top of page
Podcast Transcript

Healing From Betrayal

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:10  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path To Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark, where we believe there's a better way to be a woman today. With research tools, books and our own personal experiences, join us on this journey because in every episode we uncover what it actually takes to be a powerful leader in our organizations, our communities and our lives. Marsha, welcome back again!

Marsha Clark  0:42  
Yes. That's right. Here we are one more time.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:46  
Here we are again.

Marsha Clark  0:48  
Thank you very much, Wendi. And I have enjoyed, and today we're going to do the third in a series of podcasts on the Trust Betrayal and now we're going to talk about the healing component of that. And we've had our conversation with Dr. Dennis Reina and the work that he and his wife and colleague, Michelle, Dr. Michelle Reina have done. And we've done deeper dives into the topic of betrayal. And the tool that we're going to share in a big way today is the Seven Steps for Healing. And I think, you know, we're also going to share a little bit of information from Dr. Fred Luskin who heads up a program called The Forgiveness Project. So we've got, again, some really meaty topics today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:31  
Absolutely. The Forgiveness Project, ooh I'm really looking forward to that. So before we jump in to today's topic of Healing From Betrayal, I'm wondering if our listeners would benefit from a quick review of the other two topics just in case they haven't had a chance to tune in to the other two podcast episodes.

Marsha Clark  1:52  
Yes. So we have been partnering with doctors Dennis and Michelle Reina since I began the Power of Self Program 20 plus years ago. We looked around for some of the best work on trust and their work stood out head and shoulders above everything else that we found. So we've kept up that search, you know, to see if there's something better out there, and their work is solid. They are in their third edition of "Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace", their book, with a whole host and suite of tools that people can use to learn more about trust. And so you think about the first model, it's the Trust Model, which categorizes trust into three initial categories, the trust of character, the second category is the trust of communication, and the third category is the trust of competence. And below each one of those are bulleted definitions and behaviors that help you to build or reinforce the trust of character, communication and competence. So that was the first piece on the trust that we discussed. And you can go back to our interview with Dr. Reina to learn more about that. And then the second thing that we talked about was the Betrayal Continuum, where you categorize betrayals, breaks of trust, breaches of trust, into major and minor categories, and within each of those, then into intentional and unintentional. So you can see that some of the strength of what the Reinas have done other than studying it for 25 years in lots of organizations around the world, is that they help us to break down this big topic called trust in ways that we can begin to understand, what makes up the building of trust, how we think about and process the breaking of trust. And then today, we're going to introduce you to their third tool in their material in their research. And that's going to be the Seven Steps for Healing.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:56  
Okay, so I'm remembering one of the key messages from that episode on the Betrayal Continuum was that sometimes doing that sorting exercise can be the really the first step towards healing. And that kind of brings us to our episode today.

Marsha Clark  4:13  
Yes, absolutely. So part of the work a person can do toward healing from betrayal is to unpack it, you know, sort of take it out a piece of clothing out of the luggage one piece at a time and unpacking it, or sorting out what happened. And so what were the specific behaviors the other person displayed that felt like a betrayal. And then that sorting process using the betrayal continuum is the starting point or the launch point for the seven steps.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:40  
Right. So in your book, "Embracing Your Power", you introduce your readers to two different models for healing from betrayal. One is from the doctors Reina and the other is from Dr. Luskin, as you mentioned earlier, and I find both of them pretty powerful whenever I have to work through some healing, forgiveness, you know those types of emotions and feelings. Let's explore both of those today and give our listeners a chance to walk through those models as they start thinking about how to heal from betrayal.

Marsha Clark  5:17  
Yeah, I'm going to start with the Reinas' Seven Step Model because the sixth step in that seven steps is about forgiveness. And that's where I'll talk about Dr. Luskin's work.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:27  
Okay, great.

Marsha Clark  5:29  
So, um, it's going to take some imagination here, unless you have the book in front of you to visualize the graphic model or cognitive framework that we're going to be using. So basically, the Reinas' model, as I mentioned, is a Seven Steps for Healing. And it's in the shape of a spiral. So again, you know, I use clock faces as my reference points on this. So think about starting at the three o'clock point on the clock face. And that's where the first step is going to take us through. And the first steps we're going to talk about there is, you know more about the diagnosis of what happened. So our capacity to be able to trust serves as a barometer. And you know, of course, everything starts with the capacity for trust. So we're going to, that's going to be sort of the central theme that we talk about, and then working through those seven steps.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:33  
Okay. Okay. So our capacity for trust is really at the core of our ability to heal from betrayal. Is that what I'm hearing?

