Episode 80

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Published on:

30th Jan 2024

Healing Trauma Bonds: Dr. Melissa on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse -80

Explore the depths of healing and personal empowerment in this episode of The Grit Show as Shawna Rodrigues engages in a captivating discussion with Dr. Melissa. Together, they uncover the far-reaching impact of narcissistic abuse, shedding light on the qualities that attract narcissists and the strength gained from harrowing relationships. Dr. Melissa's expertise in working with soul-driven individuals forms the crux of the conversation, as she empowers listeners to harness their trauma as a superpower and cultivate healthy boundaries. The episode seamlessly transitions into the power of asking profound questions, igniting a journey of introspection and growth. Dr. Melissa's insights on holistic healing and addressing false core beliefs illuminate the path to holistic well-being. If you're ready to embark on a transformative journey of healing and reclaiming your inner strength, this episode is an unmissable source of wisdom and inspiration.

Dr. Melissa Kalt, MD is a physician turned trauma and narcissistic abuse recovery expert first through necessity, then by design. After leaving the relationships and completing therapy, she was too stubborn to believe life was as good as it gets. Fortunately, she was right. Through exploration of eastern and energetic medicine, Dr. Melissa discovered, then refined a unique process to get clear, break your trauma bond, and rewrite your subconscious scripts.

Now, at the intersection of entrepreneurship, personal development, and past narcissistic abuse, she frees other soul-driven powerhouses from the longstanding aftereffects of trauma, so they stop stepping on the gas and the brakes at the same time. She then guides them to leverage their experience as a secret superpower to springboard into the future they desire.

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Join her brand new program - Antifragile Rebels a community especially designed for disruptors & entrepreneurs antifragilerebels.com . Listeners of The Grit Show can use the code GRIT50 to get 50% off not just the first month, but future months, as well.

Website: melissakaltmd.com

Instagram: @melissakaltmd

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-kalt-md/

Quora: www.quora.com/profile/Dr-Melissa-Kalt-MD; antifragilenarcissistsurvivorswithdrmelissa.quora.com/

Medium: medium.com/@MelissaKalt

Pinterest: www.pinterest.ph/melissakaltmd/

Twitter/X: twitter.com/melissakaltmd

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Transcript

We feel it is important to make our podcast transcripts available for accessibility. We use quality artificial intelligence tools to make it possible for us to provide this resource to our audience. We do have human eyes reviewing this, but they will rarely be 100% accurate. We appreciate your patience with the occasional errors you will find in our transcriptions. If you find an error in our transcription, or if you would like to use a quote, or verify what was said, please feel free to reach out to us at connect@37by27.com.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Oftentimes, when we hear the term narcissistic abuse, we automatically think of intimate partner relationships. The narcissist has families. They have work environments, and oftentimes, their abusive and toxic behaviors are not contained to only 1 relationship. Even if you haven't worked with or lived with someone that is a narcissist, you likely know someone who has been impacted by that relationship or situation. Our conversation with Dr. Melissa offers insight that I think you'll find very valuable. We talk about what qualities a narcissist is drawn to, and I was intrigued and gained from that. We also talk about the other side of that traumatic relationship and the strength that can be gained from getting through that. We know a little bit about that here on The Grit Show. Right?

Shawna Rodrigues [:

We also talk about asking ourselves better questions, which we just talked about last week. If you haven't heard that episode, you can revisit that if that resonates with you. We also talk about that being a gift that led her to the work she does today, those deeper questions. I know I found value in the conversation about core beliefs because, again, my word of the year is, believe. They may have a very intrinsic link to trauma bonds, and it might be looking at those beliefs as part of how you get to the other side. I certainly walked away with a lot of valuable information, and I know that the conversation on boundaries was one I wasn't expecting for me to resonate so strongly with, and yet I did. So, you might get a little bit out of that as well and walk away with ways that you can more subtly integrate boundaries and respecting your time and how you honor yourself as well. I'm glad you're here. I look forward to learning what you gain from today's conversation.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Welcome to The Grit Show, where our focus is growth on purpose. I'm your host, Shawna Rodrigues, and I'm honored to be part of this community as we journey together with our grit intact to learn more about how to thrive and how to get the most out of life. It means a lot that you are here today. As you listen, I encourage you to think of who may appreciate the tidbits of knowledge we are sharing and to take a moment to pass this along to them. Everyone appreciates a friend that thinks of them, and these conversations are meant to be shared and to spark even more connections.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Doctor Melissa Kalt, MD, is a physician turned trauma and narcissistic abuse recovery expert. First, by necessity, then by design. After leaving the relationships and completing therapy, she was too stubborn to believe life was as good as it gets.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Fortunately, she was right. Through exploration of Eastern and energetic medicine, Doctor Melissa discovered then refined a unique process to get clear, break your trauma bond, and rewrite your subconscious scripts. Now at the intersection of entrepreneurship, personal development, and past narcissistic abuse, she frees others' soul driven powerhouses from the long-standing aftereffects of trauma, so they stop stepping on the gas and the brakes at the same time. She then guides them to leverage their experience as a secret superpower to springboard into the future they desire. I first discovered her on Instagram and was drawn to the message and the information she shares and really felt like she would be such a gift to all of you. Thank you so much for being here today, Doctor Melissa.

