The idea that men need to be fixed is wrong. It results in fake progress, toxic growth, and unnecessary amounts of pain. Men quit because of this outdated concept. Many therapists (even some of the ones in the IFS Therapy Directory) peddle and hold onto this toxic idea.
In this episode, I answer a listener question and reveal how you can alleviate your pain and accelerate your healing and growth through the therapeutic process. You’ll also discover why relying on a bad therapist you found through a perfunctory search online could leave you worse off in the end.
Show highlights include:
- Show up late, don’t take a shower, drive a red 1994 Honda Civic, and watch as you become a magnet to attractive women (3:04)
- Why fetishizing exile emotions could cause you to have multiple non-stop crying episodes (and spend thousands of dollars on wasted therapy sessions) (15:26)
- How to relieve your sadness and be oozing with positive energy through “emotion titration” (21:16)
- The sneaky way to trick yourself into enjoying grueling tasks (and to attract women and the respect of other men into your life) (22:01)
- Why you’ll never find a woman and stay bitter if you don’t “flip-the-switch” (24:16)
- How to naturally think positively, feel joy, and become an unstoppable go-getter by practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (28:20)
- Why bawling your eyes out like a child can unlock clarity and make you feel worthy of love (31:06)
Does your neediness, fear, or insecurity sabotage your success with women? Do you feel you may be unlovable? For more than 15 years, I’ve helped thousands of people find confidence, fulfillment, and loving relationships. And I can help you, too. I’m therapist and life coach David Tian, Ph.D. I invite you to check out my free Masterclasses on dating and relationships at https://www.davidtianphd.com/masterclass/ now.
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
Get access to all my current and future online coaching courses by applying for the Platinum Partnership program today at:
Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform:
Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now, here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology podcast. I’m David Tian, your host.
In this episode, I’m going to be getting into the details of what healthy growth looks like and what the therapeutic process ought to be like. This is super important because there’s a way to grow that’s actually enjoyable. The therapeutic process ought to feel great. [00:41.0]
Now, you might have heard that the whole point is the journey itself, not the end goal that it’s about embracing the process. You might have heard this especially around fitness, that if you don’t enjoy exercise or enjoy the workout, you’re not going to stick with it; and those people who are just motivated only by getting the six pack or losing X amount of weight will either fail, because they’re going to drop out, or they might just sacrifice their enjoyment and work really hard to get there, but then it’s not sustainable for them, and they’re just going to go back to their weight that they started at with the condition that they started at, because they never learned to enjoy the process.
It’s the same with any area of life. If there’s any kind of change or transformation you’re after, it’s really about the process and it’s especially true when it comes to the therapeutic process, because it starts from self-acceptance.
Now, I’ve done a lot of episodes already on the importance of self-acceptance, on the importance of radical acceptance, so I recommend that you go and listen to those after this one. In this episode, I’ll be addressing how the entire therapeutic process can be enjoyable and ought to be something that you undergo for its own sake, not just so that you can become healed or better, or fixed, as if there were already something wrong with you and you were broken, and this therapy is supposed to fix you so that you’re normal now. [02:11.3]
That’s not the right approach. That approach or that assumption that you’re broken and need fixing will result in fake progress or toxic growth, to which I’ve devoted many episodes to explaining, or unnecessary pain. For a lot of people who are in therapy with either a not very good therapist or the wrong therapeutic approach for them or for their issues, they end up with a lot of unnecessary pain and then quit, and now they’ve developed a negative association with therapy.
You don’t want that. I don’t want that for you. You don’t want fake progress. That is, it seems like you’re making progress, but, really, you’re coming at the whole thing with an agenda because you assume that there’s something wrong with you fundamentally and that you’re broken, and that you just need to be fixed so that you’re normal, and then once you’re normal, you can quit. [03:04.5]
That type of progress that comes with an agenda, driven by some kind of achiever or perfectionist or shame-driven agenda, will lead to what seems like progress on the surface, but is just replacing one agenda with another, whereas the therapeutic process done properly doesn’t begin with an agenda, but, instead, begins with acceptance, self-acceptance.
That is the acceptance of all of your parts, and that also should come from your therapist fully accepting wherever you’re at, including the parts that you might currently be ashamed of or think are weak or sad or pathetic, and that they don’t need to change in order for you to be okay. But, instead, the perspective is they’re not just okay. They’re enough and worthy of love, just the way they are, and it’s the perspective of seeing them as broken or needing fixing, or that they’re shameful, that is the thing that’s getting in the way of their unburdening. [04:07.8]
Now, if they’re in pain, of course, we can help alleviate that pain for them, but we don’t need them to change in any way for them to be worthy or enough for love. There’s a misconception that I see floating around on the internet, but also appearing in comments and messages and emails that I get, which is that the therapeutic process is just therapy.
