Joe coaches a course participant through an exploration of self-trust. Beginning with an intellectual question about conflicted inner parts, our guest embraces the underlying emotional experience and touches the essence of who she is.
"What's the ultimate thing that you're running from?"
"Some sort of spiral effect -- I've seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness."
"There's an abyss in you that you're avoiding, and your fear is that if you go into that, you won't come out. So let's go."
What’s the ultimate thing you are running from? Some sort of spiral effect. I’ve seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness. Let’s go. There’s an abyss in you that you are avoiding, and your fear is that if you go into that, you won’t come out. Let’s go.
Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves, and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.
Welcome back, everyone. Today’s episode is a coaching session between Joe and somebody in our community who just completed the connection course and was really ripe and motivated for the work and to explore further. She reached out to us to offer to do a session on the podcast, and we really, really love it when people are this devoted to their growth and exploration. We really want to explore it. Without further ado, here is that session.
Joe: Wow, you wanted to come in person.
Person: I did. I wanted the in person feel. Zoom is a huge barrier for me for dropping in sometimes. I have a resistance. All of those other things I didn’t want to do before seem so enticing now.
Joe: That makes sense. R- is a friend.
Person: He is my partner.
Joe: How long have you guys been together?
Person: We thought last year was three years, and we went to our anniversary dinner looking at photos. There were none. This year is three years. It just feels like longer. COVID is a time accelerator.
Joe: Tara and I have been married for over 20 now.
Person: I’ve heard good things about her from Brett and Alexa.
Joe: She is amazing. What are we here for? What do you want to work on?
Person: When I scheduled this, I had a topic in mind that I had been working on with a coach and I had listened to VIEW. Now it is not alive for me anymore. In the last few days, I was trying to figure out another topic. I started to think about intuition. This morning I was meditating and a few seconds before my meditation ended, I had a thought that popped up intuitively. I thought I guess we are going with this. It is not fully formed. The idea is around emotional fluidity, about how labeling our emotions affects the ability for them to transform and change and how labeling emotions puts structure or identity on who we are and how that affects our transformation and change.
Joe: I’m happy to answer those questions, but I notice two things that are happening. First, that’s a really intellectual question and not personal to you. The second thing I notice is because you are here in person, there is actually something personal happening. Your emotional body is not having an intellectual conversation with me, but whatever just happened was intellectual. I am wondering if you have something else you want to work on.
Person: That’s good. I feel like I have been trying to find this perfect question for you, and I don’t really know what that is.
Joe: How about this? What’s the thing that if it shifted in your life would be the most profound, positive movement that you could conceive of?
Person: Being able to trust myself again.
Joe: That sounds like something to work on.
Person: I’ve been doing so much parts work, and now I am so aware of all of these contradictory parts of myself and trying to acknowledge and address them all with compassion. It’s just a mess in there. I see all things as holding truth at once, and there was this fluidity before I was more aware of all of these parts that just allowed me to come to conclusions and live in a flow state regardless of where that took me. Now, I feel not quite paralyzed but that there are so many things I am aware of. It is more consciously going into my choices. I have less confidence in what feels right for me.
Joe: I know what parts work is, but do you want to describe it a little bit because we will have people listening to this?
Person: Sure. Parts work, the way I have been doing is when you recognize yourself as being comprised of different parts that might be of different ages. For instance, there is the inner child, which a lot of people talk about, but there is also, for instance, a protector you have developed in the past as a way to come and make sure you are okay because you have been hurt in the past. You can also have a maternal part that nourishes you and cheers you on. You could have a paternal part that’s a bit more discerning. All of these parts are living inside of you at all times making decisions together, usually under the hood.
Right now, for me, they are less under the hood, and I am speaking to them all more directly. Decisions are taking much longer and becoming less clear.
Joe: What’s you?
Person: All of it is me.
Joe: What’s essentially you? If I took away the protector, would you still exist?
Person: I hear what you are saying. There is an awareness, an essence that’s me.
Joe: What does it think about you being made up of parts, the awareness? How does it react?
