EP 29: Frank Anderson, MD - Challenging the Fear of Rejection and Leading with Vulnerability - Part 2

leadership vulnerability Jun 18, 2021

Everybody’s carrying a burden that’s weighing them down.

If you dare to care, it is inevitable you will end up carrying the burdens from grief, betrayal, and rejection.

And these burdens are often unseen.

These invisible struggles fuel loneliness, shame, and despair. Eventually, the unaddressed burdens we carry start to impact our ability to live and lead in ways that are important to us. They take their toll on the quality of our work, our relationships, and our well-being.

Yet, instead of transforming the pains from abuse, betrayal, loss, shame, poverty, chronic health struggles, and so on, we see them as a poor reflection on our ability to lead, succeed, and provide.

We have breathed in the clear and emphatic message: Hide your pain.

These toxic messages around struggle take a dangerous toll on how we care for ourselves and others.

To engage our teams, support wellbeing, and lead through change, we must model and explore real and honest emotions.

My guest today is dedicating his life’s work to change culture’s toxic messages around struggle and how we approach the burdens we carry.

I am so thrilled Dr. Frank Anderson came back for a continuation of our important conversation we started last month.

Dr. Frank Anderson is one of the nation's leading mental health professionals as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Committed to promoting compassion, hope, healing, and non-violence in the world, Frank specializes in the treatment of trauma and dissociation and is passionate about teaching brain-based psychotherapy and integrating current neuroscience knowledge with the Internal Family Systems model of therapy. He also travels around the world as a proponent and instructor of the IFS modality.



Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How the physiology of hyper- and hypo-arousal in the face of injustice pulls us away from our values and toward burnout, and how leading with love and compassion builds sustainable learning and growth
  • Why ADHD and trauma are so frequently comorbid, and the neuroscience of how they continue to compound each other
  • Why simply shutting down your inner critic isn’t working, and a compassionate model of healing from IFS that relieves and heals their burdens
  • How trauma exists on a wide spectrum, and why acknowledging trauma needs to be seen as a strength

Learn more about Frank Anderson, MD:

Learn more about Rebecca:


Scroll down for the full episode transcript:

Frank Anderson: We either can do the work and learn and grow or we can choose to bury it, which is where people perpetuate it, and this is the same case with leadership.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: Everybody’s carrying a burden that’s weighing them down - everybody. If you dare to care, then it is inevitable you will end up carrying the burdens from grief, betrayal, rejection, and more. These burdens are often unseen, and we end up diminishing and even dismissing the pain these burdens hold because no one can see them, and if no one else can see them, they're not really there, right? So not right. These invisible struggles fuel loneliness, shame, and despair. They lead to harsh inner-critics and a constant comparison to others who seem to be doing life so much better than you. Does that sound familiar? Eventually, the unaddressed burdens we carry start to impact our ability to live and lead in ways that are important to us. They take their toll on the quality of our work, our relationships, and our wellbeing. So when we bury our burdens instead of working through them, we perpetuate the pain they cause us.

Father Richard Rohr wrote: “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” The patterns from our traumas and difficult life experiences show up again and again. These patterns perpetuate in our relationships, in our business, and in our wellbeing. Yet, instead of transforming the pains from abuse, betrayal, loss, shame, poverty, chronic health struggles, and so on. We see them as a poor reflection on our ability to lead, succeed, and provide. We have breathed in the clear and emphatic message: “Hide your pain.” These messages say, “Keep the emotional burdens you carry silent,” and they say, “Do not admit you're struggling so you don't lose respect.”


Like you, I’ve breathed in the messages that these burdens are flaws and signs of weaknesses, and that they should never see the light of day. Afterall, I  formed my work habits and early leadership skills in cultures where I internalized these messages, and people in positions of power have perpetuated these messages for decades. The impact of these toxic messages around struggle take a dangerous toll on how we care for ourselves and others, let alone lead ourselves and others. This last year tested our ability to hold heavy and difficult emotions and feelings. To engage our teams, to support wellbeing and lead through change, we must model and explore real and honest emotions. To do that, we get curious. We learn all we can about the burdens that weigh us down and how they impact our lives and leadership, and then we’re able to better do that with others. 

Okay, but I can hear you saying, “Rebecca, no, no, no, no, no. I have to have it all together or I’ll lose everything.” “I feel like such a fraud and everyone else has it all together,” or maybe I could hear you say something like, “This is not okay for work. I have to leave this at home,” or, “I don't have time to deal with this. It’s not professional, and I hate who I am right now.” I hear you, truly. I struggle with these beliefs too, and as much as I see how dangerous it is to bury the burdens I carry, I have to muster the courage to push back on these norms so I can lead myself and others differently. Changing culture is slow and tedious work, even scary, but I know you're up for the challenge.

Now, my guest today is dedicating his life’s work to changing culture’s toxic message around struggle and how we approach the burdens we carry. I am so thrilled Dr. Frank Anderson came back for a continuation of our important conversion we started last month. 


Frank is in demand as one of the nation’s leading mental health professionals as a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist. Committed to promoting compassion, hope, healing, and non-violence in the world, Frank specializes in the treatment of trauma and dissociation and is passionate about teaching brain-based psychotherapy and integrating current neuroscience knowledge with the IFS model of therapy. Speaking of IFS, Frank also travels around the world as a proponent in the structure of the Internal Family Systems Psychotherapy Modality which is an evidence-based treatment that I love (and I love sharing with other people too) that offers an accelerated path to self-awareness and emotional healing.

I’m excited for you to listen to how Frank unpacks the intersection of ADHD, trauma, and neuroscience. Definitely make sure to listen to this. You might want to have to record and listen again. There’s some good stuff here. Pay attention to our discussion around inner critics and how Internal Family Systems offers a compassionate way to truly heal the burdens that agitate our inner critics, and listen to how Frank and I unpack (in many ways it’s only the tip of the iceberg) on what actions are essential so we can lead with love and compassion in the face of injustice.

Now, please welcome back Dr. Frank Anderson to The Unburdened Leader podcast.

Frank, welcome back.

Frank Anderson: It’s great to be here. Thank you so much for having me again.

Rebecca Ching: No surprise that we could not cover everything in one session, right? [Laughs]

Frank Anderson: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Not a surprise. We could talk for days. As someone who cares deeply, how are you navigating all that’s happening in our country and in our world these days?

