Coach, speaker, and author Del Adey-Jones grew up in Wales in very difficult and unusual circumstances. We discuss how that upbringing affected her adult life, including the realization that she was married to a narcissist, and how she recovered from this.
Del Adey-Jones is a coach, guide, instructor, and podcaster. She is dedicated to helping people attract strong, healthy, respectful, and loving relationships, both in their personal and professional lives – starting with the one you have with yourself!
Her happy ending is the result of years of searching, introspection, honesty, and courage. She’s had years of conventional therapy and has studied everything from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Kabbalah to Kundalini Yoga. She also has a masters in spiritual psychology.
You can find Del Adey-Jones at DelAdeyJones.com and on Instagram @deladeyjones.
- The impact of being raised without acknowledgement from one parent
- How knowing what we don’t want can help us find what we do want
- How knowing ourselves can help create healthy boundaries
- Learning to listen and trust our wisdom again
- Healing the wound of taking on too much responsibility
- How our perception of reality is always based on our thinking
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Del’s podcast, Relationship Mastery
- Stop Thinking, Start Living by Richard Carlson
Transcript of Interview with Del Adey-Jones
Alexandra: Del Adey-Jones, welcome to Unbroken.
Del: Thank you so much. It’s lovely to be here.
Alexandra: Lovely to see you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself your background and how you found the three principles.
Del: I grew up in Wales, I now live in California. I had a very unusual childhood, in many ways, what we would classically call dysfunctional, which I basically carried into my adulthood, all the way up until I think I was about almost 50, if I’m honest.
I was the product of a relationship between my mother and my father. He was a married man who lived down the road with his wife and two children. And I was his daughter, but I never met him, even though their relationship lasted for about eight years, I never met my father, and I would pass him in the street, and then that really his avoiding my leave, looking my direction, never mind exchanging words with me was really soul destroying. For me, I have to say, I really took that as I wasn’t good enough to be loved. I thought if I was just pretty enough, clever enough, skinny enough anything a five year old normally thinks about when they want their parents love.
But I just blamed myself, I thought there must be something fundamentally wrong with me that he didn’t. I had this illusion that all fathers must love their daughters or children anyway, and that it was my fault that he didn’t love me. And also growing up in my household was very hard as well. My mother, having to make money for us, converted a rambling old mansion into a residential home for people with mental disabilities and disorders. So that was also challenging. So I grew up with a lot of issues, let’s put it that way.
I think in an attempt to escape the shame, I had debilitating shame, we were ashamed in the community. My mother sent us to a Catholic school because even though she was an atheist, she wanted us to have a good education and between the nuns and the community, and the shaming, I just wanted to get the hell out of Wales as fast as I could.
So I spent about a year in Spain. And then I came to the US when I was about 21. And I really felt like I could have a new beginning. I could escape my shame. Unfortunately, it found a way to sneak in the suitcase with me and find me all the way here. That’s when I first discovered spirituality. And I was on a spiritual path for many, many years: self help, workshops. The first workshop I ever went to was called Healing the Shame That Binds by John Bradshaw. And that was amazing. I did a lot of the inner child work and tons of stuff.
I also did a master’s in spiritual psychology, which I loved because I really love the combination of spirituality and psychology; that is my sweet spot. But I still managed to get myself in dysfunctional relationship after a dysfunctional relationship. And it was really the last dysfunctional relationship I got out of which was my marriage. That was in 2008, that I came across the principles. And there was something in the simplicity of what Syd Banks said that just hit at a deeper level, even though it’s it was nothing new. I’d heard about it for years, as I say, Kundalini Yoga, Buddhism, Kabbalah, I mean, everything I was just studying I, I’d heard of it before I knew the essence of what he was saying, but it just was in my head and it wasn’t really dropping in. As hard as I tried, I realized you can’t fry it that it’s just it lands when it lands. And as I said, it was principles that literally knocked me on the head.
I was in a book store and this book came sliding out of the bookcase that was called Stop Thinking, Start Living by Richard Carlson. And it was at a time when I was really probably one of the lowest points of my life, actually, besides when I was a teenager. With all the abuse that went on then but it was the end of my marriage and if it wasn’t for my two beautiful sons, I was really probably at my lowest point. And I think that’s when the opening was there that crack open. And I heard something and I, I just delved into it.