Person: Right now it feels it has been fun, meeting those parts. At the beginning, it was like a play, like a dance. There was almost like a pride in being attuned to these parts, these voices in my head that are constantly there. It felt like having more awareness of them would lead to making decisions that felt more in flow or at least with more conscious attention. Now I am not so sure anymore. I think there is a reason some things are left to the subconscious to be decided and filtered without the conscious knowledge. Imagine if breathing was something I had to think about all the time while at the same time thinking about my heart beating or moisturizing my eyes.
Joe: I like parts work. I think it is very useful. I will use it even sometimes. There is a construct that says there are these parts, a protector and inner child. What’s to make it like a different set of constructs? What happens if it is the one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old, four-year-old, five-year-old, six-year-old, seven-year-old? What happens if it is the tarot deck? The fool is talking to the queen, which is talking to the, whatever. What would happen then?
Person: This is the other thing that’s been alive for me lately is recognizing many framings are true at the same time. Now it is almost like a multiverse of contradictions.
Joe: The parts thing has brought up something that’s actually bigger it sounds like. Tell me if I am wrong here. It sounds like what’s happening is that you are starting to see that all of your thoughts are both false and true.
Person: There is validity to everything, but also a limitation to everything.
Joe: What’s the problem with that?
Person: It brings me back to something I’ve been dealing with for a while involving trust. How can I trust my intuition or how can I recognize intuition from fear or anxiety projections?
Joe: How do you not trust it?
Person: How do I not trust it? Because all of these other parts are now speaking up, I am asking which one of those things was true. What’s the difference between intuition and a reaction or projection from the past?
Joe: How did you just say that?
Person: What do you mean?
Joe: You just spoke. How did that happen?
Person: I guess I’ve developed a mental model for my experience since being born into this vessel.
Joe: It is happening right now. All of these parts exist. None of them are true. All of them have some truth, and here you are talking. How is that happening?
Person: I guess it will happen whether I want it to or not. It just is.
Joe: How do you not trust your intuition? If you are talking, you are trusting your intuition.
Person: That’s an interesting way to put it. What I am finding is that I’ll have some sort of gut reaction, and then another just as equally strong and sudden gut reaction will come and contradict it and then another one from a different angle.
Joe: How is that just not fear?
Person: That’s where I am left. Am I making decisions out of fear? Am I making decisions out of coming back into my power or feeling more in flow? How do I tell the difference?
Joe: How do you tell the difference?
Person: I don’t know. That was actually my original question. How do I tell the difference? Some people say it is how you feel in your body, and I’ve been doing this reading about it. I’ve been doing reading about it. Some people say if your body is tense, then it is fear and not intuition unless your intuition is about something scary.
Joe: I’ve got another one for you. If you think you are making a decision, you are in fear. You just made 100 decisions in the last five minutes with me, what to say, how to look at me, eye moisturizing, all decisions. They didn’t feel like decisions, but then there are these big decisions that come up or they feel big. As soon as you think there is a decision, you are in fear.
Person: How do I get out of that?
Joe: What would make you want to get out of fear?
Person: Okay. Where do I go from there?
Joe: First the question. What would make you want to get out of fear?
Person: I think I have this story that if I am in fear, I am not in fear because fear is something. Maybe it’s my resistance to fear that actually takes me out of the moment, but I feel less connected, less in the moment. For instance, if I have a thought.
Joe: How do you explain mountain climbers, base jumpers, all of those people who induce fear to get into flow? How does that work?
Person: I think because they are not resisting the fear. Maybe what I am recognizing talking to you right now is the thing that takes me out of flow is fear comes up. I resist the fear, and therefore, I dissociate from my current state.
Joe: What makes you want to resist fear?
Person: It’s scary.
Joe: What makes it scary? I know it’s an annoying question, but what is the actual problem with the sensation of fear?
Person: For me, I think it’s about attachment to outcomes. I am scared I am not going to have this thing that I now find myself yearning for and being attached to.
Joe: Now, it is a whole different thing. You have got all these parts. You are aware of all of this stuff, but what’s actually happening is you don’t know how to interpret them to get the response you want.
