EP 34: The Unburdened Leader Roundtable Sessions: Kim Paulus, LMFT and Natalie Gutierrez, LMFT

ifs Aug 27, 2021

Leadership and discomfort are inextricably connected.

So much personal and professional development teaches us to figure out the problem and quickly move on.

But true resilience and growth require more than just the decision to “let it go.”

Leading well requires tolerating the discomfort of being seen, not just at your filtered best, but really being seen in your strengths and also when you make a bad decision and navigate the fall-out, respond defensively to criticism, and struggle with your confidence.

Bypassing or shutting down discomfort leads to numbing and disconnecting instead of feeling through the hard things.

It is essential that we get to know the burdens we carry and learn how to heal them so we can lead ourselves and others with more presence and generosity.

On today’s show, it is an honor to give you a window into the friendship I have developed with two colleagues of mine, Natalie Gutierrez and Kim Paulus. These friendships have become so valuable to me because safe, trusted relationships that can hold up a mirror to my growth edges are so rich and valuable.

Natalie and Kim help me kick off a new series for the podcast: The Unburdened Leader Roundtable Discussions, where I have conversations with colleagues, friends, and other leaders on topics we care deeply about.

Natalie Gutierrez is Puerto-Rican LMFT whose work is dedicated to providing trauma-informed psychotherapy to Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color/Mixed race. She supports her clients in healing legacy burdens, ancestral trauma, and the impact of colonial trauma.

Kim Paulus is a biracial, queer psychotherapist and IFS clinical consultant in private practice in Oakland, California. With a background in social justice activism, she serves primarily the LGBTQIIA+ and BIPOC communities, including multiracial people and adult children of immigrant parents.



Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How our legacy burdens impact our ability to make friends, especially later in life
  • Why a mindset of scarcity makes deep connection difficult in our relationships and in our movements
  • How burdens of fear, self-doubt and mistrust keep us from being seen and what makes us feel safe to let our guards down
  • Why decoupling the cultural legacy burdens of power, privilege and historical trauma from shame and blame can help us take responsibility for doing the work to release them
  • How moving with urgency can bypass the slower work of making foundational changes

Learn more about Kim Paulus, LMFT:

Learn more about Natalie Gutierrez, LMFT:

Learn more about Rebecca:


Note for Clarity:

A brief explanation of some language and acronyms you will be hearing from Kim, Natalie, and myself in this segment of our roundtable conversation. At the time of this recording, the three of us are in a couple of Internal Family Systems trainings, which we often refer to as IFS. One of these IFS trainings we refer to a lot is a pilot IFS Advanced Training Program (ATP) where we were invited to participate in a year-long training program to become Assistant Trainers (ATs). The three of us are also serving on a leadership team in an IFS Level One training.

Scroll Down for the Full Episode Transcript:

Kim Paulus: People need to understand that it is not your fault that you carry these burdens, but it is your responsibility to identify and work with them and release them. It’s not about blaming; it’s about responsibility and just owning.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: Leadership and discomfort go hand in hand. How you navigate the discomfort of leading depends on the burdens you are carrying. Now, you know these burdens well. Shame, humiliation, rejection, just to name a few. So much personal and professional development out there teaches us to figure out the problem and then quickly move on, but true resilience and growth requires more than just the decision to, quote, “let it go.” No matter what mindset hacks you use, the echoes from painful experiences often continue to linger and impact how you lead, connect, and tolerate risk. Sometimes you are so used to the weight of all you’re carrying, it is hard to see how these burdens hinder the vulnerability needed to deepen relationships. The burdens we carry shut down our capacity to connect and truly be seen, and our burdens hinder our ability to do the healing needed to have the capacity to engage in sustaining social justice work. 

Leading well requires tolerating the discomfort of being seen, not just at your filtered best, but really being seen in your strengths and also when you make bad decisions, navigate the fallout from those bad decisions, respond defensively to criticism, and struggle with your confidence. What gets in the way of your capacity to be seen is directly connected to how much your nervous system trusts you to feel discomfort.

I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life's work.  


Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.

Leadership and discomfort are inextricably connected. The burdens we carry impact our ability to stay curious when the discomfort of fears and vulnerabilities surface. [Laughs] Some days, it feels like we’re constantly getting pummeled by fears and vulnerabilities. It can truly be exhausting, and trying to separate from our discomfort is where we, often, get ourselves into trouble. Bypassing or shutting down discomfort leads to numbing and disconnecting instead of feeling through the hard things. Instead of choosing numbing and disconnecting, it’s important, actually essential, we get to know the burdens we carry and learn how to heal them so we can lead ourselves and others with more presence and generosity. 

Now, for me, relationships are the space where I find the edges of lingering burdens. They move me to check in with myself and my story. So when I feel defensive, I check in. When I feel afraid of speaking up and being misunderstood, I pause and check in. When I feel angry and judgy, I check in. The burdens we carry are often connected to our recurring struggles too. So safe, trusted relationships that can hold up a mirror to my growth edges are so rich and valuable to me. When I stay in my bubble of comfort, I don't check in and connect with what is fueling my discomfort. This is when I lead from a place connected to the burdens I carry. Thankfully, my friendships challenge me to be a better human and keep me paying attention to what needs tending and healing.

Now, on today’s show, it is an honor to give you a window into the friendship I’ve developed with two colleagues of mine, Natalie Gutierrez and Kim Paulus. 


These friendships have become so valuable to me because finding strong, female friends who lift you up instead of critique or compete is rare, and it’s always energizing for me to find friendships with folks like Natalie and Kim who have different lived experiences and have different world views than mine. Their differences make me sharpen and grow, but we connect in our passion for IFS, trauma, pop culture, and good food.

Natalie Gutierrez is a Puerto-Rican LMFT who grew up in the native Lenape land now known as New York City. Much of her work is dedicated to provisioning trauma-informed psychotherapy to Black, Indigeneous, and people of color and mixed race. She supports her clients healing legacy burdens and incestial trauma and the impact of colonial trauma. Natalie is a budding author. She’s got a book coming out so make sure you follow her so you know when it drops. It’s gonna be so important. She is a proud mother of two and a growing equestrian.

Kim Paulus is a biracial, queer psychotherpist and an IFS clinical consultant and private practice in Oakland, California. With a background in social justice activism, she serves primarily the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities, including multiracial people with adult children of immigrant parents. When she’s not working, Kim enjoys the outdoors with her family and her sweet 75-pound lap dog, cooking and eating fancy food. A friend after my own heart. [Laughs]

Natalie and Kim help me kick off a new series for this podcast - The Unburdened Leader Roundtable Discussions, where I have conversations with colleagues, friends, and other leaders on topics we care deeply about. Now, listen as Natalie, Kim, and I share some of our struggles with making new friends, especially later in life. Notice the fears and concerns we shared around being seen and belonging, and pay attention to Natalie and Kim dropping some powerful wisdom around racism and legacy burdens. 


