Britt Frank is the writer of “The Science of Stuck: Breaking Through Inertia to Find Your Path Forward.” Britt’s upbringing exposed her to a lot of the things she now studies and the things that she helps others to understand about themselves. Her approach to therapy focuses on the physical reality of mental health by targeting the physiological processes that drive our sometimes illogical or unwanted decisions. She uses this knowledge to help others understand their different parts and how to effectively interact with them as an effective method of self-care.
In this Interview on the School for Good Living Podcast, Britt joins me to talk about some important things that I believe really have the potential to help you live the life you want to live, be the person you want to be, and make the contribution you want to make. We talked about why mental health is a physical process, all the different aspects of our self, and why self-care maybe ought to be called parts care. We talked about why your browser history and transactional history might actually be the greatest entry points into shadow work. We also talk about things related to making your intimate relationships work, making them last, making them a rich and fulfilling why and making amends is so much more satisfying than apologizing.
“Mental health is not a mental process—mental health is a physical process.”
Connect With The Guest:
Brilliant Miller [00:00:12] I once had a coach who told me nothing is as predictable as breakdown. That coach might have said “nothing is as predictable as getting stuck,” and no one knows that better than my guest today, Brit Frank, who’s written a book called “The Science of Stuck: Breaking Through Inertia to Find Your Path Forward.” This is a book I absolutely loved. This is a conversation I loved. We covered so many things that I believe really have the potential to help you live the life you want to live, be the person you want to be, and make the contribution you want to make. Here’s just a few of the things that we discussed: we talked about why mental health is actually a physical process, we talked about something called the mono mind theory, which is something that probably is not actually all that useful, but instead looking at parts theory or internal theory systems, all the different aspects of ourself. Why self-care maybe ought to be called parts care. We talked about why your browser history and why your money might actually be the greatest entry points into shadow work – what shadow work is and a little bit of how to do it. Why you might want to. We talk about subconscious rewards for staying stuck. We talk about holding space versus giving advice. So this is a conversation especially that’s useful for coaches or anyone in the therapeutic or healing arts. We talk about perspective versus comparison. We talk about motivation and why there’s no such thing as an unmotivated person, why there’s no such thing as crazy or lazy, by that way. And we also talk about things related to making your intimate relationships work, making them last, making them a rich and fulfilling why and making amends is so much more satisfying than apologizing. And we also talk about boundaries. I’m challenged by boundaries. Why many people get boundaries wrong when they’re actually making a request or even an ultimatum. And how you can use that knowledge to improve the quality of your life. Oh, and we cover grief. Something toward the end of the interview before we get into all the good stuff about writing and the creative process. So with that, this is, as I said, a wide ranging conversation. We cover a lot of stuff and you can learn more about Britt and her work. You can find her on Instagram. She’s got a great Instagram page. You can also find her on the Web at ScienceOfStuck.com and of course, you can find her book at fine booksellers around the globe. So with that, I hope you enjoy and benefit from this conversation with my friend Britt Frank. Britt. Welcome to the School for Good Living.
Britt Frank [00:03:01] Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:05] Tell me, please, what is life about.
Britt Frank [00:03:09] Coming out with the big guns! So I think that question will vary wildly depending where you are and who you ask. For me, what is life is being able to respond and choose and build and create and expands rather than react. And deflect and defend and constricts.
Brilliant Miller [00:03:32] Okay. Thank you. So, as I thought about where I wanted to open this interview, two things came up and we can start there or anywhere else you’d like. One is a bookcase you built for yourself, inspired by Nancy Drew or smoking meth out of a lightbulb. Any one of these might be an interesting place to begin, but where shall we start?
Britt Frank [00:03:57] The Nancy Drew bookcase is a fun little story. So I really love play and inner child work and creativity. And when I finally got my life together and had the ability to purchase my own house, I’m like, I am building a secret bookshelf, case door, where you pull on a book and it’s the book of mysteries. And the door opens to a secret staircase to, you know, a magical land of couches and poofy things and blankets where I can read and hide from the people in my house. So that’s my thing.
Brilliant Miller [00:04:28] And you did that, it’s a real thing.
Britt Frank [00:04:31] It is a real thing. It exists. And our friends know my husband and I, when they come over, if I’m gone, that’s where I am. And you know I love you and goodbye.
Brilliant Miller [00:04:41] You know, I read Nancy Drew when I was younger, not the Hardy Boys. I read them occasionally, but I actually really loved the crossovers where they were together. And I was somewhat I don’t want to say devastated, but when I learned that Carolyn Quinn is a real singular person that actually wrote all those Nancy Drew books. I like that. People do that well.
Britt Frank [00:05:05] It’s so upset. She was my hero and I still have trouble. I’m like, Nancy Drew was 18 years old. So when I meet 18 year olds, I’m like, Oh, my gosh, wow. I didn’t know anything at 18. So she’s still in my head is more like 35.
Brilliant Miller [00:05:17] Yeah. Well, this thing about childhood and this child work is something I definitely want to ask you about, about regression and about where we get stuck in life and how we get out of that and so forth. But maybe you can tell me a little bit about what was life like for you growing up? Where did you grow up? What was your family like? What was life like when you were young?
Britt Frank [00:05:37] We can put the smoking method of a light bulb on the shelf until such times as we return to it. So I grew up in a very stereotypical Long Island Jewish family situation where on paper everything looked fine. It was normal. My parents were married and we had a house and enough food and electricity and basic needs were never an issue. And I grew up with these very extreme behavioral symptoms, mood disorder type things. And because everything looked normal and my family are not therapy in our work, let’s say they’re more like we had a hugely traumatic history and we’re just going to push on forward and some people can do that and kudos to them for doing that. But it also came at the expense of me having emotional literacy and understanding that I have a body that does things in response to my environment and a lot of weird sexual abuse kinds of things and just a lot of boundaryless, distorted world chaos that on the surface everything looked fine. So when I started really developing more intense behavioral addictions and chemical addictions, I really thought it was just because I was crazy. My grandmother literally had the men in white coats, came and took my grandmother away when my father was little and gave her shock therapy. So all of the really extreme mental health stuff is rampant on both sides of my family. So I just thought I was coerced with the mental illness gene and that I was doomed to go crazy. And that was my fear ever since very, very early childhood.
Brilliant Miller [00:07:12] I know this is not so uncommon, right? I mean, mental health issues are things that touch every life in one way or another. Dysfunction. I really love how you talk about this in your book. The Science of Stuck is really just a continuum, right? That it’s not binary that a family is functional or dysfunctional. It’s really just a question of how functional or how dysfunctional, you know, this kind of thing. But before we were recording, you told me that you live in Kansas City, and I think you said a New York Jew who lives in Kansas City by choice. Is that right?
Britt Frank [00:07:48] Yes, exactly. The question I always get asked when I say I live in Kansas is, well, why? Which I find hilarious, because clearly they’ve never been here. It’s, you know, oh, is it cows and cornfields? And even if that were the case, cows in cornfields are lovely at sunset. But Kansas City is a wonderful place to live. And, you know, having lived in California and growing up in New York, I needed a place where I could slow the hell down and hear myself think. Being in a city that really values community in a way that I hadn’t experienced prior to, not that other cities don’t. But I just happened to be willing to meet people and connect while I lived here and I went to grad school here. But really, the only thing a New York Jew can do to rebel, it’s not to come home with tattoos or piercings or, you know, have some weird fringe behavior. It’s to be a Christian. So as soon as I could, I joined a Christian fundamentalist cult. And that pops me out of the family system and into a new planet. And that worked for a minute before it didn’t. So that’s how I ended up here.
Brilliant Miller [00:08:52] Oh, my goodness. I forgot this part of the story of a cult, that also could have been a great place to open. So, so many directions we can take this conversation. But where I learned really interested to go is just I’m appreciating your journey. I know, you know, as much as we tell a story as though it’s finished, we’re all works in progress. We’re all a narrative still under construction. But I have a brother who died of alcoholism, and I and I’m no stranger to addiction myself. My dad was a workaholic. He passed away at 64 years old due to, you know, neglecting his health because he prioritized work and so forth. But where I’m going with this is my perception is for every one Britt Frank, there are thousands of people who are still in the abyss or who have self-destructed before this kind of thing. And I realize, you know, that, again, it’s a it’s a work in progress. But I’m curious, what has allowed you to change? Like how have you changed your life so dramatically from where you were in the I would say in the dark, in the darkest times to where you are today.
Britt Frank [00:10:07] And I would say it’s fair to say I went to the furthest abysses of the human experience that was available to me. I’m not saying mine was the worst, but for where I was, I don’t think I could have survived another step into that journey. And I was very fortunate that despite the chaos and the drama and the trauma, I had access to resources and I had my basic needs met and I happened to stumble upon. I had the great fortune of stumbling upon the type of therapy that I now practice. And because most therapists and people don’t know this and this is so important to me that people know you can become licensed and fully operational as a therapist and never learn about the brain or how the brain works, or that you have a nervous system and how that plays into things. And a nervous system that’s been traumatized will look like mental illness. And it’s not. And I was very fortunate early on that I had a a beautiful therapist, Candy Smith. She’s in Kansas City, who said to me, you’re not crazy, you have trauma. And I’m like, No, I don’t. I had a normal, I was convinced that my family was perfectly normal until I was mid-twenties. And so having access to what’s actually happening in our brain and what’s actually going on that’s making these and again, nothing justifies my crazy behavior. Nothing justifies the harm that I caused. But understanding there was an origin to even the most baffling of my symptoms. And that understanding the origin of that and that there is a physiological based pathway forward really allowed me to, you know, and I was stubborn. I waited till my life hit the rocks and I had to burn a lot of things down in order to come back. But because I had that information, I knew that if I burned my life down, I would be able to emerge. And most people, not most some people won’t do the burning of their life down because they don’t think they will survive the fire. Because of this information about the brain that I had access to, I knew that I would be okay. So I just sort of closed my eyes, held my nose and jumped out.
Brilliant Miller [00:12:07] You know, that’s something that I really appreciate. And the way you you talk about it is what I’m hearing. And what you’re saying now is in your book you write, Mental health is not a mental process. Mental health is a physical process. Will you say more about that?
