On this week’s podcast we’re talking all about building trust with yourself. This *internal* work is so important to the work of setting healthy external boundaries.
I share with you an example from my own life and walk you through a process of connecting more deeply to what’s actually happening inside of you. As you connect more deeply to yourself, the boundaries you set with others will flow from a calmer, clearer place within. Here’s what we cover:
1. A promise I made to myself and how it went
2. What to do when you’re activated by someone or something
3. The importance of understanding your own areas of wounding
4. What is a You-Turn?
5. Meeting & honoring the protective parts of you (before acting out of them)
6. How to get to the root of your own hurt (before taking action)
7. Learning to find your voice from that place of clarity deep within
Thanks to our sponsor Organifi —Go to www.organifi.com/bestofyou and use code BESTOFYOU for 20% off your order today!
Thanks to our sponsor Better Help —Go to www.betterhelp.com/bestofyou and use code BESTOFYOU for 10% off your first month!
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
- The Best of You: Break Free From Painful Patterns, Mend Your Past, and Discover Your True Self in God, by Dr. Alison Cook
- Boundaries for Your Soul, by Alison Cook & Kimberly Miller
Episode Twenty-Two The Best of You Podcast 29th September 2022
With Dr. Alison Cook
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Hey everyone, I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started as we learn together how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Hey everyone, I'm so glad you're here for today's episode of the Best of You podcast. Thank you so much for your comments, reviews, and the feedback you've been giving me. I so appreciate hearing from you, and I'm so curious to hear how it went for you as you made and kept a promise to yourself last week.
I promised that I would follow up on you, and here I am making good on my promise to you. What did you notice?
What surprised you?
Were you able to keep the promise?
What would you change about the promise?
So I made a promise to myself, and the promise that I made to myself was related to someone I'm struggling with, where I'm noticing activation. And what I promised myself was to journal about that every day over the week, and I did.
I still haven't arrived at the action that I'm going to take, but I do notice a little relief inside. Because I gave myself permission to journal about the situation.
I didn't want to act out of impulse, out of anger, out of, even, hurt. And I gained a little more clarity just through the process of journaling. That taking that time, not just taking time to shove it aside or numb it, but taking the time to journal about it. To check in with myself, to think through it from different angles:
"What was, maybe, this other person thinking?"
"What maybe was my blind spot in it?"
"Was there anything that I missed? Oh, but even if I did, I'm still hurt."
So all of those things that took me a week. Just a week of journaling about an incident. I still don't have clarity. I'm still not exactly sure how to proceed in the situation. But I kept a promise to myself that I wasn't just going to brush it under the carpet. That I, also, wasn't going to act out of impulse. I'll keep you posted, but that was what I did this week.
So I want to just give you that example. Sometimes keeping a promise to yourself doesn't, immediately, magically, solve all of your life's problems. But it does get you a little bit of that self-trust we talked about last week. You start to trust yourself.
I do trust myself in this situation. I will know what to do when it's time to do it, and right now I'm in the process of building trust with myself. Again, I'm not going to brush it under the carpet. I'm also not going to act impulsively, or angrily, or rashly. I'm going to give it time. I'm going to consider all the different parts of me.
I'm going to consider the situation, so that when I do act, when I do speak up on behalf of myself, it will be from a place of clarity. I will have built trust with myself. So on your own journey, I will be curious to know what is the promise you made to yourself?
And check in with yourself after a week and just notice. What do you notice?
What surprised you?
Are there any tweaks that you want to make? Or do you want to just keep doing that same thing for another week?
So, in my case, this promise that I made to myself, I'd been hurt by someone. I'd been disappointed by someone, and I ended up asking myself over the week, "Did I do anything wrong in this situation?"
Because it was complicated. I had a lot of emotions around it. I was very angry, I was very hurt, I was very disappointed. But I kept circling back to, "Did I do anything wrong?" And that's a pretty normal thing for most of us, "Did I do something wrong?" Now, here's the thing, if we haven't noticed. If we haven't done the work to bear witness to our own areas of woundedness, it's really hard to get honest about that question.
And, so, I wanted to examine myself. I didn't want to take the other person off the hook, I want to be clear here. I was very clear that I was disappointed, but I had enough trust with myself that I could hold two things true.
