In Episode 9 of Overthinker, Joyce invites Joseline Boamah to the table to share her healing journey. Joseline shares how she practically faces the ups and downs of recovering from trauma. She also exposes the way she negotiates with her deepest emotions on a day-to-day basis.
When faced with the decision to “renovate the house” of her identity, Joseline decided to tear all of it up, including everything from the foundations to the superficial fixtures, in order to discover and remake the core of who she is.
Show notes can be found at JOYCELING.NET/PODCAST.
Joseline’s Intro – “Wholesome” by Kevin MacLeod
Outro – “Waves and Walls” by Martin Cee
Credits – “Verano Sensual” by Kevin MacLeod
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Full Transcript ▼
Joyce: [00:00:00] You know what, I’m just going to hold this. I want to face you.
Joyce: [00:00:08] Welcome to another episode of Overthinker the Podcast. In this episode, I speak with my dear friend Joseline. I’m not going to give too much away, but Joseline has an incredible story. Although she’s been through some very tough circumstances, all of that has allowed her to become the amazing person that she is today. She was a huge force in my life when I first began my own healing journey. And honestly, I wouldn’t be sitting here recording this podcast without the words and the kindness that she showed me when I was walking on pretty shaky ground. She’s one of the most intuitive, loving, insightful, powerful, grounded individuals that I know. And I’m so excited to be able to share her with you guys today. And I hope that what you hear in this episode will be as impactful for you as it was for me. Without further ado, let’s get into the episode and I’ll let Joseline introduce herself.
Joseline: [00:01:15] My name is Joseline Emefa Boamah. Some people call me by Emefah, some people call me by Joseline. I’m originally from Ghana. I have been in the states since 2012. I moved to Dallas in 2015. I enjoy hiking. I enjoy boxing. I enjoy going to yoga. I enjoy meeting people. I love trying new restaurants. Sounds cliche. It’s part of my job, but a good meal is like.. it’s music to my soul. I enjoy connecting with people. I enjoy community a lot. I enjoy empowering women. I enjoy sharing my story. I feel like there’s so many things that have happened with me, for me, sometimes to me that I feel now I can look back and be able to share with people and I’m very passionate about that. I like doing stuff like this. Podcasts, and writing. I haven’t published anything yet, but I write a lot. I’m like that friend in the group that is the therapist and the instigator. I’m like, you want to do this? Go do it. And I’m like, Okay, I’ll be here, if it works out great. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll hold you too. My friends would describe me as being very caring, emotionally aware person. My purpose in life is to serve the world through whatever form it takes, one friend at a time and I hold that to my heart very importantly. I am a product of someone who did that for me. Multiple people that came across my my life path and have helped build me into the person that I am, and I hope that with people that I connect with, I’m able to leave something like that for them. So I’m in a spot in my life where I’m trying to figure out how to do that, how to communicate that. And this is like an amazing opportunity. So thank you for this. I actually wrote on my silent retreat that I want to speak on four podcasts this year. And then you texted me the very next day.
Joyce: [00:03:10] What? That’s crazy!
Joseline: [00:03:11] I have it in my thing, like I wanna… and do more speaking engagements and like, share to people that no matter where you come from, whatever your background is. And mine is pretty… Mine is pretty different. Like the person that I am now. Like you would not believe a girl with my upbringing and the challenges that I faced would be in this space. So I try to tell people that if I can do it, I promise you, like you can do it, too. And that’s that’s like the essence of who I am and what I choose to do in the world. I have been intentional about building a community here in Dallas – and you’re one of those – where I get to live as authentically as I can and the freedom to do that and help people see that in themselves. While, like I said, lovingly challenging them to become better is like something that I hold very dear to my heart, too. So yeah, that’s what I’m doing here, I guess.
Joseline: [00:04:13] Ask me a question, an open question, and then we’ll take it from there.
Joyce: [00:04:15] Yeah. Okay, well what were we talking about… You were talking about… Oh you went on a date yesterday. Yeah, so…
Joseline: [00:04:21] The more dates I go on the more I realize that people on first dates have a certain mindset of what we should talk about, what this should look like. Yeah, and I’m thinking, um… For me, this sounds like a little professional, but it’s not like… it’s like an interview. I’m not going to bring you up for a second interview if I feel like, you know, we’re not aligned on certain core things. That’s not to say that I’m going to divulge every part of my life to you on the first date. But there’s some things that are core to me that I need to find out: Okay, are we good communicating? Do we enjoy each other’s company? What do you care about? How do you like to talk? How do you spend your time? Things like that are very important. Maybe we don’t talk about religion or we don’t talk about politics because those are too heavy. But I am past the point where I just want to talk about the weather and what you like to… We can talk about what we like eat, what we like to drink, you know, cause it gives me an idea of what you like to spend your time, what you enjoy. But the more I go out with people, the more I realize that they say like, oh, god, I’ve never had a first date like this. I’m like, Mmm…Why? You know, you just want to talk about, I don’t know. People just don’t like to go deep, you know? And there’s a difference between like… like I said, going deep to the point where you’re talking about your life story and sharing things that are important to you. So I’m very intentional when I meet people about hey, this is who I am, this is where I’m at, this is what I want to do, without overloading them with information. Because sometimes, I also have to be mindful whether I’m doing this as a bit to connect with them or I’m doing it to scare them away because I don’t like them and I don’t want to say it. So it’s like a…
Joyce: [00:05:57] Mmm. When you say “it”, what are you doing? Like just being deep?
