Have you ever heard of chair work? You will if you read Neil Strauss’ latest bestseller, The Truth. I was part of Neil’s Secret Society and I got to experience chair work firsthand, multiple times, as part of working on our inner game. One of those times was facilitated by Brent Charleton, who is today’s guest. Chair work can be like six months of therapy accomplished in a morning, I kid you not. But that’s not the only thing we’re going to cover in this episode, so buckle up, this is going to be a wild ride. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer. Now, let me introduce to you Brent Charleton. Brent is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Executive Coach. He’s anything but a typical therapist, as you’ll soon discover. Brent’s clients include celebrities, entertainment industry peeps, high-powered executives, and self-made millionaires. He developed a transformational 4-day intensive that I had the privilege of experiencing, as I had just mentioned. Welcome, Brent.
Well, let’s dig in to chair work as a starting point because I’m sure our listeners are intrigued. What is it and how different is it from traditional therapy?
Well, chairwork is mainly an adjunct to a therapy process. But essentially it’s like an accelerant where you expel emotional block.
Okay. How do we know that we even have emotional blocks? Are these childhood traumas? What if somebody doesn’t feel like they were really traumatized as a child?
Well, basically everybody has blocks that they develop. Essentially it’s anytime we’re treated by nurturing as a kid. You pick up the emotions that are coursing through the person that is treating you as a nurturing. Those can get blocked and stuck. Essentially that causes triggering, whenever you’re in a situation where you’re emotionally overwhelmed or you’re stuck in the past or you’re playing something or you’re future tripping, you’re actually having emotional triggering. What the chair work does is it’s a way to rapidly expel those emotional blocks that are built up, basically in people’s energy pathways.
Okay. Let’s unpack this a bit. Let’s say that I get triggered. Somebody says something that really hurts me. It’s not just from that moment in time, it’s from a past wound and that trigger is because I haven’t healed the wound.
That’s right. Typically, when something occurs in the present and you have a big reaction, what’s occurred in the present outside of you is a catalyst forward the reaction that’s happening inside. It’s really higher and internally stimulated by what happens outside of you that causes you to become triggered. The problem with that is that, then you are living in the past, to a numbers of trauma, and that’s a trauma with a little t. It’s a really charged word, we don’t really have a better one but you can think of as anything less than nurturing. That stuff gets triggered and it causes you to basically misperceive what’s happening in the present.
Okay, anything less than nurturing is trauma.
There are different types of trauma. There’s not just little t trauma and big T Trauma where a person get upon the jail or something.
Well, it’s in the eye of the beholder. Who decides the trauma is actually the person that’s going through it. The word is very charged and that’s why we have all different types of traumas and there are different levels of intensity. But essentially, anything less than nurturing is shaming whenever you’re growing up. That in and of itself is a trauma. You couldn’t use the word abuse which is even stronger in our culture, a lot more charged but essentially that’s the same thing.
Let’s dig into shame.
I remember this term shame core and that’s true to things. It’s shame, it’s not as much guilt or anger or resentment, it’s shame that’s really at the core of our trauma.
Well, shame is one of the feelings that you pick up and that you also create. Because your feelings aren’t magic, they’re coming from your thoughts so, you’re actually making them. Shame is not necessarily the cause but it is one of the pieces. You have shame that people store up and then you have carried feelings. Carried feelings are the feelings that you pick up from the person that’s abusing you or treating you less than nurturing. That always has a little dull of shame in there as well. you also have unexpressed feelings. It’s actually those three that are linked to the traumatic experiences that you experience, that gum up the works. Essentially they create balls of gook, I couldn’t have a better term, within the person. Well I don’t use fancy languages as much anymore. I find it gets in the way.
It works, it works. You said three thingcarried feelings, unexpressed feelings and what was the third?
And then shame. But that shame is actually technically carried shame. It’s one of the ones you’re picking up from the person that’s abusing you. But every single feeling that you pick up has a little shame in there because you’re being treated less than nurturing. Shame, I think it has a bad rep because there is a good healthy version of shame. It is one of the core emotions, there are only eight core emotions. There are the ones that you’re supposed to make that reminds you that you’re valuable, that you’re not a god, that kind of stuff. What we’re talking about is carried shame which some people refer to as toxic shame and that’s in the literature as well from people that really focus on theory.
Carried shame is where somebody like a caregiver had transmitted their shame onto you because they just didn’t know how to cope with it in a healthy way?
There’s actually not a way to get rid of it. Have you ever hit a squirrel or something with your car?
I have. That’s so horrible.
It’s a good example though. Basically and typically, that squirrel doesn’t actually die, they usually bounce off the fender or something like that. And then whenever they get up, they shake. And they’re actually shaking out all the traumatic energy, feeling energy if you will that they are experiencing. All “lesser animals,” I don’t like that term. They actually have a way to get rid of those traumas, that emotional intensity. We’ve lost that ability. I believe it’s evolutionary in nature that we don’t have it anymore. We have something akin to us called shock, which as you know could be fatal to people. Essentially, we’re trying to get rid of that shame. It’s like a little shame loop or a pattern. People basically have the shame, they picked it up from their caregivers when they were growing up. They literally are trying to get rid of it by shaming others. That’s the shame that you’re referring to, that carried shame that you pick up from people whenever you’re being treated less than nurturing.
It tends to perpetuate the abuse goes from generation to generation because they don’t know the right way to cope with their shame, and so they inflict it on their children. And then their children when they’re adults and parents, mirroring that same approach to parenting and wiping that shame all over their kids in turn as well.