I want to make it clear that when I say “the therapeutic process”, I mean something very specific and I’ve devoted other episodes to breaking down the seven steps of the therapeutic process. When I’m saying that you need to go through the therapeutic process, I don’t mean that you just need to find any therapist. As recently as a year ago, I was referring people to the IFS Therapy Directory, which is still the best directory for finding a therapist that I know of. [05:00.1]
I was referring people to the IFS Therapy Directory and giving them just basic tips and guidelines for finding a therapist that might fit them. I, in fact, made an entire episode devoted to the best guidelines and advice that I can give for finding a therapist that suits you, to find the best fit for you for a therapist. All of that advice still holds, but I find that many people don’t listen to that episode, and, instead, they just hear when I say, “Go through the therapeutic process,” they think, Oh, I need therapy, and then they just go find “a” therapist, even if they find an IFS therapist.
This really saddens me and I resisted this conclusion for years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is now irresponsible of me to just say, “Go to the IFS Therapy Directory and find a therapist,” because I think more than half—I have no idea what percentage. I haven’t talked to or met all of the therapists in the directory, nor even the majority of them, but I’ve met a representative sample and I’ve heard back enough from people who just went to the directory and found some therapists that the majority of therapists—that you’d find in any directory are not the standard that I would recommend. So, it’s not as simple as just find a therapist and sign up for therapy. [06:18.6]
I still think the IFS therapy directory is a great place to start, and if you know what to look for, and you take the time to dig into their websites and their blogs and learn a bit about their profile and their “About Me” and all of that, you can narrow it down so that you have three or four or five therapists that you think have the potential of being a good match for you, and you can copy and paste emails to them to see if they have availability and to start your first session with them, and then see what the feel is with them.
But I know that most people have so little experience and knowledge about psychotherapy and what therapy ought to be like that they have very little basis for judging or evaluating whether the therapist is a good one or is a good fit for them, so now I’m a lot more cautious about directing people to just find a therapist. It doesn’t work. That’s not what I mean by the therapeutic process. [07:14.2]
I’ve seen far too many messages and emails and people that I’ve met, who have gone and just found a therapist and told me about it, that I would not recommend the majority of therapists out there. That saddens me and it pains me, and I wish it were as simple as go to the directory and research and find someone that works with you. But I now no longer recommend that because most people don’t have the basis for cultivated intuition or the knowledge or experience to have an informed judgment about whether the therapist is a good one or a good one for that person.
Now what I recommend is that you go through one or more of my therapeutic courses, because by the time you get through it, you’ll have a much better idea. You have the background, you have the knowledge of what ought to be happening, and you’ll have gone quite a fair way through the process already in the guided meditations and guided-meditative exercises and so forth. [08:13.7]
These courses include Freedom U, Rock Solid Relationships, Lifestyle Mastery, as well as the smaller courses like Heart, True Self, Purpose, Drive, and Core. If you start there, then you’ll have a lot more knowledge, experience and background to make an informed judgment about whether the therapist is a good one and, especially, a good one for you.
In this episode, I’m going to be answering or responding to a listener comment where he is sharing what it’s like for him to be going through the therapeutic process, and I gave that context just now about how, when I recommend the therapeutic process, I don’t mean just find “a” therapist and do therapy, and you’ll see why as I do a breakdown of his question and respond to it. [09:04.7]
Okay, this question comes from CC. It’s his name on YouTube. He writes this. It’s a pretty long post, so I’m going to be truncating it, so here’s the abridged version:
“What can one expect DURING”—in all caps, during—“the therapeutic process? I’ve been going through the therapeutic journey with IFS and, most recently, EMDR as well, and I’ve noticed a lot of deeply suppressed feelings have bubbled up aggressively. Self-confidence issues. Self-esteem issues. Fear, being scared… I’ve even had episodes of crying deeply alone, because I’m finally processing old memories that have been suppressed for so long.
“I’m acutely aware that I’ve always felt these things, but I was much better at hiding them in the past, pushing them down. Are these feelings expected to taper off fully through the therapeutic journey? Is the fact that I’m diving head-first into these feelings and that it’s taking time to resolve or accept them, the reason why I feel a noticeable negative change in my outward projection of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence?”
Outward projection. [10:12.8]
“Admittedly, I resolved or accepted a fair bit of those negative beliefs”—so he’s switching from feelings now to negative beliefs—“but the negative beliefs that still linger are near impossible to hide now. They’re no longer suppressed. They’re seemingly in the forefront of my actions and behaviors on a day-to-day basis.”
Okay, that’s the background, and he asked some more questions.
“I’m very curious what your experience was going through, as well as still going through, the therapeutic process, as well as for some of your clients.”
I actually shared for the past two episodes, client stories, basically, devoting both of those episodes, two client stories, so I recommend CC go through those. Returning to his post:
“Did you have all-time lows? Did you grieve hard, and did that take a while to accept and move on from? Do you have any tips to potentially help your listeners in trusting the process more?
“Hopefully, I conveyed the gist of my point, which is what is to be expected emotionally during the therapeutic process, the good, the bad and the ugly? I imagine this will allow one to trust more along the way.” [11:16.5]
Okay, thank you very much, CC, for your question and your comment on a previous episode, and this comment inspired this entire episode. Another point I want to make on the side here is that I do respond to comments, so please let me know what you think about any of the episodes, and if you have any questions, I’d love to get them.
