This week’s topic is: A Healthy Approach to When Feelings Are Uncomfortable with Dr. Karol Darsa
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Dr. Karol Darsa, who is the to-go trauma expert, psychologist and author of The Trauma Map. Listen in as Dr. Darsa shares the connection between trauma and anxiety, how spiritual growth heals past trauma, and a healthy approach to releasing tension.
- The connection between trauma and anxiety…
- If letting go is the answer to healing trauma and at what pace…
- The link between processing our feelings and then changing our behaviors…
- Trauma and how long you need to work on your internal dialogue…
- How spiritual growth heals past trauma…
- A healthy approach to when feelings are uncomfortable…
- What type of body work is helpful to release tension…
About Dr. Karol Darsa
Dr. Karol Darsa is a licensed psychologist specializing in the treatment of trauma. She is the founder and executive director of Reconnect Integrative Trauma Treatment Centers, which she established in Los Angeles in 2014. Dr. Darsa co-created The Invisible War Recovery Program, an intensive trauma treatment program for veterans suffering from military sexual trauma. Her debut book is, The Trauma Map: Five Steps to Reconnect with Yourself.
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Dr. Karol Darsa’s Interview
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Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Kimberly: 00:00 Hi Beauties. And welcome back to our Monday interview podcast. I am super excited for our very special guest today. Her name is Dr. Karol Darsa and she is a go-to trauma expert, psychologist and author of The Trauma Map, which I will say I read from cover to cover. Now, when you hear the word trauma, you may not think that it applies to you, but as Dr. Darsa shows in research in her book experts now estimate about 75% of us have experienced some form of trauma in our childhood. And this is because we’re all human, everybody’s doing their best, but in some ways, whether it was a comment that we took in a certain way in our, in our adolescent brain or some form of neglect or whatever it was, there are things that may have happened to us in our childhood. That cause us to react, to have triggers, to have created perhaps limiting beliefs and limiting patterns in our lives that affect us potentially for our entire lives, unless we are able to identify them and then work to reprogram ourselves.
Fan of the Week
Kimberly: 01:12 So I think Dr. His work is very powerful and very important for all of us to listen, to, and to see how it applies to our own lives. So I’m very excited to share this podcast today. I think it’s an important one, but before we get into it, I want to give a shout out to our fan of the week. And her name is Ash three 40 and she writes incredible. I followed Kimberly since her first book, so much incredible information that has changed my life. And a lot of people in my inner circle that I’ve shared it with this podcast is a great way to get weekly nuggets of life-changing info outside of her box. We’ll Ash three 40. Thank you so much. My love for being part of our community for your amazing review. I really take that into my heart. And I thank you so much.
Leave a Review on iTunes
Kimberly: 02:01 My love sending you a big virtual hug, no matter where you are, Ash three 40 and beauties for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week for me to read your beautiful words, please just take a moment out of your day and leave us a review on iTunes, which is super easy and of course free. And if you do that, we want to entice you a little bit further, give you a little bit more of a reward. You can screenshot your review and send it over to reviews and my soluna.com. And we will send you a seven love seven self have affirmation series mini program, which I’ve created for you talking about limiting beliefs. There is a yoga way to properly perform affirmations. And this is based on the work of the great yoga group. Paramahansa Yogananda inspired, not his actual technique, but something that I’ve taken in and tweaked a bit and made my own, which I’m really excited to offer to share to you.
Kimberly: 03:00 I give a little talk about each of the, um, the series each of the seven series. So if you screenshot your review and email it over again, firstname.lastname@example.org, we will send this over to you for free. And I hope it’s a very valuable tool for you. Please also be sure to subscribe to our show and that way you don’t miss out on any of these interview podcasts with, and which, you know, my intention is to share people that I think would really benefit your life. It’s always the intention of our podcast to share, to help each other, grow, to support each other. And also our Q&A podcasts, which are on Thursdays, which come right from our amazing community. And we all have similar questions. We all have a lot that we’re wondering about as we, as we work to grow and evolve on this beautiful journey of life.
Kimberly: 03:48 So be sure to subscribe as well. All right. All that being said, let’s get into our podcast today with the amazing Dr. Karol Darsa.
Solocast with Dr. Karol Darsa
Kimberly: 02:00 Dr. Garcia, I’m so excited to talk to you today. I have to say that I get sent, you know, a couple dozen books a week, I think sometimes depending on the week and I look through them and, you know, either connect or I don’t, and then I, you know, I read part of them, but your book is one of the ones that I read all the way through. So I really, really loved your book, the trauma map, I think it’s, I think it’s so amazing. So first of all, thank you for talking with us today and thank you providing this book.
Dr. Darsa: 02:41 Thank you for inviting me and thank you for your feedback. This means a lot for me.
How common trauma is and what it really entails
Kimberly: 02:45 I have to say that a few years ago, um, Dr. Darsa, I wouldn’t have used the word trauma, you know, even to talk about my own situation, but, you know, as we keep growing and learning as adults, um, we learn more about ourselves. And one of the things I struck you, what struck me, you know, at the top of your book, I want to go right into it is, um, talking about how common trauma is and what it really entails, because I think sometimes we think trauma is just, you know, if we’ve had, uh, you know, a big accident or maybe there’s rape or something like that. Um, and speaking personally, one of the things that will, like, I really had this feeling when I read your book was when you started talking about how, if you have an emotionally absent parent or there’s some, you know, uh, neglect that can be more impactful even than rape.