Marsha Clark  6:44  
Yes. So if you talk to the Reinas, they're gonna say at the center of the trust model is our capacity to trust. At the center of the betrayal continuum is our capacity to trust. Okay. So that is the central and, you know, some of us are optimistic, some of us are pessimistic and that sort of thing. So, with every step that you go through the healing process, what you'll notice in their graphic model is our capacity for trust increases. So that what a great gift that is just to work through these seven steps.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:14  
And again, just as a reminder, how or where do we develop this capacity for trust?

Marsha Clark  7:21  
Yeah, it starts in the very early years of our lives. And as infants as babies, we have fully relied on our caregivers to provide us with the essentials of survival, you know, the food, warmth, affection, protection, hygiene, and so on. And so that's where our capacity to trust others starts. Can I trust you to feed me when I'm hungry? Can I trust you to change me when I'm wet? And when, you know, we have missing aspects repeatedly in in that the caregivers tending to our needs, that's where we might start at that zero point or that 100 point in being able to think about our capacity to trust others. And I know the first time I read that, I looked back, my son was an adult by that time, and I went, oh my gosh.  If I had only known what impact I as a parent was having on, you know, my child's ability to create and have the capacity to trust themselves and others. So it's, you know, trust is a complex topic. It's something that comes in and out and weaves throughout our lifetimes. And so our ability to understand all of these aspects, and that root of where it comes from, is critically important. It doesn't mean we have to stay in that place. It just means I understand that's my starting point.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:44  
Right. Well, just from a personal anecdote, very quickly, I mean, I think that's why I'm a person who tends to be at that 100 mark. Like, I give people my trust implicitly from the start and then they have to start showing me, giving me behaviors, telling me things that whittle that number down. And I would 100% credit that with my parents and the fact that I had and still have infinite amount of trust in them.

Marsha Clark  9:13  
Right. That is a perfect example of where we show up in one place or another. And, you know, the other thing I would say, Wendi, is that when I get really conscious and aware about this and understand, I understand what baggage I'm carrying around, right? Because I'm one of those 100 as well. And I've been called naive. I've been called Pollyanna.  I've been called rose-colored glasses.  And I'll take it every time.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:46  
Yes. Yep, it's a gift.

Marsha Clark  9:50  
It's worked for me so many more times than against me.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:53  
Right. So then our quote, "capacity for trust" is at the center of the Reina healing model and there's a spiral out from there. Describe for us what's in that spiral.

Marsha Clark  10:06  
Yeah, that's where I was talking about at the three o'clock mark is where step one of the seven steps starts. And in each step, and this is really important, we have to work each one of these steps. It doesn't mean we have to spend days and weeks and hours and months on each one of them. And yet, we can't skip them. So no shortcuts. And, you know, we can often go to the we're really good at 1) acknowledging it,  2) you know, I'm ticked off about it, and then get over it kind of thing. So, but we're gonna, it's not a you know, dip your toe in it even if you only spend a little bit of time, we're going to talk about working through each step.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:45  
Yes, I remember very clearly this model how much I wanted to jump past a step or two thinking that they weren't that relevant or important to the betrayal situation as I was thinking about it. Or it was too painful. I just like wanted to push that away. And you know, it was that spot exactly that I really had to double back and spend more time on. You're right, there really aren't any skips on this.

Marsha Clark  11:15  
Yeah. And I remember early on when I was teaching this model, it was a co-ed class, and there was a gentleman in there. And I had known him pretty well, because he had been in a client system that I'd worked in for a long time. And he said, Yeah, I just do one and seven, you know, yeah, you screwed me. Yep. And I also want you to know that he was described as a person who was difficult to work with. So, I mean, this idea of I'll just let it build up inside of me. And so that's why we're saying we've got to work each step. And even though it may be a minor betrayal, I still want to acknowledge what each step represents for me and make a deliberate choice about what it means to make going forward.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:59  
Right. No skipping, and it's reminding me of the children's game Chutes and Ladders where you can skip steps by hitting a ladder.

