Reparenting our Inner Child  With Anna Beck |Episode 6

Reparenting our Inner Child  With Anna Beck |Episode 6

In this episode, Anna tells about her childhood and why she went into Creative Arts Therapy. We discuss the importance of reparenting “The Inner Child,” and the healing power of choosing to let go of our own victimhood and become the creators of our own lives.

Follow Anna on instagram @southernutah.dramatherapy

Follow Kimber on instagram @justbeyourbadself 

For guest bios, episode transcripts or to leave a review, please visit: www.justbeyourbadself.com

Resources for further study

(As an Amazon Affiliate I get commissions for purchases made through any  product links in this post. So if you like the podcast, this is a great way to support me!) 

Books

"Loving What Is" by Byron Katie: 

The Courage to Be Disliked

Raising Human Beings by Dr. Ross Greene

 

 

Transcript

Reparenting Our Inner Child with Anna Beck

 

[00:00:00] Intro

Kimber: Welcome back to the Just Be Your Bad Self podcast, where you get to show up imperfectly, make space for your authentic self, remember your inner child and sink into the magic of the present moment. I'm your host Kimber Dutton. And today I'll be talking with my good friend and drama therapist Anna Beck.

Anna believes in and celebrates the innate power of the arts to express and heal and believes vulnerability is key to healing and connection. As a drama therapist, she provides coaching and experiential workshops to facilitate this healing. You can find Anna singing loudly in her car, having impromptu kitchen dance parties, or taking a mid-day nap.

Listen closely. You are going to love this conversation.

[00:01:01] Welcome

Kimber: Hi, Anna, welcome to the podcast.

Anna: Hi, thanks for having me Kimber.

Kimber: Go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, whatever comes to mind and we'll start chatting.

Anna: Sure. So One of the things that I do a big part of my life as I'm a creative arts therapist and I specialize in drama. So drama therapists specifically, and I work with adolescents who have experienced extreme trauma or attachment issues and who are acting out in unsafe ways. With the understanding that those behaviors are coming from a need to communicate the hardships and the pain that they've been through.

So I'm a big believer in the power of the arts to heal all arts to express. And then I also I'm away from the mother, which is pretty cool. I've got four kids and I love to exercise, and I love to read, and I love to nap and I love to eat food. And that's pretty much me. I love Taylor swift.

Kimber: Yes you do. And you love Crocs. Is it Crocs

that you love?

Anna: I love Crocs I love musicals. But I think what you're primarily asking about is the work that I do. But I really want to say, first of all, that I have really appreciated that you've started this podcast and the community you're creating, basing these conversations around authenticity and people being themselves and loving the things that they love.

Whether it's Taylor, swift and Crocs or pumpkin spice or Marvel movies, whatever it is. So I think that's really cool.

Kimber: Yes, I'm definitely a pumpkin spice girl. So haters can hate, I don't even care. Love pumpkin spice. Well, let's talk a little bit about your story and why you chose this field and maybe how arts have helped you heal or express yourself in an authentic way.

[00:02:54] Anna's Backstory

Anna: Yeah, that's a great question, Kimber. So when I grew up. Well, it's so interesting how we have these life stories and maybe don't see the connecting pieces until we've gone through them a little bit. But when I grew up my parents, there was my older brother and I, and then my parents decided to adopt three kids at one time, they were a sibling group of three and they came into our home. And the level of dysfunction that they had was more than my parents anticipated. And so it was a really rough transition. With reactive attachment disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome, , they had been severely malnourished and neglected.

And so I had a front row seat to watching how people had to learn to adjust and cope and learn from one another and how people's abilities are different. And this really was hard for me in my attempt to. Find myself, because in the culture that I grew up in the area I grew up in, it was pretty homogenous.

People were pretty well to do. Everyone kind of looked the same. And I believed that the measure of your goodness was having a perfect family.

Kimber: Yeah.

Anna: And then I was a part of this family that was in a lot of ways, pretty dysfunctional and very imperfect. And that really struggled. And without any obvious reasons you could point to you can't really explain to your peers as a kid, why your siblings are so different.