Britt Frank [00:12:22] Sure. And people get angry at me when I say that. So when I say mental health is a physical process, I don’t mean exercise and diet and get some sunshine and you’ll be fine. Mental health is very little to you know, our minds are this existential non pin down a bull saying no one has figured out what consciousness is, but we know that our minds live inside these squishy brains and our brains live inside these organisms that we call bodies. And a lot of how we think and a lot of how we feel as a result of our bodies interacting with the environment. So in other words, if my nervous system is perceiving a threat in the environment for whatever reason and it doesn’t have to be logical, it could be anything, then my amygdala, the brain’s panic button, is going to create incredibly uncomfortable, terrifying symptoms that we call a panic attack. But it’s not an attack. It’s my brain trying to warn me. And so, you know, knowing that mental health is not mind work is important and mind work matters. But mental health first and foremost is physiological. You can’t work with your logic and your thinking if your brain thinks you’re about to be eaten by a lion. But we don’t know that. So we think, Oh, I. Do my affirmations. My thought works not working. I’m doing the journaling and I’m doing my gratitude list. So what’s my problem? Well, your problem is that the logical part of your brain is not accessible, and the survival functions of your brain are going haywire. So we have to put the fire out here first, and then we can do that beautiful thinking cognitive work. But mental health is primarily and firstly physical.
Brilliant Miller [00:13:56] And something else that you talk about that I think is so insightful. And it’s something I work with clients that I coach. I don’t feel that I’ve totally mastered kind of an explanation of it for people I work with. But it’s this idea, this idea that no matter how crazy some of our behavior might seem, I believe it’s always working to serve us in some way, if only to awaken us to something, to make us aware of something. Or maybe it’s like a failed or a flawed strategy to achieve something, security, love, something else. But that’s something that you talk about really masterfully in this book and not just criticizing ourselves are not just feeling, you know, like exasperated or hopeless because we are doing a certain thing. We’re eating ice cream again at 3 a.m. where we’re scrolling again through a what’s this new term? Doomscrolling, you know, when we should be sleeping and this kind of thing. But when you talk about these kinds of behaviors that we find ourselves in sometimes that doesn’t seem to be serving us. And by the way, there might be a connection here. I love what you say about self-care, maybe really ought to be called parts care. Will you talk about that?
Britt Frank [00:15:08] Absolutely. And going back to what you were saying right before, there’s no such thing as crazy. And that is such important news to share that just because we don’t know why we’re experiencing something doesn’t mean we’re crazy. And I’ve worked with people when I was a baby therapist, I worked inpatient psych and I saw the most extreme fringe kind of things when people think of severe mental illness. But if you look at their file and you talk to them and you look at the history and the context that makes sense, that they believe what they believe and that they’re hearing the things that they’re hearing. Everything makes sense in context, even if we do not know what the context is. And that is so important. And I totally lost track of the second part of your question because I’m like, there’s no such thing as crazy. It’s not a thing.
Brilliant Miller [00:15:53] I appreciate you calling that out. And I was talking about these behaviors that we might call self-defeating behaviors or self-sabotaging, you know, the kinds of things that we just don’t understand, the kinds of things that represent being stuck in some area of our life. Maybe, yeah, maybe we experience them as stuck, but maybe there’s another way to look at them.
Britt Frank [00:16:14] Parts care. That’s what we were saying. Yes. Thank you. Squirrel, rabbit trail. So, you know, our personality is not just this one thing. You know, the motto mind of I am just one personality is not true. Every complex system is made of multiple parts. Every complex system in nature, in the physical realm, is made up of a tree is one organism, but it has leaves and bark and roots. And these different our bodies have a circulatory system and a respiratory system. Why do we think that our personality is this one thing rather than a collection of parts and subparts? And it’s in our language, right? Part of me knows that I shouldn’t be doomscrolling, but there’s this other part of me that takes over. And so knowing first and foremost that that’s a thing, our personality is made up of a myriad of parts, all who have competing agendas and different beliefs and different thoughts and feelings. But if we’re practicing self-care and we don’t understand which part of us is needing the care and it’s not going to work. So if I have like a really angry teenage part, if my 16 year old is just wanting to go and just cause chaos and just do wild things, something like a bubble bath isn’t going to get that job done. A yoga class is not going to soothe an angry teenage part, at least not for me. That might not be true for someone else. But if I don’t know that I have an angry teenage part, I’m going to try interventions and go, Oh, self-care doesn’t work for me. Or if I have a, you know. And I was left alone in my crib for many, many hours as a baby because I was, quote, a good baby who didn’t cry. So let’s say I have an attachment disorder, six month old part. That part is going to need interventions that are soothing and nurturing and likely will require a connection with someone else. If I don’t know that, then I’m going to go do a peloton workout and beat myself up for why I don’t feel better. So in order to have our self-care be effective, we need to understand that we are made up of multiple parts and sub parts and we need to get to know them. There’s a whole, Dick Schwartz, who created Internal Family Systems, says it. I love his work. There’s an entire society of people inside of our minds that if we get curious and get to know our fantastic even the ones that are a little scary all of the parts of. Valuable. Their behaviors are not all helpful or functional or safe or legal, but all parts have value.
Brilliant Miller [00:18:38] Yeah, there’s something there’s so profound that I think in this and there’s this idea that I’ve heard of love as making space, right? That we can think of love in a lot of different ways. But this way of thinking of that, of just making space for that part of me that wants to throw a tantrum right now, or that part of me that wants to stay up late or eat ice cream for breakfast or whatever. But then sometimes there is the part of me that just needs to be the adult and parent myself. As difficult or unpleasant as that might be. But what’s your experience in really learning to identify and to name and to work with those? I mean, you mentioned the experts and internal family systems, and I know it’s not the only way. It’s a very respected way. But if somebody is hearing this and they’re thinking, man, that would benefit me or like that is just really resonating right now. What do you recommend for somebody to really get a handle on this more for themselves?
Britt Frank [00:19:35] And I love this body of work so much because I am convinced that the core of most of what we see in the world that’s going wrong is a result of this internal split. You know, if I am not in a relationship with the darkest parts of my psyche and I try to repress them or deny them, they’re going to show up somewhere and they usually show up as projections or triggers or crazy-making things. So I love shadow work is really what it comes down to, which is Carl Young’s work, which I love and it sounds so super mystical and woo and I love mystical and I love worlds. But in order to be able to do this work, we have to make it not so scary. If I said to a client, Now we’re going to go to the darkest recesses of your psyche where all of those secret thoughts that I know you think are there and we’re going to bring them all up to the surface. I would never have a client again. I have to sort of weave my way into that. So we have to start with the assumption that there are no parts of our psyche that are inherently bad. Like they’re not. They may want to do bad things. They may have impulses to do bad things, but behaviors can be good or bad behaviors can be binary, but parts are all important and that if you can go inside knowing that you’re not going to be attacked by any part of your personality, then it’s safe to do the work. And then once you make it safe to do the work and someone is like, I want to start doing shadow work, what do I do? I’m like, Look at your browser history. That’s a great place to start shadow work because I would much rather someone know my drug history than see my browser history because the places that we mindlessly go tend to give us information towards those shadow parts of ourselves, like, Oh my God, did I really Google that? I totally did.
Brilliant Miller [00:21:20] That. It’s a that is a great way of looking at where to begin with shadow work. And I love so many of the things that you you included in your book because something Robert Bly wrote you included that every part of our personality, that every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us. That’s that’s pretty amazing. And then I love this thing with Margaret Atwood, where if we were put on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.
Britt Frank [00:21:45] All of us. And the problem is, is when those thoughts cross our minds, no matter how we all have them, violent thoughts aggress. We all have a full set of human characteristics the good, the bad and the holy crap. And so if we don’t know that it’s okay that that’s not doesn’t define you. That’s not is not the totality of you. That’s all it is. One part of a million pieces of your personality. It’s not so scary and we can deal with it. It’s like, okay, I wonder who is thinking this incredibly violent thought right now? And I wonder what the need is that’s driving that impulse. Then we can tend to it. But like my addict parts like today’s Friday. So Friday I have such a history of Friday being the day where I completely obliterate myself as soon as the sun goes down. My first impulse is still to do that. I don’t anymore. But you know, as soon as the sun goes down, my little part is going to go, let’s go get some drugs. And it’s like, does that mean I’m going to do it? And it doesn’t mean that that part of me is bad. It’s like, Oh, you’re wanting to relax, you’re needing to calm down, and then I can choose an intervention that will meet the need. But if we don’t know that those really gross thoughts that we all think all of us are normal and useful, then we’re not going to acknowledge them. And anything we don’t acknowledge will turn against us.
Brilliant Miller [00:23:04] Yeah. And what you’re saying about like a Friday night and this impulse is there, I think a lot about something I heard Tony Robbins say during a program I did with him where he said, the part of you that’s wounded will always be wounded. It just can’t be in charge anymore. It’s like, whoa, that’s pretty, pretty profound. Let’s see. Oh, and something else that you talked about I think is relevant right here, which is that this idea. Idea of how to make your how to make your inner self-talk work for you instead of against you. This was one of those little gems. This is why I. I love to read every page of my guess books because I might miss something like this. But when you talk about this one simple trick to make your inner self-talk work for you instead of against you.
