Episode 56: Reframing Tools to Help Navigate the Post Pandemic World with Jolyn Armstrong
Episode 56: Reframing Tools to Help Navigate the Post Pandemic World with Jolyn Armstrong
When her world was turned upside after receiving a phone call that her son was in jail, Jolyn Armstrong set out to learn techniques and tools to cope with the shock, trauma, and grief. More recently, Jolyn has felt called to utilize her coaching business to help others who have been traumatized as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in to listen to Jolyn teach us about some of her reframing techniques that can help us to navigate life in the post-pandemic world.
Jolyn’s Special Gift for the Listeners
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
[singing]. Hello world. How are we doing today? I hope well. I am doing well myself. I am loving life right now, rolling with the podcast life. It has been fun. Yeah, there’s a lot going on, but I’ll save it for another episode. We’re going to dive right in today. One of the things I do want to talk about before we go into our guest speaker is, just my love for podcasting. I am so happy and thrilled and honored to have connected with people from all over the world and I love doing this. And I really want to do more of this, but in order to do so, obviously, this is something that, it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of money.
And so I am asking you, if you are enjoying what you are hearing, if you like what you are hearing, please go to my website. It is lightaftertrauma.com. You can go to the support link, and you can become a patron to the podcast. Even if you’re able to give $3, even $5 a month, or even if it’s just a one-off donation to the podcast, that would help me greatly in being able to continue to put out incredible content for all of you. I value each and every single one of you and I want to keep doing this, but in order to do so, it is important to be able to have the funds there to continue to keep this content rolling and coming out for all of you. So please do that.
Again, that is lightaftertrauma.com, go click on the support button and whatever you can give would be greatly appreciated. So on that note, our guest today is Jolyn Armstrong. Now, when her son was arrested, Jolyn Armstrong discovered that even an idyllic life can be turned upside down in an instant by crisis. That’s why she launched Grapevine Mindware, a coaching program designed to help men and women in crisis to overcome the trauma and the pain, find peace and get their lives back. Jolyn’s mission is to empower those impacted by COVID to live their best lives now, regardless of outside circumstances. So, hello Jolyn. It is Jolyn, right? Am I…
Jolyn Armstrong [02:54]:
You are saying it right, not many people do. How are you Alyssa?
Alyssa Scolari [02:58]:
Yes. Listen, I have butchered my fair share of names, so-
Jolyn Armstrong [02:58]:
Me too. Me too.
Alyssa Scolari [03:02]:
… I’m going to pat myself on the back for that one. That is a beautiful name by the way. I absolutely love it.
Jolyn Armstrong [03:08]:
Oh thank you. Thanks.
Alyssa Scolari [03:10]:
So welcome to the podcast.
Jolyn Armstrong [03:12]:
Thank you. Yes, it’s such a pleasure to be here.
Alyssa Scolari [03:16]:
I’m so happy to have you. I am very fascinated by your story. I think you have such an inspirational story. Can you kind of start with, I guess, start with your story? What is your story? How did you get into this niche, this area of life, where you are just helping other people?
Jolyn Armstrong [03:38]:
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. It’s not a fun story to tell for sure, but I can’t imagine that anyone who comes here after experiencing trauma has a fun story to tell, right?
Alyssa Scolari [03:49]:
It’s, yeah, certainly not puppies and rainbows that’s for sure.
Jolyn Armstrong [03:54]:
Right. Right. Exactly. Exactly. Well, and yeah, what I learned from this too, is trauma is not choosy about who it knocks over. None of us are safe, now you know what I mean?
Alyssa Scolari [04:03]:
None of us. None of us are safe.
Jolyn Armstrong [04:06]:
None of us are safe. It can come out of the blue like it did for me, or it can come in a long stretch of time like it does for so many others. But for me, it was an all of a sudden kind of blow from left field. So, I’ll tell you a little bit about what was going on with me before trauma happened and where I was at when it knocked me over, because that part, I think is kind of important as well. So, I own a marketing company with my husband. We do a lot of marketing and business coaching for small businesses. A lot of service industry businesses, or home service industry businesses, so painters and floor dealers and things like that. So, lots of coaching, lots of education and then we do some done-for-you services as well in the marketing space. And we run our business online, so it’s super easy to be wherever we want to be at any time. I always tell people we used Zoom before it was cool, so yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [05:06]:
Yes. Yeah. You knew telehealth before telehealth was cool.