Kimberly: 03:40 And so I was thinking about my childhood, Dr. Garcia and my parents, you know, are amazing. Of course, they all did their best. My mom came from the Philippines and she was working really hard. And my parents had to have two incomes because, you know, they weren’t so well off financially, but I was left to my own day after day. I was a latchkey kid, you know, I had to make my own food. And, you know, my dad was, was traveling Monday through Friday for a lot of my childhood. So my mom would come home and she had vertical a lot. So she would come home and she would often just be tired and go upstairs and lie down. And so nobody asked me, how was your day? How are you what’s going on? So, you know, when I was reading your book, I was, I was blown away. I really connected to this feeling of neglect and abandonment. And these sound like big words, and I’m not putting this on my parents who loved me as best they could. And I loved them so much, but, um, wow. It really brought up a lot for me
Dr. Darsa: 04:38 And well, actually thank you for saying that. Honestly, that’s one of the main reasons I did want to write the book because so many people were coming in my office and saying, oh, I know you’re specialized in trauma, but I’m not raped. Or I wasn’t at a war. You can help me. And then I’m getting information about their childhood and it’s full of trauma. And so I find myself repeating over and over again, no, there is such a thing as relational trauma or some people called attachment trauma. Um, and it’s like bigger than what you think. And it’s impacting us greatly in everyday, especially not current relationships. So if it’s a year that you’re identifying with that and seeing the importance of it,
Kimberly: 05:20 ’cause, um, you know, what, the way what I took away from it is let’s say there’s a, there’s an incident you can sort of, you know, work really specifically on processing that incident. But when it’s like over years and there isn’t that emotional connection, I feel like, you know, I talk about this. So openly Dr. Darcy, you know, my I’m, I call myself a recovering perfectionist. My last book was called recipes for your perfectly imperfect life. I’ve, you know, thought about how driven I am and achievements in grades. And, um, you know, certain things really trigger that abandonment feeling in me. So it’s, you know, different when it’s, um, playing out over longer periods of time. Isn’t it it’s, it can be a big thing is into our adulthood.
Dr. Darsa: 06:07 It isn’t actually what I noticed with everyone, including myself, is that we tend to then blame ourselves more easily for someone who’s had a specific incident, like a physical abuse or sexual abuse or war, then you can at least connect your emotions to the incident. But when you can’t, then the blame goes inward rather than understanding, oh, wait, that’s also trauma. It just looks differently.
Defining what trauma really is
Kimberly: 06:32 Wow. So can you define what trauma is then again, because I wouldn’t have used that word even a year or two ago, but it’s, since it’s so widespread and you, you know, you point to research here in the book about, I think you said 75 or 78% of people have experienced some form of trauma. How are we to define it in the first place?
Dr. Darsa: 06:53 I have my simple trauma definition. Is that any incident that leaves a person feeling overwhelmed or, uh, unable to cope is considered trauma. So it also depends on your reaction to it, but please don’t take that as that means I’m weak because a lot of people might take it that way, right? Because you can go to the same war to the same situation as two different people, and you both might have a different reaction, but it’s just, sometimes we are doing, we are born the way we were raised and, you know, all sorts of different things that impact us. So that’s what trauma is that if you feeling unable to cope with it, um, and even if it’s more sudden, I’m sorry, uh, subtle and in small increments, but overall you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with that situation.
Kimberly: 07:41 Right. And so it brings up a, a trigger, you know, for me, I’m not feeling good enough, like pushing harder, like I have to get better grades or do more, achieve more. So it’s like, I’m not coping with the, the, the feelings or the, you know, the overall it’s, it’s so hard to explain, isn’t it? It’s like, I can explain a
Dr. Darsa: 08:02 Few on a little bit, cause
Kimberly: 08:04 It’s like, Ooh, like this feeling. And so instead of like doing some, you know, feeling the feeling, it’s almost like you want to take action or do something to try to make it go away.
Dr. Darsa: 08:16 Right. I see this two things. One is because you might have a grief of not having had the presence that you want. Again, like you said, your parents meant well, but if they were not as present as a child’s need, then you’re left with a void. The sense of wanting some validation, some emotional attunement, some love on an ongoing basis when you don’t have that, you’re going to try to find this elsewhere. It’s good. You found it through work. In other words, you could have found it through drugs, through other destructive, at least work is, is constructive, but it is, it is an attempt to, to fill in the emptiness that a child feels with the absence of love and attunement parents. So, so it’s like, there’s this constant need of, if I achieve something, then I’m going to validate myself, which I didn’t get that validation from my parents.
The connection between trauma and anxiety
Kimberly: 09:09 And so, yeah. So Dr. Darsa, would you say that there’s a connection between trauma and anxiety? We see so much anxiety today. I don’t know if you know, part of it is caused by that, but you know, running around, keep trying to hustle to do more and more that overwhelm you’re talking about. Is there a connection?