Dr. Melissa [:

Oh, thank you so much for inviting me. This is wonderful.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. I love the term that you have. So, part of me say it wrong, but you have to describe the people that you work with as soul driven powerhouses. Can you, like, describe how you use that term and how that resonates with you?

Dr. Melissa [:

Yeah. You know, it's funny because my husband frequently says to me, no. I don't know what that means. And I'm like, my soul says that's it. Like, I just have to keep using that. Oftentimes, you know, we go to school, we graduate from college, we do whatever we're going to do. We maybe pick a job because it's going to make the most money or we think there's job security or there's whatever. And then we hit this point.

Dr. Melissa [:

I think for most people it happens probably in their forties, maybe in their fifties or later, where they just want to contribute from a place that they're passionate about. And so, maybe they pivot the way they're doing their existing work, maybe they make a total career change, but it's like they're lit up and on fire, and they're living their why. They get up and work every morning not because they have to. Maybe they still have to, but they choose to do it because they want to. Because their soul is calling them to express their unique gifts with the world. And for those people, 1, they frequently have experienced narcissistic abuse because they're awesome targets to a narcissist, and 2, like, the world needs their message. The world needs them to stand up and live their why and not be stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time and bringing themselves out.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And that's so interesting because I feel like there's this piece that, you know? And identifying if they've been in these relationships that haven't made sense to them, right, that they don't know, like, what's been happening, what hasn't worked for them, and then figure out this narcissistic element has been at play in these relationships. But could you talk more about that element around, you being the amazing person you are can somehow make you someone that that narcissist is drawn to and that makes you someone that gets into that relationship because of beautiful parts of you, unfortunately, that make that happen. Can you talk more about that?

Dr. Melissa [:

Absolutely. So, there are a number of things that narcissists are attracted to. They, in general, are attracted to people who elevate their status. So, there are the more superficial qualities like being, you know, physically attractive, being powerful, being well connected, being successful, being highly educated or intelligent, being with someone like that elevates their status compared to, you know, if they were with someone else. They also are really attracted to qualities like compassion and empathy and honesty. It's much easier if they're being dishonest or deceptive, but they have someone who's a straight shooter. That straight shooter, the honest person, is going to tell them exactly what they need to know about how to devalue them.

Dr. Melissa [:

They don't know that's what they're doing. But if you were to say, like because you're just trying to be mature and honest in a relationship, you know, it really hurts my feelings when you say x, y, z. You feel like you're being mature and responsible in a relationship, and the narcissist is sitting back there taking notes because now they know exactly how to devalue you because you've just told them what hurts.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Oh, wow. Yes.

Dr. Melissa [:

It's so bad. So, those 2 categories of things, the things that elevate someone's status, the being compassionate, empathic, we don't want to change. Those are awesome things. And then there's this 3rd category of characteristics, things like people pleasing or having difficulty setting boundaries or taking blame for things other people do. That it sounds crazy, like, well, who would do that? But it happens all the time. Think about, like, someone plows into you at the store and you say, oh, I'm sorry. And you are just standing there. Right? They're the ones that plowed into you. What on earth are you apologizing for?