Jolyn Armstrong [05:09]:
I did. I did. And so one winter we had chosen to live in California for the winter and we’ll usually do a season here and a season there, whatever. So we were in California and just wrapping up a normal work day. I was actually preparing for a two-day intensive we were doing with about a dozen-ish of our top clients. With those folks, we met with them monthly on Zoom and did a mastermind group. And then a few times a year we would meet in different cities around the country and these folks were all over North America would come in. So, we were planning on going to Las Vegas in about 10 days. I’m neck-deep in travel plans, dinner arrangements and car arrangements and things like that, making sure everyone was set. And I see my phone at the end of the day, like four missed calls on my cell phone and why my cell phone didn’t ring that day, I freaking don’t know.It’s so irritating.
But, four missed calls from a number I didn’t recognize in Colorado and I thought, what the heck. And I play the first voicemail and it is one of those automated messages saying, “You’re receiving a collect phone call from an inmate in a county jail in Colorado.” And I went, “Oh no.” And then I hear my son’s voice saying his name and I thought, oh, holy cow. And I knew, I knew in that minute, my life will never be the same. My son had been a soldier in the military, a respected soldier in the military. My biggest fear for him was always being deployed. I’m like, oh no. When I first saw those missed calls from the Colorado number, I thought that’s what it was. They’re allowing him to call me and tell me that he’s being shipped off. But it was even worse, in my opinion, at that time, it was where I’m like, I wish he was being deployed because…
Alyssa Scolari [06:59]:
Right, right. That would be the preferable option at that point.
Jolyn Armstrong [07:02]:
Oh yeah. And it took me a little while because it was the end of the day and you can’t just call somebody up in a county jail. I learned they don’t do that. They just don’t do that there.
Alyssa Scolari [07:14]:
They don’t do that, right.
Jolyn Armstrong [07:15]:
Yeah, no. There’re not secretaries or personal assistants there at the county jail. So, it took me almost a day to even talk to him and find out what was going on and to hear the charges that were so serious. I thought, oh my gosh, I’m losing my son. I will lose my son through this no matter what. I’m going to lose him. And so all of the things surrounding that, just the shame and the isolation and I can’t even tell people what’s going on and oh my gosh. And oh, by the way, it’s too late to cancel this two-day intensive I’ve got coming up with these clients in 10 days. I can’t do that either. What is going on here? I’ve got to figure out-
Alyssa Scolari [07:15]:
Jolyn Armstrong [08:00]:
Yeah. I knew nothing about how any of the criminal justice system worked. And boy, my eyes were opened through that. That’s a topic for another time, but…
Alyssa Scolari [08:09]:
I was going to say, we could probably have an entire podcast episode on the stigma and the shame and the failures of the criminal justice system.
Jolyn Armstrong [08:16]:
Alyssa Scolari [08:17]:
But we digress.
Jolyn Armstrong [08:19]:
Alyssa Scolari [08:19]:
Maybe we’ll have a part two.
Jolyn Armstrong [08:20]:
Sometime, yes, yes. But yeah, so I flew to Colorado immediately and thank goodness my husband was right there. He’s like, “Okay, I’ll make the travel arrangements. Let’s go there. We’ve got like five days we can devote to getting him out of jail, getting him set back up with the military, finding him an attorney, and then we got to get to Vegas.” And so that’s what we did.
Alyssa Scolari [08:41]:
Jolyn Armstrong [08:42]:
I know, right? Oh my gosh. So, in that-
Alyssa Scolari [08:45]:
It’s interesting because you wrote, when I was reading part of your bio, not on the podcast, but the one that we had exchanged through email, you had written in there specifically, “I felt like I had been hit by a hurricane.”
Jolyn Armstrong [09:00]:
Alyssa Scolari [09:00]:
And I’m just like, “Oh yes, this is full on category five.”
Jolyn Armstrong [09:06]:
Yeah, I think it’s category five is the top, whatever is above that, that’s what it was.
Alyssa Scolari [09:10]:
That’s what it was, oh yeah.
