Unbridled: Finding My Innermost Self

The following story took place at my Deep Emotional Healing Breathwork Retreat last month. My client attended individual sessions for about one year for issues related to self-esteem, career, trauma and relationships. She’d been making steady progress, and the groundwork had been laid for a giant leap. You’ll hear the story from my client’s point of view. May it inspire your hero’s journey to your Authentic Self.

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Spiritual Intimacy Heals Abuse: Tiana’s Story

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OVERVIEW

In the following story, you’ll see a therapy session unfold as we celebrate the progress of a highly sensitive woman who broke away from an abusive relationship. Tiana is a bright, creative and compassionate woman in her mid-fifties. You’d be fortunate to count her among your friends. Like most highly sensitive people, she is kind and thoughtful. 

Smart highly sensitive people sometimes unknowingly get drawn into abusive relationships.

How did Tiana end up in an abusive romantic relationship? And what has she learned from it? I want you to keep those questions in mind so you can benefit from her hard-earned wisdom. Please share this with anyone who has been abused so we can stop the cycles of abuse.

 

Tiana, my client, wrote this introduction. (I changed my client’s name to protect her confidentiality.)

When I met Benita, I was in a seven-year romantic relationship riddled with verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Benita diagnosed me with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). 

My relationship with Max had become a trauma bond, and I was addicted to my abuser. I went from being a prosperous creative entrepreneur to having no motivation or energy to work or to take care of myself. My self-worth was nonexistent. I lived in a constant state of fight-or-flight with a deteriorated memory. Brain fog prevented wise decision-making. Deep down, I knew that I needed to get out of that toxic relationship, but didn’t have the courage or strength to do so on my own. 

When I searched for a therapist to help me leave, I found Benita. I immediately resonated with her and knew she was the perfect fit for me. Her compassion, knowledge, and intuitive nature allowed me to dig deep and find the root cause of my unhealthy coping strategies. 

Through Cognitive behavioral therapy, Brainspotting and Internal Family Systems, Benita helped me process the trauma and heal my core model of self. She taught me about attachment theory and how early childhood bonds (or lack thereof) can leave lifelong ramifications. I learned that my early childhood wounds were the root cause of my unhealthy romantic relationships and lack of self-worth. 

I was finally able to extricate myself from the clutches of Max several months ago after he physically abused me. A police officer pressed charges against him when I was too scared to do so. I realized that I could have died.

Benita helped me learn how to ground myself, and I began to heal physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. She helped me realize that I had been brainwashed in childhood and that it had lasted all my life.  

 

A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF A THERAPY SESSION 

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A dialogue between Tiana and Benita 14 months after therapy began.

Tiana opens with her achievements: I continue to stay in a positive mindset. I can stay more grounded when I think about the abuse from Max. 

You helped me realize that I also have been accepting verbal abuse from my sister. When mom’s mean to me, I can remain objective and not take her criticism personally. I told her that it’s not OK to talk unkindly to me. That’s a big step for me. She is a hurt person, and it’s her issue to heal. 

I’ve come to see that I need opponents with whom to practice my “black belt skills.” (I was a black belt in karate.) Now I practice being assertive and setting boundaries to take care of myself instead of being nice. I’m using the challenges with abusive people to grow into my Authentic Self. I can’t change others by being nice. I can only change myself, stay in my lane, and stop trying to save others hoping that they will make me feel OK. 

I was having terrible dreams. Now I sleep peacefully. 

I have forgiven Max 100%, and I’m able to let go of my anger toward him. I genuinely wish him the best. I see him as a wounded person. 

The experience of walking and talking with God in our session last month changed me. I see how Jesus looks at Max. I am grateful for the time I spent with Max because I have grown so much from that relationship. I have been praying every day, and the angst has lifted. I thank God for this. 

You, BJ (another counselor) and God literally saved my life. There were times I didn’t want to be alive. You carry the gift of healing from your own painful journey. I felt your compassion by the look on your face the first time I met you. You’ve walked in my shoes. You know my pain. 

BE: I’m happy to be here for you and to provide a safe harbor for your healing and growth. You might want to listen to Andy Stanley’s September 2022 leadership podcast “From the Vault” where Andy interviewed John Maxwell. He tells us to always keep failure alongside success. When we try new things, we probably won’t be good at them. We need to try them anyway. Learn and grow and risk and reach further. Be open and real and vulnerable. Gain the wisdom from our experience and use it to succeed while remaining humble. 

 

How Tiana broke the pattern of abuse:

I realized that I had to heal my childhood conditioning

in order to change my adult relationships.