Person: Exactly. It is like being in a town hall and there is a lot of people standing up and shouting. I am at the front being like I hear you all. Now what?
Joe: Again, an annoying question, but what makes you want a result? If I was to say to you you get to determine all of your results or you get to determine how you are as a person, which would you choose?
Person: Probably how I am, yeah.
Joe: So then what makes you care about the results?
Person: That’s a great question. This is another thing. I have these attachments to outcomes, and I’ve been wanting to lean more into the want. If I find myself now scared, and I am like what if I don’t get X, Y or Z, I think what do I want out of this, leaning into the want.
Joe: I think it is great to be aware of what you want, but that doesn’t mean that you are attached to the outcome.
Person: No, I am still attached to the outcome. I think maybe I am trying to use leaning into the want as a way to maybe dissociate from how I attached I am to the outcome or to bypass it.
Joe: Without that attachment, it sounds like the fear is gone or it is not resisted, excuse me.
Joe: What’s the core? Right down into it, what’s the reason you care about the outcome? If you are going to be who you are going to be, and the outcome is going to do what it does, what makes you concerned?
Person: I recognize usually when these fears come up and these attachments come up, there is a fear of a loss of something that is a value of mine.
Joe: What do you mean a value?
Person: Fear of a loss of connection, or fear of a loss of authenticity or integrity.
Joe: But that’s all in how you are. I can be connected if somebody is spitting on me. I can be disconnected if everybody is loving me.
Person: That’s true. That’s a good reminder it doesn’t have to be a two-way street. I can feel connected to someone without them being connected to me.
Joe: Or my values or my integrity or any of that stuff.
Person: So much easier said than done.
Joe: That’s what I am trying to figure out. What makes that hard? What makes it hard to focus on how you want to be rather than the results?
Person: It’s interesting. A few folks in my life have been working with me on just saying the scariest thing or ask me what’s the scariest thing and then saying it to me and seeing how it lands in order to get past the fear. If I felt the fear all the way through, will that go away?
Joe: Again, what makes you want to have it go away?
Person: How can one live in a constant state of fear and still?
Joe: I don’t know. How do you do it?
Person: How do you do it?
Joe: You have been doing it. How does it work? If you are resisting the fear, it’s a constant state. If you are embracing the fear, then other things happen.
Person: It manifests in my life if you look at fight, flight, freeze or fawn, I am a flight. I will go somewhere else. I do something else. I will go and find, for instance, that value of connection, bi-directional connection, which is apparently how I’ve defined it, somewhere else.
Joe: Also, the flight happens into dissociation into the thought structure. That is also happening, and it sounds like the flight away from yourself into caretaking others.
Person: Totally. Leaving myself to be with someone else where I can feel of value in service in connection with them.
Joe: What’s the ultimate thing you are running from? What is it that doesn’t make that the thing you are focused on? Another way to ask that question is what you are actually running from on the deepest level.
Person: It feels like sitting with myself.
Joe: You meditate every day.
Person: I do.
Joe: How does that work?
Person: I meditate every day, and it feels really good to just relax into what is myself or the physical, somatic self. I love it.
Joe: When you said that, it was the first time your smile went away.
Person: I have my happiness filter that many of us have developed in this society.
Joe: It was the first time that that mask went away was when you were actually thinking about being
present in meditation.
Person: I feel like a sadness bubbling up, or there’s emotion behind the eyes. I don’t have a story for it.
Joe: Is that what you are running from?
Person: The sadness? It’s an interesting question. I feel like two years or a year ago.
Joe: What just happened?
Person: I’m intellectualizing. I’m in my head now dissociating from it.
Joe: I’m not saying anything you are doing is bad. I am just asking what happened. There was, there behind the eyes, and then I asked you an interesting question.
Person: A really deep well of sadness, and often lately I love it. I have fallen in love with wailing. It’s not crying. It’s wailing. It’s not even just sadness. It’s like anguish, and sometimes I get stuck. Maybe sometimes, like now, I think I am with Joe in his studio. I can’t cry. It’s not appropriate, so let’s go into something else. Let’s distract him by telling him he asked an interesting question.