Yeah. That’s exactly right. It’s not intentional. Understand that modeling is the most basic, purest form of learning for humans. Whatever is modeled for you is what you’re then going to do. As a part of that modeling, you’re picking up the shame from the parents. It’s not that people are trying to be jerks, it’s simply that this is the way that things have formed and it is generational, it’s in the lineage, if you will. Whenever you work on it, you actually break that chain cycle. You break it for yourself and you’re not as triggered in your life but also you break it for your kids and for anybody else because you’re naturally not going to treat them as less than nurturing as you would have. Because you don’t have all that gook in there coming up the works and causing you to perceive what’s occurring.
Yeah. I think what’s important for our listeners to grasp is that everybody gets a treatment as a child where it’s not always nurturing. So, anything less than nurturing is trauma and we all get traumatized and thus we all have triggers, we all future trip, we all express negative emotions and less than proactive effective ways. If we want to be a better human, and have higher level of consciousness, we need to work on ourselves. Therapy isn’t just for people who are mentally ill or who can’t cope. If highly functional, thoughtful, loving people need therapy, or chair work, or some component of all these to be even more effective and loving and conscious.
Absolutely. I think more effective is really the bottom line, because even if this stuff is unexpressed, we also build up all of these unexpressed feelings as well. That’s when you don’t have a mechanism in place to express it to yourself, meaning you don’t even know what it is that you’re thinking and feeling. That drives a lot of stuff as well. The stigma of therapy is why I don’t function anymore within that sphere to be totally frank. I mean, essentially what I develop is a coaching technique and it’s not so much in it to have a lot of “problems”. In fact, frankly my clientele is very high-functioning. These are people that have a lot of success already, things were working well for them, generally speaking, but there’s one area of their lives, multiple areas that aren’t functioning at an optimal level and they’re basically blocked or stuck. People come and see me because they’re blocked. It doesn’t matter what profession they’re in, it doesn’t matter if it’s a personal issue or a professional issue. I think that that helped a lot of people be aware of these issues and work on them in the fact that it’s not like a therapy therapy. I am a licensed therapist, as you know, but I don’t operate into that license anymore. It’s for the stigma reasons. What I have found is whenever I drop the therapy moniker or the identification of the therapist is it opened up everything. People were much more receptive and willing and mainly who’s coming in the door now are people that are functionally in executive level, there’s a lot of business work occurring. Because people on these high-stakes environments, and when they make a mistake or they’re misperceiving something or they react in a promotional place, it causes a lot of problems for many people as well as financially, it’s a hit for them as well. And there are personal lives too. People spend so much time focusing on work. What they discover whenever they get unblocked and they learn a way to work with themselves, is that they can apply that to any area of their life. That’s very exciting because it changes all of their relationships. You’re in a relationship to everything around you. If you work on that relationship with yourself and you have a way, you internalize a way to then work with yourself when you notice that you’re triggered, in other words you don’t have to come and then see me or see somebody else, you have a way to actually work with yourself. It’s amazing what people can do and how much clearer everything becomes to them. People are very embodied with their trauma and their triggering. they frankly have no idea so that they know something’s not working.
Alright. They’re not making the kind of money they think they should be making or they know they’re capable of. They don’t feel like they have made enough progress in their career or in their relationship the things that are not as amazing or haven’t reached the potential that they can as possible.
Right. With my clients, a lot of it is that they reach this high level of potential or success and it’s not enough. It’s not enough and it’s not so much as insatiable, it’s not enough because I’m not talking necessarily just about money. It’s also about your personal life and those enriching relationships that are in your life. If your marriage is a mess, your kids are a mess. These are the things, it’s in the way. It drags down on you and your ability to live a full life, a conscious life as you say and also a loving life where you can be open and allow those lighter feelings to also be expressed. Because people don’t just get stuck and gummed up in their darker feelings but also in the lighter feelings as well. If I can’t express my pain, how am I going to express my love?
Yeah. Chair work then is one of the tools that you used to help your clients get unblocked and let’s walk through that process, because I don’t think our listeners yet really understand why this is essential like six months of talk therapy condensed into one morning or into just a few hours. What’s with the chair? What’s the process like? Let’s walk through that.
The chair work is basically the culmination of the four day process that I do with people. You could go through that four days and have a huge result. Uncover the blocks, resolve them and learn how to work with yourself. But I did the chair work because it creates a bit of a new base line for people. It’s a way to get out all of those blocks in a very organized way and then frankly, a highly intensive way. Essentially chair work, I did not create it, it was taught to me by a woman named Charlie Lisian. She is a drug and alcohol counselor, actually. She works at San Antonio. It was taught to her by Pia Melody who’s a rather famous therapist who deals with co-dependency issues and shame as well. No one knows if Pia actually made it but that’s how I learned it from was from that lineage, if you will. I’ve altered it significantly to match with what I think it should be and what I believe it can do for people. But essentially, you go through a list of all the ways you are treated less than nurturing by a primary caregiver. There’s a lot of emotional block and shame blocks and energy around that. The chair work is called chair work, it’s actually a shame reduction technique, technically. It’s called chair work because mainly that’s just what everyone’s called it. I have never named it. I might, considering that now the version of it that I do is very much my own. But regardless, you’re in a chair, I’m in a chair, there’s an empty chair across the room. Now it’s not the Gestalt technique which most of our listeners are probably familiar with that, as far as that classic empty chair stuff. Basically what happens is we bring in each parent one at a time, and it’s in your mind’s eye. You go to another place, it’s not hypnosis it’s just relaxation essentially. I feed you those traumas, I tell you what they are and you actually get to speak to your parents directly about those. It feels very real because it is real, so to speak, to the person that’s doing the chair work. Mainly you’re not really aware of your environment as much, you’re in a little zone and I go there with you in that place. We bring out the traumas that you’ve experienced. We’ve already discussed them beforehand. We have an idea, we know what feelings you’ve picked up, we know the shame you’ve picked up and you’re able to actually in real time, speak with that caregiver. And those blocks, those emotional energy blocks in the body, they get very exacerbated during that process and they start kind of vibrating and moving around. When you talk about a certain trauma that you encountered, we’ve identified the feeling in your body where that’s occurring. Feelings are also made in the body. I have you, in your mind’s like kind of scale your body and tell me where you think that block is. Most people know where it is. Sometimes it even has a color and a shape for them. I am very aware for those blocks are and actually what they look like. What we do is we grab on it with them with our breath, we suck them up with our breath out of the body and we blow them out and they go to the person that’s in the empty chair. I don’t know if they actually go back to that person. I do believe in the unseen, as grounded as I am in our current world and this environment and everything else, a lot of life is unseen. It goes back to them or it goes into the ether. I don’t really care because it leaves you. That block and that emotional energy is now gone. You are free of it. It doesn’t come up anymore. If you do think of that incident, it has a very small charge. What we’re doing is we’re getting rid of these charges because they are what causes you to move into the past or in the future and then you’re not focusing on what’s happening in the present. That’s essentially what chair work is and how it works. There’s also part of that process where I really integrate your kids essentially. It’s like you as a little kid, and you as a teen and your heart. That’s really important for the technique I developed that goes with the intensive. That’s for the work that you can do on your own. People still see me weekly, bi weekly but they’re learning a process that they internalize. People that work with me for about a year or two, some people longer. They have to be on task and it has to be related to particular goals that we have if they’re going to see me along within that. That is essentially what the chair work is. Does that make sense?
