In this Q&A I am sharing some of the coaching that I have done with the folks in my six-month program, Anchored: Overcoming Codependency. The folks in my program who have posed these questions asked for the coaching they want and need over in the Slack we have there, which is like a direct message system we use.
They often know the thought work protocol and are well-versed in nervous system terms. It’s the language we speak in the program and that may not be the case for all of you, so I just want to honor that.
Our first coaching request. It reads like this:
“Dear Vic, I’m getting myself into a bit of a muddle so I’d like some help. I’ve recently gained awareness that I seek validation from others when I have achieved something, i.e. something that has happened that makes me feel proud, happy, and then I immediately tell lots of other people because I want them to tell me I’ve done a good job. This is what makes it really count in my mind.
So since gaining that awareness through the program, when something I’ve been working on paid off the other day, I caught myself when I wanted to immediately tell lots of people and I held back. But now, my brain is offering the thought, “You shouldn’t be hiding your achievements, you should feel comfortable telling other people all about it.”
So here is my thought work:
Circumstance: got told by my publisher that they agreed to publish my book.
Thought: I should be telling other people about this but not to get validation from them. Feeling: confused.
Action: go back and forth in my head over which choice is best, indulge in confusion, seek help here, judge myself for not knowing what to do, tell my immediate family but not anyone else
Result: don’t give myself experience of being proud of me.
Any coaching on how to move forward would really be appreciated.”
Okay, so this is such a great one, and I actually would like to start by seriously congratulating you. That is phenomenal news about your book. Now, on to the coaching.
So the shift that we are often going for in coaching is in the energy.
Remember, you can take the same action from two different feelings and you can create really different feeling results for yourself from those different energies within your body.
It’s your thought and the feeling that that creates for you. So too, you can take the same action, celebrating yourself, from two different feeling feelings, from different energies in your body, which will create different results.
So I deeply believe that when we’re doing the work of taking our self-worth back from our codependent habit of externalizing, one of the things that is vital is constantly celebrating ourselves, learning what it feels like in our bodies to be our own best friends, our biggest cheerleaders, our most adoring, unconditionally loving parents so we can experience validating the fuck out of ourselves first so we’re not running around chasing that feeling from other people.
The more you pause, acknowledge, and celebrate the amazingness in you, the more your nervous system gets used to it.
And the dopamine hit is internally generated. It’s not based on someone else responding in the right way or saying the right thing. It’s based on you validating you. And so to that end, I brag on myself constantly and I love it when you all do over in our Slack.
And I share my achievements with others from the energy of I know I’m awesome and amazing, I am inspired by and proud of me, I have validated the hell out of me, and now I want to tell you. Because it’s fun to tell you. Not for you to do my internal work for me because I know you can’t do that.
Before you share about an accomplishment, I want to invite you to check in with yourself. Have I praised me enough that I’m sharing because bragging on me is so fun and awesome? Or am I unintentionally asking this other person to do my emotional labor for me?
The answer you seek is in the answer to that question.
Okay, so the next request for coaching.
“Vic, my brain loves to tell me that I can’t relax or have fun or focus on things that I want to do because there are way too many things to do for my day job. This is cropping up today, like it does every weekend. What I’d like to do today is to make some food for the week, run an errand, see a friend, and work on my coach certification. My brain says absolutely not. You need to calendar to get ready for the week or work on one of several work projects that you should have already done. Hop to it.
But then I read your coaching in the Anchored Slack and I put a hand on my heart and found that have-to energy. I’ve met this energy before. I’ve experienced this energy as a hissing cat, back arched, backed into a corner. Today, I did the somatic practices you’ve taught us and found that the energy was a woman, not sure of her age, also backed into a corner, eyes wide and wild and wielding two swords.
I’ve sensed this woman several times before. She’s always in a corner ready to attack, aggressively fending for her life. I’m not sure if she’s never ever rested, but I get the sense that she never rests. Not quite sure what that means, but I do know that she’s a part of me. What I do recognize is that she’s traumatized and that forcing her to do anything, like standing down, would be counterproductive as I recognize her as part of me. She is a protector that lives within me. How do you think I should approach her?”
Thank you for sharing this and how beautiful that you were able to bring her into your awareness using the tools that we learn in Anchored and that you were able to connect in with her. This is truly the beauty of the somatic or bodily practices we do together.
They give you a new language, a new vocabulary, a set of skills for connecting inward and for getting into conversation with all the parts of you, with love, compassion, curiosity, and care.
When parts of me come up that are new to my conscious mind, I start by getting into conversation with them.
I talk to these parts of me – a concept from internal family systems work – as I would a loving friend or a gentle kind parent. From my brain, I like to have these conversations out loud and that might not be right for everyone, so feel into it for yourself.
So the first thing I do is either to ground into my body, so for folks who feel safe going inward into your bodies, I would start there. And if that doesn’t feel safe, that’s unavailable, that’s perfectly fine. Orient to your surroundings.
From there, I let this part of me, here, this warrior woman with the swords, I let that part know that I’m available for conversation.
Next, I get that part’s consent to continue the conversation.
From there, I would ask that part what her name is, what she wants to be called. You can check in with pronouns as well. We start with these questions so that we can build trust and safety between ourselves and these parts of ourselves.
I also do this because the more I can personify a part, the more true kinship and relationship I build with them.