Let’s back up. He starts with, “I’ve been going through the therapeutic journey with IFS, as well as the EMDR,” and he’s now dealing with what he calls “bubbling up aggressively-suppressed feelings,” and now I’m going to translate for him where what I think he’s saying is now he lacks confidence, self-confidence. Now he has what he calls self-esteem issues. I assume this means that he feels insecure. He feels not good enough, not worthy. He feels fear and he’s being scared. [12:05.5]
It’s not clear what he’s scared of and the whole entire post is incredibly vague, and I’m assuming that has to do with the fact that he’s struggling with shame, and so he doesn’t want to get specific about it, but until we get specific, I can’t give better advice, as long as it’s at that vague, superficial level.
But I’m going to just fill in the blanks here and assume that it’s one of the more common issues, including his negative beliefs that he never specifies, and that these fears and these beliefs and these feelings have to do with not being good enough, and as a result, he has what he calls “issues”. In other words, he lacks now self-confidence. He lacks self-esteem and he’s scared.
I suppose he’s not scared of ghosts or of a big, bad person coming after him, because those could be true if he experienced any kind of childhood abuse or sexual abuse trauma. Because he didn’t mention those more specific issues, I’m assuming the fear and being scared has to do with not being good enough and I assume that’s linked to the confidence and self-esteem. [13:08.3]
Okay, now, in between sessions, he’s kind of a crying mess. If you read a lot into the wording that that person uses to describe their issue. He says, “I’ve even had episodes of crying,” like this is somehow extreme that you would cry deeply alone, so I can already see that he’s resisting crying. For him, right now, as of the writing of this comment, he thinks that crying is a bad thing and he is not enjoying it. He’s also not supported in this process.
Also, I don’t know what’s happening in your IFS therapy. It seems like your therapist, your IFS therapist, is going too fast and it seems like these are exiled emotions that are coming up unsupported too early. It seems like they’re too early because you’re not mentioning your true self. It’s really important that you don’t proceed to work with exiles until you have enough self-energy online in the client. [14:13.4]
At the beginning of the process, the therapist stands in for the client’s true self, assuming the client doesn’t have enough of—usually we use as a rubric—the eight characteristics of the true self. Those are curiosity, compassion, confidence, courage, centeredness, creativity, clarity, and so you see the reasons why parts are feeling this way and you have the sources of them and the childhood events or the traumatic events that led to them. The final see is connectedness.
Now some IFS therapists get really excited about working with exiles because this is the most dramatic, generally speaking, the most dramatic part of the process. This is when the client cries, feels lots of emotion, and therapists feel like they’re doing work here and they often then just rush to this unburdening process. [15:05.7]
Part of it also is that in our training, the most difficult part of the process that we’re being trained in is the unburdening of exiles. Maybe not difficult; it’s the trickiest. It involves the most steps, and in the certification process and kind of the evaluation process, the trainer is looking for whether you can do an exile unburdening properly.
This is also the trap for people who are doing self-therapy. They’re doing therapy on themselves by reading books or manuals on IFS and they just rush to work with exiles. This is one of the most common big red flags that I see among people who do self-therapy, because there’s a kind of fetishization about working with exiles, because the way it’s explained in the books and the manuals is that it all hinges on unburdening exiles, so they just want to hurry it up and get to the exiles to fix themselves. [15:57.3]
Whether it’s coming from your therapist or you’re doing self-therapy and you end up in the situation, you’ll know you went too fast and now you have unsupported, disconnected exiles who don’t have the leadership of the higher self within. Right? Because in between sessions, maybe, maybe during the session, you’re held by the therapist, metaphorically, where the therapist holds the space for whatever the exile is processing. But then in between sessions, your own true self is not online, or there’s not enough space or leadership of your true self, and as a result, your exile is just out there in pain. So, go slower. Maybe you might want to find a more experienced therapist and appreciate the importance of your protector parts.
Now you mention them in passing and here’s where I see some of your protector parts. Here’s where some of his protector parts were doing work that was important for him to get on in life, to keep his job, to make money and to be out there in the world without having these painful feelings always– how did you put it? Like bubbling up aggressively, right? [17:07.4]
What were some of these protector parts doing? You’ve described it. They were suppressing these old memories that now are just overwhelming and preventing you from focusing on your job. Here’s some other things that they were doing. They were pushing them down. They were pushing down these feelings. You said, “I was much better at hiding them in the past.” That’s because some of your protector parts were hiding them so that you could get on in life. They were in charge of your outward project, what you call your “outward projection of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence.”
