, our external environment helps to dictate how we see ourselves. If I am shamed for being who I am, then I can become shamed to the core. If I’m shamed for anger, when I feel anger because of my traumatic experience, I can also be flooded with shame for experiencing that very human anger. Shame can become intertwined with our emotions, which can make it more difficult. It is why healing is a lifestyle, which can make it more difficult for us to discern not just our own feelings and shame, but we tend to cope by seeking external validation.

In the recovery community, relapses are generally a part of the disease.

It’s a part of the process.

I’ve only met two people in my lifetime who stopped using, but then, there’s the work to do in order to unpack the patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions to mature. The vast majority of people try and relapse. Sam has been going through this for seven years. He’s in recovery. We’ll see what happens. Every time there’s a relapse, there is a depth of shame that goes with that relapse that almost is self-perpetuating in the disease.

I would agree. We see it. A nyone who has experienced any kind of addiction, when you feel pressure or pain and you are seeking to avoid the pain, it can be very challenging to resist. It does create a lot of shame. The problem with shame is that you have regular old shame and then you have toxic shame. Toxic shame is not, “I have done something bad.” It is, “I am bad.”

Say that again because that is a super huge distinction in terms of naming it as toxic shame.

Shame is a very natural human response that is meant to be protective. It’s supposed to help keep you safe. When that shame is connected or becomes intertwined with the identity, it’s not, “I’ve done something bad.” It’s, “I am bad.” Shame becomes a part of how an individual sees themselves, which can contribute to any kind of spiral, including relapse.

For trauma survivors, when we have these experiences or incidents where we have betrayed ourselves, and I’m going to use that overarching word because that can show up in all kinds of ways, what happens is that experience becomes hooked onto that same original trauma. In this example, I will say, “I’m unworthy.” Every time I relapse, make a mistake, do the thing I said I wasn’t going to do, or violate my own code of honor, then not only am I triggered at this moment, but I will naturally be flooded as a result of the trauma with all of the emotions connected to the events. That is why it can feel so overwhelming.

It feels very much like stacking it.

In terms of complex trauma, it’s called an emotional flashback. You might not have a memory of where this intent shame is coming from. That can be very confusing and disorienting. Understanding that part of the process of healing and recovery, we can almost guarantee that at some point sometime, you will be flooded with that intent shame. Since that shame is connected to your identity, one can easily feel or believe that they are broken or that they are the problem instead of the problem being the problem.

I’m imagining that quite a bit of your work is helping people decouple from that.

It impacts so much, especially the masks that we create. These things that we think we want in this life, when we look at a lot of dysfunctional patterns, they are born out of our ability to cope with this intent shame. Whether it’s addiction or whether it’s, “I’m going to martyr myself and become a super people pleaser,” the source is the same. The behavior looks different.

Decoupling and at the same time, helping people learn to be okay with revealing who they really are behind the mask.

Being okay with it is the first step. We have to be okay with the fact that you are about to get totally naked with you. We have to take it all off. You’re safe. You’ll survive. That is the process. The thing is, and I tell all my clients this, that you have to go through it in order to get through it. Many of us, and I know for me personally as well, have so many strategies in so many ways. We have so many things that we do in order to avoid seeing ourselves, knowing ourselves, and understanding ourselves. Yet, we go around in life, “Nobody sees me. Nobody hears me. Nobody understands me.” It’s because you don’t understand you. You don’t speak from your truth and who you really are because you don’t know yourself.

What I tell my clients is, “I promise you. If you’re willing to go through it, you’ll receive the gifts that have been waiting for you on the other side. When you lock yourself away, you are also locking your talents, your creativity, your purpose, and your ability to solve your own problems. To have the clarity and the courage to show up in this life is already in you.

If you allow yourself to stay trapped by fear, that’s how you will run your life. Your relationships will be built on fear. The things you are choosing to explore in this life will be built on fear. That will become the false idol that will direct your life. If you are willing to meet you, I promise you that you will find everything that you thought you were looking for.” I’m very passionate about this.

I love your passion because there’s a clarity that comes from your own life’s journey. You know this thing. You also know that all of this is the key to unlocking who we truly are. We have to love ourselves and be free from the masks, the trappings, the fear, and all the crap so that we can live a genuinely authentic life and love being alive.

