Britt Frank is back on the show! Britt Frank, MSW, LSCSW, SEP is a trauma therapist, teacher, and speaker who specializes in the “Science of Stuck.” She is one of my favorite therapists who offers another perspective on personal development.
In this episode, we discuss what Britt believes to be some of the inaccurate information the mental health and wellness world teaches us and how that information impacts our personal development journey. Britt’s goal is to educate, empower, and equip people to transform even their most persistent and long-standing patterns of thinking and doing. You’re going to love this conversation, I have no doubt.
- The parts of us that people typically hate are the parts that are trying to protect us. (7:17)
- Why Britt says, “Depression is debilitating but it is NOT a chemical imbalance.” (11:38)
- Why addiction is NOT a disease. (15:35)
- We need to understand behavior function in order to get to behavior change. (19:29)
- If we could change our inner monologue to an inner dialogue we can calm the nervous system down. (23:19)
- Anxiety is as necessary to your health as the check engine light is to your car. (29:49)
- If a medication or modality isn’t working for you, you’re not broken. Healing is complex. (39:27)
- Therapy is not about blaming your parents, it’s about becoming a parent to yourself. (43:21)
- Trauma is not always about the things that happened to you. It is also about the things that didn’t happen to you but should have. (44:20)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Join me for The Daring Way Retreat Open House! March 29th at 1 pm ET. I'll be going over the curriculum and doing a Q&A.
Apply for Private Coaching with Andrea or her team.
Britt’s book, The Science of Stuck
Episode 358: Healing from Narcissistic and Traumatic Relationships with Britt Frank
Episode 397: Narcissistic Abuse, Trauma, and Healing with Britt Frank
Britt on Instagram
Britt Frank, MSW, LSCSW, SEP is a trauma therapist, teacher, and speaker who specializes in the “Science of Stuck.”
Britt's work empowers people to understand the inner mechanisms of their brains and bodies. When we know how things work, the capacity for CHOICE is restored and life can and does change. She received her undergraduate from Duke University and her Master's from the University of Kansas, where she is now an award-winning adjunct professor. Britt is also a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and Level 1 trained in Internal Family Systems.
Whether she’s leading a workshop, teaching a class, or working individually with private clients, Britt’s goal is to educate, empower, and equip people to transform even their most persistent and long-standing patterns of thinking and doing. She received her undergraduate from Duke University and her MSW from The University of Kansas, where she is now an award-winning adjunct professor.
Not all behavior is acceptable. But if you understand the function of the behavior is self-protection, then you can heal that up and change it. No one ever changed their behavior by shaming the crap out of themselves.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 436 with guest Britt Frank.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad you're here. Britt Frank is back for the third time. She has a book out, and I'm really excited that she finally wrote a book and she's just so smart, one of my favorite therapists, and that's why I've had her on so many times. So you're gonna love this conversation, I have no doubt. The topics that we're talking about are just very much in line with what we've been talking about over the last handful of months as we talk about therapy and trauma and how to heal from said things.
I do want to remind you that coming up this month is the virtual open house that I'm doing on March the 29th. It's a Tuesday at one o'clock Eastern time. If you are interested in the Daring Way retreat that is going to happen in September in Asheville, North Carolina but you are on the fence about it, you want to hear more about the curriculum, what actually happens at these retreats, I'm going to be showing you… I'm going to be sharing my screen and showing you the curriculum, a little sneak peek, if you will. And also the introduction, the first of 12 videos that Brené actually hosts, it's about I don't know, five or six minutes long, so you'll so you'll get a little sampling of what it's like and also have someone there who's been to one of the retreats and can tell you a little bit more about it. Just all your questions are going to be answered. And if you can't make it or if you're listening to this afterwards, and you're like, I wish I would have been there, you can get to the recording. So go to AndreaOwen.com/meet. That is the link for, that's the Zoom link, essentially and it is just show up at the at the day in time, I'm trying to make it really easy, you don't have to sign up and have to give me your email address, like get all the get all the emails, but super easy. Just March 29th one o'clock Eastern time, so it's 10am Pacific, and AndreaOwen.com/meet.
Also, in addition, comma, if you would rather get support via private coaching, I have one opening and my practice and my lead coaches also do too. So that's Liz and Sabrina. They are really great and specialize in a little bit different topics. So what will happen is if you apply for coaching, this doesn't obligate you to sign up, but if you apply, we use that application to match you with the with the best support. And you can have a phone call with either Liz or Sabrina or me to figure out what exactly it is that you want, which package what topics you want to cover in your coaching and it's easy AndreaOwen.com/apply and we will we will get you started and help you through those steps.
