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Do you struggle with your inner critic? How does inner work lead to positive changes on an individual and collective level?
MEET Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang is an educator in the Pacific Northwest, an alumnus of Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation, and author of Unmasking the Inner Critic: Lessons for Living an Unconstricted Life. Along with writing regularly, he facilitates workshops helping people to navigate their inner lives and explore their sense of identity and spirituality. You can find more of his writings and offerings at www.AndrewGLang.com.
IN THIS PODCAST:
- Reasons we struggle with our inner critic 3:25
- What is “Unmasking?” 10:33
- Inner work and communal healing 21:39
Reasons We Struggle With Our Inner Critic
- Recognizing how our inner critic shows up
- How does capitalism feed into our collective unconscious
- What are constrictions?
- An exercise for overcoming constriction
What Is Unmasking?”
- Examples of a mask
- How to begin the unmasking process
- How does our energy affect others?
- IFS and unmasking
Inner Work And Communal Healing
- How does inner work connect with communal healing?
- What is Shadow Work?
- The benefits of journaling when doing inner work
- Getting in touch with the body’s wisdom
Connect With Me
Join the private Facebook group
Sign up for my free email course: www.holisticcounselingpodcast.com
Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:
Chris McDonald: Do you have clients who struggle with an inner critic? Or do you struggle with yours? Join me on today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast, as we journey into the depths of the human psyche with author Andrew Lang. Discover the hidden power of the inner critic and how it shapes our personal growth and communities.
Andrew Lang's book, Unmasking the Inner Critic, provides profound insights that will revolutionize the way you perceive your inner world, and you will learn strategies to help clients work with their own inner critic. This conversation is a transformative exploration of inner work and its role in communal healing on today's episode.
Stay tuned. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.
Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. Hey, everyone. I hope you're doing well today. Thanks for being here. Today's guest is Andrew Lang. He's an educator in the Pacific Northwest, an alumnus of Richard Rohr's Living School for Action and Contemplation, an author of the thought provoking book, Unmasking the Inner Critic, Lessons for Living an Unconstricted Life, which has touched the lives of so many with its profound insights into everyone's internal life.
Andrew Lang will guide us through the intricacies of the Inner Critic, shedding light on how understanding and bringing gentleness to this inner voice can be a catalyst for personal growth and healing within our communities. We'll explore the transformative power of inner work and how it's intertwined with communal healing.
Welcome to the podcast, Andrew. It is so good to be here. Yeah, I'm so glad you could make it. So what inspired you to explore this topic of the inner critic? I must know.
Andrew Lang: I think so. It started because of my own story. I think that's kind of my jumping off point is I never saw it as an inner critic, but throughout my entire life, I've had these.
interior feelings, sensations, sometimes a voice just telling me, Oh, you're not good enough. You need to try harder. You're not doing enough. Your worth isn't being proven yet. You've got to go, go, go. And that showed up not only in the narratives, but in my. tension, you know, body tension and shoulders and the way I was grinding my teeth.
And so somewhere along the process of noticing those, those things, especially the bodily sensations, noticing like, Oh, I've got really a lot of constriction in these shoulders. I was able to piece back and really narrow in on. I've got a critic in me, I've got, uh, these protector narratives in me that are keeping me away from my inherent dignity, or trying to at least, what do I do with them?
So that's, that kind of, that's what led to the book. Yeah, that's it. It was just, it started with me and very much turned into a process of looking around and seeing all of these folks around me who had similar stories and how can I begin to bring stories together to help my
Chris McDonald: community. Yeah, that is such a common theme to hear that.
But can you explain why it is so common and so many people experience this? I know all my clients, this is something that comes up with just about every client I have. Yeah.
Andrew Lang: You know, we talked about it right before we jumped on the recording, but I think one of the biggest reasons people struggle with an inner critic, no matter how it shows up, Whether it's a voice or a feeling or just a sensation of not enoughness.
