Processing Infidelity w/ Honesty & Sincerity w/ Todd Malloy | Liberate Your Authentic Self Weekend
Surviving infidelity requires a great deal of honesty, maturity and excellent counseling. Dr. Andrea has an enlightening conversation with her guest, Todd Malloy, who invites you to become present, honest and sincere in every moment.
That sounds perfect for this show – liberate your authentic self. But how easy would it be for you to be present honest and sincere in the moment you have to tell your partner that you’re not happy in the relationship or not satisfied sexually?
Todd says that infidelity is a symptom of a deeper problem. His work as a therapist is leading the individual and couples deeper into their own minds and hearts to get at the root cause. The healing journey reveals much more profound wounds, misconceptions and even unidentified trauma.
This interview sheds a light on a path to discovering what really makes you tick, what motivates one to cheat and how to repair after the affair.
Clinical Director Inner Peace Counseling Center Producer & Host of Mancave Conversations
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator, Member of AASECT Ethic Advisory Committee
As an authority on relationships and sexuality, Todd Malloy has been providing counseling and therapy for over twenty years. Six (6) years ago, he founded Inner Peace Counseling Center located in Charlotte, NC, USA, to create a safe space where emotional, sexual and personal healing could occur. IPCC offers people a chance to maximize and celebrate their Lives. As clinical director of Inner Peace Counseling Center, he has established a haven where he can connect and partner with individuals and couples in times of emotional ebbs and flows, the crossroads of life, infidelity, rekindling intimacy, sexual skill development, and the many dimensions of sexuality. It is beyond counseling. It is empowering others to live a life worth celebrating.
His latest venture is “Man Cave Conversations”, a forum to inform men in the areas of manhood, relationships, sexual health, intimacy, passion and beyond and provides women a bird’s eye view of what men talk about.
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Today’s guest invites you to become present, honest and sincere in every moment. Now that sounds perfect for this show, Liberate Your Authentic Self but how easy would it be for you to be present, honest and sincere in the moment you have to tell your partner that you’re not happy in the relationship, or not satisfied sexually.
As an authority on relationships and sexuality, Todd Malloy has been providing counseling and therapy for over 20 years. Six years ago, he founded the Inner Peace Counseling Center located in Charlotte, North Carolina to create a safe space where emotional and sexual and personal healing could occur. The Inner Peace Counseling Center offers people a chance to maximize and celebrate their lives. As Clinical Director of the Inner Peace Counseling Center, Todd has established a safe haven where he can connect and partner with individuals and couples in times of emotional ebbs and flows – the crossroads of life. Infidelity, rekindling intimacy, sexual skill development and the many dimensions of sexuality.
This goes well beyond the basic counseling. It is empowering others to live a life worth celebrating. Todd’s latest venture is Man Cave Conversations, a forum to inform men in the areas of manhood, relationships, sexual health, intimacy, passion and beyond and provides women a bird’s eye view of what men talk about in Man Cave Conversations.
I think you’re going to enjoy today’s conversation. It’s definitely been an eye opener for me.
Welcome to Liberate Your Authentic Self with Dr. Andrea Pennington, the prescription for living your life out loud. Tune in daily to get fired up with insight and inspiration for purposeful living, conscious relationships and soulful success.
Andrea: Well Todd Malloy, it is wonderful to have you with us here at Liberate Your Authentic Self. Thank you for being here.
Todd: Appreciate it. It’s a pleasure. It’s always a pleasure to connect and share information.
Andrea: Well Todd, I know that you are on a mission to go beyond your clinical practice there in the United States and to really start helping people in a much broader scale. And one of the key things about your mission that of course, you know speaks to me is this mission to join people in giving themselves permission to be their most authentic and most empowered selves. And I know that part of your framework or methodology relies on these very simple but very challenging concepts and that is to be present, honest and sincere in every moment. Where did that come from?
Todd: Well really it’s been through my own personal journey. Obviously therapeutically I’ve learned a lot of therapeutic modalities. A matter of fact, you have these specifically really resonated with me and mostly in form of this therapy developed by Sue Johnson. It really resonated with me when I think about my perspective as that most of us, most people, my perspective, are traumatized. Traumatized not because you’re just in a war torn area or you have some awful things happen to you but by systemic design. Outside of systemical oppression and family dysfunction.
The trauma is a result of being when you were a kid you were supposed to be seen and not heard. When you get a little older, you get older and you think you can say something. I’m a teenager now, I can say some things. But then you’re told if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Just be quiet. Then we get older, you have to be politically correct.
So when do people… where are people able to tap into who they are, what their thoughts are, validate their own feeling and experience and given the tools to articulate them.