And Alright, let's move forward into this conversation. As I said, I've already gushed over Britt Frank, I think she's amazing. I think you will love her too if this is your first introduction to her. I'm definitely putting the links to her other previous guest appearances here on the show, because she doesn't disappoint. But this this is the first time you're hearing of our let me tell you a little bit about our friend Britt. Britt Frank is a trauma therapist, teacher and speaker who specializes in the science of stuck. She also has a lot of letters after her name, which I feel like works really well in print, but not as much when you're reading it on a podcast. Britt's work empowers people to understand the inner mechanisms of their brains and bodies. When we know how things work, the capacity for choice is restored and life can and does change. She received her undergraduate from Duke University and her Master's from the University of Kansas, where she is now an award winning Adjunct Professor. Britt is also a somatic experiencing practitioner and level one trained in Internal Family Systems. Whether she's leading a workshop teaching a class or working individually with private clients, Britt's goal is to educate empower and equip people to transform even their most persistent and long standing patterns of thinking and doing. So without further ado, here is Britt.
Britt, welcome back. Third time.
Yay. Thanks for having me back. I'm so happy to be here.
Back by popular demand, I will say that your episodes have been some of the highest listened to shows.
And I'm not just saying that for your ego. Well, that too, but it's actually true stats, stats don't lie. And of course, we'll put the links in the show notes for people who are listening to it for the first time on this show. She's been on two times before but we are celebrating, because you have a book coming out. And I don't want to say the title wrong. So will you will you tell us what the title is because it's not right in front of me.
I love you. And it is very early in the morning today. So the title of my book is The Science of Stuck.
The Science of Stuck, which is so brilliant. And I one of the reasons I love having you on is because you tend to I don't look at it as you're going against like popular self-help ideas. I look at it… I mean, it's I guess sometimes you do but more so like you offer another perspective. Like many times it's a paradox where it can be work can be both for people. Is that fair?
I really liked that you said that because I don't want to come across as everything out there is wrong and this way is right because hello, I'm not that narcissist. Only my way is the way. And there are a lot of mental health myths, especially with trauma, because trauma is such a trendy buzzword that it's important to me to offer… you know, if all that stuff works, that's great. I'm not taking anything away, you know, if thinking positive thoughts all day and nothing but positive thoughts is your thing and it works awesome. Here's another way of looking at things in case the work isn't working. You know, people talk about, you know, I'm doing the work, I'm doing the work and it's not working. And it's like, well, sometimes that work isn't the work. And sometimes what we think of as the work actually isn't for science reasons, for Neuroscience, for physiological reasons. So this is just another dish on the buffet of self-help.
I love that another dish on the buffet of self-help. Okay, so let's jump into these are some topics from your book and one of the questions selfishly, I wanted to ask you and I was thinking about this before we jumped on together is the parts of yourself that people hate. And let's talk about that, because you say that they're trying to protect you. And before we got on, I was like are there any parts of myself that I that I hate? I don't think so. I try really hard to not use that that word but I'll probably think of something as you start talking. So tell us about that. That the parts of us that people typically hate are the parts that are trying to protect us.
So that was actually my favorite chapter in the entire process to write because it was so impactful for my own process to realize that all of the parts of ourselves the ones that the 12 step world calls character flaws. Character defects, right. That these things that we… I hate the part of me that procrastinates, I hate the part of me that overeat, I hate the part of me that boundaries, I hate the part of me that watches TV all day. That these parts of us are actually little aspects of our personalities whose intention is to protect us from failure, rejection, abandonment, and face planting into shame, doesn't mean the behaviors are all great, but it does mean that every single part of us is valuable and is is trying really, really hard to help us make our way through this confusing world.
Okay, do you call that shadow work or do you call that something else?
So you know, like the clinical way of looking at it, I use the Internal Family Systems model which I love. And so IFS is a type of shadow… I mean shadow work sounds super you know fringe. It sounds like spooky. It does sound super woowoo but you know, if you think of a nature, shadows are formed when light is blocked, psychological shadows are formed when awareness is blocked. So we all have parts of ourselves that we hide, repress, avoid, deny, numb, etc. So all shadow work is getting honest with ourselves about ourselves.
Okay. Yeah, you were one of my therapist, friends, I have another therapist friend Rebecca, Rebecca Ching, who's been on the show before too, and she recommended ifs and then you also did to me as well. And that reminds me I have some therapists that I need to write about that that are local here. And, okay, that makes sense. And I was when I so when I went through the 12 steps, the fourth step is, you know, the character defects part, which I just don't like that word. Mine was entitlement and selfishness. And what's interesting is when I see that and other people I get really fired up.