Now, please welcome Natalie Gutierrez and Kim Paulus to The Unburdened Leader podcast.

You’re listening to The Unburdened Leader, and you are in for a treat today. We are doing a new special series called The Unburdened Leader Roundtable Sessions, and I’m so excited to kick off this new series with colleagues of mine, Natalie and KIm. Natalie and Kim, welcome to the podcast.

Kim Paulus: Oh, thank you. It’s so good to be here.

Natalie Gutierrez: Thank you, Rebecca.

Rebecca Ching: Yes, and I was so excited about this ‘cause the three of us have had these conversations offline, online, in the chat on Zoom, in different ways that we’ve connected, and I just feel like there’s so many special things to bring out to the light that other folks would really benefit from and really relate to. I’d like to drop in and really start with our first roundtable topic around making friends later in life. Making friends, especially female friends, it can be challenging both personally and professionally, and I find this to be true the older I get because I am clear on what’s okay and what’s not. I’m clear on what I want in community and what I don’t. For me, I can be a little overly optimistic and be like, “Friends! Yay!” and then I’m like oh, that wasn't mutual. 

And so, for me, at the beginning of the year, the three of us met in a training that we were asked to train to be assistant trainers in a community and a methodology we’re passionate about called Internal Family Systems, and we’re also serving, at the same time, on a leadership team for an IFS Level One training. So we’ve had a lot of interactions, and really gotten to know each other. It started off with me, like, sending little Zoom chats like, “I really appreciated what you said. Love to talk more. Thank you for your leadership.”

Kim Paulus: [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: These little, you know, I think you’re really cool. [Laughs]


And so, it’s really led to this cool friendship that’s built but also a really cool professional relationship. You are deeply trusted colleagues, but I also really respect you as women, as leaders, as humans. I’m curious for you to share -- and I’ll share too -- but what surprised you the most about our friendship?

Kim Paulus: Yeah, yeah, I’ve thought about this and I have to say the most interesting thing for me is I realize that I’m in Oakland, California. I’m in this very Bay Area bubble that’s full of queers and progressives and people who share the same politics as me and people who share the same identities as me, and it’s been really comfortable, and the people that I work with are the same. And so, the thing that has been the most surprising to me is that I am making friends with straight people in ways that I have not in a really long time. It’s been really comfortable in my little bubble, and it’s been easy to do that here in ways that it’s not as easy to do, I think, when I have been living in other parts of the country. 

So there’s a little echo chamber of people who think like me and look like me and love like me, but I realize that what has been missing in there -- I have some of this. I have a really amazing community of therapists and therapists of color out here and queer therapists of color. There’s so many of us here, and that’s been amazing, but it’s been -- I haven’t had the same connection with therapists who use the same model, who think about things in the same way that I do in this way, who think about, not just about our clients in the same way, but about how we hold ourselves and how we hold the world. So it’s been this extra layer of getting to connect with people who see the world and this parts framework in similar ways that I do and that allows for a complexity that has felt welcoming to the parts of me that have wondered are people gonna get me as a queer person, are people gonna get me as a really radically progressive person, anti-capitalist, all this stuff or in ways that I had not felt seen in this community before.


And so, the relationships that I’m forming with you two and with other folks in the group it’s like oh, there are others of us out here, and there are others who are in this world. There might be room for me here in ways that I haven't felt in a while.

Rebecca Ching: Mm, thanks for that, Kim. 

Kim Paulus: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: How about you, Natalie?

Natalie Gutierrez: So I remember the first day that we all met together. I felt like everyone already kinda knew each other and I was the newbie in the group because I’m fairly new to the model and to the training, and I remember just feeling a little bit nervous to connect because, for me, when we talk about meeting friends, making friendships later on in life, I am a bit more guarded when it comes to making friends. I am so picky when it comes to friends all because of, you know, all the hurt and pain that I’ve experienced in my friendships in the past. So coming into the group and, at least, carrying the narrative that I’ve heard about me in the past which is -- like Kim was sharing, right -- this radical person that is bringing up race in her trainings and just talking about everything that I believe in has really felt lonely sometimes.

Kim Paulus: Yeah.

Natalie Gutierrez: And I want to say has made people either really intimidated with me or just don’t want to be my friend, right? They don't want to befriend me, and so, we kinda just have a very cordial relationship. And so, that’s kind of what I’ve been used to, and it kinda works for me. 


I was sharing with you about how I’m an introvert. I don’t like fluff, surface conversations. I like to go deep in conversations, and so, people tend to -- once we start talking about racist stuff, people are like, “Oh, yeah, you know, I don’t see color,” right? Then that pretty much ends the friendship if they’re unwilling to sit with their own parts and engage in that conversation deeper with me, it’s really hard to keep friendships that way. So I always go into trainings like this and I’m like who’s really gonna stick around, who’s really going to be there, be my friend, understand, and that’s kinda how I arrived into the training. I was not expecting, at all, the closeness that I’m building with the two of you and others in the group, I was not expecting that. 

I really appreciate how -- it was actually both of you, Rebecca and Kim -- how y’all DMed me, and I can’t remember what you said, but I do remember how it made me feel, and it made me feel like oh, they're not afraid of me. They want to get to know me. I think Kim, you had -- even though maybe we were gonna PA together at this point -- I can’t remember. It was just really offering encouragement and support, and that felt really good to my parts, and then us just texting back and forth has been really wonderful. Rebecca, I think you’re my first white friend.

Kim Paulus: Wow.

Natalie Gutierrez: I think so. I think so. There are friendships that -- for me, I have tiers, right?

Rebecca Ching: Me too. Me too.

Natalie Gutierrez: The people in my inner circle are the people I really can trust, and then the further you go out, the less, but Rebecca, I think you’re my first friend-friend. So I just wanted to say [Laughs] that’s a big deal. That’s such a big deal for me.


Rebecca Ching: No pressure. [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: Yeah [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: I’ve got parts now like don’t be that white friend. Don’t go there. Don’t do it, and I’m gonna probably do it but, you know, we’ve got a friendship.

Kim Paulus: [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: So go ahead, sorry.

Natalie Gutierrez: Right no, and I was just gonna say, listen, none of us are perfect. I’m not perfect, right? But it’s just appreciating that -- and not that we always have to agree on everything, right?

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm.

Natalie Gutierrez: I just want to share that too, but there is something about the willingness to have hard conversations and be close and feel like I actually belong. I tend to be very sensitive to that, and I’ll know when I belong and I know when I don’t. 

Rebecca Ching: Ooh.

Natalie Gutierrez: So that’s all about legacy burdens, right? Both of you have just been so amazing to me and so dear to my heart.