Well consciously or subconsciously, people are to some degree said to go along with the program. Just accept what’s being given to you and do the best you can with that. Don’t connect inward.
You have to highly, well my perspective or mostly focus therapy says people come from a perspective where people are emotionally repressed. And it’s to get people to tap into their emotions and speak from that perspective.
Now that resonated with me. Over time with my own personal journey, me being an internal martial artist and having some working knowledge with Taoism, things of that nature, I’ve come into the importance and the understanding of now. And now is that, from my perspective, the most powerful time that exist because if we can be present and in the moment and recognizing what all of our resources are and really tap into what our experiences, by sharing our experience with others helps to create the environment for our success and for the healthiest communication.
Andrea: Well that all sounds well and good. Being present, tuning in to our emotions. But the other piece of it is honest and sincere in every moment. And I know that in your work as a marriage and family therapist, you see cases of infidelity, right?
Todd: Oh, yes. Very often.
Andrea: That to me seems like probably the most challenging time for a person to be sitting in front of their former beloved and they’ve got to be present, honest and sincere in those moments. And in fact, when you told me the story of Javier, that is not his real name, ladies and gentlemen. We are protecting his identity. But the story that you told me about how you helped him be present, honest and sincere in every moment as he and his wife came to you for relationship issues. That one kind of blew my mind. So can you tell me that story?
Todd: Well I can but let me process it first. And when I work with infidelity, the infidelity is not the focal point. Actually infidelity is a result of things that were happening and that were being experienced prior to. That’s a symptom not the cause.
Andrea: Got it.
Todd: But first when I work with anybody, I help them understand that that’s a symptom and not a root cause. And when you come to my office, they’re not looking to separate or divorce initially. They come in to gain a level of understanding first in order to make decisions going forward whether it is to divorce or stay together. Some people choose just to stay together but they need to work through those issues. However but to address it is not okay. “He did this.” “She did that.” Or whatever the case may be. It’s, what were those ingredients that led up to that experience?
So when we talk about the concept of present, honest and sincere in every moment, we’re starting early. And we will progress to talk about the infidelity itself but we have to talk about what was going on before. Why are we here? Why are you here? Why did you make this choice? Why did you feel powerless? Or whatever the case may be.
So that Javier and his wife Rebecca… when I got the call, the call was just about relationship issues, they have communication issues, they don’t feel a connection. So when they come in, typically when I see clients or couples, I usually bring them in together first and then I separate the two of them, and then I bring them back together for that fourth, theoretically the fourth session.
Then one of the first part is to levels up. Let me get her perspective. Let me get his perspective. What is the goal? What is the objective? I start, you know, I ask a little bit about the dynamics in the relationship, what each other’s concerns are. But the truth is, no one’s going to be… Initially people aren’t just going to say, “Here’s all of my stuff,” in front of their partner. Whether I found that, whether couples like each other or dislike each other, people protect each other. Even though we ruin our relationship, we’ve been intimate, we’ve been all of these things, I don’t really want to hurt you irrespective of what I’ve done.
Todd: We will protect each other. First the person will not disclose certain information but the other partner… If I talk to a client, one client and I begin to push a button and the other partner knows that it’s a sensitive area, the other partner will interrupt. They’re going to speak for them. So to ask the partner question by separating them. So we have an hour and a half, sometimes more where I can sit with an individual and ask the real question. We can be transparent. We can be naked. We can be unashamed.
So they come, Javier or Rebecca come to me. They have communication issue, they don’t feel a connection. They share about how that they’ve been… the challenges is what… the challenges that they met is that Javier is 40, Rebecca is 39. Both gorgeous people. They are the picture perfect people – ones you put on magazine covers. A matter of fact, Javier is a former model of Calvin Klein, who he shared in his story that girls started liking him when he was in the second grade. In the second grade, little girls used to hug and kiss him. And his first sexual experience was at 14 from a college girl who happened to come back from college and see him. He’s never had to because of what he looked like, he had never had to pursue anything. He’s very physically fit, athletic. He was the high school all-American, all of those things. However he came from a lower social economic situation.
So from his environment, he was structured not to really dig into himself but to take on the persona of his environment, I mean even to the point where he could have been a college athlete. But because of the socioeconomic situation on his family and the mantra that his family gave, he didn’t think that was an option for him. He had to live the life of his parents.
Andrea: Oh, wow.
Todd: In his particular situation, this is true and is surprising. I haven’t heard this before. His family had a 36-page constitution on rules and regulations on how to live.
Andrea: Are you serious?