Jolyn Armstrong [09:12]:
Yeah. Yeah and so that’s what hit me and it was. There was no other way, still, no other way to describe that besides just this hurricane around me. I can’t stop what’s going on out there. I cannot stop it. And this is my life now. This is where I’m at. It took me, I’m almost embarrassed now to say it because I realize how much better things could have been for me, how much quicker they could have been maybe, but it took me months to first admit that I was even traumatized. I thought, listen, I am an intelligent, healthy, mentally strong person. Well, and it also didn’t help that I was going to hearings, seeing other people in the courtroom, like they’re not traumatized. They’re just sitting there like this is a normal thing and so I’m seeing other people not being affected the way I was being affected.
And I didn’t see that it was actually trauma for months. And during that time, I allowed, I say I allowed, but trauma really was allowed to trash many aspects of my life. It hurt my business. It hurt my relationships. It hurt me and my son. It hurt so many different areas in so many different ways. I feel like, had I admitted it earlier, had I sought some help earlier, some things would probably have looked differently for me at the time. So that was one thing I was like, man, I’ve got to look at, as I’m coming through this, I’ve got to look at helping, number one, let’s remove the stigma of trauma in a lot of situations. And help folks realize what trauma is and that there is, and I love the name of your podcast, Light After Trauma, like really, you can come out of this better than you even entered.
Alyssa Scolari [11:16]:
You certainly can.
Jolyn Armstrong [11:18]:
Yeah. I never would have even thought that. But yeah, through finally … well, it was my husband, actually, who pointed it out to me, which is another super important thing, trust those around you, who tell you, “Hey, maybe you need to talk to somebody or maybe can we look at getting you some help?” Because that’s what my husband did for a couple of months before I finally said, “Okay, all right. Yeah. Maybe I do need some help here.”
Alyssa Scolari [11:43]:
Now, if you don’t mind me asking what year was this?
Jolyn Armstrong [11:48]:
This was in 2017.
Alyssa Scolari [11:51]:
Okay, so this is 2017. Okay. So, this all happened and then it took you, as is the case for I think so many people, I don’t think you’re alone in that, where it’s like, I think it’s less, not less, but it’s not simply about stigma. I also think, and you can tell me if you agree with this, that it’s part of a general misunderstanding of what trauma is, where it’s like when we hear that word and I know for myself when I looked at this piece of paper that my therapist handed me one day and it said, “Diagnosis, PTSD.” I was like, “What the hell is this shit?”
Jolyn Armstrong [12:33]:
Alyssa Scolari [12:34]:
Jolyn Armstrong [12:35]:
I hadn’t been to war, that was my thought.
Alyssa Scolari [12:37]:
Jolyn Armstrong [12:38]:
I am not going to dishonor those people who really have faced trauma with this thing, like come on. Nothing even happened to me directly was my other misunderstanding. So, it took me diving into really what trauma is and for me, I’m a researcher, I’m going to dig in and see what’s up with this. And so, I’m glad I did and tell me if my definition fits your understanding as well because when I realized this, I’m like, oh yeah, I get it. I get it now. Okay. So trauma happens when an outside circumstance or situation that you have no control over, overwhelms your ability to deal with it, that’s trauma.
Alyssa Scolari [13:29]:
Yes, exactly. It is anything that overwhelms your brain’s ability to cope. That’s point blank is exactly what it is in its simplest form. We could talk for a days and hours about all the nitty-gritty details, but that’s exactly what it is, which means there are a lot of people that don’t go to war that have trauma.
Jolyn Armstrong [13:49]:
Exactly, exactly. And the other thing too, what I realized through the research that I did in that next six or eight months, well, I guess all since then, because I continue. It’s always continuing.
Alyssa Scolari [14:04]:
Right, it’s a lifelong process.
Jolyn Armstrong [14:06]:
It totally is. But one thing that I realized was, if we are… and I think our society is getting a little bit better at this now, but we still got a lot of work to do, I think. But if I had been in a serious car accident and been physically traumatized, I would never have hesitated to seek medical help. I wouldn’t have thought that anyone’s going to think that I’m weak for having been injured in a car wreck. I would have just gone in and sought help and healed from it.
And so if I was in that same car wreck and I had walked away from it, miraculously without being hurt, I wouldn’t have been thought of as, oh, I did that because I’m stronger. I did that because I’m somehow better than the person that got hurt. It’s not that either, but when we experience emotional trauma, we look at it in such a different way. And I’m happy to see us moving away from some of those opinions because for me, it was like, this knocked me down and it’s not my fault. And I didn’t ask for it and I’m not weak for having had that happen. It’s just what happened to me.