I mean, the fast when people say to me, how do I figure out what my shadow parts are, make a list of the 10 people that you can't stand and there are your shadow parts, right there. Whatever the qualities of those people are… You know, but again, within every shadow part is a gift. Entitlement, you know, the light side of that little shadow part, or the parts of you that know that they deserve more than they're getting now entitlement is, you know, like, not the best way to go about righting that wrong. But you know, even things like gossip is a misrouted need for connection action, envy is a misrouted need for owning our own desires. So you know, embedded in every what, you know, quotes, character defects is a gift. And if we can heal those parts of ourselves, then we have access to all of those awesome gifts like creativity, and innovation and grit and all of the things that we want.
That's so funny, because when I was when I was first doing the 12 steps, this was back in 2011. When I first got sober and I was newer in my personal development journey. And I remember thinking when people would talk about their character defects, I remember thinking, like, isn't that just like, part of being human? Like, looking around the room, should I raise my hand? That's essentially what you're talking about.
Right? And I have no and I have, I have to disclaim this, because I get people, you know, like, are you saying that all behaviors are okay? But that, you know, their intention is good, therefore, we should just go around being assholes. It's like, no, not all behavior is acceptable. But if you understand the function of the behavior is self-protection, then you can heal that up and change it. No one ever changed their behavior by shaming the crap out of themselves. Like if that works, it would work.
Oh, it wouldn't work. Yes. Nobody gets to betterment by beating themselves up. Yeah. Okay. So I don't know your, I don't know your stance on this, but I want to ask you about depression. And because you say, when you talk about it, you say that it's not a chemical imbalance. So talk to us about that.
You went right, for the most controversial thing in that entire book.
The most controversial.
And so again, if you follow me, you know, I'm really big on disclaimers. So when I say that depression is not a chemical imbalance, I'm not saying that it is debilitating. I'm not saying that it's not debilitating, life threatening, horrifying, dangerous, real. I mean, I've had clinical depression, and I take antidepressants. So the symptoms are very, very real. We are suffering, and we need all the help we can get. And if that includes meds, awesome. I take them. Better living through chemistry. I do whatever works. And the chemical imbalance theory is a theory that has never been proven. Go to your doctor and ask for a test that shows you what the exact balance of neurotransmitters should be in your brain and you're going to get a blank stare. I mean, there's no way…
Right? Or, you know here's a great example. I know somebody who was put on antidepressants, and, you know, she kept getting worse, and she kept getting worse and it turned out that, you know, her brain was doing something totally different than what the neurotransmitter thing was. We just don't know enough about the brain to say with absolute certainty, this is what's going on. So it's still very much a mystery. But when people say, well, I just have a chemical imbalance, I’m just chemically imbalanced. That's not necessarily accurate, that doesn't take away from their suffering but it does change how we approach the intervention. If I just take antidepressants, I'll be curious, like, well, I take them, lots of people take them, but there's so much more complexity besides the proper stackup of dopamine, serotonin, etc, that it's just if only it were that simple. Like, here's your test, you need 3% more of whatever and here's the med that'll fix that, it'd be very much trial and error. You know, like, it's not a proven fact, it is a hypothesis and a theory.
I believe that now that you say all that because I was recently told that I'm sure there's people listening who've been told this by their, you know, psychiatrist or doctor that I am medication resistant. And that's when they recommended TMS, which, you know, what is it Transmagnetic Cranial… I can't even remember it's big, long thing. What do you think about that the medication resistant thing. Is that kind of coincide with what you were just saying, because there's so many variables, there are so many variables?
And you know, you might be med resistant, I am so hypersensitive that, you know, even things like vitamins C…Even like ibuprofen, yes. Right. And again, why is that? Is that because I'm chemically unbalanced? Or is that because history and genetics and environments and everything else that goes into our human… I mean, there's so much data coming out our bodies and brains all day, if only it were as simple as saying, oh, your med resistance, so we're just gonna up your dose to three times as much and that'll fix the problem. And it's sort of like we have to sit and adjust all of the dials on our brains, bodies, minds, souls, hearts and spirits to figure out what is the right ratio for you. Dr. Frank Anderson, who's a big IFS guy would, you know, he's talked about how parts are involved with medication too. And so he can be helpful to get the parts of your system involved in the decision to take meds. I have parts of me that really don't like certain supplements and if I take them there's no logical react, there's no logical reason why react in such a strong way to certain things. So, you know, is it parts? Is it chemistry? Is it genetics? It's like, who the hell knows do everything, try everything and give yourself a lot of grace, that it might require some adjusting that other people don't have to do because, you know, we're all special snowflakes.