Joseline: [00:06:02] Just being…Yeah. Because some people I think… maybe, don’t quote me on this, maybe Dr. Brené Brown talks about, sometimes when we want to overwhelm people because you don’t know what to do with our emotions, we just give them a bunch of information, and like, here you go.
Joyce: [00:06:15] Mmm, yeah. What does she call it? It’s kind of like an oversharing, yeah.
Joseline: [00:06:19] So throwing more information at them than they need. And in the past, when I wasn’t as aware, I would do that. Like, okay, this is who I am, meet us there or leave. I’m like, which part of me really is essential, as you know? Which part of me is like, okay, I’d rather not share this with you right now. I feel like it’s a skill you learn as you practice.
Joyce: [00:06:39] That’s hard. Because how do you know something is like, you’re not supposed to share it yet?
Joseline: [00:06:44] One of the key things for me is how people respond. I watch for a lot of cues and I watch for what they do after I shared information with them. So it’s like testing the water. So I will talk about the things that I’m very open about, like you find on my social media page. Like the retreat that I went to, how the journey that I’ve been on, the healing journey that I’ve been on. Sometimes I don’t tell them exactly what it’s for, but I just tell them oh, you know, like I took two years off and worked on myself and did this and that based. And based on their response, some people will be like, oh, my God, what were you working on? Some people will shy away from the fact that you said you were doing deep work and prefer to talk about something else. That’s my cue, I’m like, okay, We’re not going there and we keep it at that. I get some people that are like, Oh, tell me about it. And they’re so surprised when I tell them, you know, where I’ve come from and where I’m at. And some people are just like, oh, okay… So what do you like to drink?
Joyce: [00:07:40] Yeah, I don’t know. Like, part of me thinks it’s like a personality thing, too, because for me, I’ve always been really into deep conversations to the point that, you know, my friends would make fun of me about it. They’re like, Joyce, you have to at least say like, hello and how are you? But I’m always just like, what’s your purpose in life? Like, jump straight to it. Because I don’t find that there’s any value in the things that they say that they like or in some ways it’s more accurate to see, first of all, what they do and also what’s important to them. And it’s almost more of the philosophical stuff that, you know, I think is important in life, not like, oh, yeah, let’s talk about credit card points and like, how to optimize that.
Joseline: [00:08:30] I’ve never heard that on a date before, my God.
Joyce: [00:08:30] Oh, really? Okay, maybe that’s just like, sometimes with my Asian friends. They’re always like, oh yeah, did you hear about like, this credit card and that credit card. If you do this, it gives you double points. I’m just like, dude, we sound like, so lame right now.
Joseline: [00:08:45] That’s actually an interesting point. I think I test the water by asking them. I’m like, hey, I’m about to share something with you that is important to me. Do you want to talk about it? Or would you prefer… And I kid you not. Usually people’s reactions are like, What? Because, again, I don’t like to just throw it out there. So I prepare them by asking, hey…
Joyce: [00:09:09] But I wonder if by preparing them, it feels like it’s something that they should be very nervous for. You know what I mean?
Joseline: [00:09:16] It’s not… We don’t just jump from, like, light conversation. If they ask me a question…
Joyce: [00:09:19] By the way, I’m about to tell you something. You’re like, whoa, I don’t know if I’m ready for this.
Joseline: [00:09:26] So, we’re talking about… They ask like, what do you do with your spare time? What do you like to do for fun. Or like, are you involved in any activities? And I tell them, like, oh, you know, I help run LADY. I just joined Steph’s organization Promote Love Movement and I sit on the board.
Joyce: [00:09:43] Oh, wow. Awesome.
Joseline: [00:09:44] Yeah, I’m like super excited about that. So when I tell them that and they’re like, oh, how are you involved in that community? For me, it’s not a light answer. So I ask them, I’m like, okay, well, I’m going to tell you, so there’s something that leads into that conversation. We’re not talking about, oh, can I have an order of fries? So by the way, I’m about to… I’m about to tell you this really deep part of my life, are you ready?
Joyce: [00:10:01] No, I trust it. No, I trust it. I think you’re pretty like, socially aware, emotionally aware. There’s ways to say things that maybe other people might say very awkwardly, but I was like, I’m sure you did it well, I just like… It’s just funny, it’s just like, by the way…
Joseline: [00:10:24] That would be an an image. I’d be like, so are you ready? No, yeah, there’s something to be said about, yes, being socially aware, emotionally aware. If I had to talk about any any of the big things that have happened for me since moving to Dallas, in particularly in the past two years, it’s intentionally taking time out to learn about myself and how that translates into people, my relationships with people. It sounds very cliche to hear that. People say that the first relationship you have is with yourself, and how you treat yourself is how you teach people to treat you. I can’t believe I’m saying this because my mom has been saying this to me for years.