Yeah. It makes sense to me because I went through it.
Yeah, because you went through it?
One part of that was really powerful for me. The whole thing was powerful but couple of things I’ll share. One was, I was able to really visualize and sense for the first time where the shame and the negative emotions that were wiped on me by my caregivers and in my childhood, where they were in my body. There was like this chain around my neck in the front of my body and it was tangible to me.
It’s very tangible. It’s a very intense moment and then we removed that.
Yeah, I was able to blow that out and blocked us through whatever. I really felt like it left me and it didn’t come back. Shame can be hard to dispel or get rid of, but this is not your shame in the first place. And you shouldn’t have been carrying it and now it’s going back into wherever it could go back to the person it belonged within the first place if you believe that’s possible, I do. Or however you want to believe it, just know that you’ve gotten it out of your system. That’s really powerful. The other thing just from memory, what was very powerful for me was having my inner child. I forget at what age but we’ve somehow figured on the age standing behind me, I was protecting my child from the caregiver who did the best they could with the resource that they were getting and all that. It’s not that I’m disowning this person, it’s that I need to protect my inner child and get rid of the negative energy that doesn’t belong to me. That process of visualizing and nurturing my inner child, protecting my inner child and not just being a concept was very powerful.
I think that’s a big part of the role power but it takes something that’s conceptual and can seen out there. It’s a quite visceral, it’s very real for each person. Frankly, Stephan, I worked with hundreds of people now, I’ve been doing this a long time. Many different types of people walk in the door, very straight laced people, people who don’t believe in the unseen at all and then I have people on the other end of that spectrum. It doesn’t matter, the person, each person experiences not just the chair work, the process in total, very similar, in a very similar fashion. What you’re talking about is having the child and the teen, you’re actually speaking for those kids and you are protecting them, you’re taking over. The child’s ego state, that child’s self is around the age of six and younger. The reason that we differentiate that, or I do is that, around the age of seven, for whatever reason, each person develops this teen part, what I call it, what we refer to it as. It’s teen self, it’s around the age of seven. Basically, that teen part is there to meet the needs of the child in you when you’re actually a child that have been on that. There’s no way for a parent to meet all the needs of the child and this is not about blaming or nullifying parents. It’s not possible to meet all the needs, it doesn’t work that way. This teen part develops because there’s already some wounding that has occurred from zero to six whenever our needs aren’t met, this teen takes over for us. That teen does a great job, most people’s teens but that maxes out at a certain point because it’s literally what a teenager thinks an adult would do. By the way, it’s being formed at the age of seven. It’s not even into those teen years technically. People can get very far, that’s a functional state, the child’s state is less functional but you max out that’s why you have to learn how to move into a functional adult state, that’s possible post chair work, post, you’d be developing a new baseline for triggering.
One thing that was so incredibly powerful for me out of this whole methodology and framework is that the adaptive teen who is avoidant, that ego state that person inside of you, that inner child is seeking out the opposite, the anxious child who is needy and clingy and they hook up and then it becomes completely dysfunctional, it can co-dependent and the relationship is just fraught with problems. If you want to attract a functional adult into your life as your significant other, then you need to be a functional adult.
