In this episode, we have two guest speakers today, Vanessa Bennett and Dené Logan, who are combined Cheaper Than Therapy. I love these two is amazing conversation, a lightning conversation, and a conversation that I think needs to be had in this...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e235-cheaper-than-therapy-with-vanessa-bennett-and-dene-logan-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, we have two guest speakers today, Vanessa Bennett and Dené Logan, who are combined Cheaper Than Therapy.
I love these two is amazing conversation, a lightning conversation, and a conversation that I think needs to be had in this healing space. We're going to talk a lot about identity, about what it's like to overcome and move through an existential crisis, we're going to talk about what it means actually to heal. We're going to talk about the impacts of our past who we are today, and this is just a phenomenal episode.
When I'm going through an episode and having a conversation like this, it's really not only enthralling for me, but also it's impactful and in this way that makes me feel like, man, there are just other people who get this, we are on the same page, we're growing together, we are creating change together, we are teaching together, we're educating together. And if we can deliver massive value like this to people in the world, we can all timidly do what I believe we all need to do as people, and that's to heal.
To be able to look in the mirror, love yourself, and recognize that…
Yes, we all have flaws. Yes, we're all going to make mistakes. Yes, we're going to do that is uncharacteristic of who it is that we believe we are. We can learn, grow, change, and instead of being held down in stock and feeling like there's no possible way to continue to go forward, we find a way. I'm very excited to bring them to the show.
So, what are you waiting for?
Listen Now, and Let's get into the show!
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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with two special guests, Vanessa Bennett and in Dené Logan, who are both therapists and the host and co-host of Cheaper Than Therapy Podcast. Vanessa, Dené, welcome, how are you today my friends?
Vanessa and Dené: Great excited to be here.
Michael: Yeah, I'm super stoked. So, first and foremost, for a little background, I would love if each of you would was a little bit about your experience and how you got to where you are today?
Dené: Yeah. Well, so Vanessa and I are soul sisters who went to grad school together and really found that our experience around depth psychology, which is the background that we, or the lens which we sort of do our work and see clients through. We had all of these conversations together, whether we were driving to school or just, you know, in our world is girlfriends and we decided that we wanted to in addition to seeing clients, we thought we so often hear people say like what actually happens?
If you've never been to therapy, you don't necessarily know what therapies like it can feel sort of like it's a scary thing for people when they go in for the first time. And so we decided why don't we bring some of the conversations that we love having together? Some of the people that we love to sort of nerd geek out, talking about the stuff that you know, the depth psychology, all the things we love talking about, why don't we bring it into a podcast and in addition we do coaching sessions live on our podcast and sort of show people little bit, you know, behind the scenes behind the curtain, what it would look like if you were to drop into the therapy room.
Vanessa: That’s great! I'm like, well, she just said it, that's a great.
Michael: Yeah, where does that want come from? Because I think that there's so many people, you know, who are curious about that process of stepping therapy and wanting to get closer to, you know, really, what is personal development I think in going through therapy. What is it probably that you are trying to I don't necessarily say Mantle, but what is the thing that you're trying to change the scope of conversation around?
Vanessa: Well, I think a lot of its around destigmatizing it, right? I mean, I think it's great. I think we've seen a generational shift and they put like how people feel about therapy, but there's still a lot of mental health stigma out there and I think, you know, for both of us to what was important is that people here that therapist also have these kind of deeper conversations, right? Because depth psychology is a psychology of the soul. So today and I might have tactical tools like I have training and NBCT and we integrate all these different techniques and the bottom line is that we are actually in the therapy room, really talking to each other's souls. Like this, kind of therapy is just so much deeper and can go so much deeper than like, here's some thoughts. I think it was important for us also to bring depth psychology to more people because I think it's a little bit of an unknown realm I suppose.
Michael: For those who really don't know what that is or what that means, can you take some time and really dive into so we can create context so I don't want people to come into this and hear that and then it kind of goes over their head. So what exactly is it?
Vanessa: So depth psychology is its basically Jungian psychology. So Carl Jung created what was known as analytical or what is known as analytical psychology and depth psychology is essentially what branched off from analytical psychology. So they tend to call Freud the father of psychology, they call young mother of psychology and young himself went on a really really deep journey into his depths into his Darkness if you will and so much of his approach to therapy is really about this idea of going deeper going under, you know, we tend to work more with the unconscious we work with how the unconscious speaks. So the unconscious speaks their images and through metaphor, it doesn't speak through which is right. And so Dené and I are trained more to look for what's not being said and to kind of play in that arena versus what's on the surface or I would even say like behaviors. Like I think behavioral change is important, but sometimes behavioral work can be a little bit of a band-aid on a bullet hole and that's really important we've got to stop the bleeding but once the bleeding has subsided, we've got to get in there and discover what the wound is otherwise, it's just going to keep bleeding through.