Joyce: [00:11:06] No way, really? That’s awesome.
Joseline: [00:11:10] There’s something that happens when you profoundly understand that from a head space into a heart space. You see yourself differently. You treat yourself differently. And the way peoples… literally the way people see you treat yourself. It’s like, oh, my God, this is how she talks to herself, this is how she lives, this is how she does this. Some people are intimidated by it. And for me, I don’t know if intimidated is the word that I would use. I have a weird relationship with that because sometimes I tell myself that they are either not used to it, they are not exposed to it, they haven’t seen anyone model it, so they don’t have the tools to deal with that type of interaction. So it helps me extend a lot of compassion towards them where I’m not judging them like, oh, well, if you can’t hang with me, you can walk out. I usually try to give like, okay, how is this different from your usual interaction? How am I making you uncomfortable? How am I making this hard for you to understand that this is what I need and this is how it works for me? And most of the time it comes right down to, I don’t know, I’ve just never had it before. I’ve just never… This is not how I usually talk to people. People are not clear with me about what they want. I don’t see how people model taking care of themselves. So when you talk to me like this and when you’re very clear about what you want, sometimes it’s coming across as ordering me to do things that she, like… But once you explain the intentionality behind you, like, hey, I need us to have face-to-face time. And this is with friends, my family, work. I need us to talk face-to-face at least once a week. Someone will understand that as, Oh, you’re trying to monitor me, you’re trying to put me on a schedule. You know, like, well, I don’t have time. I’m not gonna have time every week. And then I explain to them that the reason why I’m asking you this is because I know that face-to-face time is important to me. I know that it fosters connection and intimacy with the people that I care about. So this is what I’m asking. We don’t have to do it once a week. I’m just letting you know that, in the back of my mind, this is why I’m asking why I’m asking. And then most people are like, oh, okay, I get it. You’re not just asking me this because you want to control my time. You want me to check in. No. You’re telling me that this is what makes you feel loved, makes you feel seen, makes you feel heard. Okay, how do I meet that need? I can’t do face to face time. I can’t call you, but I can text you or I can share things with you. And then we meet halfway and I say, okay, that works great. Because then they have the freedom to express their love and affection for me the way that works for them. And I’m getting that need met. So it’s it’s primarily communicating with people that, this is the reason why I’m asking what I’m asking. And this is the way that I’m used to receiving it. So if you’re used to giving it a different way, how do we meet in the middle? Because at the end of the day, Joyce, all we’re looking for is that connection. You know, there doesn’t have to be a way to have it executed, but if two people can openly communicate about (or three or five, I’m just saying)… They can openly communicate about what they need and why they need it. I feel like it goes a long way to get that met. Then the thing is, how do you know what you need? That’s what I call “the deep work” comes in, which is murky and messy and painful. It’s also very exhilarating, it’s exciting. When you learn new things, so your brain is rewired about things, it’s like, whoa, this is why I do what I do. Okay. Well, do I like this or not like it? If I don’t like it, am I willing to change it or do I just, for now, I just want to recognize what it is and leave it for what it is. And that’s always the challenge, it comes up every single time. No matter how far along your healing journey you are, it’s going to come up with everything.
Joyce: [00:14:48] Yeah. So earlier you said that, you know, how you talk to yourself is how you want other people to talk to you, right? Or that’s how you show them that’s how you want to be spoken to, I guess. Is that what you’re saying?
Joseline: [00:15:01] So, the way that I talk to myself, the way that I treat myself is the way that I’ve learned to, based on my upbringing, based on the tools I’ve gathered, based on the reading I do, based on just understanding of my sense of myself. That’s how I talk to myself. The essence of what I said with that is, it’s not necessarily… You don’t have to talk to me verbatim. It just goes to that, I care for myself. I take care of myself, I take care of my well-being, I take care of everything around me. So if you’re coming into my life or you’re part of my life, I want you to know that taking care of myself, my well-being is important to me. How you express that to me is entirely up to you. I can’t control how you act. I can only control how I respond to you. So most of my talking to myself is like, oh, if I were to speak to someone this way, this is how they would feel. If I talk to myself this way, this is how it makes me feel. And I don’t like that. So I try to encourage people that I don’t like negative talk. I don’t like… I mean, you’re allowed to…
Joyce: [00:16:00] Oh, I see. So you’re kind of like, learning how you talk to yourself, what you like and don’t like, and then translating that to be able to express your needs to other people.
Joseline: [00:16:09] Exactly.
Joyce: [00:16:09] I see. No, yeah, I definitely agree with that because I’ve seen that how you… Actually mines probably the opposite. I think it’s easier for me to know what I think about other people because I might see somebody and judge them immediately and then I’ll take that and be like, I judge them that way because I judge myself that way. So it actually flows from out to in, because I’m not very aware of what I think, but I am aware of what I think about others. So, yeah, it’s kind of interesting. It’s kind of similar to what you’re saying, but the other way around.