Dr. Melissa [:

Those kinds of things are also extremely attractive to narcissists. And I find that for a lot of people who are on this soul driven path, they may have had whether it's someone who's been diagnosed as a narcissist or just a very toxic personality in their family of origin or someone who was of great influence in their childhood, and they really learn to become a people pleaser or to not set boundaries or to caretake other people or accept the blame for things other people do. And they are sort of a setup for now for a new one coming in in adult relationships because that seems normal.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. That is so eye opening that I got that sense just from looking at your stuff on Instagram, but that is so important for folks to hear that and to see that because these are beautiful qualities for the most part. Some things are things we're all growing with. Right? Like, this people pleasing tendency, I feel is something a lot of women work with that were kind of raised and socialized, to be people pleasing, and to apologize to everyone. And I can remember that time in my life where I was really working on not apologizing and recognizing how much those words just flow out of your mouth for anything and everything. And so, yeah. That's something that we all probably work with at some point in time and to not recognize how that kind of, like, makes you a beam to attract that when that's not what you want to attract and makes it more confusing when you're in it, especially the straight shooter, like, honest, like, saying things that is actually can be used, weaponized to some extent and how frustrating that is because you think you're saying what you need and that's what you're, this is like, I'm growing up. I'm telling people what I want. I'm being honest about where I'm at, and I've grown to do this, and yet it can be used against you. That's so valuable to understand that.

Dr. Melissa [:

Yes. It's huge. And I find that for people who've been through their relationships, when they leave because of the trauma bond, they frequently attract new narcissists, and they attract old narcissist drama. And so, one of the things that they can change, I wouldn't suggest anyone makes themselves less successful, less attractive, less compassionate, less empathic or honest, but they can absolutely work on, like you said, you did it in the past, the people pleasing, some of the other things, learn to set and enforce the boundaries. For a lot of people, even learning what healthy boundaries are because if their parents didn't allow them to set them, they may have no idea what's appropriate and what's not.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. And that's such an important tool and that and them not apologizing as such an important tool as well to be able to do that, that is so helpful. I really appreciate you giving us that initial piece to do that work. Can you talk, so this is kind of taken a little bit to a side, but you were someone who was definitely an overachiever. You were voted by your peers as a US best doctor from 2009, 2018 and you worked really hard at all your goals and then it says on your website that you had this beautiful question that you found, what if life doesn't have to be that way? Because you reach to a point where you actually realized that you were not as happy as you could be. So, I love that question. What if life doesn't have to be this way? And I feel like a lot of our listeners, because it's The Grit Show because we've been through some things for everyone listening.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

What if life doesn't have to be this way? And how did you come to that question to that point where you could finally ask yourself and look at what you wanted to change?

Dr. Melissa [:

You know, I love your question. And I think I get really excited about the quality of questions we ask ourselves or ask other people because if you want a better answer, you need to ask a better question. Right? And so, often people will sit in ruminating questions like, why me? Or, you know, how did I allow this to happen? Which isn't really asking the question. It's more of a, like, how could I have been so stupid as to allow this to happen, right? But there's a lot of just wallowing and sort of figuratively beating oneself up for decisions that were made or getting into a situation. But when you can reframe the question to something that is solution focused, is open ended, is sitting in inspiration and possibility, like, what if this is possible? What if life doesn't have to be this way? Because I think a lot of people when they go through something big, and I think it's really common for narcissistic abuse survivors especially to think, you know, you do the things, you leave the relationships, you go through therapy, and then you're just always going to be a little bit broken, and it's just the way it is. And I just refuse to believe that.

Dr. Melissa [:

Like, what if it doesn't have to be that way? What if it is possible to trust myself again someday? What if it is possible to trust other people again someday? What if it is possible to feel like I have actually healed. What if it's possible to not feel like I have to prove myself? To not have to overachieve to prove my worth because my fear is that I'm not good enough. What if it's possible to just feel like I'm enough as I am, which doesn't mean I stop growing and evolving. Right? Because we all do, and that's fun. But when I shifted the question to those questions of possibility, all of a sudden, there are answers. Like, oh, maybe it is possible that I can learn to trust myself again. How would I go about doing that? And then I could find a way. You know? Maybe it is possible to learn to trust other people again. How would I go about doing that? And then discover a way and follow a path. And so, it shifted what became possible by holding the possibility within the question. It's like looking for a solution instead of the question that keeps you stuck in the problem.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

That is so beautiful, and it's amazing because the last episode of The Grit Show, number 79, was on finding better questions. So, it's almost like you were just set up for this conversation. This is beautiful. And there's a whole piece about this question sitting in possibility and in inspiration and this next phase. I just love this and it totally builds on what we were already talking about last week. So, this is just a beautiful segue into doing that because I think that makes such a difference. It also fits with my word of the year, which is believe, and believing that those things are possible. So, this is beautiful.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

It’s like you were meant to be here this week, Doctor Melissa, because you're just, like, feeding us all these themes. That is perfect. And so, you finally decided to start asking these questions and then it really made a shift for you, it sounds like, and led you to this incredible way of inspiring and helping and connecting to others as well.