Todd: This was real. This is real. And so he’s sitting there and as I’m sharing this, I’m hearing all of the boxes that he has been contained in and that he conform to as opposed to really connecting to his inner self. So with the type of attention that he got, with the type of framework he worked with, he was always a guy that… “I am not a communicator. So I don’t know how to communicate my feelings and my emotions to my wife.” The wife is saying, “I’m tired of him shutting down, not communicating.” Amy had her own blocks and barriers where she came from a family where she was the fixer. She came from her own set of family dysfunction. She lived in a bubble where everything had to look rough. She’s the perfect everything. She’s just as gorgeous as he is.
So that’s the model that they work for. I have to be perfect – Rebecca. Javier says, “Well I’m just going to play the game that’s been given me.” neither one is connecting inside. Overtime Javier really understood that I’m a surface person. And it bothered him that he could not actually have a conversation. What he shared with me he said, “All I would do is look and smile.” And I get attention and then people would just start to talk to me.
Andrea: So he would just have to strike a pose basically.
Todd: Yes. People would just talk to him. He didn’t have to pursue much. Opportunity was given to him based on what he looked like.
One day, he was at a photo shoot in California. He looked around at the room of people and said, “I’m in a room full of shallow people. I’m not one of them.”
Andrea: Wow. Talk about self-awareness.
Todd: Yes. He just said, “I can’t do this anymore. I have to do something different.”
Meanwhile all of these transformations are going on with him and these questions and he’s not communicating these things to his wife. So Javier, not being able to connect emotionally like he wanted to. And I have to take a sidebar, for a moment I’m going to step back to make sure that we’re very clear about this, is that I shared with you about people being traumatized and repressed emotions. So all of it goes back to attachment theory. Irrespective of how we, whether we have secure attachment and secure attachment and never land, avoid in disorganized attachment styles. We all want to fit. We all want to belong. We all want to be nurtured.
Andrea: Exactly. That’s just part of our nature as a human organism, a human animal.
Todd: Correct. It’s in our DNA. How do I explain it to people? It’s simply this. And I recognize that the academic people, you may not like the way I do this but I’m trying not to be. However how do I explain attachment theory is simply that when a baby is born, the doctor makes the baby cry. When the baby cries, they give the baby to the mother. The mother comforts the baby. The baby stops crying. You can’t train that. That’s not training. That’s in our DNA. It shifts, changes, mutates based on the care that we have from our childhood. That creates a guarded personality, and avoiding personality, a needy personality, or conflict or mixed emotions. Yes, I want you to know I don’t. Yes, I want you to know I don’t. Because throughout life we’re taught what to trust and what we can’t trust. And we play the same scenario as we all move into relationships.
So here it is, we have repressed emotions, we have these attachment issues. However when we get married, this is our opportunity. Not my mind, my clients agree that this was their opportunity for something different. This is something. This is our opportunity to have what we’ve always desired. But with that scenario, you have the blind with the blind. We’re trying to go somewhere and neither one knows that. An accident waiting to happen.
Andrea: Right especially because some of the blind, you know, where they think they’re going is maybe based on projection or fantasy.
Todd: Exactly. And because of how life is designed, neither one of them have tools or perfected tools and skills to attain what it is that they’re looking. And that’s why being present, honest and sincere in every moment is important because it requires that you tap into your experience. You share your experience and then you identify what your goal is. By being present, honest and sincere in every moment allows you to know where you are. It’s easy for me to get to California when I know I’m in Wyoming. But if I don’t know that I’m in Wyoming, trying to get to California is extremely difficult.
Andrea: So in this relationship therapy, did Javier get to the point where he could be honest with Rebecca and talk about how he felt like he was shallow?
Todd: Correct. Yes, exactly. Through this process, he was able to, first being in the virtual session, he shared with me his story. He shared with me how he just couldn’t have… he didn’t have the language. He didn’t know what to say, what to do. How would people look at him? Being that vulnerable, being that transparent is scary when you come from a very structured disciplined type environment. We have the stereotypes, you know, the man is supposed to be the ideal. You don’t ask for much. Your car breaks down, you’re supposed to know how to fix it. You’re supposed to have the solution to everything.
So in offer, one of the benefits of me being a man working with men is that we can cut to the chase. I recognize we all have a sensitivity. Like I say, we all have a little diva in us.
So I was able to say, “Okay, I hear you. You look nice. You’re gorgeous. Okay, cool. Now let’s talk about what’s really going on with you.” And he was able to share how insecurity was. He was able to share how he had a low self-value because he didn’t really know how to communicate. He knew how to smile. He didn’t know how to connect and tap into his emotions and let his wife know how much he needed her and wanted her. And subsequently I have to challenge him to say, “Okay, we need to have this conversation with your partner. It’s going to be difficult. I don’t know what to say. I’m here. I’m partnering with you. I’m walking with you. We can do this together.”
