Welcome to the Unbreakable Boundaries Podcast
May 4, 2021

#42 Allison Livingston: Remembering to Connect with Yourself in Chaos


I met Allison as part of my Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown Book Club. Wholehearted living is so important for people who are dealing with loved ones in addiction. Through the situations we find ourselves in during this time period, it's important to connect with yourself and with others. Allison has a 5 steps to connect process to help people come back to center in the chaos. 

Contact Allison
www.5stepstoconnect.com
There are two ways to work with Allison: 
1. A membership with classes + LifeSaving Listening sessions
2. 1:1 coaching with a free 15 min discovery session.

Transcript

Jen:

Welcome back to the unbreakable boundaries podcast with your host myself, Jennifer Maneely. I am really excited about this next guest. Her name is Alison Livingston, she reached out to me she, I have never really talked about this on my podcast. But I have done a couple of Brene browns, book clubs, well, I organize them. And a couple months ago, I did my first one, which was daring greatly, which I highly recommend, to my audience, that it's I mean, she's just amazing in terms of what it really means to be vulnerable and explore vulnerability. And so I've really enjoyed Brene Browns work in that way. Right now. I'm in the Gifts of Imperfection, which has been amazing. And Allison has signed up to do that book club with us. And it's it's such a powerful book club. And I'm just so looking forward, she reached out to me to talk a little bit about some of her own lessons and teachings and things that she's learned along the way from Brene. Brown, and we just got into so many good conversations. It's like, look, I got to have you on the podcast. So I'm very, very fortunate to have her here and grateful that she was willing to do this. So Allison, welcome to the podcast.

Allison:

Thank you so much, Jen. So glad to be here. Yeah. And

Jen:

you are in California, correct?

Allison:

Yes. Yeah. Just outside Santa Cruz.

Jen:

I never imagined I've had quite a few people and connections down in California. And I'm like, There's something about California that keeps coming into my life and in California must produce just some really amazing people.

Allison:

Yes, as everywhere, I think. Yeah, great place to raise kids and grow up.

Jen:

Yeah. And so um, you know, I'm just kind of looking over your bio here. And I kind of want to just hear from you a little bit about your journey, because you work a lot in helping parents do the nonviolent communication, and I'm gonna let I'm gonna hand it over to you to kind of sum it up, because you're going to do such a much better job, then than I will and explaining exactly what it is that you do. Yes, well,

Allison:

I've lived it. And it's been a journey. So I'm happy to share. So my journey started when I had children, because I was this very type a competent perfectionist. And I ended up having a very strong willed daughter. And out of the gate, she was just a challenger. She was spirited, she was just someone who tested as a way of life. And oh, my gosh, it was so triggering, I would react and I, I came from a family where we didn't really do many emotions. And so she would trigger them in me and I was just a fish out of water. And so I needed to get support for myself, because she was just being her amazing self. But she was triggering me. And it was very upsetting. And yeah,

Jen:

I can't, I don't know which one of my audience members out there is listening to this and can relate to but I'm pretty sure that quite a bit of my audience, especially if your parents can relate to having kind of those pushy, I don't want to how do I say that those defiant kids? Yes. And, and even though and I want to be clear, you do have some experience with family member with addiction, but it wasn't your daughter. So I want to it wasn't her but I do want to point out that a lot of times, you know, these kinds of situations really do end up in that road that just wasn't the path but you had to learn some different things for yourself in terms of how to navigate that to where you weren't being so triggered. And I know that that a lot of people out there are listening going, Man, I get triggered all the time with how they are behaving. It's really hitting nerves inside of me. Insecurities inside of me. What do I do? Right right. And so that's why I think this is such a great thing to have you share that experience because it this has very little to actually do with addiction and a whole lot more to do with being human and sometimes I think that we confuse Yeah, that where it's like it's just one world or another and it's like no Oh, it's all together.

Allison:

And I would say it's a continuum. And Brene. Brown has spoken of this. And a lot of my work is based on her work as well as NVC. And she says that it's just a response to pain, and discomfort. And so it's a continuum of I numb with social media, or I numb with wine or I numb with, you know, all different kinds of, you know, ways to keep ourselves safe, protective strategies, all the way to what my brother did. I spoke of my experience with addiction of drugs and alcohol, when he wasn't in high school in college. So it's a it's an extreme, and it's just how to deal with pain and feel. Okay.