Dr. Melissa [:

Absolutely. I was on the best doctors list the last 9 years or so in my practice. I retired from my medical practice in 2018 to focus on my business. But I had always really wanted to serve at the very highest level, and there was a lot of frustration on my part and my patients purged for things that didn't have solutions in Western medicine. I always use the example of some, you know, 40 something year old woman who comes in who's absolutely exhausted, and it's not like she's just a little sleepy and needs to go to bed early. She's, like, not enjoying her kids and not performing well at her job and not even wanting to go out with friends or do stuff on the weekend because she's exhausted. And it's not that she's depressed. She's just exhausted.

Dr. Melissa [:

And sitting in the doctor's office, you know, you check their thyroid and you make sure they're not anemic and you check their vitamin D level or something, and then you're, kind of like, I don't know, sleep more. And it was so dissatisfying to give someone that answer to see someone who is, like, debilitated by this exhaustion and have nothing else to offer. And I know that it was dissatisfying. I mean, they knew that I showed up for them and I was present and I did what I could, but it's dissatisfying to walk away without an answer. And so, some of that thought process or that question, like, what if it doesn't have to be this way, had started even before that. And when I started exploring then Eastern and energetic medicine, it was like, oh, wasn't that really interesting? There are things that you can do energetically or, you know, using this knowledge of meridians or chakras or the energetic system of the body to alleviate some of these symptoms that we can't in the traditional form. And so, I think that that experience also really fueled that, like, finding another way, refusing to accept that life was as good as it gets.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. Somebody, I can't remember if it was a guest or a friend, I talked to said, we have a sick care system. We don't have a health care system. We're looking for a sickness and a cure for that one sickness and not looking at how to get healthy and better and, like, be your optimal selves, that we just look for 1 diagnosis and one medicine, instead of looking at how can we overall be better and, like, yes, exhaustion isn't a sickness that we can just, you know, do this, that it's, like, we need to do this bigger picture looking at things. Isn't that so beautiful that you were able to transition and look at different solutions to be able to do that? So, with the work you do, like, you work with these amazing women that you can identify with who are able to typically pinpoint a specific narcissistic abuse situation they've worked through or is it just soul powered women that are, like, right powerhouses that are ready to move into these other places and this is just a shadow in their past or is it very specific that they're trying to get past narcissistic abuse?

Dr. Melissa [:

Yeah. So, it's really interesting because I think that people resonate with my work, so they come to me at all different stages along that journey. And I think some of what stands out about me is most people in the narcissistic abuse space either, A, don't know they never experienced it, so they're talking about it from a clinical perspective, but they don't get how subtle and crazy making it can be because they haven't lived it. And the other people are still angry or hurt or they're really processing their own stuff through what they're sharing.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes.

Dr. Melissa [:

And for someone who's, like, already done a lot of it, they don't really want to get wrapped up into what someone else is processing, they just kind of want to, you know, hear the truth, what they need to know, and move on. So, I have people who find me who are in early stages. They're still in the relationship. They're trying to learn and understand what's going on so they can figure out how they can get out and move on. But the people that I work with in my groups or my 1-on-1, we've got products, digital products that help people with all of that part. But the people I really love helping are the people who have already left. They've already done that heavy lifting with a therapist and an attorney, whatever they needed to do. They've already done that, and they realize most people think, and I know that it's just human nature to think like, oh, that was the hardest thing I ever did. I left. Good. Now that's done. Now I can just be normal, “normal” in quotes. Right? But the thing is the chance of them getting into a relationship with another narcissist is so high. I would say it's expected, not just possible. I'm shocked if it doesn't happen and they go through this series of, like, 1 relationship after the next.

Dr. Melissa [:

And by now, in therapy, they've learned how to set boundaries. They've learned how to identify red flags. So, they get stuck in this kind of Groundhog's Day where it's like, oh, wow. Here's this amazing new person who thinks I'm really awesome. We're really connecting. Maybe romantically, maybe a friend, maybe someone in their workplace, and they're, like, all in, and then, oh, there's red flags. I need to end this relationship, or I need to step back, or, you know, create some distance or whatever, and then it just happens again. And it's just like same story another day, over and over and over.