Putting The Mask Aside

I cannot have imagined this would be the Cerita that I am. I could not have planned for this because I was out here trying to earn worth and vulnerability through a title, through a job, or through money, like having to work so hard. I still work hard, but I work hard at what I love to do, which is me, and everyone else gets the benefit. I didn’t learn all this so I can help people. I did it for me, but everyone else gets to enjoy it, and I love that. Some of us talk about peace. We say we want peace and we want to enjoy peace, but we don’t know how to let ourselves have it. Authenticity can be the road to that piece that you desire so deeply.

In a lot of the work that I do with executives, it has given them permission to put the mask aside. We’ve talked about this. We learned or heard the story that, “Success looks like that. That didn’t look like me. I’ll go try and do that thing that looks like success because that’s what I’ve been told is what we’re supposed to do.” Hopefully, eventually, you hit this point in your, generally, 40s, maybe sometimes 50s, or maybe never where you realize that the story you bought is a lie. It’s then like, “Now what do I do with this?”

Creating a safe place for people to disengage from the lies to get back to the truth of who they really are and be an expression of who they truly are, which will get them quantum results and success compared to the rest of it, is quite a bit of the work I do with executives. It’s to give themselves permission to lay the mask aside and the definition of what they thought success was, which is completely a lie. They show up like themselves from this heart space, present space, and genius space.

It’s infectious, I’m sure.

It is incredible.

I read and learn stuff, so forgive me. I can’t even tell you where I learned it from. We’ll call her a doctor because that’s what she was. She explained how when they looked at teams and at the stress level of the leadership, it showed the people who worked under them, the connection between the stress. I thought that was fascinating. I always thought authenticity was infectious. We see because we have data that you can profoundly impact people when you show up as who you are. They’ll probably be more productive and have a better time doing all the work that is required. It may not feel so much like work when everyone can be human.

You can profoundly impact people when you show up as who you are. Click To Tweet

In some ways, it is that brain science stuff. When we are captured by what we think we are supposed to look like, we’re generally down here because we’re judging ourselves all the time. We’re like, “Am I doing this right or wrong?” In so many ways, because we’re down here, which is where stress resides, where fear resides, and where our little saboteurs resides, our survival brains, we’re at half capacity.

I do a lot of work to help people shift from here to up here, which is where creativity resides, joy resides, possibilities reside, and thinking of the bigger picture. Your decision-making is ridiculously better when you’re operating from this side of your brain. From my perspective, it is to understand how the operating system works. When you understand how your brain works, how these parts of your brain work, and how fear works versus love works, you’re at agency.

I love that. It’s true. I would love to support your audience in understanding that you, too, can become the commander, so to speak, of your brain and access this authenticity. There are various ways that you can do it even through the body. When we talk about taking deep breaths or when we talk about doing the exercises, the more that you are in tune and the more that you are able to regulate yourself, you change what parts of the brain you access. You change your brain waves, and it can be measured. There is power in using all of these various tools. You can be sure that you can access them so that you can have this agency that you are talking about.

For our audience, what are the top three tools that help you stay centered, grounded, aware,  and in the moment?

One therapy that I use often and I love it and my clients love it is called Internal Family Systems. It is understanding that you have multiple personalities and that you have different parts of you that may have different motivations and different beliefs. You might find that you can be very excited and hopeful one minute and then feel despair when you’re triggered the next. You’re like, “How could this be?” You are human. It is understanding that you can activate different aspects of yourself and different beliefs that can show up.

When you have this kind of perspective, which is why I love it, there’s also a recognition that you have a true essence. This is a therapy scientifically-backed that you are more than just the thoughts that you think and the beliefs that you have. The more you lead with your higher self, your authentic self, or your Self and you get to label whatever works for you, the more you understand that you can create distance and be more objective when some of these triggers happen because they will. That can keep you grounded.

I’m also a hypnotherapist, so I use a lot of progressive muscle relaxation and body scans. It is being able to self-regulate by using the body. W ith a body scan, it’s so simple. Like you see a scanner in the grocery store, you scan down throughout your body. Any tension you notice, you simply can relax. That’s the power that you have. When you are in a relaxed body, you are smarter, faster, and stronger. When you’re stressed, your prefrontal cortex is offline. In your decision-making, planning, and executive functioning, there’s a threat. If you’re operating from that space, you’re going to lose a lot of your capacity.

Voices InCourage with KL Wells | Cerita Yvonne | Emotional Trauma
Emotional Trauma: In a relaxed body, you are smarter, you are faster, and you are stronger.