That was in 2009. Ever since then just keep deepening and deepening my understanding. But as again, as I say, I don’t throw all the other stuff out either. It all has served me and I love seeing the commonality in different traditions, rather than the differences.
Alexandra: In your practice, then leaping to the present day, and on your podcast, you tend to focus on relationships.
What draws you to that focus on relationships?
Del: I think sometimes when people say, I don’t know what I want, I always say to them, what don’t you want? Let’s start there. And when they start there, it’s really easy as well. And then you just want the opposite. We tend to really know what we don’t want. And growing up in the environment in which I grew up, it was so painful.
I love my mother dearly. She did the best she could. I absolutely know that. But she also made some really, as a mother myself, I’m like, How could you? What were you thinking, but I realized that I’ve had the benefit of a lot of therapy and being on my spiritual path. I could see how I can do things differently.
It was knowing what I didn’t want to continue and knowing what I didn’t want to put my children through. And again, as I say even with all of this, knowing what I wanted, I still was acting out from some habitual behavior that I didn’t understand. I still was attracted to the narcissistic rejecting abandoning type man that my father had been.
My mother actually also was also a narcissist; that’s how they came together, so I knew how to please the person like that, how to keep a person like that. And I think as I always say, children want to redo, if they’ve had a bad experience, the first time round, we keep drawing in that same type of scenario, to redo it to have a different outcome. I think even though there was that little girl in me that still kept totally not in my consciousness, but in my subconsciousness I attracted men like my father to have a different outcome.
I was attracted to men that were, as I say, narcissistic, and rejecting and cruel and punishing. And I wanted to win them over. I wanted them to see me and to love me this time. And fortunately, as I say, took me a long time. But I got to the point where I really realized that everything I was looking at for validation from the outside in was all within me, and I was just looking in the wrong direction. Once I saw that, I stopped doing what I was doing.
Alexandra: As someone who was familiar with narcissism, as well, myself and being raised by people with that kind of personality disorder, I noticed too, that there’s a familiarity in the feeling of rejection.
Without really knowing it, I think we can repeat that pattern, simply because it’s what we know. Would you agree with that?
Del: Yes, I do. There’s a there’s a familiarity to it. But I really think above and beyond that, there’s that need, as I say to right the wrong. To get what we didn’t get as a child. And to also, I think a lot of people think that only the broken wounded – women get together with narcissistic men or broken wounded men get together with narcissistic woman. It’s not just men on women, it tends to be more men, unfortunately. In this culture, where we are actually seeing more and more women displaying narcissistic behaviors used to be more men.
Often too, it’s the striving to prove yourself if you’ve had a parent that that expected perfection, you to never give up. I know for myself, I wanted to prove myself. Now if you loved me, I have no time for you. It’s like, well number one, you’ve got bad taste if you love me. It was like that’s Groucho Marx saying, if anybody want me in their club, I wouldn’t want to belong to that club.
The other thing was to win over a somebody that was difficult or challenging or had tons of women. And I’m embarrassed to admit it, there was that thing in me that thought, Well, God, if I can win over somebody like that, then I’ve really proved my worth. Other than just the average Joe. I’ve won over somebody that nobody else can win over. That must mean I’m special.
Alexandra: Were you conscious of that thought or that belief?
Del: No. That’s why I can laugh when I look back on it. But no, absolutely not. I mean, that it was just this drive and I think many women have it. I mean, they say, Why are women attracted to the bad boy, it’s the challenge. And you only seek a challenge when you actually don’t really appreciate your worth, when you’re having to validate yourself by an outside challenge.
That’s really sad so I say it with compassion and love myself, and I laughed at because I can look back on it now and go, Oh, my God, you poor thing, but at the time now, it was just a drive. I see now what I was doing. The types of people I was attracted to, now I see them from a mile off, and I’d be like, Oh, no, no, why on earth? Would I be attracted to that? On any level? So it’s almost repulsive to me. But when I was younger, it was attractive to me.
Alexandra: Oh, that’s interesting. One of the things I’m really intrigued about in the exploration of the three principles is of course, the idea that our experience is coming from the inside out. We live in the world of our thinking, not in the world of our circumstances. And there are people out there who can do us harm who can behave in a way that is not healthy.