And through this process, I’m modeling for him how to communicate. I’m sharing with him, “Hey, expand on this information.” so when we’re able to sit with his wife, we can incrementally begin to share.
Andrea: When we get back from the break, I want you to take us into the therapy session where he does have this conversation and unfolded. Because as you said, infidelity wasn’t what brought them in. it was communication issues.
So when we get back, I’d love to hear how that unfolds.
You’re listening to Liberate Your Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington. Check out the live version of this show where I answer your questions in real time. Visit www.facebook.com/drandreapennington. You can also submit your questions via email. Send it to [email protected]. That’s D-R A-N-D-R-E-A @americaoutloud.com.
Andrea: So with me today is Todd Malloy and we’re talking about how you can really be honest with yourself about your own shortcomings and how you can be present, honest and sincere in every moment including with your beloved, including if you had to break the news about cheating.
So Todd, before we went to break you were talking to us about Javier and Rebecca. This picture perfect couple that looks like they have it all together but underneath the pretty polish, neither of them was really feeling connected. And Javier in particular admitted that he felt shallow. As you helped him open up to just owning these feelings and admitting them to himself, talk to me about what happened in the therapy.
Todd: When we were in session, I always talk with Javier. You know what we were talking about, I think it’s important that you share these with your wife. You’ve practiced with me. We’ve talked. Talk it out. He shared with his wife about his vulnerabilities, how he didn’t feel emotionally connected to her. He questioned whether she really wanted to marry him or not because of all of the activities that happened prior to the marriage.
And subsequently, his wife’s response to him, “Well let me explain to you why you felt this way and I’m sorry that you didn’t feel connected to me but let me explain why.” So oftentimes, they had been living together 10-15 years however their basic conversations that people have actually never had. She said that she saw his phone one time. It had some text in it that he had been with a woman prior to him being married, before he got married.
The week before he gets married because he’s an attractive guy, he attracts a lot of women. From that moment on, she never trusted him. Javier, because of his insecurities liked to get the attention of women. He really didn’t like to sleep with women. I mean, he does like to sleep with women but his pursuit was the chase. Feed it to my ego, feed my attention. However because of what his wife saw before and what she was experiencing being with him, she did not trust him.
However through that process… again they didn’t come for infidelity reasons but it came up because his wife, she had her concern. She said she wants to know in session whether he had been unfaithful or not.
Todd: When she asked the question, I was stuck. Then Javier was going along right now. He’s talking about his emotions and all the things that he’s doing, his fear. He felt like he had to vomit. And this is the process because now, the brain is doing some new stuff, new pathways are being created. Hey, we’ve never done this before. We’re outside of our box. But through the process and through me guiding him through the process, he was able to say, “Yes, I have.”
Todd: He was able to say, yes. Now how I frame that is sometimes if you want something, if you want a relationship, you have to be willing to fight for it. In order to fight for it, you have to be brave enough to ask a question but you also have to be brave enough to get the answer. Process through the emotions and through the ugliness and through the hurt. Because infidelity, where I see it as being traumatized. My feet are on solid ground. I’m standing on the carpet. I’m comfortable. You jerk the carpet from under me. I am now thrown in the air, free falling, don’t know when to hit ground.
So through the infidelity process, what I always share that now obviously you can imagine it, the flurry of questions coming back. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? How long? What you did? All of these different things. But I slow the offended party down. And then because I said, “Why are those questions important?” when it gets graphic and you want to know all the juicy details. Where did you put it? How long did you put it? How come you never did those things to me? Etcetera. I slow people down and say, “Hold on. Why are those questions important? Why do you want to pour salt in the wound with details that don’t really have relevance? Where did you learn to abuse yourselves?”
Todd: Now we’re getting. Now in this moment, we’re going to deal with these feelings and these emotions. Where are they coming from? It’s not just you asking the question. What’s the underlying meaning?
Andrea: But don’t you think most humans, I mean, you say where does it come from? I mean, that’s just the… I know it feels like self-torture but that’s just the curiosity. Like, wait! I can’t imagine. Wait! You! What? How? I could see that someone in that situation would want to ask those questions. At least to just put their own imagination to rest because I’ve had people tell me that they knew their partner was cheating and then not knowing. And the scenarios that they cooked up in their own mind was the worst torture.
Todd: Right. I agree with you because the unknown, there’s the fear of the unknown in all of those things. However but also now wants to hear, it affirms my perception. I have to process through it with my imagination, what’s accurate, true, all of these things.
Andrea: So what did Rebecca respond? How did Rebecca respond when you said, “Okay, where are these questions coming from?”
