Sue Sexton: “Not alone”

My goal is to create a variety of formats to help people feel “not alone”. The first is through the power of storytelling. I am a Keynote Speaker who shares my healing journey. I share how I overcame the same struggles that individuals in the audience are facing. I am honest about how my life […]

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My goal is to create a variety of formats to help people feel “not alone”. The first is through the power of storytelling. I am a Keynote Speaker who shares my healing journey. I share how I overcame the same struggles that individuals in the audience are facing. I am honest about how my life fell apart. Even though I knew all the right stuff (heck, I went to school for 8 years to learn psychology and practiced for over a decade), and my life was still a hot mess. In fact, we are all messy. When we can begin having courageous conversations about the mess, then we don’t feel so alone. We can learn from each other. I believe we are all each other’s teachers and students. Through my speaking I am connecting with audiences across the globe to teach, learn, and grow together through courageous conversations.

As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Sue Sexton a Licensed Psychologist and the CEO of Sue Sexton Psychotherapy LLC, operating since 2010.

Prior to this entrepreneurial adventure, Sue worked for 8 years in community mental health organizations serving children, adolescents, & adults. Sue underwent a deep personal transformation in 2015. Over the next few years, she healed repressed childhood trauma (physical, emotional, & sexual abuse). Sue has since become a Top Mental Health Speaker, Wellness Writer for Major Publications, Meditation Junkie, & Mind-Body-Spirit expert who is a firsthand believer that “Woo Woo Works!” Sue lives in St. Paul, MN with her two sons & her mini golden-doodle Clover.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was a confused yet driven college student in 1999, contemplated what to major in and decided that out of the courses I was enrolled in that Psychology was the most interesting. After an evening of big emotions, I decided to declare my major in Psychology. Fast forward to 2019, now 20 years later, I have much more clarity. I was raised in an abusive, shame-based family system. I was coping with my trauma by focusing on achieving and attempting to build my version of the American Dream. Living life in this manner worked until 2015. At 9-month pregnant, I came home from work one evening to discover my husband moved out that day. In that same evening, I became a single mom of an autistic non-verbal 4-year-old, a soon to be newborn, began a 3-month unpaid maternity leave on an empty bank account and wavering will to live. Life as I knew it washed away like an unexpected tsunami hit. As I salvaged what I could and set sail for new beginnings, a force more powerful than me took over. Despite the external chaos, I was felt a deep sense of inner peace for the first time in my life. I was guided to read books, attend classes on Past Life Regression and Energy Medicine, and access intuitive healers. With an open-mind, I leaned in to understand myself. I learned how powerful mind-body-spirit tools are in healing even the worst traumas someone can face. After healing repressed childhood sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and shifting my life in profound ways, I decided it was time to share what I’ve learned. Shifting gears from my full-time private practice to the Mental Health Public Speaking sector, I share my healing journey and wisdom across the globe. We are deeply capable of healing ourselves and it’s time to share the HOW-TO methods that most dismiss as “woo woo”, but I’m here to proudly proclaim WOO WOO WORKS!

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

Many family systems in America are built on the foundation of shame. Like an unwanted intergenerational family heirloom, we are taught to dismiss our feelings, are invalidated, and are modeled unhelpful coping patterns instead of facing our inner emotional world. Statements like “be a man”, “are you a baby or something”, or “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” are examples of shaming messages. When you are raised in a family that doesn’t deal with feelings, they end up coming out sideways. Unfortunately, many children are gaslighted, manipulated, guilt-tripped, or controlled in other ways to avoid discussing what’s really going on. When this happens, reality becomes so skewed, that many just end up accepting the shame-based belief systems. Shame is a form of emotional abuse. This pattern in families may also have hidden abuse, like sexual or physical, as well. Experiencing the intense duality of love in your primary relationships can be very confusing for children, who don’t know any different. Abuse becomes a family secret. So, if someone ends up wanting help, their family system will feel threatened that the “family secrets” will be released. Then similar control methods are used: guilt trips, gaslighting, manipulating, threats, being told nobody will believe them, etc. In fact, the person who finally breaks out of a shame-based family system is usually the healthiest, but they also tend to lose a relationship with some, if not all, their family members. There is a deeply engrained pull to remain a part of the broken system. We are all byproducts of our system. We only know what we know, until we learn something new through experiences and exposure.

When you are raised in a shame-based system, you feel ashamed of having needs, feelings, and wants. You feel like a burden. You feel unworthy of help. Being judged or criticized. This is your normal. Seeking help or admitting you need help, just leaves you feeling vulnerable. It wasn’t safe to be vulnerable in your family. Beginning therapy or seeking support can feel like jumping many layers of hurdles inside and outside of you. Involving taking risks that are scary and unfamiliar. This leads to a feeling of stigma when it comes to our emotional needs and wounds.

I believe that the stigma is so prevalent due to the toxic shame in our family systems. When shame can be faced without pointing a finger, blame, or becoming defensive, then the stigma can be faced more directly and successfully. That is done through courageous, honest, educational, and open conversations about shame. Each of us being willing to face our fears and lean in, so we can begin to feel and heal.

Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?

A concept called “Universality” is the number one curative factor in mental health treatment. This is when people don’t feel alone in their struggle. You suddenly realize that ALL of us are struggling in one way or another. That there are themes and patterns to people’s struggles. When you suddenly don’t feel alone, a true power takes over. People begin to shift out of shame and into the ability to feel empowered to heal. They witness others healing. They believe they have that same potential to heal too.

My goal is to create a variety of formats to help people feel “not alone”. The first is through the power of storytelling. I am a Keynote Speaker who shares my healing journey. I share how I overcame the same struggles that individuals in the audience are facing. I am honest about how my life fell apart. Even though I knew all the right stuff (heck, I went to school for 8 years to learn psychology and practiced for over a decade), and my life was still a hot mess. In fact, we are all messy. When we can begin having courageous conversations about the mess, then we don’t feel so alone. We can learn from each other. I believe we are all each other’s teachers and students. Through my speaking I am connecting with audiences across the globe to teach, learn, and grow together through courageous conversations.

The second is that I’ve created a one of a kind BE THE CHANGE Membership for people to join and receive guidance on how to change their lives. I will be challenging the members to take positive action in their communities, positive action in their own mental health and responsibility for their healing, listen to guided meditation videos, offer access to leading experts on mind-body-spirit healing, and be a part of a one of a kind community for members only. This is the closest thing to having me as a personal therapist. I will be offering everything I know from over a decade as a Licensed Psychologist and my own healing journey using mind-body-spirit healing tools. Members will also receive a daily text at 11:11 AM CDT to THINK PEACE, as they join the first ever 11:11 Peace on Earth Movement.

The third is through writing a children’s/teen book series (release date will be announced soon). In this book series, my characters demonstrate the struggles many of us face with mental health. The reader will fall in love with each character as they learn and grow alongside them. As a part of the book series, I will offer a program to connect children/teens across the globe. To empower them to have courageous conversations, connections, and teach them how they are the future of our world. This book series and program will include my 11:11 Peace on Earth Movement, where people unite across the globe at 11:11 AM CDT to THINK PEACE for 2–3 minutes daily (local time is converted from 11:11 AM central daylight time). I believe we need to teach our children how to be their full, authentic, messy, beautiful selves by modeling this in our own lives. I also want to empower them that they are capable of changing the world around them, offering the tools that help them change their lives first and foremost.

Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?

In 2015, my life fell apart overnight. I was led on my own deep personal healing and transformation journey. I was guided to learn about Past Life Regression Therapy, Energy Medicine, and a variety of intuitive/metaphysical healing modalities. I used this new science knowledge to heal my life. I began a daily meditation practice, learned about plant medicine, and slowly pealed away the layers of energetic exchanges that led to my life falling apart. In this 1–2-year timeline, I healed tremendous amounts of shame, belief systems, trauma (sexual, emotional, and physical abuse from childhood), and began to understand a deep connection with my inner self. I learned to love myself unconditionally. I learned how to live in the present moment. I learned how to shift triggers and thought patterns. I stepped out of co-dependency in my relationships. I lost 80 pounds I was holding as a protective layer. I stopped taking my anti-depressants overnight (I was no longer depressed). I learned I am fully supported on my journey.

I realized that I needed to share this wisdom with others. We are ALL deeply capable of healing. Not just coping and surviving, remaining fated to some diagnosis. Honestly, “woo woo works”, and keeping an open mind to new science is important. I am ready to share how we can move from a therapist’s couch repeating the same old life dramas to transforming our lives in months. It is time to have authentic, courageous, and real conversations about a piece of mental health that isn’t being discussed: mind-body-spirit. It’s the key to true healing, once and for all.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

My experience has led me to understanding the power of mind-body-spirit healing potential. In our society, my experience has been that we’ve been conditioned to believe this is “woo woo” and so many people never explore alternative healing options. So, we need to begin talking about the fact that we have three parts to us and all THREE need to be addressed in order to heal.

Individuals need to take more responsibility for their wellbeing. So many of us get caught up in the shame-blame game. This person or that person did X to me, so now I’m depressed/ traumatized/ etc. While that situation did unfold, you must decide to heal vs. remaining a victim. I’ve learned on my journey that people and situations happen in life to offer lessons for us. Its our job to get curious on the patterns, shift the energy (release it in our mind, body, spirit), and understand your story. Once you take these steps, the repetition stops, and you graduate to the next lesson. Life is full of lessons taught through experiences and people. Life is about learning. We need to step out of being a victim and step into being responsible for the lessons. Everything is happening FOR you, not to you. We are here to learn, grow, and expand our awareness of love. I believe this needs to be taught to our children and adults. Responsibility is a powerful mindset. It puts you back in the driver seat of your life. Afterall, you are the creator of your reality. You and only you.

