Trauma informed coaches Lavinia Brown and Andrew Lynn join Janet to discuss how they help parents identify triggers and heal wounds that are preventing them from being the parents they wish to be and otherwise negatively impacting their daily lives. Andrew says: “Trauma robs you of the freedom to choose how you react.” Lavinia and Andrew describe some of the common signs of trauma and repressed emotions, how they recognized their own, and how their respective coaching practices enable parents to process these emotions by connecting with the needs of their inner child.
Transcript of “Becoming Untriggered (with Lavinia Brown and Andrew Lynn)”
Hi, this is Janet Lansbury. Welcome to Unruffled. Today I am hosting Lavinia Brown and Andrew Lynn. They are a couple and they’re the parents of three children. They also closely reflect each others’ passion for the work that they do. Both of them do online coaching that’s geared to help parents and others overcome obstacles that are interfering with their ability to achieve their goals and be happier and more successful in their relationships and in life. Or, as Lavinia puts it, heal the patterns keeping you stuck. These patterns often stem from childhood and other life experiences and emotional traumas, major and minor. Both Andrew’s and Lavinia’s work focuses on connecting with, and reparenting as needed, our inner child.
I was first introduced to Lavinia by a previous guest on this podcast, Alwynn Hynes, a mom who shared her story in the episode “It Will Get Easier – The Intense Struggles of a Parent with Childhood Trauma.” She was greatly helped by Lavinia’s coaching. So I’m excited for this opportunity to hear more about the work that Andrew and Lavinia do.
Welcome, Lavinia and Andrew. I’ve been wanting to have you on for a really long time, so thank you so much for joining me.
Andrew Lynn: Pleasure.
Lavinia Brown: We’re so excited to be here. Thank you.
Janet Lansbury: The work you both do is life-changing. I know that term is thrown around very easily these days, but it’s true in your case. And I’ve noticed that you both came to this work through your own experiences, which makes sense because it’s very deep work, so you need to come to it with a deep understanding of the issues and all the challenges. And then both of you decided to take what you’d learned and use it to help other parents. Or, well, Andrew, you don’t necessarily work with parents. You work with all men, right?
Andrew Lynn: Yeah. Not exclusively parents, but most of the men I work with, I would say are between the age of 30 and 50. So there’s a lot of dads in there.
Janet Lansbury: A lot of dads. And then, what is it that gets them to the point where they realize that they need this kind of help?
Andrew Lynn: I think from my point of view, there are a couple of different types of men that come and work with me. One of them is other people that are not happy with where they’re at in their life and not happy with the way they feel. So they’re feeling anxious, they’re feeling disconnected, depressed or addicted, and they want to improve their life. They’re interested in a journey of self-improvement.
And then there’s the other guys that are a bit further down the line where this type of thing, they’re experiencing the same symptoms, but it’s actually having a really negative impact on their life now. It’s impacting their relationships, their ability to get into a relationship and hold onto a relationship, or it’s really negatively impacting their marriage or their career or their health. And that’s actually where a lot of men, I think it’s the difference between men and women, but a lot of men come to me when these symptoms are having a really negative impact on their life.
Janet Lansbury: And why would they come to you rather than a psychotherapist, a classic psychotherapist or clinical psychologist?
Andrew Lynn: That’s interesting actually. Again, half of the people have tried that route. So I get people that have been on medication for a while and have not got the results that they want from it. So it might be that they experience some improvement or some numbing of symptoms, but they don’t get the positive improvement they’re looking for. Or I get people that come to me and say, well, I’ve done therapy for 12 years, so I think it’s about time to try something else.
Janet Lansbury: Interesting. Are there therapists that recommend you as well, that you get referrals from?
Andrew Lynn: I get recommended from some therapists, but most of the people come from my content, from online, from talking about my experiences, from talking about trauma, from talking about the experiences of my clients. And I think that just resonates with people.
And also the thing with traditional medicine or traditional routes is they don’t talk about solutions. They don’t talk about happy endings. They talk about managing symptoms. And the thing with trauma, and the thing with the work I do, is that there is a route map to solutions and there’s a chance of a different ending. And I think that’s what inspires people. The message is not, you’re ill, you’re broken, you need to manage this for the rest of your life. The message is, okay, you’ve had some experiences that are still with you and there are some things you can do in the short term to drastically change not only your state of being, but your life as well.