Michael: And in that, what I'm looking for here is what really truly differentiates this from someone sitting down with someone and Gestalt or CBT or whatever that other kind of therapy might be. Where does this lie in the scope of I don't want to call it necessary only practicality but an impact.
Dené: Hmm, you know when I think about the differentiation of looking at our Therapeutic lens through the lens of the Soul versus some of the other clinical ways of holding this work, for me, it has a lot to do with like Joseph Campbell's work, and how he talks about the hero's journey. And I a lot of times with clients will ask them to sort of zoom out on their life and hold it in the context of the hero's journey and if we look at our life as though, this were a chapter of our lives versus the entire story. What is this chapter this moment in time, attempting to teach me? How is it asking me to expand to maybe break out of some of the paradigms that I've held to be true up to this point? And so, it's a little bit less of the holding, whatever the thing is that I'm struggling with going through; through the lens of why is this happening to me, that resistance energy and sort of zooming out and saying okay if I look at my life in the context of the big picture, what is this moment? This chapter attempting to teach me? How is it asking me to evolve?
Michael: And that’s beautiful. In that what the immediate thing that comes to mind is people often look at those moments or those experiences and what am I trying to be taught here, what am I learning in this moment and often beat themselves up? How do you kind of navigate that real time I'm making meaning of this situation with helping people reconcile like the reality of like, well, you're supposed to be having this moment?
Vanessa: Well, I mean, I think a lot of Jung's work as around the collective. And so I think when you put it into the context of the collective of you know, we work a lot with myth and would story and with archetypes when you realize that you are not alone, when you realize that there are other roadmaps and other people who have done this before you and there are archetypal processes that already exists, it can help you understand that there's no reason to beat yourself up because somebody's done this before, right? And there's purpose in this, there's meaning in this. I also don't believe that you have to be in a place of meeting making, when you're not in a place of meaning making, you know, I think that comes in a different places and different kind of times and points, along your journey for everybody and I'm not a big fan of forcing somebody into making meaning when they're not there yet.
Dené: I think we also through the lens of depth, psychology look, as Vanessa was speaking to archetypes and myth and I think what is beautiful about looking back it the similarities of myths throughout cultures and throughout history is that we can see so much of the ways that we used to do things as collectivist cultures where we've become very individualistic cultures. And so it's a lot like us attempting to navigate life without a real roadmap or with sort of like this is what this look to this life stage. And I think what myth a lot of time offers is you are not alone in the experience that you were going through, people have been going through something very similar for centuries. I find a lot of times normalizes the struggles of what it is to be human, for so many of us that feel like I'm the only one who has felt this particular way that I'm going through, this particular struggle that I'm grappling with.
Michael: With the pull towards independence, especially if you are in North America being this really interesting structure that you start to see single family homes and people living in the suburbs and I was being less communal. Does that in any way like remove or take away from the healing process or the ability to be more human?
Vanessa: I think that Dené and I talked a lot about what the collective and how important it is to find your people, find your team, find your healing community because we're not meant to do this alone and we never were meant to do this alone. And this very individualistic culture that we actually live in now is very outside of the norm for our souls for us as human beings, you know, this isn't actually how were meant to live. To your point we're not meant to live in suburbs, these very tiny, you know, nuclear family is we're not meant to have not have support, right? The aunties, and uncles, and everyone helping raising the children and elders that I can go to and get wisdom from and I can pull from their experience and we don't have any of that, we've lost it. And so, I think as a people, we tend to be very lost because of that, we don't have these markers and this kind of grounding energy of family and community like we used to.
Dené: Yeah. I think what I would add is that I think 2020 and certainly and to 2021 and what I have seen was the lessons of the takeaways that are coming up for so many clients is that so much about the nuclear family structure that we had been operating and we have realized are some issues with and that we do need community a lot more than we realized if nothing else working with so many parents who were attempting to do life keep no food on the people, with kids that were out of school and this is just impossible like no other word, but impossible to describe what they were attempting to do and all of a sudden, you know, looking around at their neighbors that they'd never met never had a conversation with and being like, yo, can we bring the kids to their everybody, like maybe come up with a pod and we do some of this learning together as a community versus us trying to do this alone because it's just not possible anymore. And I think there's a lot of ways we realized, maybe we should have been living this way a little bit more to begin with right? Like, there was some wisdom and living that way.
