Thursday, August 10, 2023

Q&A with Melanie Smith




Melanie Smith is the author of the new book Unfinished Business: 8 Steps to Heal Your Trauma, Transcend Your Past, and Transform Your Life. Also a songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, coach, and motivational speaker, she lives in Pennsylvania and in Florida.


Q: What inspired you to write Unfinished Business?


A: After many years of working with clients who struggle with letting go of past heartache and who have lost the ability to believe in themselves fully, I decided it was time to provide further access to my work.


Past traumas, heartbreaks, and losses can shift how we relate to ourselves and the world. Over 20 years of working with people suffering from grief, heartbreak, and trauma taught me how much we need practical tools to help us rethink, reimagine and recover from these experiences.


This has been my lifelong curriculum and calling because I have experienced so much in my own life. The process laid out in the book is based on the work I have done with clients and students for decades and has helped many people change their lives.


Q: The writer Tal Ben-Shahar said of the book, “In Unfinished Business, Melanie Smith explores the powerful force that can hold us back from fulfilling our potential for success, health, and happiness.” What do you think of that description, and how would you define that force?


A: The description is entirely accurate and beautifully stated. The force he’s referring to is the undercurrent of our past. We hold onto past stories, beliefs, patterns, and falsehoods as truths, and the reactions those “truths” create for us in the present become destructive forces in our lives.


Learning to decode our patterns and undercurrents and letting go of old stuck energy so we can choose and create different outcomes is a superpower.


The Buddha said, “In life, we can't always control the first arrow (our experience of loss, heartbreak, trauma). However, the second arrow (the stories, beliefs, and behaviors we create and hold onto about the first arrow) is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.” 

We must know who we are, what has happened to us, and who has led us to believe this data to change that reaction to the first arrow. Developing the ability to choose differently through self-knowledge and total awareness is a profound skill. We must reassess what we believe and think about ourselves and our lives to heal and live to our highest potential.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: It is the perfect expression for the collective of all things left unresolved, unhealed, and unforgiven in our lives. In Gestalt theory (Fritz Perl), unresolved emotions, unfulfilled needs, or incomplete grievances are considered unfinished business. Gestalt theory is where my coaching journey originated, so it seemed the perfect title.


Regarding the subtitle, I felt it critical that people start thinking about trauma and heartbreak differently. Trauma is not just PTSD; it comes in many forms, and it can be overcome. We all can heal, move forward, and create a life that brings joy and peace. We can transcend our past and transform our future.


Q: How did writing this book affect you?


A: First, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and the fact that I can hold an actual book in my hand is surreal. But more importantly, writing this book reminded me of all I have endured and how much meaning each loss and each recovery brought into my life. It’s also fantastic to do something you never thought you could do.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just completed my first jazz LP. I recorded with Lady Gaga’s Grammy-winning band. What an incredible experience it’s been to work with some of the most excellent musicians in the world. It was something I have always wanted to create. And I like being living proof that it’s never too late to become something new or make your dreams come true. The album is titled The Broken and The Breaker and will be released at the beginning of 2024.


I’m also creating a training program based on the work in the book so others can help the people around them heal and live the best possible life.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I genuinely appreciate your interest in my book, and I want to thank you for your time.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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