Marsha Clark  12:08  
And then what happens when you hit a chute? You fall right back where you were. So this idea of if I try to skip steps, four, five and six then I get myself to seven and I go, this isn't working. And so I gotta go back to four anyway. So I might as well work it, right?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:22  
Exactly. So let's break down the model and spend a little time on each step.

Marsha Clark  12:28  
Well, as always, I'm going to give you a picture of the full model, and then we'll go back and look at each step specifically. So the first step is Observe and Acknowledge What Has Happened. And this gets back to who was it? What did they mean to me? You know, what specific behaviors did they display.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:51  
The court reporter.

Marsha Clark  12:52  
The court reporter, the act of reporting. So then the second step is allow feelings to surface. And you know, for us as women, we're often told we're too emotional, or that, you know, we're too sensitive, or we take everything personally. The fact that we can acknowledge our feelings is an important part of the healing process. So rather than others suggesting or dictating that we just get over it, you know, kind of thing, thus denying our feelings, we learn to stuff those and when we stuff them, then they come out ugly. So this idea of being able to acknowledge our feelings, and to name our feelings is really important, because now it gets it out of me rather than building up in me. You know, it's the ole teapot where the steam builds up and pretty soon it you know, blows, and we don't want that to happen inside of us. So if I can acknowledge it, name it, get it out of me, then I'm not letting that build up. And then the third step is get support. So we'll talk about all the different ways that we can get support. And these things are really that they're clustered together in the three because they're really about acknowledging, naming and recognizing what needs to happen. And then step four is reframing the experience. So we've made up a story about it, that sort of thing, we're going to talk about what else could be true. And five is take responsibility. You know, it takes two to tango, right? So there's, there's two sides to this story. So let's  figure out what my part in it is. And then step six is forgiving ourselves and others and this is where we'll go into some of Dr. Luskin's work and it's two parts, right, forgiving self and forgiving others. And then, and then can we let go and move on?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:51  
I think most people are great at step number one, step number two, and then they go straight to step number seven because step number two, by allowing the feelings to surface then either makes me decide whether I'm going to let it go and move on or if I'm going to cut those people out of my life, etc., etc.

Marsha Clark  15:10  
That's right. That's right. It's a venting session.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:13  

Marsha Clark  15:14  
You know, I often call them BMWs. I don't know. And I'm sorry, I don't mean to offend anybody with this language. But a BMW is a bitch, moan and whine session, right. Oh yeah. And that's what that venting can do. And again, go there just don't live there.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:29  
Right. Right. So that explains so much. I mean, people don't actually let it go. Most people don't. And I feel like they carry around these unhealed wounds with them. Like it's just so much baggage.

Marsha Clark  15:44  
It is. The word baggage comes up often. And so much to unbundle with all of that. So you and I have a colleague, Tracie Shipman, who talks about how so many of us who are leading teams of people are leading the walking wounded. You know, and I mean, just the imagery that that conjures up, and, and they, you know, show up in the workplace with all kinds of stories and experiences going back to everybody's got a story, right. And, you know, it has nothing to do with us as their leaders. We're just a part of the bigger story that they're crafting and writing every single day. And but as caring leaders who really want to support our teams, and develop our teams, and relate to our teams and bring out the best in our teams, we recognize that we don't know what this person's coming in with their story. And can I be compassionate? Can I have empathy? Can I offer grace and loving support to them. And as leaders, that's where I think women in particular have a much stronger aptitude to be able to do that, to see it for what it is and recognize that there's wounds that are there that are deep.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:05  
Right. Now, I know that you break down each of these seven steps for healing in your book in chapter five. But would you go ahead and offer a quick explanation of each one of these for our listeners here today?

Marsha Clark  17:20  
Yeah. So again, starting back with step one, which is Observe and Acknowledge What Has Happened. And going back to that court reporting, just being able to get to write it down, see the words on the page, and be able to connect and relate to that, and remove ourselves from the situation. It's like we're sitting on our shoulder watching what we're doing and being able to describe it as dispassionately as we possibly can, who was involved, what was said. And get it as verbatim as you can, because we know that, you know, a person can say XY and Z, and we've heard j, q and r. Yes, and then look at what the meaningfulness of that relationship was. And then once we get this unemotional accounting of what happened on paper, only then can we move to step two and explore the feelings that were connected to the event both at the time that it happened and for some people, when they're doing this work, they look at something that happened yesterday, or they can look at something that happened several years ago. And so it isn't about judging our feelings or suppressing our feelings no matter how uncomfortable they make us, and that's why so many people just skip to seven because it's too hard and painful to stay in our feelings. We've got to get clear about that. And we have to allow ourselves to feel what we feel. You know, there's a Rumi quote that says "The cure for the pain is in the pain". And you can't work over, under or around it. You gotta work through it. And that's what this feeling, you know, letting your feelings surface is all about.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:04  
So in the book, you talk about helping people get in touch with their feelings, because it's not always natural or comfortable for everyone, obviously.