We’re all special snowflakes. Okay, that's so fascinating. That's a lot of information that I'm like taking in. I also want to slightly switch gears. I want to ask you about addiction. I don't know if we've talked about this previously on the show. And if we have my apologies if Britt and I are repeating a conversation that we had previously. Do you believe that addiction is not a disease? So I think that's probably another controversial one. But I actually I do agree with you on that. Are you a fan of Dr. Gabor Maté’s work?
I'm just laughing. So I'm like, okay, so within 10 minutes we've gotten to depression is not a chemical imbalance and addiction is not a disease. Cancel Britt, this bitch.
Because I am a huge fan of Dr. Gabor Maté’s work. He is the Brené Brown of recovery in the same thing that he believes it's not a disease and that's an old opinion from like, almost 100 years ago, to go away.
I agree with that. And again, as a disclaimer, I've struggled with addiction. It's horrifying, it's debilitating, it's painful, it's life threatening. Nobody is taking anything away from that. Now, is it a disease? Like, you know, maybe for some people, in some circumstances, in some cases it is. So I'm not saying that it's never a disease. But by and large, what I have seen through my own research, my own experience, work with clients reading his work, who and he is, you know, like, guru guru expert in that. You know, addiction is a very complex series of behaviors, thoughts and actions that are there to protect us from a painful truth. Is that a disease? I don't think so.
Yeah, I've been doing some continuing education, so it's recent, like gone, you know, I'm like, hours and hours and hours deep in his lectures. And some of the things he says, makes so much sense to me, and also looking at the people in my life who have come before me who have who have struggled with addiction. And, you know, he posed the question to the audience, and he said, is alcohol addictive? Yes or no. And his answer was, it depends. Because not everybody who picks up alcohol becomes addicted. And I also if people who aren't familiar with him, I also love that he talks about, he talks a little bit about epigenetics, but just about transgenerational trauma and how like, we carry it with us and, you know, we're trying to protect ourselves, we're trying to get relief into a wound that can't be fixed with alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or whatever the addiction is.
It’s so important to know that the function of addiction, again, like all of these character defects and character flaws, the function of addiction is self-preservation, it's not self-harm. Now, granted, addiction will cause harm, and it will kill us and cause devastation. But if you understand the function of a behavior, you can change it. If we think that we have to fight our brains and bodies because there's this disease inside of us, or there's this demon, you know, this addiction demon, that's… You know, I remember sitting in a 12 step meeting, and they said, and again, nothing against the 12 steps, they saved my life, I'm all about them. And there are some things that I think are sub optimal.
We have the same opinion on that.
Yeah. In the rooms, they'll say, while you're sitting in this meeting, your addiction is out in the parking lot doing push-ups getting ready to destroy you. It's like great, so now I'm going to leave this meeting, learning to fear my own… And this is going back to the parts of ourselves, we hate the most or trying the hardest to help us. We have to look at the addicted, you know, the parts of us that use addiction, as very well-meaning but very ill equipped helpers that are trying to save our lives. And again, that doesn't justify the behavior. This is an internal process. It's not like oh, well, my spouse, you know, spent all our money and sold our dog and destroyed us. But you know, it was self-preservation. So it's okay. We are not saying that.
Boundaries also need to happen.
Right. If we're talking about our internal healing process, we have to understand behavior function to get to behavior change. And addictions function is preservation.
That's it. I remember that that sentiment from 12 Step programs, and I didn't, I didn't take it… I didn't mind that one as much. And I think because I can almost like visually see that part of myself. Like when a crisis happens, or when I get into a sticky situation where I'm feeling just like a raw nerve, I feel that part come back and she's ready. Like she's like cracking knuckles and she's like, you know, a bottle of wine will solve this or you should always like, you should message your ex-boyfriend on Facebook. That's a big one she likes to do. That make it all better.
I love I love I love I love Eliza Festinger and her thing about the party goblin, you know, the party goblin who sits at the base of your skull and whispers to text your ex, you know, or I'm only going to go out for one drink. And I even referenced her in the book, because I love that. And it's like that part of us exists but we misunderstand that that part isn't trying to harm, it's trying to help. And that changes how we, how we talk inside of ourselves. It changes how we talk to ourselves. It changes, you know, our self-dialog from shame based and fear based and I got to get this awful thing out of me and exercise my demons to I need to welcome all of these parts like the movie Inside Out by Pixar, it's like all the parts are trying to help. So once they're all in the right job, our lives work a lot better. So it's really about reorganizing the parts and firing them from certain jobs and reassigning them to better ones.
So how would someone go about that? Is that really work that's done in Internal Family Systems work, or does it go beyond that?