Michael: Yeah, that's very fascinating because I feel like there's just this self ostracization from the world in general, you know, I was having a conversation with a friend who lives in my building and miss my best friend after day. And we were talking about the reality, we're like, even our own neighbors, we cannot communicate with them. I'm very much, the person like I'm going to say hi to you in the elevator, because I've had these moments where literally a hello has changed my life like four years later, right? From a human connection and I found that being able to connect with people at depth feels far and vastly more difficult than it probably ever has. And I wonder how much of that is really tied in to this system and the structure shifting in a way that people feel like they're supposed to be alone.
Vanessa: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that's the culture that we live in, right? I mean, I think that we are now on the other side of a few generations of this very like, you know, it's industrial, it's like, this is what you do, it started with the farming communities and it turned into more of the industrial communities and then it turned into this, like land, grab in the suburbs, and we've been kind of fed this, we've been fed this I would hate to say it, but we've kind of been fed this lie, right? Which is like the the indication of a successful life is to own a home and have a husband or wife and two point two kids in the picket fence and I'm not bagging on that as a choice if that is your choice, and that's what fills you up. But I think for so many of us it's given us like a really toxic blueprint that we feel like if we haven't checked off these boxes in this specific order, by this specific age that there's something wrong with us and I would say, 50-75 percent of the clients that I work with that come to me are having some sort of existential substantial crises around not lining up to where they're supposed to be, right? Like what I want, and who I am is not aligning with what I've been told, I should be doing or who I should be and so it throws people into, I mean, a legit existential crises and then here they come, you know, 3035 whatever and they have no sense of self, they have no meaning, they have no purpose and they and they need to start from scratch.
Michael: And when they're in that and they're trying to start from scratch and they find themselves with you, how do you do that? Like when your whole identity has been built on this idea of I need to have all these things and have all these experiences and ultimately show up in this kind of way in the world to have validity and validation, and love, compassion worth all those things and you come to find out like, that's not really how the world works and it's like is existential crisis for you. How do you start to rebuild in that?
Vanessa: Hmm. Well, I think a lot of it has to do with what today was saying about pulling back like, I think a lot of it has to do with pulling back and being able to see the cultural shift and how that actually has impacted, how we feel about ourselves and almost, like, seeing your place in it. And for a lot of people they're actually not even aware of that, right? They have no idea the kind of impact that has actually had on there and then on their sense of self, like I said, on their happiness. And so first and foremost, it's actually like restructuring and giving them new lenses to look at things through. And then I think the other thing is helping them rewrite their story, right? So it's helping to reclaim power where they feel like they have none.
So many of us I think grow up in a very like, victim mentality, or victim space and again, I don't want to blame culture entirely but I do think that tends, there's a cultural component to that. And so I think rewriting story is really important I think getting in there and helping them with tangible tools actually. I mean, this is where I would talk to tangible tools around building self-esteem or I'm building purpose, around being able to say no around getting to choose what their life is going to look like or not look like and sometimes it takes a rock bottom to do that but I think that the most common scenario and therapy.
Michael: Yeah, and I know one of the things that you both speak on it as self-abandonment and in this process, and I'd love for you to not only define that but to talk about and talk through that process?
Vanessa: Yeah, I talked a lot about self-abandonment. I think through not just art work with clients, but also our own personal work and personal journeys, I think we've really realized that so much of the cause of out root of our disconnection to sell for our unhappiness or whatever language you want to use around it has really actually been this abandonment of self, right? And so, I know that I've heard you say before, like I just simply don't do what I don't want to do, right? Like it just that simple and that to me is an indication of somebody who very strongly chooses self, who very strongly does not abandon self. And so many of us grew up, not just people who are maybe in a relationship with or have a family member who struggle with addiction, but many of us just culturally societally have grown up in very codependent families. And so when you grow up in this way, you are taught very early on to choose others above the self, right? Like you are taught to not speak up, not rock the boat, you know, do whatever you need to do to attach and to maintain attachment, right? And typically, all of those behaviors are acts of abandoning self, you're not choosing self, right? And so we talked about it from conceptual ones, but then we also break it down into very specific tangible actions, right? So, I will talk boundaries and we'll have an entire kind of topic around boundaries and how does learning to establish boundaries actually impact your ability to choose self, right? And to not self abandon and so it is like a concept, but you can see it in the actual tangible ways that we show up in our relationships and in our day-to-day always.