Janet Lansbury: I love that. I can’t wait to hear more about what that process looks like, as much as you can tell us in a podcast. But first, Lavinia. So what about you and the clients that you work with, how do they get to this point where they realize that they need more support?
Lavinia Brown: So I work exclusively with mums because it’s such an initiation into not only having to look after someone else, but also into yourself and into understanding the limitations of why you can’t look after that being in the way that you want to. So I only deal with mums because of that shift that happens. It just changes you.
And because when my clients become mums, they suddenly see that stuff from their childhood that they may have thought they were well past. It’s in the past, forget it, it happened, it’s got nothing to do with my life now, I’m an adult now, I take responsibility for my life, I can’t be a victim. All of that comes up in the way that they’re parenting. So they suddenly find themselves horrified by the fact that they’ve done something which their parents did to them, which they hated, which they had no intention of doing as a mum.
And they feel really bad. They feel like they’re passing on their trauma. They feel out of control. Most of my clients feel very volatile. They feel like they can’t manage their emotions. They’re shouting, they’re getting angry, they’re feeling anxious constantly, and they feel depressed even though they’ve got a life full of beautiful things. They’ve got beautiful kids, often they’ve got a wonderful partner, lovely house. They’ve got everything going for them. And yet they can’t enjoy it because something is stopping it. There’s something missing. They don’t feel present. They feel unable to rest and relax and enjoy it. So with my clients, it’s usually the kids that are the pointer to something being off and it’s something out of their control.
And, to answer the second question you asked Andrew, most of my clients have done years of therapy and they always say they’ve made the connections. Therapy is good like that, it helps you make connections. Oh, I do this because of this. But what therapy doesn’t do on the whole is stop you doing this. And that’s what they come to me for. They don’t want to be screaming at their kids anymore. They don’t want to feel volatile. They want to be able to relax and feel calm. So that’s the difference. Again, I call myself a coach. So as a coach, they set goals. That’s what we work to. It’s my job to get them to reach their goals. Whereas therapy often can be quite open-ended and it’s just, See you next week, see you next week, see you next week. And they don’t feel they’re having enough momentum.
And also, I think an important point that Andrew and I both do that therapy doesn’t, is we can all talk about our problems until the cows come home. It’s comfortable. We can all analyze, oh, I wonder if I do that because of, oh yeah, maybe I do that because of this. And it’s all very comfortable. But what we do is we go to the body because that’s where the pain is, that’s where the emotions have been stored ever since childhood. And they’re what needs to be released. And in therapy often you’re just talking about things, you’re not feeling it. And when you feel it, with obviously the tools to make yourself feel safe enough to do that and blah, blah blah, that’s what creates the shifts.
Janet Lansbury: And you’re able to do this online, right? You’re not in there with their body necessarily. Right. Or do you do in-person as well?
Lavinia Brown: I’ve never done in-person. And actually, weirdly, I get asked this a lot, but I think that women or mothers feel more comfortable actually online because you’re in your own surroundings. You feel safe. Whereas driving to some medical center, saying what you’re there for, sitting down, anxious, worrying, waiting, what’s coming next? Then sitting in front of a massive desk perhaps with someone looking down at you with a pile of papers, writing notes. It’s seriously intimidating.
Online you can make your screen as big or as small as you want. I’m right there. I think it’s more intimate and more safe actually. And also it saves time. Mums are busy. They don’t have time necessarily to drive an hour somewhere, get on someone’s waiting list. They just need to sit down at their kitchen table, put the laptop on. It’s very convenient online.
Janet Lansbury: Absolutely. What you were talking about, this out of control feeling, and I’m sure Andrew hears similar things, that’s actually how I found out about you, was through a parent who was having all those feelings that you’re talking about and just so out of control. Who had worked with you and highly, highly recommends you. When your brain knows what you want to do, but you can’t do it. It’s the way that children feel a lot of the time because that prefrontal cortex hasn’t evolved to the place where that can take charge as much as they might want to do or as much as we might want them to. But when that happens to us as adults, it is scary, right? We know better, but we’re still reacting in these same ways.