Dr. Darsa: 09:27 Absolutely. I think anytime we’re finding ourselves in sort of constant doing motion rather than being in feeling is because we are trying not to feel something, because if you stay quiet enough or slow down enough and do less, you might all of a sudden find yourself feeling things that you maybe didn’t want to feel. But so people think often over what is that I don’t want to feel now, but it’s not that what you don’t want to feel now is most likely what you don’t want to feel as a child. So there, there are some memories, but not as like incidental memory is more like a feeling memory that you might have felt as a child, a sense of loneliness or a sense of, um, um, just sort of being ignored or not loved or not feeling like a priority,
Kimberly: 10:12 Not seen,
Dr. Darsa: 10:13 Not, not being seen. Right. So if you don’t do something or would that emptiness, you could actually get in touch with that feeling, which probably is a feeling as a child, you put aside, and that’s the healthy mechanism that we actually developed. Like we have to create ways to deal with the situation or else we can’t go to school. We can’t play with our friends. We can’t eat food, we’ll be overwhelmed on an ongoing basis. So we have a tremendous amount of capacity to create a strategy of like, okay, this is how I can survive, you know, but then you’re left with these feelings that they get sort of frozen in, in some places in your body or in your mind and your psyche. And then as an adult, they are there. Right. That shows up as anxiety, sometimes as depression, as, as addiction. So then you try to fill it up just to numb it in, in other words, but it happens so suddenly for some people, for some people it’s more obvious, right. That they talk about the moment they’re empty, they’re remembering the rape stories. Right, right, right. But that’s not for everyone.
If letting go is the answer to healing trauma and at what pace
Kimberly: 11:15 Well, so Dr. Darsa, you know, you mentioned, um, these feelings come up. So as part of your, you know, the healing work that you’re seeing be effective is going into the feelings and processing it because eventually over time we can digest those feelings and they won’t be in there anymore. Like, you know, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dr. David Hawkins. I love his books. He wrote letting go. And what he says in his work is you keep feeling and feeling, and eventually there’s a bottom to the, well, have you seen that in your work as well?
Dr. Darsa: 11:47 Yes, there is. I want to add something because that, to me is the most important part of the trauma work. And that’s where a lot of people make mistakes is that eventually your goal is to get in touch with the feelings and processes true. But how you get there is where a lot of people are maybe making mistakes is that if you take a person too fast into their deeper feelings, you’re going to have a person that’s retraumatized more overwhelmed or more shutdown or wanting to completely escape. So you have to find really gentle ways to get there rather than like this forceful way. A lot of people do. Um, so you want to build tolerance for it before you can take a person there. And that’s actually what I’m talking about. A lot in my books to doing some techniques, to prepare the person, to be able to feel the feelings that once we didn’t want to feel.
Kimberly: 12:43 Right. So if, you know, if someone’s, um, kind of, you know, let’s say they have more subtle trauma, they’re reading your book and they’re going through opening to the feeling and sitting with it, you know, for me, it’s like 10 minutes and then say, okay, that’s enough. And then going away coming back, that’s something that is, you know, I guess where’s the healthy line between, like, I can’t handle this versus this is coming up to be felt. And I’m going to go through a little more, like, how do we know that subtlety we’re working? You know, and you’re in your amazing clinic or with you, or, you know, someone leading you through, how do you know that line?
Dr. Darsa: 13:19 You’re right. When we work with us therapists with clients, we can see it. But one of the ways that I know is like, they’re, they’re leaving their bodies. They’re dissociating, they’re checking out, they’re overly crying or they’re shutting down and feeling completely numb. So the same stance you can actually watch for yourself. I do like the idea of what you just said about 10 minutes. So give yourself a few minutes at first. This is why I believe in slow increments in working on yourself. So give, maybe try for three minutes and see how you are then check out the rest of the day, how you’re feeling. Are you overwhelmed? Are you unable to cope now with the rest of the world, then you did. Maybe even, even three minutes was too much for you, right? So it’s also important while you feel the feelings, two things.
Dr. Darsa: 14:01 One is that you are aware of your body. So even though you have, like, let’s say I’m feeling the sadness of my parents stopped being around. But at the same time, I’m aware that my, I have my body, my feet around the ground, I can feel my heartbeat or I can feel, I can put my hand on my heart. So I’m really connected to myself. So it’s not this like out of body overwhelming experience. And the other thing is that I’m present here. So I might remember a feeling from when I’m five years old, six years old, but then I know at the same time I am 30 year old person. So I’m still here and I’m here in my office or in my house sitting in front of my computer. So this dual awareness will actually allow you to tolerate more and then five minutes then 10 minutes.
Dr. Darsa: 14:48 And then if yes, if you’re crying, I mean, you could be crying, right? Not every cry is bad, but not every crime is good. That’s where I want to draw people’s attention. People think, oh, I was crying so much. And it’s so cathartic. Well, no, not necessarily. Not everything is cathartic. It could be actually overwhelming. If then for the next five hours you’re in bed. You’re not able to take care of your kids. That that was too much. So watching yourself signs of functions, are you able to function? Are you able to stay regulated? Are you able to stay compassionate to yourself throughout the process? That’s the key thing. Are you able to stay present in the body and in the moment, if you are then go for the emotional exploration, if not back up, try another day, find resources which I talk again about in the book or find someone that can help you do all this.