Jen:

Yeah. And that's, that's the bottom line is, is that even though sometimes, like the addiction goes to the extreme of numbing, I think that we can all relate to what it means to experience that numbing. And I know that like my audience, even though it's their loved ones that are dealing with the addiction, they go into as parents or as husbands as wives that are experiencing this, they have their own protective Moats. It just doesn't look the same. But we're all just trying to protect ourselves in that in that safety security in in, in protecting our souls that we think and while we're doing that, sometimes we create unhealthy habits. And so now it's like, okay, let's relearn some things and open our hearts back up. And be what you know, Brene Brown calls is wholehearted living. And so what is a little bit of your experience with that kind of wholehearted living.

Allison:

So I I picture it as you're walking along a ridge, and for many of us, the ridges, very narrow. And that was my experience in the ridge represents wholehearted living and worthiness, and wholeness and balance and centeredness. And I love living from that spot. Because I feel empowered, I feel like I can take on the world. And I know criticism can pierce my heart because I'm just routed. But on the side of me is all these old protective strategies that I slip into, and they're blaming, and they're judging, and they're numbing, and they're trying to be right, and trying to all those protective things we do compare. And on the other side, is when I get stuck in a shame spiral, and I just feel not enough and I feel unworthy. And it just takes my whole mindset down the tube. So yeah, I've found Brene Brown's work to be so important to help me be aware and name when I'm on either side of the ridge and how to climb back up and be back on the wholeness wholehearted, Rich.

Jen:

One of the things that I do know that my, my audience really struggles with is that is that shame is is feelings of of that not good enough. And it's like it, what I when I talk to especially when I'm working with someone I'm working with the family members directly, I hear their pain and I hear their shame. And it's like, oh, let's let's work on releasing some of that shame. And let's find your joy again. Let's find your, your passions. Let's find your life. Let's find you.

Allison:

Yeah. And it's hard. It's hard because we can't think our way into it. At least I've tried for years. Let me just figure this out. And then I'll be able to transform into backed by wholehearted place. But it's it's it's like a side door you have to come in through feeling the feelings. And that's what we all try to avoid. We try to catapult over them. And and I found that the way to healing is to feel the discomfort of shame, of anger of sadness, and let it teach us about what is the Under not underlying need, what is the value? What matters? Because until we can make that connection, then we can't get back to that wholehearted place.

Jen:

Yeah, and one of the things so I've I've dived a lot into this journey, not even necessarily directly like Brene Brown has put a lot of language to what I've been experiencing and I'm just diving into Brene Brown, work deeper. But even before then I was practicing all this I just wasn't using her terminology. But as I've been practicing this and dying deep into that journey for myself, one of the key things, and something that I've known all along is that community to help support people in that way. Because this is very vulnerable work. We're diving in and shining light on the deepest, darkest places of our soul, which can sometimes require people to kind of come in and make sure that we don't get lost.

Allison:

I think dark caves

Jen:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so that community aspect of making sure that we have the support that we need to dive into that whole being wholehearted. And what does that mean?

Allison:

Yeah, I totally agree. And one of the practices I've adopted is called lifesaving listening. And it's a way to be with another that just hold space for them without judgment or fixing and lets them explore those scary places, and lets them know you're not alone. And it's not going to last forever, because that's what my scared parts wanted to hear. And so creating that community is what I love doing, because that's how we heal. And that's how we feel, you know, be able to explore these places that can scare us. Yeah, because they also are the place on the other side of the coin that give us joy. And that gives us meaning. And that where we truly connect with another human.

Jen:

Yeah, and and this is where it starts to become where it's like, no matter what's going on in our life, we can still feel whole, we can still feel joy, and we can still, yes, we'll also be feeling other things. You know, we may have moments where we're scared to death of something happening. You know, we may have moments but they're moments. Yeah, you know, we balance those, we balance it out on that teeter totter a little bit.

