Today, I interview Sonja Rayne Lee. Unfortunately, part of Sonja’s story includes childhood trauma, so there was a lot for her to overcome from a young age. At 12 she was molested. Luckily, her family immediately put her in therapy so she could begin working through it. But it was hard. Sonja felt exposed and vulnerable, and she was hurting. She put up a wall to shield herself and was afraid to let anyone in. This kept her from being fully seen by people, and it kept her feeling as though her light had been extinguished.
She was beginning to realize in therapy that she had been repeating the same story to herself for years. She began to understand that this was creating a negative identity and writing a harmful story for her life. She was telling herself over and over again that she wasn’t worthy, and it was keeping her wounds from healing. Even years later as she started college, she mostly kept to herself. But as she continued to do the work in therapy, she started to embrace forgiveness. She tells us that forgiving the person who hurt her allowed her to separate herself from the situation and move forward. She was able to walk forward in life and begin to heal, recognizing that this incident didn’t have to define her future. She was rewriting her story.
Sonja tells us about a powerful experience she had at a conference she attended, and how that led to her becoming part of Speaking Circles, where she learned about connecting to her body and feeling grounded and present. This really had an effect on her and allowed her to drop down into herself and really connect with people on an intimate level when she was speaking. Today, when she needs to reconnect with her own source of power and confidence, she steps into the “circle of fire” in her mind and grounds herself, gathering the force and presence she needs to confront her anxieties in that moment. In her work with others, she helps them to tap into their own power by working through mindset, habits, and goals to redefine their futures.
Sonja Rayne Lee is a certified Law of Attraction Mindset Coach and has been coaching for over 15 years. Through a deep-level method of coaching, she provides tools for people to push through their limiting beliefs so that they feel stronger, more confident, and empowered in their life choices. They are able to design the life they wish to live. Sonja also shares her expertise and other talents as a Reiki Master, Crystal Energy Healer, and Diviner on her two YouTube Channels (Sonja Rayne Lee and The Soul Sistas Tarot).
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Transcript of Interview
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode # 97 Sonja Rayne Lee
“Grounding, Power, and the Intimacy of Being Real”
(00:37) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast, and if you’re listening to me right now, I want to say that today I get to introduce you to a wonderful woman who is I would say magical in her power to help us change our mind. I will introduce her in just a moment. But I’d also like to ask you if you’re listening to rate our podcast, subscribe to it, so that you can get updates on all the fabulous guests that I bring on who will share their stories of the struggle to find their voice and what they get to do now. Hello, Sonja.
(01:19) Sonja Rayne Lee
Hello, Dr. Doreen. Thank you for having me today.
(01:24) Dr. Doreen Downing
It’s a pleasure because I’ve been on your podcast and what is the name of it? Mind, body, self? Is that what I—
(01:33) Sonja Rayne Lee
Mind, body, and spirit.
(01:37) Dr. Doreen Downing
Self and spirit. Let’s go deeper. There you go. Well, you sent a bio and I like I always like to read that first off, so folks get more of a sense of who you are now and then we can go back to well, so what happened before you got to be who you are now. Okay, Sonja Rayne Lee is a certified Law of Attraction mindset coach and has been coaching for over 15 years. Through a deep level method of coaching, she provides tools for people to push through their limiting beliefs, so that they feel stronger, more confident and empowered in their life choices. Already that sounds very inviting, Sonja. People can move towards empowerment. I love that they are able to design the life they wish to live. Sonja also shares her expertise and other talents as a Reiki Master, crystal energy healer, and diviner on our two YouTube channels, Sonja Rayne Lee and The Soul Sistas Tarot. Did we do it?
(02:54) Sonja Rayne Lee
You did it. Yes, thank you.
(02:57) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, well, it’s a journey to be who we are. It’s wonderful to get that as a seed, so as people listen, it’s not just your magnificence, but that there must have been some childhood events coming into this life that you encounter that did not make it so easy for you to have a voice. Anything you want to say to start about that history?
(03:35) Sonja Rayne Lee
Absolutely. the beauty is, is that whatever has happened to us in life, it doesn’t define us, and it’s up to us whether we choose to stay in that pain, that hurt or trauma that we’ve experienced, or we begin to do the work to pull ourselves out of it. that’s what I’ve done for many years when I was young, I did experience childhood trauma, and it made me feel very exposed, vulnerable, and I didn’t want to be hurt anymore. I built up this powerful shield a wall to keep people out and I just was so scared to let that wall down for people to see me for who I am. that real light that was there, I felt like my light was put out. it was easier at that time to hide than to be seen, and that was a good portion of being young and going into my teenage years. slowly as I got into college or started coming out a little bit more but I always had a fear of using my voice or scared that someone was going to hurt me again in some way or another, so a lot of times, I just kept quiet, I kept to myself.