Dr. Melissa [:

And they get to a point where they realize I know that I got to a point where I was like, alright. There's, like, 100 people in this room. Why are all the narcissists coming to me? What is going on here, right? Like, why are they all coming to me? Because there's something that is yet to be revealed in my experience here. And when you get to that point or oftentimes, you know, that because they're soul driven, they've left the 9 to 5 or the w2 job that they had to start their own business or maybe a side hustle. They're writing a book or they're creating their own podcast or they're creating art and putting it out into the world or whatever they're doing, they start to realize that their confidence, their self esteem, their self worth, these things were more impacted by the narcissistic abuse in their past than they realized. And it's holding them back.

Dr. Melissa [:

Their self worth is tied up in their bank account. And did they really deserve to spend this money to invest into their business, or is that irresponsible and they really should just keep it in the bank? They start to have these questions where I always think entrepreneurship is, like, personal development on steroids.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. Yeah. I agree.

Dr. Melissa [:

So, they, you know, they're butting up against it all the time, and then they start to think, oh, I need to really go back and look at this. Like, I thought that was done. I thought I'd closed that chapter because they're not wallowers. They're not people who want to sit and just, you know, perseverate on the past. They're like future focused. Let's go. Let's make this happen. But they just keep hitting these walls because of that past. And then it's amazing how quickly things can shift, especially when someone wants it too.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. And so, coming to you and doing that work to kind of connect, and you really focus on this antifragile piece and really seeing that, really, what they've been through can become a superpower once it's processed and they can break that trauma bond and be able to move forward. So, is the trauma bond part of why it's hard for them to break away from that and there's that continued attraction, or is there other things that they need to work through?

Dr. Melissa [:

Yeah. The trauma bond is really a huge piece, and I find that most people think of the trauma bond as, you know, why it's hard to leave, and it's true. The trauma bond manifests in a variety of different forms. There's the not recognizing something as abuse while you're in it.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Dr. Melissa [:

People make excuses like, oh, it's not that bad or that wasn't nice, but it's not abuse.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Or I really did do this, and so there really was some reason why it happened. Yeah.

Dr. Melissa [:

Right. Or he or she didn't have the best upbringing or didn't have good role. There's just, like, a lot of excuse making to not identify it as abuse. Then once they identify it as abuse, it makes it really hard to leave. So, they say, you know, I know I need to go, but I, you know, love him or her so much. I can't leave. And then once they've left, it makes them want the relationship back. Even if, like, their mind knows, I can never go back. This wasn't good for me. Their emotional self is, like, longing for this relationship again. And I think of that as, like, if it were an iceberg, that's the part that's, like, above the surface. But the part that's below the surface that no one thinks about, everyone thinks about, like, I left the relationship, I got out, I'm done. The part that is below the surface is the part that is like the neon narcissist target flashing on your forehead attracting all of the new ones. Because the way the trauma bond was formed with the 1st or the 2nd or the 3rd or however, the 10th narcissist in your life, that is attracting in the new ones. You're just, like, primed and ready to be the target for the next one. So, shifting that is huge. And then part of what's revealed during the process of breaking it is what we really use as the springboard to create amazingness in every aspect of life.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. And so, that's, like, a really important part of that process and then making sure you get support with that because that's not something you can easily do on your own, it sounds like.

Dr. Melissa [:

Right. It's one of those things, like, it's very difficult to see for yourself. It's very easy for me to, on a call with someone most people, all people, have some sort of false core belief about themselves, things like I'm not good enough or I'm not lovable or I'm alone or I'm invisible or I'm too much, too crazy, too different, whatever. There's only 20 some of them. And sometimes the words themselves don't resonate because people who have an I'm alone identity don't necessarily feel alone, but they show up in the world that's hyper responsible. They're the ones that take on everything. They do it themselves. They never ask for help. If help is offered, they would see it as a sign of weakness for accepting help or as if they were inconveniencing the person to accept help, so they, in general, would not.

Dr. Melissa [:

So, they often will feel somewhat unsupported or, like, they just need to do everything for themselves. They wouldn't necessarily identify with the words of feeling alone, but doesn't they behave in a way by not asking for help, by taking on everything themselves that makes people continue to dump things on them, and they're sort of creating more evidence for this belief that they have in the 1st place. I had that one. I probably still have it to some degree, but I had it years ago to a large degree, and I always used to think, I had 5 kids. I'm single parenting. I'm like, and I had my kids. I had a 100% placement. I'm like, I am the busiest person in this room. Why am I getting this extra project? Like, this makes no sense to me.