 

The trauma bond with Max wasn’t the only issue. I realized that I formed a trauma bond with my mother when I was young. She was emotionally neglectful, and I rarely received compliments or physical affection. Because I did not receive the nurturing I needed as a child, I felt “less than.”

My childhood coping strategy was: Be the good girl. Help people. I thought, “That’s how I’ll get love.” 

I became the peacemaker in my family, or at least I tried. I lived in the HOPE that this childhood formula would work all my life, and I applied it in my abusive relationship with Max. He didn’t change, just like my mother didn’t change. Even though I realized that I could have died, I still didn’t leave. That’s how strong the trauma bond was. 

BE: As children, we make up fantasy formulas that we’re sure will work if we do them well enough.  

Tiana: Sometimes I did get strokes. Then I tripled my efforts. I NEVER said no, especially to Max. Saying no would be contradicting my coping pattern of pleasing people to get strokes from them.

If I said no, it was like cutting off my air supply. I did that for 58 years.

  

I didn’t know I was in a trance. I was brainwashed.

When you are brainwashed, you don’t know you are brainwashed.

I just kept doing my same fantasy formula.

 

BE: Until the pattern gets bad enough, we keep doing it.

You said, “Let’s come up with a plan to keep you safe.” My plan was to get out in 3 months. You kept me accountable. 

Tiana: Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to leave soon enough. My eyes were barely cracked open when Max physically abused me. The police pressed charges because I had marks on my body. I didn’t want to press charges because Max threatened to kill me. He beat me up. When I talked to the officer, he said that he had to press charges. Someone else had to take charge because I was still in a trance from my childhood. I couldn’t advocate for myself.  

I was worried about hurting Max if I said no or set boundaries. This attitude kept me in that violent situation. He pushed me, threw chairs at me, slapped me and verbally abused me. I was more concerned about HIM than me getting hurt. 1000%. I would rather be hurt and have Max kill me than hurt him. 

Now I have a guardian to take care of me. I turn to Archangel Michael, Jesus, and God. I know that it’s OK to say no. 

Right now, I can talk about the trauma without getting emotionally triggered too much. Now I’m at a level 5 activation where 10 is high. I can objectively observe myself and my pattern. The activation hits me and then subsides. It’s already gone down to level 1.5.

BE: Good. Part of your old pattern was to not tell the truth about what you were feeling.

Tiana: I didn’t know how I felt. 

BE: You were aware of yourself only on the outer layers of the onion.

Tiana: I couldn’t feel because I had my emotions stifled for so long. This past year, I’ve felt A LOT. I dissected it and prayed about it … all the way back to childhood. It’s been a lot of hard work this year. I’m in such a better place now. I’m human. I’m at level zero activation now. Before, I would have to stop talking about the abuse and self-soothe. 

 

A securely attached relationship with God

replaced my need to seek attachment 

from familiar abusive people.

 

Now, I’ve got God. I’ve got you to help me. There will still be bumpy roads. I can control my reactions. I can stay in my lane … meaning that I recognize and take responsibility for my feelings and reactions. I go to my Spirit-Led-Self, Jesus and Archangel Michael.That’s where I pull my strength from. Before, I pulled my strength from other people.

BE: That behavior was a replay of pulling strength from your mother, your caregiver who didn’t meet your needs.

Tiana: I had to learn that I was OK being alone with myself and God, that I don’t need approval from anyone else. I was looking for approval from people who abused me.

BE: Diane Poole Heller, a trainer for trauma therapists, says that 90% of our adult relationships are replays of our childhood. We bond with our caregivers, and when we don’t get our core needs met, we try to figure out how to get them met. It’s a natural survival skill.

 

Sometimes as adults, it’s hard to recognize that

we’ve regressed into a child state of consciousness. 

We must heal the wounds on an emotional,

subconscious level to get free.

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Tiana: I wouldn’t know what to do with a healthy relationship. If a guy was too nice, I was not interested. I went for bad boys. When I was with Max, the trauma bond was so strong, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I told a friend, “If I’m dead, you’ll know who did it.” 

I think God will throw me some more tests, but right now it’s not possible because I don’t want to date. I can sniff out bad guys, and my respect for myself is greater than my need for love from a guy. 

I was addicted to Max. I didn’t need just any man to make me happy. I was addicted to Max in particular. He activated all my unconscious dynamics.

I’m still working on getting past the thought and feeling that I am “less than” or “not loved” when I get triggered. I’ve made good progress and I am so grateful for your help.

