Michelle James Of The Emotions Facilitator On 5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Allow yourself to feel these feelings without acting on them or suppressing them in any way (such as overeating).

As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle James.

Michelle is the CEO of The Emotions Facilitator. She is an Energy Healer Certified in The Emotion Code, PYSCH-K®, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping), Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and Social Work (DipSW).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Yes I’d love to.

I was brought up in multicultural London, whereby race, colour, or creed was not a factor with who we formulated friendships.

Being raised in a typical Jamaican household, my mum was a very strict disciplinarian who never spared the rod. Although life was tough at times as a lot of responsibility was left on me, ie household chores I did have a very good relationship with my mum at times. My dad was a very gentle man who always did things for a quiet life and never wanted to do anything to upset mum.

I was always creative. I loved acting, singing and taking part in productions. I thrived on all of that. I also belonged to Brownies, then Girl Guides, and the local youth centre. I had fun going camping and doing parade drills with the flag at church. It was great being a member of the community and participating in the festive activities there.

Looking back now especially when I compare my childhood to my children’s, we had so many opportunities and great experiences that my kids have not had.

Now thinking about it, I’m wondering if this was the only way I was able to get out of the house so I wasn’t on my own as I was raised as an only child by my maternal grandparents aka mum and dad.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 2017 mum passed away. I had a major falling out with my family. I was struggling to process my emotions and questioned my feelings as I showed no signs of grieving.

I realised that I was stuck and did not want to continue this way, so I sought a therapist to help me process the emotions and feelings I was experiencing.

I went off on a private 5 day, 1–2–1 retreat in Spain in which I underwent an intensive healing programme. After this, I felt a massive shift within and knew from that day that I wanted to offer a similar service to women who were feeling the same way prior, who were stuck in their lives. This experience made me realise that after 14 years in social work to effect change all change work needs to be done on a subconscious level. This realisation led me to take several different courses from Emotional Freedom Technique to Hypnotherapy and here I am, The Emotions Facilitator.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Yes of course. I regularly foster kittens from the animal shelter that have come from some sort of traumatised background, such as losing their mother and in some cases also or losing their siblings. On one occasion I brought home three kittens around 5 weeks old. one of the kittens (Riley) was very sociable but the other two Cannon and Cali always hissed and hid away.

I used The Emotion Code on them as I wanted to know what trapped emotions and trauma they were dealing with so that I had a better understanding of how to work with them.

What was interesting to me was that the trapped emotions and trauma I found resonated with the behaviour they displayed, such as abandonment and fear. After the first session of me releasing those trapped emotions and trauma, they started becoming less anxious and agitated, the transformation was so fast.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was working with a client who had severe anxiety and depression, which amplified after he had been attacked on the street on two different occasions, so he now had a fear of going outside and travelling in certain areas or taking public transport.

I had been working with him for a few months so we were both comfortable with each other. I had learnt a new guided meditation technique and asked if he was open to trying it out. Everything was going well until he started to abreact and got stuck in the process.

We were working via zoom so as I was guiding him through the process I noticed his arms were fixated in the air. I encouraged him to lower his arms but he could not. I thought the zoom had frozen. I must admit I went into a bit of a panic as I had no idea how to get him out of it.

I went into overdrive and started talking to his subconscious mind and slowly but surely his hands started to come down. What a relief that was for me. I did ask him after if he was scared and he said no because he knew, I’d know what to do.

The next time I spoke to my mentor I asked him what did I do wrong. He advised that he had indeed had an abreaction and advised me how to deal with these situations. He advised that I was getting close to the real reason he was depressed and suffering from anxiety but his subconscious mind was trying to protect him and was not ready to deal with the issue. The ‘in the moment’ solution was to guide my client from fright to releasing the issue.

Do you have a favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

It’s a Jamaican saying. See me and live with me are two different things.

When I first met my husband, he came off as perfect on paper. He was so generous, had a soft and gentle nature, etc. I thought he was the ideal partner for me.

It wasn’t until we started living together that I began to notice the laid-back nature of my boyfriend, which had once been so endearing, as being annoying.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t judge someone based on appearances alone. By getting to know someone better, you’ll see their good qualities as well as their flaws.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I have a few projects in the works. I’ve been working on creating some journals and motivational cards, as well as building a membership site for my clients. The journals will be a tool my clients can use to jot down their feelings and emotions so they can understand what they’re feeling, which will help them shift and heal more easily and the membership site will give them access to lots of resources that will help them along the way.

I’m also branching out into speaking, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years. Right now I’m working on my speech for domestic-violence awareness month, which is coming up soon.

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?

I am very comfortable sharing my story. You never know how your story might resonate with someone else, by sharing you can offer hope and light at the end of the tunnel.