Dr. Melissa [:

But no one ever knew that I was anywhere close to my breaking point or whatnot because I wouldn't ask for help or wouldn't reveal that. So, I created sort of the self-fulfilling prophecy around that belief. So, when those are revealed through my trauma bond breaking process which ones are active, it's great because I can point out to them which ones they are, because it's very difficult to see it yourself. It's kind of like knowing that a friend's relationship that she's in is not good. This is not a good fit. But if it were you, you can't see it yourself. It's, like, so obvious for other people, but harder to see in yourself. So, I think that work is really hard to do on your own.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. You need that outside perspective to see the bigger picture because you're up so close to it, you can't see all the pieces that are around. So, it's very helpful to have help in that work. So, that's a lot of what you end up working on through your process then.

Dr. Melissa [:

We do a lot of that. Yeah. And helping people, you know, shore up even things like boundaries. I think boundaries are interesting because a lot of people come out and they're like, oh, I've got really solid boundaries now, and I'm not taking any more of this or whatever. But then you're like, okay. So, you have an early morning meeting, and you know you perform best if you get 8 hours of sleep. Did you actually go to bed on time, or did you stay up watching another episode of whatever on Netflix?

Shawna Rodrigues [:

What? Do people do that? Oh, that's boundaries? Oops. Yeah.

Dr. Melissa [:

So, it's like not honoring your boundary with yourself. If I don't believe that I deserve to get good quality sleep, why can I expect someone else to believe I deserve to be treated well? If I don't drink enough water and let myself get dehydrated or whatever it is. Oftentimes, I find people in business, they'll let their calls run long. Say, your call is supposed to be an hour or half an hour, whatever it is. They let it run long at their inconvenience because they don't want the inconvenience to the other person. So, they're people pleasing the other person by letting the call run long, and now they don't have time to go to the bathroom or eat or just clear their head or go for a quick walk around the block or whatever it is that they needed to do in between. So, if you don't treat yourself like you deserve these things, you cannot possibly expect someone else to treat you like that. So, a lot of it is this very working in the subtle of the people pleasing, the boundary setting, then breaking the trauma bond and then rewriting those subconscious scripts because, well, they're flat out wrong, the I'm not good enough thing. I mean, everyone has it, but it's a pile of crap. It's just not true.

Dr. Melissa [:

So, rewriting that message that's in the subconscious so that the pattern that you create going forward is different than the pattern you've had in the past. That's the body of the work.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Doctor Melissa, you are fabulous. I hope you know this, but I'm telling you you're fabulous because I'm even listening to you going, oh, yeah. Because I have somebody in my life who doesn't value their time and I see them get frustrated when people make demands on them that they say yes to and they don't value their time, and I'm over here looking at them going, oh, that person doesn't value their time. And, yeah. I'm that person that doesn't go to bed when I'm supposed to go to bed, and I'm that person that was doing a training yesterday that I let it run 10 minutes over. I did the thing of, like, well, I have to leave by this time, but so I can go 10 minutes over, and I went 10 minutes over in a meeting yesterday because it was a really good meeting, but still I went 10 minutes over in a meeting yesterday. So, this is really valuable because even I, as much as it's really easy to see the speck in somebody else's eye when there's a plank sticking out of mind. You know?

Shawna Rodrigues [:

So, this is valuable for me even to see those places with boundaries that, you know? We think of the big things in the subtle is where we need to start. Like, those little exercises, you know, we need to start doing for ourselves to start working on those things. So, this is so valuable for, I think, everyone listening as well as people that are looking at this specific area as something that you need to do that, you're offering us gold here. So, thank you so much for sharing that, Doctor Melissa. And you've written a number of tools for folks to use that are possibly more in the thick of things, but are some of those things more open for other folks? Because you have, like, a series of books you have. Correct?

Dr. Melissa [:

Yeah. And those were written before I started focusing on narcissistic abuse. So, they were written actually around that time that I was exiting my medical practice, and they were meant to solve some of the problems that people had that they weren't finding answers for. Things like fatigue or insomnia or stress and anxiety or overwhelm, releasing physical symptoms. I mean, I think physical symptoms, physical, mental, emotional, any kind of symptom is awesome when you realize it's a message from your body about where you're out of alignment with your soul?