Right and notice that it’s a functional adult. A good way to think of those ego states, there’s the wounded child, the adoptive teen and the functional adult, the best way to think of them is just filters, it’s like a filter that you have on that’s almost in front of your eyes and ears. It’s how you interpret the information around you. A wounded child filter and a teen filter are very rigid and fixed and it’s like a dirty filter, frankly. You don’t see things very clearly. You’re right though that the teen moves in the opposite direction of the child. By the way, these are natural, normal ways to be, you just don’t want them running your life. But the child is going to be less than so, I’m less than other people. Well, the teen is going to be better than other people. It’s simply an opposite presentation. Child is exposed, vulnerable, and raw which children really are exposed, they need care. The teen is all closed up. Again, it’s just an opposite, child is all defective and broken and then the teen tries to be perfect which doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing as perfection, everybody’s got to give it up, it doesn’t work. If you’re also needy, that’s a part of the child’s state which children really have need, that ego state is a needy one, a teen’s going to be needless. You can imagine in relationships, whether it’s with the person, whether it’s with the business, whatever it is. If you’re either bouncing between less than or better than, exposed or closed, defective or perfect, needy or needless, you’re like a little yoyo and you’re emotional over the place. The functional adult state which is the state that I teach you how to move yourself into and there’s a very specific technique that I’ve developed to do that, it’s simple but you have to learn it and practice it. Instead of being less than or better than, you moved to a place that equal worth which is what’s actually real, I’m not saying that just to be nice or something, I’m telling everybody’s worth the same. Their behaviours and their deeds have different value judgements but at the core, a person is equal to everybody else. That’s a very different vantage point to view the world and yourself and your experience. If you’re all exposed in the wrong, vulnerable or you’re all closed up and avoidant as you said, Stephan, you learn how to move into a place of being protective and contained which is really important. Boundary is what that area is about and it’s a huge area for people because when you make changes and boundaries, it changes everything. Your level of triggering completely changes. We also want to try to be realistic, the adult is realistic. It’s not defective, I’m not broken and a piece of garbage, I’m also not perfect and better than everybody. I’m realistic. I’m going to make mistakes but they don’t mean that I am a mistake and I think that’s a big shift. The last one is about needs and wants. If among needy or needless, neither one of those is actually real, you have needs and wants. Your needs are for you to meet on your own, frankly, but you should go to other people with your wants. What I just went through with you is essentially, what those ego states are along the four core issues that has identified for people and those four core issues are active all the time in every person. Issue doesn’t necessarily mean a problem, it’s like a tenant. My worth, how much I’m worth in a moment, how safe I am in certain moment, how perfect or human I am and my needs, all fours of those are ups for grabs every moment, every interaction, every second of every day. This triggering that we’ve been talking about, basically, it bounces us into either a child or teen along those four core issues and that creates problems.Issue doesn’t necessarily mean a problem, it’s like a tenant. Click To Tweet
This is so deep.
It is. It is actually. My work is very intense and deep but it’s very probable to people. I’ve also suffered my approached behaviours because I can really dig in when I get on a certain issue with people but it is very deep, it is at the core, that’s the only way that I chose to work with people because when you make shifts and changes at the core, everything else falls into place, it’s crazy, the difference that occurs. It’s truly is transformation when it’s done at the core level within the therapy environment, the psychotherapy environment, that’s what everyone is trying to get to, is to that core level. What I find is a lot psychotherapy and psychological principles are in the way, frankly. When it’s paired down to something really basic and simple and you can learn it and move through it, the changes are profound.
If you just talk about sit down and then traditional therapy session like tell me what’s going on for you this week sort of thing.
I did it for years. I was in the chair for years doing that.
It’s like dancing around the issue, right?
You’re not getting any issues. I am not against psychotherapy, it’s a wonderful tool. It’s a special conversation that you can have with somebody about your life. But real change, actual change I found why I develop what I developed, Stephan, is because I would treat somebody for depression or anxiety or whatever they are coming in the door for and they will get a little bit better. But then something else would show up, something random, they would become a gambling addict or something bizarre. That’s when I started going, you know, there’s something that I’m missing, there’s something at the core that everything in this book that’s supposed to do something isn’t getting to. I was exposed to some thoughts and other people’s work and I took that and created my own stuff and basically made what I do now from that.
Let’s unpack this a bit more because this is so deep and powerful and probably a big paradigm shift for a lot of our listeners like they probably have never heard of the child ego state and the teen ego and that if we’re dominant in one, it will seek out a partner who’s dominant in the other. There’ll be all sorts of turmoil in the relationship that’s completely unnecessary that we’re in this, I figure what you call them, but four different places of evaluating our worth, safety.
Those are the core issues and their contents. There’s worth, safety, perfection and needs.
The four core issues we’re evaluating constantly and then they could either trigger us because we’re kind of living in a robotic consciousness on autopilot or they could just help us stay in the present moment, be intentional, and loving and show up powerfully. It’s all about whether we decide to heal ourselves or not.
It is a process of healing, this is a method of healing and it’s spoken about typically in terms of functionality because that’s kind of the American world and then our cultural way but it is a healing. I think that that’s also something that I have the privilege of doing with people, is actual healing, it’s not just talking about it, we’re not reading in a book, this stuff really makes change. That’s very, very unusual, frankly. I mean it, it’s a privilege that I’m able to do this because it’s really cool to be able to provide these huge transformations for people and then to see them progress and make the changes they want to make. They can take it with them, they don’t have to keep seeing me but they don’t have to keep paying for my Land Rover. I think that that’s a really cool process to be a part of and it’s very intimate, people really trust me and I trust them too, frankly. It’s definitely a relationship, that’s for sure.
When you’re describing, they don’t have to pay for your Land Rover, I was thinking the whole medical profession is based on disease maintenance because that’s what’s most profitable, it’s not based on healing.
Absolutely, what is the incentive to heal, I know I’m getting in this somehow, I’m going to get some pushback especially some of my doctor friends but true healing doesn’t require you to go back and redo it. Our whole medical model, the medical model is not necessarily based on that. At this point it’s evolved into a machine and it’s a multibillion dollar industry, it’s a trillion dollar industry, frankly. The thing is that, whenever people do the work and they do well and they move forward, they’re going to tell other people, they tell their friends and said, “I’ve never advertised a day in my life, it’s all word of mouth.” I really want and feel driven to get this message out more and more especially as I’m getting older now where I feel more confident in my ability to do so, to get that message out so people can actually be healed and not just continue to go around and around and around. The other thing I want to point out is therapists come and see me, people that are working as psychologists and psychotherapists and they get their healing here and then they’re taking some of that work to their clients. It’s cool, it’s exciting.