One, is I'm, really, disappointed and I am not going to put myself in harm's way anymore, that was true. And because I trusted myself that I wasn't going to put myself in harm's way anymore. It opened up a part of me to say, "Is there anything I need to look at in myself, in this situation?"
And, so, I went back and reviewed the facts from that angle. Again, not letting the other person off the hook, not exposing myself to more harm. I didn't do this with the other person, inside myself.
So I still felt hurt. I still felt disappointed, but I did become aware of the fact, "Oh, my goodness, this trampled on a wound that I've had for a very long time." And I began to realize it's possible that this other person's actions were either not intentional or if they were intentional, they didn't know that this is an area of deep wounding for me.
So two things were true. I was both hurt, disappointed, angry, and I became aware of that familiar old area of wounding in my own life. That's why I needed time. That's why I needed to journal. That's why I needed to get clarity. Because I was aware there was an activation inside of me that was bigger than the actual violation. The activation was bigger than the violation.
And, so, while I want to speak up for myself. While I want to set a healthy boundary, which we're going to circle back to at the end of this podcast episode. I could tell that I, also, first, needed to tend this area of woundedness that goes way back. Goes way back before I ever met this person, and there's no way they have any idea about this wound.
So, again, that's not to minimize the hurt. That's not to minimize the disappointment that I felt, but it did help me to build trust with myself. I could look at myself and say, "Oh, I had a big, capital B, reaction to a minor offense."
I could look at it more objectively. There was an offense, but it wasn't a egregious offense. And that's going to change how I speak up on behalf of myself, how I end up setting a boundary.
So I want you to hear me say that when you have a big reaction. When you have a big hurt, when you have big anger. When you have big resentment, that may well be valid, and you may have been hurt by someone else.
So I want you to hold two things to be true. But I also want you to learn how to look inwardly at our own areas of wounding, because that's where we're the most susceptible to pain, to shame, and to act out in a way that isn't in our best interest.
In this work of establishing healthy boundaries in our external life. We have to go so deep inside ourselves. Because when we've been hurt, when we've been violated, when there's been an offense against us, we always have to really get honest with ourselves,
"Did this person do something wrong?" And, in many cases, they did. A lot of times we're activated because something, indeed, wrong happened.
"Did they do something wrong?"
"What was the wrong thing they did?" And, also, "What is the wound inside of me that, that tripped over?"
"What is that bruise, that unhealed bruise, that they just pushed on?"
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, we need to hold both of those things intentions. Sometimes they did something wrong and, inadvertently, tripped over an old wound. Sometimes, every once in a while, when you do this work, you realize, "I don't think they did something wrong."
"I think they disappointed me, I think that that hurt, but I, actually, don't think they did something wrong. I think an old wound was tapped inside of me." That takes a lot of courage and a lot of self-trust. To go, "Oh, my gosh, did that hurt? And I don't, actually, think they did something wrong."
Sometimes that's the case. Sometimes that's what we'll find. We have to do that internal work to know the difference.
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So let's talk about how to do this work of building trust with yourself. Now, in my first book, with Kim Miller, we talk about this idea of taking a U-turn. So when something on the outside of you activates you or triggers pain, hurt, anger, frustration, envy, any of these things on the inside of you. This idea of taking a U-turn is, to first, look inside yourself, and that's what I did last week.
So I made a promise to myself, "I'm activated. I want to go through a process of looking inside myself. Because that's how I'm going to build trust with myself." And it's tempting when we're feeling really activated, we want to immediately go to, "How do I set the boundary?"
But if we don't, first, do that work of looking inside, of examining our own souls, we may not set the appropriate boundary. We may not set the boundary in the best way. It takes some internal work to get to that external outcome.
What I'm describing here is a little bit of what Jesus, I think, was getting at. When he challenged the crowd in the Sermon on the Mount to work on their own selves first. It doesn't mean letting the other people off the hook. But what He said was, "First, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matthew 7:5.
There's a charge in here, not to just let everybody off the hook, not to be a doormat. But to get to know your own heart. To get to know your own self. When you're feeling angry, what else is going on inside of you?
Is there a wound inside of you? If so, it needs to be drawn in closer so you can give yourself the care you need. And from that place, then determine how to set the healthy boundary outside of you.
And think about it, when you're parenting a young child. When that child has been hurt, you're not dismissing the hurt. But imagine if your own child were to come to you, and they've been hurt on the playground. Someone has done something to hurt them. And your first reaction might be, "I'm going to go after that kid. I'm going to tell that kid, 'You better not mess with you.'"