Joseline: [00:16:40] I think before I started therapy, I used to be the same way because I was raised very achievement oriented. So if you’re not meeting a certain standard, it’s like, okay, you’re failing. And because I subconsciously judged myself that way, I probably wouldn’t say to other people that I’m judging them. But in my head, I’m like, What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Like, what? But once I began to understand that is because of how, like if I’m kinder to myself, I’m more compassionate to myself, it just flows very easily. The kind of conversations we have with ourselves usually, we would never say that to someone. If a friend comes to us and says, Oh my God, I did this really terrible thing. I mean, our natural instinct is not to say, How could you be that stupid? Why did you do that? We’re like, oh, okay, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that. How can I support you? You know, you did what you could with what you had, like help me explain. What do you want me to do with information that you’re… you know. But if we do something that we’re like, I’m never going to do this again. And then you do it, our first thing is like, what the hell were you thinking? Like, how could you do this? You made a promise. You’ve done this. We judge ourselves so harshly. Yeah. So for me, I think it’s important that if I’m not going to say that to myself, I’m not going to say that to someone else, so if I’m not going to say that… And it’s goes both ways, too. If I’m not going to say that to someone else, I’m definitely not going to say it to myself. And that helps. Like, I would never call anyone stupid. I would never tell anyone that was a dumb thing. I tend to have more compassion towards them. And before it went the same way, I used to judge people very harshly. So it’s interesting. When it comes to positive feelings, I can extend that to people easier than I can then extend that to myself. When it comes to judgment, I used to do it easier on myself than do it on other people. And now that is sort of, like, flipping or it’s like… balancing out, where I’m very aware. The first thing when I have a negative emotion towards someone or myself is, the first question I ask myself is, after I observe it, it’s like, hmm, where did I learn to respond like this? Why is this my first response? Why is this my go to response?
Joyce: [00:18:51] And it’s not them. It’s something about me.
Joseline: [00:18:54] Exactly. Like what is it in me that is responding to this from them?
Joyce: [00:18:58] Right.
[00:18:58] And that always goes like, sometimes I get an answer right away, sometimes I’m just like, oh, okay. I’m just observing that this is how I’m reacting right now. I’m noticing what my body is feeling. I’m noticing what my heart, it feels like… what I’m thinking. And you usually find me with a book, like my notebook. I’ll just write like, hey, I’m noticing in myself that blah, blah, blah. And then I leave it. And I do this thing with my emotions where I’m like, hey, I’m noticing you’re coming up, my jaw is clenched, you know, my tummy is feeling weird. I’m noticing this, and I will get back to you. For example, if I’m at work, I say to my emotions and whatever it is, that… thank you for showing up, cause I know you’re teaching me something. Right now, I’ve made a commitment to work, I’ve made a commitment to the people in my space, I’ve made a commitment to my friends, I’ve made a commitment to whatever it is that I’m in that is inspiring this emotion. So give me a second. I’m recognizing that you’re here. I want to give you my full attention. So can we do this later? It sounds like I’m talking to someone. Literally, that’s what I do. And most of the time, I feel like emotions just want to be heard and felt so they can pass through, teach you what they need to teach you and then they’ll go away. I think of it like a wave in a sea. Like, it comes up, it’s definitely going to go down. But I feel like for most of us, because we are so scared of the emotion, sometimes we don’t know where it’s going to take us, we don’t know how we’re going to react to it. We’ve never experienced it before or we’re simply not existing, like living in our body fully enough to recognize that something is happening. So we numb it or push it away.
Joyce: [00:20:36] We fight it so hard.
Joseline: [00:20:37] It’s like a kid fighting sleep. You’re like, Child, go to sleep.
Joyce: [00:20:40] And it’s also, it’s like the layers on top of it. Because even feeling the emotion, we feel shame about the emotion. Oh, my gosh, I’m so jealous right now. But why am I being jealous? I’m a terrible person for being jealous.
Joseline: [00:20:52] Like, am I weak? Why do I feel this person is better than me? You know, and it’s like… most of the time, it’s like, okay. There’s a basic need that is looking to be met. There’s a reason behind it. So if I ask myself why… first, I ask myself why I’m responding like this and then I’m like, okay, I’m noticing myself, but blah. And then I… it’s like a negotiation. I’m like, OK, here’s what we can do… You can decide to flow through right now, but I’m not going to give you all of my attention. Or we can do this later. And I set timers, like I set a date with my emotions and I say, Okay, so let’s do this. It sounds very headspace, but it actually isn’t.
Joyce: [00:21:27] Yeah, that’s intense… I was going to say, Does that work for you?
Joseline: [00:21:30] Yes.