Todd: Right. Because remember, we always give an output. All we hear is output. That output has an underpinning. There’s an experience that I’m having. It processes through the filters of my brain. I give the output. So the output isn’t always a clear reflection of what your experience is. If we look at it from a core value perspective, there’s some core need not met. It’s not the question you’re asking. It’s where it’s coming from. I don’t feel secure. I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel valued. I don’t feel wanted. I don’t feel desired. Those are the real question. It’s not… You know, you gave your all. You had oral play. How long did you do it? What makes you made her score and you never made me score?
Andrea: All right.
Todd: It’s what is going on from a core values perspective, the repressed emotion that had triggered your own insecurity that have triggered other factors that have happened throughout your course of your life.
Remember, content in question. Conversation and environment content don’t have as much value from my perspective as the feeling that you had. Because we respond to feeling, not necessarily the words that we hear.
Andrea: Yes. And so what did you uncover with Rebecca? I mean, were there particular issues that had been lingering or what?
Todd: Right. Part of the issue was the lack of trust, not feeling wanted, not feeling desired which fed into her family, where she comes from a family of neglect. So when you come from a childhood of neglect, emotional neglect, sexual trauma. Neglect and trauma have similar impact. What it does is it makes the world about everybody around you not about you because I have to please people. I have to fix people. I have to entertain people to get their attention to be able to get what I need because I’m always hungry for something. So if I look like the pretty picture. But meanwhile I’m neglecting my own feeling, my own experience.
So even when Javier was saying, “I love you and I value you and I appreciate you,” she was saying, “No, you don’t.” and she’s saying, “No, you don’t.” I mean, they’ve been intimate. I’ve worked with them just the other day. And they shared with me that they’ve never had emotionally connected intimacy.
Now you figure this is like a porn movie waiting to happen. Beautiful people. Intimate. But we got pieces and parts. We’re physically attracted to each other but the emotional connection in that experience, they’ve actually never had because of Javier’s experience of being shallow. The bubble that Rebecca created for herself didn’t allow that.
So now, when you look at that, that’s opening the door to confusion because if you’re not feeding my poor needs… Yes, I love you. Yes, I want to be with you. But I’m trying to communicate my core need. I’m trying to communicate with you what my needs are. You’re not meeting them. And eventually I’m exposed to make some very hard choices and to hurt you and disappoint you.
Andrea: So in this situation, was Javier still seeing someone else? Was their ever an affair or was it just…? I know it’s never just sex but, you know, was he looking for an emotional connection with someone through his affair?
Todd: No it’s just only for him. He was looking for emotional connection with his wife. However the placebo was to get attention from other women. The placebo was, okay now first it’s said into just feed my ego but after a while, you play with something long enough you got to do something about it.
So now over the course of their relationship, he had to share that. He made a list. A matter of fact, he made his wife uncomfortable because she said,”I just want to know. I want you to make a list.” He opened his journal because he actually got a kind of journal. He opened his journal that I asked him to do because I’ve asked him to help him process. Because you’re not always automatically able to verbalize your feelings and experience. So what we want to do is get you to just get them out first in writing and then be able to build toward creating a language for it.
He actually went to his journal, shared all the women he flirted with. And with the number of women that he’s slept with, obviously she said she was horrified. However she said, for her she said, “At least now I know.”
For that last year, he had not been having an affair because he recognized he wanted his wife. Through this process, he’s sharing his commitment his fidelity to her. He works finding the root cause of what’s going on. But also remember, the infidelity isn’t about one person. It’s about two people share a responsibility in this. All share in the impact that the lack of intimacy because they’re not people that have sex often. It was more maintenance driven as opposed to passion, emotion connection and all of those things. Here they may have sex once a quarter, you know, once every two months because look, this is just ridiculous. We need to take care of something. We have maintenance since we are sexual people.
Andrea: So how do you help a couple move on from there? I mean, that sounds like she didn’t even know. She suspected it. It’s probably almost even relief for her in one way because as I was thinking about how the mind can just sit there rolling and rolling and rolling. At least now she knows. But is there a way for them to build a true emotionally connected intimate marriage after that?
Todd: Most definitely. First of all, there’s research that identifies that infidelity can actually strengthen marriage because we think that we’re dealing with the root cause. And seeing through the root cause, we recognize that it’s a share of responsibility.
Now do we ever approve or say yes to infidelity as a great thing? Well no. what it is is let’s understand how we got here. Do we see enough value in each other and what we can create, what we have created to work through?
So yes, people can recover. Yes, people can move on. But now are you invested enough to do the work? It’s the only real question.