Britt Frank [00:23:54] Sure. And I am really not a fan of like, here’s three easy steps to solving these giant, complex, nuanced problems. However, this is a brain hack that actually does work, and it’s actually really easy to do, and it’s to turn your inner monologue into an inner dialog. Okay, so what does that mean? Our self-talk normally comes in the form of I feel I think I believe. I want, I need, I don’t. Etc.. So instead of thinking in I language, which sort of blends us together with all of our parts and goes back to that model mind, I am one thing. You know, if you can dialog with that part of you. Okay. So I wanted you do drugs because it’s Friday. Okay. That will likely be my first impulse always. And that’s fine. And okay, that is a part of me. So now I’m going to separate my I from my she. My pronouns are she her so I versus the she. Now I can talk to her own inner dialog. It makes people feel totally loopy and crazy, but there’s no such thing as crazy. So now I’m having a dialog. Okay. Hybrid. Who wants to do drugs? What’s up? I know this is how you’re feeling. Tell me more. I want. It’s like you would talk to a dear friend. Or if you’re a parent the way you would talk to a child. A child often has really nonsensical, illogical thoughts and feelings. But, you know, well, if you’re a quality parent, you don’t slam that down. You say, Oh, how interesting that you think that. Well, I wonder what we can do to help that part of you. And so if you can create a space, you know, Viktor Frankl said, you know, in between stimulus and response, there’s a space. And in that space lies our ability to choose rather than just reacting from trigger response. Trigger response. And so creating a dialog, you know me I to she her versus I think and I don’t like and I want that slows us down and it slows us down enough to create space, which, as you said, that’s love, right? If I’ve created enough space in my psyche, my nervous system slows down, my logical brain stays lit up, and then I can reason and work with the parts to find a solution instead of, Oh, I’m just not going to do that because I don’t do that. Behavior modification very rarely works, and if it does work, it works at the expense of wholeness. So this dialog thing is a really fabulous brain hack. Turn your inner monologue into an inner dialog.
Brilliant Miller [00:26:11] That’s so remarkable. And to me, this is exactly you know, we can talk about empathy, we can talk about compassion, we can talk about curiosity, and we can talk about consciousness. And these things can all remain concepts. But this is, to me, a perfect example of an opportunity to apply those things, right? That awareness of which part of me, and then the compassion for whatever that part wants or needs at that moment. And then the choice, the awareness, and the choice that can come. So I geek out on this, but I really appreciated that insight. So thank you.
Britt Frank [00:26:45] Thank you. And there’s been studies done that, you know, going into this third person language versus the first person language actually does work because we’re very quick to give empathy to other people, but we’re very quick to beat ourselves up. And if we can create this I verses my parts, not verses, but there’s the I and the she, then I’m going to be more likely to extend that same capacity for empathy to myself, to my parts that I would for another person. And the fact that there’s a science to back that up makes me so happy.
Brilliant Miller [00:27:16] Yeah and like you said, it can be very uncomfortable at first when we engage in this. And at the same time, I think we pretty much all know, not everyone, I remember being in a room once where the facilitator in the front of the room was pointing out that little narrator in her head, and it was a woman in the room who was like 50 something years old, and she audibly gasped when she realized there was a little voice narrating, You know, I don’t know how someone lives five decades before realizing that, but it makes me think about the what I think it was in. Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. When he opens by talking about having this thought, I can no longer live with myself and that split that we all have, whether we’re aware of it or not. So even though this can be uncomfortable at some level, I think we know there is this duality inside us.
Britt Frank [00:28:05] And it’s embedded in our language. And when people push back on me, that feels weird and that feels dumb. My question is, okay, cool. How’s your way working? I’m not here to sell you on doing it, but like your way doesn’t work as evidenced by the normal has produced. Not good results. So let’s try something totally off and totally. And again, if you look at the science, it makes sense. But if it doesn’t work, do it. The way you’ve always done it. Then let’s do something else.
Brilliant Miller [00:28:33] Yeah, absolutely. Oh, cool. Okay, so one thing we didn’t talk about and it was right in this vein, I think, was the subconscious reward for staying stuck. Will you say a little bit more about that?
Britt Frank [00:28:49] Sure. And this goes back to the are you willing to get to know all of the parts of yourself, including the scary ones? Because when I was in my addiction, I would have sworn to you, I get nothing out of this. This is destroying my life. I have to stop. And, you know, that’s it. And that’s not really totally true. All of our behaviors are functional or we wouldn’t do them. So again, that doesn’t mean that all behavior is legal or logical or healthy, irrational or good. It does mean that if you weren’t getting something out of the behavior, it wouldn’t exist. And so the next question is, well, what kind of rewards could come from? You know, for me, being in a domestic violence situation, being addicted to drugs, you know, avoiding myself and not doing my inner work. You can name any one of these things. And again, when I’m speaking about domestic violence, my caveat is I’m speaking for me. I am not saying this is true for everyone. For me, what was the reward that I got from that? I had access to money and I had access to a community. And being in that relationship avoided me the opportunity to stay in victim mode because look how bad my partner is. So I’m good. They’re bad. And again, there’s a degree to which being victimized is real. So I’m not saying that there’s not actual victimization, but for me, I used that relationship like I used a drug. You know, I’m doing something that’s not good for me. I’m continuing to do it despite negative consequences, which is the definition of addiction, because I didn’t want to deal with my reality or my trauma or the truth of my childhood or whatever. And so, you know, subconscious rewards can be image preservation can be financial risk. You know, if you don’t start that business, you don’t have to risk failing. You don’t have to risk social rejection. And you don’t have to risk loss of finances. But if and again, we’re so ashamed to say that if you had told me back in my addiction, some day you’re going to sit and talk to someone and say, Yup, I did that because I got rewarded by it. Like, Oh, my God, how shameful. But if we know that we’re made up of parts and we can diffuse the shame. So yeah, part of me thought that and part of me did that, and that was a bad look. And that’s not who I am. That was how part of me chose to act. And I still needed to take responsibility and clean it up and all of that. But it’s okay to admit that you get benefits to even your most suboptimal behaviors, whatever they are. So let’s name it so we can change it.
Brilliant Miller [00:31:10] Yeah. That again, to me, I think when we grasp that or even if we’re just open to that as someone who’s looking to understand our behavior and be change it just there it is such a place of empowerment because instead of saying I’m flawed or I’m broken or I’m stupid or something, it’s like, okay, I might not know why I’m doing this thing, but I’m going to trust that there is a reason and that it’s a strategy or it’s an effort to get a need met. And I’m no longer willing to pay this cost if that’s just like especially I can find and this goes back to your thing if there are resources, if there are choices, but if there’s another way for me to get this need met without paying this costs, then I’m going to do that instead. I think that’s really wonderful.
Britt Frank [00:31:56] Well, we’re all masters at the Art of Self-deception to a degree, while we’re on this planet. Not every day, all day in the same way. But if we can make it safe to, you know, Dr. Bessel Van Der Clock says, you know, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to know what we know in order to let all of what we think and feel who we are exist peacefully and harmoniously. We have to be willing to know that we’re not going to die by facing the parts of ourselves that we fear or that you dislike. We often die and get sick in our efforts to escape ourselves, but it’s very rare that people suffer that type of consequence of fatality by going inside and looking at what’s happening in there.
Brilliant Miller [00:32:35] Yeah, but this thing too. You talk about truth, about facing, you know, finding one’s truth, owning one’s true, this kind of thing. I might be using words you didn’t use exactly, but that really struck a chord with me. And I think a lot about something. I read that Terrence McKenna said something like, The problem is not finding the truth or something. Like often the problem is not finding the truth. The problem is facing the truth. And that can be and again, I know we’re speaking in the abstract and so forth, but I think we all know we all have a truth and we all have things we want, things we don’t want, things we hope for, things we hope never happen, this kind of thing. But I’m not even sure if there’s a question here, but I’m just curious if you’ll speak a little bit about when. We? I have a sense that something is true for us that’s underneath a behavior or an addiction even. And yet we haven’t found the courage or the strength or whatever to own that truth. What can we do?
Britt Frank [00:33:38] Mm-hmm. And it’s so important. And I love Martha Beck’s work, and she talks about with clients when they come to her, and they’re like, I just don’t know. I just don’t know that that’s almost never true. And anecdotally, I can say that’s true for me in my process, and that’s true with most of my clients when people say, I just don’t know what to do. What you’re saying is you don’t like what you know you need to do, and that’s different. So if you’re not ready to make the changes, which is fine like no one goes from, Oh my gosh, I have a problem to now I’m making a change. That is not how the change process generally works. So if you know that you’re not ready to do the things. Let’s start by just naming this. This addiction has a function, and I’m too afraid to deal with the reality of it. So today I’m going to use okay, that is a great starting place because that can lead us out of the woods. I don’t know why I’m doing what I’m doing sort of spins us around and it’s the spin that keeps us really stuck. If I’m saying today, I’m going to eat all the ice cream and I’m going to sit and watch all of Bridgeton because I am too scared to go outside and meet people like, okay, we can work with that, but let’s start by naming what’s true instead of shining it up and trying to make it something it’s not. You can only be that honest with yourself so many days in a row before you get thoroughly sick of what you’re doing. And that’s when the change process happens.
Brilliant Miller [00:34:59] Yeah, that’s right. My brother told me many years ago, I don’t even know why this came up, but he was telling me about an article he read about a trainer or fitness instructor who had a client who said, how do I lose weight? Like, I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried diets, I’ve tried, you know, I’ve tried just getting rid of the junk food in my house. I’ve tried the gym membership, stuff like this. And the trainer said, When you’re tired of being fat, you’ll change. I was saying, is it really that simple? Do I just need to get so fed up?
Britt Frank [00:35:30] But you can’t get fed up if you’re not being honest, right? So I know somebody who made all of the excuses in the world not to start their fitness program. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. And then it’s like, well, the truth is that you’re afraid if you get fit, you won’t be attracted to your spouse anymore. And so you are highly motivated to stay right where you are. But don’t say that you don’t know why. If that person continued with that, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. They can avoid the truth. And avoiding the truth is never going to get someone fed up. Because when we lie to ourselves, we can kick the can down the road. But if that person were to say to themselves in the mirror every single day, I’m afraid of if I get fit, I will lose my family. That again, we can work with, that we can figure out is there another strategy? Is there another story that’s available here? But it’s the lying to ourselves about the situation that makes it impossible to get to the state of fed up ness that we need to get to change.
Brilliant Miller [00:36:28] That’s a that’s an interesting insight. Well, there’s so much more here that I want to ask you about. So let me just touch on a few things and then I’ll ask you where you want to go with the conversation. We haven’t talked about anxiety necessarily. We haven’t talked about the difference between emotions, thoughts, and feelings. We haven’t talked about trauma. We haven’t talked about motivation. I love your take on motivation. And then we haven’t talked about this whole part. I love there toward the end of the book about relationships, conflict, contracts, boundaries, apologies versus amends, holding space versus giving advice. There’s so much. But I want to I want to let you talk about that. Anything there or anything else? Where would you like to go with the conversation?