There's a lot of models that work with, you know, parts, Internal Family Systems, I'm biased, I think that one is the best one, it's my favorite way. But there's a lot of ways to get to it. Shadow work is another one, you know, like traditional Jungian kind of analysis is another one. But really, anywhere you're getting super honest with yourself and curious about yourself, you're going to notice spontaneously insights into all of these parts. Self-parenting is another big one that I love. And you know, working with the inner mother and the inner parents, or whomever your inner leader is, all of that stuff will access parts.
Mm hmm. I've also found that I don't know if you found this in your own personal work, doing the work, is that when I start to kind of excavate these truths about myself that are helpful, I ended up seeing things like that around like usually on social media. Like I'll come across one of your posts that speaks to it, or especially on TikTok. There's a lot of there's a lot of nonsense over there on TikTok, I'll be honest with there's some really great, there's some really great therapists out there. And there was one that I saw the other day of it, she was just a regular person and she said, she said, I was saying, like, my therapist gave me this assignment, and said to write down… And I have no idea this girl's like the contacts, I'm assuming from her post that she had a really hard breakup. And she said, my therapist gave me an assignment to write down all the things I wish he would have said to me. And then like on the screen, she's like, quoting, like, um, you know, just all these really beautiful things that that weren't like, I think you're a princess and I want to worship you. But they were like, like vulnerable things that that someone would say to you to truly show compassion and empathy and love and support. And I was like, crying. This woman was like, oh, maybe that's something that I should do as well. But it's that whole, you know, just more self-awareness thing.
What I love about that is, you know, the way we talk to ourselves, for most people is an inner monologue, I feel this way, I really want to grab that bottle of wine, I really feel like shit, I really want to text my ex. If we can change our inner monologue to an inner dialogue, so instead of I feel this way, it's over, I see that there's that you're really wanting to pick up that entire box of doughnuts right now and eat them all, and then go on Amazon and spend it all. So let me help you. I see that you're having a hard time here. Like what do we need to do to help you out? And that changes it from I suck, to wow, you are having a little bit of problem here, how can we help you? And research has shown when we switch our inner monologue to an inner dialogue, it slows down the cycle and the swirl and it helps calm our nervous systems down and switching from I to you know, he, she, they, you, etc, is actually a really cool brain hack for accessing our parts and feeling more control of our behavior.
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You like to talk about how anxiety is kind of like a check engine light on someone's car. Can you say more about that?
I hate anxiety. I hate feeling anxiety. I'd rather feel almost anything then that buzzy slushy, you know, free floating sense of impending doom in the world is going to end feeling so…
I feel like that's been exacerbated.
It's awful. And we're all feeling it to a degree. And anxiety is not something that attacks us. You know, I will spend every second of my life saying, the second we call it an anxiety attack, we've now ramped up because now our body thinks there's something in us that we need to fear. Anxiety is like the check… when the check engine light on your car turns on, the light is not attacking you. It's saying, hey, there's a problem. When your smoke alarm goes off it's loud, and it's scary, but that noise is not trying to harm you. It's trying to say, hey, there's a fire, maybe we should go put it out. So when we try to medicate anxiety, that's like disabling the smoke alarm. It's like the Yeah, the noise won't go off. But now there's smoke and fire that we're not aware of and now we're going to end up in bigger trouble.
So when you say medicate, do you mean like with actual anxiety medication? Or are you talking about like with alcohol or something that's not as helpful.
With anything that makes the symptom go away. Now, again, we need medications of all kinds, social, psychological, spiritual medical to help us manage, but the goal is not to make the symptom disappear, because if we make the smoke alarm disappear, then we can't listen to what the signals pointing us to. So my thing is, whatever your medications are, they're supposed to just round out the edges, so we can tolerate the exploration that's necessary to solve the problem. But if we're trying to get rid of anxiety, then that's like disabling our pain receptors. If you don't know, if a stove is hot, or if a knife is sharp, we're gonna end up cutting ourselves and burning ourselves. And anxiety is intended to point us towards a deeper problem, or an unresolved issue or an unheard truth or something very important to our well-being.
Yeah. Oh, that's so interesting. And I'm thinking of, of parents who are listening now, especially who have, we'll probably all age of teenagers, so mine are on the younger scale, and Gen Z is growing up hearing a lot about anxiety, and all, you know, ADHD, all of these different real mental challenges that people have, you know, some are clinical. And you know, my daughter, she, I think she was only like 10, or 11, she's 12 now, and she came to me, and she's like, Mom, do I have anxiety disorder? And I was like, I didn't even know what that was until I was in my 20s. I honestly don't think she does. And I was trying to explain to her, like, there's a part of that that is normal. You know, like, we need to have nervousness, we need to have that sort of like intuition of like, someone's chasing me. And things like that. But like, it was challenging for me to explain the line, like where it goes over into territory that might need to seek medical attention. And as someone who's, who's had panic attacks that were completely like, physiological, like my hands twisting, like, totally going numb, dry, heaving throwing up, that I could explain. If it gets that bad. That's different, a different conversation, right.