The link between processing our feelings and then changing our behaviors
Kimberly: 15:40 Well. And Dr. Darcy, I feel like I’ve gone into that in and out. You know, I’ve been playing with this for probably a few years, like feeling the emotions of, you know, neglect, abandonment, whatever it is. And so I feel like I’ve, I’ve felt quite a bit, but then the, the tendencies, the triggers still show up somewhat in my life. If something like, you know, it could be as simple as like, if someone doesn’t interrupt me or like it, you know, I felt like they don’t see me if I feel that pain of abandonment or not seeing this or whatever it is. So w you know, where’s the link between processing our feelings and then changing our behaviors and in the world, then it’s interesting because I’ve, I’ve, you know, interviewed several different neuroscientists on here. And I’ve asked them that question, you know, um, talking about the hippocampus, like the places where deep memories are. And I said, you know, can we rewire our brains? And, you know, it depends, you know, no, the neuroscientists are really focusing on trauma, right. Or at least the ones I have interviewed have not. So they don’t really give me a straight answer. I’ve asked them the street, this question, but as a trauma expert, I hope you have some, I know you have some more awareness for us on this subject.
Dr. Darsa: 16:51 I’ll give you a very specific tools then rather than explain. Thank
Kimberly: 16:54 You. Yes.
Dr. Darsa: 16:55 But I, I, my, my brain functions that way too. Like, you know, even though I’m a psychologist, I want more specific tools and not so much to brain explanation, but so, uh, here’s a piece that maybe I haven’t mentioned before is that however you were treated in your childhood often tends to be how you are treating yourself. So if you feel you were abandoned and not seen and not validated, one of the questions that people often skip is that you should ask the same thing to yourself. Now, in other words, are you avoiding yourself? Are you not validating yourself? Are you actually not seeing your own value? So not so much that when someone else is doing how it triggers your childhood, but it could be also because it’s a reflection of what you do to yourself. So when I work with, with relational trauma, the main focus has to be on how the person continues to treat themselves, right?
Dr. Darsa: 17:48 So it’s in some, you’re doing a repair, not about the past only, but a current repair of how you are with yourself. So how does that look? When someone men say something that feels to you? Like they haven’t really validated me, or they haven’t seen me, uh, you right away ask a question of what is it triggering? It’s triggering something from my childhood. It reminds me when my parents were absent, then maybe identifying a certain age or a feeling that goes with that. Maybe this for me, it reminds me when I was four years old, for instance, I have my own childhood trauma. Uh, so, okay. So then I’m thinking of my four-year-old. I literally, in that moment, picture myself as a four year old, then feel that four year old in my body. I often feel her in my stomach. That’s the sort of where my emotions go.
Dr. Darsa: 18:36 Right? Yeah. And I can put my hand on my stomach and literally imagine my four-year-old as if it’s my own child, because I’m a mom. I can imagine that how I would talk to her if she felt sad or abandoned or rejected or unseen. So then I have this sort of internal dialogue with her and then ask her what she needs from me. Not only from the other person. And then maybe she’ll say something like, don’t judge me, please. Cause I can be judgemental like you. Um, or just see me know that I’m also here. I know you’re physically an adult, but I’ve still have the childhood feelings of hurt just like that. Internal recognition and sympathy and empathy really right away creates a different kind of attitude rather than like, oh my God, I’m rejected. And I’m angry with that person. And I want to shut down. It’s sort of more like a turning inwards at that time and just really connecting with that part of myself. And then I can almost visualize her throughout the day. Okay. From time to time, I’ll check in, Hey, how are you doing now? You were triggered two hours ago. And then I hear the insight. Okay. Thank you.
Trauma and how long you need to work on your internal dialogue
Kimberly: 19:44 And Dr. Darcy, it’s, you know, thank you for sharing that with us because it shows like all of us have triggers. You know, you can be this, you know, psychologist and professional and study this and it still happens is do you think that when we have this trauma, we have to continue that internal dialogue forever, or is there a point where we actually rewire and we don’t feel it anymore? Or is it always going to be there?
Dr. Darsa: 20:07 You know, like I used to believe it’s not going to be there eventually. And a lot of people still believe that my experience has not shown that neither for myself, nor for my clients. But the biggest difference is I, I came into acceptance that I have to work on my mental health ongoing before the rest of my life is actually no different than working out. You can’t just work out two months, build the muscles from now on. I never have to work out, look at my muscles in my arms. You’re going to have to work out forever. If you want to keep them. Honestly, the same thing goes, especially the more trauma you had, probably the harder or the more regularly you will have to work, but it’s important to have an attitude that’s different rather than seeing this as a chore or as a work it’s like it’s self care on a daily basis. I never stopped brushing my teeth. I never stopped washing my hair. Never stopped exercising. I never stopped working on my mental health because life changes like, look, this year we have extra stress or since 2 20 20. So I actually have to work harder now than 20, 20 19 because my stress level got increased too. So then insight, you know, my emotions get more upset. Yeah.
How spiritual growth heals past trauma
Kimberly: 21:18 I love how you bring in all these different modalities, which I want to get into in a moment. But there’s a, you know, the chapter where you talk about spirituality, which is such a big part of my work now, and what we talk about here in the community is spiritual growth, which I, which I define as more awareness, more connection with the true self. So I feel like that has helped me so much Dr. Darsa because, you know, again, that, that trauma response, um, kind of projected out into form, into achievement integrates. And when I meditate and I connect to the formless part of me, I think, oh, like that’s who I am and I’m worthy if I, you know, achieve this or not, I’m worthy, you know, if other people see me or not, it’s okay if they don’t see me because I can see myself.