Unknown:

And I love Bernays. I'm imperfect. And I'm enough, because it's not, I'm going to be happy when I lose those that weight or I'm going to be happy when I get that job. It's not, you know what a lot of us think I'm going to be happy when my whole life is under control. That's not how it works. It's, it's, I'm happy when I meet and accept myself as I am in this moment, no matter what's happening with

Jen:

this is so this and this is what's been very fascinating to me, when I look at someone like Brene Brown, and some of the other kind of bigger influences into these deep dive works is a lot of times they do have you find out later, like I didn't know this for a long time, that Brene Brown was in recovery. And then all of a sudden, like I saw something where she was like celebrating 20 years or something. I was like, Oh my God, she's in recovery. I just liked her work, like I just liked, you know, her stuff, I think I think she was great. And it just seems like of all the people that need to go shine the deep lights on these on these, you know, those painful things, it's it's people that also have a tendency to lean towards numbing out with with substances. And sometimes even though I like to reframe addiction of going, this can be the best, most rewarding journey anyone can ever take. And yes, it's a painful process. But I have thoroughly enjoyed not the addiction part of it. I've enjoyed the recovery part of it. Yeah, and that's possible. But the only way that I got to the recovery part was by going through and learning that my pain was a lot less about the substances and a lot more of the things that I was dealing with. And this is why I want to remind the family members out there put the baseball bat down this is not yours to own.

Allison:

Yeah. And and that's why, you know, the amazing title, the Gifts of Imperfection, the hardest things in our lives are the way we learn. And our family just went through an incredible struggle that my older daughter had cancer this past year as a 20 year old and, and that was traumatic and excruciating, especially in the middle of a pandemic when her immune system was so compromised. And that experience ended up to be a gift for both myself and and our whole family but particularly for her because now she knows she can survive anything. And she has come out of it. Empowered, strong, clear, amazing person and and has just again through that absolute struggle. And we would never wish addiction or cancer on anyone, but it can, it can connect us and it can make us grow. It can

Jen:

it really can not that we are wanting that for anybody. But if it has to happen, we can also turn it into our best asset.

Allison:

Because it's yeah. How do you become wholehearted?

Jen:

And you had mentioned a little bit about your brother? What was just just briefly like, what was your experience as a sibling? Because I know that I have siblings also that listen to this podcast, what was like your experience of it? I know you weren't living with them. And you may not have been very clear. But how did that hit you?

Allison:

That's a great question. It was a long time ago. And I think part because it is a hard experience, I don't revisit. And it was just brutal watching him struggle, and watching my parents struggle supporting him. And, and so I think that was the root of it. And on top of it, and this may be common for some of your listeners, he had mental illness on top of the addiction. And so it was just this really confusing, and honestly agonizing, because my parents had to take some controlling measures. And because he wasn't functioning, and it was, again, just, you know, painful and, and sad and hard and wanting the best for him. And wanting to know what I could do to contribute, and, and how to keep him safe and help them be on the path to recovery.

Jen:

Yeah. And so what what was the outcome? We're speaking of that in the past 10. So what's the what does it look like today?

Allison:

For him, it was a wonderful story, because he got so much support from different therapists and medication and halfway house that helped him bridge and nanny helped my parents and myself. And the surprising was the Catholic Church, he joined that and they were such a welcoming, inclusive, safe, loving place that he felt he could do the growth he needed to and and, and he ended up meeting his wife, and now he has a family. And it's a it's a wonderful story.

Jen:

That is a that is such a wonderful story of of going from, um, completely powerless as this person ever going to, you know, get out of it. And then watching him kind of blossom into being the person that you always knew that he could be, and maybe even a little bit more.

Allison:

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, a point you make, that we each have that whole person inside of us, even when we're struggling with some behaviors that aren't really skillful.