Joe: I don’t know any place that’s more appropriate. When you wail, is it usually by yourself or with someone you really know?
Person: It is usually with someone I really know, a close friend or a partner, and there is some permissioning in the relational connection we have. Someone says I love your sadness, or it is okay to be down, or it is okay to cry. I am like yes, here it comes.
Joe: How do you feel that same way towards fear? You know what it is like now, the embrace of the emotional experience and how it transforms your life. What makes fear any different?
Person: I guess I can’t remember a time where anyone told me it is okay to be scared.
Joe: It is okay to be scared.
Person: It is okay to not know what to do.
Joe: It is okay to not know what to do. I will go even further. It is okay to be completely helpless. We all are.
Person: I was raised by immigrant Chinese parents who came from a really hard life to an equally, but different hard life here in the States. There is this pride around resiliency and being stoic and strong. I remember the first time I lost my job, I was so scared to tell my parents.
Joe: It’s happening. You are intellectualizing it a little bit. The story is great, and I know the listeners are thinking I want to hear that. Fuck them. The idea is if you will allow yourself to feel helpless, you will be less resilient.
Person: It feels that way, yeah. Lesser is a word that is floating around in my head. Just lesser in general.
Joe: I know this is a weird time to do it, but what’s happened to all of the parts? I just notice far more spaciousness in you now.
Person: My breath feels more like when I am meditating, and it feels like there is a sinking into this moment.
Joe: Where are all the parts when you are here?
Person: I don’t know. I am not sure.
Joe: How about what you are essentially?
Person: It feels more back in just awareness space.
Joe: With the emotional experience.
Person: With the emotional experience. There is a lot of sadness.
Joe: It’s almost like coming out of the closet. I have to admit to everybody I’ve been scared my whole life.
Person: I have to admit to everybody I’ve been scared my whole life of so many different things. It is like finding reasons to be scared, looking.
Joe: Yeah. That’s how you stay safe in a really hard-core environment like your parents grew up in, looking for what’s going to go wrong next.
Person: Yeah, because there is something. Change is the only constant, and if you are scared, then you assume that some change will be threatening.
Joe: There are actually more efficient ways to go about that, but that’s the way most people find to survive.
Person: Why is that? What makes that the way that most people adopt?
Joe: I don’t know for sure, but I think it is a neurological feature where we remember what goes bad more than we remember what’s going well. You are looking for what’s wrong more than you are looking for what’s right.
Person: Is it a biological thing where those monkeys that look for what’s right got eaten by a tiger?
Joe: Probably. I know neurologically they have proven that we look for what’s wrong more. Instead of everything is changing, there is opportunity, where is it? It is everything is changing. Oh, shit. What’s the next thing to come and fuck with me?
Person: Now I am like am I second guessing myself to go into a statement.
Joe: Yes, you just did. In that question, you did. Before that, you didn’t. The second guessing yourself.
Person: This is the second guessing because I am a glass half full type of person often, but now it is like what about this opportunity. Is that just from my ego? Is that from scarcity? Is that from greed? Is that from fear? I am second guessing my desire for this opportunity to see how that could reflect poorly on who I am.
Joe: Who is the authority?
Person: What would you rather have, the ability?
Joe: Who is the authority you are checking with?
Person: I want to say myself and probably those around me. These days a lot myself.
Joe: Then how is it a question? Is that greedy? Am I doing this opportunity because I am greedy? How can that be a question if the authority is you?
Person: It is checking in with myself. Am I motivated by greed? Am I motivated by scarcity? Then this story comes in of if I want to be someone motivated by scarcity. Being motivated by scarcity, what path does that lead me down? There are these layers of questions.
Joe: All of that is binary. All of that is fear. Binary in the fact that is like if it is okay to be motivated by scarcity 50% of the time or 20% of the time, 10% of the time, 5% of the time. Immediately there is binary thinking. I am either that or not that. What if you are all of that?
Person: I am all of that.
Joe: Then how can you second guess yourself? That’s a question. I am not trying to convince you not to.