Now in this particular situation, Rebecca definitely knew that he had an affair because he brought home and FDI. Now this is the first time I’ve ever heard this multiple situations. Clients with frightening calls from distraught wives that have never been exposed to anything. Now their husband comes home and the only person they had conflict that they haven’t been with another person.
However even when she came up with the FDI, he never spoke. So we had to process through all the muck and the mire.
Right now they’re doing well. However the verdict is still out. The key is that, they’re both coming in to their most empowered self. That they can make the healthiest choices and decisions for them no matter what it is.
My goal is not to determine whether they stay married. My goal is to empower them that they can see clearly and make the healthiest choices for them, whichever they are.
Andrea: Wow, that is deep. That is going be some work. I don’t know. That whole idea of bringing stuff home, bringing diseases into the crib. That is not cool.
Well Todd, the other thing I really wanted to explore from this story and in your work is that Javier got to the point where he realized he wasn’t living his most authentic self. He was living in a shell kind of existence. How does your work and your process help people get to that transformational change so that they can live as their most authentic self?
Todd: We start off really by asking questions. Those questions are number one. We ask the biblical question, “Who are you?” and really, there are two questions whether… In Javier’s case because I was talking to a person identified as male. I said, “Who are you?” and “Give me your definition of man.”
By asking those questions, people know what they do. They don’t really connect to who they are. So what we begin to do is really talk about what your core interests are. What drives you? What motivates you? What excites you? Who are you outside of you? Take all of these things away. Who are you? And who is it that you aspire to be?
And we begin to walk through that process. We address the fears, the confusion, the doubt. We address that. We give people permission to define for themselves who they are and who they desire to be based on their own terms as opposed to what they’re told to do. Because if you’ve been given information when you were five or ten years old, is it really relevant at 30? When we receive information from parents, from authority figure, we take it and gossip. But when we think about it, nothing is stagnant. Everything changes. Everything evolves. But are we evolving? Are we changing? Are we adapting to our environment? So no matter what the information is that you gathered over the course of your life, how is it relevant to who you are today and where you see yourself going forward?
Therefore the transformation happens. For those that may have some biblical understanding. It’s like be transformed by the renewing of your mind. See once I change my mind, my environment, my perspective, my goals, my drives are different. George Clooney said, “I’ll clean it up a little bit. Free your mind and your tail will follow.” The only hindrances, the only vines that we have are those that we place upon ourselves. We are our only limitation. If we really look at it, there have never really been any hindrances or boundaries or barriers in our lives. There’s no one to hurdle. There’s really no one to stop us in life.
If you really think about it, the choices that we’ve made and the decisions that we’ve made based on the things that have happened. We choose the impact that something has on us. Yes, we’re going to be part of it. Yes, we’re going to be disappointed. Yes, all of these things. But how we respond and react or act upon it is solely our responsibility.
Andrea: Well when we get back from this break, I want to talk about response ability. Because the ability to respond when we were two or three, we had very limited ability. So I get what you’re saying that our lives are based on how we have reacted, the choices that we’ve made. When we’re a child, we’re not consciously making those choices. For some child who was abused or even bullied, we are making those choices because we’ve got to adapt to survive or so we feel. We don’t even think. We just feel. We go into that reptilian fight or flight mode.
When we get back from the break, I want you to talk us through how we can get to that level of accountability and responsibility because if you’re saying that we’ve all experienced some micro traumas, you know, whether that was just a parent telling you to shut up and be quiet or physical trauma. All of that is chipping away at our sense of self, chipping away at our sense of confidence and competence. Confidence that I’m allowed to express and confidence in just being able to express what I want. So being able to express what I want. So that seems like a whole lot we got to unravel when we get back from this break.
You’re listening to Liberate Your Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington. Check me out on Instagram, @drandreapennington. And now, back to the show.
Andrea: So we all like to say that we have our own accountability. Life is about the choices you make. Life isn’t happening to you. It’s happening for you.
Well that all sounds well and good in the old personal development world. But what if you’ve been experiencing trauma since very early in your life. Well Todd Malloy says we’ve even experienced little micro traumas. Every little hit to our self-esteem and our sense of self can knock us into these boxes.
Well Todd, I want you to help us get out of the box and reclaim our confidence and our ability to express ourselves and then most importantly, to live a fully expressed and authentic life. Where do we begin?
Todd: Well as I was saying earlier, throughout the course of life and the experiences that we have. We’re creating a story. It’s like we weave the tapestry. And it has these glorious or these hideous things.
however but through the process, we have to challenge particularly now once we become conscious adults making decisions, finding ourselves, tripping, tripping, finding ourselves in this negative side that we can’t seem to get out of. We’d really take a look at the story and how we weave this tapestry.