Britt Frank [00:37:16] Oh, so good. Well, do you want something like, here’s a quick and easy tool, something prescriptive, or something more of concepts?
Brilliant Miller [00:37:24] I’m thinking as I. Okay, so what I’m thinking then is because I love coaches and I want to serve coaches, I want to delve into this thing about holding space versus giving advice. And then if you’re okay with it, I would love to talk about what we can do to make our intimate relationships work.
Britt Frank [00:37:44] I’m all about that. So holding space versus giving advice again, going back to what we said that most people actually know what they know. And if I’m giving you advice and it works, I get the credit. And if I’m giving you advice and it doesn’t work, I have to take on the failure. So as coaches, counselors, therapists, mentors, etc., we don’t want to be in charge of the outcome for our clients. So if I’m advised, giving their success is mine and their failures mine. I don’t want to be responsible for the outcome of my clients. Our job is to give information. Their job as fully actualized people is to take that information and apply it or don’t apply it or whatever. The biggest gift you can give to a client in any type of coaching mentoring relationship is to believe in the capacity for them to choose the right thing and not feel like you have to inundate them with Here’s what to do because then they’ll never learn that they can do it themselves. So giving advice unintentionally tells people, I don’t believe in your capacity to know what you know, and I don’t believe you’re strong enough to face your truth. So holding space is sort of giving the conversation room to breathe. It’s skillfully asking questions that will help someone find their way, you know? And we need other people. And advice isn’t always bad. Like, sometimes something just needs a quick, like, hey, if you try this, that’ll work. We don’t need to, like, maneuver through our feelings and thoughts for everything. Oh, my gosh. But holding space just means asking questions and getting curious. And more than anything, it means not having an agenda. Now, as a therapist, that was very hard for me because my agenda is my clients have to get well and that’s my job is for people to get well. If you do that as a coach or a counselor, you’re setting up a parent-child dynamic. So again, if it works, it’s on you, and if it doesn’t work, it’s on you. So in order to really have good client outcomes, we need to detach from the result, which sounds really hard, but it’s so empowering when I say to someone, Hey, I love you and I’m here with you and I’m going to do this with you. But I’m completely invested in your outcome because guaranteed everyone in their life is giving them advice and trying to make them better and trying to get them to a happy, joyful, abundant place. What a gift to sit with someone with no agenda.
Brilliant Miller [00:39:58] Yeah, it really is. And of all those roles that you mentioned, right, one of these two is a friend. To be able to do this as a friend and in some way and this is part of where I geek out on this, too, I think that this is or it can be really spiritual work to just witness. Another is experienced, another is struggling, another is, you know, attempting to make sense of life. And there’s something really remarkable in you. You quote John O’Donohue in the book, and he uses that term. And I’m Cora, which I recently learned from another guest of mine. But what a profound concept, what you talk about, what you’ve learned about that idea.
Britt Frank [00:40:36] Yeah. And Adam Carr is one of my favorite mean soul friends and it’s one of my favorite, favorite books of all time. And it’s really about the power of witnessing each other. Witnessing. And again, it doesn’t mean I never it’s not like laying on the couch where the psychologist or psychiatrist is silent, like, that’s insane, you know, not that there’s anything crazy, but when you witness someone and you allow them a safe space to be seen, it’s really magical. Like alchemy happens when someone is allowed the space to sort of mull it over and work it out. And even with parents and kids, you see this all the time. Well-meaning parents try to protect their kids from pain and from error. And doing that unintentionally teaches the kids, I don’t believe in you. So when we’re with our friends, even if we know the answer and even if we’re right, it’s likely that you might actually have the answer and you might be right. But if you can just stand back and be with them and just hold up a mirror reflecting their capacity, their goodness, their worthiness and their wholeness, the reflection of that mirror will help them find their answers and in a much more sustainable, powerful way than me just telling you what to do.
Brilliant Miller [00:41:45] Yeah, absolutely. I really appreciate that view. Well, let me ask you about oh, man, there was something that followed from this that I really wanted to. To explore with you. But it’s getting away from me right now was about this. Well, there was something that you said a few times in the book that I really value, too, which was perspective is useful, but judgment is not, I think that is how you say it. So a.
Britt Frank [00:42:13] Comparison is.
Brilliant Miller [00:42:13] Not comparison. So perspective is useful, but comparison is not.
Britt Frank [00:42:17] Mm-hmm. And we all get into the comparison trap, especially now. Right. Who am I to feel bad? It’s not like I’m overseas. Who am I to feel bad? I haven’t. You know, it’s. Again, it’s that binary. There’s only me who can have pain or them who can have pain. And there’s no room for multiple realities all at the same time. So perspective is good. Recognizing privilege, recognizing that you have access to resources that not everybody else has, recognizing that all things considered, you have a pretty good that’s cool perspective allows for multiple things to exist at once. Perspective is, you know, I have my pain and I have things that are working well. I have this trauma and I recognize that this trauma might not be the same as someone else’s. But the comparison is a binary. Comparison is they have it worse. Therefore, I don’t have a right to exist, period. And so when we get into the comparison thinking, we completely minimize and invalidate our own pain. And what we know is when we do that, it will show up sideways in the form of an addiction or a symptom or a projection or whatever. And so having perspective on what you have that’s working and what you have that’s fortunate is good. It allows you to get better and not be a jerk about it. Comparison is I don’t have it as bad or in reverse. Mine is the worst. I have the worst trauma ever, and everybody else needs to bow down to me and accommodate all my triggers because I am the most worst. And so the comparison is binary and it doesn’t work. The perspective is great.
Brilliant Miller [00:43:47] Yeah. Back to that theme of making space or allowing for multiple things to be true at once or to be present at once. So I know I want to get to this thing about relationships as well, but I do want to again, recognize the audience. I want to explore this idea of motivation as well, because I think that’s really useful, right, when you share what I think. You say it this way. Something like there’s no such thing as an unmotivated person. Mm-hmm. Why do you say?
Britt Frank [00:44:16] Do people get very angry when I say that? It’s like, what are you talking about? That person is clearly unmotivated. They’re laying on the couch and they’re eating Doritos and they’re watching TV all day long. But we have to use the right language. You know, the language that we use inside, the language that we use with each other and the language that we use to describe our experiences are so powerful. And if we’re not using accurate language, we’re not going to change. Unmotivated is not the right word. Our brains are always motivated. Always. If your brain is on, it’s motivated. And it’s going to be motivated by one of two things. It’ll be motivated to mobilize in the direction of our choosing. I want to go to the gym. I want to launch the business. Here are my goals. Let’s do it. Or it’s going to be motivated by security, by safety, by smallness, by comfort, whatever. But it’s not true to say, Oh, I’m just so unmotivated. So as a coach, a good question to ask clients is, what is your primary motivation right now? Yeah, anyone who’s been in acting knows that question very well. What’s my motivation? But assume that you’re always motivated and now let’s figure out what is actually driving you. I’m motivated to lay on my couch right now because it’s raining and it’s cold and I don’t want to get off the couch. Okay, great. If we’re starting with that now, we can assess, well, what’s the cost of that and what would the long-term benefit be of getting off the couch and going to the gym? But to say I’m unmotivated is just sort of this nebulous, mushy. Okay, well, I’m unmotivated. Now what? Now I’m motivated by fear. I’m motivated by comfort. I’m motivated by what’s familiar. Your brain is always motivated. There is no such thing as an unmotivated person at that.
Brilliant Miller [00:45:55] Again, is such a powerful perspective because now it moves us out of there like, what’s wrong with me? Or Why am I doing this and into finding questions that can move us forward? Right. And I love that. What is your primary motivation right now? And it reminds me, too, of the Abraham Maslow quote that one can choose to go back towards safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again. Fear must be overcome again and again. This is like, oh, it’s so dramatic when he says it that way. But and then back to the other thing about the advice. I just this was one of the things that were in that conversation for me was there’s a friend of mine, Michael Bungay Senior, who’s written a book about coaching where and he’s written and then another one he calls I think he calls it the advice trap, where he calls it the advice monster that it just shows up and it just wants to have its way in any given situation. But that paradox that you were talking about, how someone can arrive at their own conclusion, the same thing you would have told them, but the process of arriving there on their own gives it a very different quality.
Britt Frank [00:46:59] Yes. You know, when when you talk about that, I think of interventions like if you’ve seen the show intervention where everyone in the family gathers around the broken, addicted, messed up one and they cry and they beg and they pleaded for their loved one to get help. Oh, my gosh. Like, okay, that’s a talk about an advice monster. You know, you could be so much more than what you are. And again, no shame if you’ve ever done this, you can only deal with what you know and etc.. But if in family intervention, every family member went around and owns their own crap and said, You know what, here’s my contribution to this family system. Here’s something I need to work on. I guarantee you the addict in that system would find their way to the. Oh, my God. Wow. I need help. Like, look at us all. We’re all a mess. But in order to do that, we need space and nothing clenches up space faster than advice. I mean, it sucks all the oxygen out of the conversation.
Brilliant Miller [00:47:49] Yeah, that’s a great way of describing that. I thank you for that. Okay, so this thing about relationships, there’s so much I love this thing you talk about, we can go anywhere, but I love this thing. You talk about conflict contracts and you say you point out you don’t buy a house without a contract. You don’t hire a lawyer without a contract. You don’t sign up for a gym membership without a contract. And yet, after marriage is finalized, the idea of a relationship contract is never brought up again unless you land in divorce court. What is a conflict contract and why might we want one?
