This show furnished by Triune Therapy Group.
Dr. Kate: Good evening Los Angeles. Welcome to Behind Closed Doors. Heard every Saturday at 6pm right here on Talk Radio 790 KABC. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.
Dr. Kate: And we’re the co-founders of Triune Therapy group, a psychotherapy practice here in Los Angeles. Behind Closed Doors is a show about sex, relationships, mental health, addiction, staying healthy and other related current events. So today, we are going to be focusing on the topic of resilience: what it is and why it is important. This is one of my favorite topics Lauren, I’m so excited.
Dr. Kate: If you have any questions about the topic as we are going through, give us a call at 800-222-5222. That’s 800-222-KABC or Message us directly on Instagram or Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc.
So Lauren, as I said this is one of my favorite topics of all time to talk about.
Lauren: It’s an important topic
Dr. Kate: It’s really important, right? So when you think about resilience, what do you think about?
Lauren: Well, one of the reasons I think it’s a really important topic it is because we deal with trauma. However, resilience isn’t just about how we cope with trauma, it’s about how we cope with any stressors.
Dr. Kate: Right.
Lauren: So, it really, it’s our ability to adapt and to cope with everyday stressors to severe trauma.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. I think about resilience as the mitigating factor of like what turns something from a mountain down into a molehill.
Lauren: Right and I think it’s a big factor. You know, quite frequently, you can have two children raised in the same household, same type of environment, same trauma: one of them is able to emerge successfully and the other one is very wounded. And so I think resilience is a big factor in why you know, one might do better than the other.
Dr. Kate: That is a really great point. I mean, they’ve done a lot of studies on researching the impact of environments with twins, right? And so, the genetics are the same. So, really we are looking at how do environmental factors influence different children in different ways. And it’s stunning and startling to see how different even people with the same genetic code can emerge from circumstances that might have been a little bumpy or turbulent.
Lauren: Yeah. Absolutely. And you know, I used to work at children’s hospital Los Angeles with 0 to 5 year olds that had been traumatized, and I think it starts with the parents. And it’s so helpful if they have at least one parent or caregiver. That can be someone who is not only a support, but can also model resilience. So, you know, that’s where children learn. And so if they have a parent who is facing all these you know, hardships, and they’re able to show/demonstrate resilience, then I think the child learns that as well.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. Well, I hear a lot of people talk about resilience, but I think it might be helpful to have a working definition of what resilience really is. So, Webster might define it one way. The way that I talk about it with patients is to really think about resilience as set of tools, either internal tools that we have, whether we’re born with it or whether we learnt it from our parents or from peers or from other people around us growing up. But, it’s really the ability to get through any kind of stressful situation and feel intact. And, that can feel really challenging when we are in the middle of a stressful or traumatic situation, but inevitably we get through it. It just depends how gracefully we get through it and how quickly we get through it, right?
Dr. Kate: And what factors into how quickly and gracefully we get through this what kind of resilience we maintain.
Lauren: Well, I think it’s important you know, as we talked about how one child might emerge more successfully than another, I think it’s important to know that it’s not something that’s finite. You know, it’s definitely something that can be learnt if you are interested in learning it.
Dr. Kate: Well, that’s a really good point. And you might ask well, why wouldn’t someone want to be resilient?
Lauren: Right. Well, I… you know, that’s a… I mean, that’s a big question you work with every day. Why do some people want to get better and some people choose to remain in their trauma or remain in the victim mode? But I think it’s something that does… it’s not something you just go to a class and learn, it takes a lot of hard work and it often takes a lot of time, but it can be done.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, there is a lot of different ways to develop resilience. And you know, a couple of things to really consider are that resilience is built in… with everyday practices. Like you said, it’s not something you just take a pill for, it’s not something you go to one therapy session and you emerge; voila! Fixed.
Dr. Kate: Right?
Dr. Kate: Resilience takes time, it takes practice and it’s important to invest in that proactively, so that when life bumps do hit you, you are prepared for it and you can navigate them more effectively. So, a couple of things that can help people really try to build resilience on a proactive basis would be to make connections. Cause when we get stuck in traumatic or difficult situations, it often feels really easy to isolate, but it’s important to lean into community and talk to friends, talk to people that you trust. If you don’t trust anyone, find someone that you can build some trust with.
Lauren: Go to support groups. There’s lots of support groups that people can join that can be really supportive and helpful and you know, building those skills.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. Absolutely. Another thing is to remember that when we are in the thick of any sort of traumatic or stressful event, it can be easy to catastrophize and think that the end of the world is upon us. But, it’s really important to avoid seeing crisis as these unavoidable pitfalls that will have forever impactful changes in our lives, because it might, but probably not to the degree that our feelings are telling us it will in the moment.
Lauren: Right. And I think you bring up a good point. I think when we catastrophize, what we can observe is the escalation of our emotions, so we go from like 0 to 10 really quickly. And so, I think it’s helpful to notice when you’re starting to escalate and to be able to use tools to regulate your emotions. And some people don’t have self-regulation capacity. But that is also something that can definitely be learned.