Shawna Rodrigues [:

You're amazing, Doctor Melissa. You resonate. I love this. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Dr. Melissa [:

When you realize it's a message, not only does that make the symptom go away often or make it less, but you're also getting the wisdom of the message. It's just huge. So, I really enjoyed writing those books and putting them out there for really, anyone to be able to access, to work through those kinds of things on their own. Because I think there is a lot of frustration with, you know, especially going in and don't get me wrong. I think Western medicine, traditional medicine is awesome. And if I had something that needed it, I would totally be there. And there are certain things that they just don't handle. But the answer doesn't have to be to live with it.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

No. That's amazing. This is so incredible. You've given us so much valuable information. This has been so, so helpful. And so, as we get to the point that we do need to kind of wind things up, I would love for us to transition to talk about what we do every episode on self maintenance, what a lot of people call self care. So, can you share with our audience what you do to take care of yourself on a regular basis?

Dr. Melissa [:

Oh, yeah. You know, I love self-care. I've got a lot of practices, but one of my favorites, I used a habit stacking technique to combine a bunch at once. So, every morning, I walk on the treadmill while I read an inspirational book. So, I walk at a slow enough speed that I can read. This killed 3 birds with 1 stone. I guess that's maybe violent imagery because it's not.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

2 pies in 1 oven. That's what I say now. It’s 2 pies in 1 oven.

Dr. Melissa [:

There we go.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

2 pies in 1 oven. Yes.

Dr. Melissa [:

So, this was 3 pies in 1 oven because I sat down. I wanted to get my steps to 10,000. I wanted to do more reading of nonfiction, you know, personal development kind of content, and I wanted to drink more water. So, starting this practice of walking for 30 minutes, not only, you know, am I able get my steps in, but I found that my reading time has actually doubled because I'm so focused on what I'm doing. So, I read books faster now. Now I can get through 1 or 2 in a week. And then because I'm walking, every time I get to the top of the right page, I drink water.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. You got to have this habit of stacking down, the little triggers to make you do that. That's brilliant.

Dr. Melissa [:

So, I have an extra 32 ounces of water, I have an extra 3,000 or so steps, and I have an extra however many pages in the book I'm reading done.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

I love it. That is wonderful. That is a unique one. I love when we get new unique ways that people are integrating ways to take care of themselves. That's beautiful. And so, for those of us listening today, you've offered us lots of great little nuggets and bits of information, but what should we offer our listeners as a takeaway, something they should, like, take into their life and apply and be able to utilize.

Dr. Melissa [:

You mentioned that last week you talked about the asking a better question and or about asking good questions. And I think that using that and then finding the quality resources that help you answer the questions really applies to anyone. The other thing really is just sitting with the open mindedness that even if it's not you, that someone you know most likely has experienced narcissistic abuse, and the way that they're responding to something may be a direct result of that.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Can we talk a little bit about that? Because you do have a little bit more time. Can we talk about how you would know if somebody's response might be because of narcissistic abuse and how to be able to be like, she's just acting strange or he's just acting weird, to be like, I wonder if there's, like, something more going on there and how to be supportive if there might be something more going on there. Can we touch on that maybe?

Dr. Melissa [:

Yeah. Absolutely. So, you know, if someone was in an existing narcissistic abuse relationship, you’re going to notice the red flags yourself. The things that they say that make you cringe, like, oh, why are you still with this person? Why are you there? The things that either make you feel badly for them or judgmental of them, like, why in the heck are you still there? So that might be someone who needs some support and maybe some free resources to start looking like, have you heard of this? It's amazing. People often don't want to share that. They don't want to say something because they don't want the person to get mad. But a lot of people come to me, the first they ever heard about narcissistic abuse was when a sister, a friend, a coworker, someone pointed it out to them. They were not really aware.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Oh, so it is valuable to share that with them then.