Lavinia Brown: I think you’re absolutely right. What you’ve said, it is childlike. I often say to my clients, you’re having a tantrum. You’ve been taken back to the child part of you that first experienced these feelings. And the trigger in your present is reminding you of an unprocessed experience from your past which you weren’t co-regulated through by a safe, protective, grounded adult. And therefore it’s still in your body and it needs to be processed. So yeah, you are often having a tantrum. Mama rage can be like a tantrum.
And to comment on what you said about people come to you for that. Absolutely. I was recommended you when I first became a mum and I couldn’t do it. I loved what you were doing. I was reading all the posts and I couldn’t seem to do it. So that just made me feel rubbish. And then I stopped following you because I was like, I can’t do this. There’s obviously something wrong with me. I can’t do this stuff. I’m just going to have to get through it badly or on my own. I mean, actually at one point I was like, I can’t do this. My kids are better off without me. That’s what led me to this work.
Janet Lansbury: I hate hearing all of that. That the work I’m doing, which I’m of course just intending to try to help and make lives easier, to clarify things, actually brings on stress, actually creates all those feelings that you’re talking about. I can’t do it and I’m a failure and giving up on myself. That makes me feel terrible, I have to say.
Lavinia Brown: The thing is, what you do is amazing and it’s only people with childhood trauma that can’t do it. A lot of my clients come to me saying, I tried Janet, I can’t do it, I spiral into shame. And I always say, do the trauma work first.
The analogy I use is a cake. Amazing parenting coaches such as yourself, you are the icing on the cake for people like us. For people like us, we need to sort our cake out. Our cake is not cooked. A cake that’s runny and all over the shop can’t have icing on top. So I say, do your work and then go to the parenting experts. Now that I’ve done the work that I needed to do, I follow you, as you see, I share your posts. I think it’s super valuable. But for women who’ve had developmental trauma, it’s not going into that prefrontal cortex. They need to do that work first, and then it’s about conscious parenting. They have to do the work on themselves first.
Janet Lansbury: Yeah. For me, because I do have my own wounds for sure, not as overwhelming as a lot of people. It’s like what you say on your website that your children showed you all these things that you needed to see. And each child, if you have more than one, shows you different colors. They bring out these different sides of you that you can see you need to work on. And for me, that happened more through working with my mentor Magda Gerber and observing, observing, observing. Seeing the difference between what I was projecting into those situations, which could be just a baby playing or looking around. I could feel these things coming up for me that were my own projections and noticing, Oh that’s me, it’s not my child. And this person isn’t just a reflection of me, this is a whole different person. So through that it was therapeutic. I mean, not nearly the work that you guys do.
Lavinia Brown: But I think you did have what we do. You had a safe, loving, respectful space holder in the form of your mentor. Right? So you felt held, I mean, I don’t know, I’m guessing, on your parenting journey. Which is what we do. It’s when women feel alone, which is what I felt. They feel disconnected from their partner because of their wounds. They feel out of control, and there is no one else to reflect with. I think that’s the most important key. We all live in our ivory towers. It’s almost a cliche. We’re meant to have a village, of course we’re meant to have a village, but if we don’t have a village, do we? And it sounds to me like you did have that mentor space holder, unconditionally supportive, loving, even, relationship with your mentor, which allowed you to do this reflection.
Janet Lansbury: Yeah. And just that whole practice of sensitive observation that is one of the basic tools that she recommended and that I probably don’t talk about enough. But starting that early, you do get this sense of that separateness of your child. That they’re not doing this at you, they’re not trying to swallow you up with their behavior, and that they really are, even as an infant, their own entity.
Anyway. So, the work that you two do, do you have a similar process in working with people?
Andrew Lynn: I think our process is probably really different actually. Looking to reach the same outcomes, maybe. But the process is different. Most of my clients have experienced some kind of developmental trauma growing up. So there are parts of them that are disconnected from themselves, parts of their inner child are fragmented and still playing out in their lives. And they have the coping mechanisms that reflect that. So there’s a lot of self-sabotage, procrastination, people pleasing, Mr. Nice Guy. A lot of inauthentic behaviors. Which lead to an inauthentic life.