Rebecca Ching: It’s interesting hearing you talk about when you show up being true or staying in your bubble, right? And so, when I showed up at this training, I knew nobody, which is rare for me, but it’s an extrovert’s dream. When I started listening to different people speak in this group, I thought oh, my gosh. There was a feeling. I told my husband, I said, “I feel like I’ve come home,” with people that have had very different lived experiences than me. But what it was is that, obviously, this model, this world view on healing and change, but folks leaning into their power and their strength and their confidence and courage and doing the work to do so, but do so with love. I remember you said that once. Natalie, you and I were talking once and I asked you about something. You said, “I try to speak whatever I do with love,” and I said, “That’s it. That’s what I feel from you.”


That’s what I feel from you. You say something, and I feel like an oh, shit, that’s so true, and I feel conviction, but I don’t feel shamed. Not even feel shamed; I feel like I still belong. It’s not even that you didn't trigger me. I could still be activated like crazy, but I still feel like I belong. I just felt parts of me saying listen, just take this in. The two of you and some other folks, especially in this cohort we’re in, it just felt like I belonged, but it was beyond how we show up in the world. There was something soul sacred. There was something very sacred about it, and I still probably don’t have the words for it, but I am a better person because I know you all and the others in this cohort. There’s something anchoring about that. There isn’t the competition, the scarcity, the who’s doing what. Natalie, you're writing a book. Kim, you have a thriving practice, and you are a legend-status trainer. The gifts you have blow my mind on how you facilitate and lead and can connect with anybody and have the hard conversations, and you rumble with it. That’s just not something I have seen as people saying, “Let’s get messy and scrappy, and then still break bread.” I haven't seen that since I worked in DC where I saw senators compete like that too, but go ahead, yeah.

Kim Paulus: That’s so interesting. I mean, I’ve talked to you about this before. I just feel like this is the way this works is we’re not gonna be perfect. We’re not gonna do everything right all the time. We’re not gonna never be hurt in doing this work together, and we have to be able to do this work together in connection and acknowledge the hurts, and acknowledge the mistakes, and speak for all of the stuff that comes up with that, and then see if there’s a way to stay in our hearts and stay connected when we do this work. 


We’re all in the same fight. We do this work as allies to the fight, not just as allies to each other.

Rebecca Ching: But how do you remember that? How do you remember that? It’s like I get that, in theory, and I believe that, but I feel like so many people forget that we’re in it together. How do you remember to stay in it, Kim?

Kim Paulus: You know what, I really want to thank Fatima for those words. She really brought that in in that microaggressions workshop of just when we are doing this work in this fight, when we are speaking up and saying the thing that is true and saying the thing that is hard, we are doing it not just in allyship of people who are being harmed or not just in allyship or defending the people who are doing the harm, we’re doing it in allyship to the change that we are all lighting for, and that’s how --

Rebecca Ching: So big picture.

Kim Paulus: It’s big picture. It’s big picture, and I think one of the things that IFS has given me is this real ability -- or let me say this, it has empowered the parts of me that are really good at being with complexity and being with the “both and.” You know, I have parts that -- it’s nuance. It’s nuance. We can feel this way. We can have a part that gets scared and says this thing in this way, and then we can sit back and realize okay, yeah, that’s a part of me that feels that way, but in my heart I know that this is true, and if I come back to what’s in my heart, I’ve got to be accountable for the stuff that that part said, but I can have compassion for it and know how to take care of it going forward.

Rebecca Ching: So IFS has given you a practice to stay engaged?

Kim Paulus: It has. It’s given me a practice to stay engaged and to be okay with complexity. Someone may say the thing that they don’t know better yet, and I can look at them and still see the self that’s in them as well. 


Rebecca Ching: Whoa.

Kim Paulus: Yeah. I mean, and I feel like I got a lot of that from you, Natalie, also, just in the way that you -- you do, you speak the truth in a way that is so loving. I’ve said this to you. I’ve read emails that you’ve sent. I have listened to things that you have said, and it’s so loving. I feel it deep in my heart when you say it. Even when you're saying the thing that people need to hear that they don’t necessarily want to hear.

Rebecca Ching: Loving in the sense that it is frickin’ powerful. 

Kim Paulus: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: I say nice is appeasing and complicit; kind is loving and generous. That means there’s room for scrappy. I think that’s the thing for me is you both are such powerful women, but there isn’t a sense of the pie is only small and someone else comes in and oh, no, there’s a threat. I’ve not sensed that from you and other leaders in this cohort, and that’s new to me, and I just turned 50. That’s really new. I’ve not felt like let’s grab another chair. Let’s do this.

Natalie Gutierrez: And I really appreciate that so much. I just have to say I feel that I can speak up more because I know that there are people like you both cheering me there. It’s harder to do it, and I’ll still do it, but I’m shakin’, like, I’m shakin’ in my boots.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: Yep.

Natalie Gutierrez: Because there’s something about you know that there are people that have your back that are encouraging you and are listening, because it’s hard to also speak when folks are dismissing or not listening, and I feel like, especially for Black, Indigenous people, that is the experience that happens a lot of the time is there’s a lot of speaking and not enough listening.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm. Yep.


Natalie Gutierrez: So having you both there, I just have to say, is helpful. Just having people there -- this is where community comes in and is just so important.

Rebecca Ching: It’s everything.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, it is, and when you’re talking about the scarcity piece, I feel like I was that person.

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm.

Natalie Gutierrez: Back in the day I was that person. I was that person that was like -- I don't know if I can curse here but, “Sugar, honey, sugar honey, I see. Shit.” [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Oh. [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: I think we already stepped over that line [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: Okay, great. And so, in the past, I’ve been the person that has been like oh, my god, there’s not enough for both of us, and so, now, there’s like a oh, my god, if this person is being heard more or seen more or whatever, getting more accolades, then I’m like [Frantic Breath In] there’s something wrong like I’m not good enough. Again, all from those cultural legacy burdens that have turned into those legacy burdens. And so, I have had to do a lot of work around releasing the burden of scarcity, that there is not enough and have had to say no, no, no, no, no, white supremacy wants you to believe that.

Rebecca Ching: Hello.

Natalie Gutierrez: Wants you to believe that there is not gonna be enough, and so, somebody’s gonna receive less, right? There’s not enough, and I don't want to buy into that anymore, and I especially don’t want to buy into that with anyone, actually, but it also seems like it hurts more when it’s coming from folks in your community, and we’re kind of turning on each other because that is exactly what oppressors want. 


So I have done a lot of work around that, and now I can just say there are gonna be times that I’m just gonna listen, and there are gonna be times where I’m gonna speak, and all of that is wonderful. I’m enough, that person is enough, and, in fact, we need to do this together to be that -- I feel like strength doesn't even cut it -- but, like, be that movement that we have so needed. 

Rebecca Ching: The word power keeps coming up to me.