 

CONCLUSION

Tiana: Before therapy, I didn’t have a sense of Self. I was outwardly focused, trying to help others, hoping I would receive appreciation back. It rarely worked. I never loved myself before, and I never felt unconditionally loved by anyone.

 

I learned how to heal my core model of self.

I now see myself as God sees me. I have a new sense of identity.

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I went deep into the darkness and now I am coming into the light. I really appreciate the healing. I thank God every day. I am finally getting to the joy of what the darkness was meant for. 

My greatest growth came from this trauma. Max was my greatest teacher and my greatest karate opponent. I will never put myself in a situation like that again. 

I am happily single and happily loving myself. Through therapy and God, I got here. I go within now. I don’t need a mother’s love to feel complete, and I don’t need love from anyone. I have God’s love, Jesus and Archangel Michael. That’s all I need. Everything else is the cherry on the cake.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Benita A. Esposito, MA

If you would like help to transform limiting patterns in your life, please complete the questionnaire on the Contact Page. Read about my life coaching, spiritual counseling, and retreats for Highly Sensitive Introverts.

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon.

As a highly sensitive person herself, Benita can easily understand highly sensitive people, your challenges and your beautiful gifts. Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Click here to read Benita Esposito’s credentials and story.

Photo credit:  Benita A. Esposito by Benita A. Esposito

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. The Esposito Institute, Inc. 

 

 

 

Healing Toxic Shame

When you make a mistake and someone is disappointed in you, do you feel like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs? When dogs experience shame, their bodies automatically respond with this behavior. 

People don’t have tails to tuck, but many of us highly sensitive introverts feel shame and humiliation when we make mistakes.

When you were young, did your caregivers correct your behavior with an aggravated tone such as: “Shame on you. You should have known better! I taught you better than that!” That might have been followed by more criticism, hitting you, or icy silence. Either way, you felt the pang of not feeling securely attached. That’s what we call “toxic shame.” It damages your sense of personal identity.

Children should be corrected, but the caregivers should convey unconditional love and remain emotionally connected in a health way. Many of us did not experience that.

I had an ah ha! moment when I realized that shame isn’t so bad in itself, but when we feel rejected, that’s when shame really hurts. 

Humans were created with a basic need to feel securely attached. Most animals are like that. When we don’t experience safe attachment, we feel despair because we are cut off from our loved ones. When we’re isolated, we are at more risk for physical harm, dis-ease and emotional anguish.

The sense of estrangement hurts so much that when we’re young children, we develop coping strategies to try to avoid distress.

If you are a highly sensitive person, you felt the pain of attachment breaches much more than non-highly sensitives. If you were raised in a dysfunctional family where you didn’t feel secure emotional attachment much of the time, you probably carried unresolved wounds into adulthood. You may not even realize it.

That’s what happened with my client, Donna (a pseudonym used to protect her confidentiality). Even though Donna was a competent team leader, she suffered from low self-esteem and anxiety. Our job was to get to the root of this and heal it.

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Donna (now in her 40’s) suffered her entire life with feeling scared of making mistakes. This led her to try to be perfect. She predicted the outcome of her choices so people wouldn’t be disappointed in her. Anxiety used up a lot of her energy and left her body tense and tight.

In the anecdote below, the painful memory of Donna’s mother’s repetitive shaming behavior was still impacting Donna. We both acknowledged that her mother had done the very best that she could at the time. Her mother had emotional problems of her own. 

We used Brainspotting and Internal Family dialogue in this session. I explain those processes in another article. Click here.

I love using these tools because they help the client access emotional wounds while staying in their window of tolerance. They don’t get overwhelmed. Also, clients often tap into spiritual wisdom that creates major breakthroughs. I could have imparted the same wisdom, but the client would not integrate it as deeply because it came from an outside source. 

If an untrained person were to watch a Brainspotting session that combines talking with different inner parts, they might not think that any major transformation took place. But I assure you, because the wisdom comes from deep within, it has long-term results. Sometimes in dramatic ways. Sometimes in subtle ways.

Here’s how the session with Donna began.  

Benita: Donna, what do you want to address in this session today? What’s your goal?

Donna: I want to develop self-acceptance, even if I make a mistake, especially when I feel I’m not meeting someone’s expectations. I tend to make them “right” and make myself “wrong.”

Donna’s baseline: The level of self-acceptance I feel right now is a 4 where 10 is high self-acceptance. My shoulders are tight and they are hunched over a bit. My solar plexus has a nervous fluttery feeling. I have picked two Brainspotting visual spots in my room to look at, one is my activation spot and one is my resource spot where I feel calm and grounded and I connect to my Wise Self. I’m listening to biolateral music engineered by David Grand called, “Forest Bathing.”