Alyssa Scolari [15:21]:
Jolyn Armstrong [15:22]:
Alyssa Scolari [15:24]:
Absolutely. You’re speaking so many truths that I’m sure the listeners are like, “Amen.”
Jolyn Armstrong [15:24]:
Alyssa Scolari [15:31]:
It’s like, amen, because there’s so many people who can relate. You didn’t ask for it. You didn’t want it. You didn’t expect it. You didn’t set yourself up for this. This just happened.
Jolyn Armstrong [15:46]:
It just happened. And I mean the truth so often is that, even if I did something to cause this, did I expect for this to traumatize me in this way? It’s nobody asks for trauma, nobody asks for this to happen.
Alyssa Scolari [15:46]:
Jolyn Armstrong [16:06]:
Yeah. And so I know that a lot of… I work with some people who have family members in the military, who also say, “Man, I encouraged him to join the military and now this has happened.” I did have a part in that but the reality is, no, whatever actions you took, you didn’t ask for any bad thing to happen.
Alyssa Scolari [16:27]:
Jolyn Armstrong [16:28]:
Alyssa Scolari [16:29]:
That’s a hard thing for trauma survivors. That’s a very hard thing.
Jolyn Armstrong [16:33]:
Trauma is so insidious. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. But the other thing too, I’ve learned, tell me if this resonates with you, is that it seems like trauma acts a bit like a kiln. You know what that is? What pottery people use, that oven, that super hot oven that just solidifies their creation.
Alyssa Scolari [16:54]:
Jolyn Armstrong [16:54]:
So the positive things that we learn in trauma, that coping mechanisms, all of the things that we do to feel better, get solidified and they become lifelong, great habits that we have, which is why I love that light after trauma. We can come out of this, if we do some work and make sure that our coping mechanisms are healthy. We come out of this in such a better way.
Alyssa Scolari [17:23]:
Jolyn Armstrong [17:24]:
Alyssa Scolari [17:25]:
And regardless of what you’ve been through you, we can, and you have and you are. So how did you do that? And then land in this place where you’re like, “Well, now I’m going to help other people,” because that’s incredible.
Jolyn Armstrong [17:43]:
Well, thank you, yeah. I realized, in large part thanks to my husband who kept saying, “Jolyn, you have got to find some help here, you’re sinking.”
Alyssa Scolari [17:53]:
Good for him.
Jolyn Armstrong [17:54]:
Yeah, yeah, oh my gosh. I’ve got the best husband in the whole world.
Alyssa Scolari [17:58]:
That’s awesome that he has that level of respect that when your loved ones in your life, the safe people in your life I should say, tell you that, I think it’s awesome.
Jolyn Armstrong [18:11]:
Yeah, I was so fortunate to have him during this time and since then, but so what I realized at that time was, I’m spending so much time spinning in this fear and this isolation and all of the things. I’m spinning off here. And for me, because I’m just like a practical… I compartmentalize things and I want to do whatever research that I need to do, whatever. I’m like, I can spend the same amount of time researching helpful things for me to do to recover from this. And I did seek the help of a professional and she pointed me to CBT and DBT exercises, which were phenomenal for me, right?
Alyssa Scolari [18:59]:
Jolyn Armstrong [19:00]:
Yes. And then the healing began because now I’ve got something, when my mind is just off spinning, I’ve got a way to bring it back home. And to find that, what I call the eye of the storm, because I was in a hurricane, no joke. And through these exercises, through this research and these practices, I was able to… that storm is still out there, but I’ve got this bubble of peace around me. The eye of the storm that I can just take a breath in. And I did` that repeatedly over time and just kept, okay, things are going crazy, I’m coming back into the eye of the storm. I got to calm myself back down.
And then through practices in these exercises, researching more of these exercises, I spent thousands of hours looking through all of the DBT exercises I could find and testing them all and trying them all. And a lot of them didn’t work. And a lot of them did and I threw out what didn’t work and repeated what did work. And so through all of that time, I went, you know what? If I can find an eye in this storm, where I’ve… all of the things that I have been going through, not just, oh my gosh, my son’s going through this, but I’m losing my son. He was facing a life sentence. I’m like, I’ll never have another birthday with him. I’ll never… the loss and all of those things.
Alyssa Scolari [20:24]:
Jolyn Armstrong [20:25]:
If I can find the eye of this storm and come out better for having been through this, I need to help others do that too, because there’s a lot of us. When I saw that definition of trauma, I’m like, our world needs some help here. You know what I mean?