Dr. Kate: Absolutely. You know, thinking about setting really small and realistic goals for yourself is a key to building resilience, right? We might say well, one day I’m going to buy a condo and I’m going to live happily ever after, but that might not be realistic for today. So, what can you do in this moment? And I like what you said earlier when we were talking about this Lauren, about sometimes the smallest thing that you can do is just to pick up that thousand pound phone, right? And call someone.
Dr. Kate: Or if getting out of bed is all you can muster for the day? Okay. Do that.
Lauren: Right. And if you can just focus on something like that. Like if there is nothing you feel like you can do, just like can you smile at someone today? Can you spread some kindness? Can you think about others?
Dr. Kate: Yeah. That’s a great way to say it. So, looking for opportunities for self-discovery in any pain is I think for me, one of the key factors in building and maintaining resilience. And, the bonus on top of that is that when you explore yourself and the impact that a situation has had on you, you get the benefits of digging deep down beyond… you know, under the layers of all of your onion. That makes you stay far more in contact with yourself, and it keeps you connected to the people around you which enriches your relationships, and then enhances your intimacy and your resilience even more.
Dr. Kate: So, it’s really the gift that keeps on giving.
Lauren: When working with people that have pretty significant trauma and addiction, you know, there’s a lot of things that are in their past that bring up a lot of shame. And I think being able to make meaning out of their experience is the one thing that allows them to move forward, so that they are able to look at like all the things that have happened to them make up who they are. And that’s what got them where they are now, and they like who they are now, and so they’re able to make meaning out of the things that they’ve had to experience. And often, it’s just that having had those experiences allows them to help others.
Dr. Kate: Agreed. I hear so many people talk about in their personal recovery: “now I understand why I went through everything that I went through, because I spoke today at a meeting and it changed the life of someone who heard me say this and they connected.” And that gives them meaning and that creates such an intricate tapestry of connection and love and value.
Dr. Kate: And feeling that value and connection with others helps all the tough spots feel more manageable.
Lauren: There’s a little phrase I often use with parents, cause parents are often saying “oh my god. Is it my fault?” You know, and they say every parent messes up, there is no perfect parent. So every parent blooms their child, but the wounds becomes the child’s journey. And, our journey is what gives our life meaning and so, often it’s bumpy, but it’s overcoming that hardship that makes life rich.
Dr. Kate: Absolutely. Maintaining hope is another key thing to remember when building resilience and sometimes it can feel really hopeless, like what’s the point? There’s no reason for me to even be living, or there’s no reason for me to look at this in any other way. But it’s really important to try keep at least a cockeyed optimistic look on your face and in your heart when you’re looking at the travesties that you are being faced with, because if you can find just a little bit of lemonade in that lemon, that can be enough to get you through it.
Lauren: Yeah. And I think so many people can identify with having gone through periods where they felt utterly hopeless, and if we looked back to that time in our life and ask… you know, if you could say something to that person. You know, quite frequently they decide to say things like “God! If only I would have known it gets better.” It does get better you know. But when we are in that state of hopelessness, it often feels like we just have tunnel vision.
Dr. Kate: Absolutely. Well, I think the last tip that I want to leave our listeners with today in building resilience is self-care. And, we talk about self-care and some of our other episodes a little bit here and there, and I really want to just emphasize on how important it is to pay attention to your own needs in the moment. And if you don’t know what your needs are, that’s okay. Maybe take some time to explore that. And you can do that with a friend, with a therapist.
Lauren: Writing can be really helpful cause a lot of stuff is accessed with that part of the brain that we wouldn’t have ordinarily been able to access through talking.
Dr. Kate: Definitely. Well, I was thinking about this woman that I worked with, and I think I want to share her story just briefly before we go on break. So, I used to work in lots of different prison systems and this particular prison was a maximum security facility for women. And, this woman that I worked with was twenty years old at the time I worked with her; this was a long time ago. And I will never forget her because she was so resilient and it really struck me. And I will never forget the never ending smile on her face. So, she was Incarcerated for prostitution and some drug related charges and she had been a runaway because she lived with her father and he was a single parent. And he was trafficking her sexually in exchange for drugs on a daily basis. And you could only imagine the terror and the betrayal and the hurt and you know, the entire landscape of hopeless that she was faced with before she ran away.
Lauren: I can’t imagine.
Dr. Kate: She would just come into treatment every day with a smile and she was eager to learn and she would always… oh I’m getting choked up just thinking about her. She would always say like you know what, that was my past; this is my future. What Can I do differently now? What can I learn now? And, her resilience was just unparalleled.
Lauren: Wow. What great example in the prison system. I wouldn’t imagine there’s a lot of… I would imagine it would be really hard to have resilience in that population.
Dr. Kate: It can be. Definitely. Well, we’re going to take a break and when we come back, we are meeting with special guests Kelly Noonan-Gores and Dr. Michael Mollura. The creative visionaries behind the recently released documentary Heal: a film about how our thoughts, beliefs and emotion shapes our capacity to recover from life’s adversities. Thanks so much. Tune in, stay with us.
Dr. Kate: Welcome back. You’re listening to Behind Closed Doors. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.