Donna: My Inner Critic and my people-pleasing Adapted Child (AC) are activated. I’m focusing on the activation spot first.

My Adapted Child (AC) doesn’t know how to sit with herself and let others be responsible for their issues. If they’re upset, she’s anxious, and she thinks she must have done something wrong. If she doesn’t take action to make another person feel better, she thinks she is being uncaring and not willing to help. She doesn’t want to be viewed that way by others. She wants to learn how to feel OK inside herself in situations where others are upset. 

Donna: I’m looking at the resource spot now and tuning into my Wise Self. I sense guidance about not taking responsibility for other people. 

Wise Self coaching the Adapted Child (AC): While it’s OK to want to help people, and it’s good to do so if they have asked for help, you don’t have to make “helping” your full-time job. Everyone is entitled to feel what they feel. Your old way of thinking is: “Only good feelings are good.” In truth, it is healthier for people to be honest about their emotions. That is information that can be helpful to manage interactions. 

When people get upset, you have a variety of emotions. You feel anxious, insecure, and afraid.

As a child, you couldn’t make sense of why your mom or anyone else was angry. Their anger was unpredictable. You accepted total responsibility for others’ feelings. You couldn’t tell the difference between when it was your fault and when it was not. Your mom blamed you for a lot of things. Even when you thought you were doing well, your mom or others got upset with you. That was confusing. 

The only time you felt OK and good enough was if others around you were happy, and then you could feel relief. You are learning that their behavior and your response to it were not healthy. It is not a sustainable way of being with others. 

I’ll help you learn a different way to cope. You can learn how to let other people experience the entire range of emotions, and you can determine when you need to protect yourself to stay safe.

It is OK to be around people when they feel their emotions. They need to feel what they feel. You can separate yourself from their emotions. At the same time, you can have your feelings independent of theirs. You’ve felt guilty when someone is upset, and you thought that you were not allowed to feel different than they felt. You thought you were not allowed to be a separate person.  

You can learn to observe, tune in and recognize what’s yours and not yours and still feel compassion for the other person. Don’t try to change what they are feeling. 

You can assess what’s happened when someone is upset with you. You might need to take action on that, but other times you can accept that they have a response and be OK with it. You don’t need to control so much.

Benita to Donna: What’s your level of self-acceptance now?

Donna: I’m a solid 5. I went up one point towards self-acceptance. My breathing is easier. My chest is more open. My shoulders are more open and relaxed. My solar plexus is still tense but there is no nervous energy. 

Debrief, Insights, and Summary

Donna: Part of me (my Adapted Child) didn’t want to allow others to experience their full range of emotions because I thought that upsetting situations were my fault. 

Sometimes, I don’t like what people say to me and I don’t have to. Others don’t have to like what I say or do. We can’t be expected to operate with only the positive side of the emotional spectrum. 

I need to discern when I need to do something to help a situation and when I don’t. Instead of seeing myself as less caring if I don’t jump in to help people, I need to allow others to feel how they feel. I am maturing to know when I have ownership of a problem and when I don’t. 

My inner wisdom arises outside of sessions with you these days. I have the visceral experience of the wisdom. I am integrating so much more deeply. 

Before I met you, I read many self-help books, but I never integrated the wisdom until my therapy with you. Brainspotting has been very helpful because I can feel myself changing at a deep level. I want people to have access to good mental health and to heal and grow as I have. That’s why I want to share this story with them. 

Contact Information

If you would like to help to transform limiting patterns in your life, please complete the questionnaire on the Contact Page.

Feel free to ask about how I facilitate life coaching, spiritual counseling, and retreats for Highly Sensitive Introverts.

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon.

As a highly sensitive person herself, Benita can easily understand you, your challenges and your beautiful gifts. Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Click here to read Benita Esposito’s credentials and story.

Photo of Benita Esposito by Alysia Hargus/Alysia Hargus Photography

 

How to Reframe Our Fears So They Don’t Stop Us

Overview

I’m going to thread together methods you can use to (1) manage your fears so that you can (2) create your ideal life being your Authentic Self (3) with a spirit of self-compassion. You’ll be able to use these tools to create a high quality life if you study this carefully.

 

Where are you now?

If you’re like most Highly Sensitive People, you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

I’d like to invite you to take one minute to reflect on the following question. 

To what degree are you living your most authentic life?

Low 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 High

I know that can be a big question, but think about it for a minute. 

Here are a few ways that you can tell if you are acting congruently with your Authentic Self.