Alyssa Scolari [20:40]:
Yes, the world needs some support. Totally.
Jolyn Armstrong [20:44]:
Yes, yes. And so, if I can help as many people as I can and make a tiny, tiny dent in the trauma that we’re all experiencing, great, I’m going to do that. I’m going to do that because what else is there? At this point, what else is there? This had to happen to me for a reason. And that also gave me that kind of reason to move forward, so…
Alyssa Scolari [21:07]:
So that was the inspiration for the… because it’s Grapevine Mindware.
Jolyn Armstrong [21:13]:
Alyssa Scolari [21:14]:
Which I love. Can you explain to me where you got that from?Grapevine Mindware.
Jolyn Armstrong [21:21]:
Yeah, so Grapevine is kind of an umbrella business that I had already, but Mindware, yeah it’s that time to update your mindware, a play on the software term, because I always love using technology and things like that, so it’s just my technology play.
Alyssa Scolari [21:39]:
Well, you know what’s so funny? I actually, I thought to myself when I saw it, I thought, I saw Mindware and my brain went to Tupperware.
Jolyn Armstrong [21:39]:
Oh that’s funny.
Alyssa Scolari [21:47]:
But I had the same thought process of, time to throw out that old, nasty Tupperware.
Jolyn Armstrong [21:48]:
Oh, there you go, yeah. It is like an update thing, but yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [21:59]:
I love it.
Jolyn Armstrong [22:00]:
Mindware, yeah. Instead of software, I used, yeah, so…
Alyssa Scolari [22:03]:
I love it. I love it. So what is your business look like now?
Jolyn Armstrong [22:09]:
Right, so I started initially… the folks that came to me initially, were a lot of people that I would communicate with in the prison space because holy cow, those folks. Oh my gosh, my heart goes out to them so much. And yeah, just because of that, I found a couple of support groups. I’m now running a few national support groups as well, with a group, well, COVID has helped us with that. So I joined up with a few people who had small groups in their cities, support groups for families of people who are involved in the criminal justice system. And COVID forced them to go online and then meet each other and we’ve all kind of met across the country.
And so now we collaborate and run some support groups there. But, more so now with COVID, a lot of folks are coming to me with just trauma around all of the different aspects of COVID. And initially it was, “I lost my business, I lost my job. I didn’t even do anything to lose my job, but now I can’t feed my kids.” And now things are opening up and there’s a whole nother wave of trauma around that. And it’s just yeah, it’s a lot. It’s a lot in a lot of different ways, but it’s all trauma.
Alyssa Scolari [23:31]:
It’s all trauma. I mean, as a whole, as a collective, we have been traumatized by this pandemic and I love the help that you’re giving specifically related to that, because I think, A, there’s not nearly enough of it. I don’t know how there could ever possibly be enough of it because so many people were impacted. And now we’re in this phase of the second… I think it’s like the second wave of trauma, where first it was, people are getting sick and dying and this is horrifying and we don’t know what to do and we’re scared. But now it’s the aftermath of, well, it was kind of like, all right, it’s okay to go out and play again. Well, how? How do we do that?
Jolyn Armstrong [24:14]:
Right. Right. I’ve been fearful for the whole last year and a half now and yeah. Is it safe to send my kids out? Is it safe for me? I’m standing in line here and all of a sudden now it’s okay, to be like… the plexiglass is coming down and masks are coming off and yeah, how do we deal with that? And trusting each other, I think, has been hugely impacted, how do I trust that this other person is what they say they are? Are they safe?
Alyssa Scolari [24:44]:
We’ve been taught to fear each other for so long and now, yeah. I mean, so much of my private practice is like… well, a lot of the discussions are centered around, well, “I’m afraid to take my mask off. I’m afraid,” and it’s like-
Jolyn Armstrong [25:05]:
This has become this safety for us, right?
Alyssa Scolari [25:10]:
Jolyn Armstrong [25:11]:
And yeah, it’s not… oh my gosh, so much.
Alyssa Scolari [25:16]:
So much and so traumatizing but I think the thing that you focus on the most, which is fascinating to me, is perspective. So how does perspective play a role in all of this?