And I don't even like the word disorder, because again, it's so Shamy and pathological, and there's something wrong with you. And again, I've had them I've had clinical depression, I've had panic disorder, like I've had all that. And, you know, we've talked about this eating disorders, I've had all of the things. But you know, thinking again, as an anxiety disorder misses out on the function. We want to heal up those symptoms, enough that we can tend to the injury that caused them. And if we focus on it, and I have clients come in, it's like, I have an anxiety disorder and my doctor prescribed me 5mg of Xanax so I wouldn't feel anxious. And that's a problem right? I mean, if you're talking about when is it time to seek help, okay. So if you're no longer able to do what you need to do to manage your life, then, you know, you can seek help, you can seek help at any point. You don't have to wait till you're in crisis to seek help. And it also doesn't have to be full blown anxiety disorder to mean it's causing you harm or it's causing you pain, but again, knowing that the function is protection, and it's not to cause harm. It's so important.
Yeah, that's a very important point. What you just said reminds me of a conversation I had with my therapist in like, the middle of 2020. And I was explaining to her my symptoms, and this is…I think you'll appreciate this because this was so frustrating for me. It was… there were so many variables, it was the pandemic, you know, I had just turned 46 so like there might be perimenopause involved. It just there was so many different like working from home and my kids suddenly being home and then my husband had left his job. There was like all these like big life things going on and I found myself totally unmotivated, tired a lot, and it wasn't like… I thought depression, and this is I'm kind of like rolling my eyes on myself like I should have known better, I didn't think I quote unquote qualified because I could get out of bed easily every day. I knew people would be devastated if I wasn't here. Like, I didn't feel like I was worthless, or my life wasn't worth living. My therapist explained to me and she's like, that's where we don't want you to get like, that's a spectrum. And that what you just explained is on the very end, which could require like hospitalization, you know, that's where people check themselves in. But she was talking about high functioning depression. And my point is, is that I still don't know if that was it. Like, because there's so many other variables. And I'm It's so frustrating Britt, and I know I've messaged you about it, and I'm like, tell me what's wrong with me.
Okay, so to divide and conquer, I love what you said about feeling like you didn't qualify. And this is true with anything. People with eating disorders. I didn't feel like I qualified because I wasn't an organ failure.
I was still getting my period so I thought it was fine that my hair was falling out.
I mean, really. Or with addiction. Well, I can still hold my job so I don't qualify. Or, well, I'm not waking up every night in the middle of the night screaming, so my trauma doesn't qualify. So like the first part of what you're saying is we need to validate wherever we are, is, quote, bad enough that we deserve help, at any point in our distance, whether you know, it's just a little bit of depression is still too much depression, you know? You deserve to live a life that is full of joy and abundance and happiness. And if it's a little bit of depression, and you want to go get support for that have at it. If you know, if you have the resources, and you have the time, and you have the ability to support yourself, you don't have to wait till you're in crisis mode. So that's like my, my big thing with that now, as far as your brain what's wrong with me? Does this qualify? It's like, did calling it high functioning depression help it makes sense to you, help it feel less scary, and help you feel like you could wrap your head around it cooled? And that's what it was?
Yeah. And I think here's, here's the conclusion that I've come to, and this is very, you know, personal in my experience, but I think it might help people who are who are doing the deeper work is that the conclusion that I've come to now that we're recording this in early 2022, is that I don't know if it was depression or high functioning depression. I get a little suspicious when they tell me I'm medication resistant, because I'm like, well was that really the problem in the first place? Here's what I think might have been happening. I think it was a combination of the pandemic. It was a combination of this weird kind of place. I'm in being at this age, and being at this sort of… To me, I feel like 45 is like, exactly middle age, like you are looking back on a long life and you're also hopefully looking forward at a long life and going like what's next. And this, I think, is the biggest piece, I have done some pretty tremendous trauma work over the last 18 months and that shit is kicking my ass up and down the street I haven't given that enough credit.
I mean, really like that. The whole process is wonderful. And healing is fabulous, and awful and miserable and terrible. And what people are… This happens with addiction, right? All of a sudden, I'm in a severe depression. It's like, well, you're not clinically depressed, you're sober, and you're realizing how much things suck right now, which is totally legit. But is it depression or is it something else? And you're right, it's so complex, and there are so many moving pieces that we do get hung up. And again, for some people having a name of this is the thing is lifesaving. It's like knowing that my thing is called this is great. So if diagnosis is your thing, again, for anyone listening, if that works for you, cool, that's great. And there's a degree to which getting hung up on what is this thing puts our focus outwards rather than okay, this is my symptom, here's what my parts need, here's what my life needs, here are ways that I could feel safe, safer, less threatened or have more access to choices like what are my choices is a much better question than why do I feel this way or what's wrong with me.