Dr. Kate: And we’re here talking about resilience. Our special guests today are really lovely people. Lauren and I have known each of them individually for quite some time. And, they are here to talk about the capacity of our mind when we are trying to heal. So, I want to introduce Kelly Noonan-Gores and Dr. Michael Mollura, the creative visionaries of the film Heal. So, welcome. Thank you.
Lauren: We’re so excited to have you guys here today.
Kelly: Thank you for having us.
Dr. Michael: Yeah. Thank you for having us.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit about both of your backgrounds and the film Heal.
Dr. Michael: Well, I’m a composer and I spent most of my life in music in the healing components of frequencies and vibrations that are associated with music composing. And then I also have a PhD in psychology, so…
Dr. Kate: So, you are really well apt for this film.
Lauren: Yeah. Good combination.
Dr. Michael: Yeah. It what kind of a dream project for me to be asked to do this and I was just so excited. I was brought on by Adam Schomer who also produced the film with Kelly. And, you know, Adam and I had worked on other films together and he just said this is the guy, you know, because I have a background both in the healing components of the mind and also, they needed a score and that’s what I provide.
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Dr. Michael: So, it’s really beautiful. I’m really excited about the whole thing.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. The soundtrack to the film was just amazing.
Dr. Michael: Thank you.
Dr. Kate: It’s breathtaking.
Dr. Michael: Thank you.
Dr. Kate: Kelly, how about you?
Kelly: Yes. So, I’m Kelly Noonan-Gores with a frog in my throat cause I lost my voice.
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Kelly: So, part of my voice. I am the writer, director and producer of Heal. Heal it’s kind of my vision and my passion. And, you know, I think that I wanted to put it in film because I grew up in the entertainment industry. I acted on and on my whole life, grew up in Southern California here, so Los Angeles was right around the corner. And, you know, basically all of the people that I put in the film were teachers that had really impacted my life and empowered me and I wanted to kind of share that message and empower other people. And my goal, I wanted watching Heal to kind of be an experience as well, a healing experience in itself. So, you know, he just… his music has that quality; it’s really really special because of his background.
Lauren: And what about this specific topic inspired you?
Kelly: You know, I’m really fascinated with the power of the mind and I’ve always been kind of a seeker, like I love to understand things. I don’t know if its cause my father made me read the manual, he wouldn’t teach me how to do things.
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Kelly: He’s like “figure it out”. But, I really just want to understand what… how can we have this optimal human experience in this life time and also just to kind of become aware of and heal anything that’s blocking me. And you know, I found out over the years that 99% of it was mental and emotional. So, I just… I’m just I’m fascinated about the power of the mind and the mind-body connection. And as I learnt things about epigenetics, I just… I really felt that we have so much, there’s so much possible that we are just not aware of, and I wanted to explore that.
Lauren: Yeah. You guys talk about quantum physics in the film and it’s so interesting because I don’t know how many people have that much knowledge of quantum physics, but when you start looking at those concepts, it really like cracks your mind wide open. I mean, it’s really like you know, you start thinking of things as not things but energy and it’s really cool.
Kelly: It really is. It’s… and I’m not an expert, that’s why I kind of wanted to gather up you know, the pe…cause I can’t articulate it, but every time I would learn about quantum physics and these really fascinating concepts, I couldn’t articulate it, but it resonated so deeply with me. And you know, how we live in this world of infinite possibilities and what we focus on, we bring about to be. So just playing with that, and trying to understand that more and really trying to share that message that we can shift, and we co-create our reality in a sense.
Dr. Kate: I like the way you said that. What’s one thing that you walked away from after having created this film and pulling together all of the different teachers and people who influenced you, and really worked with in the film thinking like oh I didn’t know that before or that kind of blew my mind?
Kelly: Yeah. For me, it was the sub-conscious mind and the belief systems. I always knew that our thoughts you know, thoughts become things and what we focus on, we attract, or that whole law of vibration or attraction or whatever you want to call it. But, what I didn’t realize is that we have all of these belief systems and these software running in the background that are shaping our lives, but they are subconscious. We are not aware that they are these programs that we most of the time downloaded as a young child, and they are running the show. And, we adopted this belief systems from other people that are not even our true beliefs you know. So, to become aware of those and then kind of decide what we really want to believe and shift in that way.
Lauren: Well, that… what you say about that really brings up our topic, right? Because if you’ve grown up with trauma, you really see how that can create a really negative dialogue in your mind and you know, really impact your ability to have resilience totally.
Kelly: And you find yourself reacting from these subconscious beliefs and you don’t understand why till your aware they’re there.
Dr. Michael: Yeah. I was wanting to just jump in here and just say I think one of the components of this film that made it so successful, and what’s interesting to people is that it was educative. You know, it really teaches people about very very complicated concepts like quantum physics and epigenetics and the subconscious and how the subconscious works. And how that influences people to have a better idea of how they can heal whatever they are working on. And you know, I have so many people who are contacting me now who are saying I want to show this film to people I know who have struggled with all kinds of complications, whether it’s an eating disorder to depression or anxiety issues. And this film I think, just so nicely blends the concept of science with spiritual components, but I mean the emphasis on science I think it’s what makes it really special. The combination of having people that… real scientists talking about quantum physics and then you have Michael Beckwith for example, coming in and showing where the heart is and all of this. Because I think people get lost in the science and they think you know, they don’t know how to get their head around it, or how it makes sense. And then this film really kinds of nicely breaks it down very… in a language that makes sense to people who don’t have PhDs and master’s degrees.