1.    If someone asks you, “How are you doing?” do you reply, “I’m fine.” But, the truth is you are exhausted or hurt or irritated. 

2.    When someone makes a request of you, does your inner critic tell you that you are selfish if you say no? Is it more important to think about others than yourself?

3.    When your emotional needs are not met, do you feel comfortable making clear requests so you can feel more fulfilled?

4.    If you have a conflict, do you openly share your vulnerable feelings, or are you more likely to become reactive or analyze what the other person is doing wrong?

5.    If someone yells at you, do you feel intimidated and go quiet or yell back? 

6.    Do you long to live the life of your dreams, but you are so busy putting out fires that you don’t make time to proactively take the steps to cultivate the garden of your spirit?

 

Now go back and rate the degree to which you are living an authentic life. 

Low 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10   High

There’s no right or wrong, or good or bad. Please ask your inner critic to step back. I am more interested in you learning how to take the next step toward living your authentic life … not beating yourself up.

OK?  Agreed?

The first step to creating a fulfilling life that is rooted in your Authentic Self is to tell the truth about where you are now. 

Credit: Nick Seagrave on Unsplash

Let’s say you were planning a trip to the Redwood National Park, and you wanted to take a map with you so you wouldn’t get lost if the GPS goes out. Highly Sensitive People like to be prepared for such possibilities.

 If you were going to use Google maps, you’d first enter your current location, then your destination.

It’s the same with creating your life. You have to know where you are now. This includes your thoughts, your feelings, what you’re feeling in your body, and your interpretations about yourself and the world. 

Why is it so important? Being in touch with all these things allows you to be grounded in the here and now… in your body.  If you are not grounded, you won’t be present … for yourself or anyone else.

When you examine your interpretations about yourself and the world, you can discern which are true and accurate and which are false. 

Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Many times, our interpretations generate fear on an emotional and physical level.

They spin us around like a top careening around the floor. 

It’s normal to want to run from our fears and avoid them. 

But you know what? The truth is that often Highly Sensitive People ruminate about our fears. The inner dialogue goes something like this:

What if I show up and I tell the truth about my thoughts and feelings, and he ends the relationship? 

What if I make too many requests, and my boss finds a way to oust me?

What if I’m authentic and people say I’m selfish? I remember the time when one of my co-workers retorted, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.”  She didn’t want to understand me or my needs. She didn’t realize that she was the one who was being self-centered. I didn’t have enough insight to tell her that at the time. 

Most of us don’t like the part of ourselves that carries our fear so we develop strategies to ignore that part.

We avoid our fears by caring for others, by working too much, and by thinking that we need to be productive to have worth. It’s an unconscious unexamined habit.

We don’t take time to be quiet and still and get in touch with our inner selves and our spiritual guidance. 

Many clients in the early stage of therapy tell me that they don’t have time for quiet introspection or meditation. But the truth is, they don’t want to consciously connect with the part of them that carries the fear, but they don’t know that yet.

We can reframe our fears. They don’t have to stop us.

Consider the following acronyms for fear.

·      False Evidence Appearing Real

·      For Everything a Reason

·      Face Everything and Recover

·      Feeling Excited and Ready

 

Credit: Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Take a few minutes to journal your answers to the following questions. Write your answer before reading the next question. 

Make a list of the qualities of your ideal personal and professional relationships.

Do you have that kind of relationship with yourself? Are you being a good friend to all parts of yourself? Or are you trying to banish some parts … such as your fear?

Focus on the part of you who carries your fear and bring compassion to that part. Instead of pushing it away, invite that part to sit down and have tea with you. Get to know that part just as if it were one of your good friends.

Use your imagination to write an inner dialogue between the fearful part and your Wise Self and/or your spiritual connection. 

How does the fearful part feel? Why does it feel that way? How old does it seem to be? Write about all of the fearful part’s qualities and characteristics.

What would help the fearful part feel safe and comforted? You want to build a strong emotional attachment with this part so it can feel safe.

What action on your part would help that part feel safe and meet its underlying needs?

What risks are you willing to take to help this part?

Are you willing to take conscious action in a healthy non-reactive way?

Do grounding exercises.  Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Imagine you are a large tree with roots that reach into the center of the Earth. Call on your spiritual connection for supernatural strength. Imagine a protective barrier surrounding you that keeps your energy intact and keeps others energy out.

Think about what it would be like to express your Authentic Self … but … then you stop yourself because the fear arises.

What are you are no longer willing to live with because it requires you NOT to express your Authentic Self? 

What is the price you are paying?

What does your body experience when you are not being authentic?

How does it affect your productivity?

Your mood?

Your mental functioning?