For the third one, journaling is a good process that everyone can have access to because you have a safe space to decompress and process where you might feel you can create some sacred energy, be able to see your thoughts or what the pattern is, and be able to ask yourself questions that might be easier when you’re writing. For example, “What is this feeling? What is this thought? What do I need? What am I afraid of?” It can provide you with tremendous insight.

I know in some of my writings through the years, these things showed up on paper that I didn’t even know were inside of me. I was like, “Where’d you come from?” It was illuminating and mysterious. There are so many things around that. We can go in a million different directions, but we’re close to the time here and I want to be respectful of that for you. What’s a question I haven’t asked you that would serve our audience really well to be asked?

It would be helpful for us to close out with a brief discussion on self-compassion. I also welcome your thoughts on this as well. As we are on whether it’s a healing journey, this lifestyle of healing, or being a human, it is helpful, empowering, and life-changing for you to simply practice being kind to yourself. One of the things that I’ve learned since I’ve become a parent, I have a six-year-old, is that I found that I would be triggered with anger. There will be parts of me who would show up and attempt to parent my child in the same way I was parented, but that’s non-negotiable. We cannot do that.

It’s life-changing for you to simply practice being kind to yourself. Click To Tweet

Part of my parenting practice is also self-compassion and recognizing that everyone deserves it too. They deserve boundaries. One thing I had to realize with my child first is that I presume her innocence. That is my foundation with her because my trauma will have me declaring her as being disrespectful. I consciously do my best to make a choice to presume her innocence and also presume my own. From that space, have conversation and communication. From that space, I can validate my emotions. I am angry and I don’t want to lie about it, but I also have the choice in how I express it. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself the way you would a friend that you love.

That is super powerful and so necessary. Certainly, in the world that we live in, sometimes, we’re the only ones who can hold ourselves, love ourselves, and be compassionate with ourselves. If you are the only one at this point, please find one person who will be compassionate with you, will listen to you, will hear you, and will drop the judgment. It’s that next step in that direction that continues one step towards the light of healing.

Sometimes, we're the only ones who can hold ourselves, love ourselves, and be compassionate with ourselves. Click To Tweet

While you’re looking for that one person or while you’re on that journey of connection, do your best to give it to yourself. Until you can find someone else, y our love is good enough to give you what you need at that moment. That’s not an excuse not to allow yourself to connect, but you can allow yourself in that moment to rest in your own comfort. You are learning how to be the holder and the held. I n doing so, you can allow yourself to be held by others as well.

Be the holder and the held.

I have a couple of gems.

You have more than a couple of gems. You are a gem.

Thank you. We are, aren’t we?

Yes, we are.

Thank you for having me. Thank you for this conversation because it’s empowering to me. I hope it’s empowering to everyone else.

How can people get a hold of you?

I am on all social media platforms under my name Cerita Yvonne. I certainly am on Facebook. I hold free workshops. I’m having a class called Be Courageous. It is breaking the cycle of toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse. I would love to see you on social and continue to share the love.

Do you have a website?

Yes. It is CeritaYvonne.com. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time and energy.

This has been delightful. Thank you so much.

Important Links

About Cerita Yvonne

Voices InCourage with KL Wells | Cerita Yvonne | Emotional TraumaI learned to love me! I’m an educated and validated relational trauma expert, a half hood and half-holy psychotherapist, and a phenomenal trauma coach.

I was born a statistic.

I struggled with sexual abuse, emotional neglect, poverty, unworthiness, and the helpless feeling of being voiceless and purposeless.

I searched for love, money, status, and happiness…but I never knew peace until I healed ME. Therapy taught me all the things I didn’t know how to address my denial and pain. I learned how to connect with my soul in the simplest way using science. I was astounded by how confident I felt to be able to tap into my own wisdom and self-compassion.

I healed my trauma with the same therapy I will teach you, and the best part is you can apply it without having to re-live the past.

Healing changes everything, but nothing had to change in order for me to be happy. I was different when I KNEW I was complete. I lost the attraction to needing to be needed, low-key self-destruction, needing to be right, and inserting myself in people’s lives so I could be seen.

Peace is my new drug. My identity and relationships have been transformed. The voice I had been looking for came with a sense of respect I had never known. I FOUND ME. Self-love peeled away all the layers of trauma that caused me to forget my magnificence.

That’s why I created Love University because too many Black women are struggling in relationships with themselves and those they love. It’s time we make healing a lifestyle, lead with love, and own our power.

About the Author Jenn S


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