Frank Anderson: Yeah, boy, that’s a really powerful place, and, you know, interestingly enough, this may not be the most popular position, [Laughs] I will say that, and the reason that I say that is this. 


There is such a huge polarity that exists in our world and in our culture right now, and you are either on one side or you are either on the other side, and growing up as somebody who is on one side and has most of my family who is on the other side, I’ve seen the impassioned position on both sides, okay? I feel the impassioned position on one side, and I hear the impassioned position on the other side from people that I love. So it’s been very complicated but illuminating for me, and I hold a very spiritual view of what’s happening in the world. I think we are here because we need to be here. I think change needs to happen, and I‘m grateful that it’s happening, and I trust in the goodness of the human spirit that we’re gonna get to a better place together. So I don't spend so much time on either side; I kind of move myself above it all, for example. 

I’ll give a couple examples of this, Rebecca, because -- and many people feel this way. The pandemic, for people, has been the most difficult, challenging thing of many people’s lives. The loss has been astronomical. It’s been so painful, and, speaking of polarity, it’s been one of the best things that’s happened to our environment in years. The skies are clear. The oceans are clear. People are not working like crazy. It’s been one of the best years of our lives and our family in some ways also, so we’ve pulled back and we’ve been given an opportunity to stop and reflect a little bit.


So I look at this. What is showing up right now and what is our opportunity to learn? I tend to keep myself on the side of love and compassion. I don't spend too much time hating or fighting, personally. I’m always positioning myself on the side of love and compassion, and I think the more we interject and inject love and compassion into what’s going on in the world, the greater our chances of making the changes that we need to make will occur. So I’m not fighting. I grew up the recipient of fighting, and I just don't believe it within my soul. I’m glad that there’s movement and progress. I’m glad that -- I look at this kind of -- as a gay person, as I talked about before, there was gay marriage, there was gay equality, then there was a Me Too movement. Now, there’s Black Lives Matter. There is this movement and progression of breaking down these divides. It’s very painful. It’s causing a lot of disharmony within our world and in our political system, but for me, I’m gonna keep injecting love and compassion to the whole conversation, to both sides, because I really believe that’s where we need to be. So I don't want to get stuck too much personally in the weeds fighting. I want to inject love and compassion to everybody as much as I possibly can so that we can all reach a different place together. Do I know for certain that that’s gonna happen? No, I don't, but that is the position that I’m placing myself -- is just injecting as much as I can in what’s good.


Rebecca Ching: You know, I think about the word “love,” and, for me, my rumble -- especially over the last few years and heightened in the last year, sometimes, for me, love has been getting in the weeds in the face of injustice, whether it’s in my own story or in standing for things or for people or for issues that are standing against things that are so out of alignment, and I find that it’s such a tenuous place, as you say, to inject love and compassion isn’t necessarily being, “Om, I’m loving.”

Frank Anderson: No.

Rebecca Ching: Sometimes it’s, “No. Hell no. Not now. Not ever.”

Frank Anderson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So that, for me, can so quickly tip into me feeling consumed by the justice parts of me and the parts that are still holding that exiled pain of my own story.

Frank Anderson: That’s right. 

Rebecca Ching: It’s such a dance. Do you find that dance for you too?

Frank Anderson: Well, yes and no. For example, getting to love is rooted in healing your trauma.

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Frank Anderson: Okay? Getting love (real love) for the other side is rooted in healing trauma, both mine and the other side’s, okay? People know this who have gotten my book, I have this circular diagram: love heals trauma, trauma blocks love, and it’s circular.

Rebecca Ching: Whoa. Okay.

Frank Anderson: Okay? Love heals trauma, trauma blocks love. Okay? I have family members who were at The Capitol during the insurrection, okay? So I can hold that -- and I know them dearly because they’ve been in my family for many, many years, right? 


I know the trauma that they hold, and I can hold the trauma that’s in there that causes a person to feel what they feel - undervalued, less than, being taken over are all trauma rooted, and, yes, they have a horrible trauma history separate from what they're acting out in the world, okay?

Rebecca Ching: Separate from the cultural traumas.

Frank Anderson: Well, separate. It’s “and,” right?

Rebecca Ching: Connected, yeah. Yeah, yeah. 

Frank Anderson: It’s totally connected.

Rebecca Ching: Connected, okay.

Frank Anderson: You know, when you have a personal trauma, you get solidarity by joining a collective trauma, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Frank Anderson: Okay?

Rebecca Ching: Oh, gosh, yes. It’s Systems 101, yeah.

Frank Anderson: I can have my view, and I can say, “I don't agree with this. No. [Laughs] I would never do anything like this. I am against violence of all kinds. No, no, no.” I could hold a no -- and this is not easy, okay? It is not easy, but I also can hold a lot of love for this family member because I know the vulnerability and the wounding that they're holding. I know it, honestly, better than they do. They are not in touch with that. They are still in their fight. They are still in their trauma, but I’m holding beyond it, okay? And so, I think this is a huge challenge for people.

Rebecca Ching: It’s a lot of energy. That’s a lot of energy.

Frank Anderson: It’s difficult, but --

Rebecca Ching: Or is it?

Frank Anderson: No, it’s less energy.

Rebecca Ching: Not for you. It’s less energy for you. Tell me more.

Frank Anderson: It’s less energy because it is easier for me to hold love than to hold hate. Hate takes a lot more energy. Hate takes a lot more energy. Fighting is much more -- and I’ll talk about physiology if you want to talk about physiology, Rebecca.

Rebecca Ching: Yes! Take us in there right now.

Frank Anderson: Physiologically, love and compassion is a much calmer, open, peaceful physiological state than those extreme reactions you were talking about.

Rebecca Ching: Keep going.


Frank Anderson: Whether you're talking about fighting -- sympathetic hyper-arousal, that activation is a very dysregulated state in the human condition. Same with shut-down and disconnect and what I call hypo-arousal. That’s even more life-threatening to the organism. When we get to the point of shutting down, it’s even more dangerous to our human being than is the fight, okay? So actually, shutting down and disconnecting or screaming, yelling, getting activating, and fighting, it takes more energy to sustain those states than it does to hold one of love and compassion. So it is physiologically exhausting. We burn out in those states. They are not sustainable. Many, many, many of us are joining the fight in a way, for me, that might not get us to that solution of love and connection in the way that we need to. So that’s a personal view, okay? It’s not popular, I understand that.

Rebecca Ching: It isn't? 