Dr. Kate: Right. And I think that’s a really important point, because when people don’t understand something, they often dismiss it and so, I find that in my work and in conversations with people in social circles often times, they are very quick to say oh that’s mumbo jumbo or oh that’s psychology bologna, or oh this or oh that. And they really are dismissive of what they don’t understand. So, I think this film did a really nice job of making these complex topics palatable and tangible and easily digestible so that people might actually maintain an open mind to it. I’m not saying you have to accept or agree with everything that’s in the film, but certainly, it offers on an opportunity for people to broaden their horizons in a way that doesn’t feel intimidating or scary or even proselytizing. There is no agenda in this film and I really liked that.
Lauren: Right. It just really instilled such a sense of hope. You know, you talked about going to see feel good movies. I mean, this was a documentary of it and instilled such a sense of hope.
Dr. Kate: It really did. So Michael, I’m curious. How did having a PhD in clinical psychology inform the compositions that you created for this film?
Dr. Michael: Well, a lot of my work even as a therapist has to do with sound and vibrations and frequencies, and I work a lot with dreams and I compose music to dreams. And, scoring a film is a lot like doing this work of going into the so to speak, the unconscious of the film; that’s the unspoken language. What I really love about the film is that it really opens up this idea that there is another language. It’s like we’re speaking right now, but then there’s also another language that’s going on simultaneously. And the same thing happens with film when you’re watching a film, you are watching images. Along with the images are sounds, and those sounds are influencing and becoming part of the entire experience just the way the brain works. So for me, it’s really exciting to be able to put what would be like healing frequencies and melodies and ideas that are vibrational and frequency oriented into a film that actually helping people to learn more about themselves so they can heal.
Dr. Kate: So, it’s almost like a meta-heal, right?
Dr. Michael: Yeah.
Dr. Kate: You’re watching the film and your music is actually evoking the right brain processes that may contribute to emotional regulation and more healing.
Dr. Michael: Yes. Exactly. You know, it is that combination of also the right left brain that’s what’s also really effective about the film, right? It’s that science and then there’s the heart, there’s the creative aspect of what you’re watching.
Dr. Kate: That’s awesome.
Dr. Michael: So, putting music to this was really special.
Dr. Kate: Cool. So, at one point in the film Kelly, someone mentions that disease is the only thing that results from the chemistry of fear. And first of all I just loved that phrase: the chemistry of fear. I wonder what are your thoughts on the impact of our current culture of stress and fear and its impact on people’s health?
Kelly: Well, I think we see from the opioid epidemic you know, of suicide rates and anxiety and depression in younger people these days are kind of proof of what’s going on and how we… I think that it has to do with obviously the culture and what’s going on in the world, but also, the information overload. You know, we have so much information coming at us that we’re just… I don’t know that we’ve evolved fast enough to be able to process it in a digestible way. So, people are just taking all of that on and having… they are not equipped with tools. So, that’s kind of heal… I want to heal too way people have to become aware of how stress affects them biologically, and then also offer up some tools that they can maybe use to you know, abate that.
Lauren: So, in your opinion, why do you think so many people are suffering from disease today? It’s a big question I know.
Kelly: It’s a big question. [laugh]
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Kelly: Well, I think stress. I mean, stress is a… , and then toxicity of course.
Dr. Kate: Well, we’re going to have to take a break now, but when we come back, let’s talk more about stress and the impact on health with Kelly Noonan-Gores and Dr. Michael Mollura, the creative visionaries behind the film Heal. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc and message us with your questions. Stay with us everyone.
Dr. Kate: Welcome back. You’re listening to Talk Radio 790 KABC. This is Behind Closed Doors. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.
Dr. Kate: And our guests today are Kelly Noonan-Gores and Dr. Michael Mollura, the creators behind the film Heal, which is an incredible documentary about the power of the mind and its capacity to heal. And right when we left off, we were talking about stress and kind of the overload of stress and toxicity in our environment and the impact that has on people’s health. So Kelly, you were talking about how it felt like for you, there was just an overload of stimulation, people are bombarded with all kinds of data and information. Can you say a little bit more about why you think that is a burden and creates disease for people?
Kelly: Yeah. I mean, I think that again everything is so… for me personally, I noticed that it causes overwhelm because we get so much information and there’s so much convenience and so, we become this like drive through culture in society. And then also, social media it’s causing tremendous anxiety, not only in young people because of the comparison and bullying and all of these things.
Lauren: And depression.
Kelly: Yeah. Anxiety and depression in these kids. I mean, I don’t know that I could have handled high school with you know, adolescents it’s hard enough without having to be quantified or qualified with likes and followers. You know what I mean?
Dr. Kate: Absolutely.
Kelly: And comments.
Lauren: Yeah. I can imagine.