I’d love to explore with you what I would call a dividing line, that place of being where we take responsibility for the thinking that’s going on within us and we have clear boundaries. So could you talk to us about that a little bit?
Del: This is a fascinating one for me. I probably half my clients come through me through the three principles, the world of the three principles, and the other half don’t. And I actually find that the people that have an understanding of the principles are often more challenging to work with, than with the people that don’t.
The reason I say that is because they keep going. And it’s ironic, because they keep saying, they keep going into their intellect. Sydney Banks said, “Follow the feeling,” but they keep popping into their intellect and trying to intellectualize their situation and say, well, it’s just my thinking. And I’m just making more of this.
I see the psychological innocence and, and it’s fine. And just to try and have somebody appreciate that. We are both spiritual and human rolled into one, we’re not separate. We are a spiritual being having a human experience. And there’s a reason we came onto this earth, to experience our humanity. And I am not into the spiritual bypass at all.
What I always say is, know yourself, really know yourself. Because I can look at my behavior now, rather than my feelings, and I can separate out from my wisdom and my feelings. What’s an old habitual pattern that I have from childhood that developed out of a need to protect myself? I can recognize that when that’s happening separate from I know myself, like I say, I understand what’s going on within me and I got all this is just some old stuff happening.
This is not the other person. This is just me, creating a story because maybe I’m fearful or I’m feeling vulnerable right now so I’m seeing this person as a threat. And I know it inside me.
But there’s times when I really do know, oh, this person, as much as I can see their psychological innocence and we’re all connected and all that stuff, their behavior in the world of form is not healthy, and it’s having a negative impact on me. And I can lovingly separate from them.
I don’t have to hate them. I don’t have to judge them. I don’t have to belittle them or beat them up, I can just remove myself and say this is not a healthy environment to be in. It’s very different. And I will say to people truly trust your wisdom, your wisdom will guide you, it’ll let you know when you, as I say, are in that habitual pattern. I can see in some of my previous relationships, where I really did blame the other person for things that were going on in my head. And I apologize to you out there that I did that too.
In the world of psychology, we call it a disorganized attachment style. So I can be a little push me pull me: I want to be close, and then I panic, and I pull away, what’s the easiest way to pull away is to find fault with the other person. But what I’m doing is actually just giving myself some breathing space. I know that about myself.
So instead of being hypercritical, and finding a reason why I need to pull back, I go this is just who I am. And every now and again, I just need a bit of distance. I can articulate that to my partner of the last 13 and a half years and in a wonderfully mature way. As opposed to you did this, and this is why I’m rejecting you right now. But if there were behaviors, thank goodness, he doesn’t he’s incredible, beautiful human being. But if there was some behaviors that were unhealthy, I would be able to say that’s not a behavior that that works in my relationship and address it. I don’t know if that answered your question or not?
Alexandra: Yeah, it did. And it’s brought up a couple more follow up questions. So this is great.
One of the things you said was that you’ve learned to discern between old patterns of thinking and behavior and, and wisdom, your internal wisdom.
Could you tell us how you learned to do that?
Del: Trusting, that’s the other thing I want to talk about when we grow up in a dysfunctional environment. I don’t know about you, but for me my wisdom would tell me something which I would then share with my mother. And she would say, don’t be ridiculous. That’s not true.
Why isn’t my father coming and visiting me? Well, your father loves you. Well, why isn’t he come visit me? Why didn’t he come earlier? When I’m awake? Or why didn’t he look at me when I passed him in the street. He loves you, he just can’t be with you.
I was getting mixed messages, because my wisdom was telling me, that’s not love. That’s not love. But then if an adult behaved inappropriately with me, which they did, I would say to my mother, this doesn’t feel right, this has happened. And she’d say, Don’t be silly, he doesn’t mean it that way. Let him touch you, or stroke you or whatever it was. And, again, it’s that shoving down of your wisdom, your intuition, that voice inside that says this is not okay, so you can never get disconnected from it. You end up not listening to anymore.
Because as a small child who are you’re going to believe more? I’m going to believe my wisdom over my mother, who I depend on for my life? You’re going to believe the parent. So you start listening to your wisdom. And that is one of the hardest things I find with my clients is helping them to hear their wisdom again. It never went anywhere. It’s always there. But we’ve just been ignored.