I think the largest reason is that we are getting squeezed constantly from all edges of Western society in particular. So I'm speaking from a embodied context of America, United States, specifically Pacific Northwest culture. But we get squeezed, right, from capitalism and meritocracy and from Family narratives growing up, that's obviously also influenced by those things, by religious narratives and traditions, we get squeezed into this, you need to fit in this box, you need to do enough to prove your worth, you need to show that you have become somebody, even though we are all in the process of becoming.
And so I think there's a solidarity that is an invitation for us. There's an invitation into solidarity with each other, recognizing that we're all in this. Shared context of getting squeezed and how do we begin to say, you know, I don't need to prove myself the way that capitalism is asking me or demanding me to prove myself.
Yeah, right. Like, I can settle stuff down. I can take a break. I loved, uh, there was a podcast recently where Christina Cleveland, the public theologian and author, just wonderful. She's talking about trying things on in her body before she makes a firm decision. And so she's talking about, you know, being with her team and, you know, this decision has got to get me, it's got to get me, it's got to get made and her learning to flex the muscle of saying, let's wait because I want to try this decision on in my body for a week.
I want to see how it feels, how it changes. Right? And it totally, that spoke to me so much of there's a practice right there. How can you try it on in your body? Well, you do that for so many things because I know you,
Chris McDonald: you talk about constriction too. Can you talk a little bit with listeners? What that means?
Andrew Lang: Yeah. The idea behind constrictions is that with our inner critic, I think just based on the name alone, we think it's a voice in our head. And the reality is for some of us, it might be. And for some of us, it might be a physical constriction. For some of us, it might be something totally different. For me, it's an inner critic in terms of a voice.
And I recognize the way that that voice constricts me, both physically and emotionally and socially and spiritually. And so I think The idea of an inner critic just being a negative self narrative is incomplete. How do we see the voices that we've got going on, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, how do we see those in a greater context of they are constricting?
Our capacity to be exactly who we are and the shape of who we are in the world. There's a practice that I often lead with folks. I call it the right sizing practice, and it seems really simple. But what I invite people to do is basically stretch their bodies as big, big, big as they can, arms all the way out, arms all the way up, legs wide, and then shrink down slowly to the total, like as constricted as you can go.
And one of the reasons, and then going back and forth between those two extremes, one of the reasons that's so powerful is that many of us have been taught to take up less space than is ours to take up, right? To shrink. And then there are those of us. Like me, this is part of my story where I've been taught to take up way more space than I ought to take up, especially in social settings.
And so, the physicality of a right sizing practice can mirror the flexing and the changing and the playing with how do we learn to take up more or less space and give ourselves permission to, to play with that a little bit.
Chris McDonald: I did my own group counseling for myself. I was in a therapist group, but that was one of the first things that she did was to, to do that practice.
I had never experienced it. I actually did that recently with a client. So just examining how that feels to be more open. Cause this person is always like this, you know, I just was having her and she's like, this is uncomfortable, but gradually, you know what? She loosened up arms and I have my arms out to the side.
If you can't see me, we're not, we're on video, but so just putting the arms open, so it sends a message I would think to the brain, right? That I can take up more space or like you said, do you need to bring it in a little bit?
Andrew Lang: Exactly. Exactly. And I think there's, this is the power of playfulness, right? Is there is a, in a setting, in a context in which we are taught to fit into a box, walk a certain way, don't run in certain spaces, right?
All of the rules of society about how we. I think in the context of that, there's a playfulness of even being able to say with a group of others, I'm going to like, do this weird thing, I'm going to stretch my whole body out. And then I'm going to like, I had a great friend who a few years ago were out on a beach and we were just walking and he hops up on a log and he balances across this log.