Michael: And in that, you know, because I think that, you know, obviously growing up in self or codependent family systems and then finding yourself in co-dependent relationships and always being in this place in which you're trying to leverage other people to build self. How do you like break that in a practical way? Because I think I look at it like this sometimes because I went through this experience myself of being in front of a brick wall with a sledgehammer and like literally knocking it down. What do you think is the best way for someone to step into kind of bridging that gap to remove themselves from codependency and start to show up for them self more?
Vanessa: Well, it's kind of like, I always when I teach my courses around codependency or I'm working with clients and codependency and I always say that codependency work is identity work. And the bottom line it's really about micro moments and I think that's really important people to understand because I think that people come into therapy or self-betterment, especially in the beginning and it can feel very intimidating and very overwhelming, and it's just like, it's big, right? And it's hard, I mean, it is hard, it's hard to choose the self, it actually is easier at least in the short term to choose the other verses choosing the self, to choose the action that is, at the moment versus choose yourself in that specific moment, maybe not long-term. And so, I like to talk about micro moments, right? It's in these individual times where like I have the opportunity to I've hit a crossroads, I can either turn right or I can turn left turning, right? Would be to do the thing I've always done.
So not say no, at establish a boundary, that might feel good temporarily, but I know where that leads turning left is doing that thing, right? That thing that makes me so uncomfortable I want to throw myself off a building and knowing that it's going to be that uncomfortable, knowing that I'm going to feel that kind of pain and that kind of panic and that kind of potential abandonment, right? And I'm going to do it anyway, even though I call it a micro moment as I'm talking about it, I'm sure you can kind of feel the like, oh my God, that's my option, right? That's what I'm going to feel. And so I think it is a micro woman of a boundary like, oh I do the thing, I set the boundary will guess what? In that tiny micro moment, you've just established a deeper sense of who you are, you've created a deeper connection to your soul, you've allowed your intuition, your soul to actually speak through you and you listen, you did the thing, right? And so if you start compiling all of these micro moments, there does become momentum until at some point you don't even realize that you are setting a boundary, but it almost like come so naturally that you're like, man, I can't believe I used to just roll over and not say no all the time and that point does come but it takes a while, you know.
Michael: Yeah, I love that. You talked about momentum, I think it's everything ultimately, because today, you're always at zero, right? You're always at step one and people often want to go to step four thousand and I'm like, you're trying to run a marathon, I'm just trying to put my damn shoes on, you know, and so momentum is everything in this game. And it sounds to me, like some aspect of, this is also really about re parenting self, right? Getting yourself in this position where you're doing that thing, that should have been done for you, would you agree with that? Does that feel true?
Vanessa: Yeah. I mean, I think a lot of the work around learning to choose the self for learning to not self abandoned is going to be done through re parenting. And so I think that this concept of getting really still and being able to ask the question of yourself of your inner child really, what would I have liked to hear in this moment or in that moment, if you're reflecting? What would I have actually needed from some kind of ideal parents, you know, if one existed? What is that thing that I would have needed and that moment and then can I give that to myself, right? And so then you can translate out into the moment by moment. How can I give myself this feeling of security? How can I give myself this feeling of worthiness or I mean extra credit, how can I actually verbalize and say to my partner and feeling really disconnected from you? And its kind of set of me into a tizzy, you know, I need to connect like can we sit down and talk tonight because you know, that feeling grounded and saving your relationship is something that's important to you amazing, right? So re parenting can be obviously re parenting self, but it can also be done through the close relationships in your life, too.
Michael: And in that one of the things that kind of comes to mind, is this separation speaking specifically towards relationships, as this bit of a separation of masculine and feminine identities that people have in the energies as well because, you know, literally, the first thing that came to mind is when someone approaches a partner about, hey, will you come and sit down, have this conversation with me? They immediately either become terrified or go, well, I'm a man, and I don't talk. How do you start to step into that energy and allow yourself as both of, you know, however you identify but to feel the full range of both masculine and feminine energies?
Vanessa: Yeah. I mean, this is something actually that young really talked a lot about in the anima and animus, and the idea really, is that every single human being had an energy is right, or dynamics. It's not that men are masculine, women are feminine, right? And so what's really important is that we have to understand that when we are out of balance and our relationships, and we were out of sync in our relationships usually it's because those energies are out of balance, right? I am too much in my masculine, and I'm not enough in my feminine, my ability to receive, my ability to just be, my ability to soften, my ability to be vulnerable.