On the other side of that, you’ve got the physical side effects of these traumatic experiences, which are linked to dysregulated nervous system and things like anxiety and fatigue, brain fog and addiction. So most of the people that I see have got a variety of those symptoms. And so my practice and my process that I take people through focus on those two things.
So, regulating the nervous system, releasing all of the repressed emotion and energy that’s linked to childhood experiences. Reconnecting with the body so you can be embodied and safe and connected to your truth and connected to your inspiration. And also I think it was Gabor Maté that said that healing is about integrating all parts of yourself. And that’s the second part of the process that I take people through, which is based mostly on reparenting the parts of you that are fragmented. And the result of that is that those parts of you then integrate with yourself. So you can basically experience life from the present moment in a safe body. Instead of being triggered, instead of your present moment being hijacked by repressed emotion, instead of coping mechanism, sabotaging your life, being inauthentic. It’s the opposite of that. And that’s the process that I take people through.
Janet Lansbury: When you talk about integration, can you explain a little about what that is? What that process looks like?
Andrew Lynn: The first part of the process is subtraction. So, I’m sure you’ve heard of the book called The Body Holds the Score. Essentially your body holds the story of your trauma, even if your mind doesn’t. So you are carrying around in your body all of the stuck energy from the traumatic experiences you had and also all the repressed emotion that you couldn’t express at that time. And that keeps these traumatic experiences live within you. And it also keeps those parts of you that experience those traumatic experiences live as well.
So the process that I go through is connecting to all of those parts of the body. So that stuck energy and that repressed emotion is physical. And if you can turn inwards and connect to those parts of you, then that emotion and that energy will release. And once it releases, it doesn’t come back. And once it releases, you’re able to go and inhabit those parts of your body that were disconnected. Which makes you feel present and makes you feel connected and makes you feel safe. It’s not actually you releasing the emotion, it’s the part of you that was traumatized releasing the emotion.
So we go through this process. We might be in a session and your five-year-old has just released the emotion, the anger, the sadness, the guilt about being rejected by their parents. And once they do that, there’s an opportunity right then and right there for you as an adult, the part of you that is present, to build a connection with that part of you, that inner child, and actually give them a new experience. Give them what they needed at that time. And when you do that in the moment, you can feel that part of you. You feel that inner child release something, relax, feel safe. And that part of you actually integrates into you right then at that moment. And it requires a bit of maintenance, like children do. And sometimes there’s a lack of trust there and you need to go back. But that process allows you to do those two things: heal your body, and integrate those parts of you that were fragmented by the trauma.
Janet Lansbury: And then you don’t actually have to know, you’re not necessarily remembering exact things that happened. Right? It’s just a feeling.
Andrew Lynn: Yeah. So none of my practice is through the brain because the brain is all about the stories of your childhood. So often they are the stories that got you through that moment. So I had a story in my head for many years that it was really good that my dad left us as a family at five years old. Yeah? It was really good because my stepdad was good at sport and he taught me how to play football. That was my story about my past, about my childhood. Well that was a coping mechanism. That was a lie I was telling myself to get through that moment and get through the subsequent couple of decades afterwards. But the real story about the rejection that I felt, the pain that I felt, and all of that emotion, was stored in my body. So the process of releasing it and healing can’t be through the brain. But it can be directly into the body. And your body will tell you, if you listen, your body will tell you exactly what it’s ready to release at that point in time.
Janet Lansbury: I find all of this really fascinating. And Lavinia, your process is different than that somewhat?
Lavinia Brown: Mine’s a bit more structured I think, in terms of my clients set goals with me. So one goal that’s about the kind of thing they’ve come to me about: being a calmer parent, being a more connected partner, releasing their past, understanding themselves better, knowing who they are. And then the more practical ones. It might be something about prioritizing the things that are important to them. Or I work quite a lot with the menstrual cycle because that’s another great tool for understanding how you react in any given moment. So it might be something around that, living in alignment with your emotional ups and downs, not against them. And then from that point I get them to explore those goals. That’s the first task they have to do. Unpack why did they come up with those goals? Why are those goals relevant to their lives? Why did the psyche come up with that and not something else?