Marsha Clark  19:14  
Right. I remember in one of our early programs we were doing the Myers Briggs Type Indicator tests and that one of the things it talks about is whether you're a thinker or a feeler in how you make decisions. And so we had a woman who was a big thinker. She was an engineer, she was a Harvard and MIT graduate, all that kind of stuff. And she's like, I don't know how to name my feelings. Well, I think that blah, blah, blah, blah. I think that blah, blah. Okay, those are thoughts, they're not feelings, right? So what we did at that point was to go out and find a list of feeling words.  And it's just a page with columns of words that help you describe your feelings. Now, you know, the five major, you know, feeling categories are happy, mad, sad, glad, you know that kind of thing. So right, we get into all of that. So it's been fascinating to me to share this list because  the feelers in the room are like, what? You don't know how to name your feelings, because it was so natural for them. But I had a woman come back to me years later and say I carry that feelings word list with me everywhere, because when I come out of a meeting I then kind of check it and say, where am I and I find the word that helps me describe it. And it's allowed me to get in touch with those feelings and not just stuff them, deny them, or be totally blind to them because they're operating within me.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:40  
Right. And you included this list in your book, right?

Marsha Clark  20:43  
We did because it has seen such value. It's in the appendix of the book.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:48  
Sure. Well, I'm a feeler. But I think even if you're a listener and you know you're a feeler, even having this list of words helps you nuance your feelings. Because happy to me, is like a big bucket of I don't know what. Yeah, it's happy but is it specific? And is it because I'm surprised and therefore happy? Or, you know, there's so many other layers to words, and I love that you've included the list in your book.

Marsha Clark  21:19  
Yeah, I think that nuance in distinction, I agree with you. Good stuff.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:22  
Yeah. So we left off at step two, Allowing Feelings to Surface, then step three is Get Support.

Marsha Clark  21:30  
Yes, and for those of our listeners who tuned in for the Dennis Reina interview, he used this step three as a turning point in the model.  The spiral, you know, as I say, it started at three, well step three is down here at about six o'clock. And they put it there very intentionally. So get support is the turning point where you go from pure venting to actually seeking out someone who can support you in your healing process. And it might be a professional support, such as a therapist, a counselor, a coach.  It could be through some sort of group program process, and it might be through a community of people who have worked through the same types of betrayals. You know we all have our tribe, our circle, you know, and that might be a part of the support system. Or it could just be a really good friend that you know is a good listener, a family member who's going to listen and support you unconditionally and who is also committed to helping you heal, so not just allowing you to spin and swirl and hit that downward spiral and just, you know, wallow in it and really there to help you move on to the next level of the healing process.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:47  
Right. And I really love that in the book you talk about and you added journaling as a solid option for this step also.

Marsha Clark  22:56  
Yeah, as I begin to really explore and discover more about this work and just about the human condition  and coaching and so on, I think any process that helps you get those thoughts and feelings out, and not just festering, is a really good option. And as I've looked at this, people have done everything from art therapy, right, you know cloud journaling, to the physical aspect of running or working out because, even instead of a handwriting and a, you know, a journal and agonizing about that. I've had people tell me they got their laptop out and they just bang the dickens out of those keys because that was a part of the getting it out process. So there are just as many ways to get support as there are people. Sometimes it's a combination of, you know, all of the above.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:48  
Exactly. And I can see where getting support from another person can be a huge help with step number four, to Reframe the Experience, you know that idea that we aren't always objective especially when we've been betrayed because there's so many emotions involved. So that support of that trusted friend or professional might be exactly what you need to be able to see what else is possible.