(05:06) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I understand that you’re already starting to talk about my story, and I’m sure that so many listeners are already captivated by the fact some of the things that you already said, and if you can—because I think it helps people to relate more deeply to the initial suffering, but you said trauma and some hurt you, if you could just outline a few more specific so people go, “Yes, I’ve been there. That’s me.”
(05:40) Sonja Rayne Lee
Yes, absolutely. Basically, the trauma experience: I was molested when I was 12 years old, and it took—I’m grateful that my family at that time. They immediately put me into therapy, and the therapy was really good for that time of my life. But as I got older, what I was realizing during a lot of sessions that I just kept repeating that same story over and over again. What I’ve learned as I got into limiting beliefs, the more that we create whether we speak something or we see something, this is what we’re embedding in that memory, this becomes a belief system. By repeating that story, what I was saying to myself is that I’m not worthy, I’m not valuable, I’m less than—just bringing up all those old wounds. What happened later on in life as I started doing the work, it was time to change the story. Yes, we never forget the pain in the trauma, all that we’ve experienced, but we can rewrite our story. Also, I want to add that forgiveness is a huge part of this because when we don’t forgive, we’re still holding on to all those feelings, and I know that, especially after dealing with something like that, it’s not easy to forgive that person, and it took me years before I even got to that point.
(07:18) Sonja Rayne Lee
But when I did, I always say that forgiveness is the best gift that we can give ourselves. Because ultimately, it was not about that person. It was about me, and what I needed for myself. To let that person, know, “I’m not going to forget what you did, but I forgive you, and so now, it’s up to you and your journey of what you’re going to do with that to move on.” For me, it cleared that pathway so now I can move forward, and it was so freeing, and it felt fantastic. There’s different ways we can forgive. You don’t have to do it face to face to a person. You can write a letter. You can just speak it out. You can do maybe a little ceremony of sorts to forgive that person. It doesn’t have to be a face to face thing, but also coming from the heart that you really do truly forgive this person in order for you to move on. It’s so crucial, so important. I started creating this whole new story now of who I am, as an individual, letting myself know that I am worthy, I am valuable. I do have something to say and getting comfortable to be in my skin, this new person that I’m developing, now it’s all about getting really comfortable with me and who I am.
(08:42) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I hear that. There’s a couple of things that already I’m responding to. One is the repetition of a story that we believe about ourselves because we did have that experience. It feels like, “Yes, hi, I am the victim of—” The more we think we’re trying to work through it, it feels like it gets reinforced because we identify ourselves as being the one abuse, the one that’s been victimized. It’s good that what we’re telling listeners today is if you find yourself repeating that same story. I know that in working with people with public speaking anxiety, “Oh, I’m just not somebody who can speak up.” That’s an identity, a belief. “In my family, I never was the one who spoke up, my sister always was the one.” That’s what I’m getting first of all from you, Sonja, is what are the stories people are telling themselves that keep them limited from moving on, moving into in this journey that you just referred to—freedom.
(09:57) Sonja Rayne Lee
Yes, absolutely, and as far as speaking, it’s so funny because I would say that too, like, “Oh, I’m not the speaker. My brother’s the speaker of the family.” He has such a way about him, and he’s always been that dynamic since he was young. I think another thing is we use the word trauma, we think of these big experiences, but trauma can be like little things. For instance, I believe I was in high school, and I had to do a presentation in front of the class, and whenever I had to get up and speak in front of people, my voice would start cracking, and my hands would shake uncontrollably, and I would be so embarrassed. Leave it up to another student to point that out in front of everybody. Talking about trauma, I just want to melt into the floor and just not exist. It was horrible. That added as well to all the anxiety of having to speak and not wanting to be heard and not feeling valuable. It’s just that one little thing of somebody pointing something out that completely shut me down. People get traumatized in all different ways that cause them to not want to speak in front of others.