Joyce: [00:21:30] When that happens to me, like where I feel an emotion coming on, it usually just like overtakes me then and there. Like I had a time when I was in a team meeting and I just, like, felt very humiliated. And so I literally had to leave the room because I was about to cry. And so I went to the bathroom. And this was in the beginning of my compassion, self-compassion journey, because really that was the key for me. Once I could have compassion for myself, it changed that internal voice in my head. So I was sitting in the bathroom and instead of, like yelling at myself, like, I can’t believe you just left, like you’re such an idiot. You know, the things that we say to ourselves. I was more like, OK, kind of saying like, you’re feeling this right now. Like, take a deep breath. Let yourself feel it. And you’re right, it felt exactly like a wave. Like it would come, and then it would ebb. But it would come again. And I couldn’t get it under control enough to go back. But I remember thinking to myself, I need to have courage right now. Like right now, you’re OK. Just take your time. And just telling myself to take my time and to take my space. Be like, you’re going to have to go out there in a little bit. And face it. But right now, just to breathe. And so, it felt like, kind of motherly because it’s not that I’m babying myself, like, oh, it’s okay, just cry as long as you want. It’s like, no, you’re going to have to face reality. And so that’s the thing about compassion, too. It’s kindness, but it’s also strength. Because you can’t baby yourself.
Joseline: [00:23:05] Yeah. It’s like a challenge… It’s a balance between, yes, babying yourself and encouraging yourself to, like, okay… So when I talk about, like, I have a commitment, I choose to use the word commitment instead of “have to go” or “should go” or “need to go”. I say to myself, I made a choice, right? This morning, I was like, okay, this is what I’m going to do for the day. Now, I leave room for whatever it is to happen, so like in your situation. And this has happened to me. I… There was a day I was so triggered at work. It was my whole body. I had such a visceral reaction. So I said to my, I think it was to my colleague. I said, hey, I’m being triggered right now. Something is happening for me. I need a few minutes. I will come back. And I went into an office and just sat. So, a part of me in the past… And this has happened.. The way I’d have reacted, would have been, okay… Are you serious? Like, people are going to think you’re terrible at your job. They’re going to think you’re incompetent. You know, you put up this face that you have your life together or that you have everything together, and now you’re feeling emotions? Come on. Tough up and go back out there. Pretend nothing is wrong. That would have ben my previous conversation with myself. This time around, I was like, oh, (and I call myself Jo), I was like, okay, let’s have a moment. What’s happening? So then I touched the part of my body. I asked my question. I ask myself a question, where does it hurt? So I asked myself. And your body will always tell you, like you tell… Either it’s your chest beating fast, your tummy is in knots, or your jaw is clenched, something… Your eyes are… something. So I asked myself, where does it hurt? And I usually, because I’m a very physical person, I touch the place. And then I just tell the place that, hey, I recognize that you’re here and I know you’re hurting. I would love to hear what you have to say or what this means or how this is affecting you. I really want to know this because I know you’re here for a reason. And I also recognize that ideally, I would like to go back out there and finish the day and finish work, because it’s important to me what I’m doing this time. Like the fact that I have work or like your meeting. This meeting is important to me and I’d like to see you through. I also recognize that you’re here. I want to tend to you. So it comes back to mothering, you’re like, I want to tend to you. Because it’s almost like throwing a tantrum as a kid. Because they just want to be heard. So the way I would treat a baby, with like, Hey, sweetheart, I get it. Sometimes kids don’t get it. They’re like, No, I’m going to throw this tantrum, and then parents are like, okay, I’m going to leave you and go do whatever I want to do. But I think of it this way. Usually that part of myself probably didn’t get the attention it needed at the time at the first time it showed up that way. So for me, it’s like, okay, I’m the adult that that child or that emotion needed that didn’t have it. So now I have the time, I have the ability, I have the strength, I have the tools. So I talk to you that way. Here, you’re feeling this in my chest. I recognize that. I want to tend to you. I’m feeling the pain and I want to go out and finish this. So, so feel it. It may take 10 minutes, it may take five minutes. It may not go down completely. That’s where I think also that… I think I’m very… I used to say honored or lucky, but I’ve been intentional about the community that I’ve curated around me, where if something like that is happening, like at work… I love my job. I can go out and say, hey, this is happening. I need 20 minutes, I need 30 minutes. I’ll be back. And they’ll check in on me. If it’s in a situation with friends, I can be like, hey, this is happening right now. This is how I’m feeling. I need a few minutes. I need to take a walk, and they’ll understand. Now, in a professional setting, I think that… because if it’s in a group that I don’t know what’s happening, I can say what’s happening. But someway, somehow the process is quicker because I don’t have the space to speak to my emotion. So something happens where instead of pushing