And when I'm too much in my feminine rather, I am on the opposite, it's like I'm going to harden to controlling and to containing into, like, you know, it's got to look like this, A and b is equal C. And so there's nothing wrong intrinsically with either side of that spectrum, but what we see happen, especially in couples, is that they get really out of whack, they get really out of balance. And so part of the work that we do as a therapist, when we're working with, these energies, is really to help both parties regardless of sex, understand, where are you showing up to intensely and one side or the other, how can you actually lean into or embody, more of the other energy? Because when you're both in balance, in that way, energetically your relationship is going to be more in balance, your relationship not just the two our energies are out of balance. You know, and so we have this very patriarchal society that we live in is one that has had so much for so long, this hyper masculine energy and we are now seeing the kind of negative consequences to that right? Hundreds and hundreds of years and now we're kind of facing that reality.
Michael: Yeah. What are those consequences because I think it's often and especially in this society a very forest for the trees kind of thing? So, what does that actually look like in the world that we're in right now?
Dené: So I mean, I think there's so many ways that shows up certainly if we think about living in a society where we have completely rejected the feminine, you know, everything we are taught from so young is that the feminine is has a negative connotation that you know, don't throw like a girl, don't be a girl, you're crying like a girl, all of these like energies of the feminine being unnecessary silly child like we we're what we have done is really disconnect from so much of our connection to our intuition, and our ability to be vulnerable, and our ability to connect to the source energy from which we come from and ultimately what the outcome of that is a society that is completely disconnected from mother Earth to the point where we are destroying it, right? And I think I do a lot of work with couples where I see this show up in that, like, we don't know how to meet one another because it's like everybody is sort of fighting with each other to be the alpha women as a society I would say, collectively are so much in like really wounded masculine energy because what I believe happened was, as we had the rise of the feminist movement, which I mean, we're so grateful for that. But what happened was instead of sort of the feminist movement being about celebrating, reclaiming, feminine energy that had been disregarded by patriarchal culture for so long, what we did was decide feminism is going to look like women attempting to replicate wounded masculine energy. And so, so many of us as women were sort of raised to believe what I need to do to be equal, quote to men in society to have equal rights and a seat at the table is to act like wounded masculine energy and that's actually not serving any of us, but what I see play out in terms of couples dynamics so often is that women are so deep in wounded, masculine energy, which there will inevitably I find be a polarity created just naturally between two people and what ends up happening is men in relationships with women and obviously, I'm speaking very heteronormative lie in this context. End up showing up in these relationships in really wounded feminine energy, which repels the women in their lives and I found this fascinating, once I came to this realization because you know, I was married for so many years, not really understanding like unable to put my finger on, what is the difficulty in our dynamic? What makes it so hard for us to keep this energy of attraction and longing and all of these things that you know, in healthy, polarity we have. But what I find is this rejection of the feminine, this inability to integrate feminine energy for both masculine and feminine energies in a healthy way really means that we are both operating in wounded polarities.
Michael: For some people this might sound heady so I'm going to do my best to try to bring this into something practical. It consideration of what you just said and looking at this idea of these wounds on both sides and looking like really, you get this polar opposite, right? The polarity is starting to take place and then you find yourself from this weird juxtaposition of like I want to be more of who I am, but simultaneously battling myself of trying to show up as what this other person needs as well, how do you balance that through doing this work?
Dené: Yeah, I want a name that always that, I think a lot of times people can be a little off put by when we speak in, you know, masculine and feminine as we're naming these dynamics, and you can say, Yen and Yang, Sun and Moon, if they're really just about that polarity. So, it's not so much as Vanessa was speaking to masculine meeting men and feminine, meaning female it's really about like the polarities between two people. So if we think about this energy in terms of like we start with women, I think first the recognition of I have been conditioned by society, by what I was taught to be in order to be a strong woman to really reject all of the beautiful aspects of what it means to be in my feminine energy. And that means allowing myself to be playful and light and sensual,
Vanessa: and taken care of…
Dené: And receiving and trusting my intuition, all of these things that, you know, we start there, we start to look at like, when as a little girl, was I taught to reject some of these things. Was I taught to think those things are silly and you need to get serious and start, you know, being more realistic right in the world. And so for women, it starts there, right? Like I start with reclaiming, some of this feminine energy and then often what happens is I get in this place of like divine feminine energy and like really reclaiming that for myself, but then the next part after that is realizing but I am both masculine and feminine energy, which means I also need to move from a wounded masculine into the space of like healthy, masculine energy, and what that looks like is I get to be my own fierce protector.