How does it feel to NOT proactively move in the direction of your fondest dreams because you are too scared?

Keep checking in with your fearful part. Stay close and compassionate. Keep asking what it needs to feel safe. Figure out one little actionable step that will help. Then take the next step, and the next. Continue dialoguing with your Wise Self and your spiritual connection.

 

How important is it to you to upgrade your skill level so you can manage your fears AND move forward in your life with the greatest integrity?

Who and what do you want to ideally align with?

How committed are you to moving forward?

What will happen in your life if you don’t do high quality inner work?  Do you think it will change or stay the same?

 

Credit: Caleb Jones on Unsplash

The Invitation

If you would like support to work with your fears and figure out how to take your next steps to feel fully empowered, consider working with me individually or ….

join us for an intensive Highly Sensitive Person Retreat. You’ll get to work on your own issues, and you’ll also learn vicariously from the other group members. You’ll learn things you didn’t even know you needed to learn. The whole group will move from the shallow waters to the deep end of the pool. You’ll feel safer because you are buoyed up by like-minded friends. 

You’ll learn a new mindset … one that leads to the pure joy of being your Authentic Self nestled in the relationship with your spiritual connection … following your divine guidance every step of the way. 

If you would like individual life coaching and spiritual counseling, please complete the questionnaire on the Contact Page.

 

Benita Esposito. Credit: Alysia Hargus Photography

About Your Facilitator

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon. The kindle, paperback, and audiobook (narrated by the author) have sold over 8,400 copies as of April 2022.

As a highly sensitive person herself, Benita can easily understand you, your challenges and your beautiful gifts.

Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Click here to read Benita Esposito’s credentials and story.

Click here to contact Benita Esposito to inquire about life coaching, spiritual counseling and retreats for Highly Sensitive People.

My Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self

As a highly sensitive introvert, you were born with an innate desire to fulfill your potential. Although life is not always easy, you want to learn and grow from your struggles.

Your spirit beckons you to live congruently as your Authentic Self. Nothing less will be fulfilling.

You may not know exactly how to get there, but something …

a divine something … pulls you forward.

I’d like to share an overview of a story from my book that illustrates the deep emotional healing I experienced during my Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self. 

 

Staying conscious through the Dark Night of the Soul enabled me to excavate my Authentic Self.

Why did I embark on such a grueling Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self?

I realized that I had been trying to gain emotional security from all the wrong places … mostly from people and work.

My Inner Critic insisted that I needed to excel at everything in order to be acceptable and lovable. No wonder my Inner Child felt like she was thrown under the bus all the time.

 

I needed to connect with an enduring source of love and wisdom. I wanted to become my own best friend instead of wishing that someone or something outside of myself would make me feel whole.

 

I intended to develop a rich intimate relationship with my Sacred Inner Beloved, aka, the Holy Spirit within me.

 

Eventually, after a long while …

unconditional self-acceptance sprang up from the ground of my being …

like a flower blooming in the springtime.

This enabled me to love others with more purity instead of manipulating them or myself.

 

This spiritual relationship provided a brand new foundation of emotional security. 

After my roots grew deep, I took a giant risk. 

I placed my faith in God, stepped out of my comfort zone, and created one of my most cherished dreams.

 

What is your dream?

·      What is most meaningful in your life?

·      Do you yearn for emotional security instead of anxiety?

·      Are you absolutely true to your Authentic Self?

·      Do you experience a rich relationship with the Holy Spirit?

 

I hope my story inspires you to stop settling for less.

There IS more possible for you … 

if you would just take the risk to step outside of your comfort zone 

and reach for the stars

the stars that are engraved with your name.

 

I’ll show you how in individual life coaching and spiritual counseling or in a Highly Sensitive Person Retreat.

 

If you’d like to reach Benita Esposito, please complete the Contact Form.

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon.

The kindle, paperback and audiobook were bestsellers on Amazon for 18 months and have sold over 8,400 copies as of April 2022. As a highly sensitive person herself, Benita can easily understand you, your challenges and your beautiful gifts. Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. The Esposito Institute, Inc. You may print a copy of this article for your own personal use. You may share it for non-commercial purposes as long as you list the author’s name and website: Benita A. Esposito.  www.SensitiveIntrovert.com. For commercial reprint, contact Benita A. Esposito.

Anthony’s Retreat “Worth It”

When discussing the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Retreats with Benita, she often mentioned that a retreat is more healing than several weeks of individual therapy. I heard this a few times over years before I ever attended a retreat. I always thought it was a sales pitch. I’ll be the first to admit, this is not a sales pitch. This is real.