And then from there, my major tool is the inner child. So I start straight away with teaching them how to reparent their inner child. Because, you touched on it earlier, you said not everyone remembers it. It’s not always conscious. A lot of my clients come to me saying, How can I do this work if I don’t remember anything? And I say, well, you don’t remember it for a reason. And usually that’s because your inner inner child doesn’t feel safe enough to go there. It makes sense biologically. You’re not just going to walk down the street divulging your trauma, being a complete mess. Our bodies don’t work like that. We hold a tight rein over what didn’t work because we need to function. But when your inner child does feel safe enough and held enough, and that’s a process that you have to go through and obviously you have to be ready to even undertake this process, then the memories start coming back. They always do. And the psyche presents the work that it needs to do next.
So it’s very much led by the client, and I work with the client with my tools. I often liken it to a road. There’s a road going towards their goals. That road is full of potholes. And those potholes represent their fears, their self-limiting beliefs, everything that they’ve inherited unconsciously from their parents or through their lifetime. And our job is to jump into those potholes together, work out which tool we need to fill it up, and then move on. So it’s a very dynamic process. I think it’s more dynamic perhaps than Andrew’s because I set a lot of actions. We come up with a lot of actions every session. So it’s very action-orientated. It’s very results-orientated.
But never dragging your inner child with you, which is what I have a tendency to do. And I think a lot of us do. We’re like, yep, come on. Yeah, let’s do this. I want to be healed quicker, faster. Can I do more sessions? Let’s just do this. Right? You want to tick that box and move on. But, part of you wants to do that. That’s great, that’s the achieving part of you, the successful, efficient part. But often your inner child’s terrified. She’s absolutely terrified, and she doesn’t want to do this work. So we have to work at her pace and create the safety that she needs, and the holding, before she can go back. Because she’s the one doing this work.
And sometimes the memories don’t come back. But that’s never happened to me. But if we only have a few memories, then that’s fine too. Because we work with triggers: our kids. They’re our biggest teachers. They will press every single button that you have because unconsciously they want you to be the best version of yourself for them. They want a safe, grounded parent. And they will push the buttons that are in the way. So we’ll work with triggers if we can’t work with memories. And those triggers are pointers to unprocessed feelings, like we said before.
Janet Lansbury: So sometimes do people come and just say, I just want to stop yelling, and I don’t know why I’m yelling. Just that kind of very practical issue that’s getting in their way. And then through that you uncover all the reasons.
Lavinia Brown: That’s the main reason people come to me. I can’t stop being mean and shouting at my kid. I don’t want to be a shouty mum. Yeah, absolutely. Yelling is probably the biggest reason that people come to me. They’re losing it. They feel out of control with their child. Their child is creating reactions in them that is making them act in a way that they hate. And then they hate themselves, and it’s a vicious cycle.
Janet Lansbury: Well I’m so grateful for people like both of you, that you’re doing this work and that you’re there for parents and for all people to find what’s holding them back.
Lavinia Brown: And likewise you, Janet, you do incredible work. I think healing has its own timeline and for my clients that timeline consists of working on themselves first. For many women it doesn’t. They don’t have the baggage that we are carrying. So your work is just as valuable. We’re just looking at different timelines really.
Janet Lansbury: And what is the timeline in terms of your coaching? And you as well, Andrew? How long does it usually take? Or is there a usual?
Andrew Lynn: For me, I normally work with people over a 12-week or 12-session program when I do one-on-one work. The reason for that is because it creates a container. So it’s not just 12 hours of my time. It’s 12 weeks of us working together, like in between sessions. That time in between sessions is also there to create the safety. And to be honest, this healing can happen really quickly. For me, the determiner of how quickly it happens is, How quickly can you connect to your body? I’d say like 10 percent of the people I work with are really dissociated and disconnected from their body completely. And that’s because they had significantly traumatic situations or relationships or environments where they had to do that out of necessity. And if that’s the case, then that takes a bit of time to bridge that gap between their mind and their body.