it down, I recognize it, have an internal dialogue and then keep on to the commitment that I’ve made. So, instead of drawing it out in a situation where I physically have the space to go out and sit and cry or whatever it is, it happens internally. I’m like, okay. I’m in this meeting. And sometimes, it’s just writing it out or like, recognizing, right now, I’m feeling this right. Right now I’m noticing this. Right now… And sometimes you don’t know what “this” is. You just like, oh, this tightness in my chest, or this sweating of my palms, or this… my vision, something. And sometimes, once you recognize that, it’s like, okay, I just want you to acknowledge that I’m here. I don’t need you to do anything with it right now. I just want you to know that this is happening and we can talk about it later, or we can… But that’s how I deal with it. So it’s… I don’t know. It’s… When I explain it to people, they’re like, What? You know, sounds like you’re, you know, like you have it together or they’re like, how is this working? This doesn’t work… Until they see me practice it, because it’s… I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just like… I always go back to the image of a kid that doesn’t have words to express what’s happening with them. And they just… they just have the emotions. And parents are like, well, tell me what’s wrong with you? They don’t know. They literally can’t, you know. And that’s how I feel about emotions. They’re like, hey, I’m here to teach you this. So like when I’m angry, for example. For me, anger signifies that a boundary has been violated for me. So when I’m angry, the first question I say is, oh, Well, where did I learn to respond like this to this, like why am I angry? Or what is the…. Sometimes you an answer, sometimes you don’t. But asking those question, it’s like, okay. When I have shame… Shame for me is like, this is what I was taught. This is what I think I should be doing, but this is what I’m doing, so there’s a gap in between. Right. So why am I doing this? So before, it would’ve been like, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I should be doing this. I need to do this. Everyone is expecting me to do this. Now, it’s more like, this is interesting. I want to respond like this, yet I’m responding like this… or I want to behave like this, yet I’m behaving like this. What is making me behave like this? So it’s that space between, how I want to behave and how I’m actually behaving. So it changes it, instead of how I should be… How I should be behaving and I’m behaving or how I should respond and how I’m responding. That… I think, reframing that makes it easy for me. So it’s more like, ah, this isn’t just happen. You didn’t just get up and respond like this. You didn’t just get up and and behave like this. You didn’t just get… Something happened. It’s a response that you have. Where is it coming from? Once I have that security question, it just makes it… it’s just, the outlook is different. And that’s what makes it, I guess, relatively… it’s not easy by any means, it’s painful.
Joyce: [00:29:39] Absolutely, yeah. As somebody who is also very deeply emotional, like I’ve definitely been there. It’s a little harder when I’m talking to people who are much more logical thinkers and their emotional roller coaster’s just flat. But for me, it’s like always pretty up and down. But one thing that helps me with the shame is, I realized at one point that shame points us towards our ideal self. And so for me, just realizing, oh, yeah, again, there’s this gap between what I think I should be. So that actually tells me information about my ideal self. But then I get a chance to re-evaluate. Is that my ideal self or is that just what I’ve been programmed with since I was a kid? So it’s encouraging, though, because I just feel like it’s another tool of self-awareness that I don’t receive it as negative anymore. I receive it as, like, oh, this is information for me, but also for me it’s been a while since I’ve had really, really intense reactions to anything. Because there’s the day to day emotions. You might be a little annoyed or, you know, irritated. But then there are like the triggers where like, oh, that was… I’m not in control. Like, I gotta go do something else right now… I mean I’ve been there, where I’ve been triggered, but also it’s been a while for me. So I wonder if that’s also a symptom of recovery, right? Because I’m not getting triggered by as much anymore or if I feel it coming on, I can usually just be like, oh like why are you taking it personally? It’s cool. Like they didn’t mean it that way. It’s fine. And then it feels like it will just go up and then it goes away. and I’m like, oh, OK. I’m chill.
Joseline: [00:31:18] It’s beautiful how you put it like that. So I read a book called It Didn’t Start With You. I don’t know who the author is, that talks about like trauma and core wounds and how they show up generationally in people. So I describe it as like and I’ll say this… So I feel like when I started therapy in February… actually Valentine’s Day is my like, anniversary, therapy anniversary, if that makes sense.
Joyce: [00:31:43] That’s awesome!
Joseline: [00:31:43] But in 2018, when I started therapy, I primarily just wanted, like you say, I want to be even-keeled. I mean, I felt, I’ve always felt very intensely, but I never really showed it. So I’ve always had a facade where I’m like, okay, I’m not feeling anything. So it would be like I’m very dismissive of people. I just said the right things. I did the right things. But it wasn’t really coming from a place of like self-love that it’s coming from now. And I describe it this way. In like 2018, right? Or 2015-ish. I realized that I lived in a house. Stay with me. This is like a metaphor.