When I planned to attend the first retreat, I told myself how important it was to get my money’s worth out of the experience. Any act of not “showing up” would only be a detriment to myself, and I did not want that. 

On the first day of the retreat, I found it a little awkward to be so vulnerable with a group of strangers. My introverted side likes to shy away from new people and situations until I observe them so know how I ought to respond. It’s either this or I force myself to be extroverted in such moments which is not sustainable for me. 

This time, I refused to do either. I chose to show up as fully as I could. While I didn’t speak first all the time (no sense in standing in that spotlight always), I did my best to speak confidently and transparently. I allowed myself to cry. I expressed my creativity through artwork. I had unexpected moments of revealing my Authentic Self.

The pivotal moment came when Benita led us through a Breathwork session.

I heard God tell me that “I am worth it.”

This wasn’t positive thinking or a rote affirmation that impacted me just on a mental level. This message, “worth it,” nestled itself deeply in my spirit and into my bones. 

Before this, I didn’t feel like I had much self-worth, although I knew I was smart and creative. I always held myself back from living the best version of myself. I grew up with a father, grandfather and brothers who belittled me, and I adopted their perception of who I was.  

Now I know – I mean really KNOW – that I am “worth it.” 

First, I am worth the effort of loving myself and facing things I think are difficult. 

Second, I am able to RECEIVE God’s love at a much deeper level. 

Third, the spiritual growth process is worth the birthing pain. 

Fourth, attending the HSP Retreat was worth the sacrifice of my smaller self so I could show up as fully as I was able.

This retreat was a turning point for me. In the months that followed, these things happened:

  1. God guided me to move from Atlanta to the mountains. He brought me to a beautiful home that has become my sanctuary. I feel peaceful almost every day of my life.
  2. I received a generous raise and promotion to a job I love.
  3. My body feels healthier than ever.
  4. God united me with my Beloved in Benita’s Conscious Dating Group. This woman is beyond my wildest dreams.

I highly recommend the HSP Retreat to all those who yearn to throw off the chains that bind you. It IS possible to live a vibrant life, full of love and creativity, and fully showing up as your Authentic Self. 

~ Anthony, Principal Software Engineer

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A Note from Benita

I am supporting you to unleash your full potential and share your gifts with a world that desperately needs the wisdom and creativity that you carry.

If you would like help to heal the inner wounds that stop you from being your Authentic Self, contact me for a complimentary 10-minute Discovery Call to see if we are a good fit.

But first, please read this webpage about my services.

 

Wishing you all the best that life has to offer.

Benita A. Esposito, MA, “Chief Trail Guide,” for Highly Sensitive Introverts on the Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self. Click here for credentials.

Bestselling author of The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self – available on Amazon.

Click here to watch my book video.

Life Coach and Spiritual Counselor. Sessions are available worldwide via Zoom.

Highly Sensitive Person Retreat Details

Deep Emotional healing Breathwork Retreat: April 22-23, 2023

HSP Retreat: June 17, 2023

Deep Emotional Healing Breathwork Retreat: October 7-8, 2023

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In person, Young Harris, GA, USA 

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.Attend more than one retreat. They’re always different.

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Healing from an Abusive Marriage: Devon’s Story

Self-Care Learned the Hard Way

 

Devon, a highly sensitive man, called me for counseling at the prompting of his mother who was concerned about him. His dearest friends told him that he no longer seemed like himself. He was depressed. He was not eating properly, he had severe insomnia and he had trouble focusing on his work. Normally, Devon was an exemplary worker.

(The identity of this client was changed to preserve confidentiality. This story was posted with his permission.)

What started this downward spiral?

Devon had married a woman after a short courtship, and the marriage quickly went awry. She wanted them to marry quickly, and he agreed. Highly sensitive people want to please the people they love.

In the months following the wedding, his wife tried to take advantage of him financially. She emotionally and verbally abused him, and she deceived him. When he confronted her with her unkind behavior, she threatened to hurt him and have him killed. She threw tantrums when she didn’t get her way. When Devon suggested counseling, she refused.

Devon read books about gaslighting, emotional abuse and manipulation. He realized, “Wow, these feelings of fear, dread and pain are explained perfectly. I’m in an abusive relationship, and I am stuck. I need to break through a wall of blame, guilt, blackmail and threats to my life to find safety.”

Devon was obsessed with a woman who had badly hurt him.

He wanted counseling to resolve this internal dilemma: Part of him knew that she wasn’t good for him. Another part of him believed that marriage was a sacred commitment. He felt guilty for wanting to end the marriage.