But if you can connect, if you can feel it. A lot of people come and they say, I can feel it, I can feel it in my chest, I can feel it in my stomach. I’ve got this energy inside me. I’ve got this emotion that comes up and I can feel it. If you can feel it then you can pretty much release it straight away. If that happens, then we do a lot of subtraction in the first three to six weeks, and then building and integrating in the subsequent three to four weeks. And then often I do some coaching towards the end of it. Looking at, okay, now you’re feeling safe, now you’ve integrated those parts of you. Now you can hear your inspiration a bit more. Now you can hear your truth, your life feels more purposeful. Okay, what are we going to do with that? How’s that going to impact your career, your business, your habits, your health? How’s it going to impact your relationship with your wife or your partner, and how does it affect your parenting? So that’s the kind of process that I go through over 12 weeks.
Janet Lansbury: So you get into action at the end?
Andrew Lynn: Yeah, get into action at the end. And again, it depends on how quickly we get into your body. Depends on how much time there is to do the action at the end, and whether people want to get into action at the end. Once you do this work, it’s very hard to carry on doing what you were doing. So many of the men I work with, they do this work, they connect to their truth, they heal all this stuff that they thought they were going to have to carry around for the rest of their life. And most of them turn around and they say, okay, I want to do this. I want to help other people. I need to pass this on. So a lot of my clients end up changing what they’re doing, changing careers. Whatever their passion is, whether it’s content or coaching or technology. A lot of people turn around and they start doing this work as well.
Janet Lansbury: There’s something so deeply rewarding about giving away something that really helped you, which is actually what keeps me motivated. Many of us wait until later in life like I did before we really get into that. How do I really want to spend my time? I want to do something that really helps people somehow or feels really positive in that way.
But also the timeframe that you’re talking about. How it’s once per week, that the 12 weeks actually matters. And Lavinia, you were talking about that too. That sometimes people want to come and just do a cram session, get it all in. But it’s the way that I learned my work. It’s not that you necessarily need all this training time, but you need all the time to absorb it. You need time on the calendar. You can’t rush that process of absorbing, integrating it, internalizing it. That’s what takes time. And that’s actually part of the process.
Lavinia Brown: Which is why my sessions aren’t weekly. Because I want not only my mums to have enough time to do the actions that we’ve set. Which aren’t just, write a pros and cons, or do this with your child. They’re often very deep actions, especially at the beginning. We are unpacking the ways in which their mother and then their father, or their mother figure if they didn’t have a mother or the father figure, we’re unpacking the effect that that had on their lives and the ways in which their parents weren’t there for them. That’s a huge task. So they have two weeks in between sessions with me so that they have exactly what you said. Not just the time to do the action, but the time to process and integrate what comes up. So I offer 24/7 online access to me in between sessions because that’s that holding we were talking about. I don’t think your inner child would be able to do it by themselves. So they know that I’m there on the end of an email, whatever happens, whatever they want to share with me. And in essence I’m role modeling that inner parent role for them until they can do it for themselves. So it’s very, very powerful.
Janet Lansbury: Oh, that’s beautiful. And you both talk about the inner child. That is what we’re healing, we’re reparenting that. But what does that actually look like? I think you talked about it a little bit, Andrew.
Andrew Lynn: For me, there’s a couple of things. So I did inner parenting as part of my own healing and it was very useful. But I think there’s a time and a place for inner parenting. And for me, in my process that I teach people, there’s a moment after that part of you releases the emotion of that time, that is a part of you where there is duality within you. There’s a present adult and there’s a vulnerable inner child. That’s the opportunity, that’s the timing for me, where the inner parenting can be most effective.
Now, in terms of what and how. Now, the first part of inner parenting is listening. That part of you, that inner child will tell you in that moment what they needed at that time. And a lot of this trauma is not necessarily about bad things that happen. It’s not necessarily about violence or abuse and that type of thing. A lot of it is about what didn’t happen. Children that feel that they didn’t get any attention, that they weren’t safe, they weren’t encouraged, they weren’t seen, they didn’t get enough love, they didn’t get enough affection. You know, that has a significant impact on children
Janet Lansbury: And that’s all relative to their unique sensitivities. Right? So the same child in the same family wasn’t wounded by that, but you were because you needed something more.