Britt Frank [00:48:26] So I’m so big on structures and systems that we can plug into to make our lives work. And again, I did this too. Do we jump into relationships and marriages and to partnerships without thinking what is the infrastructure that’s going to be needed to keep this thing going? Right. So a conflict contract is essentially a written document where you know, the partners, two, three, whoever is in the system, sit down. And while they’re not in conflict, sit down over a meal and talk about, hey, what makes you feel really unsafe during a conversation? Like, if I’m standing up over you, does that make you feel unsafe? What is what are the ideal conditions for us to have a difficult conversation? Like, for example, a car is a terrible place for an argument because our brains are primed to react very strongly if we perceive no escape. If you’re in a car and you’re driving down a highway, there’s no escape. So a costly contract outlines all of the conditions that are going to be helpful to hold this conversation without it derailing. That might mean we sit down in a living room together with at least 20 feet of space between the two of us. You know, like with my trauma history and assault trauma and all of that, if I’m in conflict with my partner and he knows this now, we need to be sitting because if he stands, my system goes into fight or flight. So we have like our we sit with space and we know that it can only go on for so long before we need to call a time. And so how many people and I did this to get into these hours-long and marathon, knockdown, drag-out fights. Part of a conflicting contract is we go for this long and if we haven’t solved it by then, we adjourn and where we sit and what’s off limits, what you know, what are the non-negotiables? And if two people are not willing to put that much thought and effort into creating conditions for conflicts, conflict is almost always going to be a lot harder and messier than necessary.
Brilliant Miller [00:50:26] And that that makes sense. And the reality that, you know, conflict is inevitable. Misunderstandings happen, upsets happen, disappointments, this kind of thing. And I think of that. I think it was Benjamin Franklin. The best time to dig a well is before you’re thirsty or something. Not in the heat of, you know, a big blow-up or something, but it’s before that. And I think about this with prenuptial agreements, too, where people will say, like, I can’t I don’t want to have that conversation or I don’t want to be in a relationship with it if it has that. And I think if you can’t talk about what happens with parenting or what would happen with money, you know, before it becomes an issue, then that might actually be an indicator of an issue.
Britt Frank [00:51:09] I love that you brought that up because prenuptial agreements can be such an exercise in romance and intimacy if you have the right framework. So, like, you know, again, I had a blast with my husband doing this. It’s like, how can we best protect each other while we adore each other from this potential version of ourselves that’s hostile and illogical? And it’s like, how can I protect you now from the worst version of me that might appear later? And oh my gosh, how cool, how loving and how can people who are like, That’s not romantic. It’s like, okay, well, ultimately marriage has a business element to it. There are finances and parenting and children and assets, and the reality of relationships is that they change and they sometimes end. So when people invoke the I don’t believe in divorce, therefore I don’t you know, it’s like, well, I don’t believe in. Gravity, but, like, something’s going to fall if I drop it. You know, you may not believe in divorce, but the reality is divorce exists. And so why not put parameters in place to keep it safe? Should it be necessary? We have insurance for everything else.
Brilliant Miller [00:52:11] Yeah, that’s right. And I just love that reframe that perspective shift of how can I protect you from the worst parts of me? Like, what a generous if that’s the true motivation. Like that’s actually a really generous come from.
Britt Frank [00:52:27] And let’s be true. Like, honestly, it’s not altogether altruistic. It’s also I need to cover my own butt. So if we hate each other, then I don’t totally get taken for a ride, which is again having the multiple perspectives. It doesn’t have to be when we hate each other. What’s the matter? How are we going to divvy up the things? It’s like, wow, can we reframe it as an also true that this is a way we can love each other well, while we are actively choosing to love each other.
Brilliant Miller [00:52:52] Yeah, that’s. That’s so awesome. Would you talk to me about when you talk to me about boundaries? I hate boundaries like I hate other people’s boundaries. I hate my own boundaries. Just but you talked about boundaries in a way that I started to see. Maybe there’s something to boundaries.
Britt Frank [00:53:10] I don’t like them either. I don’t like setting them and I don’t like being on the receiving end of them. And they’re uncomfortable and they’re awful. And I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about where boundaries are. And people are like, they cross my boundaries. It’s like, no, they didn’t do it. Let’s start by definition. So a boundary is simply what I choose in response to what you do. That’s it. A boundary is a choice that is available to me in response to whatever is happening. Now that gets misconstrued where people think a boundary is, I’m telling you what to do. So like if my boundary is I don’t take calls after eight and my mother calls me at nine, she didn’t break my boundary. She just didn’t do what I wanted her to do. If I answer the phone, I’m breaking my boundary. And so the only assuming you’re not being abused or oppressed, the only person who can break your boundaries is yourself. If my boundary is after work, I don’t turn on my computer for an hour and I do. I’ve broken my own boundary. If I want my kid to come out of the boundary in this house. Is that your home by seven? That’s not a boundary. That’s a request. So the way to the quick way to differentiate is a request is when you ask someone else to do something. A boundary is what you do in response to what they do.
Brilliant Miller [00:54:24] It’s such a huge insight. And I think maybe this is why I hate boundaries, is that as I’ve experienced them, I think almost always they are actually requests or even worse, maybe a just a form of a request is an ultimatum because we don’t know. I mean, I think if you use this term in the interview you did with David McRaney about human is hard or being human is hard and you know, language is something we’ve all made up and so forth. So we understand words in different ways and we use them in different ways and so forth. But that I think that insight about, you know, requests masquerading as boundaries or boundaries or what we do, the only person who can break our boundary is us like that. This is I’m going to process this for a while. I’m not even sure I have it right.
Britt Frank [00:55:11] Well, as with ultimatums, because it’s fair, a lot of people, you know, if my boundary is I can’t be married to an active alcoholic and if you continue to drink, I’m going to leave. That will land as an ultimatum. And then again, the way to differentiate a boundary from an ultimatum is the intention with a boundary is to protect the relationship. It’s to protect me, to protect you, and to protect us. An ultimatum is about domination and power and control. So if I am setting a boundary with the intention of forcing you to do something, that’s an ultimatum. If I’m setting a boundary in an attempt to keep us all safe, that’s not an ultimatum. It’ll feel like one because no one likes being on the receiving end of boundaries. But an ultimatum is about a power dynamic. An ultimatum is, if you have sex with me every day, I’m going to leave you. That’s not a boundary. But like my no one’s going to sit there and say, my boundary is I, you know, we need to have sex every single day, twice a day, or else I’m going to cheat on you. That’s an ultimatum.
Brilliant Miller [00:56:10] And then, you know, there’s so much the whole book could be just about relationships. But you say this thing I thought was really insightful as well about the difference between apologies and amends.
Britt Frank [00:56:22] This is not prescriptive. Like, here’s a trick that will save you. It’s the most and this comes from the 12-step world, which I have a huge problem with a good chunk of what happens in the 12-step world, but not everything.
Brilliant Miller [00:56:35] Why?
Britt Frank [00:56:38] Because it’s focused on dogma and morality and behavior modification at the expense of behavior comprehension. And they’re not trauma-informed. So ends their modern mind approach? I am an alcoholic. Now part of me drinks to cope with pain. Okay. Who’s that part? What do they need? What’s the pain? How do we tend to it? Let’s find a better solution. It’s purely an I don’t drink because I am bad and I am morally flawed because of this disease. And I don’t subscribe to that. I do love the rituals. I love the community. I love the camaraderie. I’d be dead without the 12-step rooms, but I do not like those aspects of it. So but one thing I love about the 12-step world is its concept of making amends. And you don’t need to be an addict to benefit from this. So I sort of took that principle and that guidance and reframed it a little bit. So instead of saying to someone, I’m sorry, because like, how good does that really feel? If I say to you, I’m sorry, that’s about me. That’s about my guilt. And it’s it has nothing to do with how I hurt you or how I wounded you. I’m sorry is actually a narcissistic orientation, and.
Brilliant Miller [00:57:43] All of that’s before it’s even followed by an F.
Britt Frank [00:57:46] Right. I’m sorry if you are hurt. Okay, well, now that’s a little gaslighting and, like, defective and narcissistic. So, again, if you’ve said I’m sorry, you’re not a narcissist, don’t panic. But instead of saying I’m sorry, how about doing an immense and this is the force. Here are your four steps to doing amends. One actually owns the thing that you did. So let’s say that you know, my wife said or I told my wife I would pick up the kids and I did. So instead of saying, Oh, my God, I’m so sorry and I feel awful, then I can say, hey, I just want a name. I didn’t pick up the kids and I said I would period. Just name the thing that you did to make an empathy statement. I imagine you must have felt really sad and you must have felt really concerned and you must have felt really angry. Step three How is this not going to happen again in the future? I’ll make sure I set a timer and I don’t have meeting schedules when the kids are coming home from school so that this will happen again. And then step four. Is there anything else that you want me to understand about how this situation felt for you? And if you notice the words I’m sorry are completely absent? Name the thing given empathy statement. How did they how do you think they must have felt? What’s the plan so this doesn’t happen again, make yourself available to hold space for their feelings. It is beautiful and it’s a neurologically sound way of relational repair because when people feel heard, they settle. They don’t go into fight and flight. Nothing will settle me down faster than feeling like someone gets why I’m upset.
Brilliant Miller [00:59:28] Yeah.
Britt Frank [00:59:29] Over.
Brilliant Miller [00:59:30] And see, this is the kind of thing I think I know I could benefit from actual role playing a few times and then trying it at some point. But I appreciate even having the knowledge that it exists, that this model of a man’s and how it’s different from an apology and the benefit it could have in a relationship.
Britt Frank [00:59:50] Right. And it’s not necessary for everything. You know, like if I forget to fill the water in the bread, I’m not going to be like. And I imagine you must have felt really it’s like sometimes that I’m sorry is fine, but, you know, with your partner, you can say to them, is this one of those situations where you want a four-parter? You know, like, I’m really sorry that that happens and I don’t need a four-part amends for every single thing that happens. But for some things I do and I’ll say I hope we have it written down on a Post-it because it’s easy to forget it when you’re in the heat of conflict. Right. So part of your conflict contract could be we use the four-part amends thing rather than apologies for anything higher than a five on a 1 to 10. But it’s a beautiful, compassionate, skillful, science-based way of repairing an attachment rupture.
Brilliant Miller [01:00:35] Now, that’s awesome. Something that’s coming up before we transitioned that I hadn’t necessarily thought I’d ask, is this about grief? You said some things in the book about the role that grief can play in us moving forward in our lives, about not being stuck. When you talk about I’m not even sure. Maybe this is a conversation. If there’s anything that feels like it might be of service to people listening, will you talk about that? Otherwise, maybe we move on.