Frank Anderson: Well…

Rebecca Ching: How is it not popular? What is the pushback that you get? 

Frank Anderson: The pushback that I get is, “They're wrong. You're joining them by loving them.” I’m like no, I’m not.

Rebecca Ching: No. Yeah.

Frank Anderson: I think we are all holding these polarized views that do not take the collective adequately into account. 

Rebecca Ching: I think you're touching on, too, this element of humanization versus dehumanization.

Frank Anderson: Yes. 

Rebecca Ching: I think about this last year with so much happening politically.

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: My husband and I are very engaged in that so my kids were exposed, and there would be certain figures that would come on the TV, and they’d go, “Ha-ha!” And they’d make fun of them, and we’re like, “No!” And they're like, “Oh, are you supporting them?” We’re like, “No! We stand against everything they stand for, and we will not dehumanize them. That’s bullying right now --,” 

Frank Anderson: You got it. That’s right. 


Rebecca Ching: “-- even though we stand against their ideologies and we don't respect them, we will not dehumanize them,” and we’ve had to say it so much this year. [Laughs] 

Frank Anderson: I’m not gonna be a perpetrator.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Frank Anderson: That is perpetrator energy. 

Rebecca Ching: Dang. 

Frank Anderson: When you attack somebody who you don't agree with, that is perpetrator energy, okay? You are possessing perpetrator energy.

Rebecca Ching: I’m feeling tearful just hearing you say that.

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: That’s really hitting my system right now.

Frank Anderson: That’s right. It is hard. It is very hard, and, again, for me -- I’m gonna keep coming back to this -- the more I heal my trauma, the less I need to demonize anybody, anybody.

Rebecca Ching: And just the energy it takes, if we are fighting or shut down (just summarizing), that’s actually gonna move us away from our values, towards burnout. It’s not sustainable.

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: We have parts of our inner system, and even my intellectual parts, there are parts of me that are like, “Sure, I totally am 100% on board,” and other parts are like, “Are you kidding me? This is where you're going to get --,”

Frank Anderson: That’s right. 

Rebecca Ching: Like, “Oh, that’s great in theory, and then you're gonna go get your ass kicked. So have fun with that.”

Frank Anderson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: It’s a lot of inner parts to navigate for sure, huh?

Frank Anderson: It really is, you know? Sometimes I even think to myself, “Am I being too Pollyanna-ish here? Am I too in the clouds? Frank, is war necessary,” right? Sometimes I’ll say, “When there are atrocities happening, is stopping it important?” I do struggle with that, okay? I really do. Sometimes I’m like, “Frank, sitting in love and compassion, you’re not making enough of a stand to stop an atrocity.” 


So it’s not an easy position. It’s not straightforward, and I really hold that a lot. I do struggle with that, but what I do -- and it’s interesting because this has been some of my medicine work even, doing some psychedelic medicine work -- is this human experience versus what is beyond all of us? I do believe in a connectedness of all human beings. I hold that. We are one. When you can get into those spiritual spaces beyond the human experience, we are all together. We are all connected, and it is all love. So I do believe the higher place is one of love and compassion and connection. 

I also think when we’re here in our human experience, part of that human experience is the fight, is the struggle, is the working it out, and is that sitting on both sides, right?

Rebecca Ching: Totally.

Frank Anderson: So I don't need to just rise above it and not be a part of it, right, ‘cause it is real. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to learn things. We’re here to grow. We’re here to experience diversity, and I believe that’s the same with culture and society as it is with any individual. I think we are collectively struggling and fighting. We’re in a huge diversity around the earth and the world, and I want us to struggle and learn and grow and get beyond this.

Rebecca Ching: And to do that, if we want to move towards love, we have to move through and heal the wounds that we’re carrying, and that --

Frank Anderson: That we’ve created. That we’re carrying.

Rebecca Ching: And there’s a lot of objection to that because a lot of parts say that’s dangerous. 

Frank Anderson: Right. 

Rebecca Ching: You need these parts, and then that’s one of those areas I know we’ve very aligned on for sure.

So, okay, I remember, on this note, I think I was on your PA team (on your leadership team) for your trauma neuroscience training, and I wrote this down, and I circled it and highlighted it. 


You said, “Being a trauma therapist will challenge your intimacy issues,” and my brain went to I think the same thing goes for anyone in a leadership position. Being a leader will challenge your intimacy issues.

Frank Anderson: Yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: Tell me why you think this happens.

Frank Anderson: Because we get triggered when we work with people who are traumatized. So if I’m a trauma therapist, okay -- 

Rebecca Ching: And who isn’t traumatized? I mean, is there --

Frank Anderson: Right.

Rebecca Ching: Okay.

Frank Anderson: So, yeah, I think -- so, Raise your hand if you haven't been shamed. Great, go ahead,” right? It’s like that. 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, yeah.

Frank Anderson: There’s a lot of research that shows 70% of the population has had blah, blah, blah, and there’s a lot of statistics out there. I think it’s part of the human experience to go through adversity, to go through trauma, okay? One of the things in this new book is I talk about different kinds of wounding. There’s big T trauma, little t trauma is the way somebody talked about it, but what I’ve done is, in expanding the IFS model, is talk about different kinds of wounds. You can have collective wounding, for example. A series of things that add up to a wound. You can have what I call developmental wounding - a similar wound at different developmental stages. Parental pairing wounding, okay, where you can have a wound from one parent and another parent, you know? You can have cultural burdens of cultural wounds from family of origin from the culture we live in. So there’s different kinds of wounding. You put that out there. Everybody’s experienced different versions of those kinds of different woundings, so I don't think anybody is wound-free in this human experience, personally, okay? Medical trauma, emotional trauma.

Rebecca Ching: Just to jump in real quick --

Frank Anderson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Having a wound is not pathologizing; it is because we’ve dared to show up and do life, right? You don't see this wounding as a less-than or something that is a label.


Frank Anderson: It’s a human experience. I see it as the human experience.

Rebecca Ching: I just want to make sure to emphasize that.

Frank Anderson: It is part of what we all are here to go through and either perpetuate or do the work and get beyond. This is where I think our choice is. We either can do the work and learn and grow, or we can choose to bury it which is where people perpetuate it, and this is the same case with leadership. So whether we’re talking about being a trauma therapist, working with a client who has a trauma history, your history will get triggered, okay? Or we can talk about a leader who’s leading an organization or a company or whatever. Your stuff will get triggered. Okay? Your leadership will be challenged. Your inequity, your insecurity will be activated. Anytime you're in relationship with people in this way, you’re inevitably going to get triggered and activated around it, you know? 