Kim Paulus: Yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: It’s powerful to stay grounded in my humanity and your humanity even when we’re missing each other. It’s work, and it’s work, and it’s harder to do that when we’re still carrying the burdens of our own personal traumas, cultural traumas. I know, for me, I breathed in -- by the gallons, I’ve been drinking misogyny and toxic masculinity and was raised up on patriarchy. I’ve had so many mixed messages around what it means to be strong and powerful, so thank you for naming that. It is the work. It’s about something bigger. Even the spaces that are my little bubbles and echo chambers.

I know you addressed this already, but what are some of the fears and concerns that showed up as we started to kind of move from oh, we’re in this group together to getting a little more personal, and how have you addressed them? 

Kim Paulus: I mean, Rebecca, I really appreciated what you said earlier about -- I don't even know if we were recording at this point, but when you were like I have parts that are like ooh, friends, and get really excited, and then you're like whoa, I’ve got to slow my roll -- ‘cause, I will say, I watched you do that process even with me, and I noticed what was happening in myself, like, that come on strong in the beginning -- I have parts that, from my own legacy burdens, assume that I’m not gonna belong. Even coming back to that belonging piece, I have parts that assume I’m not gonna belong, and that assume that people are just being nice to me just to be nice and they don’t really mean it.

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.


Kim Paulus: Yeah, and so, I felt myself have that reaction and knew that was my shit, and I’m working on it, and just decided I was just gonna stay. Then I watched you kind of reel yourself back, and I appreciated it. I was like okay, she sees what she’s doing, and it wasn't harmful in any way, but it was just like oh, you’re attuned. That is part of what helped me to know that you are more trustworthy. I saw you being attuned to what was happening between us, and I saw you being attuned to what was happening in yourself and not get defensive, and you took care of yourself. That helped me to feel like I could step forward with you also.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm.

Kim Paulus: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I’m an ‘80s captain of the cheerleading squad. I’ve got parts that feel like “let’s go team!” When I see people’s eyes, there’s certain physical tells or energy I’m like ope, okay, she needs to relax a little bit.

Kim Paulus: I’m also super introverted, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I have so many introverted people in my life. [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: I have to hear that again. Kim, you said you’re secretly introverted?

Kim Paulus: No, I said, I was super introverted. 

Natalie Gutierrez: Oh! [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: I also do love this kind of small group interaction. I thrive on that kind of connection, but big groups -- I find the small pockets in big groups.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, same. Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: How about you, Natalie? What fears and concerns came up as you got to know us, and how have you addressed them?

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, I think, for me, it’s always they're gonna see me. The fear of being seen, that shit is scary. I’m just a master at guarding myself. I’m so good at it. I’m so good at it. 


I’ve had several decades of practice. [Laughs] So the idea of opening myself up to someone is very scary, and I do that with a handful of people because, again, when I’m close to somebody, I’m close to them, and I can give off an energy of stay away. I can give off an energy of slow down. I’m really good about putting people into my tiers that are protective of me. So, like, for me, I think I have wonderful parts that are just able to just pick up on folks’ energy, and that allows me to, I guess, give permission to the parts that are very protective of me and protective of my own sacred energy. It lets people in.

And so, my thing always in meeting someone is how far is this gonna go? How far is this friendship gonna go? This is the self talk. You're gonna need to allow people in. You're gonna need to allow people to see you, because I’m just so terrified of being seen. All my life, I’ve been the person that is always in the background, so being in the spotlight is very hard even though I find myself there a lot. It’s very hard for me to be there. So I think it’s just always, for me, letting people in. So many of my parts have given space to let you in because of the energy and the support and the love that you have given me. So it feels like my parts are like okay, we want more closeness with them. 


We want to let them in. I think I’m also getting to the point where I want to let more people in, but I want to let the right people in. I don't want to let people that -- I don't know how to say it -- that are just perpetuating more of what has harmed me without the consciousness of wanting to change it if that makes sense.

Kim Paulus: Mm. 

Rebecca Ching: It makes a lot of sense. Trust, for me, even as someone who is a raging extrovert, my trust doesn't go deep quickly. My excitement goes deep, my enthusiasm -- and I can go deep with conversations. I think it’s an occupational hazard even with someone I don't know, but it doesn't feel like I’m revealing a lot just ‘cause of, again, what we do, but trust has been -- because of just so many betrayals in my story, and then me not trusting myself and continuing to let people in who are kind of repeating the same stuff, right? I mean, Systems theory 101. And so, it was hard for me to trust. Is this as good as it looks like, and what do I do? It was an interesting trailhead for me to just trust the excitement that was something I felt deeper. 

Sometimes my excitement feels like I just had a green tea, but this felt different, and then that actually was scarier for me because, believe it or not, I’m very private. I’m very open and very relational, but there’s a line, and it’s there, and there are some things that are very private for me, and I found myself even in our conversations just sharing some stuff whether it’s about my family or my marriage or something in my experience in some situations that we’ve been in that I normally wouldn't ‘cause I’d be like ugh, don’t be seen, like you said, Natalie, and not once have I had any backlash. 


My system didn't backlash. There might have been curiosities on oh, how did that land for you, and then it was like I’m gonna trust them that if there’s something I said or did that needs follow up, they're gonna let me know. And so, because showing up without editing, without filtering is not -- I’m trying to have spaces where that is the norm, but it still feels very vulnerable. And so, I can share space with people, but to really be seen, that’s not gone well. On the whole, there were probably more fails than the successes, and the successes are the best ever and the best friends and my husband and my kids and some rich relationships. 

So I appreciate that, but trust is -- I can give away connection, but not my trust. 

Kim Paulus: Mm.

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm-hmm. 

Kim Paulus: Oh, I really appreciate that distinction.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, and so, the Y-O-U turns, I was a little whiplash-y for the first few months, but it was so great to have this methodology, this practice of I’m with you, but my system was so hungry for some deeper connection that they were like okay, we know we’re not alone, but it’d be cool to have some more people too. [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: Mm. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, anything else?

Natalie Gutierrez:  No, that resonated when you said my system was hungry, ‘cause that’s how it feels.

Kim Paulus: Yeah.

Natalie Gutierrez: My system in hungry. My system is hungry.

Kim Paulus: Yep.

Natalie Gutierrez: I’m willing to take the risk, and I’m just thinking of the quote -- oh, gosh, I don't remember who said it, but it’s one of my favorites, and it talks about, essentially -- now I can’t even remember it. [Laughs] It’s my favorite but I always butcher it. It’s basically about the bird flying around, and how when it lands on the branch it’s not really scared about the branch breaking because it believes in its ability to fly. It believes in its capability to remove itself, and that quote -- I can Google it. I can’t remember who said it.


Rebecca Ching: We’ll find it.