Jolyn Armstrong [25:29]:
Right. Right. Well, and especially like you mentioned where we’ve been taught not to trust each other, over the past 18 months, it’s like we’ve been… so what is my perspective of this other person? I see a person coming towards me with no mask, or I’m approaching a counter and now there’s no protective glass between us and what is my perspective of this situation? How can I come into this situation and be okay with it, when 18 months ago I was, but now I’m not? And os yeah, I look at… Tell me if you’re experiencing this too, but one thing that happens to me with folks coming to me is, they’ll say, “Here’s my understanding of this situation, however right or wrong or whatever it is, this is their belief of this situation. And this is where I’m at, this person probably isn’t vaccinated and they’re probably going to try… you know what I mean? I may get sick, or I may take this home to an elderly parent or whatever. And here’s my perception of this situation. This is it. This is the room I’m in, this is it.”
Alyssa Scolari [26:46]:
This is it. This is my reality.
Jolyn Armstrong [26:47]:
Yeah. And we are… because fear really cements that in for us, it’s how do we take a step back and look at the real picture and maybe look at some other perspectives around why this has been so traumatizing for us? Why maybe the perspective I have is so difficult for me to deal with? And one exercise that I work with my clients with is called, I don’t even know why it’s called this, but it’s a six pack exercise. Do you know that exercise?
Alyssa Scolari [27:24]:
I have not heard of that. I am so ready to learn that. What is this six pack exercise?
Jolyn Armstrong [27:29]:
I don’t know how it got its name, because it has nothing to do with alcohol or anything like that, but here we go. It’s a really, really effective reframing tool that I use often. So, when you’re facing a situation and your belief is what it is. This person is coming at me without a mask because they don’t care about me, because they are irresponsible and whatever I’ve been believing for the past 18 months. Let’s come up with six reasons that that other person… that the situation is what it is. Six other reasons that that person may be coming at you without a mask on, or six other reasons why that plexiglass is coming down and here’s the situation that you’re in. And in coming up with six reasons, because there’s six of them, it’s okay, let’s get ridiculous with some of them. Maybe extra points for one of them being super ridiculous, right?
Alyssa Scolari [28:28]:
Jolyn Armstrong [28:29]:
Alyssa Scolari [28:29]:
I love it.
Jolyn Armstrong [28:29]:
Yeah. But let’s at least have some in there that can be true. Let’s make sure they’re true. And then let’s look at the reason that is most helpful for you because we’re all living in our own reality. We’re living in our own set of beliefs. So, let’s look at one of the six reasons that we’ve come up with and find which one brings you the most peace, which one is the most helpful for you, which one makes the most sense to you and will allow you to now move into that situation in a much more comfortable, calm way. As long as it’s true because you can’t be one of your ridiculous things.
Alyssa Scolari [29:10]:
Jolyn Armstrong [29:09]:
So yeah, yeah. So it’s really just reframing our view on a situation in a kinder way, that is more helpful to us and let’s work on adopting one of those reasons. So I’ll give you an example. Yeah, I’ll give you an example and this has nothing to do with COVID, but for me, driving gives me a lot of opportunity to use the six pack exercise. And so for me, when somebody does something just really obnoxious on the roadways that is dangerous or whatever, I’m going to come up with some reasons why they may have done that thing. So, I’m driving down a road, the speed limit is 35, double yellow line and a person flies past me, around me and speeds off down the road way over the speed limit, way unsafe situation. What in the world was that jerk doing? And all the things that I can come up with to… right?
Alyssa Scolari [30:11]:
Oh, yes. All the choice words.
Jolyn Armstrong [30:13]:
Oh my goodness.
Alyssa Scolari [30:15]:
I’m like, this happens to me everyday of the week driving in New Jersey.
Jolyn Armstrong [30:18]:
Right, yeah. So let’s come over with some reasons why that person may have done that, okay? Maybe they have to use the bathroom really, really bad and they need to get home to their bathroom.
Alyssa Scolari [30:31]:
We’ve all been there.
Jolyn Armstrong [30:33]:
Yes. Maybe they have a woman in labor in their car and they need to get to the ER. Maybe they are speeding home to a child who has been hurt. The babysitter’s called them and said, “Your child’s bleeding. They need you right now.” “Oh my gosh. Go for it. I’ll pull over. You go ahead,” right?
Alyssa Scolari [30:54]:
Jolyn Armstrong [30:56]:
So that’s just some examples of some mindsets that are less obnoxious that the other person may have. And let’s just adopt one of those because we’ve adopted the one that we think they’re just a jerk and have no value of life. And don’t care if they kill themselves or everyone else on the road.