I talk about this in regards to relational and complex trauma. Like, why in the world would somebody who’s been relationally violated repeatedly get into an intimate relationship with a total stranger who’s their therapist? It’s such a setup for disaster. It’s inevitable. It’s inevitable that the client stuff is gonna get stirred up. That’s what they're there for, but if you were free of life, you’d be fine, but you're not. Your stuff will get triggered too, okay? I see this with leadership all the time. Again, we talked about what drove you into that leadership position (was it your wound or is it from a higher place of helping and growing and providing in this way), but your stuff is gonna get activated, you know? I feel like this for myself. 


I feel like as long as I keep clearing, I’m gonna be able to handle the traumas of leadership from a different place, not that I won’t get any. It’s like when I get pushback, when I get challenged, when I fall as a leader (because you will, it’s part of the leadership experience), how am I gonna be with those traumas of the leadership, and the more I heal, the more I’m gonna be able to address it with vulnerability, to take responsibility for it, to apologize for it, to do all the appropriate, healthy things when leadership gets challenged. For me, I don't think it’s a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. So it’s not that you're not gonna get challenged, it’s not that you're not gonna fall, it’s not that you're not gonna make bad mistakes and be harmful to people. It’s what’s your relationship to it. Are you gonna get defensive and protective or are you gonna take responsibility and apologize and grow as a human being as a result of that? Same thing as a therapist. 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I couldn't agree more, and I love the distinction of you will be activated, you will be triggered. 

Frank Anderson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: If we have the expectation of, “I did something wrong ‘cause I was triggered,” which is a lot of what I hear in the personal development and professional development space (it’s so dangerous) versus really embracing curiosity, when you have that flash, as data versus an identity and helping our systems know we’re gonna be okay even if we get activated. That’s the work. That’s the work.

Frank Anderson: Yeah, let’s me say this, too, 'cause as you mention something, it’s important for me -- if you're a leader who has to be right and correct --

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Frank Anderson: Right? You're gonna fall.  


If you're a leader who also is traumatized, you create this trickle-down environment that says the people that you're leading also don't have to be perfect and good, and they're also allowed to fall or be less than or make a mistake or whatever. Do you understand what I’m saying? So the leadership in a trickle-down way is so important.

Rebecca Ching: The systemic impact of a leader who can sit with failure, with conflict, with hard conversations is reparative. It almost has that parental -- it can have the impact of healing attachment wounds or exacerbating them. 

Frank Anderson: Right. 

Rebecca Ching: And so, again, the more unburdened leaders out there, the more medicine in our world. At least that’s how I’m seeing it. So spot on. I’m with you. I appreciate that.

I want to get a little granular. You teach that there’s a very common overlap between PTSD and ADHD, and especially with entrepreneurs, there’s some really cool research and studies out there showing this high intersection of entrepreneurship and ADHD.

Frank Anderson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: So can you walk us through this connection? 

Frank Anderson: Yeah, yeah. With having two kids who both have ADHD -- ADHD has a brilliance and a creativity and expansiveness attached to it that is out of this world, and those are the people who create the new, innovative companies and organizations and computers, you know what I mean?

Rebecca Ching: Got it.

Frank Anderson: So it’s fast-paced. It’s large. It’s big. It’s expansive. It’s creative to beat the band. People with ADD are so super creative when they're in that space, so they're the people that are drawn to these entrepreneur/leadership positions because of the thrill and the seeking and the excitement and the expansiveness of their creative mind. These are not average minds; these are wildly expansive, creative minds. 

Rebecca Ching: Got it.


Frank Anderson: So there’s a pull to that sector of the population, and there is also -- a couple of things. So there’s a pull to that, and then there’s a crash and burn as a result of that because with ADD, you know you have this capacity when you're in hyper-focus to be able to create amazing things. You can learn a whole semester’s course in one week when you’re in hyper-focus. So you can create amazing things when you're in that hyper-focused space, but that typically is not sustainable, so then there’s this crash and burn and failure that comes along with this. So there’s a very bipolar-looking experience for leaders who also have ADHD, okay?

So, as a result of life, there are a lot of traumas that can accumulate as a result of that. “I bought a company, and then it totally failed.” “I had a great marriage, and then I totally lost it.” There’s this up and down (failure, success, failure, success) trajectory for people with ADHD who also are in these leadership positions. They're drawn to it. You know, “I created Starbucks, and then the whole company fell apart,” you know what I mean? It’s like that kind of extreme nature. So there is life experience in the ADD way that creates all these traumas that people end up having is one view of it, but also, physiologically, the stress of the excitement and the high-ness of that ADHD is related to cortisol. It’s a stress hormone, and it’s toxic to the brain. This is one of these chicken or an egg things, okay? So people who have that expansive energy are running on stress hormones a lot, okay? They're doing things in this very stressed way. You need to create a crisis in order to raise your dopamine levels in order to get something done. 


When you're creating a crisis, you're increasing cortisol which is your stress chemical. Cortisol is toxic to the brain, so the more you're living in that stressed, expansive way, the more you're creating toxicity by those stress hormones which, then, produce an ADHD-like picture because cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus and it’s toxic to the prefrontal cortex. We know the neurobiology of ADHD is in the prefrontal cortex.

So it is this very circular pattern, okay? People who are creative and expansive and get into these positions, that creative, expansive energy (which is also so stress-related) is, then, toxic to the brain, causing more of an ADHD-like picture. Are you following this?

Rebecca Ching: I’m tracking beautifully.

Frank Anderson: Okay. 

Rebecca Ching: And, again, I’ve heard you teach this. My brain is going to the questions. When I knew I was gonna have this interview with you, I shot a message out to a handful of people who are long term (have had this diagnosis) and who are recent to it, and the theme was why is it so hard to get help, and why is this not understood in our culture? That’s kind of where my brain -- I’m hearing this going yes, yes, yes, and still there are so many of these little dings of who I am is not okay.

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: And how I’m experienced in this world, so yeah.

Frank Anderson: I’ll tell you a little bit more about that which is an interesting thing, and this was many, many years ago. When I was working with Bessel van der Kolk at the trauma center, he went to medical school with John Ratey. John Ratey and Ed Hallowell are two very famous kind of ADD psychiatrists. So John Ratey and Ed Hallowell -- Driven to Distraction is this kind of historical kind of bible, if you will, around bringing ADHD to popular culture in that way, and Bessel and I would meet with John Ratey, and John would say -- and this was when ADHD was really being over-diagnosed. 