Natalie Gutierrez: It’s just so meaningful to me because it’s the reminder of, like, the risk is important. Taking that risk is important because I know that I can keep myself safe. I know that I can remove myself from something that doesn't feel good anymore, and I believe in me.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Natalie Gutierrez: And so, just opening myself up and just trusting and landing where I land and believing that it’s gonna be all right, and if it’s not that I can remove myself, is such an empowering feeling. 

Rebecca Ching: And that my worthiness wasn't on the table whether I had BFFs out of this situation.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yes.

Rebecca Ching: I was worthy. I was safe. I had it, and there were parts of me that had no idea what to expect, and then I went [Deep Breath In] there’s a lot of connection possibility here, and to navigate that and pace it sometimes not so eloquently, right, Kim? I was like, “Ahh, Kim!” Da-da-da-da-da-da. [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: And those parts are lonely, and not many people see that. They maybe see excited or nervous-anxious, selly, spinny, conform-y parts that are trying to fit in, but those ones that are just super stoked and enthusiastic, they don’t get a lot of light, and they're getting more these days. And so, for me, even if it is short-lived, there’s a part of me that’s like yeah, we’ll fade off into the night. For me, I’m a very loyal person. Once someone makes that inner circle, it’s like I got you, you know? 


I’m like I got you, and it’s like I’m on your team, and even if there’s waves in that, I’m like I’m on their team. I’m not just gonna get bounced off because of, you know, whatever shakes it up. And so, it takes a lot to get there, and I haven't felt that reciprocated a lot in my life, but that’s always been something that’s been a value that I’ve given, but it’s hard. Trusting is at the foundation of connection. You can't have connection without trust, as Brené Brown talks about; It’s built in these small moments. She describes connection as being seen, heard, and valued in those little small moments, and it really played itself out for me.

Being in a room of powerful women that are cheering each other on --

Kim Paulus: It’s pretty amazing.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] I mean, that’s where I’m still trying to trust it. Yeah.

Kim Paulus: It’s really healing the scarcity wound for me, I think. Just this sense of all of us in this room together cheering each other on, not competing, really wanting everyone to be lifted up. It is. It’s bringing that feeling of okay, there is enough, there is enough for us, and the more we are together, the more that’s available. The more it builds the energy, and so, there’s even more available for everybody. It fills itself.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, there’s billions of dollars made on perpetuating the scarcity burden. 

Kim Paulus: That’s right.

Natalie Gutierrez: Oh, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Billions. Yeah, that’s a frustrating aspect of our culture, and it really does permeate, at the core, relationships and how we see ourselves and others.

Okay, so let’s go there. We’re gonna go there. We’re gonna talk about the cultural burdens of race. I found out today, Natalie, I’m your first white friend.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah. [Laughs] You really are. I’m not playing. [Laughs]


Rebecca Ching: Okay, before I go, I’m gonna tee this up. For those listening, in our ATP, we -- and I would say we is really more Natalie, and Kim and some other folks that are powerful leaders in the BIPOC community -- kind of shook things up and said we’re not just gonna do business as usual, and that was received by leadership. There had to be a container of trust built before we could just go this is what it means to be an AT and go through all the things. There were a lot of discussions to be had. 

Hey, there, I want to pop in here briefly and explain some language you'll be hearing from Kim, Natalie, and myself in this segment of our Roundtable Discussion. At the time of this recording, the three of us are in a couple of Internal Family Systems trainings which we often refer to as IFS. Now, if you're new to the podcast, Internal Family Systems is founded by Dr. Richard Schwartz, who I interviewed on episode two of this podcast. It’s a methodology for healing, change, and leading ourselves and others. In fact, it’s become a movement that is committed to helping people find more harmony within themselves which, in turn, impacts the larger systems with which we live and work, for the greater good.

Now, one of these IFS trainings Kim, Natalie, and I refer to a lot is a Pilot IFS Advanced Training Program or what you’ll hear we refer to as ATP. This was a training where we were invited to participate in a year-long  program to become assistant trainers, or what we call ATs. I know, that is a lot of acronyms. Now, the three of us are also serving on a leadership team in an IFS Level One training. During this time, we have built a deeper friendship and also reckoned with a lot of pushback from the burdens we all carry from the system of white supremacy -- speaking up, holding space, figuring out if, when to take up space and share. We get into the nuances of all of this inspired from these training experiences together and our connections with each other.


Okay. Now, back to The Unburdened Leader roundtable conversation.

It was a fascinating and important conversation watching how everyone was navigating this. And so, we’ve talked about how the collective burdens of racism has left no one unscathed, whether they’ve acknowledged it or not, it’s left no one unscathed. So I want to read you something that was shared to us in one of our trainings that’s from Dick Schwartz. He’s the founder of Internal Family Systems, and he shared this at this year’s Heirloom Summit, and I want to get your reactions to it, okay?

So Dick said, “Anti-racism education can help us break through the denial, access ourselves, compassion, and courage, and lead us to more action, but we also need to form new relationships with all the parts of us that carry different aspects of the legacy burden of racism. So how can IFS help with all this? First, it can get to the primal level. It can heal the sacred parts and unburden the legacy burdens that are embedded deep within us. It also provides a different non-polarizing way of working with the protectors of those exiles -- the denial, passivity, distracting, and numbing parts,” -- Dick is speaking. Dick’s white. This resonated with me and a lot of people I’m in community with --, “and helping them relax and trust self-leadership. Second, it provides a less shaming language and framework for working with these issues. Isabelle Wilkerson recommends that we, quote, ‘release ourselves of the purity test of whether someone is or is not racist and exchange that mindset for the one that sees people as exiting on a scale based on the toxins they have absorbed from the polluted and inescapable air of social instruction we have received from childhood.’”

Isabel wrote the book Caste, which is powerful. Richard wraps up saying, “IFS is such a mindset. People absorb different degrees of the legacy burden of racism and its accompanying denial, numbing, shame, and fear.”


Discuss. [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: [Laughs] If I could speak for the parts that came up for me as you were reading?

Rebecca Ching: Please.

Natalie Gutierrez: There was one thing around the content about it that’s amazing and just has me -- I mean, I’ve kind of shared this with some folks around, like, how IFS even needs to be taught using this lens. I guess the first thing I want to say is communicating, if we’re being real, right? I think it’s just that this is true for all therapy modalities, that it’s just all been very white for a really long time. I think the part that I carry is that there’s been a lot of movement now with IFS and, you know, getting BIPOC into the space of leadership and everything, and I guess I have a part that carries hurt of, like, why does it take so much suffering of BIPOC for you to now start to bring us into this space? Did no one at any point look at your website, you know, the IFS website or any -- this is for everyone; this is for all therapy modalities -- and say, “Wow, there is something that is a lot of the same here, and what is wrong here, and who are we forgetting, and who are we leaving behind, and who are we not representing?” I don't know what that part needs for the hurt to be released, but it’s just something that’s there, and it’s just something that I just feel like always needs to be said of, like, what happened, and how did this take so long, and why was this okay for so long?