Joseline: [00:32:16] I realized that I lived in a house, right? And the house had rooms, or I lived in a room in a house and had multiple rooms in the house. And I was like, oh, my room’s cool, I don’t really care about everything else that is happening in this, you know, like in the other parts of the room, I’m cool. And then I realized that well, actually I don’t just have a room in this house, this is actually my house, right? So I can live in it the way that I want to, I can change it or not change it, right? Now, the land that the house is built on is my body. I guess it’s in this life, it’s in this being. So I can’t change to the land. I have to stay on this land. I can’t decide that I want to move out of this land and go somewhere else. And this is the only body that I have in this lifetime. This is the only life that I get to live, right? So then the decision was, well, if you don’t like this house, do you want to renovate it? Do you want to just renovate the small room and then just live in this small room? Or do you want to tear down the entire thing and rebuild? I chose to tear down the entire thing, which most people will be, like, Are you insane? Why are you trying to, like rewire, relearn all these things? So yeah, I made this decision in 2018. I was like, okay, this is happening, so I gutted everything. Everything that I knew about myself to be truth or everything that I thought I knew based on how I was raised, the environment I was raised in. I’m also from Ghana. So culturally, there were so many different things. I moved here at the age when I was supposed to be like an adult. It’s like, there’s a lot of things that fundamentally changed for me. So I picked up, I was like, okay, now that I’m gutting everything, I tore down the entire house. I thought of myself as a person. As a sister, as a daughter, as a friend, as a colleague. Everything that I knew about myself, I put into question, you know? And with that, getting that out was like, okay, this is how I’ve always responded, which is the house. Now I want to change this. So what I did was I intentionally rebuilt the house with the foundation that I wanted. So self-compassion, curiosity, vulnerability, courage, strength, transparency, authenticity, and also with them… Those are like very soft science things. Also with dedication, ambition, drive. I’ve always had those. I’ve always had what people consider masculine (and this could be debated) qualities of like, drive ambition, clarity. If I want to get something done, I’ll get it done. I’m really, really good at the things that I choose to do. Professionally, I’ve never failed professionally because when I make a commitment to something, I see it through. I’m adaptable, I learn. Learning is a big value of mine, right? So those things are still there. Now the inspiration behind them, which comes from the foundation, are different. So the foundation may look the same to the person that is outside. Oh, you know, like you gutted this whole thing, just to put it back in. But what they don’t realize is that when I’m putting it back in, it’s completely different, because the basis on which I want to build now are different. So what I did was I put the foundation back there, and now I’m ready to build on it, because I know that the solid foundation that I have is what I want it to be. Now it could change, but the core things, though, they don’t really change. Like, the things thatthat are very important to me, I don’t think those can change. The expression could change, which is going to be how I design the house and how I build the house, which is th the kind of life that I want to build for myself or my friends, my lovers, whatever they are, like family or whatever it is, the community that I’m building. I use that reference to talk about emotions because I feel like when you don’t know, you don’t have the tools and you don’t know the foundation on which you build. That’s when you have the ups and downs, you’re like, this is happening, why am I responding like this? So once you get to that, even keeled – not to say that… you still get ups and downs. But now, because you’re aware that this is why you respond, though, the way you respond to things… When it’s coming on, like you said, you can be like, oh, this is interesting. I never thought that I would response to this like this. Why is this? Or, you don’t experience it as hard as you do. And sometimes when you… I guess you do the work to like locate what your core wounds are and you do the work to heal them or at least address them, then you don’t respond to that deeply anymore, that high or that low, because you recognize that this is the thing… This is wounding me because there’s a reason there. This hurts because there’s a wound there. So you tend to the wound. It helps you get out of the emotion of it and see it as something that, like.. It’s more like an observation instead of becoming one with it, because those are tools that you learn. It doesn’t just happen. Like you talk about compassion. It’s a perpetual thing, it’s like a never ending thing. You just learn to relate to yourself differently. So yeah, I use that metaphor to say that because I know the foundation that I’m on right now, if something has happened… I mean just like building houses… if somewhere during that… Now I know what goes into that. I’m not going to be shocked by finding mold in it… I’m not going to be shocked by it, because I put the foundation there, like I have people come in and inspect it. So I know what’s in there, you know. And it sounds like… it may sound that I have a lot of certainty about it, that’s not to say that I’m not gonna have surprises because it’s life, something might grow in there. But for the the majority of what’s happening, I’m aware that this is what I choose to build my life on. When people come in, or like when I find an architect… It could be a bunch of things. But when I decide that I’m building the house. 2020, moving forward for me, is now rebuilding the house exactly the way I want it. Which, I can change my mind. If I decide that I want to build a one story and I decide that oh, no, actually, this… the foundation is solid enough where I can add more to it. I can just change it the way that I want to because it’s mine. It’s my land, it’s my house. I choose to do with it what I want to do with it. So yeah. I don’t know where we were going with this, but…
Joyce: [00:38:07] No, I think that’s such a beautiful image because I’ve never really thought of it that way. But I’ve noticed the same thing in myself, which is that, before I used to change things on the surface or allow those things to kind of like, feel better, you know? I was like, man, I’m just kind of depressed. And I have that journal that I write one line a day, every single day. And so I looked back to the same day last year, and every single day was like, I’m depressed, I’m so tired, like blah blah blah. And compare it to like this year. I’m like, dude, I feel great every day. I feel so grateful, so excited about life. But it’s because I’ve done that foundation work. But before, I used to do a lot of these external things, like even actually, LADY, I would say I created because I was… I needed something to set my vision on, you know? Like I wanted to distract myself with a project and I wanted to make a change. You know, these are all core things that are still important to me. Just like, I want to see impact. But I didn’t know that, you know, you can’t start if you’re running on empty. You have to deal with what’s inside first. And now I’m getting to a place… So in 2020, I call it my year of being prolific. And it’s also my year of abundance because this year of incubating and kind of reflecting and all this stuff, it’s building that foundation again. And now I feel like it’s visceral of, “in to out” instead of “out to in”. That’s the flow.