And it was this beautiful moment of, Oh, he's, he's playing, he's doing what I used to do when I was six, seven years old. And it was an invitation for me. So the next time I was at the beach, I tried it because I had remembered him doing it and I walked across this log and I just had this powerful experience of being seven or eight years old again and not caring, not even not caring, but not being constricted even at the subconscious level.
I just knew that this was my body moving in a way that I had. Stopped it from moving for so many years and I think that's what the inner critic does is it is a partner within us It's a partner within us that moves with the narratives of the world the illusions of the world The inner work is what I call it but the inner work is starting to unlayer the all the stories about ourselves that we that we tell and That then impact the ways that we show up in our communities.
Chris McDonald: that's a perfect example of play. And it's so sad to think like how we get so far from that, right? And a lot of times I start thinking about things, but sometimes just doing something like that can just bring, bring you back. Because I think about inner child work too. And that has to be. One way to really connect with your
Andrew Lang: younger self.
Yeah. I think about even the space that I'm in right now. I am sitting in a room that has been built to be multipurpose. And so what does that mean? It means very neutral colors. , it means no splash of personality, literally anywhere. The biggest splash of personality is the wall behind me that's made of, uh, old fire hoses.
That's the most personality that's in here. Everything else is, is neutral corporate. I, when I think of corporate, I think of the movies from the eighties that just. Made corporate life seem like the thing Wall Street and that has infused itself into our culture That's capitalism infusing itself in our culture saying that the goal is this neutral in the box Person that works 70 hours a week
Chris McDonald: Yeah, that's true.
I know the title of your book is unmasking the inner critic Can you talk about a time that you were in the woods and you were unmasking? Can you talk about that? I thought that was really powerful
Andrew Lang: Yeah, I've had a couple moments that have just been as we all do those mystical, magical moments when you touch upon a squishy part of your inner self that you hadn't remembered was there.
And so there there's one of those experiences was I was walking through the woods. And I just had this beautiful moment of seeing this tree and the tree was wrangly and just kind of, and it had lived a life. It had lived a life. It had severed arms and it had these root systems that were, some of them were showing and some of them weren't, but they were lifting the ground.
And there was this beautiful experience. I had seeing this tree. Living its life the best way it could moving with the seasons, and I just had this utter, it's like water washing over my body where I realized that I was experiencing this form of self love that I'd never felt before. It was just this feeling of I'm like that to some extent I have.
I've had this life and I was in the middle of a pretty brutal end to a engagement at that time. And so, in the midst of this big conflict with my, pretty much everything within my context and with myself, being able to see a tree growing just as a tree grows and seeing myself within that context of, this is a, this is another day in the life of being human and how do I lean into learning.
And practicing more and more of what it means to be human. So this just powerful moment of kind of self love and self permission, self permission to just relax, to not have to control everything. It was, it was a radical moment that, that relaxed. You're getting deep there, yeah. Yeah, it was, it was totally.
And it was, and it was funny because in the middle of it, I was also like, I really am becoming that tree hugging image that that I grew up with, um, and I loved it. It was, yeah, it was exactly, it was once again, the permission of, of how, how do we see our connectedness in the universe? I felt a little bit of it in that
Chris McDonald: moment.
So it makes me think of the mass, right? To that you, you mentioned with society and everything. It's like, is that the mask you're talking about? We all have to act a certain way and be a certain way in, in our families and society. Can you talk about what that means to have to wear a mask?
Andrew Lang: Yeah. So I'll start with when I talk about masks, I'm really in some ways talking about personas because the Greek word for persona and personality are very connected.
And so when I talk about unmasking, it's beginning to take off the protective layers, taking off the layers that you've developed over your entire life that have worked for you in some ways, and they've certainly worked to protect you. So here's an example of a mask. When I. One of my core constrictions is that I'm not good at it.
And so what I've learned to do is I've learned to wear this mask when I go to work, and it's this mask of absolute competency. And confidence and I can do it. And even if I don't know how to do it, I'll say I can do it and then figure it out. And so it's this mask that is protecting me from the alternative, which is saying, I don't know how I'm not good enough.
