Episode 49 - Sil Lai Abrams Shares Nine Self Empowerment Principles That Will Change Your Life!
Most of us deal with some trauma in our lives that we need to address and overcome if we want to be fully functional, thriving adults. Sil Lai Abrams has triumphed over parental divorce, adoption, alcoholism, rape, domestic violence, her own divorce, depression and suicide. Wow, her story is amazing and out of it she has created a powerful system of thinking that will help anyone shift their perspective in the moment toward greater love, peace and productivity. Please tune in to this remarkable conversation with a woman who is a true Empowerment Specialist.
Alissa Kriteman: Are you tired of struggling through a drama filled existence? Are you ready to stop pretending everything is ok when it is really not? Are you wanting support in how to make lasting positive change in your life? Well, today on “Just for Women” I am going to speak with celebrity Sil Lai Abrams, empowerment specialist and author of “No More Drama. Who is going to share with us her insight into how we can create joyous meaningful lives right now.
Sil Lai Abrams: A true understanding that we can not have any measure of peace. You can not live offensively; you can not live with joy; if you do not have a spiritual foundation in your life.
Sil Lai Abrams: The sephia process is a simple tool that I use to turn my attention away from what I am going through and really address; how can I make it different. What power do I have to create a difference, whether it is within my response or to what is actually happening.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex. I am your host Alissa Kriteman. This show is dedicated to bringing you world class information from today’s leading relationships experts.
On the show today I am happy to welcome Sil Lai Abrams an empowerment specialist who is going to share with us her 9 principles of how to live an empowered life.
Sil Lai, thank you so much for being on “Just for Women” today.
Sil Lai Abrams: Thank you so much for having me.
Alissa Kriteman: Now, Sil Lai is a very pretty and interesting name. Where does that come from?
Sil Lai Abrams: It is actually Cantonese and it means little beauty. Sil Lai is the American version of the Cantonese word. It is actually seal lie. That is how it is supposed to be pronounced. But I butcher it. My family butchers it. It was put down on my birth certificate spelled incorrectly. So, there you go.
Alissa Kriteman: Well, I love it. Sil Lai. I know my name is a-lease-a. I get a lot of
a-lis-a and all kinds of interesting pronunciations. So I am right there with you.
I am very exited to talk to you today. In your book “No More Drama” you talk a lot about some of the really traumatic things that you have been through in your life. I would love for you to share with the listeners today a little bit about that.
But before we go into that I really want people to know who you are. Sil Lai she is a writer, a contributor to men’s fitness magazines about relationship. She has a successful career in the entertainment industry as an event planner. She is the creator of Sepia Press Publishing. An author of “No More Drama: The Nine Simple Steps to Transforming Breakdown into Breakthrough”. Beyond all of that she is a plublic speaker, mentor with The Children’s Aid Society, and works with Suicide Prevention Action Network, and is the mother of two.
Talk about an empowered woman who is managing amazing things who has overcome huge adversity in your life. Sil Lai, thank you for being on the show today. Tell us a little bit about your background, your story. What are some of the things that you had to deal with in your life?
Sil Lai Abrams: The issues that I dealt with in growing up I think in many ways are like a lot of folks. My parents divorced when I was very young. I grew up with a step mother that I didn’t really have a close relationship with.
But there is a lot darker backdrop to the entire tale. I was adopted but not in the classical sense. I am half Chinese half black but I never knew my father. My mother left me and my siblings when we were very young. I was raised in this white family who hid my identity from me until I was 14 year.
Growing up in a home where you feel other or different or you don’t belong, one of the ways that I thought trying to find some sort of self acceptance or self love was: I started drinking; I started running away; I got kicked out of high school; and I just embarked upon this adult life or young adult life of drama; I had a couple of kids by different men. I worked in fashion for a while as a model which ended when I was raped by a friend of mine after a night of hard drinking. I attempted suicide.
Eventually, though in spite of all that I have been through I managed to develop a successful career as an entertainment event planner and I just came to this point where none of it really mattered. I’d spent all of my life really running from my experiences and never really dealing with facing them, which kind of brought me to the point where I was at three years ago which the book came out of.
I think, just going through that breakdown inspired me and the nine principles that I know we will talk about in a bit coming to a true understanding that you can not have any measure of peace. You can not live authentically; you can not live with joy, if you don’t have a spiritual foundation in your life.