Kimberly: 22:03 And so I have to say that that part of my daily practice, my meditations has really helped me deal with the trauma and deal with these tendencies. And I’m not going to pretend that they’re never there. I say I’m a recovering perfectionist because they still work on it. But that has been such a powerful aid. And I always want to share the things that have really helped me, you know, like working with your book. Um, and also with my meditation practice, the reason I talk about it so much now is I feel like, wow, for me, it’s not just, oh, I’m going to relax. And, and, you know, you know, just feel a little calmer, which is, which is a by-product, that’s good. But for me, it’s about that inner connection. And that has been as changed everything for me as well.
Dr. Darsa: 22:48 Yeah. Can I add something to what you just said about when you’re meditating sort of like really getting in touch with that? You didn’t use the word core self, but something self.
Kimberly: 22:58 So this is the term that, uh, Paramount’s a yoga Nanda uses the great yoga guru, the true self inside.
Dr. Darsa: 23:04 Yeah. I read actually his book. Um, I’d like to add there that it’s important to also notice that because it’s sort of the nonhuman part of you, right? Like the soul, the energy, however you want to call it. But it’s also important to see every part of ourselves as, as true as, as true self or core self. Just I say that just because sometimes when people say that, then they take the human side into a negative thing. It’s like, my soul is great, but human is air.
Kimberly: 23:32 No, yes. We don’t want to trample down on the heat, the human part of us that’s um, you know, it’s funny, it’s like we’re becoming, and we’re, we are one, you know, at the same time, like we’re, it’s, you know, I’ve had to grapple with this in my a little bit, but it, but it’s true. We’re bodied. We’re here having this human experience and we have the form and we have the form less. So it’s not to diminish this outside part, but for me, it’s to see that we’re more than that as well. It’s not just how we age, what we look like, what our jobs are, how much money we have, but we have this intact sense of worth. We have this wholeness that doesn’t go away. If we don’t get an a on the test or we don’t, you know, get this job or whatever it is as well.
Dr. Darsa: 24:16 Right. Perfect. Yeah. That’s exactly what I was talking about. Just because it’s so much easier to love ourselves when we’re in our higher self, as some people might call it, but then I just wanted to encourage everyone that even when we are like, when I’m a psychologist, I might like myself more because yes, but then when I’m angry or I’m upset, I might sound like a little kid. I have to accept that part of me too. That’s what I want to sort of people listening, hear that as acceptance of every part of ourselves.
Kimberly: 24:43 And you know, when, when I, when I started meditating 12 years ago, I realized that it’s very, I’m very comfortable being up there. Right. It feels very safe. And I would sometimes use it as a way to disconnect and just sit and not ear on certain people that triggered me or certain situations that didn’t feel as safe. And now, you know, to your point, it’s saying, no, I can, you know, be here in my perfectly imperfect body and accept myself and know that I’m stumbling along like everybody else. But that connection to the inside of me, it gives me strength and helps me, you know, remember that I’m whole, I don’t have to be perfect out here because there’s the wholeness already, always there, no matter what happens out here.
Dr. Darsa: 25:30 Right? Exactly. It’s so hard now to be in full acceptance. A lot of people are struggling with that.
Where obsession and a fixation stems from
Kimberly: 25:39 Yeah. And I see too, um, you know, we’re talking about some of these behaviors, um, addictions, or, you know, alcohol drugs, perfectionism, and there’s also, you know, I see with women, our communities, mostly women, Dr. Darsa. We have, we have the brothers too. If anybody’s listening to this, that’s a man. Of course we welcoming, we love you. And it is growing the percentage of men, men have this too, but this fixation on appearance. Right. Cause it comes from that, like I’m not good enough. So they keep like changing stuff and doing little things. Um, I mean, do you see that too, in your, in your trauma work is related to this? Not enoughness like something inside. Of course we all want to look good. Right? Like once in a while I brush my hair, but I don’t wash my hair all the time. But, um, you know, we care about what we look like, but there’s this, there’s this balance of like, you know, we know when it becomes an obsession and a fixation like this out here, because there’s a hole inside or something isn’t feeling as full inside of us.
Dr. Darsa: 26:39 You know, I think it’s mostly the culture, unfortunately, especially in the Western culture, the focus on the woman’s beauty. I mean, just look all the ads and everything is all a woman’s beauty that sells not really ever demands handsomeness that sells something. So we are under much more pressure than anyone else. Um, but I think it is mostly because there’s the internal unrest feeling that shows up as, oh, therefore I don’t like my nose or my hair or whatever. I think it’s almost in some way as painful as it is. It might be easier to blame ourselves for the physical imperfection then looking in and go, I actually am really sad that my parents weren’t the parents that I wanted or that I was hurt or I was abused as a child. Can’t afford to forget that, but okay, I’ll talk about how much I don’t like my nose. You see what I think it just gets transferred there. But once you really go inside, you’ll see that that’s the real issue and not so much of the physical appearance.
Kimberly: 27:40 Right. Because it also feels like sometimes it can be, I want to be loved, right? Like I want that love and I’ll be loved more like I get this attention, which somehow correlates to love. If I look like this or I keep this appearance up because we want to be loved. And there was this, um, you know, lack of connected love, maybe somewhere along the way.