As a Child Protection Social Worker, I experienced many women who were in abusive relationships but would not leave the abusers. The children were being affected but they found it hard to leave the abusive partner and put the needs of the children first.

Ironically, I ended up in an abusive situation but fortunately because of my background I had to practice what I preached. The day my husband put his hand on me was the last time he stayed in my house. That was the end of the relationship. I filed for divorce on grounds of unreasonable behaviour.

To be completely honest with you, I felt like a failure. This was my second marriage that had gone down the drain. I started beating myself up. But one thing I must say is that, even though I was hard on myself, I never doubted that I made the right decision. My children were my main priority and it meant more to me to instil a message that it’s not acceptable under any circumstances for anyone to be physically abused in a relationship.

The most important lesson I learnt from my divorce was that it was more important for me to have peace of mind and know that I was living in a peaceful environment whereby my children were not being affected by constant arguments and friction in the home.

As long as my kids were happy, that was the main thing for me.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?

I have a few, however, I’m going to just focus on these as the list is plenty.

I would say the first mistake that many people make is not getting legal advice before starting the divorce proceedings. You should always seek legal advice before you begin a divorce, even if you think that it is going to be an amicable separation. This will ensure that you understand your rights and obligations and that your case is handled correctly.

The laws in Florida are different from those in my own country. I found it difficult to understand these laws and get them straight. For example, my husband moved into my home, but the property was still technically mine even though he paid nothing toward it. The situation becomes more complicated when married couples separate and try to decide who gets what property.

A very common and unfortunate occurrence is when parents decide that they no longer want to be together, but continue to use their children as pawns in an effort to get back at their estranged partner for leaving them. Although there are many ways in which children can suffer in a divorce, one of the most troubling aspects of a relationship ending is when the parents continue to use their child(ren) as a tool for getting back at each other.

Another common mistake parents make when separating is refusing to co-parent. You’d think that this would be an easy concept, but many parents seem to struggle with it. Refusing to co-parent means refusing to communicate with your children’s other parent, refusing to consider their opinion, or refusing to include them in major decisions about the children.

A lot of parents have trouble separating their feelings about the other parent from their feelings about the kids. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I don’t want to have anything to do with my ex, but he’s a good father.” This isn’t fair to the kids. They should not be punished for the divorce. The parents need to work together for the sake of the children, even if they don’t like each other.

And the last one I’m going to throw in is rebound relationships. It’s normal to want to date again after a divorce or breakup, but going into a rebound relationship too soon can cause problems for you in the long run. I believe you should wait until you are emotionally ready before getting involved with anyone else. If you do decide to start dating again, make sure that you take your time as there is no rush.

People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?

A positive side to a breakup is that you can figure out what went wrong to avoid making those mistakes again.

I believe another positive side to divorce is that You’ll learn to appreciate yourself more. When you are no longer living with the person you used to be married to, it’s easy to see the things that made you feel less than great about yourself. Divorce allows you to start fresh and embrace self-love in ways that you might not have otherwise been able to do.

You’ll also get better at prioritising your time and energy. When someone else is relying on you for their happiness, it’s easy to lose track of what makes you happy too. Divorce allows you the freedom to prioritise what matters most in your life and spend time on those things instead of being consumed by the needs of others around you (even if they’re still around).

Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?

It would be impossible to answer in just one paragraph, but I can tell you that the most important thing is to “be gentle with yourself” as you start all over again. Be gentle, accepting, and forgiving towards yourself for any mistakes you may have made during your marriage and for any emotional pain you may have caused others.

I know it sounds difficult but making this choice will give you a lot of strength and energy to move on. It’s okay to feel sad now and then, but remember that you are not weak nor are you guilty because life is like this. Again, manage your time, try to find moments of joy, new hobbies or interests, and get back in contact with old friends. Call on your family whenever you need support.

I think it’s important to remember that divorce doesn’t mean failure, it means life has changed and it’s time to adapt accordingly. You can still be happy even if your relationship didn’t work out as planned or as hoped for.

You’ll never really be alone in this because many people will help you if you ask them. Sometimes the simplest gestures are enough to make us realise that we are loved by others, without even knowing it!

What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?

Themselves. I am not saying they have to try to be someone they are not, but be willing to explore how they can maybe work on their flaws and accept constructive criticism so that they can make positive changes in how they are in relationship settings.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  1. Take care of yourself first.

It may sound cliché, but it’s true: You can’t help anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep so that you feel healthy and ready to tackle whatever comes next in your life.

Make new friends and spend time with family members who support you through this transition period in your life — or both if possible! If you don’t have any other close friends or family members around who understand what you’re going through right now, consider joining an online support group or finding a therapist who specialises in divorce recovery counselling so they can give you some much-needed advice on how best to cope with this difficult situation.