Kelly: So, that’s one big thing that is new.
Dr. Kate: That’s huge. Yeah.
Dr. Michael: Yeah. Another big component and very important to stress is understanding how inflammation works. And that’s addressed in the film on a certain level, and it’s become really I don’t know, it’s almost like a big popular trend right now in the world. Everyone is doing fish oil and turmeric, and a lot of the stuff that you get in turmeric, lattes in restaurants now and everything.
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Dr. Michael: And it’s really fantastic. It’s really fun to see this information coming out to a large majority of people. But, you know, what happens with stress is that inflammation increases, and when there’s inflammation, it causes pain and struggle within the body and that’s connected to the mind. And so you have the mind-body experience of pain and stress. And then, you can’t fight disease. The body can’t function the way it was meant to function. And, it’s one of the things about the film; that it’s like getting back to the basic component and belief in the idea that we can heal ourselves. We actually have everything we need to heal ourselves, but we just keep getting in the way you know.
Dr. Kate: Yeah.
Dr. Michael: And that’s I think is one of the great messages that’s in this film.
Dr. Kate: I like that. You know, one of the things that I want to piggy back on from that statement is in the film, someone said the quote and I’m gonna butcher this, but it was something along the lines of: you’re either in fight flight or you’re in rest and repair, and it’s your thoughts that toggle back and forth between the two. Kelly maybe even you said that in the film.
Kelly: It was Kelly Turner, the researcher that wrote radical remission. Yeah. I love that quote.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. It was such a great quote and it really speaks to that Michael, because when we are in that state and we are stuck in a position of victimhood or feeling hopeless like we can’t get out of whatever our state is, our thoughts become a feedback loop that the body listens to, right?
Dr. Michael: Yes.
Dr. Kate: So, if my brain is constantly spitting out thoughts like: this is useless, it’s hopeless, there’s no end in sight, that’s what my body is going to believe and it’s going to feed off the stress of that, but if my mind is spitting out thoughts like: I can do this, I can get through this, tomorrow is a new day, everything is going to be okay, I trust the process, our body is like okay just chill out a little bit, just chill out, and then that information starts to decrease and the healing process can begin.
Dr. Michael: Right. That has also a lot to do with the sympathetic and power Sympathetic Nervous System and how it works, right? Cause you have your brakes and your acceleration. And as Kelly mentioned before, we are constantly accelerating. And when you accelerate, you’re just going to go into a wall, you need those breaks; the Parasympathetic Nervous System. That’s why the film then goes into meditation and other ways to bring down, or to channel or to trigger the Parasympathetic Nervous System, so…
Lauren: Right. So, I think what you are talking about is when we are stressed, we produce cortisol which is totally natural and normal, and it usually goes away when the stress is relieved. But, when we have chronic stress, cortisol doesn’t go away and so we experience what is called the cortisol dump. And, some of the things that you’ve talked about as some of the symptoms of having a cortisol dump, like we gain weight, we develop inflammation, it increases our blood pressure, our blood sugar.
Dr. Michael: And another major thing we do under those circumstances is we go to meds.
Dr. Kate: Right.
Lauren: Which have a whole onsaught of side-effects themselves.
Dr. Michael: Exactly.
Kelly: Yeah. Dr. Jeffery Thompson actually mentions that we have… we actually have… he thinks that chronic stress is leading to an epidemic of misdiagnosis, because diabetes, well, yes it has to do with diet, when you’re in fight or flight constantly, you know, you’re shutting down your immune system, your blood sugar is raising, so you get energy so you can fight for your life, from that tiger that we… you know, that’s how we were designed, but unfortunately we are in fight or flight chronicling, so your immune system’s process you can’t heal, and all of the adrenaline, cortisol, etc. So, all of these things that are being labelled as one other thing are actually just result of being constantly stressed.
Lauren: That’s really int…
Dr. Kate: So for people… Sorry Lauren.
Lauren: No, it’s okay.
Dr. Kate: For people who are just tuning in, we are talking about the documentary: Heal, which you can find on amazon and iTunes. And, this is an amazing documentary that really highlights the power of the mind and the healing process. So, I just want everyone to check that out if you haven’t already seen it. Rent it, buy it, and give it to your friends. If you’re a therapist, put it on your shelf, show it in sessions. It’s a really useful documentary.
Kelly: Thank you.
Lauren: Yeah. I agree. I’ve been giving it as gifts to all my friends and family, and especially for people I know that are dealing with illness and are having difficulties staying positive.
Dr. Kate: Well, one of the things that one of the guests in your film talked about was forgiveness and I think this is such an interesting point to bring up when we were talking about healing because often times, it’s really difficult to forgive and let go. And, a lot of people think “well gosh, if I forgive this person then I’m condoning their behavior” or “if I forgive the circumstances around this trauma, then I’m saying it’s okay” but, really forgiveness is the key to letting go. And, there is that old axiom that staying angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And I think quite literally that’s what the film is trying to express. You don’t have to communicate to the person that you are forgiven that you are forgiven them, but forgiveness is about letting go and letting yourself go from the shackles of that pain and that anger.