Alyssa Scolari [31:19]:
Yes. Yes. And that’s so often what we jump to, which is, myself included and when I say we-
Jolyn Armstrong [31:27]:
We all do it.
Alyssa Scolari [31:28]:
… I mean we because I am right there with you going… especially for me, my big trigger is motorcyclists. No offense to any of the safe motorcycle drivers out there. If you are a safe one, I appreciate you. But I get so triggered by motorcycle drivers, who just swerve in and out of lanes. And my husband and I were driving home from, we went out to eat yesterday and we were driving home and there were these two just really obnoxious… the loud engine. And first of all, that’s a trigger for me, the noise itself puts me on edge. But then when they’re swerving in and out of traffic, driving on the side of the road, that actually is illegal to drive on, I’m over here in the passenger seat, like…
Jolyn Armstrong [32:18]:
Aah, losing your mind, right?
Alyssa Scolari [32:21]:
Losing my goddamn shit going, “You know what’s going to happen? They’re going to get themselves killed. And then they’re going to traumatize the person that ends up hitting them because they’re being irresponsible on the road.” But, that said, what does that do? Does that help them to slow down? No. You know what it does? Raises my blood pressure and makes me feel traumatized.
Jolyn Armstrong [32:47]:
Exactly. Exactly. So let’s come up with a reason for those freaking motorcyclists. You know what? What if those were two brothers who had just lost their mother and who were just feeling like, oh my gosh, there is no reason to be careful anymore. We’ve lost this person, the only person maybe, who loves us in the whole wide world and life just isn’t even worth it. And I’m going, I’m just going to go.
Alyssa Scolari [33:17]:
Right. “Let’s go on a reckless drive. Let’s just be gone,” like two grieving people-
Jolyn Armstrong [33:21]:
“I just can’t deal with it.”
Alyssa Scolari [33:22]:
… totally changes the perspective, therefore regulates your stress levels much more because you will look at them with a sense of empathy.
Jolyn Armstrong [33:33]:
Empathy, right, right. And maybe it’s not true, but who cares if it’s not true because your first assumption may not be true either.
Alyssa Scolari [33:43]:
Jolyn Armstrong [33:43]:
So it can be true. It’s possible to be true. So that passes our reality test. Could it be true? Yes, it can be true. Is it helpful for me? Yes, it is helpful for me. So I’m adopting that, I’m feeling empathy for them and I’m able to go on with my life. So that’s the six pack exercise.
Alyssa Scolari [34:07]:
I love it. I love it. And I love the cognitive, behavioral, the CBT approach that you have, because I think it’s so helpful. And I wonder, I don’t know if you recommend this, but I think for me, sometimes even instead of just saying it in my head, I need to either speak it out loud because I think speaking it solidifies it more. Or I need to write it down, instead of just going through it in my head because when I have these thoughts in my head, I just let them go. But when I speak them out loud or write them into existence, I think that helps even more.
Jolyn Armstrong [34:46]:
Totally, totally, yes. And in the car situation, of course, you’re going to speak it to whoever you’re in the car with. You can have a conversation about it. I’ve had so much fun conversation about making up excuses for people in this six pack exercise. So that part, I mean, we just have fun with it, my poor husband. But yeah, you’re right. So in other situations, definitely writing out, “What are six reasons why, in COVID, I lost my business? Why was my business forced to shut down? And now other people are opening back up and I don’t have the finances to open back up.
What is the reason behind this? Because it’s not… I feel like it’s all just this insidious attack on small business. But let’s look at maybe some other reasons for it.” So that’s where you can use a six pack exercise in another situation and really write out those reasons and explore them and do all six of them. Even if it’s difficult to come up with, we came up with a few right off the top of our heads, but come up with six solid reasons. A couple of them maybe can be ridiculous, but others need to pass that reality test too.
Alyssa Scolari [36:05]:
I love it. I love it. And I think that it’s very important, especially for the times that we are entering where the world is opening up after a year and a half of nobody trusting anybody and everybody’s defenses are up and we are primed to hate one another, fear one another. I mean that is, it’s invaluable what you’re offering to people.
Jolyn Armstrong [36:36]:
Oh thank you, Alyssa. Yeah. It’s important. It really is important to also to have another person guide you through working through some of these exercises and helping to look at perspective. And it’s so important.