Marsha Clark  24:15  
Well, and I'll tell you my language for this, Wendi, and you've heard me say it, is even though I teach this and I know a lot about it, when I'm in it, I'm in it. When there's been a breakdown or when there's been a betrayal I mean, I it's hard to step back and give it that court reporter view. So I think that's a part of the reason we need to get support. And then, you know depending on the severity of the betrayal, or just you know, how self aware we are, we might be able to honestly explore the curiosity questions that come with the reframing and asking what else could be possible or what might be true. We do that ourselves, but it's a lot to ask for anyone that's hurting. So whether it's me asking someone for help, or someone asking me for help, I mean, I want to be there for that person. So it usually takes that helping hand to kind of pull us out of that downward spiral that we can find ourselves getting into. And I want to share with our listeners what I describe as my go-to reframing. I always start with this set of questions. And the first one is, what am I supposed to learn from this, right? So I'm a person who believes that no matter whether it's good or bad, or you know, easy or hard or painful or joyful, it happens for a reason. And so why has this been put in my life at this moment? Right? What am I supposed to learn from this? So it goes back to my lifelong learner, you know, mindset. And I also want to be really clear that as we're reframing and thinking about this, it isn't sugarcoating it. I'm not trying to make it better or worse than it is, right? So we can embellish with, oh it really wasn't that bad, or oh they didn't really mean to, or oh I'm sure it was an oversight. But we can also say, they done me wrong, they did it intentionally, they're sabotaging me, they're sabotaging my career, they're just trying to hurt my feelings. So you know, we just want to be factual about it. And in the reframing, asking ourselves what else could be possible. And it's being willing to consider the bigger picture and view the situation in a bigger context.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  26:32  
Exactly. And that perspective definitely helps with step number five, doesn't it?

Marsha Clark  26:36  
It's a natural lead in. That's exactly right. So it's about Taking Responsibility, and I'm going to add the words, for my part or my role in it. And so I also want to it's not about victim blaming, and I want to be, you know, really, really clear on that. What it is about is stepping up in a mature, I gotta not be a child about this, authentic way and being willing to explore the role that I played in creating what has happened. And and I think that this becomes particularly clear when it's a pattern of these kinds of betrayals. Because what's the common theme? Oh, it's me. Hmm. Right. So was I clear in my expectations, whether it be about deadlines or budgets, or, you know, deliverables or whatever it may be? Or did I relax my boundaries or rules? And so one person saw that as give them an inch, they'll take a mile, right? So it's a slippery slope. And so did I not hold on to the boundary that I set, if I even set one to begin with. And, you know, again, there's two sides to every story. So I've got to see what they did. But what did I do that may have contributed to that. So what I found in working with my clients is that when they start mapping out some of the betrayals, they may discover some patterns or trends. And they recognize that whether it's the same person who's always taking advantage of them, or I find myself in this situation when it comes to holiday dinners, you know, some of that kind of stuff, you know, that I'm a part of creating. I'll have it at my house, I'll do all the work, I'll clean up, I'll prepare before, I'll clean up after and I don't get to visit with my family. And then I get mad at them saying that they didn't, you know, help me when I never asked them to help me or I never set that expectation. And so I think those are things that we have to examine as well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:33  
Exactly. I think your point earlier about this not becoming victim blaming is really crucial, because that's not what this step is asking for.

Marsha Clark  28:44  
No, it's really not. It's about accepting, taking, naming my responsibility. And it's about taking legitimate responsibility for my behaviors that may have contributed to the situation. And again I want to be really, really clear here. We, especially as women or people of color, or children, or anyone who is suffering from some form of abusive bullying behavior, I'm not saying you take your part in it. This is so much more about the other person than it is about you. And you know, I especially think about children who don't have the language to talk about it, especially when they've been violated or abused by someone that they love. It's confusing, but their brains don't know how to process that. So I'm not suggesting that any responsibility be taken in those particular situations. And I just would also say to our listeners, if you're finding yourself in one of those scenarios, get support. I'm going to take you back to step three. Whether it be domestic abuse support, whether it be bullying at school support, whether it be whatever those things might be, there are places that can help you. And if you need to know who those are or where you can find them, let us know that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:07  
Absolutely. That's such an important distinction because someone who's in that situation can go through all of these steps till the end of time and nothing will change. That's right, because it's not their fault.