Jen:

Yeah, yeah. And it's just it can, it can really, when we're on the other side of it, it can be a really amazing experience. But man when we're going through it, and we're experiencing that powerless, and I mean, it is a powerless, powerless feeling. You know, and I still experienced that a lot, because of the large majority of my relationships just by the nature of being in recovery, are dealing with other people that have, you know, substance abuse issues, most of them are trying to do, you know, all the right things, and it's like, I'm here, as a guide, I will totally help you, I'll tell you all the things that you need to do, but it's your journey, and then watching them struggle, I will constantly have to check myself going. This is not yours to own. You can only give them the tools, you can only provide them the resources, and they're going to have to pick it up. And most of the time I'll tell you what, even the people I have experienced that have like relapse while I'm in the process of helping them one. My first reaction is to take all the blame right oh, I should have said this. I should have seen this. I should have done that. I should have should I should I should I write my second response is this is not yours. Well, you know, if they weren't being honest to you, there's nothing you can do about that. If they were, you know, doing what you told him to do. There's nothing you can do about that. You know, all of those things, but it is such a powerless feeling I am sharing it is this wonderful I'm going to tell you this funny story, and then we'll move on. But I had this one friend. And this was I wasn't new in recovery, I had a few years, but it was someone that, you know, I just seen struggle. And I had, I was living in an apartment, and for some reason they had turned, the doorknobs were backwards. So the lock was not on the inside, like, normal, it was on the outside, and I was like, I think I could lock her in that room for a while. Like that was, that was my thought of, I'm just gonna kidnap her and lock her in that room. I think that could work and the windows are painted shut, and I don't think she'll break them. I think I got this, like she needs a few days, right? Yeah, that's where my, that's where my I didn't do that. But my friends talked me out of it is probably the only reason you can't do that. It's not gonna work.

Allison:

But you want to help

Jen:

you do you want to help. So So I totally get that. So I want just to keep

Allison:

I just keep a kernel of they are whole and complete. And they're on their journey. And it's so hard not to hook in each other stuff. That that's one of the other big things, you know, when I work with parents, because I think the parent child relationship is kind of sticky. Because they're our child and up into a certain age, we are wholly responsible for them. And so how can you then let that go, and let them be their own person and trust that they are born with everything inside them that they need. And, and, and let them fall. And that's so hard? Yeah. And

Jen:

that's something that I do work a lot like with the parents that I that that I work with, as well is just from, you know, me being on the kids side of like saying, This is what my experience was of my parents, right of what I needed. And what I needed them to let me go through. And the truth was, was, you know, as much as my mom was really ready to like, bail me out of all the problems. When it came down to it, I needed every single bit of information to make the decisions, I think that literally on my relapse even as bad as it got, if she had taken me out a day early, I can tell you would have been a different experience, because within 24 hours, that was when the light bulb went off, even though I needed help. Long before that, you know, I was in no shape to deal with much of anything, I was gone, I was off my rocker. And I was I just knew I was going to die. And that was my journey was I knew I was going to die. And that was the epiphany. But I needed every single minute and had anyone to try to take me out. Tried to take me out. Yeah, I may have stayed clean for a while. But I probably would have fell back into old patterns, you know. So that's, that's the hard part is thinking. They need all that information and trusting their journey. It's painful. And it's just so hard, because you see so many people not get out of it alive. And that's the truth. That's the real, they don't get it and you're like, Well, I'm not gonna let that happen. It's like good, but it's not yours to own. And that's the hard part. Yeah, learning how to how to grieve that loss. And of course, every parent right now is freaking out. As I say that, I get it, you know, and this is gonna be tough. And I want to go here, because we're talking about vulnerability, or talking about Gifts of Imperfection, talking about Brene Brown's work. So when it comes down to that vulnerability, and I'm sitting here talking about this, you had a daughter who had cancer, and you had to deal with that vulnerability. What were some of the ways that you kept yourself from just wanting to crawl into a hole and not come out?

Allison:

It's an interesting metaphor. I go to two different places, and I did through this really hard eight month experience. I just fell apart and I have friends that I can fall apart with. And I said it was a 17 Kleenex meltdown. It was it was just me saying I am not in control and that is crazy. That's not possible. Nothing can happen to my daughter and and just being brought in real. The other thing that happened and doing a lot of self care, I guess during those times of Just, you know, getting exercise, making sure I ate well, making sure I slept because I needed those resources to be strong for her. And the other thing I did was to sort of go into this persona, which is an old pattern of overdoing, and Brene, brown talks about this, she's sister superior, and just becoming the old knowing one and the competent one and almost hiding myself and how scared I was in this doing personality. And so it flipped, flopped back and forth, during this hard time. And, again, especially with COVID, I wouldn't wish you know, both of them were hard. But together, they were just over the top.