Britt Frank [01:01:09] Well, grief is not a popular topic, and grief is something that people, especially in the United States, are very like, okay. Like we do the funeral and you get to be sad for a few months and now we need to get over it and move on. And grief isn’t just about death. And anything that you lose that you didn’t get or that you got, that you didn’t need is going to require a grieving process. But we’re not taught how to do it. You know, most people know about the five stages of grief, but that was primarily written for people dying, not for people that are mourning the loss of a, you know, a miscarriage or a divorce or a bankruptcy or whatever. And so under I really believe underneath every single pathology, addiction, affliction, and trauma, if you drill down far enough, eventually you’re going to come to a pool, a very still quiet pool of grief that will need to be tended to at some point, or else the things tend to start all over again. And so grief is not about getting over things. That’s not how we’re designed. Grief is not about leaving the past in the past, because the past is a construct that we’ve created. Time doesn’t really exist. So we need to know that grief does become part of the fabric of our existence on the planet. How do you live with this loss? How do you make sense of your life, even though your life now includes this thing? How do you weave your life together in a way where this loss is not the dominant thread in the tapestry? But this idea of wanting to get over it like that’s not how we’re wired. Like our bodies record every second that we’re alive. You can’t delete things like that whole Eternal Sunshine idea is not available. And even if you could delete it from your cognitive consciousness, your body still remembers. So the goal of grief is not to get over it. It’s to metabolize it, integrate it, and learn how to live with it. How do I honor my losses and still find joy? How do I live with the reality of this thing and make space for pain and find connection and abundance and all of the other good things against perspective? So I’m a really big advocate of grief. Work is important in one of the most important things that go overlooked.
Brilliant Miller [01:03:13] You have it really even now. Like, I just. I’m not sure what to say. It lands with me. Like, it’s so. Is so profound. And it’s not. It’s not the thing for everyone in every moment, to be sure. But it’s the thing. It’s in some moments that I think we all need. And I love your description about if we drill down, there’s this pool and so forth that we come face to face with, and in the healing that and I get poetic. Maybe I’ll just leave it there. Except I do want to explore this with you before we go forward is about people listening that, just like you said, we can become therapists and we never learn about the mind and we never learn about the body, the neurological system, this kind of like all this stuff. And every therapist, by virtue of the fact they’re human, has their own worldview and so forth, and they have their own skill sets. Right. Like some know about this internal family system, some know about grief works and others don’t. And I think many people just think like, I need a therapist, and then they ask a friend or they maybe look at some Google reviews or something. But how do you recommend that somebody who’s looking to do some inner work or some growth or to get unstuck? How do you recommend if they do engage with the therapist, what do they ask? How do they find them? How do they know that someone is right for them?
Britt Frank [01:04:39] Sure. And, you know, just a name that not everyone has access to choices. So assuming that you have the ability and the luxury of making a choice about a therapist, the number one thing that needs to happen is that therapist is aware of their limitations. So not all therapists need to be you know if you have one therapist that’s available to you and you don’t have access to the type of therapy that you need and they don’t do it, that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful, but they do need to be aware of their limitations, such as, Hey, I’m not a trauma therapist. I have not been trained in the brain. But I can be really useful to you with thinking, work, and helping you understand how to work with your thoughts. Fine, so you can ask. And what people don’t realize is that the first session with a therapist is an interview where the burden of safety is on them and you are the boss. People come into my office and they like, feel like they now need to tell me all of their secrets. I’m like, Hey, wait, I haven’t earned the right to hear any of your stories yet. That’s not what happens in a first session. A first session is I need to let you know. Here are my limitations. This is the scope. This is what I’m able to work with you on. And then you can decide if I’m a safe enough person. So that’s really the biggie is asking the therapist what are the limits to what you do? And if they say, no, I work with everyone, run better, no therapy and dangerous therapy. And then the second one, and this is true, the biggest prediction of therapeutic outcomes is do you like your therapist? Now, it doesn’t always work, but if if you don’t like your therapist and you don’t feel that click in that resonance and you have the choice to find another one, find another one, know I’m not everybody’s flavor and there are way too many skilled practitioners out in the world to try to make it work like you’re paying to bypass all the nuances of relationship building. So if you’re not loving the person in front of you, move on and find someone else.
Brilliant Miller [01:06:29] That’s a huge insight. This is what I can just see on the cover of Reader’s Digest like what your therapist hasn’t told you or something. Right. But that’s fantastic. Okay. I know we’ve covered so much already, and we’ve done, like, already more than an hour. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to talk about that’s in your book or related to your book?
Britt Frank [01:06:55] Well, I’ll just call back to the smoking method of the light bulb thing was a story in the book where I just disclosed that you know, I had some strange behaviors, and in my effort to get rid of my paraphernalia, I learned that you can, in fact, MacGyver, a light bulb to become a meth pipe. So hooray for knowledge. It’s just one of the really shameful parts of my story that I’ve learned to approach with humor because it’s too ridiculous not to share. Like, I’m sitting in this crazy place in the middle of the night, and I’ve got this light bulb, and it’s crazy. Not that it’s crazy. It was it made sense in context, but it’s at this point, it helps me to tell the story, to diffuse the shame of that story.
Brilliant Miller [01:07:39] Wow. Yeah. I’m glad you’ve. I’m glad you survived. What? You’ve survived.
Britt Frank [01:07:44] Thank you. I am, too. Yeah, and that’s what I wish, you know, and I worked in drug treatment, and I sat in front of people with really severe addictions, and they don’t believe that things can get better. And, you know, whatever your spiritual orientation, you don’t have to put faith in something unseen and unknown. You can put faith in that. Our brains are plastic, you don’t have to hope for neuroplasticity. We know your brain is plastic and that the brain you have now is not the brain you’re going to have next week. So even if people are wrestling with this spiritual God, existential, meta, whatever, let’s start with the basics. You have a brain. Your brain will change. It’s not all hopeless crap, and you don’t have to put blind faith in that. And that’s a really important thing to know to become willing to do this work. If I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t have done it.
Brilliant Miller [01:08:36] Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, well, with your permission, I want to go ahead and transition us to the Enlightening lightning round. Okay. Okay. So this is a variety of questions. It’s about ten questions on a series of topics. My aim for the most part is to ask the question and stand aside. You’re welcome to answer as long as you want, but I’ll work to keep us moving through the questions. Okay. Question number one please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a.
Britt Frank [01:09:15] Oh, that’s really good. Life is like a. Cluster of an explicable star set that all makes sense in context.
Brilliant Miller [01:09:29] Okay. Question number two What is something about which you have changed your mind in recent years?
Britt Frank [01:09:37] I was a hardcore, fundamentalist, dogmatic Christian devotee with a completely closed mind, and I’m very happy to have popped out. And again, it was functional, it made sense. But I’m really happy that I don’t have a closed mind because having an open mind is much better and loving and it’s slower and life is just a lot more peaceful with an open mind.
Brilliant Miller [01:10:01] All right. Question number three. So if you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a T-shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or saying or quote or quip, what would your shirt say?
Britt Frank [01:10:13] There’s no such thing as crazy.
Brilliant Miller [01:10:16] Okay. Question number four What book, other than your own, have you gifted or recommended?
Britt Frank [01:10:21] Most often The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Brilliant Miller [01:10:25] I loved that book changed my life as well. Will you talk a little bit about the role, in this book? First of all, how did it come into your life? And second, what? How has it changed your life?
Britt Frank [01:10:37] That book is magical. There is some juju in that book. It was 2007 and I was a hot mess. I was living in California. I was wandering around the bookstore, normally going to the diet section to learn how to perpetuate my eating disorder. And that book just happens to be, like, out. And I just, you know, walking by and it was, like, literally waiting for me. And I open it up and I’m like, I don’t do art. I’m not creative. And then I looked at it. I’m like it like smacked me in the face. And I started doing mourning pages in 2007 and I haven’t stopped. And starting that book was what opened my eyes, opened my mind, and convinced me to burn my life down and to make a giant leap into the abyss, into the void, and start new knowing that I would survive the jump. Like I am a big fan of the Artist Way.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:25] That’s awesome. I think that book just celebrated its 30th anniversary. I think it’s fantastic. Did you end up doing any part of it in the community or did you do it all solo?
Britt Frank [01:11:35] I did it solo. I did it twice. And now I see that there are all these artists groups and they have courses and community. It’s so cool. I mean, art states and the whole everything about that book I think is useful for anyone. And I wish I had known about the community element.
Brilliant Miller [01:11:53] Yeah, it’s pretty, pretty magic. Okay, question number five. So this has to do with travel. We’ve established that you’ve been coast to coast and now you’re somewhere near the middle of the country. So you’ve traveled in your life. I’m not sure what your travel is like these days, but at any rate, what’s one travel hack? Meaning something you do when you travel or something you take with you to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Britt Frank [01:12:19] A little bottle of essential oil. So when I get frustrated, impatient, and irritable, I can remind my amygdala to settle. We’re safe. This is inconvenient. But inconvenient does not equal unsafe.
Brilliant Miller [01:12:30] What kind of oil?
Britt Frank [01:12:31] Lavender, usually. Or eucalyptus?
Brilliant Miller [01:12:37] Okay. Question number six. What’s something you started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
Britt Frank [01:12:45] Smoking. I mean I was the last that smoking cigarets that was the last I started that when I was like 14 and I was a pack-a-day smoker. They were my 20 little friends that accompanied me through every fire and they never left my side. And saying goodbye to them was really painful. Like my longest-term relationship at the time was with Cigarettes and again talking about grief, even though it’s a terrible habit and it’ll kill you, etc. you have to grieve that. That was my daily ritual. It was the thing I was most comfortable with and most familiar with. But I’m really glad I quit.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:16] Yeah. Probably live longer and feel better. I would imagine.
Britt Frank [01:13:20] All the things.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:22] Okay, question number seven. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?
Britt Frank [01:13:29] American.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:30] Wow.
Britt Frank [01:13:33] How politicized the mental health system actually is. Now I say more.
Brilliant Miller [01:13:45] Yeah, please do.