I get to have boundaries lot of the boundary work that Vanessa so beautifully it talks about looking at some of my codependent tendencies and where I sort of abandoned myself and I'm not speaking the truth of what my needs are and I start playing with some of that like, how do I stand in the truth of what I'm feeling right or wrong? It's how I feel and I can name that and that's okay.
And then for men I think it becomes how do I sort of, you know, create a new version of what it means to be a man and I think so much of what I work with my male clients on is how do I start to create a new framework around healthy masculinity, that it's not competitive. And you know conquering and just that everything is linear there's a right and wrong, that I'm afraid all the time that I'm going to lose out on something if I'm not constantly in the space of conquering but how do I hold space and how do I be in the space of being the witness taking in the experience of mentors?
How do I, it's so much of like what is powerful about men's groups as I feel like they bring men back to us space of what used to be the way we lived in collectivist cultures, where the elders would take the men group and they would have rituals for like, transitioning them into manhood. Men, don't have that anymore and so they're sort of looking to figure as in the public for, in society of what it means to be a man. And a lot of times these are really wounded ideas around masculinity, so we start there with like, what is healthy masculinity even look like? And then from there same as with women, we start to invite in some healthy feminine, energetics into my manhood, because I also need to be able to be vulnerable and playful and in the intuitive space, in order to meet my woman like if I'm completely severed from those things, I can't see her, I can't understand her, I can't meet her there, that makes sense?
Michael: Yeah, I love that in the things that came to my mind as we're going through this is in part one, I believe inherently like you do have the traits as I'll speak for myself as a man to be competitive, I feel that like in my butt like don't play Monopoly with me, I promise nobody's gonna have a good time, right? But then I think about partners or women I've had in my life and they're want or need almost inherently to feel the like they want to be safe for protected by their man and then we kind of have to get to this place where we have to reconcile that you actually have to put in effort and energy towards creating the shift in the change, around the nomenclature of what it is that you determine these things to me. And you know, I go rewind on relationships, particularly with men and my late teens and twenties our conversations were everything that you think they were, right? And there was nothing about bonding over any type of growth, it was never, you know, can we hug, can we be in connection with each other? And the more that I the older I get now at the more information I have, the more I think about the space of the world. I don't want that anywhere near me, and I would have to say, I will speak for men in this conversation, I know that more men one that but there is this innate fear of the change in the same way that I even see that shift with women we’re it almost feels like and I don't want to put words in your mouth and you can speak for yourself really here, but it almost feels like that need and desire may be inherently to be taken care of her feel protected we're pushing away from. So it feels like these ideologies are so deeply, ingrained societally. And then I start to think about even is about relationship structures and family systems and monogamy, and non-monogamy and all these things that come into play and go while where the fuck do you even really start?
Vanessa: Yeah. It's real talk.
Dené: Yeah. I think it can be so simple, you know, I think I work with so many women around, just the simplicity of our ability to receive, so many of us as women were conditioned to recoil at the idea of allowing ourselves to receive anything that means your weak, that means you're needy that like there's all kinds of stories we have around what it means to be received but that is one of the most fundamental innate desires, ultimately of the feminine. I mean, think about us, anatomically like the feminine receives from the masculine during connection, right?
So it's like returning to like the core of who we are to allow ourselves to be in some of that energy, so where can I receive? Even if it's from a girlfriend like where can I allow myself to be supported in these a little bit a way, it's like this little bit of reprogramming.
Michael: And Vanessa, do you have any thoughts on that?
Vanessa: Yeah, I mean, I think I will say that also don't play Monopoly with me because it will be fun for anybody either and so when it comes to the mask on, I'm gonna I've got a lot of that wood and masculine than me too but Dené and I have talked about this a lot, I think it comes from upbringing, it comes from being raised in a very like survivalist, kind of way like we need to survive, right? And I think a lot of us are raised that way, a lot of us have mean everybody, nobody gets out of childhood on scarred, right? We all have this kind of bag of trauma that we carry, whether its capital to your lower case that wires us and we all live in the same Society. We're all swimming in this patriarchal society and structure all the time, right? It's like being a fish, and not understanding that you live in water because how would you understand that, right? And so, yeah, I mean, I don't have much to add to what she said, because she kind of speaks to it so, beautifully, other than just to say that I know, no, my own relationship.