Joseline: [00:39:34] Inside out.
Joyce: [00:39:35] And now it’s like coming out naturally. I don’t feel exhausted by the things that I do, which was why I had to stop LADY, because I was like, man, I’m just tired and I don’t know if I was in it for the right reason to begin with. And now it feels different, like I have all these passions that I genuinely want to pursue. And yeah, I get tired, but I’m not like, oh, so depressed I can’t get up and do anything. It’s completely different. So it’s interesting because you when you talk to people who’ve done the work, you absolutely, you know, like what it’s like to be there, whereas like, you know, when people are kind of just like, don’t really get it. Yeah. They’re like, oh, cool… what?
Joseline: [00:40:12] What? Why do you sound so serious?
Joyce: [00:40:16] But it’s like, the feeling of being there is just… it’s powerful, you know?
Joseline: [00:40:21] I say this, I say that… I actually have it in my journal here, which says that: A version of myself ripped its heart out for this version to live. I commit to keeping it alive, vibrant, healthy and beating as best as I can.
Joyce: [00:40:42] Can you read that one more time?
Joseline: [00:40:42] Yes. A version of myself ripped its heart out for this version to live. I commit to keeping it alive, vibrant, healthy and beating as best as I can.
Joyce: [00:40:59] Hmm. Wow, that’s a very gruesome image.
Joseline: [00:41:02] I know, I know. That’s how… When I talk about taking down a foundation, it’s easy for you to think like, oh, it’s like an anime thing, you know, it’s like, you know, it’s just sand and cement and but when you hear it this way, that…
Joyce: [00:41:19] It’s a haunted house, man. It’s a dark, scary house… mansion in there.
Joseline: [00:41:25] And for me, that’s what it felt like. And that version of me existed to protected me from my… I have a history of abuse. I have a lot of trauma associated with how I grew up. You know, like I… my mom was really well-to-do. Well, for our standard. I went to a good school, I was a really great student. Much like you, all of the things that I did were external. Like I had to be the best person, I had to be the most eloquent. I had to be the kid that always raised her hand to answer questions in class, because that’s how I felt like I was seen. That was what my value was attached to. So then you come into an environment where there’s not really a lot of competition. There’s room for me to just be myself. So if you know anything about the Enneagram, I’m a three, which means I’m very, very achievement oriented, like for me, like… doing is connected with value. I don’t just do things because I feel like, oh, I’m inspired to save the world. That was not my mindset at all. I’ve always known, in the back of my mind that I want to do things to save the world, but I didn’t know how to. So when I say this version of mine ripped itself, it’s the version that was used to doing things to please people. It’s the version that always had to be proper, is the version that always had to do the right thing or always had to look like it was doing the right thing. So when that version came face to face with the future self, like the person that I am now was like, hey, let’s have a conversation. This is where we’re at. I don’t think that the tools that you have are going to help go into the future that I have. So what’s it gonna be? So when I say rip its heart out… The heart is the very existence on which we live, right? So that version was just like, it literally just came to a point of surrender. And I said, okay, I’m not going to be in the driver’s seat because where you’re going, I don’t have the tools to deal with you. So when I say that, it was literally like giving me the keys to the car, I’m like, okay, here you go. You sit in the front seat and maybe if you need me, you can call on me. I’ll come in the passenger seat and ride with you, but I think my work here is done. I did what I could do to get you to the point where you could grow from that point. So it’s literally moving from a place of like, surviving to thriving. So making that jump. My survival self did not have the tools to help me become the thriving person that I am now. So it was literally like, okay, here you go. Because I believe that I’m still a part of you. I’m just not the one that is controlling what is happening now. So it’s gruesome, yes. But it’s also very profound for me, because I know this, I’ve experienced this and keeping to that commitment. When I say that I’m going to keep it alive, it’s like the very essence of who I am resides in that. And I choose to keep that going to my very last breath as best as I can.
Joyce: [00:44:12] I believe that many of us have been in survival mode for a really long time. We’ve been just, trying to get by. Whether that’s emotionally, physically, financially. Maybe like Joseline, our family has immigrated here from another country. Or maybe you’ve been here all your life, but never felt quite at home. And often when we get here, life is harder than we would have imagined. That’s when for some, something switches off inside of us. We get stuck constantly trying to get by and make ends meet. And yet, we reach a point in our lives where we look up and we realize we’ve been running for so long that we don’t know how to slow down. But maybe you’re starting to realize that there’s no reason for you to be running that hard anymore. No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, take a moment and acknowledge that it’s OK now. You’re allowed to take control of your life. You’re allowed to live in abundance. You don’t have to always be cutting corners or feeling so afraid or angry, trapped in your past. Because you live right now, in the present and you’re okay now. You’re okay. So stop running and just… be.