I haven't figured it out. And so the process of unmasking is beginning to notice when you're carrying those masks, the way you're showing up in these different spaces. And not taking them off for the entire week because they're there to protect you. At some point in your life, they were vital. And so it can be extremely harmful if you just take a mask off and then, then wander into the world.
So the, the work is how can I take this mask off for a moment today? That's a little bit longer today than yesterday and feel how it feels in my body. How can I, and I often start with journaling this, like most of the workshops I lead, we begin with journaling processes and just practices of like recognizing what we're feeling in our body because those are the moments alone when you can.
I think play the most and begin to recognize the most of this is a narrative that worked really well for me when I was young, and for some reason, over time, I weaved it into my personality, my persona, my mask, but I don't actually need it anymore. So that's that's the work of unmasking as I see it is.
Learning what are the narratives that you picked up those stories about yourself that you picked up maybe long, long ago that worked to protect you from a situation you were in from a process that you were in from something that you saw and maybe turned into a personality over time. How can we begin to let that, uh, let that go little by little so that we can.
reconnect with our inherent dignity that's that's beneath
Chris McDonald: it. So it is learning to let go as
Andrew Lang: well. Yeah, because it can't be it. I know letting go is a phrase that's used a lot. But the reason it's so powerful is that there is a gentle softness that I think is just vital to any of this work. And, you know, you talk to most therapists, right?
And they'll say, they'll say the same thing. Like you, you can't annihilate parts of yourself. It just doesn't work. I talk sometimes about curmudgeonly energy in my mind, a curmudgeon is someone who grows older having never become connected or acquainted with their inner life. And the reality is we all have curmudgeonly energy.
We all have parts that are disconnected, shoving our inner stuff on other people, projecting, blowing our trauma through other people's bodies. How do we begin to unmask so that we can recognize those energies and say, Oh, I can let go of that energy right now. I can release that energy. And that's the opposite of curmudgeonly energy is tight, fists closed, going back to closing the body, ready for battle.
Exact and releasing is the opposite curiosity and openness dancing. I think that's, that's the energy of how do we lean more into becoming dancers.
Chris McDonald: And to dancers. Yes. I think of that as freeing too. And we talked about opening up. It's like, to me, that's like freeing yourself in some way of even unmasking for a short period of time, connecting with that energy.
So this sounds like some of it, like internal family systems. Is
Andrew Lang: that right? Yeah, no, totally. I, um, so in internal family systems, I think of the, our protector parts. That's what I was thinking. Yeah, exactly. These, these are the parts of us that for one reason or another, that is unique to our story. They're trying to protect us.
We have designed them to protect these other parts of ourselves. And the problem is that's great in the moment. Those are, that's necessary in the moment of high trauma or in the moment that the needs that protection. But over time, if you don't speak to that protector part of yourself and say, I don't, you know, thank you.
First off, thank you. Uh, thank you for doing this work for me. Thank you for keeping me safe. And the context has changed and, and I no longer need you in that way. You don't have to leave. You don't have to be decimated. You don't have to take off, uh, but I don't need you to be my primary operating system anymore.
And, and that takes power away from that protective part. It allows it to relax, get unconstricted.
Chris McDonald: Okay. I'm just thinking about that too. Can the protector parts have a different role then?
Andrew Lang: Yeah. I think, you know, one of the immediately I think of. Often in our culture, we see anger as bad and, you know, especially in like in our workspaces, practitioners of mindfulness, there's this, I think, default idea that anger is bad.
And I think similarly, protector parts would be bad, but similar to anger, I think protector parts in the right context can be not only vital to our protection, vital to. our way of operating in the universe and in the world. So with anger, there is a difference between anger that is reactive and that is all for me and that is perpetuating oppression and perpetuating the status quo.