That’s amazing. You’re saving lives. Literally, you’re saving lives.
I would like to think so. I definitely know that they’re changing. I know that people have that saving life, they bring something amazing. I’m facilitating a process and yes, it is an amazing process but people are saving their own lives, frankly. They’re coming and they’re doing the work, it’s an investment, it’s financially an investment, it’s time people are looking at a year of doing some intense work but it makes a huge difference in their lives.
Let’s give folks, listeners something they can take away from this episode, they can apply right away, some exercise, something that is not as intensive as chair work because you’re not going to be able to practice that on your own but something we can easily convey to them and they can easily implement.
I think that it sounds really simple. Everything with me is actually really simple. Implementation is tricky but really, it’s very simple but the thing that people can do right away for themselves is pay attention to what they’re thinking and what they’re feeling. Thoughts and feelings are different, by the way. What they’re thinking and they’re feeling whenever something big happens. I have a big spiken feeling, let’s say I get really excited about something, either rush of joy or rush of love, what am I thinking that’s making that feeling? On the other side of it, most people pay more attention to their darker feeling, frankly. I’m having a big, dark feeling. What is the thought that’s associated with that? If you can take that information and just write it down, you’re going to start to get to know yourself in a very profound way, very quickly because what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling, what you’re seeing there is essentially what you’re triggering and all that needs is the call to action, a call to attention. If I noticed that I’m really in a lot of pain and I can think into, okay, what are the thoughts that are making this feeling? That thought and feeling belongs to a part of me, it belongs to my child or it belongs to my teen? Those kids are still in there, they’re actually living back in the past. If I know that, what would I say to that child? What would I say to that teen to help them? Let’s say you’re really nervous and scared about something, you have a lot of anxiety which is the thought word for fear, you’re identifying fear. Maybe the thought is financial, what part of me is afraid I’m going to run out of money? Well it’s my child and he’s very scared. What would I say to him to help him? You literally just journal that out. It’s a small thing but it has a profound impact because you get to know yourself very well. You start without having all the basics in place without coming to see and kind of having all little pieces that you need right away, you can start looking at how am I going to help myself? I need to speak for this child or speak for this teen, maybe I need to protect them. You’re starting to move back into that adult place whenever you simply write down what I think, what I feel, and I what part of me is having that. You can develop that relationship with those kids parts, that’s how we move ourselves along until we move out of shame, frankly.
Let’s play this out so that our listeners really get to this.
Sure. Let’s do a real one, do you want to use yourself?
Sure. Let’s do it. Actually, I did this before with Byron Katie and it was really powerful, she used the work on me, the fours questions in the turnaround process. Listeners, you got to listen to that episode, it is incredible. Check that one out, the Byron Katie episode. Let’s use this on me. Can we rewind back to when I lost our clients and it was a surprise.
Oh yeah, I’ve been there. What happened? What were you thinking or what did you feel? What did you notice first?
I felt anxious, that’s the thought word for fear because we don’t want to connect with that fear so much.
That’s where the healing is, understand that disconnecting to it is starting right whenever you do that and that’s important. You cannot go around feelings, you have to go through them. If you have a way to attend to yourself, which is this technique that I do with people, you have a way to attend a little formula for yourself. It’s not as scary and you’ll move through it. You were anxious and so you were having a big fear response.
I got to mention another thing too before we go on with the exercise that you reminded me of when you say you just have to go through the fear. There’s an incredible book called The Tools, it’s a life changing book for me. Actually it’s Neil Strauss who gave it to me. The first tool in there is, I forget the name of the tool but the process of it is you basically run to and through the fear. You imaging that fear being like a cloud, a dark cloud that you can just walk through.
This is a little different but I do like that concept.
It was so powerful.
What’s different about this is you’re having the fear and then have the thought and then you assign it to a part of you, to a little kid that’s inside you that needs attention. It grounds it in a really intense rate for most people.
Listeners, check out the book, I promise you it’ll be amazing and it’ll change your life. It’s called The Tools. Let’s go back to the exercise now. I’m feeling fear I’m calling it anxious because I wasn’t planning on this disruption in my cash flow and it’s a major client, it’s a lot revenue.
What thought is making that fear? What are you in particular afraid of?
I’m afraid of not having enough and not providing.
Basically, it doesn’t have to be exact, and this is also in hindsight, it’s not having enough money.
Yeah, I guess so. Thinking this through, it seems silly, I’ve got plenty of money in the bank and so forth.
It’s always going to seem silly because it’s a triggered response. You’re taking the time to think about it which is important. When that’s happening and it’s fresh, the only way we know it’s triggered response, especially if you haven’t gone through the intensive is I know that something’s bothering me and I’m really anxious. It’s not that it’s going to be rational and let me explain why. You’re having fear and the thought is I’m not going to have enough money, that’s actually your child ego state because that’s a less than, it’s exposed, it’s not quite defective but it’s definitely a needy position, it’s not having enough money. You write down not having enough money and then underneath it, you make a little notation that says fear and then you’re going to assign it to your child. I literally write a little C and then I put in not having enough money and then below it I put fear. What would you say to that child? I call this raw data. This is it before we put it in the formula that I’ve developed. But what’s the raw data? What would you say to a four-year old or five-year old that comes to you and says, “I am really scared because I don’t think we’re going to have enough money.” What are just some random ideas? What would you say to them?
It’s going to be okay.
Okay so you write that down, “It’s going to be okay.” What else?
You got to trust and the universe has your back and this is just a bump in the road.