Like, everybody had it. Everybody had it. It was that over-diagnosis time. He said, “Bessel, it’s just really amazing. So many of my people with ADHD have trauma histories,” and Bessel’s like, “Huh, that’s really interesting, John. So many of my people with trauma histories also have ADHD.” 

So it was like almost the beginning of that overlap because there were these camps of you're in the ADHD camp, you're in the trauma camp, and it was that bringing it together. Then, there has been neuroscience exploration and research as we understand the neurobiology of PTSD better and better, like oh, wow, these two things are what we call comorbid conditions. They often exist together because the stress of ADHD is toxic to the brain which causes a PTSD-like picture which makes people more ADHD-driven to be able to be successful and overcome their trauma. It’s this very circular pattern, and unfortunately, it isn't very well known in popular culture. It isn't very well known by a lot of psychiatrists, honestly, you know what I mean? So I’m glad to hear people having these questions. 

When we were a kid growing up, ADHD was for boys and they outgrew it when they became adults.

Rebecca Ching: Yes! I remember that. 

Frank Anderson: There was no such thing as adult ADHD. That’s only within the last 20 or so years that we said, hey, wait a minute, you don't outgrow this thing.


So there were huge amounts of the population who grew up who were told they no longer have ADD ‘cause they outgrew it, but they were living these ADD adult lives without getting any support or treatment for it because you weren't even supposed to give stimulants beyond the age of 16 because kids were supposed to outgrow it. So there are a bunch of adults who still have it who didn't get the appropriate treatment for it, do you know what I mean? 

Rebecca Ching: And that’s traumatizing because they’ve been going undiagnosed or under-diagnosed or under-supported and then --

Frank Anderson: They keep failing.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah or the exhaustion.

Frank Anderson: They keep failing and crashing and burning and burning out, and nobody’s supporting it or acknowledging it, and then it’s like, “I’m horrible, I’m wrong. I’m no good. Look, once again, I’ve failed,” so then their self-esteem gets really low. Then they get depressed and back into that vicious cycle. It’s a very painful cycle for people to be in, for sure. 

Rebecca Ching: And I’ve seen with women who have this diagnosis, too, the parts of them that compensate to get things done and the multitasking, no wonder they're so exhausted or have these physiological issues or autoimmune issues that come up.

Frank Anderson: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: It’s just, oh, my gosh, my system’s been holding so much. So thank you. Thank you for walking through that in the gifted way that you do with neuroscience and the brain. 

I’d love to shift to another area where I see IFS really kind of collide in, I think, the best of ways with pop culture and personal development, and that’s around the area of inner critics. We sure love to attack them and exile them. 

Frank Anderson: Yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: “We’ve gotta kill them. We’ve gotta shut them down. If they're bugging you, it’s your fault,” and we’ve breathed this in that the burdens around just this area are, I’m finding, so nuanced. IFS teaches us to befriend them and love them, and when I started doing that with people (both my clinical and leadership) they kind of do the head tilt like, “What?”

Frank Anderson: Yes. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Which is so countercultural. 

Frank Anderson: That’s right. 


Rebecca Ching: So why do you think this approach to the parts of us that causes so much distress is so effective but also so challenging? 

Frank Anderson: Yeah, it’s a really complicated area, I believe, for people to really embrace wholeheartedly, okay? For me, even personally, loving up critics was a theoretical issue because Dick Schwartz said I was supposed to do that, [Laughs] right? It’s like, “Okay, I will,” as opposed to fully embracing --

Rebecca Ching: And feeling that love.

Frank Anderson: -- and loving them. First of all, most critics -- first of all. There are so many first, second, third of all -- most critical energy is what we call a legacy burden. It comes from the perpetrator. It’s external energy that’s brought into the system, okay? When you are a little kid, and you're being verbally abused, “You’re a worthless piece of crap,” you internalize that perpetrator energy ‘cause you're the recipient of it. Simultaneously, you also see and have experienced how effective that critical energy is. Wow, does that stop everything. Wow, does that keep people away. So, then, you develop a part within you that holds that very effective critical energy, okay? 

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm.

Frank Anderson: You hold it internally and externally. So you can say, “You're a worthless piece of crap,” to anyone who’s coming close to you and may potentially hurt you, but you also do it internally. “You worthless piece of crap. If you stop eating or drinking, then they’ll love us.” So the internal critic is the staunch protector in the way that it knows how to protect. It’s very complicated.


So you have, within you, most of us -- and I would say almost everybody who has a critic has the part that they internalized from their external environment. They have the part that became their own that they’re using internally and externally, but they also carry the wound from being criticized by the outside environment. So therein lies this horrible polarity (as we say in IFS). I have a critic in me, and I’m doing the very same thing that was done to me. Oh, my god, that feels so horrible, and it’s a very difficult place. This is the place, for me, Rebecca, where I’d say suicidality makes sense.

Rebecca Ching: I’m with you. Yeah.

Frank Anderson: And I have personally felt this as a parent, and I’ll shift a little bit as a parent. When I have done to my children what was done to me, I have the suicidal part of me that says, “It totally makes sense for me to kill myself.” I think it’s a great idea to kill myself because the last thing I want to do is what was done to me because holding perpetrator energy -- which is what critics really are, right, is perpetrator energy because they see the effectiveness. It’s like I know how bad this is, and then I’ve just done it to somebody that I love larger than life. It’s such a powerful dynamic, and it’s so painful.

The other thing I’ll say about it as a whole is that the critics know how bad it is, their behavior. So they feel shame, themselves, about their own critical behavior, even though they don't know how to change it.


Rebecca Ching: And this is where the befriending and the love -- going even back to your diagram -- is so powerful.

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: Loving the parts of ourselves that are trying to help us but really -- 

Frank Anderson: Right. 

Rebecca Ching: That’s transformative internally, yes?

Frank Anderson: When those critics really do feel the love from us, it’s the powerful -- they just fall apart and sob because nobody has ever valued them before. It’s very powerful. I can get emotional when I’m emotionally loving a critic because they feel so bad about their behavior, but they’ve had to fight culture and society and the internal system because they get such a bad reputation. 