I love how you put it that way, your “outward projection.” This is straight up persona, right? You know you had a sense that, underneath it all, you had all this pain and fear, but these protector parts were protecting from the fear overwhelming you, your system, and were putting out a good act so that you could perform well and operate well at work or school, or with your friends, and you could have a life. [18:05.0]
Now it’s come to the point where you recognize, I assume, because you’ve gone to therapy, that there’s more underneath it that is being repressed, and then the IFS process should be appreciating and acknowledging those protectors, your therapist should be, because it seems quite clear that you don’t have enough yet of your true self online to support you between sessions at the beginning and end of each session, if you are going to do any work with exiles at all—and I recommend that you shouldn’t actually do that yet. You should just be devoting this time to getting to know your protectors and giving them tons of appreciation and acknowledgement for all the hard work they’ve done in your life and how important they are for you to hold down your job or whatever it is that you’re doing.
Now, if you don’t have a job, right? This is another issue. There are some exceptions and I’ve worked with people who actually don’t have a day job, because either they have a trust fund or they’ve saved up enough money that they’ve taken a year off, like a sabbatical, and they’ve devoted full time to going through this healing process. They do lots of other things as well, like they go on healing retreats and all that kind of stuff. [19:11.0]
If that’s the case and you have the luxury of being alone for the whole afternoon and crying, and processing stuff and meditating for two hours at a time, go for it. That’s awesome, in which case, what I’ll say after this more practical component, for those people who have day jobs or have to keep it together or hold it together and can’t afford to just be break down crying in the middle of a board meeting, for instance, I’ll be addressing the issues for those who do have the free time or luxury to devote full time to emotional processing, as well as for those who, let’s say you’ve set aside Saturday, a Saturday for emotional processing.
But speaking to what CC is writing about here, he is scared now because he can’t bring it back. He can’t rein it in. It’s important to give your protectors permission that, whenever they feel like it’s going to be overwhelming, they can resume their jobs. [20:04.2]
Now, that’s IFS speak, and if it’s done properly, that’s all you really need. It’s just allowing the protectors to come back in and sew things up, so to speak, and let the exiles know, if you did work with them, that you’ll be back next week; and to go very slowly and gently so that we’re not just forcing the protectors aside and thrusting open the door to the basement, and these exiles burst out and it’s now a week of being overwhelmed completely with all these memories and so forth. Right?
That’s one of the worries, if EMDR is not done properly, because what EMDR will help you do is access repress memories very swiftly, so there’s a whole holding process for EMDR to be done properly. Otherwise, it just leaves you as, basically, kind of a mess. If you have a good therapist and something has just gone wrong with his or her communication to you of how you can support yourself between sessions, you should bring up all of this with that therapist, and, hopefully, this therapist will teach you and take some sessions and teach you basic grounding techniques—or, even better, you can get my program Emotional Mastery, which goes through the basic level DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy techniques for controlling your emotions. [21:16.8]
One of the foundational skills for emotional mastery is what I call emotion titration, which is where you can pick and choose which emotions you will, feel and you can increase or decrease the intensity of those emotions. That skill is a little bit more advanced and it’s predicated on being present and being mindful with whatever is happening, but also the opposite, where you can pull out and decrease the intensity of it.
There’s also another skill that you will learn before the emotion titration skill of increasing and decreasing intensity, which is emotion endurance, where you learn ways of enduring painful emotions longer, and, hopefully, you’ll be able to end endure them long enough that you can flip that switch into actually enjoying even what you previously considered to be painful emotions. [22:01.8]
If you have succeeded in fitness to any degree, this will be very helpful as an analogy. Imagine, as the analogy goes, as I mentioned earlier, someone who just hated working out, they’re obese, let’s say, and now they’d like to lose the fat and get to a healthy weight. But they hate the actual workouts themselves, and even more, they hate the feeling of their lungs gasping for air. They hate the feeling of the blood pumping through their muscles as they’re lifting weight and so on. They just hate it and they can’t endure it for very long. You might see these people in the gym, where they have a trainer and they keep telling the trainer, “Okay, no, no, no, that’s enough for me.” Of course, those people aren’t going to get very far.
A good trainer will take them just beyond their limit, so you don’t want to overdo it, but, yes, you will have to embrace how it feels in the body to be working out. For those who haven’t embraced that feeling yet, believe it or not, it’s possible, and everyone who has a healthy exercise lifestyle has made that switch to enjoying the feeling of the body and the of movement of the air passing through the lungs of the pump, so to speak, the blood flowing into the muscle and the muscle engorging, and so on. [23:15.0]
That then becomes enjoyable and, as a result, you can sustain the exercise regimen so that it becomes then a part of your lifestyle and now you’ll get those results in a sustainable, healthy way, rather than a binge workout, binge diet, and a sort of a crash workout type of routine or regimen, which doesn’t work is not sustainable in the long run.
Do you struggle in your interactions with women or in your intimate relationship? Are fear, shame, or neediness sabotaging your relationships or attractiveness? In my Platinum Partnership Program, you’ll discover how to transform your psychological issues, improve your success with women, and uncover your true self.
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Too many people now are approaching therapy with a kind of quick fix mindset where they haven’t flipped that switch or haven’t learned how to enjoy the emotions that they’re not used to feeling. There are whole other styles of therapy like DBT therapy, which works very well with IFS therapy. The DBT therapy helps you to endure the emotions that you’ll have to go through in order to process and heal from trauma.