Alissa Kriteman: Ok. And did you have some sort of revelation where…? I find a lot of people talk about that. They find this revelation to spirituality. What happened? I mean, clearly you went through adoption, ethnic confusion, sexual assault, addiction, depression. I mean, it is amazing to me, reading your story, how much drama and trauma was actually in your life that you over came. So tell me what that awakening was about?
Sil Lai Abrams: The awakening still to this day shocks me when I think about it. It was as basic as a breakup. I was in a relationship with the man of my dreams. We were supposed to get married. I mean, well that was my plan. I don’t know how much of it was his plan. When the relationship ended I crawled into bed for three months and I didn’t get out.
It was while I was going through this really really dark time that it came to me. It was almost like turning on a light. I realized there was something very wrong with the way that I was viewing the world. The whole notion of chasing material success, right relationship, or to look a certain way, that in and of itself was not a goal for my life. Then on top of it I just said wait you have been through all these it is time now to make that change and out of that was born the sepia process.
Alissa Kriteman: What kind of help did you get along the way? I can imagine you must have had some assist and support.
Sil Lai Abrams: Yes. Absolutely! One of the greatest tools that I have been able to use over the years has been therapy. I still see a therapist now. I think that everyone should have one at certain points in their life. I really look at therapists as guides to help you really plumb the depths of your soul.
In particularly, one form of cognitive behavioral therapy called dialectical behavior therapy or dbt for short. Dbt basically was created by a woman named Marsha Linahan about 20 or 30 years ago. She had created this particular treatment program to help survivors of trauma. It incorporates cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness and meditation and some talk therapy, as well.
But really what the beautiful thing about this type of therapy is that it helps you: to really get in touch with your feelings; to recognize the signs when you are getting upset or agitated; and then learn how to shift your attention in a different direction and really move forward positively without just being reactive.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah. You know, it is interesting. I know therapy has a bad wrap in the world. I know when I was growing up it was used as a weapon. You know, there was something wrong with you if you wanted to see a therapist or something. Yet, at the heart of therapy is really addressing and facing our feeling, what is going on.
You talk about that in your book. You talk about denial and the disruptiveness of denial. What can you say to our listeners today about the importance of being truthful and not denying what is going on?
Sil Lai Abrams: I mean, the most important aspect of being honest with yourself is that you really can not make conscious choices or decisions without facing facts. I know for me for a long time, my shame, my self judgment over the choices that I have made, about the things that I have experienced at the hands of others, it…I would not allow myself to look at these things in the face because I was afraid of what would happen.
What does that mean about me? If I say that I am an alcoholic, how is that going to affect me? If I admit that I am being battered, does that decrease my worth? Actually no. By taking ownership, by moving away from denial, and really facing facts you are taking a very important step to empowering your self to gaining choice because you won’t change what you can’t acknowledge exists.
Alissa Kriteman: That is very key. You can’t change it if you can’t acknowledge that it exists. I like that.
What are some of the other…? You talk about being a victim and that it’s actually a choice. What do you say in support of women to choose something other than victimization? And how do we know that we are playing the role of victim?
Sil Lai Abrams: Well, in “No More Drama” I use two terms to describe when we are dealing with this disempowerment or when we are empowered. Another word for victim, I say, survivor. Some people have taken issue with that. But when I say survivor I just mean everyone in life goes through something but a survivor will view her whole life experience through the lens of what she has gone through, what she has survived. A contender, again, goes through things but instead of defining herself through what she has been through she acknowledges: that she has struggled; that she has had to overcome, but she moves forward. It is about active participation and facing the challenges in your life in moving forward.
Some of the signs of…I mean, when you think about if someone is a drama queen or living their life as a victim their speech pattern often gives that away. They blame other people for why their life is the way that it is or they justify why they make certain choices which to everyone around them and maybe even to themselves seems like they are a little bit off or maybe not in their best interest or they complain. They complain.
I know I did that for a long time. There was nothing I liked more than to get on the phone and to talk for hours to my girlfriend about how this man had done me wrong. Yet, I was completely unwilling to take any action and look at myself. What was the part that I played in this? How can I make sure that I don’t make the same choice in the future? What steps are involved in that?
Alissa Kriteman: Taking responsibility, for sure. Now what do you suggest women do who are just crippled by fear. Say there is a woman… I mean, women carry so much shame, whether they have been raped or there has been some kind of a abuse or addiction; and they are afraid to move beyond the fear; they are afraid to get out of the situation. What do you say in support of that?