But when you do that, your own child is still hurting. You've bypassed the work of caring for, and comforting, and soothing your own child, and getting to know what do they actually need?
Do they need you to go stand up to that bully on their behalf, or do they need you to empower them? Or do they need you simply to comfort them? You've got to, first, tend to the hurting child. Then determine what course of action you will take.
And it's the same inside your own soul. You first have to access the hurting part of you, get to know it, understand what do you need, and then determine the external boundary you might set. So when you do this work, of looking inside, you start journaling. Most likely, most of us, the first voices we bump up against. The first voices that need expression, come from protective parts of us.
These are the parts of us that are angry. These are the parts of us that want to blame. These are the parts of us that want to rush to justice, take justice maybe into our own hands. On the other hand, these are also, sometimes voices inside of us that try to talk us down.
That try to tell us, "You shouldn't feel this way."
"You should just get over it."
"You should just turn the other cheek."
Sometimes we have these quote-unquote religious voices that try to protect us, by telling us, "Not to worry about it."
"Not to think about it."
"We shouldn't feel that way."
"We should only think the best of the other person."
These are all voices of protectiveness. These are parts of us, they're trying to help, they're trying to keep us safe. But they're ways that we've learned, from long ago, when we're hurt, to keep us safe. That's why we call them protectors.
Now, these protectors might show up as ego. They might show up as, "We can't let anybody see that we feel this way." That's a self-protective voice.
Or, "We just need to earn their approval, that's just what we'll have to do. We'll have to just work harder to get them to like us, to get their approval, even though they've treated us poorly." These are all the voices of ego, of protection.
Again, there's no shame in these voices. But you want to pay attention to them, and you want to do what psychologists call differentiate from them. Notice them, give voice to them, write them down in a journal, maybe, tell a safe person.
But remember these protective parts of you only see one angle of this story. So we want them to be seen, we want them to be heard, and then we want to say, "Is there more? What else is going on here?" And that's when we get to the tender voice inside of us. The tender parts of us. The parts of us that are hurting.
Now, again, imagine that child, imagine your child. At first, they're just mad, "That person is a jerk, I hate that person. I never want to be around that person again. I can't go back to school." That's all that protective energy that we carry with us into adulthood.
But when you really get down to the root, you get to that tender voice. And that tender voice is saying, "I'm hurt."
"I feel unseen."
"I feel misunderstood."
"I feel so frustrated by their silence."
"I feel discounted, like I don't matter."
"I feel lonely."
"I feel angry." We're getting to the root, when we get to those, "I feel" statements. Instead of, "They are" or "You should".
Those are the voices of protectors. That's when we're in self-protection mode. Again, there's nothing wrong with those voices, they're there for reason. But they are masking that deeper voice, that deeper, "I feel".
"What is the wound inside of me?"
"What is the hurt?"
"What is the root of that hurt?"
"I feel misunderstood."
"I feel discounted."
"I feel angry."
"I feel hurt."
"I feel invisible."
This can be, really, hard to honor inside of ourselves. But it's so important because that's the impact of the wound, and this is where we get into our own areas of wounding. Often, when we're hurt, we go back to one or two of those same feelings. Because we've got these embedded memories inside our bodies. Inside our nervous systems of, "Urgh! I feel discounted. I'm so tired of feeling that way."
And it's so important because we got to get to the wound so that we can give ourselves the care that we need.[00:20:29] < Music >
Finally, it's, really, important to once you've listened to the voice of your protectors. The voices that want to go out and get the job done, and then the voices of the hurting parts of you.
Once you are able to get to the root of that, then you want to come back up to the facts of the situation. And I talk about this in chapter six of the Best of You, where I talk about how our feelings. How we're feeling about something. We, always, want to hold those in tension with the facts of a situation:
"What, actually, happened?"
"What did that person, actually, say?"
"What did they, actually, do?"
"Did they, actually, do something wrong?"
"Were they just being human, and in their humanness I got hurt?"
And we want to hold these things in tension. We don't want to discount the way that we felt, we, also, don't want to discount the facts, both matter. Feelings make us human, they are important, and even if we determine in our self-examination, in our U-turn, that maybe the other person didn't do something wrong. Or maybe they just had a blind spot to a tender part of us.