Kelly: Exactly. We talk about how you know, negative emotions like resentment and hate and rage and anything that you’re holding inside literally releases stress chemistry into the body, which overtime, it’s going to be very damaging, cause inflammation, etc., shut down your immune system again. So, forgiveness actually becomes an act of self-care, you know. And, Joan Borysenko even mentions it. Like she had a mind body health clinic that she opened thirty years ago which was way ahead of the time, and she said you know, for the people that after the program, they sent away, if the ones that didn’t heal almost always, it came back to a certain resentment that they were holding onto.
Dr. Kate: Yeah.
Lauren: And it’s really hard if we all want to practice self-compassion, but if we can’t practice compassion towards others, it’s really difficult to have compassion towards ourselves.
Dr. Michael: Yes.
Dr. Kate: That’s so true
Dr. Michael: It’s become a really big issue I think this year and the last year. You know, with the political environment being the way it is, there is a lot of polarization with people. You know, it’s hard for people to feel unstressed these days. And, you talked about forgiveness which I think it’s really… I think it’s a very spiritual concept, it’s a very compassionate concept. And it’s one though that is about kind of giving up a certain power, which is what I think some people perceive it as being, but actually I think it’s owning your power and not giving it away. But, a lot of people in this environment, this current environment, the way it is in the world is they are not jumping to forgiveness, they are going into antagonism, they are going to I need to answer back, I need to have my power, own my power and that kind of stuff. So, I think it’s a really great concept that you brought up here.
Dr. Kate: Well, I think you make a really good point too Michael. Because a lot of people are going into that place of being very defended in their positions and antagonistic, whether they are feeling victimized from a personal tragedy or just sort of looking at the world events, and that makes sense to me from an evolutionary perspective because if you think about it, that kind of antagonism is a very activating action, and so it would feel like a natural step towards self-preservation, but actually it’s very destructive because it perpetuates the same kind of drama that we are trying to protect from. And that’s why forgiveness is key because forgiveness actually thwarts that dynamic and thwarts the repeating of antagonism for antagonism. You know, if we think of the saying an eye for an eye, where you have to offer forgiveness and compassion in order to get it back, instead of if you offer antagonism, you’re going to get that back as well.
Lauren: Right. I like the same also that you know, when we are in hate or resentment, we are actually allowing ourselves to be chained to that person.
Dr. Kate: Yes.
Lauren: Right? We are actually giving them so much power.
Dr. Kate: Yes. Yikes. Well, [laugh] Yikes is right. [laugh]
Lauren: Thinking of our list.
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Dr. Michael: [laugh]
Dr. Kate: Well, I’m curious. How has creating this film changed you both as people?
Dr. Michael: Well, I think for me it’s been great in that it’s allowed me to speak not just as a composer, but also as a healer myself and someone who just is… This part of my life is so important. And, you know I’ve done a lot of films and most of my films, I’m like talking about the music and how it was to create a film and the romance of making music. This time, I’m actually, like right now, I’m here talking about my favorite subject which is how to help people, how to be of service to people, how to help people access information and learn what’s available to them in terms of alternative approaches to healing. So, this was… it’s opened up a lot of doors for me in that area and I’m really grateful for Kelly and the whole crew for allowing me to have this voice.
Dr. Kate: What are you working on now Michael?
Dr. Michael: I’m scoring a 10 part docu- series called Road to Dharma which is actually with the producer of Heal: Adam Schomer. And it’s about a bunch of guys who are going up to the top of the Himalayan Mountains and trying to face their own fears. And so, that’s what’s going on.
Dr. Kate: Great. Thank you. Kelly how about you? How has the film impacted you?
Kelly: So many ways. But, again, it was such a great experience because we were putting into practice what we are learning. So, you know, low budget movies generally are stressful but we were really practicing what we were preaching. And you know, and then also just compassion; compassion for myself. I was learning as I was going. This is my first film as directed, so really just like letting it be what it was and doing my best. And being seen is not very comfortable for me.
Dr. Kate: [laugh]
Kelly: So, just you know, just really embracing my humanity and sharing my message with the best that I could.
Dr. Kate: Thank you. Well, we will make sure to put in our podcast information on how listeners can get hold of both of you to find out more about what you are doing, and links to Heal and the soundtrack for Heal. We’re going to take a break right now. Thank you both for joining us. When we come back, more about resilience with internationally renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Ben Talei. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc and message us with your questions. Stay with us, we’ll be right back.
Dr. Kate: Welcome back. You’re listening to Talk Radio 790KABC. If you’ve just tuned in, you’re listening to Behind Closed Doors. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.
Dr. Kate: And feel free to message us on Instagram or Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc with your questions or comments now.
Coming back from our break, we’re here with internationally renowned plastic surgeon and philanthropist Dr. Ben Talei, with whom I’ve had the honor of serving with at on the board of directors for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Dr. Ben: thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. Ben: Yes. Of course. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Kate: Of course. Tell us a little bit about your background; what you do medically and philanthropically.