Sil Lai Abrams: Fear is an emotion that everyone experiences. Yet, we can move past that. Unless of course there is...The vast majority of us we can make choices and standby by them. If we have any type of mental illness, obviously, or mental disturbance, that is a different story. But I am just saying for the average woman, when you are trapped in fear; know that it is simply a perception. It is not even the reality.
Often times, what we are afraid of is something that is not ever going to happen. But we become paralyzed in the what if. So one of the things that I always encourage women to do is to really stay present and to really get honest about what is fueling that fear. How can you identify that fear? Is it your fear of not having the approval of those around you? Is it the fear of loss?
In Buddhism there is this complete focus on attachment and how that causes our suffering. If we are attached to having certain things in our life, or having a certain partner, or having a certain job, it will keep us stuck.
Alissa Kriteman: Right.
Sil Lai Abrams: As a matter of fact, it will keep us stuck and we won’t be able to move forwards. I always encourage really looking within and seeing; what are my needs. Truly, what do I need versus what do I want? And when we get clarification on that then it helps us to move forward again.
Alissa Kriteman: Got it. So, basically, break the fear down into little pieces and actually look at them. So, it is not so overwhelming and crippling, but we could actually; digest it, get some support; see what is really necessary and what isn’t, maybe; and keep that ball rolling. I like that.
Alright! Sil Lai we are going to take a short break to support our sponsors. This is Alissa Kriteman your host of “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex” and we are speaking with Sil Lai Abrams author of “No More Drama”. Talking about how we can be proactive in ending the drama in our lives. We will be right back.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome back to “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex”. I am your host Alissa Kriteman. To day we are talking with self empowerment expert Sil Lai Abrams about her book “No more Drama”.
Before the break we were talking about her background, some of the really intense things that Sil Lai has gone through and overcome in her life. Now we are going to talk about how she overcame them with some principles that she cam up with. She calls it “The Self Empowerment Principles in Action- Sepia”. She has talked about one of them, truth, telling ourselves the truth.
So Sil Lai tell us more about these principles and how we can put them to action in our lives.
Sil Lai Abrams: Well, the sepia process- as I call it for short- is very basic. It is a simple nine step methodology that you can use to shift your perspective. All that we are begins in our thoughts. Often times we get caught in a problem and we are not looking at what the possible solution could be. So, the sepia process is a simple tool that I use to turn my attention away from what I am going through and really address, how can I make it different, what power do I have to create a difference whether it is in my response or to what is actually happening.
So the nine steps were really… I started thinking when I started writing a book a couple of years ago it occurred to me that a lot of what I had originally written was about what I had experienced and I said, “Ok. I wrote this. I feel horrible. Writing is supposed to be a cathartic experience. Why do I feel so bad?” It occurred to me, well part of the reason Sil Lai why is you are talking through what you have been through but you are not honoring how you were able to overcome.
So out of that came the sepia process because I saw that every time I did make a change, whether is was leaving that abusive relationship or starting my own or getting sober, I had to take certain steps. The first step is truth. What is the truth, the basic facts of my existence and most importantly what’s my part. I mean, I think especially as women we are often taught that the solution- if something bothers you look outside of you. That is just complete fallacy. So the first step in empowering yourself is just looking for the truth.
Alissa Kriteman: Could you say responsibility to? Because I noticed that is not one of the nine, but none the less very… It sounds like you talk a lot about responsibility and I am assuming it is built into telling the truth here. It is like taking that responsibility to what is my role.
Sil Lai Abrams: Right. Right. Personal accountability, personal responsibility, really acknowledging the fact that it is your life and the quality of that life is your responsibility, nobody else’s. You have kind of got to get to that point first before you are going to take these actions.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah. There is an energy in that too in being totally responsible for your life. It really brings it home and it is like, “Yeah. I am the master of this cruise ship here” and “Where do I want it to go?”
So what is the second step? After we have told our self the truth, we are ready to take personal responsibility, what comes next?
Sil Lai Abrams: Well the next step that we have to take is to accept whatever it is that we find. It seems really really fundamental, but it’s incredibly important. I knew at the age of seventeen that drinking six days a week was not normal. I would joke around and say, “I am an alcoholic.” But while I knew I had a problem I wasn’t willing to accept it. I wasn’t willing to accept what was happening. What was happening in my life was in me. So I ended up drinking for another seven years until a combination of events led me to attempt suicide and it was directly related to my drinking.
So acceptance is the second step. Accept the truth of what you discover.