We were listening to the thoughts which were often the repeating of what I parents said is that dialogue, still, we often listening to that overall wisdom. So things as a small child: if we know something’s icky, it’s icky. Well, as an adult, if you’ve been abused as a child, and you’ve learned to squish that down. Your head will come in and say, Oh, that’s not abusive behavior. That’s fine. We are like this head making decisions for us. And we’re not connected to our body. We’re not connected to it our wisdom not connected to our feelings that are telling us this is not right.
One thing is to really start to and again, as I said, if we’re listening to the thinking, and I had the personal thinking it’s often overrides or tries to override what our intuition is telling us. And if we can recognize how in a minute that’s my mother’s voice in my head or my whoever’s voice in my head doesn’t that’s not the truth. That wasn’t the truth. I felt. What did I feel when that happened?
Learn to differentiate between that chatter, that noise in the head that’s always trying to rationalize and make sense of things and make things you know, all right. Our head wants to keep things as they are, we don’t rock the boat. So we’re, we minimize and rationalize things. Whereas our wisdom is guiding us to say this isn’t right, trust us be brave, walk away, life will be better.
Alexandra: You bring up such an important point that wisdom is always there and will always be there, it’ll never leave us. That’s so important to remember.
For me, that looked like a bit of slowing down. I have experienced a lot of urgency or anxiety in the form of urgency. And so that would make me hear the chatter in my head, and then just kind of obey it automatically.
For me, one of the elements of learning to trust wisdom was slowing down a little bit, and saying, wait a second, I can take a minute, and feel things and see where I’m at.
Del: Absolutely. There is no urgency. Wisdom is not in a hurry. It’s not on the clock. Yeah, take the time.
I don’t necessarily practice meditation as much as I used to, but it is taking that time that dropping in that really, the letting things get quiet, and sometimes it’s really loud. Sometimes it’s as I shared recently, on this talk I just gave my wisdom to get out of my marriage it was on Valentine’s Day. Last thing I thought I wanted to do was get a divorce on Valentine’s Day. I mean, my heart was broken, I discovered some really painful truths about my marriage. But I was sitting meditating, and I had this voice inside me that said, Get out now before he kills you.
I was like, where did that voice come from? Because my head was codependent, I was looking at all the reasons why I should stay, how I didn’t want to break up my family. I felt that I had given my children what I hadn’t had, as a child, I didn’t want to repeat my childhood and have a broken home. But it was not a healthy relationship. And I needed to get out. It wasn’t physically abusive, I will definitely say that. But the emotional abuse can be equally damaging.
I work with people who have sworn off ever being in a relationship again after being in a narcissistic relationship. And that, to me is such a such a shame. We are these beautiful, loving creatures that are meant to love and have open hearts and be with other humans and to be shaken to the core that you would never take that risk again, is sad to me.
Fortunately, people I work with, they are armed with enough information that they’re not afraid to do that, again. They will not make that same mistake again. That wisdom, they’ll know how to recognize those red flags. And they will go into the overdrive of the personal mind rationalizing and minimizing because they want what they want.
Alexandra: One of the things that occurred to me when I was thinking about what I wanted to talk to you about was that when we’re raised in dysfunctional households, like you and I both were, I noticed a sense in myself of taking a lot of responsibility for stuff that isn’t mine.
I want to explore that a little bit with you and see what you had to say about that aspect of relationships.
Del: I totally recognize that one. Sometimes it’s again, it’s like training. It’s like, if I just say sorry, everything will calm down and be nice. So I’ll just say sorry to make everything nice. Again, sometimes it’s that people pleaser coming out of us. And sometimes it really is unhealthy boundaries that we grew up in a dysfunctional environment, healthy boundaries were not modeled for us. And there’s all that in measurement and you made me do it. And all of that stuff that goes on.
One of the things I learned about the principles was that separate realities. I always use my little my snowglobe by just saying that we are all it’s my little border, that’s my center, my spiritual center, but just know that we all live in these little globes of our thinking. And there isn’t that, as you mentioned earlier, there’s not that reality out there that we’re all looking at are all. Our perceptions of reality are different depending upon our thinking.