My responsibility is to unweave that tapestry and to weave a tapestry of self-empowerment, authenticity that people can live life.
So I’ve worked with people that have been traumatized. We can look at that traumatization as either, “I was a victim,” or victorious. I really have the perspective and because I come from a very strength based perspective in my approach. And being strength based is that as opposed to being the victim, know you’re victorious. Why? Because I don’t personally believe there’s such a thing as failure. There’s no such thing as failure irrespective of the things that I’ve been through on the course of my life because I’m here talking about it.
Todd: These opportunities are really lessons learned. But can I really look at the situation and the downfalls, the hurts, the pains – all of these different things that I’ve had in my life. But now how do I reframe, recreate the story that I’m telling myself to empower myself.
Andrea: Well how do you do that? Because when someone has been knocked down whether physically in an abuse situation or just seems like life is knocking at you. It’s hard to start saying, “Okay, I’m going to just reframe this. This isn’t failure. I’m not a loser.” Where do you begin with that?
Todd: Well think about this. At young adulthood, adulthood there aren’t really any feelings. Let’s say they went through that type of experience. There are no feelings, experience, hurt, pain, or shame that they have not experienced before. I’m still here. It didn’t destroy me.
Todd: Now it’s about the choices that you’re making. See the fact of, you know, there are colloquialisms that I have that I don’t know are fair to use online but the point is, is that once you’ve had some horrific experiences and you felt weathered, beat down, all of those things but you got up the next day. It’s like, what? It came. I took it as hard as it is. Yes, I fell down but I’m still here.
Andrea: I’m still here.
Todd: Right. I’m still here. I have, quite I’m thinking about now, who was neglected, didn’t bathe but once a month. A young lady not bathing but once a month who had to bathe in public in a trash can.
Todd: Who was ridiculed by teachers because of her stench, didn’t comb her hair, all of these different things. Has self body, body images, all of these things. Was in a marriage, her husband left her for a prostitute after extended periods of marriage. However but through that, we were able to rescript her story. We were able to create and weave a new tapestry for her where she pulled all of those things together, where she poured it out in anger and frustration. As she moved through the course of life, she changed that into an apartment and used that same fuel to create an experience for her that was enjoyable, that was worth celebrating. That energy is going somewhere. You direct. You choose how you want to direct it.
Now I could use it for my own destruction or I can use it to create an environment for me moving forward that I can look forward to.
See once you’ve been through adversity and you still stand, what do I have to be afraid of? Once I become comfortable in the uncomfortable, there’s nothing that can stop me. What’s left? Nothing. Now I live in the field of opportunities. I live in the field of all possibilities. Because my story is really a testimony of the strengths no matter what it looks like. I may have a bullet horn, I may have scars, I may have cellulite but I’m here. I’m going to celebrate. Now let the perfect work be done.
Andrea: I like it. I like it because it’s just simply a reframe. It’s changing the direction of the narrative. Instead of being a victim, giving up, or saying, “Poor me. Woe is me,” you know throwing that pity party. It’s like, “Okay, let’s turn that around.”
Todd: Exactly. So again, I get to spend my days really being a part of the solution. Sometimes you’re in a situation, you’re hearing about infidelity, FDI’s and any number of things. However I recognize when I’m in there, I’m taking that story and weaving a tapestry of glory that they can build upon going forward no matter what choices they are.
Most of my clients, truth be told, have stayed together. And just last week, I had a couple figure out they don’t want to be married anymore. But they were making clear, healthy choices and they both understood and they were able to have this conversation without the hostility. Hey, this is what it is. And for them, they just didn’t want to put in the work. I’ve worked so hard in this relationship. I don’t want to work so hard at this stage of my life at anything. I love you enough to not put you through it. Because now, through that there is… remember, we’re going to be triggered. The moment that he says he’s going to be home at five and he comes home at six, it’s not like you forget. But there’s been a trigger. Where were you? Give me your phone. Pull up your Facebook. Give me access to your email. All of these things. They’re going to be triggered. But through time, that trust can be restored. It doesn’t have a time limit but it does have a level of commitment associated to it. If you can be committed to communication, to being present, honest and sincere. If you can be committed to what you said you want your partner to experience, you can get it. No one comes together and says, “I want to hurt you. I want to violate you. I want to disappoint you.”
No one gets married or joins in a couple that way. Why do I know this? Because if you say that you want to make somebody else miserable, you signed yourself up to the same movie.
Andrea: That’s right.