That would have helped me like a year ago.
Did I not tell you that? I forgot. I’m sorry.
No, you did help me. You talk to me about the Jungian dream work as well as IFS and I think I know enough about IFS where I can even almost like do it myself and but I do need someone to walk with me through it. One of the things after hearing so much about IFS and I know that my teenage self is that the firefighter.
The reactor, the one that's like uh oh bad feelings quick, eat all the food, quick yell at all the people.
Mines more of yell at all the people. Flip everybody the bird, tell everybody to fuck off and go smoke cigarettes. That's what it is. So that's the part I need to dig into which I say that to hopefully help people understand that sometimes there are so many variables and if a medication isn't working for you, or a certain therapy modality isn't working for you, you're not broken.
Right and it might be… I hate the term, you know, therapy resistant. It's sort of like medication resistant. It's like well, are you saying Therapy resistant or as your therapist and asshole are unsafe or not really attuning to you, and you don't trust them yet or ever, right? And it's not about blaming other people, it's just before you label yourself as oh, there's something wrong with me, I’m medication resistant, or I'm therapy, I'm clinically resistant. I'm treatment resistant. It's like, okay, well, what are all the factors here and what needs to happen, so I feel safer. As soon as our brains can access safety, our symptoms settle. So a brain that feels safe will stop throwing up the smoke alarm in every direction. So focusing on what people, places, thoughts on things help you feel safer is a great place to put your energy.
Yes, and I want to mention one more thing, too, that sort of contributed to like getting to this place now of just acceptance and surrender. Another one of Dr. Maté’s thing, he talks a lot about, you know, childhood trauma and things like that and he had a woman come up on stage, and she was stating that she had a really great happy childhood. And so he's like, okay, come up here and, and she's like, I've just always had this cheerful disposition. I'm just enthusiastic, I'm just happy and, and I was like, me too, girl, like, okay. And then he's like, well, tell me about your childhood. And, and she was like, no one really ever yelled, my parents didn't fight with each other, they were both home all the time. You know, they had two parent household and, and she said, well, there was this one thing. And she said, my mom always just to say, if I would get upset about something, like go to your room and be whatever you need to be and then when you're happy, you can come out and join the rest of the family. And I was like, no shit. Same, same. And I always kind of half joke here on the podcast. And I'm like, my family had one feeling and it was happy and any other feelings you went and did that on your own. And so he said, and this was like, such a my job, I had to pause the course Britt and like, have a few moments. You were taught the message was that your parents also could not be with any other feelings so you had to, you had to basically feel responsible for that. And you were also never taught that it was safe to have any other feelings. And he's like, how are you? And I was, I visited my best friend, Amy and I'm like, has my whole life made a lie? Am I really happy and enthusiastic or did I just learn that that's what people love the most about me. She's like, I don't know. But I really do think that it's a lot of my personality. But it was one of those things where I think when you're in therapy, and your therapist points something out that's big, or you are even, you know, doing continuing education like I was doing and you and you see part of yourself, I just want to emphasize and I think that you'll agree with me, that can be so moving where you might need a few days to recover from that. It was. So I felt like someone had punched me in the gut.
That's a good training. Anytime I go to trainings, I know I'm going to get an ass kicking and I need a few days to like have a hangover, like an insight hangover. You know, it's really intense. And people who have that experience of I had a great childhood except this one thing. That's a really big, one thing?
Well, because we think we don't qualify, just like you were talking about. Exactly.
And I understand perspective is helpful. Like, yes, it's great that you had a two-parent household where you had enough food and the power was on and that's, that's great. And perspective is useful. It helps keep us from becoming narcissistic assholes. And that's a really devastating message for a child. And then when people come into therapy, and they're like, I don't want to blame my parents this and I'm like, therapy is not about blaming your parents, it's about becoming a parent to yourself. And you can only do that if you get really honest about everything that was less than nurturing.
It's not that your And they didn't know. They were doing the best… And we Brené Brown says this, most people are doing the best they can with what they know. And so it's not about blame, it's about honesty, because anywhere there's the absence of honesty, there's going to be the presence of fuckery. So let's just get honest.
Oh, yeah, well, and I like that you said that it's not about it's not about blaming anyone. Another thing I like, and I'm pretty sure you agree with this, too, about trauma is that it's not necessarily about… It's not always just about the things that happened to you. It's the things that didn't happen to you that should have.