Over time, Devon saw that his wife had no intentions of changing. He finally initiated a divorce, still feeling guilty. He believed me when I said, “God does not require us to stay in abusive relationships.” The divorce was final within a year of the wedding. Fortunately, his ex-wife broke off all contact with him.

Devon replayed the awful memories in his mind for months. He had no clue about how to resolve the emotional wounds.

Counseling Activities and Discussions

Devon read the books, Boundaries and Attached. He came to understand his own attachment style and hers. In the beginning of the marriage, he let her walk all over him because he thought that love required that of him.

Before counseling Devon thought, “I should be able to do something to fix her problems. I’m failing as a husband.”

Later in counseling he reported, “If I had read these books before, I would have never married her.”

She blamed him for being too sensitive, so he tried to be less sensitive and more understanding. He gave an inch. She took a mile. Her next fit of anger was always worse than the last. He told her that he didn’t want to live with constant anger.

Devon shared, “The more I tried to repair things, the more she pushed back. I tried everything to make her happy. Nothing worked.

“I felt like I was losing myself.

“My friends and family tried to tell me that I was being abused, but I didn’t see it. All of my focus was on making her happy. I neglected my own self-care. I wasn’t sleeping well or eating well, and couldn’t find enjoyment in anything. I can now see that these were warning signs … red flags.”

Devon also used a therapy called Brainspotting which helped heal the emotional wounds and return him to his Authentic Self. He also learned to meditate to soothe his nervous system and wrote internal dialogues to resolve his dilemma.

I asked Devon about the lessons that he learned from his year of counseling.

Devon shared these thoughts:

“When I think about creating my next relationship, I don’t feel desperate. I’m not rushing. I won’t let my boundaries be violated again. I have a high bar for a relationship. I will forgive when needed.

“I would say to the next woman in my life: I was in a bad relationship so I’m cautious. She was angry a lot, and I don’t want that. I want a healthy relationship. If a woman said ‘no’ to this request, I would see that as a yellow or orange flag.

“If someone told me the same thing today … if they had a history of bad relationships … I would be respectful. I wouldn’t demean a person for wanting safety. Most people have plenty of baggage, but it’s how they handle it that makes or breaks them. I’d be looking for answers to these questions: Did her relationship wounds make her smarter and wiser instead of avoiding her problems? Did she learn lessons? Who has she become because of it?

“If there is trouble in the relationship, if both people tried to fix the arguments, I would stay. We would allow time to cool down and discuss the conflict. Both of us would compromise and create win-win solutions. One person wouldn’t be right all the time. There would be a willingness from both sides to make things work. I remember this quote from Benita’s book:

‘You should not have to set yourself on fire to keep another person warm.’

“I think it is a good idea to require my future mate to learn relationship skills along with me. Her agreement would be a supreme green flag. I would be so proud of her.”

 

Conclusion

Devon shared the following:

“I have learned about myself and how I brought trauma into my life. I am glad for the lessons learned. I have become a better person vs. ruining my life. I have learned how to become resilient … like trees that get damaged, but the roots grow stronger around a damaged part.

“My supervisor gave me a hefty promotion and salary increase. I’ve started on my bachelor’s degree, and I have a group of friends who truly support me. My sleep has returned to normal, and I have discovered the joy of cooking healthy food.

“I owe a lot to Benita. She pointed me in the right directions. She helped me learn to meditate. She taught me about boundaries and self-worth. She taught me about attachment styles. She taught me that loving someone doesn’t mean that I should accept abuse.

“I’ll remember these lessons the rest of my life.”

~ end of story ~

Contact Benita Esposito if you would like help healing wounds from a dysfunctional relationship or if you want to improve a relationship. Complete the contact page and ask for a complimentary 10-minute get-acquainted session.

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Author: Benita A. Esposito, MA, “Chief Trail Guide,” for Highly Sensitive Introverts on the Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self.

Bestselling author of The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self – available on Amazon.

Life Coach and Spiritual Counselor

“Your Authentic Life. Anything Else is a Compromise.”

Spiritual Healing for the Inner Child: The Power of Inner Dialogue

The following extraordinary story was written by one of my highly sensitive introvert clients. She had an amazing spiritual healing and she wants you to know that transformation can come quickly. My desire is to be an instrument of God’s healing.

Read more

Highly Sensitive Introvert Survey 2020

Dear Highly Sensitive Introvert,

Since you’ve discovered the research on Highly Sensitive People (HSP), doesn’t it feel great to know that you are not alone … that you’re not weird … that you are a valuable part of society … even when your loved ones and your co-workers don’t understand you? Read more