Marsha Clark  30:21  
Well, and often the perpetrator manipulates them to make them think it's their fault, right? And that's a downward spiral too, that you start believing that it's your fault even when it's not. So that's the part we want to really be clear about.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:36  
Exactly. So now I think we've come to the hardest step in this whole model, step number six, which is Forgiving Yourself and Others.

Marsha Clark  30:46  
Yeah, I can't begin to tell you. You know, there's a book title that I love by Desmond Tutu. And if you recognize his name, he was one of the key players in the South African apartheid movement with Nelson Mandela. And his book title was "No Future Without Forgiveness". And so how can we ever begin to think about not just repairing a relationship that may have been broken, but even establishing new relationships if we don't understand and have the capacity to forgive? And so what I often ask the classes and my clients, what's harder for you, to forgive others or to forgive yourself? And then 99 times out of 100 cases, it's harder to forgive ourselves. And you know, we can do a whole multi series podcast on that kind of thing. But this idea of by holding on to this betrayal, I'm really hurting myself.  As you said, it's the luggage and baggage that we're carrying around when the other person may not even be aware of what they've done to us because we haven't spoken up about it, which goes back to even on the taking responsibility. Perhaps my part is I never told you what my upfront expectations were much less came back and gave you feedback that you weren't meeting them and that what you were doing was, I'm considering it a betrayal. So I want to tell a story here about an early program that we were running in the Power of Self Program. There were 18 women in this particular class. And we used to put these big charts up on the wall, where it was the betrayal continuum of personal, professional and major, minor, intentional, unintentional, and women would write down what the betrayals had been in their lives. And then, if other people had had that same betrayal, they would just put a checkmark by that one. So we had one that was a major, intentional, that was my spouse or partner cheated on me. And out of 18 women, there were 13 checkmarks beside that. Well, that in and of itself kind of blew me away, because it was still fairly early in the work that we were doing and I'd never seen that before. And so as you can imagine, part of what we do in our classes is, okay there's energy here, let's go explore this. We're going to kind of put the agenda to the side, and we're going to go where this energy is taking us. And we broke into small groups and we talked about what what's really going on here. And we worked through the seven steps of healing. And, you know, sort of long story short, what netted out from this is women had started with a new belief that I can never trust men again. I've been divorced for 13 years and I haven't dated since then. Or, you know, it was five years before I could look another man in the eye and even consider or you know, another partner in the eye, and even consider entering into a relationship with that person. So that's where it started. Then as they unpacked it, unpacked it, unpacked it, where many of them not all of them, but where many of them came to was, what I really don't trust is my ability to choose a partner that won't cheat on me. So just get that. Now. Let's also acknowledge that women feel guilty about everything, right and we all and when something goes wrong, we point inward. So we think it's quote unquote, "our fault". So it's real easy for us to fall into that trap. But getting to the real nugget of what I don't trust anymore, is so critical in the healing process. Do I not trust others to be my partner or do I not trust me to know how to choose a good partner. And you know, as I say, we could spend a lot of time on that, and yet, I just want to introduce that as a possibility to our listeners to say, where do you need to go with that? What support might you need to work your way through that if you think there's something in it for you?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:14  
I think you're going to get a lot of comments and feedback and reaching out just from that story. You do a lot in the book to help with the forgiving of others. In fact, speaking of powerful, you have another really powerful quote in there about forgiveness.

Marsha Clark  35:33  
Yeah, you know, there are lots of good quotes on forgiveness I have to tell you that, so we literally list several of them in the workbook materials and let people read them and we talk about them. So this particular one, though, I think is really encompassing and it's by Jonathan Lockwood Huie. And what he says is, "Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace". And so that's, you know I get I get chills even saying that. Yes, it's the gift I give myself. And that's not how we usually think about forgiveness, right? I'm giving you a gift by forgiving you for doing me wrong. No, I'm giving myself a gift, you know, regarding the forgiveness, because it's unloading that baggage that I'm carrying around that gets pretty doggone heavy after a while.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  36:30  
Right, exactly. So this reminds me also of the list from Dr. Luskin that you include in the book about the nine steps to forgiveness. Doesn't he also mention that forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else?