Andrew Lynn: Yeah. So at that point in time in the process, where you are connected to your inner child, your inner child might say, oh I feel rejected. I don’t feel you love me. Or it’s my fault. Or I’m no good. And whatever that language that that inner child uses at that point in time, that’s your ammunition as the inner parent. So you need to listen to what your inner child has to say. And then once you gather that information, then you can give them a relevant, tailored message at that point in time. And that’s what makes it effective. But you need to do the connecting and the listening first.
Janet Lansbury: And then do you have people say this out loud actually?
Andrew Lynn: I do whatever feels comfortable. And again, like Lavinia said, sometimes you need a bit of coaching. If you’ve never received love or affection, how do you give it? So sometimes people will say, I don’t know what to say. And then we just try some things. It’s a bit of trial and error and feeling and connecting and you say it out loud or say it in your head, whatever works for you. And then finding that thing, you can feel both at the same time. And again, it’s my job to hold space for all of this. To talk to you in the present moment, to get you to witness your inner child, to listen to your inner child, to try some things and notice what happens, how your inner child reacts. And then once you find the words that hit home, you can just use them. You can use them for the next day. Use them 50 times a day if you need to, until that part of you feels safe. And seeing them.
Lavinia Brown: Just to add, I find a lot of my clients, and I used to do this, again, back to the listening point. They jump into the “you’re safe, you’re loved.” For me it’s definitely listening. It’s releasing what you feel in that moment. It’s learning to understand what you’re feeling. What the hell do I feel? Am I anxious? Am I scared? What am I feeling right now? Because we’re so used to dismissing our feelings because we’re too busy. Or we’ve got something else to do. Or the kids need something. So it doesn’t matter what I feel, I’ll not even go for a pee even though I’ve been dying for one for two hours because the kids need their lunch preparing. So it’s learning how to understand what you are feeling, saying that, and then the validating and the reassurance. Because with my clients and with me, I never got that, I never got any validation and I never felt reassured or safe. But often we can take that the wrong way and just go straight into it. You’re safe, you’re safe, it’s okay, it’s okay. I’ve got you, you’re loved. And it’s like, well hold on. Are you asking the child how she is? Because if you’re saying to your inner child, you’re safe. And they’re like, no, no I don’t feel safe. You’re safe and you’re loved. But I don’t feel safe. Then you’re dismissing it, but just in a more subtle way.
Janet Lansbury: Right.
Lavinia Brown: You have to take that step back and go, hold on, let’s just check in. How is she feeling first?
Janet Lansbury: And it’s also, what does that mean to feel safe and loved to that particular person? But it’s got to be listening to, like you said, the child in you saying, when you turn away from me, when you have that expression on your face, it makes me feel scared, it makes me feel rejected, it makes me feel, you know, it’s got to be that specific. Right?
Lavinia Brown: Exactly. So of course I get them to use it in the moment, but for me, I get them to practice it every single night. It’s a nightly practice or a daily practice that takes time to connect. It’s a relationship. So we don’t expect our children to suddenly be best friends with a random person they’ve just met. It takes time for your inner child to trust the inner parent. And to receive. My clients find it so hard to receive.
So my big emphasis, and I don’t know if it’s different to other people, but for me inner parenting is about being parented. You are not the inner parent, because otherwise it’s just another chore. It’s another person that you’re responsible for. And that’s what’s so overwhelming for mums. It’s like, oh my God, I just put my kids to bed and now I have to put my inner child to bed? Seriously? I don’t have the bandwidth. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. You are being put to bed. Someone is saying, how are you? How was your day? I’m here to listen. What do you need? Do you need a back rub? Do you need your hair stroked? What words do you need to hear? So you’re not the inner parent. You are learning and practicing how to receive love, how to let go of responsibility to somebody else. And that, for my clients, is a really big shift.
Janet Lansbury: Yeah, that makes sense. I love how you said Lavinia, you say on your website, “I will love, motivate, cheerlead, and fight for you whilst teaching you how to do this for yourself.”