So just naming that, right, because, for me, at least my experience is like a lot of this has been put into gear now after George Floyd’s murder --

Kim Paulus: Yep.

Natalie Gutierrez: -- and Breonna Taylor --

Rebecca Ching: -- and, and --

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah. Right, so that’s what comes up for me, and that, you know, I know things have been taught a certain way for a long time, and I think that, for me, I believe what needs to happen is that we are -- when we’re talking about parts, ‘cause this is the very model that we can do this -- that instead of us saying I’m not racist or I’m not this, that we actually own that if we have grown up (which all of us have) in oppressive systems and systems that perpetuate heteronormativity, that perpetuate racism and classism and ableism and all of it, that it’s important that we recognize the part of us that we’re trying to shield ourselves from, right, that we’re trying to exile, that carry implicit bias, that carry these things that we’ve learned about other people based on what has been taught to us by our family that has been taught to them by the system that we’ve all grown up in because historical trauma, informs legacy burdens, informs everything that we learn about the world and about ourselves.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm.

Natalie Gutierrez: So I think we need to be incorporating this in the IFS trainings. It’s not a matter of if for me; it’s a matter of we need to do it. We need to talk about power and privilege, we need to talk about how we all carry these parts. It can be even so subtle, right? If you're talking and someone says, “Oh, my partner…,” and you assume that they’re in a heterosexual relationship, right, or even a monogamous relationship. 


There are assumptions that were already made because we’ve been conditioned to do this, and so, if we can really just name that as opposed to carrying shame around it and, like, really merging it with shame, if we can kind of just unlink them and just recognize and normalize this is what I’ve been taught. 

Kim Paulus: Yep.

Natalie Gutierrez: Naturally, I’m gonna feel this, and this is not the work that I need to do. That’s true for all of us.

Kim Paulus: All of us. What came up for me as you were saying that is this sense of people need to understand that it is not your fault that you carry these burdens, but it is your responsibility to identify and work with them and release them. It’s not about blaming; it’s about responsibility, and just owning.

Rebecca Ching: Kim, you said it’s not a blame thing, it’s a responsibility thing, but man, that’s probably the number one thing that comes up with those that I work with if they feel blamed. They feel like they're responsible for everything, and then how they respond sometimes leads to we need to unpack that even more, and there’s the othering. But for me, really, this training, we’re still in the throes of COVID, so we’re in a hard stop, but the efficiency of oh, this is wrong but we just gotta -- clap, clap, clap. Let’s get it right. But we need more space, and I’m like that’s the work, but it goes against everything I’ve been trained. This is how it’s always been done. We don't have time. We don't have money. We don't have resources for that. Yeah, you do, we just have to be creative, and I’m recognizing that that’s still not the norm in a lot of spaces that I’m in or a lot of leaders that I work with are in spaces where they are waking up that we need more time and space and their efficiency, perfectionism are still worshiped, and there’s so much nuance in that.


So I appreciate you bringing that up, noting that it’s not about blame, but it’s about our responsibility to do the work ‘cause if we can hold the space for more of the messiness, I’m okay, I’m safe, but that’s the part where it feels ridiculously and painfully slow.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm.

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: Because, like you said, harm is being done now. How we’re training, how we’re leading, and you said therapy theories, I’m saying any kind of professional or personal development, all of it is there. It’s not just clinical theories. 

Kim Paulus: Yeah, I mean, I really hold both of that, too, you know? As you both know, I definitely have parts that feel urgency of things need to be attended to right now and parts that are upset when people are harmed. Then balancing that with this change is slow, and change happens through relationships, and relationships take time. We’re dropped into these Zoom rooms with people and there’s something about the model that is beautiful and gives us this framework to be able to be vulnerable with each other, but we’re dropped into these rooms, and then we’re expected to be vulnerable with each other right away. It’s not natural, whatever that means, right? Relationships take time, and change happens through relationship, but I have parts that are like but what about? People are being harmed all the time. I am being harmed. We are being harmed. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: I think there’s an important distinction to we are doing something, whether it’s a training, a methodology, how we show up, how we create space, that’s harming people now that we need to change now, versus I’ve got to get my DEI statement up on my website. 

Kim Paulus: Yeah, I mean, that’s bullshit.

Rebecca Ching: I want to separate those two.

Natalie Gutierrez: Uh-huh.

Rebecca Ching: That’s what I was saying. We can’t sit there and have more conversations. We need to take action and test things now on how we do our meetings, how we do our trainings, how we do therapy, how we lead, how we do family, you name it. 


So there’s an urgency there, and I think ‘cause there’s bleeding happening in front of us, but the urgency, some of the energy went to how do I look okay? 

Kim Paulus: Yeah.  

Rebecca Ching: And I wanted just to speak to that difference.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, and, you know, as you're saying that, Rebecca, I’m also thinking it’s so easy to tokenize BIPOC. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, we have them here. Look, they’re here,” --

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Natalie Gutierrez: But it’s what changes -- what fundamental foundational changes are you making because there is no way that you’re going to be able to have us in the space as participants and in leadership and think you’re just gonna go by the same manual that you’ve through your whole life. Things need to be incorporated that are really sensitive and understanding of other communities, marginalized bodies. We need to emphasize more legacy burdens and culture legacy burdens in the Level One trainings. We can't skip that. That should never be an option. [Laughs] That we’re really talking about it and also being clear within ourselves so that we can -- Kim, you almost said this in one of the PA gigs that we’re in. When you said, essentially, that we have to kinda see our own culture legacy burdens or our legacy burdens so that we can help others work through them, you know, work through their own, and that is so on point because that’s just such an important part of this. How are we going to -- if we’re gonna make real change, we really need to make real change, including how we’re teaching the model.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm. Yep, yep.


Rebecca Ching: So I’m even thinking from pulling up a little bit to a even a trauma-informed leadership lens, if a leader’s gonna hold space for all of this, we’re gonna go back to -- that we’re hearing dismantling and deconstructing, and we’re seeing the homeostasis, right, the status quo push back with a vengeance, and so, for a leader to go okay, I need to do my own trauma work and release the burdens my system’s holding so I can then hold space or the vulnerability that other people are feeling as I lead them to do things differently. That’s very nuanced work, but it’s not just a checklist of -- we need a systematic way of doing that. I’m thinking of people listening to this right now going okay, how do I know I have these burdens. To me, it’s like well, if you are alive now, you do.

I’m just wondering if you could talk to, on a higher level around these cultural -- just thinking about cultural change, it does start like you said, Kim, with relationship, and it’s slow, but there’s people bleeding right now. How do --

Kim Paulus: How do we change the world right now?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, that’s all.