Dr. Darsa: 28:01 For sure. I think we have two men. We have a tremendous need of, of being loved and cared much more than we really realize. And I think it’s becoming more and more obvious, uh, as psychology even evolves, because I think in the past generations, it was like, okay, I gave my kid food shelter, they went to school and that’s it. And now they’re realizing, wow, that really wasn’t it at all.
Kimberly: 28:27 It’s true. It feels like, you know, especially from other countries. Right. Cause I look at, um, you know, I remember my mom saying my grandmother saying if I’ve improved, um, you know, for the next generation, I’ve done my part, but it was this focus on, I’m going to give you an education. I’m going to give you shelter. I’m going to give you shoes. You can wear, you know, which it wasn’t true of some, you know, trace back the lineage and the ancestors. So it was this, you know, this, this, this focus on providing in these very concrete ways versus not always the emotional ways, the acceptance and all that that we realized, oh my gosh, for mental health, emotional health, that’s actually as critical. Okay.
Dr. Darsa: 29:11 [inaudible] schools. We were taught that. I agree in schools w I mean, look, eight hours a day, it’s a for education, this detail, and that detail that how much of it really used in life who ever spends an hour of emotional regulation at school. Yeah. That’d be great. Well, that,
Kimberly: 29:28 That’s why Dr. Darsa, I was so emphatic about, um, you I’m so grateful. My, my son now who’s in kindergarten, our older son goes to Waldorf, which is, you know, this form of education that is more on the self-connection unless, you know, especially in these early years, there’s no desks. They sit in circles. It’s really about self. And I think, oh my gosh, this is so different than my kindergarten than the ways I went to school. Right. So it’s, you know, we, we grow up and we see that there’s there’s options. And, you know, we’re all doing our best. We can for our kids. And I think about that, Dr. Dasha, like, oh my gosh, like, you know, I don’t want, I don’t want, I want to minimize all the trauma I can for my son’s. Like, I don’t want this to be traumatic. Like I’m really aware of it. And I’m sure, you know, there’s always stuff that gets passed along. Let’s, you know, not the perfect, because none of us are perfect. We’re not perfect parents, but I can say that I am, I am aware. I’m aware of it.
Dr. Darsa: 30:24 I think we are much more aware as a generation than, than our parents, for sure. And I think awareness goes really a long way, you know? So, but it’s also the role modeling, you know, like how you are treating yourself could be modeling to your kids. So not just how present you are to them, but how present you are to yourself is also a good role modeling. I think that’s another thing you can definitely pass on to them because they see the perfect. If you get perfectionist, they’ll, they’ll pick up on that.
Dr. Darsa explains how to reconnect to your mind
Kimberly: 30:55 Oh yeah. They know everything they absorb. Um, so one thing, what chapter you talked about in your book, Dr. Darsa was reconnecting to the mind. And I think that’s really interesting because, you know, let’s say that trauma response comes we’ll be on demand or neglect or whatever it is for that person. And we act out this certain pattern, which could be like, you know, pushing someone away or getting angry or whatever it is. So as part of the reconnecting to the mind, and you talk about slowing down, so you have the part of the brain turns out, I think it’s the prefrontal cortex, whatever the part that’s rational is that when you’re saying reconnecting to the mind, is it, um, look at it more rationally? So take a step back. Or can you explain a little bit about what you mean in, in a, in a concise way, because I think you have a whole chapter on,
Dr. Darsa: 31:43 I couldn’t say it. So the disconnect part happens is as a result of a trauma is basically when you’re not thinking clearly anymore. Right. And then you also develop a lot of negative thoughts because which is also the part of the mind disconnection that I’m talking about. So when you reconnect to your mind, which is the reason why I started as a step one is to understand what trauma is and how it affected your brain, how it affected your whole system. And then you start going, okay, so I do this because of a reason, right? So that the self-blame decreases, you become more aware of how you talk to yourself, you start understanding what trauma did to your brain and into your behaviors. So all of that starts actually putting your, like you said, a thinking brain, rational brain, more in line. And so then you start making decisions that are more, more present than rational based, and not just on the emotional base, but, but that’s only really one part because otherwise just the typical CBT, which is a cognitive behavioral therapy would have been sufficient. Like just standing. I want to make sure that people know this is just the puzzle, right? This is one piece of the puzzle. It’s an important piece, but it cannot be the only piece. So it, it shouldn’t be only about all, if I understand that I’m okay, because there’s a lot of other parts of the puzzle that has to be worked on to.
Kimberly: 33:05 Yeah. And then there’s the part in the chapter you have about connecting to the emotions. So it’s like, okay, in this moment, I’m going to be rational, but wow. That kicked up some stuff. So then there’s the part like we talked about earlier of like going in and feeling and like, and, and to give hope to anyone listening to this, like, it doesn’t feel good, but eventually we metabolize those feelings. They can start to subside eventually.
Dr. Darsa: 33:33 Right. It doesn’t feel good, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. That’s why we’re talking about earlier in middle small increments. So yes, connecting to your body, connecting to your feelings, connecting to the understanding of how it is, and really utilizing the connection to other human beings or spirituality or nature, whatever that, uh, or sometimes animals, something outside of yourself to give you a sense of connection, because we are really, uh, human beings that need that we can actually wouldn’t have sports to be alarmed, to be honest. So as much as possible, finding some source of connection to something outside of ourselves would be tremendously helpful for healing.