Rebecca Ching: I just want you to emphasize a little bit more about the connection (and you teach this) with these inner critics and relational trauma. So I know when I share this with those I work with they're like, “Oh, this is -- okay, wow, this is why this is happening. This breach happened internally, and I don't want to keep doing this.” So, yeah, can you share a little bit more about that connection?

Frank Anderson: Yeah, and I do these diagrams, as you're referring to, that are in this new book of mine, and it’s a very complicated system, is the way I see it. The external critic -- we can talk about the hyper- and the hypo-aroused systems, if you will. A hyper-aroused, if you're verbally abused, you're creating a shame cycle as a result of that. “You're a worthless piece of crap,” the external-shamer, external-critic produces an internal-critic: “I’m a worthless piece of crap.” That internal critic, then, causes all this shaming behavior internally. “You’re a worthless piece of crap. You're eating too much. You’re drinking too much,” any number of things, okay?

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm.


Frank Anderson: And the external critic creates this internal critic. The internal critic feels so much shame about its own behavior, but it perpetuates shame within the system because it criticizes so many different parts within. “You’re worthless. You’re no good. You eat too much.” So it produces more shame, and then there’s the part who was shamed by the external environment. So there’s a wound inside, and it’s all relational. It’s all due to relational violation. The same is true with neglect. I’ll speak a little bit to this, too.

Rebecca Ching: Good, good.

Frank Anderson: If I’m like, “Nobody loves me, nobody sees me, nobody wants me,” -- if my parents don't think I’m valuable, I really must be a worthless piece of crap. So neglect can cause an internal critic also. If my parents don't love me, I really must be bad and awful. Then, I have to do all these things to be good so somebody likes me which creates an internal critic cycle.

Rebecca Ching: Just to jump in, neglect can still happen when you're provided for. You have Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but it’s the emotional neglect that so many people are -- like, “Why am I struggling with this? I was given everything. Why am I still --,” and it’s this emotional neglect. 

Frank Anderson: You got it. We’re talking about the lack of love.

Rebecca Ching: You got it. Okay. 

Frank Anderson: We’re talking about being seen, being known, being loved. That’s the neglect piece, right, that so many people hold. 


So many leaders hold it because that’s why they become leaders. [Laughs] “Let a bunch of people love me because I never really was loved!” It drives so much of that. The other thing I’ll say about it is -- do you want to go ahead or do you want me to?

Rebecca Ching: No, no, go ahead. Keep going.

Frank Anderson: The other thing I want to say about it -- and I learned this relational approach to critics by a friend and colleague, Chris Burris, who’s one of the lead trainers in the Internal Family Systems model is relationally working with the critics.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. 

Frank Anderson: I just love that because he’s done enough of this work and he teaches this beautifully. “So where did you learn how to help in this way?” Once you understand the positive intention of the critic, then you could say, “So where did you learn how to help this way? I get that you're helping. Where did you learn?” They’ll talk about the perpetrator. “Are you interested in learning how to help in a different way?” These internal critics start melting. They're like, “Oh, my gosh. Somebody’s willing to help me? I hate doing this, but I had to. Somebody’s gonna help me try and do this another way.” So there’s a way that we can relationally work with critical parts and befriend them and then point out every time we see them do it differently which, then, opens the door to healing the wound so they ultimately don't need to do it anymore.

Rebecca Ching: I just want to leave it there. That was just beautifully said. It’s so powerful when the thinking parts can go, “Oh, this is why I can’t just kill my inner critics,” which is what so many people teach - “shut them down, release them,” and so, their intellectual parts can relax a little bit to welcome the befriending and the love --

Frank Anderson: You got it.

Rebecca Ching: -- so that’s powerful.

Frank Anderson: Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: I’m curious. What’s your relationship with your inner critics? Are there any that are still having a hard time to transform?

Frank Anderson: The hardest ones for me to transform are the ones that show up with my kids. Those are always --

Rebecca Ching: Ah.

Frank Anderson: [Laughs] Right?

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Frank Anderson: Those are always the hardest ones for me. I’m fortunate enough to never have really been suicidal, honestly, but I understand where suicide -- I was like, when I said earlier, “I get why people feel suicidal,” ‘cause I’ve said to myself, “I would rather kill myself than keep hurting my kids in the way that I was hurt,” when I have those dysregulated moments. So it’s so painful, but what I will say to you -- and, really, in my own personal therapy we’ve worked so much on my inner critics because, look, as therapists, we know what appropriate behavior is. We teach it for a living, appropriate behavior, hello! When we are taken over by one of our critics, we know how harmful it is. We know how inappropriate it is or all those negative words that people use with critics, so it produces so much self-loathing. It produces so much self-loathing when we can identify from that place, our critic’s behavior.

The thing that I -- and I can visualize this as I’ve worked with my critics and really loved them up, they really do melt, and they're just so young. This is the thing. From relational trauma and early attachment trauma, most of these critics were developed very early on in our life. They didn't develop when we were 35 years old. They developed when we were three or four or five, when we were treated that way in these kinds of young, complex trauma relationships, mostly with primary caregivers, but not only. 


So the beauty for me (and I’m saying this personally) is oh, my god, when I see my internal critics transform, they're just these little tiny kids that have taken on the energy of my perpetrator to try to help, and they're so fragile, and they're so vulnerable, and they love to be hugged and loved, and they just cry, cry, cry. This is my own personal experience with my own critics, you know? I have less of them with my kids as, I think I mentioned in the last time together, I did this huge piece of work within the last six to eight months of my own personal healing journey, and it had a lot to do with my own physical abuse history and then the reactivity that would come along with that physical abuse. My reactivity is so dramatically less with my kids. I’m able to embrace those parts that were critical toward them in a very different way. So I have this very loving relationship with my critics because they don't need to be as active anymore because that wound underneath is healed. So I’ll say something --

Rebecca Ching: Oh, yeah.

Frank Anderson: I’ll say one other thing about it. When you're working with critics, sometimes you need to work with those critics before you can heal the wound because they won't even give access to the wound, and other times those poor critics (that’s the place that I’m in right now) need so much healing, themselves, after the wound underneath them is healed.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. It isn't a one-and-done, three-step, quick fix.

Frank Anderson: Not at all.

Rebecca Ching: It’s a systemic relationship process.


Frank Anderson: Yes, yes, absolutely, and so, I’m currently just loving up these critics in me and just working with them. It takes time. It takes time, and they have a lot of burdens, because of their behavior, that need to be released themselves. They’re very burdened parts.