(11:16) Dr. Doreen Downing
I’m so glad you said that in that particular way so that we can hear that you don’t necessarily have to have childhood trauma. It could just be coming out into the world and saying, “Hello, World,” and, “Here I am,” and somebody makes you feel small or ashamed or something’s wrong with you. What you described, that physiological response, the shaking and the voice quivering and the throat cracking, isn’t it interesting that the body is under stress, and not being able to find a way to calm and zoom yourself down in that moment? What you just described in that high school scene is something that happened in the past and—this goes along with your first story—the story that people tell, it happened in the past, but people are still carrying it into their present and into their future, afraid that it is going to happen again. Right. Exactly.
(12:31) Sonja Rayne Lee
Exactly. Yes, and one of the things that I love about now is that connection. I think that’s so important for us to be aligned with ourselves and have that connection, just as you took that deep breath, just to be present with the breath and your body and feeling and allowing the body to relax and that took a lot of learning in understanding my body of what it is that I’m truly experiencing. When I’m talking to people, I’m able to make those small little adjustments so that I can just calm things down within and just be present. It’s a great feeling.
(13:18) Dr. Doreen Downing
I can’t wait. I’m going to take a quick break. But I sure we want to hear more about the how that whole idea because that’s what people suffer from, that anxiety, and the learning how to calm and it’s more—yes, breath is really important physiologically, but we’ll talk more when we come right back. Thank you, Sonja.
(13:49) Dr. Doreen Downing
Welcome back. We’re here to talk with Sonja Rayne. I am so excited to hear what we’ve just been going through. There’s been some trauma in Sonja’s life and the story that she carried with herself, affected her own self-esteem, and now, we’re beginning to say, “How do you tell a new story?” We’ve been talking about standing up in front of an audience and shaking and feeling like you’re standing right there and somebody’s pointing out. I think that’s one of the things that people are really afraid of is being somebody who’s in a panic attack in front of others, and so why even go there? Let’s just go further and talk more about what we were talking before the break around how does somebody—you’re talking about mindset, but you’re also talking about the body needing to be responding to what we ask it to do for us.
(14:56) Sonja Rayne Lee
Yes, yes. I contribute everything to going through this process to speaking circles. It was probably one of the best things I could have done for myself, and it was life changing, because I’ll tell you where things shifted and changed for me, and we’ll talk a little bit more about the how. But what changed for me—I went to this conference, and there was about 100 people or so in the audience, and the gentleman—the facilitator on the stage said, “I want one person to come up here. Someone who struggles with public speaking” my friends are nudging me and she’s like, “Raise your hand. Raise your hand.” I did a quick little hand raise, and then I thought about it, I was like, “Heck, no. I’m not going up there.” I get my hand back down, and he’s zooming and looking across the audience. I thought I pulled my hand down, and he saw it. He’s like, “The woman wearing—whatever I was wearing that day—come on up here.” I just want to die. I get up on stage, and I’m facing all these people, and he says to me, “I want you to share something that’s personal to you, and just share it with everyone,” and like a meek little mouse, I’m sharing my story, and I’m feeling really meek. He said, “How do you feel?” I said I feel angry, I feel upset, and he’s like, “I just want you to yell.” I’m looking at him like, “Yell?” So, I do this little “Ah!” Nothing that was too high, and he said, “No, I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to feel it right from the pit of your stomach there, and just feel into it and just yell.” Well, I did that. I closed my eyes, and when I tell you—this yell, this roar that came out of me was unbelievable. Literally everyone stood up on their feet and started clapping.
(17:18) Sonja Rayne Lee
It was probably one of the most significant things that could have happened for me, because here I am now, in front of people, they’re not making fun of me, they’re supporting me, they’re holding the space, they’re applauding. Even the next day, people were coming up to me saying, “Great job. You’re great.” They even made me a name tag that said “badass” for the next day to wear, and it was just so encouraging. From that point on, I had actually met someone there that said to me, you should look at speaking circles, and I asked what are speaking circle. They said, “This is an international organization, and they have a different approach to speaking, in helping you.” I said, “Okay,” so I looked it up, and wow, what a transformation in taking those classes and helping me. That’s part of the how of connecting with your mind, being relational and understanding what your body is feeling and connecting with another individual. It was such a powerful—there’s powerful exercises that were presented that we got to do, and so when it came time for me to stand up in front of people, I still felt the butterflies and still got nervous, but something was different, and I learned how to look at people when I talked like we’re just having this intimate conversation, not necessarily with the entire room, and then I can move to somebody else and have that interaction with that individual. There was this feeling of being more intimate. It felt more intimate, it felt real, and it just helped me to feel more grounded, and I think that was the how part of learning to what is grounding for you, what feels good to you, before you even go into a space to have to speak to someone, allowing yourself to get grounded.