Jen:

Yeah. And I think what you said, is so amazing. And what I you know, I talk a lot with, like, the people that I work with, it's like, there are going to be times where you just need to fall apart. And the more that we tried to keep it all together, and try to keep it all together and try to keep it all together. It's not, it's gonna explode in so many other unhealthy ways. Yeah, sometimes you need the freedom to just lose it. And then pull the pieces back together and do some self care and balance what I you know, I refer to it as like a little bit of a teeter totter, balanced, the teeter totter out, you know, we're gonna have emotions one way and another. And sometimes we just have to remember to balance. So it's like, Alright, now that I fallen apart, I don't want to stay here in this whole, I'm going to work on getting myself out. Yeah.

Allison:

And I would say that those hard emotions, I say, there's risk at wisdom and the resistance. And so I'm resisting feeling it and I'm resisting feeling it because I don't want to go there. I don't want to go to shame, I don't want to go to fear. But I, that's the path, I need to go and experience it because that's telling me about what matters, what my values are, what my unmet needs are. And so that's my nonviolent communication background, there's incredible lists of my need to matter, my need to be safe, my need to contribute my need to be seen and heard, and my need for ease. These all came up, and and so then it points me It shines the light on what matters, so I can pay attention to that. And it's hard emotions that shine the light.

Jen:

Well, and sometimes it's like, we also have to understand and this is, this is where I want to go next, because you're you're hitting on, you know, really defining what our needs are. And a lot of times we don't even understand what it is that we're needing, because we don't understand what belief we're operating under. And so we have to start looking at, like, what are we telling ourselves? What are our core beliefs? Are our core beliefs in alignment with what we want to be gaining in our lives? Are they healthy? Are they are you telling yourself? I'm not good enough? Are you blaming yourself? Are you doing all that? And if that's the case, it's like, well, you're operating in a core belief that's not going to satisfy your needs in a healthy way. So what are some of the core beliefs that you could see that you kind of had to remind yourself to shift?

Allison:

Yeah, that's a great point, because, and Brene Brown, I think, really highlights this in my own work, is what is the story I'm telling myself, then you just said that prompt, instead of just believing the story, if I can put that the story I'm telling myself is, that helps shine the light right there. You know, the story I'm telling myself is that I'm, I'm not good enough. I'm not I can't do this, that that I am to blame that something I did is the it's my fault. And when I say when I can get that little bit, I'm firmly believing. I'm convinced that if I can use those little prompts, then I'm less in the story and believing the story and lost in the story. And I have a little bit more observation and agency to be able to step outside and own it and and make other choices because that's when I'm conscious. Yeah. And and the firmly held beliefs are, am I coming from wholeness and abundance? Or am I coming from lack and fear? Yeah. And so that light is so important to know where we are.

Jen:

Yeah. And sometimes, it's really important to pay attention to who we are also listening to. And and I say this because when I, I talked to a lot of people about this, and they will tell me and it's true is is that they have other people that are also blaming them, you know about what's going on? Well, if you would have just done this, if you would have just do that. And if you were to you, you know, and we're so quick to point the fingers and the only way that it sinks in and in. We believe it is because that's where we believe it in ourselves. And that that's a great example of how, what is the story that you're telling yourself? In terms of, well, do you believe that it's your fault? If you believe that it's your fault, then you also believe that it's yours to fix, and then you're so busy and fixed mode? That it's like, oh, that's not actually going to lead you to the results that I think that you want. Because it's not your problem to fix. You're setting yourself up a little bit, right?

Allison:

Yeah, and we aren't problems, we are just living showing up one breath at a time. And, and I really have experienced that it's the underlying motivation and energy is is about our needs and our values. And so that's why slowing this all down and pulling it apart, what is thought, what is the feeling, and what is the value unmet need, that helps me be able to get a handle and, and sort of shine the light. So I'm out of, you know, stuck mode of shame,

Jen:

right. And so sometimes it's really eat like, so this is, here's the interesting thing is like we're talking in like, very deep. And sometimes, even though it sounds simple, it's also fairly complicated. Because we're talking about a lot of complicated dynamics, we got family dynamics, we got, you know, we got our own personal dynamics going on, we got societal dynamics, they're telling us things, and we're getting hit from all these these things. And so it's actually very complicated. And what I really enjoy is when people start breaking it down in making it a little bit easier to understand, and I know that you have a process to to really work people through to make that a little bit more of a digestible thing. So it's not so floaty, and you have a five steps to connect process. So I was hoping that you could kind of share with my audience. What is that?