When somebody is say upset, and angry, and hostile, or whatever, because I couldn’t deal with their upset, I would try and calm them down and control it and everything. And the only reason I was doing that it looked like I was doing it for their sake. And I wasn’t, I was doing it for my own sake, because I was uncomfortable with that aggression, that whatever it was, and instead of having the sense to remove myself and say, Hey, I don’t have to put up with this, I thought I could control it, and behave in a certain way to manipulate it.
Recognizing that we’re not God. And they’re going through their experience, because that’s what they need to go through, for whatever reason. And we can just stand back. And again, if it’s not an abusive relationship, it’s simply that some of these other sorts, the more that we can stay centered and grounded, and let them have their experience, not react to it, not control it, the quicker they calm down, and they’re back to their beautiful loving normal self.
But when we are in a dysfunctional relationship, again, instead of just standing here and being contained, and saying, Oh, this is too much for me, I’m removing myself, we again, as I say, try and control it, and that’s not healthy. We have to respect that that person has everything inside of themselves to bring themselves back down to that, that well-being that’s within all of us. And if they don’t, then again, remove yourself.
We don’t need to fix anybody.
Our job is to be the best guardian of our own lives. I always say when we give our heart to another person and make them responsible for our heart, and then we’re like, What do you mean, you shouldn’t, that hurt me, you shouldn’t have done that. We’re setting the other people up.
We are the best guardians of our lives and our hearts.
That doesn’t mean we don’t share our hearts openly and willingly with another person, but we don’t make the other person responsible for us. And vice versa. We’re not responsible for the other person. I know that sounds harsh, does not mean it’s just I mean, we obviously I’m a mother, I mean, I care dearly for my children. If I’m really honest, they always come first.
I have to remind myself I’m responsible for me. Nobody will take care of take as good care of me as I will. I know my needs and my wounds. It’s not up to somebody else to guess what I want need, and then the wrong bad for if they don’t get it right so we have to take care of ourselves communicate clearly and honestly, and as you said, take care of our side of the street.
Water finds its own level. And the healthier that you are, the more that you will attract healthy partners. I always say that if you’re attracting a narcissist into your life, it’s because narcissists have all that entitlement and self and everything. And then when we’re codependent, we’re all the way down here. And we’ve got no sense of self and no entitlement. So we’re obviously the absolute perfect fit for them because they want everything their way.
Raise our level of entitlement and are healthy, the narcissist is going to go through and we’re going to, I can have a fight with this person, I can bypass them and go for somebody that’s got low self esteem will always put me first and I can manipulate and control. So the best way is to just raise your healthy level of I call it entitlement entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. So just raise that and then you will get a partner that will match you on that level.
Alexandra: That’s really nice.
One of the things we mentioned briefly was your podcast, which is called Relationship Mastery. Tell us a little bit about that about your host co-host and what you talk about on that show.
Del: My co-host is Barry Selby, and he is a dating coach, primarily relationship dating coach.
I did all my insightful conversations and interviewed fabulous 3P people such as yourself. And all the other amazing three P people and I started to find that I was running out of people to interview and it had run its course. I think I’d got about 120 episodes. And it was great and I really loved it.
But I wanted to focus more on what I do, which is work with people around relationships, especially overcoming dysfunctional childhood trauma, codependency and narcissistic abuse and shame. Those are my categories. I wanted to focus more on that. I also really honestly, didn’t want to have to go through all the gathering guests again and organizing that. And I felt that it’s more interesting to have two different perspectives about things.
Barry and I both went to the University of Santa Monica, we both got our masters in spiritual psychology, but he is a single man, never been married, doesn’t have children, and isn’t in a relationship right now. So we were really different. I thought this could be interesting. We bring two different perspectives. There’s moments on the show where I can just feel myself go, No, Barry, I do not agree with you.
He can sometimes talk about the male role and the feminine. And I’m very much into that we both have feminine masculine within us. And there’s depending on who I’m interacting with, and I can be incredibly feminine. And I can also be incredibly masculine, I see both in me very, very clearly.
We cover all different topics. Anything to do with any type of relationship, not just not just I mean parenting, how to deal with your co-workers, your boss, boundaries, apologies, taking responsibility, and life in general. I really like to come from the spiritual perspective and share my spiritual understanding as it is, which as I say, is an amalgamation of many different disciplines that I’ve studied over the years.