Natalie Gutierrez: So easy. No, I’m kidding. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: [Laughs] How do we fix it all? [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: Well, I was wondering, for folks that are still maybe at different places of rumbling with this and care to not be an asshole anymore, to themselves or to others, and they don't want to do harm, and they want to run businesses and be a citizen in this community, and they’ve got a lot of stuff internally and a lot of different messages around them and their livelihood is tied up in how do they want -- you know, there’s a lot of things. What do you say to that?

Kim Paulus: I think where I start with is this sense of being curious. Like, can you be curious? I want to ask people to be curious about what is happening around them, and to look around them and see who’s around them and start to think about why that might be if it’s homogenous around them. 


Why might that be? One of the things I appreciate what Dick said in that quote was that -- he even started with anti-racist education is necessary, but it is necesary. I mean, there is the internal work to be done, but I think that what can start to lead you to the internal work, if it’s not work that you’ve done before, is to start to seek out educating yourself about race and about the history of race, about the racial dynamics as they operate in this country now. And so, that means seeking out media by people of color, reading books, watching movies by people of color, watching documentaries that are made by people of color. Listen to the stories of people of color told by people of color, and pay attention to what happens inside of you as you are watching this stuff. There’s so much out there right now. There’s amazing work being put out by incredible thought leaders, scholars, witches, amazing people who are out there, and just start to read it and just start to be curious about the reactions that you have, and then follow those reactions and see where it goes, and then stay curious and compassionate about that. Challenge yourself and notice what happens when you do.

Rebecca Ching: So going back to the model ‘cause curiosity, and that takes courage to look at that is part of self-leadership.

Kim Paulus: And you are gonna get overwhelmed. It is overwhelming when you really start to look at the scope of the impact of white supremacy that has impacted all of us, that harms of all of us, including white people. It is fucking overwhelming. And so, you do it in chunks that your system can handle, but you get down with being uncomfortable. You accept that this shit is gonna make you uncomfortable, and you've gotta figure out how to be okay with that ‘cause it makes us uncomfortable all the time, and we don't have a choice.

Natalie Gutierrez: Right?


Rebecca Ching: I think that’s the tricky part. I can tap in and out of this work.

Kim Paulus: Exactly, right.

Rebecca Ching: Because of how I show up and that’s -- yeah, just leave it there. yeah. But understanding too, just from a trauma perspective, sometimes that is gonna be a dance, and that’s just where someone’s at, and that is okay.

Kim Paulus: That’s okay.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: But to stay curious and have the courage and know the discomfort isn’t gonna take you out and to do the work so it doesn’t is foundational.

Kim Paulus: Right.

Rebecca Ching: Natalie?

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, you know, I was just thinking about how I see, how my experience has been when race is brought up into trainings and I see, in particular, white bodies getting uncomfortable, and I think, at least what my parts are picking up on, is what is landing on their parts is their suffering doesn't matter. So I’ve, often, heard in the trainings when we’re talking about inequity and Black  lives being taken at the hands of police brutality, and there has been, then, people -- white folks, in particular -- that, then, are like, “What about me? I also have trauma too, right? I also have trauma too,” and it’s like, “Yes, of course you've had trauma, and no one is trying to minimize that trauma when we’re talking about racial trauma, but that trauma and racial trauma are not the same,” and oftentimes, BIPOC have racial trauma and that trauma that you’re also speaking of. 


So I think it’s important -- alongside what Kim is saying, is that folks get really curious about their own intersectional identities because there’s also been folks I hear, like, “Well, I also grew up poor,” right? it’s like, “Yes, you grew up poor, and you grew up in a white body. So even when you are poor, you are in a white body and you have privilege when you are in a white body, and less privilege, less financial privilege because you were poor. I think it’s important for folks to get really knowledgeable about their own intersectional identity so that we can see it’s not that oh, you have privilege and that’s it; there are identities that you carry that are not privileged or not as privileged. The white body was constructed to be the most privileged. So I think it’s important for folks to -- because people get really polarized around it and, really, then want to dismiss the other experience, and it’s just a -- no one is saying that your pain doesn't matter. 

I think that’s the thing. People want to know and believe that their pain matters. No one is saying that your pain matters, but we are also saying -- and that’s the whole movement with the all lives matter thing, right? Oh, no, all lives matter, right? Not just Black lives, but Black Lives Matter is not saying only Black lives matter.

Kim Paulus: Right. Right.

Natalie Gutierrez: But that is the identity that is being harmed the most when it comes to racialized identity. So I think folks really just need to -- I think it’s important that we all get really clear about our intersectional identities and where we hold power and privilege and see things through that lens, because that, for me, in my parts it feels less polarizing because I’m privileged. 


Even as a Latina, I still have lighter skin, so I have more privilege, and there’s so much colorism in my community too because of that, right, and so much anti-blackness. So it’s important for me to be clear about where I have privilege, because when someone else that doesn't have privilege, and I have more privilege than them, and they're coming in and saying something, and I’m like, “Well, what about me? I have brown skin,” depending on what we’re talking about, it really isn't the same.

Kim Paulus: Yeah.

Natalie Gutierrez: So I think, especially for white folks, it’s just important to really get clear about that. That this whole discussion is not saying that their pain doesn't matter. It just means that racial trauma is entirely different, and that’s a whole other category. 

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm, and deserves attention, deserves care.

Rebecca Ching: It’s hard when people are in their own pain, are struggling to put food on the table, or to find a job or to feel valuable or to belong, and all of these things that keep us divided like why can’t we just find where we have things in common and start from there or how about we just connect and understand someone else’s lived experience and start from there?

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm.

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: But there’s this same-ness that does bypass and does kind of want to dismiss this conflict, this, as you said, Kim, this sense of discomfort, but it isn't about blame, and I think I’m gonna go back to what you said. If anyone’s listening to this and noticing ugh, I’m feeling like a shitty human, it’s more of that discomfort to get curious about it like you so wisely point us back to what this model does. What IFS does is okay, what am I uncomfortable with about this conversation right now, what is it bringing up, what are the fears, what are the concerns, where is shame knocking, what are the critical voices saying, and that’s the work right now. That’s it. You are enough, and it’s, again, how do you want to use your privilege as you wake up to it?


Kim Paulus: Right. That’s right.

Rebecca Ching: And the nuances of it, and we can still have hard conversations with love. This is what I think I’m most excited about -- and we can wrap up on this, thank you both -- is these hard conversations that we’ve had amongst the three of us or within our cohort that were in this training or the Level One that we’re apart of, these hard conversations are moving -- they’ve been sometimes painfully hard -- moving us forward as individuals, as smaller groups, and as an organization, and we’re in the weeds of it, and so, that’s the work. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about never being misunderstood. It’s doing the work to go what do I believe, what do I need to learn more of, and where do I need to get support?