Allison:

Yeah, that's a great question. So the five steps to connect is a way for me to when I'm in the middle of, you know, a hard feeling like I'm super angry and triggered, or I'm just in a shame spiral. I'll use the example of when I was working with my daughter and needing to make decisions about her treatment. And the hardest thing wasn't one hard thing was that was what she was going through and just seeing her struggle. But the other was all the thoughts that I layered over what was actually happening. So what was happening is she was going through a treatment that was going to be uncomfortable, and, and really arduous for her. But the thing that got me was all the thoughts are, am I making the right decision? Am I doing all that I can? Did I do something wrong? And it was all the thoughts that went on top. So the first sort of step is to just meet yourself where you are, and accept. This is where you are, it's not where you should be. It's not even where you want to be. It's just this is what is so that first is anchor and acceptance. I love that. Yes. Then the next step is to for me, again, when I'm in my thoughts when I'm in a reaction, I'm not actually here in the present moment. So I go to somatic and body wisdom. And so it's do a quick body scan. And if you don't know what that is it start at the top of your head. And just where is their sensation? Where is their tightness? Oh, right now it's in my jaw. I'm really feeling this clenching in my jaw. What else is happening? I'm shallow breathing. My heart is racing. Okay, hmm. And now I notice I'm feeling hot. And then I go down to my stomach and my stomach is just glitching like it has butterflies and just serpents just crawling in there and I've just, that's my anatomy of being just so upset. Then the next step is what is that trying to tell me what's happening? What am I feeling? And I'm feeling agitated. I'm feeling scared. And there's so much of me that doesn't want to be scared that I resist it. So that's when I get go back to my body. What's happening? It's, it's it's experiencing the resistance. So then after I go identify the feeling, oh, irritation and fear, absolute fear and an anger that this happened to her, then I can go, oh, okay, okay. I'm very, I'm afraid I'm angry. What are those emotions trying to tell me? What is what matters here? What are my needs? What are my values, needs and values are the same. And it's really for safety. It's, it's, that's probably the biggest one I'm really wanting reassurance. I'm wanting trust. I'm wanting to be seen for how hard this is. I'm wanting acceptance. But again, that that sends me back to No, I'm not willing to accept that I don't want this. So then I can go back up to the top. And I have to restart the process.

Jen:

Right, yeah. And, you know, this is such a powerful thing that you put together, because I know like, my audience, we're dealing with so many things that are coming at us so fast. And we just go into that mode, just to take a pause. And just like really kind of work through like this is and I love that you start with being present. This is where we are right now, right here, whatever is going to happen in the future is going to happen. Whatever has happened in the past, I can't do anything about it, we are here now, you know, and then paying attention to some of those questions, and especially really getting in touch with your body physically, and what's going on with you physically, you know, and how to kind of snap back, even in just getting us out of that little survival mode, brain. And that's why it's called like five steps to connect your connecting back with yourself with your present moment. No judgement, no shame, just the here and now. And

Allison:

beautiful. And the challenge, I call it spin out because I can get stuck in my head and just awful eyes or think of the past or think of the future, what if or, Oh, I should have you know, or the shoulds everywhere and, and I can just stay stuck. And I call it the pain cycle, the pain trigger stuck cycle. And that's when I'm avoiding feeling because I don't want to be uncomfortable or scared. And I just stay in this loop loop. Yeah, of all these scared feelings are these thoughts that I just keep adding to what actually is? Yeah. So that's why it's just slow down and go to what is what is.

Jen:

And I love that. And we were talking a little bit before this podcast. And it was such an interesting thing that you brought up. And I kind of want to go into this because I really wanted to hear more about it. And I have a feeling it's either gonna be a left turn, or it's gonna fit right into what we're talking about. I'm not really sure yet you can help explain this. But you were talking about me meeting the wolf. Yeah. And I love that almost the imagery, because I'm one I love wolves. I love everything that they represent in so many ways. And I know that has nothing to do with what you're talking about. But just the idea of meeting the wolf.