There's another form of anger that is liberatory. There's another form of anger that is, I see, uh, I see oppression occurring and my anger is going to bring me into a deep Fully embodied response to that issue in the world or to that experience in the world in a way that allows me to then walk into that space and, and dance a different way.
I think of Richard Rohr has this quote, he says, the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better that kind of anger that I think is liberatory allows us to practice better. Similarly, I think our protector parts, if they are never seen or questioned or, you know. Affirmed as that, you know, saying, thank you, given gratitude, they just fester in us and they keep their shields up.
But if you say to them, you know, thank you, you don't actually have to leave, but I don't need you to be the number one thing in my life, then that protector can still have the energy of protecting. But maybe it can work to protect a different, you know, protect something else, or maybe there's something we can learn from that protector about how it has protected us.
Chris McDonald: like finding other ways to deal with them too, and a healthy way for us. And because I know I've heard other therapists, and this is probably, you know, dating myself. When I became a counselor therapist, whatever title you want to give it, I had heard too, that you, Oh, you got to get rid of your inner critic.
And, you know, you got to make sure that You'd find ways to blast it away, you know, visually with that or whatever. So my guess with this is that that's not a healthy way to approach the inner critic. Could that cause damage or?
Andrew Lang: Yeah, I think it can cause damage. The foundation of this work in my. Humble opinion, the foundation of this work, I think, is rooted in we have inherent dignity and it's inherent.
It's deep within us. It can't be taken away. It is invincible. It is intimate and it is precious. It's at the foundation of our being. When we then look at the inner critic and we say we're going to blast it away, we're going to Uh, demolish it. We're gonna, whatever, whatever, annihilate, whatever language you want to use.
I think of the role that violence does in, in our communities. I think of, I'm gonna do this big act of violence. In order to save this person. And yet the violence shows other people how to be violent. Same thing internally. When we are doing this massive amount of violence, get rid of this inner critic. I don't think that invites our inherent dignity to shine through.
I think it models for us violence. Internally, if I can blow my inner critic away in that way, what else can I be violent towards myself? What other, and I think we get enough of it. I, I think that's the plain and simple. I think we get enough of the violence and the annihilation language. I think that is taught to us by everything around us and then reconfirmed for us as a default operating system.
Inner work is. A totally different operating system. How, how can we with softness and gentleness unfold a new reality, model a new reality. There's a, when I talk to communities that are doing, uh, like community work around how do we, like culture work. Some of the things I, I say are around this idea that how we meet is who we are.
What we do in our space, regardless of what we say, the way we build our space, set it up, look at each other, the structures, who's allowed to talk, who's not allowed to talk, all those things, they tell us, they tell others and they tell us what we really care about, who we really are. In the same way, when we take on the violence of the world and act it out, even on us, I think it separates us from our true values and from who we're trying to become.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. And I know you mentioned too about the connection between inner work and communal healing. So is that kind of what you're talking about too?
Andrew Lang: Totally. There's no, when I walk into bookstores, which is a rarity nowadays, uh, but when, when I do get into bookstores, I sometimes go to like, you know, the self help aisle.
And one of my greatest frustrations is most often 90 percent of those self help books. are so focused on only the personal, only the, you know, what you've got to work on for you. And if you work on this for you, great things are coming. Individualism. It's, oh, it's individualism meets capitalism. Yeah, run amok.
It's, it's the market. It's the market celebrating the individual. And I, I just think that's nonsense. We all operate within an embodied culture, whether that's your family, your workplace, your neighborhood. We are all within a broader context and culture. And so inner work and community work have to be connected.
The, the work we do on ourselves, the processing, the learning, Oh, this is how I react when someone says this, or, Oh, this is what muscle gets triggered. When I am experiencing frustration, all of that impacts how we move. It impacts our posture when we step at it. Yes. I think about my workplace and some here when we walk into the next meeting, it all impacts.
what we do when we're in our family settings. And so inner work divorced from communal work, inner work divorced from societal work, I think is nonsense. I think it's a, it's an illusion. I think it's not real. And I think we're all interconnected. Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Chris McDonald: Exactly. So much more. Yeah, we got to look at and again, I've heard this somewhere to just working on yourself to can also help the world, right?