I finally had a realization in my most recent relationship that so much of my healing has been around admitting that I do want to receive, admitting that I do need to also be protected whereas I'm always the protector, I'm always the giver and then I walk around resentful as fuck of my relationships, right?
So much of my work in this has been around reclaiming, the feminine energy around needing to receive and I think my partner has done the same like I think for him so much of it has been he's never been in a partnership where a woman has I mean again, we're talking heteronormativity here has allowed him or invited him to take care of her, to protect and to provide not like quote-unquote financially, you know, but just like that feeling of provision for who you love and that feels really uncomfortable for me like as the day and I are sitting here talking about it, let everybody who's listening, be clear, it's not easy for me to get into that space, I feel so uncomfortable and so vulnerable and weak I mean to use all those words, I do feel that way. And it's the same for him, but it is in those moments where I can say, okay, take a deep breath and allow this that our relationship changes and then my relationship with myself changes to.
Michael: Yeah, and it feels so much to me like in those moments and same like going through this deeper scope of understanding, who I am, what I want, how I want to exist in the world, asking myself harder questions, being willing to be vulnerable in ways I never have, I think everyone is slightly terrified with the realization that the answer doesn't come until the answer comes, right? And that's a really hard thing and part of me, there's a quote that I love from the film Matrix, where it says; “to deny your impulses is to deny the very thing that makes you human.” And I think about that sits with me quite frequently because we are impulsive as human beings and I often wonder, are we acting on impulses or ignoring them for our own detriment or to our own benefit, and it seems to me, like, especially when it comes to there's nothing that makes me feel more bonded to being in connection with another man than having a conversation of vulnerability. And it feels like that is the thing that we often are rejecting, right? And then on the other side of it, that also feels true in connection with women, where it's like, can I have like, I don't give a fuck about the weather, like I don't care, I literally I have an app for that, I can look at it. Great. Talk to me about who you are as a human being but simultaneously, this is where I'm kind of going with this, there is so much shame and guilt associated with vulnerability around this scope of the idea that you are weak.
If you're vulnerable you are fucking weak, you know, man up, woman up, stop making excuses, stop being a crybaby where I'm like, yeah, but the reality is that's actually the strongest thing that you can do and that terrifies people that was me basically fucking 12 years old till 27 being terrified of this idea like wait a second, I can be emotional.
So when you have people who are they want to step into this energy, their partners are saying, you don't connect with me because of these things, where is the beginning of that process to step in a vulnerability in a way that will be to your betterment?
Vanessa: I mean, I will say, you know, today I would love to hear you answer this, but I think what's coming up for me when you're saying is Michael is actually that some of my favorite clients to work with are men. Like individual clients are men and partly it's because by the time they come to me, they are so hungry for this and the kind of conversations that we have and the way that they let me allow me to see them is so profound and it's like it's so moving on, like, a cellular level that there is not a single session that I don't leave with my male clients, where I don't feel profoundly changed myself, right? And it's because that it's there, it's in you, it's in all of us, it's just that we have been told it's wrong, and it's bad and it's dirty and it's, we can shut it down, shut it out, shut it up, right? And so the second they have that space to be seen, oh my God, like what a profound shift? There really is but today, sorry, I mean, I'm sure you have something to say to that, but that was just the thing that came up for me is like, what a profound and powerful space it is for me to be able to hold space I think for the men that are working on this stuff.
Dené: Yeah, you know, I feel like the longer I do this work, the more convinced I am that ultimately what our healing ends up, being is just like a returning, a homecoming, you know, to our innate nature. I think there are so many ways whether it is our trauma or our wounds or our defense mechanisms that were there for a very good reason until they are no longer serving us, when we do this work of attempting to heal? What we're really doing is returning to the nature of what feels good, right? Like trusting my wisdom, trusting that if I have a longing, it's there for a reason and I think when we think about these core dynamics, both masculine and feminine so much of it is like, and some of this is like what is difficult to talk about? Because people experience it is like you're not allowed to say those things. So that feels kind of politically incorrect that's taking us back to say those things but some of these things are just our innate nature.