I recommend my program, Emotional Mastery, to which I’m still adding content. I’ve got two years’ worth of content already lined up for it and will be layering on more content from IFS, from non-violent communication, from DBT, and all kinds of other approaches to therapy. But right now it’s heavy into the DBT therapy, and I highly recommend it so that you can support yourself in between sessions, because when it gets too overwhelming, you know what to do to reduce the overwhelm. [25:15.4]
In IFS speak, if you get to know your protector parts very well, and you know where they reside in your body, generally, and you have a relationship with them, you’re connected with them. You can just give them permission to step back in and they can just resume their role as they had before.
This is especially important in the beginning, while you are still making room for your true self to come more fully into your life, into your system—really, responsible IFS therapist will wait until you have enough of your self-energy and self-leadership on a consistent basis before going to work with your exiles in any kind of substantial way, because if you just jump to working with exiles and there isn’t very much of the client’s true self online yet, then in between sessions, it’s just going to be a mess, because the exile won’t be supported. [26:07.2]
There’s a reason why the exile is exiled or was exiled, because otherwise the child, you, would’ve been overwhelmed and would not have been able to perform at school or in day-to-day life. Then the protector showed up and they have a very important role. In the beginning, it could be a year or two years, or more, depending on the level of trauma that we’re talking about, and how long you’ve been operating in that way. Generally, older clients will take longer to get to know the protectors, because their protectors have been in that role for so much longer and the system is just used to operating in this way. Protectors are super awesome parts. Give them lots and lots of credit.
The IFS therapy process, especially at the beginning, should not just be “Hey protectors, step aside. I’m going to go right to the exile.” That, in my opinion, is not a responsible way to do the process, because it leaves the client unsupported in between sessions. [27:02.0]
As you can imagine, one of the first things that you should be aiming at when you’re starting IFS, isn’t just going to work with exiles and bringing up all this childhood trauma, because if it’s not supported, you’re simply re-traumatizing yourself. There’s no new understanding. There’s no new perspective. The part is just out there feeling the pain again.
What you should be aiming for is bringing more self-leadership into your system. That is getting practice entering into the state or accessing the state of your higher self, your true self. There’s a really great meditation by Richard Schwartz, the founder of IFS therapy, called the Path. You can find various versions of this on YouTube, because the ones on YouTube have added all kinds of other things, too, to track. It should just be like a 12- to 15-minute meditation.
Actually, I just remembered, if you get the Insight Timer app, I think it’s just called Insight now, I-N-S-I-G-H-T, there’s a free version of the app. The free version actually helps, lets you access a lot of content. Get the free version of the app and just search using the little magnifying glass thing, search for Richard Schwartz and look up his account, his creator account in insight and you’ll find these meditations, including the Path and plenty of other really great meditations that he’s done, and give that a try. [28:20.0]
Meditation to therapy is like strength and conditioning to learning the skill of martial arts. Hopefully, that analogy works for many of you. IFS therapy meditations take it a step further and it’s like, let’s just focus on, let’s say BJJ. It’s like taking, getting BJJ drills and working on those in between your training sessions or your private coaching sessions. They’re more specific to the thing you’re trying to do. I recommend that you do silent meditation as a kind of strength and conditioning for the mind, as well as the IFS therapy meditations.
Now for CC, I highly recommend all of it. Do mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, and the IFS therapy meditations. Slow down the whole process. It seems, from what I’m picking up here from reading a comment, that you’re rushing through the process to try to just fix yourself and now your system is overwhelmed. [29:10.8]
Take the time to get to know your protector parts, giving them as much love and appreciation and acknowledgement and understanding as you can. Get to know how and why they came into the roles that they did, and appreciate their role historically in your life and give them the permission to take over as they feel necessary.
Right now, it seems like, as you’re writing this, its parts, its protective part or protective parts are freaking out that you’re not able to operate in your day-to-day life anymore and project this, what you call outward projection, sort of this persona, this veneer, this outward mask of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence. I assume there’s a practical reason for that, maybe at work or something, and you want to go slower so that there isn’t this freak out happening. That’s how it should be in the therapeutic process. When you rush it, then you have emotional overwhelm between sessions. [30:06.6]
Okay, here’s an example of why it’s so important to have your true self online before you proceed further with exiles or you have the protector parts step aside and you don’t have enough true self, your true self, online to then work with the exiles, the more vulnerable exiles that these protectors have been protecting.
I picked this up in your comment here about negative beliefs and I assume that you’re deriving feelings from negative beliefs. You don’t specify what these beliefs are, but I assume they have something to do with self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, so maybe it’s something like “I’m not enough” or “I’m not good enough.”
I don’t know the story behind those yet and I would need to know the story behind them to say anything further to support you, so I’m going to just address this more generic, negative belief, which is like, I’m not enough. I’m not enough for love and that’s a belief that all of us have struggled with at some point in the past or currently struggling with. [31:06.5]
One of the benefits of coming to a part of you, a vulnerable part of you, that is holding this belief, one of the benefits of coming to that part as your true self is that you have clarity. You know what the truth is about what it takes to be worthy of love, and not only do you know it, [but] feel it.