Society as a whole to like, we got to work on ourselves. But of course, looking at the system is to like you
Andrew Lang: mentioned, there's there's a reason. So in the book, the one of the core reasons that. Every chapter has some sort of action step is not because I think a reader is, you know, going to do every single one of the little action prompts and it's to keep it in front of us.
The, the idea that you do your inner work, you do all this inner processing and then you somehow become more of a healing force in the world. It's not, it's, it's at the same time, every rep we do of treating ourselves with more kindness is immediately. Shifting our neural networks, it's immediately shifting our default practices, and so the next minute when we walk into that space, we have practiced something more so that we can do it, and I think that's a that's the both.
And is that inner work? Every single day connects with the communal world
Chris McDonald: and your book is not one you can just read one sitting because I would read time. I'd be like, I gotta sit and ponder this
Andrew Lang: for a minute. I'm so thankful. You said one of my greatest fears when I wrote it and it somewhere in my first maybe an introduction.
I said, you know, please, please read this over many days. Yeah, many days and cups of coffees, please. And and that's why it's it's not a thick book. You know, this isn't a book that is 500 pages. The work is between the words. The work is taking that story, looking at that reflection question, and shutting the book and walking away, and going for a walk amongst the trees, or going into your next meeting, figuring out, like, how does this actually connect with my story?
And what invitation is already within me that is resonating that is inviting me into something deeper because I think that's also a core component is that we all have this deep well of wisdom within us. How are we re noticing the pathways that allow for that wisdom to seep up? Howard Thurman talks about the sound of the genuine within us.
We all have this sound of the genuine within us. I really do believe that and call it creativity. Call it this just this. Energy that is wanting to be birthed into the world. How are we taking time to listen for that sound of the genuine and then giving it an opportunity to show up
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I know you mentioned shadow work was something that you wanted to me to ask about. So can you talk about what is shadow work? Cause I keep hearing it all over tick tock all the time. I'm like, okay, tell me
Andrew Lang: more about that. Uh, okay. Shadow work means different things to different practitioners. For a lot of practitioners, it stays in kind of the personal, you know, kind of what we just talked about, a lot of the personal workspace.
Uh, the general idea, a big, giant, big picture, is what we don't pay attention to within our stories, what we don't pay attention to within our histories, becomes part of our shadow, um, becomes a shadow within our, our being. Uh, I always think of like a, like a lighthouse. What the lighthouse decides to direct itself to casts a shadow or whatever it directs itself away from.
And so the idea of shadow work is how are we observing and paying attention to the un and under examined stories. In our life, parts of our life, one of my what I can tell one of my unique little angles within the shadow work community space is that I really do focus on. There are three levels of shadow work.
There is the personal level of shadow work. What are the stories that are part of your life? That you, uh, you don't want to really look at. You don't want to pay attention to. You certainly do not want anyone else to notice. What, what are those parts of you? But then there's also the communal shadows. When you walk into your company or your business or your school, if you're a teacher or your school, if you're a student, what are the stories that those who have power don't want discussed?
What are the conversations? That would rather that those with power would rather have in the shadows. What are the what are the discussions that are really difficult to have because you realize you're asking other people to pay attention to something they don't want to pay attention to? And then there's the societal level, which I think this is one that we can all really clearly get, but it's in front of us every day, but any narrative.
topic situation that causes mass defensiveness. You know, as a society, what have we basically agreed, especially those with power basically agreed is too big to fail. Don't bother challenging. In fact, don't challenge. And if you do challenge, there's going to be a problem. Uh, and if you do challenge There's some amount of mass defensiveness that pops up.