Next, I’d ask her what she wants both from you and for you. I would ask her what she herself needs in order to be able to rest or if that’s unavailable for her, what she needs in order to be able to allow you to rest. See if she’s available to be acknowledged and maybe even befriended.
One of our core values in Anchored is curiosity. Stepping out of judgment of our own thoughts and feelings and into greater acceptance. And one of the key ways we get there is through curiosity. Not assuming we know the answer, we know the way, but being curious so we can come to understand our own motivations and those of our protector parts.
And this part really sounds like a powerful protector and I’m curious what she is trying to protect you from, what she’s trying to protect herself from. And these are all questions that you can start to ask her and ask yourself.
My best guidance in this work is to start with acceptance and pour on the love.
She is there to protect you because she loves you. You may not adore her goals or ways of defending you, or the results she creates in your life such as keeping you in this thought loop that I cannot rest, I cannot rest, I cannot rest, but what’s really important, core, and key here is to recognize that she thinks her work is the most important thing in the actual whole wide world because she believes she is keeping you safe.
And the more you can believe and accept and trust that that is true for her, that she’s not trying to fuck up your life or ruin your day, the more you two can move from being possible adversaries to true allies together. One other thing that I would add here is to consider starting this practice and ending this practice of opening up this conversation with her with a somatic practice.
In our last request for coaching, this human writes:
- “For a while now I’ve been wanting to identify as non-binary. Since joining Anchored and listening to your show, I’ve been deconstructing a lot of social norms that have piled up in my brain and I’ve been seeing how much I’ve been feminized through my life by the society, culture, and family that I’ve grown up in.
Non-binary is something that just feels right to my past, present, and future self. However, when I try to feel into it, I realize I don’t feel worthy of this identification. I fear it’s something that if I were to start announcing, people would say, “But come on, you’re way too womanly or fem to actually be non-binary.” And then the fears of appropriation set in, which make me doubt myself and my feelings even more. How can I dig into this, Vic? How can I support myself here?”
Thank you so much for sharing this. So I will begin by inviting you to give yourself credit for the fact that you already are digging into this.
So often we think I need to get started working on this but when we pause and share about it, we can actually see that you are already in process.
We are already in process by raising our awareness about whatever it is that we want to shift. So pause and give yourself credit, my beauty.
Whenever there’s this story of worthiness connected to what others would say, my question is this: who cares what others think about you? Your gender, your sexuality, your hair color, your career, your anything. And as always, that’s not a brush off.
I’m not just prompting you to say, right, right, okay, I shouldn’t care, because remember, as humans we are pack animals, so it’s natural and normal to care what others think. That’s built into us. But where that becomes something to look into and ask loving questions about is when you stop yourself from being yourself or living into your truth because you care more about other people’s thoughts than you do your own. So there’s the line there. Often a really fine line and this is again where somatics comes in to help us feel into and really get into awareness of our own motivation around our thoughts, our choices, and what we may fear or want other people to think about us.
So this is an earnest question that I’m posing to you. Who are the parts within you that care? It’s an invitation to ask your body, who is it who cares?
The more you can lovingly meet those parts of you, can honor them, support them, and show them that they are safe with adult you at the helm, the more you can show them that you are indeed resourced now, the more they can relax into letting you live your life on your terms.
The fewer doubt thoughts come up about the potential impact of other people not liking your choices, not agreeing with your choices, thinking you’re wrong because you know you’ve got your own back.
Next, I’ll invite you to ask yourself, do you want to continue to live your life based on what others may or may not think? Based on a projection of a possible thought that may cross someone else’s mind? Do you want to continue to worry about what people who habitually judge others might think about you? How they may judge you?
Why would anyone else’s thoughts about your gender matter? Again, inner protector parts and others within you may scream out, “Because then I’m safer,” and that is understandable and of a self-loving origin. And you can honor those parts that think that, and you also don’t need to live from that wounding that says that other people’s thoughts about you are more important than your own.
It’s challenging work, no joke, and it’s the work of having your own back.
So my darling love, what would you decide to believe instead of that loving, protective old thought that other people’s notions of your gender matter at all? That’s a place to do some work, to do some breathing, some dancing, some somatics, some thought work. Bring all of your beautiful tools to work on that question.
Finally, back to your point about appropriation. So I think it is always an important check to run and I love that you’re pausing to check in with yourself there. And I will say, as my point of view, as a cis queer fem woman, and again, only my point of view, if you know, believe, and feel that you are gender non-binary, then what would you be appropriating, my darling?
Whose experience would you be diminishing or taking away from and owning what your mind-body knows to be your own truth? This is another question I’ll invite you to actually write the answer out to, to do some thought work and some somatics around so you can see and feel the stories that live within you. Who exactly are you afraid will judge you or tell you that you’re not non-binary enough? What does that fear story look like within your mind and your body?
I hope that it was helpful to hear some of the coaching that we do in Anchored.
Whatever is coming up in people’s lives, we apply the thought work protocol and somatics we bring to breathwork so that we can get into the depths of our realness in new ways and can really start to see our habitual thoughts and feels, the actions we take, and the results we create in our lives, so we can really get in touch with our nervous systems, our inner children, and can really start to see, feel, experience, almost taste and touch what it feels like as adults to have our own backs, to really, really show up for ourselves, and to recognize that we have habitually been externalizers.
Thank you for taking the time to read Feminist Wellness. I’m excited to be here and to help you take back your health!
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