Alyssa Scolari [36:51]:
Yes. Thank you for saying that because it truly is not something… as much as we’ve been primed to distrust one another, none of us were meant to go through this life alone. So yes, you can certainly try to do some of the stuff on your own and some of it will be effective. But also part of what’s effective, I believe even more so, is making that connection with somebody who can help you along that path of reframing, changing your perspective.
Jolyn Armstrong [37:24]:
Yes, totally, totally. Especially in a world where we’ve been isolated for so long, so we need that. We totally need that.
Alyssa Scolari [37:31]:
Oh God. We need it so much.
Jolyn Armstrong [37:34]:
So much, yes, yes.
Alyssa Scolari [37:36]:
As scared as we all may be of it, it’s what we need.
Jolyn Armstrong [37:40]:
Yeah, for sure, for sure.
Alyssa Scolari [37:43]:
Now, if people want to work with you, are you working with people individually, or are you doing more just the support groups right now?
Jolyn Armstrong [37:52]:
Yeah. So what I’ve done, so past the, or in addition to the work with families of people in the criminal justice system and especially through COVID, so many folks have come to me with trauma around those things too, the support groups are free, larger groups. For me, I feel like the connection is way more effective one-on-one, especially initially.
Alyssa Scolari [38:19]:
Jolyn Armstrong [38:20]:
So I work one-on-one with folks all the time in a Zoom setting, just like this. So no matter where they are, no matter where I am, we can work together and form that connection and work through some of these exercises together. I also work in a small group setting. The small groups I work with are super curated people who have, either initially worked with me one-on-one, or who are very familiar with CBT and DBT exercises because we work through in those groups, a lot of those exercises together. So, I like to meet people where they’re at and some people feel way more comfortable in a small group setting.
Alyssa Scolari [39:01]:
Jolyn Armstrong [39:01]:
Yeah. So, yep, one-on-one, small groups and then the larger support groups, if that’s necessary as well. I also have created for those people who just really aren’t ready yet, are taking the baby steps in the beginning, I’ve created some just email series as a reminder, like every single day for 21 days, you’ll get an email with a different DBT exercise to help prompt you to start that habit.
Alyssa Scolari [39:29]:
I love that.
Jolyn Armstrong [39:30]:
Alyssa Scolari [39:31]:
Jolyn Armstrong [39:32]:
Yeah. So for those that aren’t really ready yet to totally plunge in, but want to dip their toe in, sign up for that free email series, it’s on my website and you can just get those prompts every single day and practice them on your own, before diving in with a guide or anyone, so…
Alyssa Scolari [39:53]:
I love that because I think it’s a great stepping stone for, like you said, people who maybe aren’t quite ready to dive right in, but just want to dip their toes in.
Jolyn Armstrong [40:02]:
Yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure.
Alyssa Scolari [40:05]:
And then for the listeners, we are so VIP status right now, we have our own landing page.
Jolyn Armstrong [40:15]:
That’s right. I had some special gifts I wanted to give just to your listeners. So I created a landing page for you. It’s grapevinemindware.com/lightaftertrauma. And there’s some goodies there for ya and all of the connections, all the goodies there. Email and social media and whatever, you can find all of that right there on that page.
Alyssa Scolari [40:39]:
Yes. I love it. On that landing page, just as a little sneak peek, you have access to a free e-series.
Jolyn Armstrong [40:51]:
Alyssa Scolari [40:51]:
So, this is already linked in the show notes for you all. Hop to it, go check that out because seriously, this stuff that we are talking about today, is crucial when it comes to not just navigating a post-pandemic world, but truly navigating all aspects of recovery from trauma. When we have PTSD, our brains are wired for survival, they’re wired for protection. And that is where this new perspective and the ability to reframe and ultimately rewire your brain, is crucial for recovery. So this is really important and it’s free, which is quite frankly unheard of in this world. So, I highly encourage you all to go check that out. Jolyn, thank you so, so much for being vulnerable today, for sharing your story, for truly embodying what this podcast is all about, which is finding the light in what can feel like overwhelming and endless darkness. So thank you so, so much.
Jolyn Armstrong [42:02]:
Thank you for having me, Alyssa. I really, really enjoyed our conversation.
Alyssa Scolari [42:06]:
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com, or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter, it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. To support our show, we are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over again, that’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you and we appreciate your support. [singing].