We discuss traditional talk therapy
Kimberly: 34:16 Uh, and I’m glad you brought up the cognitive behavioral therapy because I’ve heard so many people and friends, um, talk about, they’ve been in this, you know, more traditional talk therapy for many years, and they’re in the, you know, they’re in the therapist session and they’re just kind of regurgitating and talking and the person will listen, but then they’re like, I’m not, I don’t feel like I’m getting better. And there’s not like this inner connection. It’s just like talking, talking. So what would you say to that doctor?
Dr. Darsa: 34:46 Yeah. It’s just because they’re understanding what’s happening, but it makes me wonder two things. One is, are they connected to their bodies? Because you know, traumatic memories are not only in our memories in our heads, but it’s also in our bodies, like when you’re neglected or when you’re hurt, when you’re abused, when you’re threatened the body reacts to it too. So it has to be healed through that. Um, and also in our emotions. Right? So then it’s what we talked about in the beginning is have we digested the feeling? Have we felt the feeling? Cause often we really do our best not to feel feelings that is sort of our, almost like a natural instinct from the moment that we are born, we feel something painful. We go, okay, what do I do so that I don’t feel that. And then that becomes a chronic habit of, let me avoid, let me avoid, let me avoid.
Dr. Darsa: 35:34 And then you have now a pile of things inside you. It shows up in a different way. You don’t even know where it’s coming from, but it is really coming from not having faced the feelings. I wish we were given an opportunity as a child. Every time there’s a hurt, uh, physical or emotional that somebody sat with us and said, this is a painful feeling and it’s okay. We’re going to sit in it. I’m here with you. We’re going to process it. And then it’s going to go away. Eventually it’s going to come like away. Then leave rather than, oh, don’t cry. It’s okay. Let me give you ice cream. Forget nothing happened. You’re a big boy now, you know, those types of things.
A healthy approach to when feelings are uncomfortable
Kimberly: 36:14 So as the adults, Dr. Darcy, we can learn that and we can relearn rather that we’re meant to feel all these feelings. So when something comes up, it’s uncomfortable instead of shying away, what’s the healthy approach is to sit and let the energy of the emotion come through us. We are meant to feel all the emotions,
Dr. Darsa: 36:33 Right. And as you feeling them say to yourself, it’s okay that I feel them it’s normal. That I feel them. I’m supposed to feel them because you know what happens often. So let’s say you feel sad about something, then you feel angry at the sadness or you feel anxiety about something, then you feel anxious about the anxiety. So then the anxiety increases to the double the amount, right? Because there’s not that internal voice that says it’s okay, Hey, I’m a human being. I’m supposed to feel something and guess what? I’m not going to die from it because unconsciously, it might even feel that way. Like, oh my God, if I feel my feelings I’m going to die. So it has to be some, some form of comforting, uh that’s in place, um, which there are some techniques like breathing, yoga, grounding techniques, mindfulness techniques, uh, EFT tapping one of my favorites to calm the, calm, the feelings down, but not in like, I want to get rid of it. It’s more like I want to make a tolerable.
Genders and how each handles their emotions
Kimberly: 37:34 Yeah. Yeah. Now, do you see in your work, um, Dr. Darsa, when you were saying that, I imagine, you know, all the men that are taught not to cry, but at the same time, I feel in all the women that take on and take on. So is it, it’s not, well, is there a, like a gender sort of split where you see, you know, men don’t feel as much as women, are you seeing it across the board?
Dr. Darsa: 37:57 Uh, where I do see is that, uh, women have a harder time to feel anger, but they’re more okay with sadness side for men, men have a harder time to feel the sadness, but they’re more comfortable with anger.
Kimberly: 38:10 What’s the relationship between sadness and anger, because sometimes I hear anger, suppressed sadness, or, you know, is, was the relationship.
Dr. Darsa: 38:19 I think often underneath the anger, their sadness, so sense tends to be sort of a more core bottom line emotion. And it’s our least favorite thing. Cause it makes us feel very vulnerable with anger. There’s a sense of power,
Kimberly: 38:33 Right? I’m angry literally.
Dr. Darsa: 38:36 Yeah, exactly. With sadness it’s you could feel collapsed. You could feel not able to do something and some very weak, you know, under quotation of course. Um, and, uh, it’s a situation where you could be attacked, uh, and maybe you were punished for being sad, uh, for being angry. You could be punished too, but somehow being angry is a little bit more acceptable in the society than being sad or vulnerable.
What type of body work is helpful to release tension
Kimberly: 39:02 Yeah. You know, before, when you talked about, um, moving the emotions out of your body, because it can get trapped in certain places, do you find modalities like, you know, say acupuncture to be helpful or Bisagno areas or body work that releases tension. Do you find any of that in your work is helpful?