Person: I think what happened is I have been hurt a few times in the past for wanting things or going after things, and now I’ve put myself in a box. A friend the other day saw me for the first time in a few months. He said where your fire is. You have lost your fire. I recognize I’ve been making myself small to feel safe. Who I was before with my wants and desires and going after them in the world ended in a place where I felt hurt.
Joe: What got hurt?
Person: What got hurt? The way I can explain it now is it felt like there was a reality schism where I thought I was in connection and could trust someone or some people.
Joe: That’s how it happened. I want to know what got hurt. I just watched you coming from your place of essence, and it didn’t seem like there was any hurt there. What is it that got hurt?
Person: Speaking from this tightness that’s somewhere between my chest and my throat right now, I got
hurt. I got hurt. Whatever that means. I got hurt.
Joe: What just happened when you said it? What happened in your system?
Person: It felt like a little bit of a fire kicked up. That’s the thing, and now the second guessing is like in what environment is my fire safe because what if it was my fire that got me hurt, my desires, my drive.
Joe: What if it is? What’s the problem with that? What’s the problem with getting hurt?
Person: That goes back to my fear of fear.
Joe: Let’s take it a little bit more slowly than that, which is you got hurt. You got hurt. We know that it is not the essential you that got hurt, but I like the anger that came with it. Yeah, you got hurt. Fuck them. That’s great. But the part of you that got hurt, there is this Buddhist saying that says, “Offer yourself up to annihilation so you can find out the part of yourself that can’t be annihilated.” What’s wrong with the hurt? What did it do besides clarify anything?
Person: What did it do beside clarify?
Joe: If you weren’t avoiding it, how did it do anything beside clarify who you are?
Person: If I weren’t avoiding it, that is what would happen if I weren’t avoiding it. I would be like great, that avenue is closed. Moving on, now I know which way not to go.
Joe: No, if you weren’t avoiding it, it would hurt.
Person: Say that again.
Joe: If you weren’t avoiding it, it would hurt. It would just hurt all the way through instead of to about two inches in. See what happens. Let the thing hurt. Someone broke your trust. Someone couldn’t accept you. Someone projected their bullshit on you.
Person: It is so hard to not take it personally.
Joe: It didn’t seem hard at all. It seems like taking it personally is much fucking harder. You took it personally.
Person: Yeah, I did and in so many ways.
Joe: That’s the whole thing about hurt. It clarifies all of the parts of you that are taking it personally.
Person: There is a worry that’s coming up that what it would mean to feel this all the way through. What would that mean for the clarity? What would I lose that’s in this?
Joe: You, that’s what you would lose. The thing you said got hurt, that’s what would be gone. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
Person: I’m scared the hurt will turn into anger.
Joe: I hope so.
Person: I’ve recently been told my anger is scary. I haven’t been angry for a while.
Joe: [makes disgusted sound]
Person: I thought there was a way around it. I thought I could find the root, the fear behind the anger and process it as sadness because sadness is safe for women in society. I’ve been like fuck yeah, I am going to cry all the fucking time.
Joe: If you are crying all the time, and it is not resolving, it is because there is another emotion there you aren’t feeling. There is this theory that’s like all of your anger is sadness or hurt or something like that. Bullshit. It’s true and it’s not true. It’s true in the fact that yes, underneath all of the anger is hurt, but it is also true that underneath all of the hurt is anger.
Person: I was so hell bent on proving to my coach I didn’t have anger that I found a neuroscience article about this, about how sadness counteracts anger and maybe it can be felt that way. She responded with what part of yourself needs to prove right now that you are not angry.
Joe: When you suppress your anger, you lose your fire. You lose your determination. You lose your clarity. That’s how it works, but you don’t have to get angry at people. You don’t have to start yelling at people.
Person: I think I am at a point where I know I have been making myself small and detaching from my fire because I know that when I feel it, I will take action and I will do things. Then, things will be different, and that goes back to the change is the only constant. Change is scary and threatening. What’s the next thing to be scared of? This box I have made for myself is familiar now.
Joe: How’s that working for you?
Joe: What makes you keep doing it?
Person: I don’t know if this is true for others, but there is this feeling that’s this is the hurt I know. This one is familiar, and there is a resistance to change even if I think it will be quote unquote better because this is just familiar.