Rebecca Ching: Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. For me, some of my inner critics don’t -- I’ve got some young ones, for sure, but I have some around the tween and teen years, too, because of my story.   

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: And they have their own little spice as a result of their age, too. 

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: I'm delighted in helping them to celebrate the spice, because the spice is what got me in trouble a lot just by me being spicy and stubborn, so thank you for unpacking that. 

I want to ask one other question around trauma and defining it 'cause so many people have either a narrow view of it -- there’s this story when I was with a bunch of colleagues of mine who were in the coach and leadership space (from Intel and McKinsey and Google), and I talked to them about trauma-informed leadership, and their eyes just about popped out of their head like, “Rebecca, you can't talk about that!” I’m like, “Why?” They're like, “That’s just too much! I can’t handle that!” And so, there’s this fear that if you even talk about it, it’s gonna bring in a bunch of stuff or trauma’s just a car accident or childhood sexual abuse, and those are both huge sources of trauma, but trauma is such a spectrum.

So I’d love for you to share how you conceptualize trauma and why do you think a trauma-informed approach to leadership is so important. So there are two questions there. 

Frank Anderson: Yeah, so the first thing around this whole idea -- in popular culture, trauma and leadership are the antithesis of each other.

Rebecca Ching: Ooh.

Frank Anderson: And they don't go along together because if you're a leader, you're strong and powerful and you lead, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.


Frank Anderson: Trauma is about weakness and vulnerability in our culture and society. So, no, you're not gonna be a leader and talk about your trauma history because that means you're weak and you're not strong and you're not a good leader. So there is this --

Rebecca Ching: “That’s inappropriate for work! That’s just not appropriate at work.”

Frank Anderson: Identifying and acknowledging trauma is acknowledging a vulnerability within ourselves. “I was dominated. I was overpowered. I was taken advantage of.” Culture sees that as a weakness, not as a strength to be able to acknowledge that.

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Frank Anderson: So, for me, I get why the people that you're talking about are like, “No, no! Are you kidding, me? Why would I do that! I’ll lose my job as a leader if I talk about my vulnerability,” you know? We know Brené Brown talks about vulnerability, of course, as a superpower and not as a weakness --

Rebecca Ching: Got it.

Frank Anderson: -- but I think trauma in our culture is experiences of weakness and vulnerability, so that is not synonymous with leadership. 

Rebecca Ching: We need to change that, darnit.

Frank Anderson: Yes, exactly! 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Frank Anderson: But I think that’s there, right? That’s totally there.

Rebecca Ching: It’s so there.

Frank Anderson: So that’s one piece I want to say, and Janina Fisher and I (for those of you who know her and those of you who don't, she’s somebody who’s a leader in the field of trauma also) kind of came up together with what we call “the spectrum of trauma,” if you will. 

Rebecca Ching: I love this. 

Frank Anderson: That all traumas are not created equal, and it’s not like oh, trauma. You know, Bessel van der Kolk, years ago, was like PTSD was defined by war veterans, and then when Judy Harmon was like, “Well, what about women who have been violated in our culture and society? Like, well, that doesn't fit because it doesn’t fit the war paradigm,” right? So Judy Herman and Bessel van der Kolk kind of came up together with this complex trauma diagnosis which I’ll talk about, but there is single-incident trauma. 


We call it acute stress reaction. Acute stress disorder (ASD, I think, is what it’s called), and that’s that garden variety. “I had a car accident. I had a death of somebody,” garden variety -- not any less significant by any means, but more single-incident, single event. Okay, so there’s that. Most of that resolves within the first 30 days, okay? So people can normally have a trauma. We get PTSD symptoms. We should not get rid of them because it’s our brain processing trauma, okay? It’s a normal processing of traumatic material that resolves within a month. The vast majority of everybody have had at least that in their life. 

Then there is PTSD. So if you had one, two, three of these, they accumulate and you don't recover so easily anymore from them, and then you can develop chronic PTSD or PTSD symptoms that last beyond 30 days. So if you're still having symptoms from whatever trauma you experience beyond 30 days, you have this diagnosis of PTSD. Hyper-arousal or intrusive imaging, numbing and avoidance -- intrusive imaging, numbing and avoidance, and physiological hyper-arousal are kind of the three categories in that. So that’s PTSD. 

This whole thing that my book talks about, primarily, is what we call complex trauma or relational violation, and that’s what most therapists see, honestly, is chronically, relationally violated in dysfunctional families, yelled at with alcoholic parents, with neglectful parents who are depressed and unavailable. Any number of repeated relational violations, and one, two, three we’re talking about one, two, three hundred or thousand.  


When you're living in a family of origin that is, quote, in those terms, “dysfunctional,” you're experiencing relational violation all the time. It incorporates connection and loss, connection and loss. So people with complex trauma histories tend to have a horrific time with loss -- 

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my goodness. 

Frank Anderson: -- because they experience loss of the healthy parent all the time. Every time daddy’s drunk, I’ve lost my healthy parent again, okay? So there’s this loss component that’s very potent for people who have complex relational traumas. Those are the ones who get married three, four, five, six times and get divorced three, four, five, six times 'cause there’s this constant desire of redemption but a repeating of your relational trauma. 

Rebecca Ching: You know what stands out to me? I mean, I always see -- we talk about in The Daring Way work with shame work, shame work is trauma work, trauma work is shame work, and that ushers its way into grief and loss work.

Frank Anderson: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: And the way that you just framed it, it’s like there’s this aversion to feeling the grief and loss 'cause that’s its own kind of pain. 

Frank Anderson: You've got it. 

Rebecca Ching: It’s a very cleaning pain, and it’s essential, and we learn in IFS that self grieves too.

Frank Anderson: Yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: And so, that can feel overwhelming also. I’m just thinking this through as you connect those dots for me why that is an important component is how we do grief also.

Frank Anderson: Well, and it’s a double trauma too -- 

Rebecca Ching: Right! 

Frank Anderson: -- because anything that you experience -- if you have a relational trauma history or a complex trauma history, any loss that you experience current-day activates the relational trauma in your history.  


So it’s really a double trauma. That’s partly why it’s experienced larger than life because it’s past and present, and we try to avoid it because it’s so much bigger, and people think we’re exaggerating because it is larger than life because it’s all the accumulated history plus whatever loss is going on in the current day. 