Okay, good. You can go and stop there. All of this is good, raw data. What you’re going to do first is you’re going to reflect back the thoughts and feelings, it’s not fancy. I don’t like fancy things. I do like nice stuff as you know but I don’t like fancy language and fancy stuff. It just gets in the way. The first step is you’re going to reflect back the thoughts and feelings. You would literally write this out, “I know you think and you’d report the thought that we’re not going to have enough money and this makes you feel afraid.” That’s your first part, that’s step one, reflect back the thoughts and feelings. Your second step for your little mini paragraph you’re going to write, it’s going to be what I call the context and that’s where you’re going to put in this raw data. You’re going to let him know that it make sense that he’s thinking and feeling this way because it does make sense that he is thinking and feeling that way because it’s what is, this is what’s really happening with you, vis a vis him, this child part.
Nothing else makes sense because our listeners don’t know my backstory. I grew up in a ghetto. It was really, really dicey. I almost got abducted when I was maybe four years old. I had to run away from the guy that was trying to get me into his car and run back home. I had no business walking around the block, it was in a ghetto.
You’re being right on and the thing Stephan is what you just uncovered is what I call the historical data. That is actually what’s triggered, that incident right there. What’s occurring is that, there’s still some residual gook around that incident which is fine, there’s going to be some residual gook. You’re going to get out as much as you can through our process and then you’re going to have a little bit left over. That historical data is what actually being triggered internally, it’s something from way back then, a trauma from back then. What’s on the surface is, I don’t have enough money but why it’s so intense? It’s because it touches that old trauma and that old shame of that incident. By the way, what we’re doing right now is what I call a correction. Every correction includes a piece of historical data and it goes in the second paragraph. You reflect back the thoughts and feelings that you’re witnessing and approving of that child, all children wants, Stephan, is witness and approval. It doesn’t mean that you have to approve and like what they’re doing but you don’t think they’re piece of garbage because of it. Witness and approval is all humans want. I’m not kidding. That’s what it comes down to. When you go through our process, because you’re writing this out to yourself, I’m witnessing and approval child, you are correcting the past where you were not witnessed and approved of. You’re also correcting the present because you’re going to into the second paragraph and you’re going to say, “Hey look, it is going to be okay. It makes sense you’re think and feel this way.” Why this is happening is because of when that man tried to abduct you or when I grew up in a ghetto, whatever piece [00:50:01] years. You feed that back to this ego stage, it’s a part of you, you’re talking to yourself, I’m not trying to make you crazy but there’s three separate people but understand this is a part of you that’s active. You reflect back the thoughts and feeling, you tell him your pointers, your good advice and then you’re going to turn him to you. Whenever you were saying, you said just trust the universe. What you’re going to do is you’re going to take that little boy and you’re going to turn him to you, you’re going to say, “You know what? If this comes up to you again, you can come to me, trust me that I’m going to get us what we need.” It’s very simple, it’s a small thing but it’s huge and it has huge repercussions for clients. When I first developed this, I’m telling you, Stephan, I didn’t know if it was going to work, I sure was saying it was going to work but I didn’t really know. The results were so profound that I didn’t believe my own work at the beginning of things because of the changes it made. The more corrections you do when you start to understand how you’re triggered and I show you how to map that out with the matrix that we learned, that’s the core issues in ego states, then you go in and you build a correction for each thing that occurred that’s really in your way because if it’s in the way, it is the way. You have to go there. Use this little formula, you feed it back to yourself. It moves the block. It reduces the triggering. You don’t need me to do it forever. You know how to do it yourself and then you go on with your life. What you’ll notice is that, that issue doesn’t come up anymore. That’s great and what we want to happen. What typically happens is that we notice it but it’s really small and it doesn’t take us over. It doesn’t take over our body, it doesn’t take over decision making and we’re able to move through it and to move back into the present and not be as trigger. Because the time thinking about not having enough money and that’s all I’m thinking about, I’m going to miss the opportunities there are to actually get secure financially because I am focused on one thing and having all these feelings and popping off all over the place and the reality is I need to get back to a center. When you talk to the child and you apply this soothing, this formula, you then move yourself back into ghetto and then you’re in the present again, that’s what you want.
The way I think about it is like these triggers are gifts and we can either choose to accept the gift and do something with it because the universe is trying to tell us, hey step up, it’s time to be operating at a higher level of vibration and to heal the issues, in Hebrew it’s called the Tikkun and Kabbalah. You can either work to make those corrections, work on your Tikkun or you could just ignore it or be just robotic in your consciousness and get triggered, be reactive and then people and events will keep throwing these triggers at you and you’ll have a really unpleasant time until you finally have had enough and you need to make a shift.
That’s right and I think it’s interesting you bring up Kabbalah and other spiritual growth and other avenues available to people. Basically, what I’ve developed, this is definitely a spiritual process but it’s one that’s framed within Western thinking, it’s also informed by education as well as the unseen. It’s very palatable for people because you don’t have to become a spiritual follower to do it and it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with someone following a spiritual path to do it. Many people believe this is a spiritual path. I don’t really operate from that place. It’s a coaching technique but there’s a lot that’s operating. You might be interested in learning some more about it too, personally. Hopefully, we could talk about it.
For sure. What I’d like to do for our listeners is, I will do this exercise that we just did over again where I’m actually going to document it and I’m going to journal it and I’ll put that up on the show notes on this episode for listeners to access and then can model their own journaling for if they want to see I did it.
I’ll do you one better. If you want to do it pre-emptively and send it to me, I’ll make sure that it’s exactly what it needs to be.
Perfect, let’s do that then. Definitely, listeners go to the Optimized Geek website for the show notes which will include this example of journaling. I think this is going to be incredible process and resource for you so I do hope that you’ll implement this. A couple other thoughts I want to put out there, when you are talking about this tool and using it to relate back to your inner child or your adaptive teen, whoever it is, is having this fear or whatever the feeling is, if you can distinguish yourself as separate from your thoughts and feelings, it’s a game changer because we are not our thoughts and feelings. We’re more than our thoughts and feelings.