I’d love for you to share what are your favorite books or favorite people to follow on Insta, your favorite movies? What are you reading? What are the things that are like these are my top favorite resources or people or places to learn?

Kim Paulus: You know, I want to think about it some more, but the person that comes to mind right now is a woman named Adrienne Maree Brown. She is a Black queer woman. She’s a beautiful writer, and she’s written a couple of books, one of them called Emergent Strategy, and one of them called Pleasure Activism which really just looks at how we find joy while also doing the work of activism and how the act of finding joy is a radical thing that we do, particularly as people who have been marginalized. I think about that all the time. This work, it requires -- it’s hard fucking work as we’ve been talking about. It’s really uncomfortable. It’s really terrible. Doing the healing work that needs to happen also means -- I think part of the healing is that we get to have joy while we are doing this. We get to have moments of play. 


We all deserve to have that, and I think centering joy and centering play and centering sensuality in all of its forms is a big part of what we need to feed us in doing this work collectively and doing it together.

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: Powerful.

Kim Paulus: Yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: Thank you. How about you, Natalie?

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah, so I think my favorite -- I’m trying to think who’s my favorite, favorite, favorite. It has to be Sonya Renee Taylor.

Kim Paulus: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: Hello.

Natalie Gutierrez: She’s the shiznit. She is so good.

Kim Paulus: Yep. It just makes sense.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yes, yes!

Rebecca Ching: You know, how she deconstructed -- this is what I’ve been sharing with everyone that’ll listen -- she moved away from -- moving away from self respect, self worth, and self esteem to self love. I’ve never heard anyone really unpack that the way that she did.

Natalie Gutierrez: I just also have to say I have a part that’s saying don’t forget to mention Resmaa because [Laughs] he’s like my number two.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, please!

Kim Paulus: Yeah, yeah.

Natalie Gutierrez: He’s my number two! Author of My Grandmother’s Hands, yeah.

Kim Paulus: Yeah.

Natalie Gutierrez: His IG will school you. I was telling Kim I want to take a somatic abolitionism training one day.

Kim Paulus: Me too.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Natalie Gutierrez: I’m gonna just be in trainings forever.

Kim Paulus: I know, forever, and that book is, like, some of what brought these thoughts for me around getting curious about our reactions to things ‘cause as I was reading that book, there were times that it was so uncomfortable for me to read that book as a person who’s biracial, who’s half white, and just thinking about the burdens of violence that white people have experienced coming through, and how that comes out against people of color, but there were moments of it that were so uncomfortable for me that I had to put it away. I noticed myself, like, I’ve gotta turn away from this, and that is hard work to stay present within and to stay curious about what’s so uncomfortable. 

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah.

Kim Paulus: Yeah.


Rebecca Ching: And so, don't do it alone. That’s the key.

Kim Paulus: Exactly.

Rebecca Ching: Whether it’s therapy, whether it’s a coach, whether it’s colleagues, whether it’s community, don't do it alone. 

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: For me, I think, as if this is captain obvious, but even in my own healing journey, especially in this area, is because of my relationships, because I‘m waking up more to things and myself, and then deepening the humanity of other people and other people’s lived experiences, and that’s changed how I make decisions and how I lead myself and others. So we can't do this in a vacuum.

Kim Paulus: Yeah, ‘cause this work happens collectively, you know?

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: It does. It does.

Kim Paulus: You know, when we’re doing this work that activates the parts of us that hold so much shame, what is healing is to have those parts be able to come into the light, come out of the shadow, and we can just be real with what the shame is. I say this like it’s a big deal. It’s fucking uncomfortable, but it’s so much healing and bringing that to the surface, and having people around you who can be like I see this and I still love you, I see this and I feel this also.

Natalie Gutierrez: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Witnessing, just, again, going back to the IFS model. Yeah, thank you both. You both are treasures to me.

Kim Paulus: Thank you, Rebecca.

Natalie Gutierrez: Thank you.

Rebecca Ching: Natalie, let’s start with you. Where can people find you if they want to connect with you and your work? Where can they find you?

Natalie Gutierrez: I’m not big on social media, so the only social media platform that I have that’s public is Instagram, and my Instagram handle is @nataliegutierrezlmft. They can find me there or my website www.traumacounselingnyc.com.

Rebecca Ching: You put some wonderful stuff out there. Kim, how can people find you and connect with you?


Kim Paulus: Yeah, I’m even less on the socials than Natalie. My Instagram is all pictures of my dog and pictures of food that I made. [Laughs] So yeah, people can go to my website which is kimpauluspsychotherapy.com. My phone number and email address are on there. 

Rebecca Ching: Awesome, if people want to do consultations -- if they’re not in California or New York, but they just wanted to talk about what they heard today and just do consultations, are you both available to that? 

Natalie Gutierrez: Mm-hmm.

Kim Paulus: Mm-hmm, yeah, I have space available for some consultation, absolutely. Yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: Awesome. You both are incredible resources, so I definitely want to promote that as an option to anyone listening, too. So thank you both for your time. I am so excited for folks to listen to us just do what we normally do. 

Kim Paulus: [Laughs]

Natalie Gutierrez: [Laughs]

Kim Paulus: Go deep.

Natalie Gutierrez: Love it!

Kim Paulus: Love it! I don’t know how to do it otherwise.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you so much for showing up today. I appreciate you.

Natalie Gutierrez: Thank you, Rebecca. Appreciating you.

Rebecca Ching: Stepping into leadership is stepping into discomfort, on repeat, again, and again, and again. Now, leading well -- now, shoot, just being a good human requires tolerating the discomfort of being witnessed in all your humanity. Having trusted relationships, even a precious few, are a game changer when it comes to building more courage to be seen, not just in your successes, but when you have falls and failures. When you feel supported and also have the capacity to support the parts of you that feel vulnerable, it is easier to show up for those who need you while staying aligned with what matters most. What relationship sharpened you and brings out the best in you? What supports your capacity to build and sustain trust? How are the burdens from our story and our culture weighing you down and impacting your capacity to tolerate discomfort? 

Now, I am so grateful for friends like Natalie and Kim and the other leaders in my IFS ATP cohort who have cultivated a sense of belonging and trust that feels rare and sacred. 


Now, I’m learning when you dare to trust and get out of your bubble, you will expand both your world view and your heart which, in turn, will also expand your capacity to lead through discomfort. 

Leading is hard, and leading is also freakin’ uncomfortable. This discomfort is unavoidable as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Now, the inevitable discomfort can challenge your confidence, clarity and calm. Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions, but sometimes when the stakes seem higher, they 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 so 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 and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.

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. If it touched you and inspired you, I’d be so grateful if you could share this episod with someone who you think could benefit from it and please leave a review. You can find this episode, show notes, and ways to sign up for my weekly email, free Unburdened Leader resources along with ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.


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