Lisa A. Romano is a certified life coach and bestselling author who specialises in codependency and narcissistic abuse recovery. She is also one of the top three Life Coaches on YouTube with a subscriber count of over 240K. As one of the most listened to meditation teachers on Insight Timer, Lisa’s meditations have over 1M plays. Lisa’s podcast Breakdown to Breakthrough is available worldwide and ranks in the top 100 in the mental health genre. She is also the creator of The 12 Week Breakthrough Coaching Program which is an online group coaching experiences that allow members to uncover the limiting beliefs that prevent them from moving through painful past experiences. Psychologists, therapists, politicians, as well neuroscientists have participated in Lisa’s online program and agree that her nurturing, yet, scientific approach to the personal transformation process is groundbreaking.
Lisa has also created a Master Class for those who wish to take their transformations to the quantum level. Her unique modality and approach are based on the belief that who we are as adults are the result of what we were taught to believe about ourselves as children. One of Lisa’s most popular taglines is, ‘It’s Not You – It’s Your Programming.’ Currently, Lisa is working on her seventh soon to be published book and a self-love positive affirmations app which will be available soon. She is currently happily married and living on Long Island. Together she and her husband Anthony have six children. To learn more about Lisa and working with her, you can visit her website or you can email in.
Thank you for joining us Lisa can you tell us a little bit about your background story as a life coach and bestselling author?
I married my first husband when I was twenty-three. At the time, I thought I knew all I needed to know about myself, life, marriage, and becoming a wife as well as a mother. Shortly after my wedding, I realised I knew very little and knew I had made a mistake. When I told my parents what I thought, they sent me home and told me to lie in the bed I had made. I laid in that bed for twelve years and did what I could to ignore my feelings. As a result, I developed asthma, migraine headaches, rashes, stomach issues, panic disorder, and depression. By the time I had my third child, I was convinced I might die from not speaking my truth. When I gained the confidence to tell my husband I thought we needed to go into marriage counselling, he mocked me. In fact, he told me I was crazy and that I should see a therapist if I wasn’t happy. “I am happy Lisa. If you’re not happy, and you feel crazy, maybe you should go see a therapist.” On the surface, it may sound like my ex-husband was being cruel, and passive-aggressive. And maybe that was his true intention after all. However, his insisting that I was the only one with the problem propelled me to seek professional help which ultimately changed the course of my life.
During the first meeting with my psychotherapist, he diagnosed me with codependency and depression. “The good news is you’re not crazy. You’re just codependent.” His words confused me as well as made me want to jump up and down. For years I wondered what was wrong with me, and finally, I had a name for how unsettled, unhappy, and insecure I had been feeling within myself as well as interpersonal relationships. That one meeting set me on fire with curiosity. I devoured every book I could find on codependency, childhood trauma, and emotional neglect. In time, I began to understand that as a child I had literally been programmed to think of myself as an unlovable human being. As I delved more deeply into how my grandparent’s alcoholism had impacted my parent’s lives, a predictable and understandable pattern emerged. Both of my parents were unrecovered adult children of alcoholics who grew up in extreme neglect, poverty, and abuse. Neither of them understood or appreciated how their childhoods had brainwashed them to fear losing control and to ignore their emotions. Unaware they were unaware, my parents raised my sister, brother and I to be seen and not heard. My siblings and I all suffered from various eating disorders, low self-esteem, and codependency.
Unravelling my childhood history helped me to understand that all of my marital issues were the result of living below the veil of consciousness as a self-loathing codependent who believed she needed other people’s validation to feel good enough. When I. approached my ex-husband and asked him to join me in healing our dysfunctional marriage, he refused. Our divorce was messy, complicated, sad, and quite frankly abusive to our children. They witness and heard things no child should.
One of my greatest takeaways from our divorce process was the idea that somehow, I had to stop losing myself to things I could not control and learn to focus on what I could control. This meant there was only so much I could shelter my children from in spite of how deeply I wished the dynamics between my ex and I were different. I promised myself that once my life calmed down, I would dedicate myself to helping wounded adult children from dysfunctional homes learn to understand how their childhoods were impacting their relationships with themselves and others. In 2012, I published my first book The Road Back to Me which became an Amazon bestseller overnight. I haven’t stopped since, trying to find as many ways to spread my message, ‘you are enough – it is not your fault – and it is not you that is broken – it is just your programming – and that can be fixed.’
Can you tell us how you are working with codependents and victims of narcissistic abuse to help them build self-confidence after a difficult personal journey?
I work with victims of narcissistic abuse who suffer from codependency one to one as well as online in a group coaching setting. In 2015, my one to one coaching calendar exploded and I could not keep up with the demand of those who were being touched by the work I was doing on YouTube. When it was suggested I create an online coaching program so I could serve more people at one time, I went to work drafting a blueprint of my own healing journey, which is also how I was assisting my personal clients to transform their lives. With my fingers crossed, I launched The 12 Week Breakthrough Coaching Program in April of 2016 and it was a phenomenal success. 180 members participated including psychotherapists and healers. I now offer the class twice a year and moderated with a team.