That, I can accept because your thoughts and feelings do make a lot of who you are.
If you can distinguish that it’s not just your thoughts and feeling that’s you and your existence. I had this whole conversation in another episode with Sanjay Sabnani, listeners check out that episode too. I’ll put links in the show notes to that episode and to the Sanjay Sabnani episode. We are not simply our thoughts and feelings, if you can distinguish that. It makes sense, it’s logical but to really get it is a game changer, to really get it in the depths of your soul or in your body viscerally is a game changer.
If you’re working on changing your worth, the only way to increase worth and “self-esteem” is to act in ways that are nurturing to the self. What you just described is very nurturing to the self. You’re actually witnessing yourself in a way that you weren’t witnessed as a child, you’re proving, you’re attending, you’re saying the right things, it’s like a redo. You’re right, whenever it’s positive outside of yourself. I do that through the length of this child and teen and we talked with the actual child, the actual teen but that enables it to be much more powerful because you can tell people, I witnessed long time ago, oh you should do this, everybody knows, we live in an information era currently. Everybody knows what the right things are to do but how often have we been like, “Oh you should do that, just take care of yourself.” It doesn’t work but if you pass it onto a child and a teen, in other words, outside of yourself like what you’re talking about, Stephan, then people all of a sudden will take care of a child and a teen. It’s not really a trick, it’s just how humans are made. You have to get it outside of yourself to look at it, basically.
Do we have a few minutes to do a quick, lightning round of some questions?
Sure, yeah. We have a few minutes. Go for it.
You mentioned that there are eight core emotions, what are those eight?
I say eight because, there’s a debate around this, I think there are eight. There’s anger, fear, pain, shame, guilt, joy, passion, and love. All the other words, all the little charts at your kid’s school that has 200 little facial expressions with all these thought words under there, they’re all thought words. There are only eight core emotions, all of those words correlate to these eight.
That helps you because you’re going to better separate the thoughts from the feelings.
You need to learn how to do that because it’s literally what you’re thinking is actually making the thought. It’s a very powerful thing. If you can start changing what you automatically feel and your thoughts, then you create new feelings, it changes a lot of stuff. All of these feeling have gifts. Feelings are not a problem, they’re not in the way, they’re not supposed to be there. They are supposed to be there, they inform who you are. I also believe that they’re evolutionary in nature. I believe that they’re there as for survival and if we had more time, I could talk more about that but essentially they all have gifts and you need them to survive.
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. If you think that you are feeling resentful, that’s not one of the eight core emotions, it’s actually a thought word, you are creating anger by thinking that you‘re resentful and that’s just feeling it and if you separate that out, it will help you see what’s really real on that.
Exactly. What we do is we attend to it. Basically, when I went through with you is a natural correction, there’s some nuances in details and practices required to do good ones. You want to make a change so that you don’t continue to be resentful, think in resentful ways, etc, but if you don’t change the core, the block, the emotional block that’s creating all of that, the old trauma, then you’re going to keep creating it, it’s like a growth kernel. What I’m going for what we go for in this practice, in this work with client is their actual growth kernel, where it started.
Another quick, hopefully this will be quick, lightning round question, there are different ways of coping with trauma that can be not very functional like trauma bonding, trauma pleasure. Trauma pleasure for example, I remember that one is like somebody who’s a thrill seeker jumps on at a airplanes and does all sorts of crazy stuff to try and feel accelerated because they had some childhood trauma that they’re not really coping with.
Or they’re not even aware of, frankly, like things get blocked out a little bit too but you are actually describing trauma pleasure pretty accurately. It’s basically like finding pleasure in extreme danger or like risk or shame. This stuff, basically Patrick Carnes and David Delmonico, Patrick Carnes is the sex addiction guy, he’s the guy that created it but what I’m really interested about his work is he has these eight ways that trauma manifest in people and they seemed to be universally accurate. I’ve been using it for a long time. Basically, you have trauma reaction and that’s where you have alarm reactions to things. That’s like intrusive thoughts and big anxiety episodes, outburst of anger, basically you’re reacting to unresolved stuff. Flashbacks, insomnia, those kinds of things, that’s one of the ones. Another one of his is trauma repetition, that’s basically, you are recapitulating the trauma which everybody does this, by the way, these eight ways of the trauma manifest, they’re typically what everybody does, it’s just everyone has their flavour, the one that they do the most of but everyone’s recapitulating stuff. Trauma repetition is when you’re repeating behaviours over and over again and you’re trying to master the original trauma, you may even re-enact what actually occurred. Trauma bonds and those are attachments that form around danger and shame and exploitations. People can become trauma bonded where they’re hurting themselves over and over again and they think they’re in love, essentially. It creates a link and a bond between them. It feels special and unique to them and they think, “Oh, I’ve survived all these stuff with you.” Really, you’re just been traumatizing each other forever and now we think we’re special because of it, that’s a trauma bond.
Stockholm syndrome would be an example.
That is an example, yeah. That’s complicated, Stockholm syndrome, but yes, I think that would be a fair example. Then you have trauma shame, basically that’s like profound unworthiness, it’s like intense self hatred, if you will, self-destructive behaviour, suicidal ideation, frankly, shame based personality, depression and then co-dependency all comes down to trauma shame. Understand, this is Patrick’s work and so it’s within a certain framework. I do use this stuff. They get very valuable for people to know that there is a basic way that trauma presents for people. Should I keep going? There’s a couple more.
Sure, I think we’re close to time, though, you have to get to your next thing but yeah, if you want to quickly rattle those off, that’d be great.