Absolutely I mean, same thing with grief, you know, like grief and trauma are about the things that happened to us and how it impacts us and about what we didn't get to have. So, you know, for example, someone who grows up without a mother doesn't know what it's like to have a mother because they never… It's hard to grieve what you've never experienced, but that person has a double dose of grief. One, grieving the reality that they grew up in and grieving the absence of the thing. They needed the most. So sometimes trauma isn't what happened. It's what didn't get to happen. And that should have right anywhere we weren't kept safe and nurtured and loved is going to have the potential to traumatize us. That's a really big bucket of potential traumatizing things. So I might as well validate it all and clean it up instead of… It shouldn't have been that bad. I shouldn't be bothered, because reasons and right I'm thinking…
Other people have had way harder childhoods etc.
Which is true, other people do and that's important to note and name and honor. And it doesn't like I don't go to the hospital with a broken foot and feel like well, I'm not getting surgery right now so I don't deserve to be here getting my foot healed. It's not like I need heart surgery. It's like whatever your injury is, you deserve to heal. You deserve to be happy. Period.
Yes, ma'am. Period. Okay, so the question that we are, you know, I'm doing these podcast episodes and themes now in this whole theme, and the beginning of this year is trying to answer the question, how do we heal ourselves. So my last question for you, and then I want you to tell us all about the book and where people can get it, is, I know that this is such a huge question. I did it that way on purpose. Like if you had to kind of sum it up, how do you Britt Frank think that people heal themselves. How much time you got?
5 second sound bite. Oh, man, there's so many ways to answer that question. So okay. You cannot heal… And this is where I agree with the 12 steps. Anywhere that you're lying to yourself about yourself, anywhere, you're not honest with yourself about the reality of what you think feel no have experienced and seen, it's going to be almost impossible to live your best life. So how do we heal ourselves? Let's start by getting really honest, and naming the things, right? Not blaming, not excusing, not justifying, but let's just name them. Here are the things that happened to me you cannot heal what you refuse to name. And you don't need to have like memories of all the things but I had a less than perfect childhood might be the thing. Or right now I am less than satisfied in my marriage might be the thing. I always ask clients in order to heal, this is the question to ask, what is the thing that you know that you really wish you didn't know? And that's your path forward?
That makes me want to like, shut down this whole conversation. Shadow part of myself, like, nope.
My therapist, whenever I get on the call with my therapist, he always opens sessions, not always, but often with, okay, Britt, what's the thing that we're not supposed to know today? What's the thing that we're not supposed to look at today? And that's such a great place because that’s the thing, right? What's the thing and it doesn't mean that if you if you admit that you are unhappy in your marriage that you have to leave it. You know, like what to do about it is such a not the conversation for right now. Right now in order to heal, it's what's the thing or the things… What's the list of things that you know, that you really, really don't want to know that you really wish you didn't know and that you try really hard not to know?
Yeah, damn, yeah, that was my first tattoo on my foot when I first got sober was to thine own self be true. Because it's, you know, part of the 12 steps on the coins. And I was like, well, damn, like, the first thing I had to do when I got sober was tell the truth and also, it didn't stop there. I had to keep telling it. Well tell everyone where they can get The Science of Stuck, are there any bonuses, send them to your site, send them to all the places.
Now that we're all fully bummed out.
Everybody needs to go make it a point with their therapist after the publication.
Well everybody is sad. Come read my book. So people can find the book at ScienceofStuck.com and they can order it wherever you know, wherever you buy books. And on Instagram. I'm @BrittFrank. So come find me and say hello. I love meeting all the people that are on this healing mental wellness journey together. And yeah, super excited.
This is definitely one of the books I think everyone should get. For sure. Everyone follow Britt on Instagram. There's so many amazing truth bombs over there. And thank you so much for being here again. Again. Anything else you want to say? Did we miss anything that you're like, have a burning desire to say? Or do you feel covered?
I think we hit all the things.
We hit a lot of things. Sorry, not sorry, everybody. You and I have a similar fast talking fast thinking personality and so sometimes it can sometimes it can be a little much for people. All right, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. You know how much I value your time and I'm grateful that you are here and sharing it with my guests and me. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
Hey, everyone, thanks again for listening to the show. And just a quick reminder that if your company needs a speaker or a trainer, I might be the right person for you. I speak and do keynotes on confidence and resilience for mixed audiences as well as do trainings on the daring way, which is the methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. So if you think it might be a good fit, hit me up at support@AndreaOwen.com. or head over to my speaking page AndreaOwen.com/Speaking