Britt Frank [01:13:46] The DSM, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s the Bible for mental health professionals. It’s where all the diseases are listed. And if I check your symptoms off, you know, the depression category, I can diagnose you with that. If I can check your system, and your symptoms of the bipolar category, I can diagnose you with that. But that book is political. There’s money involved. It ignores the reality of trauma and epigenetics, and it does not take context or environment or systems, or oppression into account. And so someone who has a reasonable response to an oppressive environment will get labeled with an internal sickness, even though it is an external force that’s creating the symptoms. So important to know that not all of our issues are because there’s something wrong with us. Sometimes we’re reacting against doesn’t justify bad behavior, but it does help to know that what if the problem isn’t that you’re sick? What the problem is is that you’re reacting reasonably to what’s happening to you.
Brilliant Miller [01:14:43] Isn’t that Krishnamurti quote, It’s not a sign of health to be adjusted to a profoundly sick system or something like that. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Wow. Well, thank you for that. And I think you mentioned in the book you had a mentor that refers to it as the doorstop manual or something like that.
Britt Frank [01:15:00] That was one of my professors in grad school. And he said, you know, the DSM is good for holding the door open. DSM doorstop manual. And that’s I mean, again, again, disclaimer, just to be responsible, there’s you need to have a diagnosis to have access to insurance coverage. And the system is imperfect, but we need it. And the DSM has its place for categorizing and helping to organize our experience. But there are limits to it that are not disclosed. And they need to be.
Brilliant Miller [01:15:26] Yeah, and this is one here. I’m obliterating my lightning round rules, but this is one that I kind of get on a bit of a soapbox a little bit about too, with labeling. And now all we know is I have a diagnosis, now I have a label and now I have an identity and now I am this. And I remember looking at like ADHD as a diagnosis was established, I think like in 76. And I think what were you before that? You know, but people just say, Well, this is just how I am. Like, it’s some congenital defect and I can never be other. And that’s another thing. Wow.
Britt Frank [01:15:59] I’m with you on the soapbox with that. Well, my problem is anxiety. No, it’s not. Your problem is you hate your job, you hate your kids, you hate your life, and it’s scary to change it. That is not an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a reasonable response to that much internal dissonance. Like, you know, and again, people say, well, what about clinical depression? I’m not saying that the pain isn’t real. I take psych meds, you know, better living through chemistry, just like I wear shoes because it feels better to walk outside with shoes on. My brain functions better with meds, but like clinical depression, if you look at it is again a reasonable nervous system response to whatever the thing is, even if you don’t know what it is. So I don’t like the disease pathology model of mental health that gets fed to us.
Brilliant Miller [01:16:41] Yeah. All right. Thank you for that question number eight. And we’ve already talked about some great things here, so feel free to use ditto or double click or whatever. But number eight is what is the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about making relationships work.
Britt Frank [01:16:57] Making amends versus apologies?
Brilliant Miller [01:17:01] Okay, question number nine. This one deals with money and it’s aside from compound interest, what is the most important or useful thing you’ve ever learned about money?
Britt Frank [01:17:13] That the relationship we have with money very much mirrors our trauma and any adult with undiagnosed issues or our shadow projections? That money is not an independent thing that we use for commerce and whatever money is very much. If you’re not sure who you are or what you’re about or what your trauma is or what your family history is, look at your relationship with money. I guarantee you, that you can paint a family history based on your current relationship with your money. It is a beautiful mirror for how to figure out what’s going on inside you.
Brilliant Miller [01:17:46] Wow. Our money and our search history here.
Britt Frank [01:17:49] Look at your bank account and how you approach that and look at your browser history and there is your shadow work.
Brilliant Miller [01:17:55] I love it. Okay, so question number ten. If people want to learn more from you or if they want to connect with you, what would you have them do?
Britt Frank [01:18:05] I spend way too much time on Instagram, but you can find me there at Britt Frank’s website is scienceofstuck.com and you can buy the book wherever awesome.
Brilliant Miller [01:18:14] Okay. And speaking of money, with that second to the last question, one of the things I have done in an effort to express gratitude to you for sharing so generously of your time and your wisdom and your experience with me and everyone listening is I have gone to the micro-lending site keyboard and I made $100 microloan to a woman entrepreneur in Kenya named Mildred. Go use this to buy a dairy cow to grow her business and improve the quality of life for her, her family, and her community. So thank you for giving me a reason to do that.
Britt Frank [01:18:46] Thank you. And I receive that and I honor that. And I just made my heart so full and happy. So thank you.
Brilliant Miller [01:18:52] So glad. Okay. Well, the last part of the interview here, and I think this could be its own whole conversation, too, but I recognize time is it’s not real good.
Britt Frank [01:19:05] Now I hear you. I’m having a hard time not asking you questions. I’m like, I want to know more about you. Oh, my God, I love how your mind works. Let’s talk about that.
Brilliant Miller [01:19:12] Well, thanks. Okay. Well, let me keep going with this because you’ve done something that is fairly rare and difficult, even in the age of access to information and word processors and, you know, contract workers and researchers and everything. And so you’ve written a book and it’s right up there with earning a college degree, running a marathon, maybe having a kid I love. I asked one guess, what’s life about? I think he said, Plant a tree, have a kid, write a book. So it’s like, that’s so great. But let me start with this question, when did you first know you were a writer?
Britt Frank [01:19:51] When I was three, writing and reading was the primary vehicle for escape. It was the only option I had available to me besides dissociation. And so from a very early age, I was writing my little stories and poems. And, you know, writing has always been a big part of how I experience the world and keeps me sane.
Brilliant Miller [01:20:12] Amazing. When did you first know that you were going to write this book, The Science of Stuck?
Britt Frank [01:20:17] So then I am going to write a book has been with me forever that I am ready to actually sit down and write a book was 2017 was really when I sat down and looked around at the body of research that I had accumulated from studying people and how they approach things like trauma and you know, all of the stuff we’re talking about. And I was like, oh my gosh, I want to do a giant show and tell. So the book is not like, Here’s what I think about life. It’s like, Oh my gosh. Here is a synthesis of the five gazillion self-help books that I’ve read that we all have sitting on our nightstand. So you have to read them all if you don’t want to. So really, in 2017, I looked at my Instagram, I’m like, Oh my God, I have a lot of information here and my self-help stack is to the ceiling. I think I have enough stuff here to write a book. And then I was chatting with someone who wanted to know like, tell me what your work is about. Like in a sentence, I’m like, Oh, you know, I specialize in the science of stuck. And I was like, Oh, that’s the title of the book. And it sort of just came to me. It was given to me. I heard it, I took it down, and then off I went into the process. Wow.
Brilliant Miller [01:21:22] So in some of the tactical things, in terms of actually translating all of that, that knowledge that you were going to write a book eventually and that this would be the book and that you had learned all of these things, you’d experience all these things. How did you actually go about from the moment you decided that this will be a real thing? I will make this happen. How did you organize your life in your time to actually make it a reality from that point?
Britt Frank [01:21:51] So and I love sharing about the process so people don’t have to the process is complicated, but it is mysterious if you don’t know it. So I learned at a self-help author’s workshop put on by Hey House that you need to have a platform no matter how brilliant of a book idea you have. Unless you have some really ninja connections in the industry, you’re not going to get traditionally published if you don’t have an audience to publish and share with. And so it was like, okay, well, I have no friends, no real friends, I have no social media presence, but I’m just going to start writing my thoughts on Instagram. And eventually, that took off and it’s like, okay, now I have enough of a quote plot, which is kind of lame, but that’s just how the industry works now. Once I had a platform, enough platform, then I hired a coach on how to write a book proposal. You’re writing nonfiction. You don’t write the whole book. It’s like a business plan for the book. What’s the market, what’s the sales plan, who’s the platform, and what’s a summary of the book and a sample chapter? Then I pitched like 350 literary agents over three years, all of who said no. And then I found a yes. And then she sold the book to Penguin Random House in, like, two months.
Brilliant Miller [01:22:58] Oh, my goodness. That is amazing. And part of what I’ve learned in my time, talking with authors and interviewing only, I think I’m heading into year four. I’m now in a year for this podcast. I’ve interviewed nearly 200 authors. There’s this thing about we often think what we think was a finish line. We get there and it’s really a starting line. Whether that was the book proposal, whether that was the draft manuscript, whether that was getting an agent, whether that was getting the book deal, this kind of thing. But when you talk about any point along the way, if you had that experience of what you thought was a finish line was actually a starting line, what was that like?
Britt Frank [01:23:35] I love that frame. I hadn’t thought of it in that language, but it’s the book itself. It’s I have now written a book and I have now I have a published book and it has pages and. It’s printed, and now I am in the business of marketing and selling books, which was our whole news. That’s not. I hid in a cave for a while and wrote, which was really fun. And now I’m facing the world and I’m going out going, okay, you have a book? Ready, set, go. So this is very much a starting line. Like, Oh crap, a whole new world that I don’t understand how it works. So I’m just going to learn as I go.
Brilliant Miller [01:24:08] Well good for you, the workshop was that the was it that you can do it or I can do it? Was that a house thing or was it a different thing?
Britt Frank [01:24:16] It was actually called the Hay House Self-help Authors Workshop. And they told you how to write a proposal. And it was a great workshop, but they hammered out this idea of a platform. You need a platform. So I did that. And then I hired Jane Freedman, who’s a book proposal coach, among other things, out of New York, who’s brilliant. And she helped me get that proposal into pitching shape so I could send it out, get rejected 100 plus times and it only takes one. Yes.
Brilliant Miller [01:24:45] Yeah. And you’ve proved it. And I love Jane. I’ve talked to her before. I watched her whole The Great Courses program on publishing, which was amazing. And she’s just so no nonsense and so helpful. It’s really, really remarkable. Let me ask you in terms of the book structure, because there’s no one size fits all, right? There’s no blueprint. In the course, there are common practices in nonfiction book writing. But when it came to how you actually structure your book, both overall and chapter by chapter, will you talk about how you approached that and why you settled on the structure you ultimately did?