Dr. Darsa: 39:22 Yeah, actually I have them, all of them in my clinic at reconnect with acupuncture, yoga, yoga is another great way. Certain moves actually really move the feelings out of your body or there’s something called trauma release exercises, T R E a there’s specific movements that take the body to shake and then release the, some of the tension, um, Thai cheese and other good. One of it’s sometimes simple walk. So those are yes. And massage. We have massage too. So those are things that include the body in terms of movement, but in somatic therapist like somatic experiencing or sensory motor psychotherapy, you can do that without necessarily moving the body, but more of just tracking the feeling in the body. So, as an example, let’s say, you’re talking about, um, your dog dog died, God forbid. And, uh, usually a regular psychotherapists will ask you, how do you feel about it when you talk about your dog and you say, I feel sad.
Dr. Darsa: 40:21 A somatic therapist will say hard, where do you feel the sadness in your body? So that there’s always a connection, right? Oh, I feel that my stomach is hurting or my heart was clenching. And so we’re not only not talking about your sadness, but we’re talking about the sensation of the sentence in your physical body and when you track it, it starts shifting. So I can ask you for instance, to sit with it for a minute, like notice the sadness in the heart, the tension, and as you just stay mindful without judging, just accepting, without trying to change what happens to the body next, and you’ll see that it starts moving. It starts kind of going to the other parts of your body. And it starts eventually creating a shift just by tracking the physical sensation. Wow. Fascinating way.
Kimberly: 41:08 Yes. And I remember reading, um, you know, and, and Ayurveda traditional Chinese medicine talks about this a bit and even a [inaudible] doctor, you know, let’s say there’s anchor here. It can actually translate into, you know, liver disease or, you know, inflammation in that area. It actually does, you know, which is something that the yogis have talked about for centuries, but there’s, you know, the science to it where there actually be this, you know, the, the seed of that emotion can start to manifest as a physical disorder over time. If we’re not taking care of ourselves along the way.
Dr. Darsa: 41:43 That’s why I say don’t put the feelings aside because there’s as a side anyway, it’s really going just down, but you’re just pushing it down. So it’s best to just gradually and slowly being able to access them and, and making peace with them. Actually, I was thinking, as I’m talking out loud, it will be so good to have maybe a support system, maybe friend, find a friend, a buddy, sort of any emotional body, you know, and go through some emotions together and just encourage each other to say, okay, so they, we got, uh, uh, talk about something that’s caused some sadness and just like really allowing each other, um, to be able to express that could even provide some opportunity.
Kimberly: 42:27 And we also have something Dr. Darcy called the Solluna Circle, which is, you know, a women’s circle and we witness each other and we, you know, we go, we check in and it’s so beautiful to see, you know, the, the, the crying, the, the, you know, but just like the empowerment that the stating of feelings, and sometimes in this really safe space, things come up that don’t come up in other parts of your life or in other relationships, because it doesn’t feel, you know, say for, we don’t want to show ourselves. So to your point, like, wow, it’s amazing having that kind of community for that purpose. It’s been.
Dr. Darsa: 43:03 So,
Kimberly: 43:07 Yeah, it’s very exciting. I love it so much. And I’ve gotten so much benefit from it and all the amazing women that are in it as well. So, you know, again, as, as I’ve continued to, to just blossom and grow it, you know, this, um, four years ago was when I really started going down this path when my mom passed away suddenly. And then I, you know, I broke up who had a big break up a few months later and I just started waking up to wow, like all of this. And so sometimes it takes that, you know, we hit the rock bottom and then we start to see and open and, and connect in ways that we didn’t before.
Dr. Darsa: 43:44 Right. Do you know what grief actually comes? A lot of love. We avoid the grief, we avoid the sadness, but I’ve been through the same thing many times, but whenever I speak for myself, whenever I allow the sentence to come forward, that they actually happened to be maybe the best day for me. Because even though I hated in the beginning, the sadness of it, but then the piece that keeps me afterwards, or the love that I feel not only towards myself, but towards everyone is, is not something I could have achieved with my head. It’s, it’s not something I can say, oh, I’m just going to be loving today. It’s not a decision is that it had to come from me, allowing myself to grieve something that I did not want to grieve before, and then just really go with, um, with what’s it’s like a rainbow after the, uh, hurricane.
Kimberly: 44:32 Amazing, amazing. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Darsa for sharing your wisdom with us. Um, again, I really found your book to be so impactful, so, um, we will link to it in the show notes, Dr. Darsa and, and how else, how else can we find out more information about you and your, and your beautiful center?
Dr. Darsa: 44:52 Uh, well, reconnectcenter.com. So that’s the website, the centers in Pacific Palisades. And I also now have my own website, karoldarsa.com. Wonderful.
Kimberly: 45:03 Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for this really important work you’re doing in the world. And thank you for taking the time to have our conversation today. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Darsa: 45:11 Thank you for inviting me again, Kimberly.
Kimberly: All right. My loves, I hope that you enjoyed our podcast today. Our interview with Dr. Karol Darsa, please be sure to check out the show notes for more information. Again, her book is called the trauma map. She’s founded the reconnect center in Pacific Palisades here in Los Angeles, which is, um, a center that specializes in trauma. And in the show notes, we will also link to other podcasts. I think you would enjoy articles, meditation’s recipes and more. I’ll also see on social at underscore Kimberly Snyder. We back here Thursday for our next Q&A podcast until then take great care of yourself. Remember that you are unique, you are precious, the world needs you. So I’ll see you back here in just a few days and sending you again so much love and so much gratitude.