Marsha Clark  36:44  
Yeah, I think anyone who studied the subject of forgiveness has come, you know, to that conclusion, if you will. So some of his steps, you know, line up directly with the Reinas like getting clear on what happened and reframing the situation. And I like how he tells us to be able to clearly articulate what it is about the situation that's not okay. So that's really being able to identify the behavior or the thing, the words that broke the trust. And you know, then that's when it becomes helpful for us to know how to give feedback to the betrayer, if you will. And then he also has a few other pointers that I like, and he reminds us to understand our bigger goal. And that what we're really after is finding that peace in the Lockwood Huie quote, right? It's not about forgiving for them. It's forgiving, too, because I deserve the peace of that. So that's the bigger goal that we're looking for here. And how do we seek out new ways of getting what we want rather than just holding on to this betrayal or this hurt that is so deep inside of us.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:54  
And I also like his ninth step, the one about amending your betrayal story to remind you that you hold the power of creating a better story.

Marsha Clark  38:06  
Yeah. And to me, this is linked somewhat to the reframing the experience. I am this story, what do I want to make of it, what meaning do I want to give to it, and so on. So and I say this, not just for the betrayal stories, but for you know, a lot of stories we make up in various situations that because once I understand that I have the power, I'm embracing my power. And you're embracing your power to control the narrative, the self talk that's going on in your mind about how you're going to either give your power away to this betrayal, or you're going to regain and retain or take back your power to create the story and the learning from this point forward.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  38:53  
So in your book, you wrap up this chapter on Building and Sustaining Trust with a couple of pointers and a section called If You Need a Mirror. Now I really want you to share with our listeners here what you mean by needing a mirror.

Marsha Clark  39:10  
Well again, I want you to think about that, you know, the seventh step of Letting Go and Moving On is when I have brought the story back to me.  I'd like re-written the narrative for it to be about me holding on to my power and what I'm going to learn from this and do differently going forward. And all of the seven step examples that we've given, again, is about somebody's done us wrong, and we're going to work through these steps. And like in all of the work, whether it is the people who have built trust with me and displayed the trust behaviors that the Reinas include in their model, whether it is the betrayals that I had been betrayed by someone else, and then going through this forgiveness and healing process, all about someone doing it to me. And again, I said this in our last spot in one of our earlier podcasts, that you know now go back and reread everything and think about it in terms of how we are not displaying trust building behaviors with those that we think we're building trust with, but we can be much better at, or what behaviors I might be displaying that are actually breaking trust, because I want to remind our listeners, in every interaction we have with another person, we have the opportunity to build, sustain, or break trust. So every email, every conversation, every telephone call, even our nonverbal language, signals others about whether I'm trustworthy or not trustworthy. And so that's why we need to be so deliberate about this, hold up that mirror and get really honest and objective with ourselves about what we might be doing, whether it is to build trust, or whether it is in breaking trust, and then what work we need to do accordingly in the seven steps for healing.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:59  
I love that. It is such good advice.

Marsha Clark  41:01  
It's the thing that I have total control of, right. So I'm going back to holding on to my power and embracing my power and saying, now I can do this differently if I want to do it going forward.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:12  
Wow. Well, this episode has been very deep and very relevant for so many of us. And I'm really not sure how we wrap this one up.

Marsha Clark  41:22  
Well you know, one thing I want to say, I have a couple of things that I want to offer. One of the things that was a bit of a surprise to me was that when I decide I'm going to behave and speak and act differently, other people's trust of me may actually go down. And that's counterintuitive to me. Why? I'm doing all the right things. And I want to take it back as both a learning point and a reminder for some. If you have someone that kind of always shows up as being a jerk, or somebody you don't really enjoy being around, you can predict that, right? So one of the trust building behaviors is consistency, be consistent. So in my words, go the be predictable, be reliable. So if I know you're going to show up as a jerk, I'm prepared. But then all of a sudden, you show up as a nice person, and now I don't know what to make of you. Is this just an aberration on your behavior or what's going on here, so nobody wants to talk to Wendi, because now she's acting different, you know, all of that kind of stuff. So trust goes down until we know that your new behaviors are your new normal, or the new predictable you. And so typically takes about eight times for someone to see something before they now are beginning to predict it with some consistency and reliability. So when you're trying to change some of your behaviors, through all of these models, just recognize there could be a dip in trust initially. It will go back up and it will be higher when you display good behaviors and you minimize the unintentional betrayals. So don't lose heart or don't lose hope in that. And so that's one big message I want our listeners to hear. And then there's another. Our listeners who are with us week in and week out certainly know, yes we do like quotes, so this is one from Bell Hooks. Right? And she said, "For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked". How do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing, and yet, at the same time, remain in touch with their humanity, enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed? And I just think as a powerful, authentic leader, that's the standard I want to hold myself to, that can I have the compassion to forgive? Doesn't mean I'm not hurt, doesn't mean I may or may not choose to try and rebuild trust with you. Yet can I also hold in my heart the humanity of you, saying that you're a human being, that your life experiences have produced you, shaped you, molded you. And that's how you're showing up for me and can I hold both of those, the compassion, the empathy as well as the forgiveness for being human. I have a woman I work with and she says I am a perfectly imperfect human being. Yes. Yeah, I just think that says so much. And I want to read the quote again, but I want to read it in a different way. For me forgiveness and compassion are always linked. How do I hold myself accountable for wrongdoing and at the same time remain in touch with my humanity enough to believe in my capacity to be transformed. Wow. And that's the mirror. This is the mirror, because I want to give myself grace. Because I'm a perfectly imperfect human being.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  45:19  
Right? Right. So okay! Okay, shaking that off, let's wrap up with some of today's top takeaways from from this episode.