(19:25) Sonja Rayne Lee
I have this thing that I call my little circle of fire, the circle of power. You imagine that there’s a circle on fire and you step into that circle and you get back all your energy, your confidence, everything that you need to empower yourself and you just fill up with that energy in this circle, and then you step out, and then you can move into whatever meeting or presentation, whatever it is that you have to do, you feel fully empowered. That’s a nice little grounding thing that you can do, and you can think about it too. While you’re there talking to people, you don’t have to necessarily say, “Excuse me. I need to step into my circle of power right now.” But these are some of the techniques and things that I use, and I just love it.
(20:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wow, your story about the yell reminds me of one of my breakthrough moments where I was acting out my fear, and I rolled myself into a ball and scrunched every part of my body as tight as I could, and then there came a point where I couldn’t take it any longer, and I just broke out. I think that might be something physiological because of what you just said. I had a breakthrough moment, my strong energy that was held back finally got released in a strong way. I was still scrunched down, but I looked up in the front row, I saw somebody—just like you said about there’s one person in front of you—”Oh, I could do this.” It’s just one person, and then I looked at somebody else in the front, just one person, and then in the next row, there’s another person. This idea that you just brought into our conversation about first, the breaking through and allowing yourself to be in a scarier place, which means you go towards fear—as long as you keep avoiding it, your brains going to say, “Thank you for not taking me to fear.” The fact that there’s a breakthrough in terms of facing fear reinforces that that’s the direction where we want to take people safely, of course. It’s so good to hear this circle of fire that you just talked about. What else can you say about the “how”?
(21:56) Sonja Rayne Lee
About the how, there’s another technique that I use “Tapping,” which is the EFT. Some people might hear it as Emotional Freedom Technique, and it’s tapping on different acupuncture points on the body, and there’s plenty of videos. You can go to YouTube University and look up tapping or EFT. It’s also another way of connecting with your body so that you can calm those nerves down, calm the mind down so that you can be present for whatever it is that you need to do. I love doing that. Another one is that if you’re in a presentation, imagine your feet have roots growing through them, and the roots are connecting down into the core of the Earth, into Mother Earth and just holding on. Any stress, fear, just release it through the body, down through those roots, down into the earth, just give it back to the earth, give it away, and allow yourself to just breathe, and just be.”
(23:14) Dr. Doreen Downing
I’m feeling it. Who’s ever watching, whoever’s listening, I hope you felt the power of Sonja, leading us into a deeper state of presence, being fully present right here, right now in the power of presence. That was lovely. I felt myself shift into a quieter inner state. Let’s make sure and ask her about this [inaudible 00:23:42] kind of thing and just say, “Hey, friend, it’s really good to be with you today and learn from you and introduce you to people that listen to me and share your beauty, your expertise.” We’re almost over, almost done. I want to make sure and point to anything that you feel, like where people can find you, what you do, just anything, a little bit more about what’s next for folks if they want to join you.
(24:14) Sonja Rayne Lee
Yes, absolutely. Thank you. For anyone that’s interested, you can go to my website, which is my name, Sonja Rayne Lee. That’s SONJARAYNELEE.com. I offer a variety of different services. There’s the mindset coaching, there’s also readings that I do, as well as the Reiki healing and energy healing. That’s there as well. For the coaching, I do offer a free session for people to see, “Is it right for me?” There’s a lot of people that don’t know about coaching and I like to say the mindset coaching because it’s all about mindset. Again, going back to those limiting beliefs. What did we create for ourselves that we believe so we can change that mindset to step into who we want to be, and coaching is not for everyone. It’s a great opportunity to try it on for a minute to see if it’s something that you like and to see if it’s a good fit too. I think that’s extremely important in knowing that it goes both ways. Are we a good fit with each other? That’s where you can find me and you can find the other channels, the YouTube channels, same thing—by my name—on YouTube.
(25:32) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wonderful. You just said, “Step into who you want to be.” I think that what you’re about is helping people step into who they truly are already at some level.
(25:44) Sonja Rayne Lee
Absolutely. Yes. Good point. I love that. Yes. Who you really are and opening up and really embracing that part of you.
(25:53) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, that’s something that you and I share, and again, so glad that you stepped into our conversation and gave us some really wonderful insights and tips. Thank you so much, Sonja.
(26:10) Sonja Rayne Lee
Oh, thank you. It’s been an honor. Thank you.
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