Allison:

Yeah, so this is the most of the parents that I work with have either a to e or a strong willed child. And so when they're in their intensity, they're just raging at you or they're withdrawing. But mostly when they're in their intensity. They feel to my limbic my nervous system, like a wolf attacking me. And so it's the idea that our limbic system reacts, whether it's a physical danger, or an emotional identity danger, because, you know, sometimes kids can be violent and there is a physical component, but most of the time, it's that I'm feeling out of control. And that I want ease. So I actually have this image of a attacking snarling Wolf. And it is what my my nervous system feels like. I mean, the heart rate goes up, I'm ready to fight flight freeze, and this is what I would feel like when my daughter would be shaking her finger yelling, no, I won't. And, and it was so triggering to me. And so the idea is that that is real. That is what's happening to my nervous system. However, what's actually inside her ah, is this cute hurt puppy? And so when I could imagine that within her even when she was at her intense, harsh Scary worst inside her was this hurting puppy that needed support, it didn't need to be punished. It didn't need to be controlled. It wasn't a problem. It was that she had unmet needs, something mattered to her. She felt scared, she felt vulnerable. She felt like she wanted power in her world that she wanted to be seen. She wanted to be heard, she wanted to be accepted in that moment when she was at her worst. And so that's the the concept. And, and there is a part where later, we need to set limits, because that's important, too, that helps them feel safe, give them structure. But in the moment when they're triggered, the Dan Siegel lid flipped, they need to support and reassurance and just, they need us to see them as a as a hurting puppy.

Jen:

It's so I know, because I've talked to a lot of people and they experienced this all the time it whether you're a husband, wife, sibling, whether your parent, whoever it is, when it comes to people in addiction when they feel backed into a corner, I guess what you would refer to as the wolf? Well, they're they're attacking their wolf comes out, I guess. You know, and they say, I will, I will say that they say the most hurtful things that they can possibly say in that moment, knowing exactly how you're going to react in that moment. Because they're doing I mean, one they're doing it very intentionally they know is going to hurt you because they are hurting and hurt people hurt people. Right? And what I, you know, do work and try to remind people of is is like when they come and attack you like that. One time, the The worst is not one, it's not about you, even though they're literally telling you, you're the worst parent in the world, I hate you, you did this to me, you know, I like it, this is all your fault you are so I mean, so many really awful things, right? When we respond in kind,

Allison:

just gets a bit, it makes it worse.

Jen:

And because it's not, they're not really. It's not about us, it's not. And I love the imagery in this way I really wanted to bring up the you know, meat the wolf is is is being able to take a moment and take a step out and see not let it trigger you internally. But actually see them as the hurt puppy that they really are, can take a step out and allow you to really actually hear what they're saying, instead of being clouded with all your own reaction reaction emotions. And here's the here's the thing. And this is where we go back to, you know, your five steps to connect, right? Bringing us back into the present moment and understanding what's really going on. And that if I'm working on myself enough to not let you hit on my own insecurities, I'm not going to have those reactions. So it's what is going on in you that is triggering you and work on those triggers. So they can't get to you in that way anymore. Yes, and in the meantime, put it away, you know, and see them as the hurt puppy, and you'll get a very different response from them.

Allison:

So true. So true. I say if parents can understand one thing, it is that they're not doing it to you, they're doing it for meeting their own needs. And that helps again, so that we don't take it personally. And so that we can be ourselves and meet them instead of react and make it all worse. Yeah, yeah. And it's not easy.

Jen:

It's not and it does go cuz I do work a lot with like the boundaries but it works a lot in like we go deep when I talk about boundaries, people automatically assume like oh, you mean like the tough love and you know, kick them I was like no, I mean, your own personal boundaries, which means we have to work on like your triggers. So that when you are speaking, that what you are saying they are able to actually hear and we're gonna teach people how to treat you that they can't just come in and, you know, come at you in that way. You're just not gonna It's just not going to hit you, you know, and that's what I mean about boundaries is, we're gonna set it up in such a way that it just doesn't impact you as much. And then they won't be able to get to you like that,