Alexandra: That show is available on all the usual podcast apps and people can find it.
Del: Yeah. Apple, everything, all the platforms. We have YouTube and a private Facebook group as well that people can join and see all the episodes on there on YouTube, as well, because it does, it’s either visual, or I like to watch rather than just listen personally. Yes, people like to do their podcasts in the car on their walks. But I actually like to watch YouTube and see see the interaction between people.
Alexandra: Surprising. Yeah, this show goes out on YouTube as well. And I’m always surprised how many views it gets. But that’s clearly our preference for some people.
As we’re getting close to the end of our time together, is there anything we haven’t touched on that you’d like to share today?
Del: I think we touched on it, but I would like to go back over it because I think it’s so important. And again, as I said, I firmly believe that there is no real healing unless we look at both our spiritual essence and humanity. I think they dovetail beautifully together. I think that, as I said we’ve got plenty of time to be spiritual. We are we’re human. And we have very predictable ways of behaving. Our psychology is quite predictable. And I find it fascinating.
I think that when we some people say, Oh, I I don’t want to go and look at my childhood, but to me, it’s like being a surgeon. Sometimes we just have to see where the old habitual thinking or the dysfunction is. So we can pluck it out and start to heal and the healing is when we don’t just identify with our humanity, when we see who we are as this incredible spiritual beings, that our infinite potential, we’re not the stories that our psychology has told us about ourselves that we really have the power to be anything that we set our minds to.
I do think it’s very important to understand where the thinking originated, because it’s easier than to say, Oh, I’m on to you. Whereas, as a small child, I thought you were going to help me. And you did maybe helped me back then. But you’re not serving me any longer. But thank you, thank you for popping up again and thinking that you’re doing a good job. But now I’m an adult, and I don’t need to protect myself with this way of thinking or behaving, serve me back then, but not no longer.
We can let it go with a sense of humor and, and with an ease. I still I catch myself throughout the day slipping into that old thinking, and that doesn’t serve me. But I hear it and I got you back again. It’s like, a familiar friend, you just keep showing up. But it’s the getting it and the seeing, I’m never frustrated. I never think Why are you still here, you should have gone by now I have none of that thinking. I’m just like, I just recognize you sooner, I got you. And then I get back to being who I really am. At my essence, which is, as I say anything I really want to put my mind to.
That’s probably the most important thing. And again, it’s just one without the other. I think psychology without spirituality can only take you so far. And it took me so far. And I loved my time in therapy. It helped me to make sense of my chaotic childhood and some of the patterns I was in and my studying of psychology. But without that spiritual component, to know that we are these so much more than just a psychology. I just don’t think we can really heal me. It’s both.
Where can we find out more about you and your work, Del?
Del: You can find me everywhere. You can find me on that podcast, Relationship Mastery. You can find me at deladeyjones.com, which is my website. And you can find me on YouTube. I’m starting to do a lot more speaking engagements, though. Yeah, everything is on the website.
If you go to the website, it directs you to me and everything. I do some old blogs of mine, and the old shows the old, anybody still interested in really listening to some of the most incredible teachers we have in the three principals from you know, Dicken Bettinger, the Pranskys, just amazing people. I’ve interviewed them more so that all the all the old episodes of insightful conversations are available on my website, too.
Alexandra: That’s good to know. I’ll put links in the show notes at unbrokenpodcast.com so people can find that.
Thank you again, so much for being with me here today. I really appreciate it.
Del: Oh, it’s been such a pleasure. And it’s great to be on the other side, because that’s right. So anybody listening that wants to listen to my amazing interview with Alexandra, then please go and listen to it. It was fascinating. I think we definitely had some interesting commonalities between those in our in our life.
Alexandra: For sure. I think we mostly talked about my cult memoir on that show.
Del: Yeah. I remember saying, oh my goodness, this being in a cult is like being in a relationship with a narcissist. Most cult leaders are narcissistic, not psychopaths. But it has very similar you know, it’s that over time, nobody puts their hand up and says, Hey, I want to be in an abusive relationship or I want to be in a cult. It’s that over time that seduction and pulling you in gradually. The love bombing.
Alexandra: Exactly. Such a good point. All right. Well, thanks so much, Del. Take care.