Lavinia Brown: I’m quite fierce. I am so passionate about women not feeling the way that they do when they come to me. It’s just not fair and it’s not right and they deserve to feel happier. And I know how it felt to feel like that. Like I said, it was very black for me and I just, I want to do everything. It’s probably a bit of a savior complex, to be honest. I’m sure part of it’s wound-driven. I want to save them. But it’s very important to me. And I am fierce because part of this work is very difficult to do. You have to be able to acknowledge the ways in which your parents weren’t there for you. And to do that, you’re going to come across a lot of resistance. There’s societal resistance. I mean, it’s still quite taboo, right? To say I didn’t have a great childhood. That’s not really right.
Janet Lansbury: Especially if it wasn’t terrible. Especially if it wasn’t just obviously off-the-charts trauma. That’s the hard stuff, right? That both of you work with, is people saying, I don’t even know if I deserve to say I had trauma, but these things don’t feel comfortable to me and I’m having a really hard time.
Lavinia Brown: Exactly. There’s societal resistance, there’s cultural resistance, there’s religious resistance sometimes. And there’s resistance from that part of you, the daughter part, the child part, that is wired to see the good in her parents because she had to in order to attach and attune to her family. A child can’t survive on its own. It needs the tribe. So, psychologically, your inner child part can only see the good or only wants to see the good. That’s what keeps them in the family unit, keeps them going back to that relative safety. Part of you also saw the negative, but that fragments off. And my job is to help mothers see their childhood as a parent, not as a child. So to see the negative and the positive. To see how they suffered, to see how it was difficult. Because they don’t want to pass it on to their children.
And a tool I always say, which is very useful if you are finding it hard to accept that something wasn’t okay that was done to you. Imagine putting your child in the same experience. So your parents are doing the same thing they did to you, to your child. How do you feel? And suddenly it’s like, oh my god, no. I’d deck them. Or no, not okay, I’d be furious. And I’m like, exactly. You are now seeing the experience through your fierce mama eyes, as an adult. So this is the hardest bit. This bit takes the longest amount of time. Getting over the resistance towards seeing that your childhood wasn’t perfect and that you suffered. And then comes the release work, which Andrew was talking about. But that bit’s a big deal. Yeah.
Janet Lansbury: Gosh, I could talk about this all day. I’m fascinated by the work that you two do, all the details of it. I feel like we can all relate to it really. Even if we feel like we had the best childhood in the world. These are human issues and we get messages from all kinds of experiences that we take in as flaws in ourselves and hold onto and they become part of our story.
Well thank you both so much for sharing with us. And is there anything that’s coming up for you? I know that, Lavinia, you have a book that’s downloadable.
Lavinia Brown: I have a free workbook, yes. So this work doesn’t have to cost anything. You can start straight away. I always say to people, the most important thing you can start with is looking at your triggers. What is it that creates a disproportionate reaction in you? And then they go, oh, but how do I know it’s disproportionate? You know, you feel it, you feel out of control, it feels visceral, it feels physical. Notice what that is and see if you can track that back to an earlier experience where you felt this way. And then that’s starting at least that process of noticing how you’re feeling, tracking it back to your childhood. And, like you said, it’s not personal. Your child isn’t attacking you. This is your stuff. So yes, in that workbook I’ve got some tools that people can use for absolutely free. So no one needs to feel excluded from this work.
Janet Lansbury: I love that. And what about you, Andrew?
Andrew Lynn: I get a lot of people come to me from all over the world, Africa, Indonesia, India, that can’t necessarily coach with me. So I’ve just launched a group that’s on my website that’s going to be a weekly group healing experience where I teach people how to go through the process I’ve discussed. So I teach people how to release the repressed emotion and heal their body and integrate all the parts of themselves.
Janet Lansbury: Wonderful. Thank you so much. And I hope we get to talk again soon.
Andrew Lynn: Yeah, my pleasure. My pleasure.
Lavinia Brown: Thank you. Thank you, Janet, for what you do.
Janet Lansbury: All right. Take care, you two.
Andrew Lynn: Bye-bye.
Janet Lansbury: You can find Lavinia Brown’s work at LaviniaBrown.com. That’s L A V I N I A brown.com. And her Instagram is @laviniabrowncoaching. And Andrew is at AndrewLynn.net, or on Instagram @andrew.g.lynn.
Thanks so much for listening. We can do this.