Trauma pleasure, that’s what we already went over. Trauma blocking, this is like numbing yourself out. Watching TV too much, eating excessively, drinking, sleeping too much, anytime you’re trying to block stuff out. Trauma splitting and that’s whenever you split off, you’re having a lot of excessive day dreaming or compartmentalizing, you don’t really know what’s occurred, extreme DID which is like multiple personality disorder and then trauma abstinence, that’s like where you want doing things nice for yourself, you restrict a lot, you won’t eat, anorexia has it’s root in that, frankly, and as well as most eating disorders that are restrictive. Those are it, those are the eight, you have permanent abstinence, trauma pleasure, trauma splitting, trauma blocking, trauma shame, trauma bonds. Did I leave one out?
I think you got them all.
I think I got them.
It’s really a powerful work and I think it’s wonderful that we’re exposing this to people who haven’t heard of it before because it is in a pretty specialized area with sex addiction and I’m glad that I know about it because of you and I was able to realize that I had trauma bonding with my mother because we had kind of a common enemy, my grandfather who had raised me much my childhood and was really abusive, physically abusive and he was physically abusive to my mother when she was a child, that was a trauma bond between us, unhealthy one but one that I was completely oblivious to until we identified it together.
I still use this stuff and the intro intensive is like an adjunct. When I worked with Patrick, that work really did inform a lot of what I do now, even though I do it with a different model. I’m not like a sex addiction specialist or any of that kind of stuff. This is a coaching method. People are really seeing me for those kind of things as much should be more but that work was pivotal and profound when I was a clinical director for him. That work really informed what I do now.
Amazing stuff. Thank you so, so much, Brent. This is awesome. I want to encourage listeners to work with you if they have the time and the resources, the money to afford you, what would the four-day intensive cost and then what would be a process for them to get in touch?
The best way to get in touch with me is just go to my website, it’s brentcharleton.net, that’s going to be changing but I believe it’s going to correspond with whatever this episode is released so they could still find me there. I don’t take insurance or any of those kinds of things, you would not be really reimbursed with this anyway because I don’t provide a diagnosis but in intro intensive which is how everybody starts with me is $8,000 and that’s four days, Friday through Monday and it’s however much time we need. I’ll be with you 12 hours a day or I can be with you seven hours a day. It’s mainly ten to six, those four days. After that, people then sign up for sessions and they can do session weekly or biweekly to practice. It’s $8,000 to start and then the sessions are $240 each.
Does somebody need to be local to you?
No, I see people all over the world. My office is in Redondo Beach, beautiful Redondo Beach beach in LA and basically people fly in all over the place. I have people from Australia, people from all over Europe. People come in, they stay in a hotel which is nearby. It’s very easy to get to my office from LA and basically they just come be with me for four days then they fly back to where they live and then they see me online. Even local people here in town, here in Los Angeles, some of them don’t even come in. The intensives have to be in person. There’s the intro where everybody has to do, there’s 12 advanced ones, you never have to do any of those, most people take advantage of them so then people have to fly back. I also have an office in Austin so people can meet with me there as well and I just go back and forth.
Awesome. Thank you, Brent and I will give my wholehearted endorsement to Brent. Listeners, I have worked with him. He is amazing and one of the top in the world. I’m so enthusiastic about him. There’s my endorsement. I’m sure you’ll be very happy to work with him. Please, let me know if you end up doing that and what was it like. Go to optimizedgeek.com for the show notes, the transcript, the example of the journaling and a checklist of actions to take from this episode and we’ll catch you on the next episode of the Optimized Geek. This is Stephan Spencer, signing off.
- Pia Mellody
- Byron Katie on the Optimized Geek
- The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels
- Sanjay Sabnani on the Optimized Geek
- The Truth by Neil Strauss
- Dr. Patrick Carnes
- David Delmonico
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Reexamine my childhood in light of what I’ve learned in this conversation, namely that anything less than nurturing is shaming.
☑ Write down a list of all the times I remember being treated less than nurturingly by my primary caregivers as a child.
☑ Sit down across from an empty chair. Close my eyes and visualize one of my primary childhood caregivers in the chair, and talk openly with him or her about these childhood traumas.
☑ As I find my blocks during this experience, notice where in my body they occur. Grab them with my breath, suck them out, and blow them out of myself to the visualized person in the chair.
☑ As part of this process, visualize my six-year-old inner child standing behind me. In this visualization, I am protecting him or her from the traumas from the person in the chair.
☑ Remind myself that just because I’ve made mistakes doesn’t mean that I am a mistake. This realistic self-view is part of becoming a functional adult.
☑ Pay close attention to my thoughts and feelings, both the good, happy ones and the darker, heavier ones. Write down these thoughts and feelings in a journal.
☑ Next to each thought or feeling I write down, make a note of whether the thought or feeling belongs to my inner child or inner teen.
☑ In the same journal, write down my response to either my child or teen about each of these thoughts or feelings. This helps bring me back into my adult self and move out of shame.
☑ Order a copy of The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, and read it thoroughly and attentively.
About Brent Charleton
Brent Charleton is an Executive Development Coach with over 16 years in the strategic change and executive wellness field. He has a licensure background in clinical and counseling psychology. He utilizes an intensive, time limited and results focus change process he developed and designed to help clients uncover and resolve the personal blocks to their professional and personal success.
Brent provides executives and entrepreneurs the skills they need to reduce their emotional reactions and responses in high stakes environments, resulting in better decisions and more success in their businesses and personal lives. He also consults with companies regarding company culture creation, employee selection and employee management.
Brent is the Founder and CEO of Complete Coaching LLC with offices in Los Angeles and Austin. He splits his time between the two with his dog, Sampson.