As a result of not having enough of your true self online, you don’t know it or feel it. Now, you might know it intellectually, I suppose, but you don’t have the experiential knowledge or you don’t have the feeling to back up your intellectual belief. The true self of your true self does, and until your true self is there in your system, it’s best if you allow the protectors to come back and do their thing. [31:54.0]
When your true self is in leadership of your system, you can simply be led by the truth. I have intellectual protectors who can help with that because they also know the truth and the truth guides them in how they ought to feel. Just like your negative beliefs guide your feelings, the positive beliefs guide your feelings, and you’re going to need to come to grips with or come to terms with what it takes to actually be enough for love. What does it really take for somebody to be enough for love?
Now, I’ve devoted dozens of episodes to achievers, because I see so many achievers and the achiever mindset, which has as one of its assumptions that in order to be enough for love, you have to achieve all this stuff, and that view is actually monstrous.
Now, it might have come from your parents, so you just accept it uncritically, but in this now time to criticize it, to come to it with critical thinking, what does it take to be worthy of love? If it requires achievement, then that means that someone who hasn’t achieved, like, let’s say, an infant or a toddler or a puppy is unworthy of love, unless, for instance, the puppy would only be worthy of love if it could do tricks or if it could please you in some way. [33:08.8]
People who have some inherent disadvantages to achievement, let’s say, someone with Down’s syndrome, they would automatically then be unworthy, compared to someone else, of love, and that would be monstrous. I mean, this would be the Sparta approach to evaluating human beings and just throw them off the cliff, if they have some kind of intellectual deficiency or achievement deficiency.
Follow the logic far enough and, hopefully, you will be smart enough to come to the conclusion that this is monstrous. If anything is evil, that’s actually evil. This view has led to the kind of evils that we’ve seen in those extremes of fascism and so forth in the 20th century, and I’ve devoted, as you might predict, entire episodes to what it takes to be worthy of love. If those examples that I quickly trotted out were too fast for you, go to those episodes that I devoted to this question of what it takes to be worthy of love, of unconditional love. [34:02.8]
You’re going to have to come to terms with that because you’re going to need to combat these negative beliefs, because you’ll eventually see that they’re not negative. They’re just wrong. It’s not that the belief is negative. It’s just false. Now, that inner child who was traumatized by and developed this negative belief might still have the emotional oomph of it, and if you are blended with that exile, then there’s no help on the horizon for you until your next therapy session, and that’s not good.
Your higher self, your true self is led by the truth, and even if the inner child has difficulty letting go of the false belief, you don’t, because you are your true self, not blended with your exiled part. As a result, you can then, as your true self, help this young, vulnerable exiled part holding this false belief, just like you could if a child has a false belief about a monster in the closet, and you, let’s say, as the parent, the adult, know there is no monster in the closet. You open the door. You try to demonstrate it. There’s no monster. You turn the lights on. [35:15.6]
As soon as the light goes off, the kid is scared again, and what you do is you hold this child and you are not afraid of the monster in the closet, but you have lots of compassion for the child who is still traumatized by some horror movie he watched or something that there’s a monster in the closet. It’s okay for you that the child is scared and needs you to hold him and be there, because you can do it, because you have the confidence and the courage and the strength to be there for that child.
Right now, you are blended as the child and your true self is not there to support the child. This is why I think you have a therapist who went too fast, and this part of the context is, when I say the therapeutic process, I don’t mean just find a therapist. [For] more than half of the people who I’ve written back or that I have followed up with with their therapy, it’s not done properly, which is very sad. [36:07.8]
I have one more point here and addressing the end of your comment, and this is also where I’ll be addressing those people who have the luxury of taking lots of time off from work or whatever and they can devote full time to the grief work and the inner child work, and so forth, and the therapeutic process done properly.
He writes, “I’m very curious what your experience was going through, as well as still going through the therapeutic process? Did you have all-time lows? Did you grieve hard, and did that take a while to accept and move on from? What’s to be expected emotionally during the therapeutic process, the good, the bad, and the ugly?” Okay, this might come as quite a surprise to you and to people who are going through therapy done poorly, but I had no ugly or bad in the therapeutic process. Every moment of it was glorious for me, the years and years of it, still now. [37:02.3]
There’s a great concept to help illustrate this. I found a book written recently by Susan Cain, the author of the book on introverts and this book that I’m referring to is called Bittersweet. I highly recommend it, and it’s beautifully written as well, Bittersweet, and she puts in a poetic way, how I have been trying to convey for years how beautiful sadness is as an emotion.
Now, sadness can be very painful, if you resist it, and this could be because of toxic masculinity that says, to be a man, you’ve got to be a tough guy and have no emotions and show no vulnerability, blah, blah, blah. Right? Hopefully, if you’re following this podcast, you don’t subscribe to that and it’s just obviously wrong, but you might have the messages of it and so you might be resisting the emotional processing.