I think of a clear example for me is I think about police brutality. You know, if you talk about policing reform immediately, this mass of defensiveness rises up and that's just the topic of police reform. That's not even like the particulars or the depth. Behind that. That's just the idea of it. And so shadow work for me is operating at all three of those levels and doing the work of examining the on and under exam.
Chris McDonald: And I think that maybe some people that keeps them away from therapy, that they don't want to look at themselves. I'm thinking defensiveness with family members. If you've suggested therapy, like, I don't need that. I don't want to look at any of that. Let's keep that in the closet.
Andrew Lang: Well, and that's where like, once again, that's where the softness and gentleness comes in.
Cause There's already enough. There's enough shame. There's enough guilt. There's enough because our culture is so violent. There's enough self violence happening when these topics rise up. So I work with a lot of folks that about half of them maybe are in therapy in conjunction with working with me, which is a really wonderful collaboration.
between the kind of questions and practices I bring, and then they take it to therapy and say, like, this is a practice that I'm working with. Can we talk through a one on one with their therapist? Or I work with a lot of folks who come from the bring the upbringing where therapy is not an option. If you go to therapy, it's because something is wrong and I'm not quite there yet.
You're crazy. Or you're right. Or there's like, yeah. And so I work with a lot of those folks that just. therapy isn't an option yet because the softness and the gentleness haven't been cultivated. And so how do we begin there? And then my invitation is always almost every single time it's all right, we've done this work.
I really highly recommend checking out a mental health professional because Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It's a must. All of us at some point in our life needs a mental health professional. And that is a wonderful, wonderful space to be in because there's people who are just, they have the tools. They have the tools to help us see that which we haven't been able to see deep enough yet.
And know what to do with
Chris McDonald: it. Yeah, exactly. Know what to do with it. That's it. And some of this can be difficult to unravel, to, to face your shadow parts. I noticed that in the book, you have a lot of lines like for people to reflect and I'm sure to journal. So do you find it's journaling been beneficial to the people you're working with?
Andrew Lang: Yeah, I think journaling. So I have two practices that are, have been really vital for me. And then when I bring them into workshops, they seem to be kind of the foundational pieces. The first tool is journaling out stories that you've been told or stories that have happened to you. Or just journaling out, like, these are the things that are coming up for me right now.
These are, these are the vibes that are going on in my life. Let's write them down so I can see them. Uh, and, and that comes not from a therapy space for me. That comes from a, I taught high school for seven years and high schoolers. It's a tangibility issue. Can we make the thoughts that we're having tangible in front of us so that we can literally see them?
Uh, so that's, that's that first practice of journaling. And the second one is kind of similar, but it's fully embodied. It's all right. And now when we're in the middle of a session or when we're in the middle of a conflict, how are we checking in with our body to notice all the different ways our body is understanding the situation?
So here's an example. There's two kinds of frameworks I operate with. The first comes from Peter Levine and it's called SIBAM, S I B A M. And it's checking in with your body. What are the sensations? What are the images that are coming up? What are the behaviors that are happening? What are, what's the affect that you're feeling?
That's your, you know, emotions, emotional life. Uh, and, and what's the meaning that you're making from all of this in the midst of this situation? So that's a tool that you could, you know, in the middle of a conflict with your spouse or partner or friend or teacher, you can check in with each of those parts of your body's knowing and see, okay, what's coming up.
Why, what, what's, what's going on inside me? And then the other framework that builds on it, uh, it's from Resma Menekum, and he's a trauma specialist who specifically works with the impacts of white supremacy. And he, he calls it Vimbasi. It's basically the same thing as Saibam, but he adds two layers, and the two layers Vibrations, so reading the vibes when you step into a room, what's the vibe when you're in the middle of a really crunchy situation, what's the vibe?
And the other one is imagination. What do you imagine for this space? And I think that's so powerful as a practice, that imagination, I'll just zone in on that imagination one. What's so powerful about asking someone, what do you imagine for this moment? What do you imagine for this space? What do you imagine for your life?