Dr. Ben: Yes. I’m a facial plastic surgeon. I was born out here in Los Angeles, moved to New York for my training. I was over at Columbia, Cornell and I… At first, I had a neck surgery, so I was doing cancer. And then I moved on to doing reconstruction and then cosmetics after that. So, I did two fellowships out there. After doing residency at Columbia, Cornell, and I focused after that on cosmetics reconstruction of the face and I did birthmark and lasers for kids. Then I moved back to LA about four years ago and I’ve been working here in my private office ever since. Back then I started working with domestic violence groups and the charities for cleft lip and palate and microtia which is lack of ears, and I still do different trips around the world, probably at least twice a year with different groups.
Dr. Kate: Wow.
Lauren: You’re busy.
Dr. Kate: How did you get involved in all of that philanthropic work?
Dr. Ben: It kind of just took a life of its own. Once you start doing charities in general, so not even surgically, but doing fundraising for charities, you do it well and somebody notices, then they ask you for help in the next charity and there is always… there is never a bad cause. So, people come to you and they say well, we have domestic violence, we have shelters, we have kids who don’t have any after school programs. You know, there’s a million different things and they all somehow catch my attention and I kind of added on just doing more and more charities. At some points I was on the board of about like ten different charities.
Dr. Kate: Oh, wow.
Dr. Ben: Yeah. But at that point, that was even parts of like The Women Like Us Foundation as a board member, and I couldn’t really sustain helping so many charities because I was just kind of not doing all the work that they needed me to do, so I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any favors and kind of backed off. And the way that it started with the main charities, I was originally, or at least the main one that I’m part of with you is the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and then the surgical charities for kids. But, the way the NCADV started was just out of plain volunteering for a couple patients in New York who showed up to the office and needed some scars taken care of and I took care of it. After about a year or two of just doing one here, one there, word caught on a little bit in either I think recovery groups or things like that. I had a couple patients called me crying in tears about being in a domestic… you know, an abusive relationship and they didn’t know what to do and I… you know, I’m a good surgeon, I didn’t really know what to do emotionally for them, but you know, they didn’t listen. So, that’s not very helpful when you’re trying to get out of a relationship.
Dr. Ben: So, I handed them immediately to the NCABV and I was just amazed how quickly they were able to respond to everything they needed which was guiding them on what they should do next, how they get out of the house, how to support themselves, a kind of a step-by-step process.
Dr. Kate: Yeah. They’ve got such a lovely wraparound package of services for victims. It’s amazing.
Dr. Ben: They do. And I was amazed by it. And so, immediately, you know, I asked them do you want me to do some fundraising for you guys and they said of course we’d love it, and they are very helpful and hands-on and they kind of bring you in as part of the family pretty quickly. So, it was a great experience. And the first big charity thing that we did was a cross country drive which we call the driving of domestic violence where we took a mini cooper across 23 states, and we had 15 vans which you know, we didn’t raise a ton of money, but we got a lot of awareness for in all these different cities and got to meet all the different groups and interestingly enough, even in the Mini cooper groups. So, it’s a bunch of car groups that came. At least half of the women and even a lot of the guys who were part of it, were abused previously, so they really appreciated the meaning of the drive.
Lauren: Well, that brings up another question which you’ve answered partially, but in what other ways do you see trauma show up in your work?
Dr. Ben: I’ve got tons. I mean, I’m a scar revision specialist, but I mean the focus on the face. So, I see the physical trauma, that’s the easiest I guess for people to understand where. I have people who have been in car accidents or abusive relationships, accidents from someone just hitting them on the face. Then it moves on to the actual kind of emotional trauma which not to make it sound overplayed, but it is very very very prevalent. And that can stem from the same things, which is let’s say you’re in an abusive relationship and you have a scar left from the abusive relationship, that scar can very easily and realistically remind you of the traumatic event.
Dr. Kate: Absolutely.
Dr. Ben: Just like if you had a horrible car accident, and you see a scar on your face every single time you look at it, you can have post-traumatic stress.
Lauren: Sounds like a trauma trigger.
Dr. Ben: It is. It is a trauma trigger. And so, you know, I have those sets of patients. Then I have a bunch who… since I do the pediatrics, they come to me and they become socially awkward over time, so it’s a different kind of trauma. And they become kind of like Asperger patients where they are very inwards, they don’t talk very much, they are introverts. And they become shy over the years because they have a big mole on their face, they have big birthmark on their face, avascular one, a big hemangioma. Something that after four years of age when kids start to develop recognition for others or differences, they really start to interact differently with each other. So, the kids notice that themselves, whether or not the other kids torment them or traumatize them or make fun of them or anything, it doesn’t make a difference. They notice the different interactions.
Dr. Ben: So, the kids grow up like that which is why…
Lauren: So, it really affects our self-esteem it seems like.
Dr. Ben: Yeah. And so, I’m talking to parents about it you know, what they should be doing and try to recommend treatments or observation, I tell them… you know, they’re always worried like I don’t want my kids to ever think back 20 years from now on and say that you know, that I thought they were ugly or that the mole was bad on their face and I wanted it removed. And I explain to them the risk of that happening is extremely low. The risk of them having some kind of behavioral problem from it is exceedingly high. So, I tell them you’re not really doing the kid any favors by refraining from treatment if I tell you it’s going to benefit them. You know, and I see a lot of that and we try to take care of it as early as possible.