I resisted it for the first year, year and a half. It was hard for me to access these vulnerable emotions, especially sadness, and to do the grief work, because I had so many intellectual parts that would just kick in and start analyzing. My therapist at the time was incredibly skilled with helping people like me, achievers, to access sadness. [38:12.5]
He would point out when I’d do something with my eyes or my face, when I was just about to cry and, instead, I started to analyze and I asked him a question like, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” or “Oh, that’s fascinating,” or I started analyzing. He said, “Okay, dude.” What he would do is he’d stop me. Eventually, I think maybe a few sessions into me doing this, he, eventually, would just tell me straight up, “It’s great that you have these intellectual parts, but whenever they’re asking these questions and in this mode, we’re not actually doing any work here.”
By that, he meant we’re wasting our therapy time, and I took that to heart, as in for me to kind of get the most out of the therapy, I have to be feeling, not thinking. Thinking is a different mode and that’s something you could do over email exchanges or whatever, or if you want to debate professors or whatever. We do that all the time. [39:01.8]
I had to learn to help these intellectual parts. I had to know when they were coming up and then to stop them. I was able to stop them by just changing my physiology, if I knew what I was doing, something with my eyes. Then, later, I was getting good at spotting the thoughts that were leading down that road and I would just stop those thoughts and I would notice them. Because I noticed them, I could now stop them, and then I would go back to the physiology that I had just before so that I might be hunched over, looking down, and I’d start to think about what I was thinking about before, so I would just bring it back.
This is something that I was training already in normal meditation. In normal meditation, you get something to focus on, whether it’s your breath or a mantra or whatever, and when your mind wanders, you just gently bring it back to the thing you were focusing on, whether it’s your breath or your mantra or whatever, and you do that over and over gently with no judgment for whatever, 20 minutes. I got really good at just bringing it back to the emotion and staying with the sadness. [39:56.0]
Now, there was no judgment about the sadness. The sadness was a good thing, first of all, because it meant that I was doing the right work, so my achievers were like, Yay. But, also, I had done enough research and learning at this point to have this understanding, and I was mature enough having, at that point, discovered unconditional love flowing out of me for my goddaughter—and the first time I noticed this consciously was when she was around two years old. I started loving her since the moment I held her in my arms—and I was able to access that and she was sort of the gateway and sort of like the training wheels for me to be able to discover my true self and that clarity.
I never had these vulnerable exiled parts left alone in their pain without this higher perspective of what it all meant and without a higher perspective that it was okay. I never felt the fear of these exiled parts, in the sense of from within, because I already had that perspective. If my parents were really bad to me at that point or traumatized me in whatever way, or I was bullied and this painful thing happened, or whatever it was, it was okay because I had this higher perspective of how it was, in fact, okay, and even more, how it has contributed to me being me now and has turned into something good. [41:16.6]
I already had these perspectives and this clarity because I was able to access this more mature, wiser self, and that wiser self was there for the inner-child parts that were feeling this pain, and because I was strong, confident and courageous, I was able to hold their pain and embodied them, and let them embody me, so that I was crying.
Let me share one quick story to help illustrate how this would work. Towards the end of my time with this therapist, I had gotten very experienced, in my opinion, with access and going to the sadness for my own traumatic events and memories, and so forth, for myself, and I was able, as a result then, to heal from those. [41:58.2]
The therapist also played a major role in giving me his view from his higher perspective, his wiser and more mature perspective, of how painful it was and how things were wrong, and it wasn’t my fault and that sort of thing. He was able to guide me through that. His higher self was able to kind of midwife my higher self to take leadership in my system, so that I could be there more easily for these more vulnerable parts in me, these inner-child parts.
The inner-child parts are not just running rampant, like they are right now for CC, unsupported. I had support, not just in myself, but also from a loving therapist who was giving me a more mature, wiser, loving perspective, and holding the space for whatever emotions any of my parts were feeling.
But I still had this challenge that, so this is quite personal, my younger sister, her husband passed away in his mid-thirties and it was not completely unexpected. He had very advanced cancer and had been battling it for years, but the timing of it was completely uncertain, and when it happened, she just sent an email saying, “He has passed.” [43:05.0]
I had the most flexible schedule out of all of the siblings and extended family. I had my wife. My wife and I were, basically, just digital nomads at this point. We just booked a flight at the earliest we could and flew over there, and because it was so last minute, we had to take a really crazy itinerary that had us crisscross the world, basically, to get there. I had achiever parts that were happy to spring into action and help her organize the memorial service and the funeral, and to make arrangements for her two young children that he had left behind as well.
Then, because of all of this, arranging the travel, arranging, helping her arrange, making all these other arrangements, the organizer parts, and making sure– Everyone had to travel in from both sides of the family. No one in the family lived in the same city she was in. It was quite a lot of organizing and working, right? And I had trouble accessing emotion for her. [43:59.7]
I intellectually knew I should be sad for her and I was sad. I was as sad as any achiever or dude would be, kind of has a long face and “This kind of sucks,” and all that stuff, but I knew because of all the therapy work I was doing, I needed to be there emotionally present for her and her children. I was telling my therapist, “I know intellectually, but I’m having trouble accessing the sadness.”