Allison:

right. And going back to the metaphor of staying on the ridge, if I can make my Ridge wider and wider, then I fall off of it less easily to old patterns of blame, and shame and attack, or, you know, all the things we do numbing, or into shame, you know, just really getting stuck in that. So that's the whole work of the five steps to connect is to build our ridge and keep returning to the ridge, knowing we're going to go off the sides. But knowing how to come back up

Jen:

well, and this stuff, and this is what I want to remind people as well, this stuff is a practice, we practice these, this is not a checklist where you check it off. And we're done. Right? We really have to implement and integrate this into our lives. And this is the journey of it. This is not just oh, I just heard this great thing. And now I'm going to go do it without any support without any more like, there's so much to that even though you there's, it's like, it's simple when you say it. And it's not so simple when you go out and like start trying to do this, because all of a sudden, like if you're like me, I hear it by tomorrow. If I'm not, if I'm not working on this stuff, as a practice is really absorbing the material, I'm going to forget, right? Like, I'm just not going to be or I'm just not going to be able to do I'm gonna try to like what, what was I supposed to be doing whatever. Okay, I made my present. Now, what's the next thing? You know, that's where I go. So I really want to make sure for the people that that really resonated with that they have the ability to learn more about the five steps to connect. So share with people how to find you.

Unknown:

Yeah, thank you. So it's five, the number five steps STPs to connect co nn aect.com. And it's the five steps to connect. And I do one on one coaching, especially if there's an acute situation going on, where there's just so much disharmony and conflict and yelling and just acrimony that I have a whole system to work with parents and families on that. And then I also have a membership called the real peace place, which is the way to get that ongoing support to learn these practices to share this life saving, listening. So you can be raw and real. And practice these things. Not in real life, but in a safe community. So that you can learn how to experience these hard feelings, you can look into your shame triggers, you can, you know, be seen and heard and accepted for how hard this is when your child is screaming, I hate you. And just give yourself a big, you know, gesture of support. Because this is a hard, hard journey. But I have a message of hope. Because it can be so much easier when we stop directing our, our reactions at each other. And oh, yeah,

Jen:

I so agree. And I so thank you for coming on, and just sharing all these like this valuable tool and just your experience. And I know that it's gonna really hit a lot of people, you know, right where they're at, because they're like, oh, that's exactly, you know, what I'm dealing with. And so I definitely want to make sure to have that link in the show notes so people can easily find you. And I just wanted to thank you again for coming on. And one last thing. So have I always like to kind of answer or ask this question at the end is, what is the one thing that you think that families can do to really support themselves through what they're going through right now.

Allison:

They've probably heard it before, but charge your batteries. And by that, I mean, you know, do things you love. Because when we're just going from one thing to the next to the next, it really drains us. So be sure to do something that you absolutely love to do each and every day. Because that helps us be able to deal with the hard stuff much more. And then the only other thing I'd say is that just know that everyone is just working for their own needs to get met. They're not doing anything to you. They're not doing anything to each other. So just watch taking it personally.

Jen:

Wow. Yeah, thank you so much for that. No, that's so true. Because and even if they've heard it before people forget Repetition is key, right? Because I can't tell you how many times I've I've heard the same things over and over and over again. And when I am in it, my friends are like, remember Jen? And I'm like, Oh, yeah. Okay, thank you. You know, repetition is key. Sometimes we just need to be reminded. And you're so right. We do have to recharge our batteries. So

Allison:

it's so much quite active when my battery's low. Yeah, I

Jen:

know a lot of my family members, they don't sleep very much. And I'm like that this is something we have to do. We have to sleep. We have to recharge our batteries. We have to have joy in our life. This is okay. Give yourself permission to do those things so that you can be at your best so that you can handle the what is

Unknown:

yep, yep. Yeah, cuz they matter.

Jen:

Yeah. So thank you again, Allison, for coming on. And thank you for listening to this podcast. If you want to listen to more or find more information out about this podcast and more of what I do to help families you can go check out my page at unbreakable boundaries podcast.com. It's full of other great podcasts just like this one and other great resources to look through. And please remember to share this podcast with others. You never know who may need to hear this people are often hiding their battles in this arena. And sharing is a great way to provide this valuable resource to a person you may not even know who needs it. And don't forget, there is always hope, even when things seem the most hopeless.