Britt Frank [01:25:28] So I wrote the book the way I like to read. I get super unnaturally defensive when I’m told you have to read a book from start to finish and there’s no skipping around and you read the first page and then you end with the last page. So I’m just like, I don’t read books like that. I jump around, I go wherever I want. If there’s something that interests me, I go back to it. So I intentionally, you know, share in the intro that in this book, there are three ways to work with it. One, don’t read it in order. Every chapter is independent. You can bop around to whatever’s relevant. If you have no time, just read the last page of each chapter, which is like, Here are ten bottom lines, here are five dos and don’ts. Like Go if you have some time but not a lot, then just read what’s applicable. And if you’re like, I want to know all the things, then I’ve created breadcrumbs and trails to other people’s bodies of work, and there are footnotes and trivia and all kinds and stuff, but I don’t like being told how to read. So I made it very clear that this is a choose your own adventure kind of experience.
Brilliant Miller [01:26:25] That’s awesome. And then you included this five-minute kind of journal prompts, were you to those or maybe I’m calling them, right?
Britt Frank [01:26:36] No. Yeah. There’s a lot of merit in the deep dove. And I really love Deep Dove, really profound soul work. But if we’re talking about being stuck, I’ve found most people don’t want to sit down and they won’t sit down. You know, if you struggle with procrastination and motivation, you’re not going to sit down and do anything that’s going to be time-consuming. So again, stuck becomes not stuck the second you do anything. So I created a series of five-minute exercises so you can check it off. I really like the feeling of I did the thing, I check it off the list. So I wanted to make it really, really easy to nail that like this is actually going to take you 5 minutes or less to do check. Nailed it.
Brilliant Miller [01:27:16] That’s awesome. How connected? So how clear did you feel you were about who you were writing to and how connected did you feel to that person, assuming you had one in the act of drafting or even editing?
Britt Frank [01:27:31] Love that question. So this is really the book I wish existed when I started. So I dedicated it to little be my little inner child because if I had known just a few of these things, I wouldn’t have had to grow up thinking I’m crazy and I’m broken and this is what’s wrong with me. So I really had her with me the whole time.
Brilliant Miller [01:27:51] Wow, that’s cool. Tell me about what your I love what you said about the book proposal being like a business plan for the book. And I understand that no book proposal is complete without that kind of marketing section. The publisher wants to know that’s one of those finish lines, starting line things, I think is the publisher will say like, how are you going to sell a bunch of copies? Right. But what I like, is how have you approached or how are you approaching the act of marketing and selling the book?
Britt Frank [01:28:24] So it was really important to me to stay in alignment with what feels good for me and not do things that made me feel like I do believe in the message. So to that degree, I can justify selling and marketing because I actually believe in what I’m doing. But I need to do things that don’t feel gross or else I won’t do them. And I found that conversations like. This podcast feels really organic and really natural, and they just happen to also be great vehicles for promoting and marketing books. But this feels the most authentic and life-giving to me. Like, I’m gonna get off this call, being like, Oh my God, so awesome versus Wow, I just did my ten cold calls that there’s anything wrong with that. But for me, I don’t want to feel like I’m selling or begging. It’s more like, Hey, I have this cool thing and if you’re interested, it’s available. But I don’t want to put yeah, I’m a big attraction rather than promotion, which is another 12-step principle that I love. You know, if you create something and people know it exists, then they can choose whether or not it’s right for them.
Brilliant Miller [01:29:21] Yeah, that’s I’m right. That exact same way for sure. What has been so what’s the most challenging part of being an author? Publishing, marketing, any of that? What’s the most challenging part? What’s the most rewarding part?
Britt Frank [01:29:35] Well, the most rewarding part is it’s like I have a book. Like, any time I get into imposter syndrome, me, like, I suck at life and what am I doing? I’m like, Well, that might be true. It’s not, but it could be. But I have a book. I wrote a book. It’s something I’ve always wanted and it’s like, I don’t have kids. So I’m like, Well, I have inner kids, I don’t have human kids. So I really love that I have a book and it’s been done the most. I mean, there are so many challenges now that the book exists that I hadn’t anticipated.
Brilliant Miller [01:30:03] What would you share with me? A few. What comes to mind immediately?
Britt Frank [01:30:08] The first thing that comes to mind is now I am in the business of selling and marketing a book. I intentionally left the advertising world and became a therapist so I can leave the advertising world. And once again, here I am sitting in the seat of marketer, promoter, and seller, but from a different orientation. But figuring out how to do that, because I don’t know how to do that. So being willing to make mistakes and like learning as I go and not being able to present in this like shiny. I know my industry, I know the therapy world really well. I feel very comfortable in those circles. But meeting other authors or I’m like, Oh my God, I suck. And you know, just how big the world is and how many amazing, brilliant people there are. I have to remind myself there’s room for everybody at the table so I don’t have to feel like that little kid who’s like, Can I sit with you at lunch? So reminding myself, that I’m grown. It’s okay, it’s cool. There’s enough for everybody when it comes to this world.
Brilliant Miller [01:31:02] Yeah, it’s amazing how many. I mean, just doing this podcast for the last few years, how many incredibly talented, devoted, like I would say, significant people that are in the world that. So many people have never heard of it. But I’m just I’m amazed. So often I compare like 15 bucks for a book that somebody spent, like 30 years exploring and refining these ideas. And I can consume it in 6 hours or something and it can change my whole life. It’s just it’s really fascinating. And I’m grateful to you for this book. And I really hope that a lot of people discover this book. I know that it has the potential to bless a lot of lives, is how I would say it. And I’m I really do believe as well that with every communication that there’s the literal meaning, but there’s also the energy in it and the intention that was behind it. And I wonder if you’ll just talk about that for a moment. What was if there was something that you were consciously aware of in the act of creating the book? Like maybe it was so a ritual that you began with or a visualization process or something else that was part of the energy of the creation. Will you talk about that?
Britt Frank [01:32:16] So I haven’t talked about this publicly yet because I’m like, I’m a clinician and I am strictly science, but it was such a mystical experience. So I wrote it during the pandemic and again, I don’t have children. So my house was very quiet. I didn’t have to homeschool and do all of those things that really hard things that a lot of people had to do. So every morning I would I set aside certain writing weeks for myself where I didn’t do anything but write. And I had a sweater that I wore and a perfume that I wore and a necklace that I wore and a whole like getting started and calling in the creative muse, because I don’t believe that any of our inspirations just come out of nowhere, and nor do I believe that we’re independently coming up with the stuff. And so I invited sort of the collective into the process. And then, you know, Julia Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this. I think it’s your someone talking about this, maybe it’s Julie Cameron. I took dictation down rather than I didn’t come up with it. I took it down and I just sat and drew things and listens for things and got nudges and inspirations. And when I didn’t have any, I read other things and I really felt like this was a collaborative effort of me and who knows who and who knows what, but it was so much fun.
Brilliant Miller [01:33:25] Wow, that’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I’ve discovered, like, I’ve stumbled across a few of those kinds of stories, and I realize every book there’s a story behind every book, how it came to be and why and so forth. Okay. So I know we’re running really close to time, but I do want to just ask you two, I think just two more questions. One, this kind of goes back to promotion in the business side of writing. But who is your inspiration? Like, who is your model? Is there somebody who is maybe a little farther down the path, as you see it, that you kind of aspire to be, to build your career, to be like someone else, somebody that you’re working to emulate professionally in that way that you’d be willing to say publicly?
Britt Frank [01:34:11] I love Elizabeth Gilbert. I read Eat, Pray, Love in my bathroom. You know, I’m like, I’m going to I wasn’t aspiring to be her, but I just it made sense to me. And I just really love her body of work. And what Brené Brown has done is incredible. I have no desire to, like, build a team, or have an institution or organization. I play best alone in my sandbox near people where I can leave. But I really admire authors who speak and they write and they’re free and they’re not tied to any particular thing. And they can come and go as they please. And I have a lot of respect for that, and that feels very appealing to my personality like I have no desire to host a podcast or to build a group practice or to get a team together. It’s like, Nope, I want to collaborate and then go back to my sandbox a lot.
Brilliant Miller [01:35:02] Yeah, I hear that too. I totally hear that. And I love what you said in the book. I, I was just looking for it right now, but I’m not finding it right here. But maybe you can tell me that you were you said something like your experience was an eat, pray, love. It was more like smoke, binge cry, or something.
Britt Frank [01:35:21] Yeah, yeah. It wasn’t quite as, you know. And again, she had her pain points and all of the things, but you know, mine would not lend itself well to this beautiful. And so like no one is going to read my story and be like, I want to go do what she did. I want to go move to these countries and have these experiences. It’s like I lived in a country of depression, addiction, and dysfunction and was really unfun. But I do love that. The parallel in the story.
Brilliant Miller [01:35:47] Yeah, and you’ve been a traveler in other lands and now you’ve come back to report on what you’ve had. And in some way, I’m sure this has an escape to you. Not to go too dramatic in this direction, but that’s shamanic work. Right. To go somewhere and to bring something back and to share it with the community in a way that expands them more or heals them. And I think I think it’s really beautiful.
Britt Frank [01:36:08] Thank you for saying that. I would never say that, but I will receive that.
Brilliant Miller [01:36:12] Okay. So my last question for you is what advice or encouragement do you leave anyone listening with who is either in that situation of having of harboring the dream that I want to write a book someday I’m actually going to do it, or they’re actually in the messy metal. They’re in the process of getting it done. What do you say to somebody listening to help them get their own creative project wrangled from the realm of possibility into reality?
Britt Frank [01:36:39] So I will give advice because reasons. But I’ll say there are two guarantees when you’re birthing whatever an idea, a vision, a business, a relationship, whatever, the two guarantees with the creative change process is, it’s going to be awful. It’s going to suck, it’ll be painful, it will be miserable. And you’re going to want to quit a thousand times a day. And two, it’ll be worth it 1,000%. So stay the course.
Brilliant Miller [01:37:02] Wow. Awesome. Okay. Well, my guest today, Britt Franck. The Science of stuck breaking through inertia to find your path forward. Britt, I have loved this conversation. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. Thank you for being so generous with your time. I don’t know when or where our paths will cross again next, but I know that they will and I will look forward to it.
Britt Frank [01:37:24] Likewise, I really hope they do. Thank you so much. This was so much fun.
Sign up to receive podcasts, blog posts, and other inspiring content from Brilliant Miller delivered to your inbox.
Live a good life. Help others live a good life too!
We will never sell your name or email address.
Opt-out at any time. No strings.