Healing from narcissistic abuse and codependency is not an event. Talking does not heal the wounds caused by emotional abuse nor does it stop someone from behaving in a codependent way. I offer my class over a 12-week period because I understand the need for slow learning. Overloading the brain with information causes what is known as cognitive overload. Cramming information does nothing for someone who is sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Codependency involves neurological pathways, chemistry, habits of thoughts and behaviours. My class includes a weekly video lesson members are to ponder upon, as well as journaling prompts, action-based homework assignments and theta brainwave meditations that are designed to help correct the faulty beliefs that are responsible for self-sabotaging beliefs.
It is my theory that if our faulty beliefs were created when we were children below the age of seven, and when we were in theta brainwave states, which are hypnotic brainwave states by the way, then it just makes sense to offer the subconscious mind healing information at the theta brainwave level. My program is based upon the science of learning. The material offered has been designed to involve as many areas of the brain in the transformation process.
How has your own personal struggles reflected and played a key role in your work today?
We’ve all heard people say that we should follow our passion, and believe in ourselves. That is really hard to do when you do not have a self or your perception of self is fractured, ill, and you believe yourself unworthy. When I realised I could overcome low self-worth by confronting childhood programming, all I wanted to do was share this information and teach others to do what I had done. It broke my heart to know that there were really kind-hearted people out there making complete messes out of their lives, begging for other people’s approval, seeking validation and attracting narcissistic abusive others into their lives and they did not know why. You can’t fix a hole in the wall you can’t see and all I wanted to do was help wounded adult children, like my mother and father awaken so they could live a more purposeful, fulfilling life. My sister, brother and I did not have to grow up feeling afraid of our emotions or live in fear that we were not good enough.
My children did not have to have a codependent, angry, insecure, frustrated mother. They deserved better. My siblings and I deserved better and so did our parents. My work is a complete reflection of my own transformation and now all I want to do is help people learn how to confront the dragons that lie within them and teach them how to face those dragons so they can become the victors over their fears. We are all born creators and can become anything we wish, however, when you live with fear and you have been conditioned to believe you are unworthy, those dragons seem unbeatable. I want to teach others to be a dragon slayer just like I have learned to become. I imagine a world full of people who know that they are enough. We can create a more loving world when we can learn to love ourselves in spite of our pasts.
What methods do you currently use outside of the typical conventional therapies?
My modalities rely on teaching my clients about how the brain has been designed to respond to trauma, fear, and emotional pain. Once a member of one of my programs or a client develops awareness about how their brain has been designed to avoid pain, they begin to also understand how their mind or personality, has developed codependent symptoms. When as a child you are taught to believe your feelings are worthless, your brain wires itself to repress emotions. If by the time you are five, you have learned through repetition, observation and consistency, that your needs upset the adults in your life, you will develop anxious attachments. When bonds are insecure to those we need and love as children, as adults we do not feel secure in ourselves and we lack trust in ourselves as well as others. I also teach clients how to stay in their bodies as they begin to notice uncomfortable body sensations.
Most people react to what they notice taking place in their body. This builds tension and anxiety and essentially can cause someone to become emotionally as well as psychologically and spiritually arrested. By helping my clients increase their metacognitive abilities, (the ability to think about the way you think) they learn to become more conscious of the way they feel opposed to simply reacting to the way they feel. What emerges is a sense of self-control, self-understanding, self-empathy, and tremendous self-knowledge.
My aim is to help people integrate all aspects of themselves. When one integrates the past rather than cuts themselves off and denies or lives in fear of their past, true oneness can he achieved. Whenever we try to deny any aspect of our lives or our pasts, our entire being suffers. Healing is painful and that is why it is such a complicated process. Our brain is designed to run away from forest fires. Somehow, I have to help people who have dragons in their past learn to face those dragons even though their brain wants to run. I am thankful for every person I have ever coached or who has participated in one of my online classes. In my books, they are true warriors indeed. It is much harder to face an invisible opponent inside your own mind than it is to face an opponent that exists outside of you.
Do you have any current mentors? Either professionally or personally….
My therapist Ed, was truly a mentor for me. He was the first man that ever listened to me and took me seriously. I have also truly appreciated the work of Melody Beattie who is the author or Codependent No More. Her work helped me most understand how I contributed to the codependent dynamic between my ex-husband and I. Many codependents feel powerless and in many ways they are, however, they feel this way because of how they felt as children.
We may think and fully believe that people outside of us are controlling us, but the truth is, what is truly rendering us helpless resides within us. Melody Beattie helped me see myself in a way that allowed me to understand how I had since I was a small child, believed my worth was outside of me and in the doing and achieving someone else’s love. She helped me realise that I did not feel enough and that as a child, I had been conditioned to believe that if I proved myself worthy to my ex-husband one day the heavens would open and he would finally let me know I was good enough.