Joe: Resist change. Right now, resist it. Change is happening. There is no doubt your hormonal has changed, your heart rate has changed, your emotional state has changed, so resist it.
Person: There is so much tension in my body trying to even conceptualize resisting it.
Joe: Don’t conceptualize it. Do it. Now start looking around to see if this change that’s happening is dangerous. That’s how you are living. Now do all of that. Keep doing it. You are resisting change. You are looking around now. Stick a smile on your face.
Person: That checks out. That’s most days.
Joe: If you feel it all in a moment, that’s what it is like. Now just feel the opposite of that. Don’t think. Just feel. You don’t need to be looking for anything. There’s no need for focus.
Person: There is a little voice that’s like if you stop running, you’ll die, or they’ll get you or whatever animal instinct. They have to keep going or else.
Joe: Great. Why resist that? That’s part of the change that’s happening right now. Right now there is more pleasure in your system than there was a second ago. How much of whatever is left is just resisting that pleasure? From this space of not resisting the change or all that stuff, what’s the fear? What’s the ultimate thing you are running from?
Person: Some sort of spiral effect. I’ve seen people I love spiral into depression or spiral into madness.
Joe: Let’s go. There’s an abyss in you that you are avoiding. Your fear is if you go into that, you won’t come out.
Person: I won’t come out.
Joe: Let's go. Can you find it?
Person: Oh yeah, it’s there.
Joe: Let’s see what it is like to step into the middle of it. I notice the resistance to change cropping up.
Person: It is like am I doing it right feeling.
Joe: That’s the resistance. This is just being open to the change, just the opposite feeling of that and into the abyss. You got quiet. You are making it the enemy again. Don’t make it the enemy.
Person: It is like all these programs want to run. This is a program that’s worked in the past and that would satisfy what you are asking me.
Joe: It doesn’t work. You are jumping in and finding the experience pleasurable.
Person: I’m not sure I know what I am looking for anymore then. Whatever I thought was the abyss was maybe something else.
Joe: What do you think it might have been?
Person: Just more sadness.
Joe: I don’t see you as sad right now.
Person: What do you see me as right now?
Joe: Irrelevant. I am saying it just so you can check with yourself. Is it really sadness, the abyss that you jumped in? Without resistance, what was it?
Person: Interesting. I think the sadness was the resistance to it.
Joe: What was it when you didn’t resist it. What is the thing that you are currently avoiding in this moment by thinking about it instead of being in it?
Person: It is no thing. There’s nothing.
Joe: What’s the experience of your body right now? Is this pleasure? Is this peace?
Person: Yeah, it is just sensation.
Joe: What if this is what you are avoiding? What if this is the scary thing?
Person: Peace? Huh.
Joe: There was this big scary abyss that was going to eat you alive, a dark spiral, but as soon as you went to non-resistance, there was peace. It makes sense you were resisting peace.
Person: It is funny. It is the thing I crave, and when I meditate.
Joe: Everything we crave, we push away.
Person: There is a subtle agenda for peace, but knowing if I orient toward peace, I won’t find it because it will be a lot then.
Joe: Everything we crave, we are pushing away at the same time.
Person: What makes us push away what we crave?
Joe: Craving is the pushing away. Your whole body relaxed when you were like huh. You got it.
Person: That’s funny. We’re funny.
Joe: Yes, we are. One of my favorite quotes is by Voltaire. He says God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.
Person: It does feel like so much of what we do is try to wake ourselves up to go back to this peace, and we are trying to push the boundaries, to feel the things until we are maxed out and unable to feel all the things anymore.
Joe: Apparently what we were talking about is how you trust yourself. From here, how do you trust yourself? How does the question even make sense?
Person: Exactly. What is there to not trust?
Wow, yeah, what is there not to trust? I really love the arc from the intellectual question to the emotional experience to the essence of who we are. I really want to thank this guest for really going there today, bringing your vulnerability and for really showing up and asking for this. Lastly, I want to thank all of our guests for listening and I am really looking forward to the next one. Take care.
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