I really feel like we need to normalize what you're saying that like I didn't even realize until I was contained by really masculine energy in a way that I'd never experienced because it was not what I was conditioned to do and I was so like reflexively like would fight against it. No, I've got this I'm in this energy of like I could take care of myself, I didn't realize until like really strong masculine energy contained. No, I've got you that I was like, oh God, like softening back into something that felt so innate within me that I didn't even know it was dormant, I wasn't even aware that was a part of me. And I find very similar to what Vanessa speaking to, I find that so many of the men that I work with they're just like hungry for an opportunity, you know, we teach little boys from so little shut it down, be a man, stop feeling where do those feelings go? They're not gone, it's just like I'm desperate to allow myself, it's like animals in the wild, you'll watch them when like something happens and they'll sort of like, you know, shake it off and complete the cycle when something like when they're attacked, right?
Like they'll complete the cycle because they know instinctively whatever is just happened needs to move through me on a systemic level. It's the same thing for us as we're coming into the showcase of healing we know, like in our body were holding, all that trauma, were holding all of the things that were not feeling, and when we finally allow ourselves to come back into that space of processing and feeling, it's just like the deepest surrender into what somewhere within me, I knew I've been hungry for this whole time.
Michael: Yeah. It's very beautiful Dené. And what comes to mind and that is just that sense of Freedom, right? And that's kind of where I began by using that reference to the Matrix because it feels like that's where we exist, it's within that scope of showing up authentically as who we are. And I think the hard part about that in my personal experience has been trying to navigate the reality of that while simultaneously, looking at the world through the scope that says you're wrong if you think that's who you're supposed to be. And that's why I always tell people, the greatest thing I've ever discovered is to not give a fuck what people think about and that's not to be dismissive but just simply to say man, that makes me feel more true to who I am when I don't have to worry about, I mean, I'm fucking six-foot-four covered in tattoos like us all the time and I talked about self-love. You don't think people don't send me emails were like, who do you think you are? And I go, well, if I carried that, how could I have this conversation with you? And I think that's always a consummate journey, you're always going to learn, you're always going to discover and I feel like even in this conversation we're only touching the surface, so I'd love to have you rolling back. But before I ask each of you, my last question, can you tell everyone where they can find out more about you?
Vanessa: Yeah, so we are podcast is everywhere listen to podcasts and it's Cheaper Than Therapy, it's on Instagram is @cheaperthantherapy the podcast and then Dené and I both have our own separate communities and handles. So mine is just vanessasbennett.com and Dené is deneselkin.com
Michael: Yeah awesome. And I'll let you choose who wants to go first but my last question for you each is what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Vanessa: Dené, do you want to take it first?
Dené: Yeah, I mean, it's so interesting. I think about what you were just saying about society and this Matrix, one of my favorite that's psychologist James Hillman speaks to depression and anxiety is sort of the psyches way of saying, I refuse to participate in media. And I always think of that quote when I think of the fact that maybe what is actually happening here is that I was never broken, there was this, you know, innate response within me to what is maybe a little bit crazy about our society. What is not functioning well, in terms of the way that we've been living, the way that we've been meeting one another and interacting relationally. And so I believe that a lot of times our healing comes when we realize we were never broken, this is an experience of being human that's what we came here to do, I believe this is a life school and so all of this is for us, for us to learn about ourselves, for us to expand through, but I don't think it's ever a question of us being broken, it's just us navigating this thing called being alive.
Vanessa: So for me, I think this idea of what does unbroken mean, what initially kind of rises to the surface for me is the initiatory journey, right? So the leaving of the village, the slaying of the Dragons, the deaf, the underworld, and the rebirth. And when we look at it that way, it helps us understand that in your life and my life and our lives, we will all go through a thousand deaths, there were all be thousands of processes of deaths, it doesn't necessarily mean that death is forever you will be in the underworld for a while, you will be in this liminal space for a while, right? You're not who you are, you're not who you're going to be at but on the other side of that is the growth, the rebirth, the being able to come back to the village, the changed person, right? And so when I think about being unbroken, I think about how many deaths I've been through and how many underworlds I've seen and walk through and how many rebirths have been on the other side of that and so it just is a really helpful context to me every time I experienced another death, that there will be another rebirth.
Michael: Love it, and could not agree more with both of you.
Thank you so much for being here.
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My friends, Be Unbroken.
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Therapists / Writers / Mamas
Two soul sisters and therapists with a background in depth psychology. We’re also mindfulness coaches, avid yoginis, and the hosts of the Cheaper Than Therapy Podcast. But more than anything else, we’re passionate about supporting others in living their most authentic life.
We specialize in helping people unearth the limiting beliefs and behavior patterns that hold them back from their potential. We specialize in this because it’s work we have also committed to doing for ourselves in our own lives.
(we have 2 websites and 2 sets of social media, so let us know what we should give you since the below only allows for one)