Lauren: That make sense.
Dr. Kate: So, Dr. Ben, after you’ve met with people and you’ve had the surgeries, when you meet with them for post-operative visits, what do you notice about how they show up differently?
Dr. Ben: I notice a lot of things. So, with the kids, and I’ll start with that cause it’s just the clearest most obvious thing. Let’s say a kid has an otoplasty which is an ear pinning procedure. This is a kid who is maybe like 10-12 years old, 13 years old and they’ve had their hair covering their ears forever, they grow their hair long. Equal to a kid who has no ears. They cover it because they are ashamed by it and they feel that they look different. They come back, and immediately pulling their hair back with a little more pride. And a lot of them, maybe microtial, with no ears, they are immediately just jumping for joy. Even if they’re having ears that’s really not ideal, jumping for joy that they have something and they say they can’t wait to go back and show it off. And I’ve heard this in Spanish, I’ve heard this in Vietnamese. [laugh] I’ve heard it in all these different countries and it’s the same response. And so, their confidence jumps immediately, even if they don’t have a perfect outcome.
Alternatively, I have the Beverly Hills fifty year old lady where they’re single or not, and they come in really aged and tired and everybody keeps commenting to them “oh are you tired?” “You’re not sleeping well.” You know, they may be like 45, 50 years old and they are sleeping great, but their face is just aged that way where they are some shadows drawn at it. And they could be a very energetic young person, but their face isn’t really matching how they feel and they are tired of hearing comments about it from other people. They just want to you know, look refreshed or they just like to maintain, either way. Those patients come in and they go through a surgery or a procedure; fillers and Botox, there’s a million things they can do. And they come back 3 weeks, 4 weeks later with the same exact thing that everybody else says I don’t know what’s happening, but everyone just keep seeing how refreshed they look or ask me what I’m doing for my skin and they just keep getting compliment, and their confidence goes to the roof.
I had a patient today who came in, who… and this is [laugh] you know, this is something that I have never heard before, but I have certainly have theorized about in the past, is that she came back in, and she’s like 56 or something years old, and she says to me that you changed my life it’s such a wonderful thing and I love hearing those. And in the middle of it, kind of surprises me, and says I got my period again.
Dr. Kate: Oh
Dr. Ben: I’m like what do you mean you got your period again? She’s like I got my period again. She goes “for some time I went through a little bit of an early menopause and I thought that was it and my period was gone. She was now having seen myself like this, emotionally something happened to me and I got my period back.” She was like “and I’m not joking you, I realistically got my period back and I never thought it was possible.”
Dr. Ben: And it’s not that she was going to have it back forever, but something happened with her hormones, her estrogen levels or progesterone changed and shot up, and now she’s getting a physiologic response to whatever is going on to her emotionally and she also has better skin. If you look at her skin, her skin quality is better and her hair quality is better.
Lauren: Wow. Talk about the power of the mind.
Dr. Kate: That’s amazing. Right.
Dr. Ben: Yeah. And that’s a rare circumstance, but it gives you an example of like, what is happening with people.
Dr. Kate: So Dr. Ben, tell us what projects you’re working on now.
Dr. Ben: So, I do a lot of training myself. I do a lot of research. So, I have you know, various type of cosmetic thing or lipless face and anything that I do. I’m always trying to make it better and I’m always trying to prove to myself and others that its better or why it’s not better, what the risks are. So, I do a lot of clinical research and I do a lot of trainings. So, typically I have… for most of the year I’ll have a fellow, who is someone who trained in plastic surgery and they come in and train with me for about six months, maybe longer. And, other times I have doctors just stop in for a week or a day to observe procedures. So, that’s part of what I love to do. I always wanted to be either a teacher or doctor and I ended up trying to be both.
Dr. Kate: That’s amazing. So, Dr. Ben, how can people contact you if they want to learn more about your services or what you’re doing from a project perspective?
Dr. Ben: As far as training goes, they just called into the office. But the other projects that we have meaning the domestic violence fundraisers and other events that we throw, or the mission trips that will take which are always fundraising too, either through healing the children or hugs. I typically have it updated on my Instagram and sometimes on our newsletter. So, they have a newsletter that comes from our email address and our website which is beverlyhillscentre.com. And then I have an Instagram that is more kind of actively showing what I’m up to day to day, which I don’t really do that much on Instagram, but there is plenty of educational stuffs and seeing what we do for our charities.
Dr. Kate: Awesome.
Dr. Ben: And that’s @drbentalei.
Dr. Kate: Great. Thank you so much Dr. Ben.
We are going to wrap up today. You’ve been listening to Behind Closed Doors with Dr. Kate and Lauren right here on Talk Radio 790KABC. Thanks so much for joining us today. Tune in every Saturday at 6 p.m. for Behind Closed Doors and follow us on Instagram and Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc and message us with your questions. Thanks so much everyone. Thank you to our special guests: Kelly Noonan-Gores, Dr. Michael Mollura, Dr. Ben Talei. And of course thank you our listeners. Have a great weekend everyone.
Lauren: Thank you.