2. Do not beat yourself up, it will not do you any good mentally or physically. Going through a divorce is like going through a bereavement. In fact, if you think about it, it is a bereavement. You are grieving the loss of your relationship, your partner, who could be your best friend and you need time to grieve but also heal from the loss.

3. One way to cope with a breakup is to write down the things you liked and disliked about your ex. This can help you see your relationship from a different perspective, which may make it easier for you to move on. I recommend this exercise to all my clients who are having trouble separating their ex’s negative behaviour from the positive aspects of their relationship.

4. If you are thinking about contacting your ex, don’t. The main focus should be on yourself and healing. If you do, you should be prepared for the possibility that they will tell you they miss you or that they made a mistake. If this happens, do not get your hopes up that this is the beginning of getting back together. In fact it could have the opposite effect and lead to deeper hurt and humiliation.

5. To make your heartache feel less painful, it might help to keep busy. If you spend a lot of time thinking about your ex or looking at pictures or videos of the two of you together, it will only make you feel worse. Instead, try focusing on other things such as spending time with friends, going out and traveling, or finding new hobbies. I know this is easier said than done as they are constantly on your mind, however as time goes by it will get easier.

The stress of a divorce can take a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?

If you want to feel better about yourself, try taking some time to do something nice for yourself. For example, you could go to a spa and get pampered, or buy something new for yourself — new clothes or a new hairstyle. Or maybe you’d like to go on a short vacation — any of these things can improve your mood.

A big thing that gets overlooked is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for your partner, it is for you. It is to help you feel better about the situation.

It’s important to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning or excusing someone’s behaviour. It simply means letting go of the negative emotions surrounding what happened and moving on with your life. If you continue to hold onto those feelings, they’ll only hurt you in the long run.

While forgiveness is an ongoing process, here are some helpful tips for getting started:

Take some time to reflect on what happened and why it happened. You may want to write down your thoughts or talk them out with someone else who knows about your situation (like a therapist).

Here are six steps to help you forgive someone who has hurt you:

1. Recognise your feelings.

2. Allow your feelings to be present without judging them as good or bad, right or wrong, happy or sad.

3. Allow yourself to feel these feelings without acting on them or suppressing them in any way (such as overeating).

4. Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions arise for as long as they need to be felt in order for them to pass away again on their own accord (this may take hours or days).

5. If necessary, express your feelings verbally (by saying something like “I feel angry/sad/upset”) rather than acting them out physically by punching someone or yelling at them).

6. After feeling your emotions, ask yourself if there is anything else that needs healing before moving forward with forgiveness.

Accept that it’s okay to feel angry, betrayed, or sad about what happened — but don’t let those feelings take over your life. Try not to let negative emotions cloud your judgment when dealing with others, especially if there are children involved in the situation (or if you’re still involved with someone who hurt you).

When thinking about forgiving someone who has wronged you, consider how they’ve changed since then (if they have) and whether they’ve apologised for their actions — and if so, be willing.

Do you have any favourite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?

When my marriage broke down again I started questioning myself, I wanted to know if there was anything I could have done to make it work after all this was not my first divorce.

I brought the book A Lasting Marriage by Martin Tashman and Karla R Dougherty. I know it might have seemed counter-productive because the marriage was already broken but I wanted to learn so that when I embarked on my new relationship I was equipped with the right skills.

One of the most important things I learned was to pick my battles. I also learned that it’s better for me to listen than always react. When I kept silent and waited for the situation to diffuse, it helped me to communicate with my ex-husband. So much so that we remarried!

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement that I would want to see in the world that I believe would bring the most amount of good to most people is… Inner healing is the process of releasing old wounds and addressing the emotional, mental, and physical issues that may be holding us back from living our best life. It’s about knowing what we want, where we want to go, and how we want to get there.

The goal of inner healing is to inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people. These days it seems like everyone is trying to make money or find happiness in material things but how many people have really found true happiness? How many people are truly happy with their lives?

I believe that if more people knew how to live life on purpose and follow their dreams then there would be less depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions in this world.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’d love to meet Lisa Nicholls

I used to be friends with Lisa on Facebook when I was in a network marketing company called Arydss. Lisa was one of our trainers.

Watching Lisa’s growth has been truly inspirational to me. Although I didn’t know her personally remembering her when she was our trainer to see her develop into an Icon is mind-blowing to me.

I have been on summits where Lisa has been a speaker. I would love to get some coaching tips from her regarding speaking on stage, she has an amazing way of putting a story together. I feel she is very down-to-earth and wants everyone to succeed.

Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!

Michelle James Of The Emotions Facilitator On 5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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