As a society, we need to teach new science’s healing potential and what shame truly is. We need to begin talking about working together and supporting one another vs. being so individualistic. Building communities vs. isolation. We are deeply capable of healing. We are not destined to be sick: mentally or physically. In addition to this, we need to model vulnerability, authentic, and honest discussions of our learning process. Help others believe perfectionism is a myth. Showing our children that it’s okay to make a mistake and forgive someone. It is not the snake bite that kills someone, it’s the snake’s venom that seeps through the veins that kills someone. The venom is the anger, sadness, resentments, and other emotional energies we hold in us that kills us. Modeling how to allow emotions to rise without them hurting others, but instead to heal and release. Respecting that everyone is learning their own lessons, and how they do that is going to be different from someone else. And that is okay. Discuss shame and how entrenched we can become in the patterns, from one generation to the next. Share our stories. Celebrate in our glories. Being the change, we wish to see.

The government needs to make access to ALL types of treatments affordable and covered by insurance. We need an insurance plan that is affordable for all, not just some. Many times, people use money as an excuse to access support, and it’s a valid one. When you must decide between paying the bills or seeking out an energy medicine practitioner, it’s not going to bode well for the mental health of our society. I would love to see accessible and available mental health treatment to all communities (including energy medicine). Bridging the gaps on all levels.

What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Meditation: For the past 2 years I have engaged in meditation at least 1 hour each day. Meditation has been a game changer for me. I can shift my thoughts and brain patterns, usually entering a deep state of peace, calm and connection with the universe. I used a variety of mantras or positive statements to repeat when in the Theta Brain waves, which can reprogram your brain. The biggest way it’s aided me, is that I am aware that I am a part of something bigger than me. I’ve felt it firsthand. Knowing how to access that guidance has been a game-changer for me.

Energy Medicine: Every day I clear my energy. I am aware that we are all energy and so everyone I encounter is exchanging energy with me. While I may adore some of these people, I also value keeping my energy as clear as possible, so I cut cords and ask for protection throughout my day. I feel so much lighter and free as I do this practice. I remember when I first started as a therapist and before I knew about the power of energy, I would literally feel like my clients were riding home with me in my backseat. I was holding so much of their energy as a healer. I’ve since set better energetic boundaries and protocol. We can all do this.

Prayer: Every morning I ask for my benevolent and unconditionally loving support system to guide and protect me throughout my day. When I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I ask for help. There is a Law of Free Will, where unless we ask for help or support, it cannot be given. So, I no longer allow myself to struggle alone. I call upon my helper team. The more I build a relationship with these invisible (to many) forces, the answers and guidance I need tend to show up quickly. I have learned through experience that we are FULLY supported on our journey. Ask and surrender to the guidance.

Friendships: Through my healing journey, I have disconnected entirely from my family of origin. As a result, I have built a supportive network of friends. I have learned which friends are helpful in which circumstances. I am not shy to reach out and ask for support. Friends are my family. I have learned that people cannot read minds. You must be willing to ask for help if you need it. Be brave. Just ask. “That’s what friends do Bubba, we stick together,” Forrest Gump.

Take Courses & Read Books: I really value learning. If there is a pattern or theme in my life, I want to understand it. I am known to ask for guidance and then wait for an answer to show up. If you hear the same book title 3–10 times, this is not a coincidence (just saying from experience). We are all each other’s teachers and students. I’ve been led to in person courses like Brian Weiss’ Past Life Regression training or Cyndi Dales Energy Medicine courses. I’ve also been led to online course about Public Speaking or Writing. I love being a student in life.

Power of Thoughts: When I realized that we are all having experiences in life and our thoughts create our reality, I wanted to understand how to shift my script. We are programmed to think certain belief systems from birth to 7 years old, when in primarily theta brain waves. We don’t have the capacity to cognitively challenge what we’re told, so we accept it as truth. As I learned we can shift our thinking and when we do so, it literally changes our reality: I was sold! I started to practice mantras during meditation (theta brain waves). More importantly, I hired an intuitive healer to begin to shift my thought energy on the metaphysical level. My life changed! I was no longer bound by shame-based belief systems. I finally began creating the reality I wanted! Then I applied Law of Attraction and Manifesting principals to enhance my results. Thoughts really do create reality.

Mental Health Days: When I was on my big healing journey, I was a hot mess some days. Not going to be at the top of my game as a therapist type of days. I decided that I needed to honor my healing process and started to take mental health days. I would lay in bed all day. Sleep, cry, sleep, cry. Wash-rinse-repeat. These days were a gift to me. I finally gave myself permission to heal. I am a believer that stopping the game of being so busy and distracting from our inner pain is critical in healing our inner junk.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

Many Lives Many Masters: Brian Weiss

The Universe Has Your Back: Gabrielle Bernstein

Daring Greatly: Brene Brown

Power of Now: Eckhart Tolle

You Can Heal Your Life: Louise Hay

Youtube: Wayne Dyer

Youtube: World Peace Projects with Chloe Hudson

Youtube: Teal Swan

Youtube: Abraham Hicks

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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