Dr. Melissa [:

So that happens often. And then the other thing is having in mind whether they had a narcissistic relationship or not or whether it was just a toxic person or they developed one of these dysfunctional stories about themselves because of some emotional trauma or the way they interpreted something in the past, when you get a really strong reaction, a triggered response or triggered reaction to something that's really out of bounds, or it really just doesn't fit. Like, you just asked for whatever and they jumped all over you or snapped at you or, you know, went off on you about something or went off crying or whatever, that's going to be a really big clue that there's some sort of beliefs that they have about themselves that you just kicked up accidentally and unintentionally. And it doesn't mean that you did anything wrong. But to be aware, like, there's something going on there, and maybe you can help direct them to resources to help work through that a little bit.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. So, beware of when you're hitting something that it's not you, that you're hitting on something that they may need a little bit more support around. That's very valuable. And if you have somebody who's then left that relationship and is someone, you're talking about that's, like, on the other side of that, what's a good way to be supportive of them in that journey then, just listen and be aware and make sure that they have the resources they need in that space as well?

Dr. Melissa [:

Yeah. I think especially if they've freshly left or if they're in the process of leaving, if they're sharing things with you, in general, they don't feel seen or heard by anyone, it's for good reason. Because in those relationships, the narcissist is projecting all kinds of stuff at them. You're controlling. You're jealous. You're insecure. You're whatever. Things that they may not be, but it's being thrown at them by someone they love, and they're taking it and internalizing it. So, they're not heard there. You know, they might say, it really upsets me when you cheat on me, and, well, I wouldn't have to cheat on you if you did blah, blah, blah, you know, whatever, and then they're internalizing that they're a bad person. But the other thing is because narcissistic abuse is often so subtle, they often don't recognize that they were being sabotaged, that when their partner accidentally deleted their work calendar or “accidentally”, in quotes, for your listeners, right? Or when their partner accidentally ruined their favorite sweater in the wash or accidentally broke their favorite bowl or whatever, that these things were not accidents. That this was all part of devaluating them.

Dr. Melissa [:

And when they start explaining to people things that people have done, the stories seem so unbelievable, the victim or survivor has often not believed, that that their partner actually hides their slippers to watch them look for them or hides their car keys to watch them run around looking like they're crazy because they need to leave and they can't find their car keys or I mean, extreme stories, breaking their ankle so that they don't have to move out. They tell people these stories and then people are like, what? Really? Like, there's no way that that happens. Right? And I always encourage people to discern the truth. Use all the evidence they have available. If they need to find more, find more. Not just believing stories that face value, but really, really listening and being present with someone who's going through that is huge. If they're already past that point, in that phase of attracting the new narcissist, saying, you know, I wonder if maybe you want to explore this trauma bond thing a little further because you're, like, super awesome, and you deserve someone better than the people that are finding you.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. The people that are finding you. That's a beautiful way to say it. I love that wording. That is fabulous. You have been so wonderful. What is the best way for people to connect with you online? Because I know I find you on Instagram, so I know it's one way.

Dr. Melissa [:

Yes. I am on all the platforms, I think, except TikTok, as Melissa Kalt, MD. So, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

All of the above. I will have all of it in the show notes so folks can find you. That is brilliant. Thank you so much for being here today and talking with us. I know that I personally took some good things around boundaries for myself and to recognize when I need to give myself better boundaries and take care of myself. And if I honor myself, others will honor me as well. So, thank you so much for being here today, Doctor Melissa.

Dr. Melissa [:

Thank you. This was wonderful.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Thank you for joining us today. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to jump on over to Instagram and follow us at The.Grit.Show. And if you aren't already following Authentic Connections Podcast Network at 37by27, you should definitely be doing that as well. Don't forget. You are the only one of you that this world has got, and that means something. I'll be here next Tuesday. I hope you are, too.

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THE GRIT SHOW
Growth on Purpose
Are you a giver and a doer? Are you someone who has shown your grit and powered through, and now you're ready for the other side? Now you re looking for the conversations that remind you about self-care, that bring to mind grace and understanding, and give you space to reflect on purpose. Do you want more room to breathe and to live life with a little more ease? Each week, we discover tools and ways of thinking that support alignment, build stronger connections, help us find better questions, and live our best life. Most weeks we laugh, some weeks the topics touch close to home, but ultimately; this is where we grow together as seekers and thrivers. The Grit Show - growth on purpose. https://podcast.TheGritShow.com
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About your host

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Shawna Rodrigues

Shawna Rodrigues, Founder and Director of Impact at Authentic Connections Podcast Network, Host of The Grit Show (https://podcast.thegritshow.com) and Author Express (https://bit.ly/AuthorExpressPod) and coming in 2024- Authenticity Amplified. Shawna is a Podcast Mentor, Internationally Best-Selling Author (www.shawnarodrigues.com) and consultant.
Find her on Instagram @ShawnaPodcasts.