Todd: So from the mere fact that you come to the table wanting to create an experience for yourself or for someone else, you can be committed to that by connecting to yourselves, sharing your experience. But there are not always good conversations. These sessions are difficult. But that’s the point of being an adult is to have those hard conversations. So it’s not about fussing and arguing. It’s okay to argue. I tell my clients, it’s okay to argue but know why you’re arguing and are you fighting for the relationship.
Sometimes we got to have the ugly conversation. But how we use that information to cultivate a healthy moving forward.
Andrea: Well I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about another way that you’re using conversation to move your agenda forward in helping people and that is through your Man Cave Conversations.
So talk to me about this initiative and what you’re hoping to achieve with the Man Cave Conversations.
Todd: Well Man Cave Conversations is a new baby of mine. It is about dispelling myths to give accurate information with regards to manhood, relationship, intimacy and passion from a male perspective.
There are many, many stereotypes about man in regards to the whole macho image. Men don’t ask questions. We don’t go to the doctor. I cannot say many of them alone. However I think that those choices and decisions have relational impact.
So Man Cave Conversations is an opportunity to have a form of med or we talk about sex, sexuality. We talk about sexual health. We talked about relationships, definition of manhood in a form upon which is recorded. But then it gives the opportunity for women to watch and really being to stimulate relational conversation.
Andrea: So it’s like, we ladies get to be a fly on the wall to understand what you all really think, what you’re really struggling with and you’re there to facilitate these conversations with the fellows. I get it.
Todd: Exactly. We talk about women’s attire, what it means to them, you know, who you’re going to take home, who you’re going to build with. We share about… Actually the interesting thing is that I’m able to even talk about sex. You know, with men and what they want and what they desire. The interesting thing that I’m trying to get at is that men aren’t as sexually astute as we think we know. We got pieces and parts. They do what they do with pieces and parts but they really don’t know what the pelvic… I was in a roomful of men. None of them understood the pelvic region of a woman, where the sensitive areas are and so forth.
So there’s a lot of misinformation, a lack of education that I believe that… I may not be able to take care of everybody in the world but there are certain pillars that you would impact certain pillars. That will resonate throughout society. And me being a part of the solution, Man Cave Resolutions is another venue where I can connect to men in very transparent places, still being honest, present and sincere in every moment. Because in those moments, they’re being transparent. They’re being very vulnerable. But now as that vulnerable, that transparent, that sincere in every moment. Now women, where they are partners, wherever they may be are able to glean information and build healthier, stronger relationships but also think about what the bondage or person of man moves throughout life, you’re 18. You got an erection. That is just great. You’re 45 and it just doesn’t act the same.
But who do you talk to during that process? How do you share with your partner? “Hey, I’m not rejecting your sexually because a lot of women are feeling rejected during those transformational period. You’re not being… “This is what’s going on with me. I take responsibility of it however we’re secure with those types of things.”
When we begin to explain the process, what happens? How do we address it? Women don’t feel rejected, man feels secure about who they are. We can still fall through the healthiest types of relationships.
Andrea: So now that you finished Season One of Man Cave, will you do it again? Will you take it on the road or what’s next?
Todd: Actually, I’m in the process of preparing for the second season. Actually after second season we’re going to focus primarily on relationships. And what we’re actually doing is going to bring an audience of women in it who are going to hit the conversations. So women will actually upfront have to watch Season One and men’s concepts about relationship. But then we’ll put both in the same room where they’re going to have the dialogue. So I’m looking forward to it. A lot of people are excited about it. Again it’s a lot of positive thing going on.
Andrea: And where can we find that? Is it www.mancaveconversations.com?
Todd: Correct. You can find it on www.mancaveconversations.com. We’re also on Facebook. Man Cave Conversations on Facebook. Mancaveconvo on Twitter. You can find us online 24 hours a day.
Andrea: All right. Well Todd, this has been an enlightening conversation just getting a little bit of a hint of what’s going on inside of you mind and inside of your therapy office. So thank you for being present, honest and sincere in our conversation.
I do want to bring you back though so we can talk a little bit more the other side of it and that is some of the stuff you’re finding out with women because I would bet that women are opening up to you when they’re talking about their stuff in a way that’s very enlightening as well.
Todd: Yes, very much. I look forward to the opportunity. I was enjoying our account. Thank you.
Andrea: Yes, I do as well. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I will put all the links below the video and in the Podcast and radio description so that you can check out Todd Malloy at the Inner Peace Counseling Center and his Man Cave Conversations.
Well it has been a pleasure. And I want to remind our audience that you are a gift to the world. So share your presence with passion. And until next time, may you be free from suffering, may you be truly well in body, mind and heart and may you know true happiness. Much love. See you.
Thanks for tuning in. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @drandrea. And did you know? I’m on the radio daily. Visit www.americaoutloud.com to download the talk radio app.