Rebecca Ching: I think that’s really powerful what you just said. Just to normalize that, and how it can seem like an exaggeration, but it’s such a true, true experience for so many, and so many are holding this. I’m so glad you put this in your newest book, Transcending Trauma. For those who haven't heard our first part of our conversation, can you talk a little bit about your new book that just came out, Transcending Trauma?

Frank Anderson: Yep. Before we do that, I want to mention the last piece of trauma which is the extreme dissociative trauma. 

Rebecca Ching: Oh, sure. Oh, thank you.

Frank Anderson: So there’s an extreme dissociative trauma, right? Those are people that have a diagnosis of, in old-fashioned terms multiple personality disorder, in current terms dissociative identity disorder. There are many people who have been in cults, have had really extreme repeated violations, and they really have separated themselves for survival purposes and protective purposes in different personalities. So there is an extreme version of trauma, too, that I just want to mention that kind of is relation -- it’s almost relational trauma on steroids.

Rebecca Ching: But I’m glad you brought that up and made sure to get that in there, ‘cause I think that’s what so many people feel that they're gonna uncover is that. 

Frank Anderson: Yes!

Rebecca Ching: Or they’ll be seen as that or both.

Frank Anderson: You got it. That’s exactly right.

Rebecca Ching: So this spectrum -- I love talking about things on a spectrum because -- and I love the, what was it you said -- I want you to say it again -- about trauma? There’s many forms of trauma?

Frank Anderson: All trauma shouldn’t be created equal. 

Rebecca Ching: That’s it! All trauma is not created equal, and I think that is such a normalizing and also a personalized -- you can personalize the approach and go, okay, while everyone has this (the common humanity of it), my unique aspect of it and how I got here and how I’m dealing with it is unique to me and my story, and that’s okay and normal too.


Frank Anderson: That’s right. Not only are all traumas not created equal; all traumas are significant in every person’s perception and experience because the other side is, “This is no big deal. People have it much worse than I do. Why am I making such a big deal about this?” The experience of the perception is just as unique as the event, so you cannot downplay or undermine the significance of any trauma, okay? “I shouldn't be feeling this because I wasn't sexually abused.” Not true.

Rebecca Ching: Yes!

Frank Anderson: Not true.

Rebecca Ching: Yes, that is one of the most frequent flier statements I hear in my work.  

Frank Anderson: That’s exactly right. 

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for that. That just needs to be on repeat for so many of us, personally, and with those that we know and love.

So, yes, I want to make sure we talk about your new book, Transcending Trauma.

Frank Anderson: Yes. 

Rebecca Ching: So please do share.

Frank Anderson: Yeah,  Transcending Trauma, it is something that I am just so, so proud of. I’m over-the-moon excited about it, I have to say. Some of the things that I’ve liked about it -- and I’m excited that it’s well-received and that people are resonating with it. That just warms my heart. It makes me feel really good. I talk about my own personal experiences in this book. I integrate neuroscience in this book ‘cause I think there’s a lot of neuroscience that can talk about the way trauma is encoded and experienced in our brains and in our body. There’s neuroscience-informed interventions in this book. I’ve done a lot of expanding of the IFS model in this book as it relates to trauma specifically. So there is the IFS model which Dick Schwartz is the founder and the originator of, and it’s just a brilliant model as a paradigm for living that I believe is gonna change the world, personally, and I feel happy and proud to expand the model in certain key ways as it results to trauma and relational violations, 'cause there are certain unique things that you need to do (from my perspective in doing this work with people for years) to expand the model to include this specific subset of population of people that have been repeatedly relationally traumatized. 


So I’m super excited about it and hope people are interested in going out and checking it out. Transcending Trauma: Healing Complex PTSD with Internal Family Systems Therapy

Rebecca Ching: And this is a book that’s not just for those who do clinical work; this would benefit anybody who’s interested in understanding their trauma or what’s going on in our very traumatized culture, yes? 

Frank Anderson: Exactly. Yeah, definitely.

Rebecca Ching: Wonderful, and how can people find you and connect with you?

Frank Anderson: Yeah, so if you're interested in learning more about me or following me more, the easiest way, really, is to go to my website which is frankanderson -- it’s the O-N. This is another thing I’ve learned as I’ve changed my name from Guastella to Anderson. It’s O-N or E-N. So it’s frankandersonmd.com, and you’ll learn about my whereabouts, my teaching engagements, podcast, books, chapters, all that kind of stuff. Then, you can sign up for my newsletter if you're interested in doing that.

Rebecca Ching: Wonderful. Frank, thank you so much for this time. I am always delighted for more people to connect with, not only your wisdom, but your heart. So thank you for your faithfulness in your own personal work so you can, then, share that with the world. So I’m very grateful for you. 

Frank Anderson: Thank you so much for doing this and providing this service for people. I love the way that you're moving into this leadership world, and you're bringing kind of psychotherapy and leadership together, and the treatment of trauma, in a way that is so helpful and necessary for our world. So thank you for providing this for people. 


Rebecca Ching: Thank you for that, Frank. Appreciate you.

Frank Anderson: Same. 

Rebecca Ching: Many of the cultures we work and live in tell us to hide our burdens and struggles. They tell us that if they do surface, we need to shift them down stat. As a result, it’s become a full-time job managing and hiding the often invisible burdens we carry instead of just shedding light on the normal experiences of being human.

Everybody has a story of struggle, and everyone carries burdens that weigh them down. We can't escape picking up some baggage when we dare to care. Mental health struggles are universal struggles. We all experience them. We all have mental health, so we should stop pretending that they don't exist because when we pretend they don't exist, we end up denying our story of struggle and reject that pain in others too. This is harmful and not helpful.

Frank reminds us when we do the work to unburden our pain, we can show up and fight injustice and toxic cultural norms from a disruptive posture of love and compassion. So ask yourself what old patterns and baggage do you need to disrupt, what stuck with you for way too long, despite your attempts to bury it, and what are the burdens you're carrying that need to be healed, and what spaces are you in that you need to show up in with more love and compassion? It’s never too late to heal, to grow, and to learn. 

Depression, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, grief, love, loss, neglect, and more, they're all a part of being a unique, complex human being who’s engaged in the world. Let’s do our part and create a world where all parts of our story and being are welcome.


Leading is hard, and leading is also controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions, but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action. Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small. 

Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned. When the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you, where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo. 

[Inspirational Music] 

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, and free Unburdened Leader resources, along with ways to work with me www.rebeccaching.com.


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