Unfortunately, he was a love-avoidant who could never have offered me the love I needed to feel good enough. Melody Beattie, as well as authors like John Bradshaw, helped me understand it was me who had to change and it was I who had to learn to love my self, regardless of how unloved and unworthy I ever felt.
What platforms are you using as marketing tools to promote your programs and meditations?
My meditations and programs are marketed through my website, Insight Timer, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook Ads, Pinterest, and my podcasts. I also offer free webinars, presentations, and routinely deliver free material to those who are on my email list. I also have a t-shirt shop where people can purchase clothing, mugs, and other items with some of my most popular catchphrases.
Do you currently use any apps or tools to help the functionality of your everyday?
My team and I use Planoly to help us schedule our Instagram grid and MeetEdgar has proven helpful when it comes to scheduling Facebook posts. Spark Posts and Canva are two of my favourite platforms for creating social media memes. I have worked with project managers who have used Monday.com which was helpful in the sense that team members could track specific tasks over time. I host my coaching programs on a platform called Kajabi which has made me far more productive than when I was building my website from scratch. This platform also has seamless integrations with Stripe and PayPal.
What has been one of the most valuable lessons so far throughout your business building?
I have learned so much over the past few years as a business owner that it might take me a few days to share those lessons, but since you asked me for one lesson, I will do my best to keep this short. I have learned more than anything the value of trusting yourself and in your message or purpose. No one knows my audience or their needs better than I do. Working with team members is essential, but at the end of the day, it is up to me to make sure whoever I work with totally understands my message, and the people I serve and is clear about my vision for my business. When my business first started taking off, for some reason the growth intimidated me. I had created an amazing base all on my own simply by serving my audience the rich content they needed, however, my vision for where I wanted to take my business was unclear. As I began getting approached the project managers that wanted to work with me, I let go of the reigns. When it came to growing my business, there was an odd disconnect within me. I believed that somehow a project manager would know better what I needed to do and guide me as far as where to spend my energies. I was wrong. When I felt myself feeling pulled in the directions that I did not like, as uncomfortable as it was I needed to end certain business relationships and that scared the hell out of me because I had convinced myself I needed these people. Sadly, this experience got messier than it ever should have but it also taught me many valuable lessons.
Having a vision is incredibly important and it is as important as trusting your instincts. I learned the value of remaining diligently professional, clear, and in charge of every aspect of my business, including my vision. It was up to me to crystallise where I saw my business headed and to hire people to support that vision, rather than have others define a vision for me.
As business owners, it is our responsibility to define our own vision. When we do not have a clear vision, we can become weak in the knees when someone suggests we follow their vision for our business. We can become pulled in directions we do not want to go and in the process, lose touch with our base and those we serve, as well as our passion for why we do what we do. When you are a business owner you need others to help you support YOUR vision. The clearer you are about who you are, who you serve, how you serve those you serve, and where you want your service to go, the more astute you will be when it comes to finding those who work with you to make your dreams come true. We can’t blame others for wanting us to follow their vision for us. That would be codependent after all. Wink wink Dear Ones.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
BEYOUROWN to me implies we are to be who we are. My favourite Shakespeare play is Hamlet and I adore the soliloquy which includes the lines “to be or not to be – that is the question.” BEYOUROWN means you have a right to be who you were born to be. Each of us is born with innate gifts and talents. As unique beings, we have the potential to make what is within us manifest in the 3D world.
To take what has been placed upon our hearts and manifest it in the 3D world takes a strong belief in the self. BeYourOwn in my mind, is a call to be your own self, in all of its unapologetic glory. It means you get to take those desires and pave your own path in this world. It means you get to decide who you want to be and how you will become who you wish to become on your own terms. BeYourOwn means you get to be the writer, director and actor in your own life. No more waiting for someone to define you. BeYourOwn means you dive in head-first and define your life as you see fit regardless of what other people think about you and your ideas.
For most of my life, others have tried to tell me what my limits were, and for most of my life, I believed them. Thankfully, those days are long gone now. I have learned to be my own and the struggle to get here has been entirely worth it.
What does 2020 look like for you throughout the rest of the year?
2020 I continue to keep manifesting my dreams. Last year I hosted my first 12 Week Breakthrough Graduates Gala in New York City, and this year we are doing it again. Since launching my 12 Week Program, I wanted to create an opportunity for graduates of my class to come together and meet one another face to face. Last year I finally made that dream come true. I am proud to announce this will be an annual event.
Last year was the most thrilling experience and we had members fly in from as far away as France and Australia to join us. In addition, this year I hope to publish two additional books. One of those books is called the Codependency Manifesto and the other is a 365 Day Journaling Workbook centred upon healing from self-sabotaging beliefs. By mid-summer, I hope to have my Self Love Affirmation App available in the Apple App Store. In the meantime, I will continue to create content that enriches and inspires the hearts, minds, and spirits of those I serve.
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