And then take the third step which is action. The third principle is action. Knowledge is only potential power. If we don’t take action with what we have discovered and accept it for the truth, we are going to get stuck.
Alissa Kriteman: It sounds like something shifts in-between telling yourself the truth and accepting what is because the action is no longer a destructive pattern but it is actually positive action for change.
Sil Lai Abrams: Right. So, for instance, if you are in a relationship in which you’re needs are not being met- let’s just say there is something rumbling in the back of your head like, “Ah, I really need more attention. This relationship isn’t working for me.” But- you get these buts that come in and they can be leaches. What is the truth? The truth is simply acknowledging my needs are not being met.
That is it. That is very simple. Can you accept that? Yes. I can accept that. Well, what are the actions that I can take to address that? I can choose to speak to my partner, not whine, not complain, but very clearly state what myr needs are and give him an opportunity to meet them or once we take that action he does it or chooses not to or isn’t able to we then take to leave the relationship or collectively we can choose to go into couples therapy.
There is always a step we can take to empower our selves. We are not victims. We are the painter of the master canvas of our life. Everything that is created comes from us.
Alissa Kriteman: I really enjoy listening to you because I just… after reading your book and all that you have been through it’s just so inspiring to see how you have pulled yourself out from so many childhood traumas, teen traumas, even as an adult. I know that you constantly still work on it. –Excuse me.- I appreciate the fact that you have put this together and have come up with a system that we as women can utilize in our lives for when anger is coming up, for when habitual patterns that are coming up, and actually walk through this process.
So now that we are taking new action what is next?
Sil Lai Abrams: Well, the next step is to make a commitment to the action steps. Make a commitment to the truth. So commitment is the fourth principle and with that just ask yourself, “Ok. So how can I stay true to my words?
So let’s say you left that relationship because: you talked with your man; he was not able or willing to make changes; and you weren’t able to diminish your expectations, and so you left. So part of that commitment could be, ok, well when it is late at night and I am feeling lonely instead picking up the phone and calling him: I can put on a movie; I could call my girlfriend. I mean, that was something that I did back in the day. Certainly when I left that relationship at the end of the day I would call my girlfriend and talk to her and set just for a minute just to king of get clarity so I wasn’t acting out on that impulse.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah. I can see some serious breathing exercises, maybe yoga, anything.
Sil Lai Abrams: Anything. Sit on your hands. Do not dial that phone.
Alissa Kriteman: Run around the block.
Sil Lai Abrams: Yeah. Exactly!
And after commitment focus. Keep your focus on yourself. I think that we often tend to focus on: what is going on around us; what is happening with him; what is happening with your boss; what is going on with everyone else. Keep the focus on ourselves because ultimately that is the only thing that we have any control over.
Then the final four principles are faith. It is natural to doubt but have faith that if you continue to take these steps to empower yourself your life will change. Things will get better. Know that there is a meaning and a purpose for everything that you’ve been through in your life.
Then love. The seventh principle is love yourself. Ladies I can not say this enough. Do not ever attempt to love another before you love yourself. You can’t do it. It doesn’t work. You only can give what you have. I remember someone telling me that when I was twenty years old and I said, “Oh! No! I can do this.” The reality is love can only be expressed when it is in your heart and it starts from us.
And then the final two, humilty: once you find the truth in your life you accept what you find. You take action. You maintain a commitment to those actions. You are focused. You have faith. You are showing self love.
Alissa Kriteman: Often times our ego steps in too because things will get better.
Sil Lai Abrams: Things will get better in your life because that is then the greatest risk of pulling everything down around us... I mean, I do not want to hear what you have got to say. I have got everything worked out. We shut ourselves off to the counsel of others and risk sliding back to where we were before.
So be humble, be open, be approachable and then the final step is charity. The ninth sepia principle is charity, which really is about what gift have I got that I can share with the world to make it a better place. In my twenties I certainly would not have thought of charity as necessary when it comes to empowering yourself. But one thing that I noticed was any one who I really looked up to practiced charity. They gave away whether it was time or some sort of resource. But what charity does besides make the world a better place is it combats thatscarcity mind set, that notion that I have got nothing to give. Every single one of us has a gift. Something that we do extraordinarily well and we can share that with the world. I think, it doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man but you are in that dark place.