Marsha Clark  45:32  
Yeah. And so from this episode, it's clearly the Seven Steps for Healing, right. You've got to go through each and every one of them. It's a gift that you give yourself to strive for the peace that you're striving for. The less than nine steps for forgiveness is another tool. So each of those are, we may only have two or three tools, but they are big, powerful, deep, and can make significant impacts in how we're walking through life not as a severely walking wounded, but as a walking wounded who's seeking support and help to get better, more effective, and to live in our own power around that. And I think this idea of, you know, we can know that we let go and move on when I can hear that person's name and not grit my teeth, when I can see that person across the lunchroom and not avoid eye contact. You know, that's when we really know. If we can't do that, there's probably still a little bit more work to do and you restart the seven steps. You may get to step five, and have to go back to step three. And just know that that's the work to be done. And so those are the biggest takeaways from today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  46:53  
Right. And I want to just reinforce very quickly that healing doesn't always happen in a linear way. So some of our listeners may get to step five of taking responsibility, but then they need to shift back up to step three and get support and help manage things as they're bubbling up.

Marsha Clark  47:12  
Well, and that's the deepening of it, right? I've gotten the support. I thought I needed to be able to name it and acknowledge it and feel it and all that kind of stuff. And then I get to, oh my gosh I did have a step in this. Now I've gotta go get some more help. Like you said, go back to the get support. So and that's not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength because I'm willing to do the hard work. And that's where the greatest gifts can be. And I go back to the Rumi quote, "The cure for the pain is in the pain". I've gotta do the work. I've gotta do the work.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:44  
Thank you, Marsha, for just another amazing episode. And thank you, listeners, for joining us today on our journey of authentic powerful leadership. Please download and subscribe to this, "Your Authentic Path To Powerful Leadership" with Marcia Clark podcast on iTunes, Google, Spotify, wherever you prefer to listen. And please visit Marsha's website at for links to all the tools, the resources, our email list where you can subscribe, social media connections, and then you can always find out about Marsha and her latest book, "Embracing Your Power".

Marsha Clark  48:28  
Well thank you, Wendi. You know, one of the things that I notice when we teach this particular topic in a class and so I want to just share this with our listeners because they may be in this place. It's a very quiet, somber, serious, introspective place. I'm sitting inside of myself right now. And in the beginning, when I was teaching this, I thought, oh my gosh, did I hurt them? You know, did I, you know, we can open up things that may need support. So I would say to each and every one of you, please get the support that you need and consider us one of those sources or resources for you. But if you're feeling that seriousness or that somberness, it's a natural place to be because that's where you can do some deep reflections about what you may want going forward. So please get in touch with us. We so appreciate you joining us week after week. And we hope that we're bringing you insights and valuable information in that spirit of knowing better and doing better and living the life that we want to live, knowing that we have more power than maybe we've given ourselves credit for having, and that our choices play a big part in acknowledging and embracing that power. So, you know, getting support can be men or women, and yet what I want to say to you is a woman knows about another woman's lived experience. We have more commonality than we might expect so here's to us supporting one another. Here's to women supporting women!

bottom of page