We can still advocate for ourselves, but we're going to do it in a different way. Maybe upon self-examination, we realize, "Oh, my gosh, that person, really, hurt me. They did something, really, wrong and I'm going to have to figure out a way to stop that. Because I can't expose myself to hurt any longer."
Again, it's no longer about that other person. It's, "I cannot expose this tender part of me to this kind of hurt, whether they intended it or not." And this is how we do this work of building trust with ourselves.
We get to know the different parts of our own soul. The protective parts of us and the vulnerable parts of us, and we start to see it all, really, clearly, and that's how we begin to understand how we're going to go back into this relationship with a strong, clear, voice.
This is where we get to what I call transformational truth. Transformational truth factors in how we feel. Where we're wounded, where we need to be protecting ourselves in healthy ways. It also factors in the facts of a situation, as objectively as we can be, and it also brings in our faith. What does God have to say about this, discernment?
What is the best way, for me, to proceed here? Honoring how I feel. Honoring what I believe to be the facts of the situation, and then saying, "God, how do you want me to proceed?" Building trust with yourself is a practice. It's a whole new way of being. It's learning to honor the contents of your own soul, your emotions, your body, in partnership with God's Spirit.
So that when you do speak up, your voice flows from a connected, authentic place, deep inside. You're no longer being a doormat nor are you moving to the other extreme, of just lashing out at everybody.
Instead, you fine-tune this beautiful instrument God has given you, deep inside, this voice starts to come out of you. This voice that is connected to your areas of pain, that is connected to your fire. This voice that, increasingly, knows what to say and how to say it. It might even come out of you when you least expect it.
This voice, as you build trust with yourself, begins to move from deep within who you are. This work that you've done to make and keep promises to yourself. And it moves into the world around you and says, "Here I am, I have a perspective that matters. I have something I need to say, I want you to hear me. But even if you don't, my voice is here to stay."
It's the place where the truth, of what you've experienced, comes together with the truth of who God is. This is a strong place deep inside from which you begin to shape the world around you. Instead of reacting in a moment or, again, rolling over, brushing it under the carpet, being a doormat, you start to show up authentically. You start to respond. You're connected. You are real. You are living from the inside out.
Who you are on the inside starts to show up in your relationships with other people. You live out of a confidence. You're living from the deepest, truest part of yourself.
So this process of building trust, with yourself, is a process of learning to hold your ear close to the ground of your own life. It's listening for that voice of ego. Those protective parts of you that want to shame you, that want to should you, that want to lash out at other people. It's gently redirecting that voice, letting her be heard, letting her have her say in your journal with your safe person, letting her feel heard.
But it's also saying, "I need you to step back so that I can get to that tender voice inside that's hurting. Both of you get to be here, but I need to do the work of listening well. Listening to the anger and listening to the parts of me, that go way back to these wounded places inside where I felt so invisible, so unseen, so hurt, so cast aside, and I'm going to attend to both of those parts of me."
I'm going to attend to both of those parts of me from the place where the Holy Spirit lives within me, deep inside. I can hold together in truth what I feel, and then with God's help, I can reexamine that situation from a place of having cared for myself first. And asked myself, "What is it I, actually, need?"
"What do I need in this situation? Do I need to mostly care for myself and inhibit my interactions with that other person?"
Or, "Do I need to speak up on behalf of this hurt I've experienced?"
You start to build trust with yourself and you will start to know what you need. And all this work that you're doing to make and keep promises to yourself, to building trust with yourself, to listening to these different parts of you. Even the parts of you, you don't always like, but giving them a voice, giving them a seat at the table.
All this internal work you're doing to get to know these different parts of you, is how you begin to build and establish not only the kind of boundaries that you want with other people. But, more importantly, it's how you begin to build the life that you want. The life that is a reflection of the person God made you to be.
You will start living from within. You will start taking charge of the driver's seat of your own life. It's a beautiful way to live. It's confidence, it's clarity, it's purpose, it's conviction. It's not being perfect, but it's stepping into the driver's seat of your own life.[00:29:12] < Outro >
Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Best of You. Be sure to check out the show notes for any resources and links mentioned in the show. You can find those on my website AT dralisoncook.com. That's Alison with one L- cook.com.
Before you forget, I hope you'll follow the show now so that you don't miss an episode. And I'd love it if you'd go ahead and leave a review, it helps so much to get the word out. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday, and remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.[00:29:50] < Music >