I think back ten or eleven years ago. I am living up in the Bronx in a small apartment, I am making no money, supporting my self, my kids, my man, and if someone had asked me to help them move or to give of my time I would have told them, “Oh! No! Sorry. I can’t do that. I have to take care of my family.” Or if they had said, “Excuse me miss we are trying to raise money to buy our basketball uniforms.” I would say, “Oh! No! I am broke. I am sorry. I can’t help you. I’ve got to take care of my family.”
But all that is in your life. You need to give of your mind. If you say you have no time you won’t have no time. If you say you are broke you will be broke. So it is an important part of not just maintaining what you have got but giving it away.
Alissa Kriteman: I love that. It feeds that cycle. We want to receive money. We want to receive other things from the outside world. It is so important, as you said, to even find the littlest most tiny thing that you can give to keep that cycle going because it is from there that that scarcity mentality starts to dissolve and the new actions take over.
Also, just that little energy, it shifts the whole thing. Right? Doesn’t it? It just shifts the whole cycle.
I do have a question and I know we have to wrap up here. But one of the concepts, ides, words, that I thought that you might have in your principles is forgiveness. But I didn’t see it there and I am wondering about that.
Sil Lai Abrams: Forgiveness. Yeah. Well, when I looked at the nine steps that I took, I mean, certainly you can empower yourself through the use of these principles. But I look at forgiveness as really being a part of an outgrowth of using these principles, which is why I did not include it.
So, for instance, in the case of my daughter’s father. I had to take it step by step to forgive him and look for the truth, what was the truth of both of our behaviors, and accept that. The action I took was forgiveness. It was acceptance of his shortcomings, acceptance of mine and the part that I played in it.
Really, I think, writing a separate book just on the importance of forgiveness would probably be in order.
Alissa Kriteman: Right. Right. But I like what you are saying. It’s that you actually broke it down like there is some precursors to forgiveness in that you have to identify the truth and accept it and then forgiveness could be an outgrowth of that.
Sil Lai Abrams: Yeah.
Alissa Kriteman: It makes a lot of sense.
One last question. For people who aren’t necessarily inclined towards spirituality, higher power, those things, can this work for them?
Alissa Kriteman: Oh yeah, 100%.
When I talk about faith, for instance, it is not a question of if you believe in a God or a higher being. It is really about a positive direction of your thoughts. So why I use the term spirituality is simple it is from God because it is simpler for me. But really what we are talking about is positive direction of our thoughts, of taking complete ownership of our lives. You don’t necessarily have to call yourself a spiritual person in order to do that. But these principles have certainly led me to a spiritual rebirth of sorts.
I do truly believe that having some type of spiritual or moral guiding principles for your life is imperative to manifesting a positive change but keeping it.
Alissa Kriteman: I got it. Wow! What a pleasure talking to you today. I feel completely inspired. Tell us how we can find you, find out more about you. What is your website?
Sil Lai Abrams: Sure. Well, you can visit me online at www.sepiaprocess.com. On my website there will be links and updates on speaking engagements that I am doing. I will be doing a tour with the Ashley Stewart of the Stewart Foundation this summer visiting eight different markets. So you can come out and check me there. Also, you can purchase a book whether it is on Amazon or Barnes & Noble online. Also it is in stores. It is in Borders Books. It is also in Barnes & Noble nation wide.
Alissa Kriteman: Fantastic! Just so many blessings to you. I really love and appreciate the work that you are doing. I know that this is going to benefit women and men, but really benefit the women of the world who can relate to you your story, who can relate to some of the things that you have gone through and know that there is just an entire world on the other side of that. I feel like you have taken quite a few hits in your life and, man, what you have done with it to turn it around is really inspiring. So thank you.
Sil Lai Abrams: Thank you.
Alissa Kriteman: Yeah. Listeners I would like you to know also don’t forget that you can email me at [email protected]. Give me some of your comments. I would love to hear any ideas that you have.
Don’t forget you can get a copy of my book “Alissa’s Four Cornerstones to Living Your Dreams” on Amazon as well.
For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on the Personal Life Media network just visit the website at personallifemedia.com.
Sil Lai Abrams thank you so much. Best of luck to you.
Everyone go out and get one of Sil Lai’s books “No More Drama”. They are chocked full of great great information and the sepia process is really transformational. I tried it myself already. It really takes you right of out the angry activated place and reminds you , oh ok, let’s check in here, maybe there is another way to approach this. Great work.
Sil Lai Abrams: Thank you.
Alissa Kriteman: I am your host Alissa Kriteman always expanding your awareness and choices here on “Just For Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex”. Tune in next time for more juicy new you can use.
[End of Transcript]