Because you can get really quickly, you can get the distinction. And to the conflict of, I imagine this and this is reality. And then how do we work in that in between space that lives, that lives there? That's powerful stuff. Yeah. I am constantly stupefied by the wisdom that our bodies have for us. If we can practice doing the reps.
of recognizing that our body is not just a vehicle for our brain and that there are different ways of knowing than just our cognitive, critical thinking selves.
Chris McDonald: I always say too, getting in touch with the body's wisdom and, and I love that, the whole check in thing that you mentioned from Peter Levine. I think the meaning part, that just really stood out for me too.
What is the meaning? Cause that, that really can kind of tell where somebody's at and where, where their thoughts are and what processes might be there. Wow. Yeah. That's amazing. So
Andrew Lang: basically twice a year, I lead a six week shadow work class that's kind of an introduction to all this. And one of the practices that are consistent through that is that, um, Sai Bam or Vembasi practice.
And what's so fun is that when I first introduce it, we do it together and I just say, okay, let's take seven minutes. Just check in with yourself on all these different things. And, you know, when we first started, nothing's really going on. We're all just kind of sitting here in a Zoom room. And so people are going through being like, well, I'm hungry.
My belly just rumbled. I'm tired. I'm feeling, you know. And I say, great! Because if you can begin to recognize those moments, those things, it becomes a lot easier to recognize like, oh, my heart rate's elevated. Or, Oh, I'm, I'm feeling, I'm starting to feel angry. You practice in the small moments so that in the heated moments or in the critical conflict moments, uh, you already have a practice and you don't have to actually think about it.
You just start recognizing.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. So kind of integrating it. What was the takeaway you could share with listeners who might be just starting their holistic
Andrew Lang: journey? I think we'll start there. I think takeaway is listen to your body's wisdom. Your body is the primary method through which you understand your humanity.
It's not through critical thinking, although that's vital. It's not through your cognitive awareness of what's going on. Your body is the part that is experiencing everything. And so if we begin our holistic journey, if we begin this process by reacquainting ourselves with what our body is experiencing, it makes it a lot easier to then jump from that to, okay, now what are the stories that are connected to this body experience?
What are the stories that are connected to this imaginative space I'm in? What are the stories that are connected to it? And why is my conflict occurring? In the context of my body's reaction. So I think that's the biggest takeaway. It's certainly been a biggest takeaway for me in my personal
Chris McDonald: life.
Amazing. Yeah. So what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you? Yeah,
Andrew Lang: y'all can check out my website andrewglang. com. On it, you'll, you'll find a bunch of stuff. I have a five day free email series. That kind of walks through these things, uh, in a really small, like bite sized way.
And then I'm on Instagram and find me Andrew G Lang. Always happy to chat. And where can they find your book? Uh, you can find my book on my website or on Amazon. You just have to look up Unmasking the Inner Critic Lessons for Living an Unconstricted Life.
Chris McDonald: I highly recommend that book for all of you therapists out there.
So I think it could be very beneficial and all that will be in the show notes as well. But thank you so much for coming on the Holistic Counseling Podcast, Andrew. This was great.
Andrew Lang: Yeah, this was delightful. Thank you
Chris McDonald: for having me. And thank you listeners for tuning in today. And if you are a new listener, I want to say welcome.
As a listener, you have access to my free nine part email course, How to Build Confidence as a Holistic Therapist. In this course, you'll explore different holistic modalities, how to boost your confidence, and how to manifest your holistic practice. You also get bonuses, including a free script to teach a yoga asana and journaling prompts to guide you through.
Enhance your holistic journey today. Go to hcpodcast. org forward slash holistic therapist. That's hcpodcast. org forward slash holistic therapist. And once again, this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love. Talk to you next time. Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal financial counseling or any other kind.
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