He led me through a very simple process to see her, my little sister, as a little girl, and that this was not what she had dreamed of and wanted, and this was definitely not what I would ever want for her to be widowed in her early thirties and for her two children to be fatherless.
As a result, then I was able to access the emotion of sadness and grief, and it was beautiful. Of course, there was nothing I could do to fix the situation or change it, and yet being able to access that sadness was beautiful because it meant that there was so much love there. [44:57.7]
I wouldn’t be sad if a tyrant died. I wouldn’t be sad if someone that I did not love or even like, or even knew about, died. Obviously, the degree of sadness is in proportion to how much love I had or have for my sister, for her husband, for their children, and it was just a tragic situation and the proper response is sadness and the sadness is right next to love. In fact, love will always bring sadness, because once you love something, you’ll now have to reckon with death and with the ending. As a result, if you follow that long enough and it’s real love, unconditional love, you will experience beautiful sadness.
Now, what you are experiencing, CC, isn’t beautiful sadness. It’s unsupported sadness. It’s sadness with no greater perspective. It’s sadness where things are not going to be okay, and that part of you, the vulnerable inner-child part that’s experiencing or holding the sadness most concentrated, is not being supported and doesn’t think things will be okay. As a result, you have this emotional overwhelm. [46:08.5]
That’s not how the therapeutic process is actually supposed to go. Without the greater perspective of the clarity and the compassionate perspective of your higher self, your true self, the therapeutic process cannot proceed. Until there’s enough of your self-energy online, go slowly, and the first step will be appreciating those protectors and giving them the permission to step back into your day-to-day life, whenever they deem it necessary.
Fortunately, because I was able to access the emotions that are appropriate to the loss of a loved one, which is sadness and grief, and feel those and be okay with those, and recognize how beautiful those feelings are because they symbolize and reflect how much love is there, as a result, I was able to model that for my nephews. Hopefully, they will remember the sight of their uncle in the front row, crying his eyes out, and still have the confidence that life will be okay. [47:13.5]
Now, you might think, Yeah, that’s the death of a loved one, I get that, but I had this traumatic horrible thing happen to me and nothing good came out of it. Okay, with that perspective, it makes sense that there would be just unsupported pain, pain with no end, and the sadness would just be kind of suicidal depression.
That’s why it’s so important to learn these DBT skills, the skills that I cover in Emotional Mastery, more importantly, to have a good therapist, which are rare, the minority, a good therapist who will go slowly enough that you can still support yourself emotionally and psychologically in between sessions.
To recap, the therapeutic process does not mean simply go to any therapist and just do therapy. The therapeutic process is a very specific thing, and if you do it wrong, it can make you feel worse, so be careful with the therapist that you do work with. Find a good therapist. Take your time with that as well. [48:15.6]
Of course, I recommend my online courses, the Platinum Partnership that you access to all of them, and go through these online courses. You’ll be in a much better position with experience and knowledge to be able to evaluate whether the therapist is a good therapist for you.
Second, it’s really important that you appreciate your protector parts and the role that they have played, and will and can play, in your day-to-day life and not to go to the exiled, the vulnerable exiled parts too quickly or too early, and to appreciate the role of your true self.
Especially, at the beginning, your main aim, if there is one at all, is to practice accessing what we call self-energy, accessing the state of your higher self, your true self. You can do that also through my program that I am a co-owner of. I don’t own the whole of it. Part of it is or part of that company is Emotional Mastery, so it’s an associated program. [49:10.2]
You can find links to Platinum Partnership and to Emotional Mastery from my website, DavidTianPHD.com.
Thirdly, in order to hold the space for your sadness, you need to have the right perspective, and this can come from simply seeing the clarity of the higher self, the true self, of seeing the negative beliefs as false beliefs and you have to actually see them, see why they’re false.
Once you do that, it becomes really easy to let go of them, because once you see them as false, it’s a lot easier to let go of them, in addition, to have that higher perspective and the confidence that everything is going to be okay. If you don’t have that, then you can expect that those parts holding the pain will be unsupported and your system will be overwhelmed.
What to do? Get a better therapist—admittedly, they’re in the minority—or go through my online courses to prepare you so that you can spot them, a good therapist, more easily. You can evaluate them more easily. Otherwise, you are retraumatizing yourself and you’re sort of wallowing in the pain, without any constructive or higher perspective. [50:15.4]
It’s worth investing in yourself to get the right therapist for you and to do it properly, because as you can see from CC’s comment, if you have a poor therapist or a therapist that rushes things, or an inexperienced therapist, they can actually make things worse. As I’ve mentioned, I recommend my online courses to help you through the therapeutic process.
Okay, if you liked this episode, leave a comment, let me know what you think. Give me feedback. As you can see, I respond to feedback. Also, like this on whatever platform you find, I’d appreciate that, and share it with anyone that you think could benefit from it.
Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. David Tian, signing out. [50:56.6]
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