And so for me, part of finding my authenticity is understanding that there is beauty in all expression of all people and not just in a perfect quote unquote expression, but in understanding that everyone is different and people have different struggles. So I really felt like in this opportunity, it was really a struggle for me, to establish my identity and to not feel like the perfect family. And I remember spending times crying, wondering why my family wasn't perfect. My dad was going through some really serious health problems that made him not fun to be around.

I didn't even enjoy being around my family, even though looking back. Everyone in my family was just doing the best that they knew how and could do, but I felt so much shame from not being perfect. And So as I grew and learned and understood more about my family, everyone's doing the best they could do.

And the wholeness that is found in accepting where you're at. I really gravitated towards the arts and the arts for a time became an escape, right. A distraction. But then I realized that the arts really aren't meant to distract. Acting as not pretending to be someone else acting is finding those qualities within yourself.

Because a healthy artist is someone who has full range of all emotions and experiences and understanding of themselves. And so I went through this interesting transition of acting was a distraction, a way to get out of my home, to acting as a way to find myself and to get down to the real vulnerabilities and to move forward in vulnerability. And so, anyway, so I got my bachelor's degree in musical theater performance. I loved it, but I knew that the life of a professional performer wasn't for me. And so I was teaching college and I heard about drama therapy. And instantly, I was like, this is it. This is the thing for me.

And so I went to school for drama therapy, and then I had a few years that I just was a stay at home mom after I got my master's degree. But then this opportunity opened up and it's been so interesting to think that I am now helping the types of kids and families that I came from. I am now doing the work that I needed to do when I was a kid, but wasn't always able to didn't know how I didn't have the right resources, but I am now helping that. And so, and I didn't even realize that when I went into it, I just was like, oh, this is great. I love this. And then I was like, wait a minute. After I'd done it for a few years, I was like this is tied to my childhood.

So it's been powerful.

Kimber: Yeah, that's so intriguing. I, I know very much what you're talking about because I had a little brother. I don't know if we've talked about this before. I had a little brother that was adopted, came from a very traumatic background.

And I was, there's quite a bit big age gap between he and I, so I don't feel like it had the same effect on me. How close are you to your three siblings that were

Anna: So there's the five of us within a four year span. So very close.

Yeah, so my, my two adopted sisters, one is six months older than me. One, a six months younger than me. And then my adopted brother is two years younger than me, so boom, boom, boom. All right there.

Kimber: And when someone comes from a background of trauma, they need and demand a lot of attention. So you probably felt , I don't know, lost.

Anna: I think for me, it wasn't about that. I didn't get the attention, but it became, I didn't understand why it wasn't working. Like why couldn't I have, I always wanted a sister. Great. I was getting two new sisters. Why couldn't I have that sisterly connection that I really wanted with them and, and understanding that, and that shame piece of again, well, families are supposed to look like X, Y, and Z.

If my family doesn't what's wrong.

Kimber: Hmm.

[00:08:23] Even In Your Messiness You are Valuable

Anna: And obviously that was never anything my parents said or never anything that was told to me explicitly by any means, but that's how we internalize this piece of shame. And that's how we. Aren't our bad selves, Right.

That's how we learn to put on a face and protect ourselves instead of being authentic, because we think for some reason that if we are not like everyone else, we're going to be shunned.

And that's a really challenging childhood belief to get over and to accept that even in your messiness, you are valuable. And I think one of my core values, I was really authenticity now, but it, it was and has been at different times of my life appearing competent. I really like when people think that I'm smart.

I like when people think that I can do things, I like being competent. And so, so battling that and understanding that even in my messiness, even in my. Brokenness. I'm not really broken. Right. I'm still whole, even in my mess and my junk and my unpleasant-ness. It's all a part of the whole.

Kimber: Right. Which is the whole point of what I'm doing is this message, right. Be your bad self that you're worthy, even in your messiness, but it's such a difficult thing to accept. It's much easier to say that and to preach that to other people, right. I'm doing this whole thing, trying to teach other people this, but that doesn't mean I've totally got that down.

It's really hard to accept yourself in your incompetence, in your imperfection. And so how do you do that? How do you teach other people to do that? And really believe it, not just have it be words.

[00:10:05] Reframing Core Beliefs

Anna: Yeah. And that's, what's tricky is I think sometimes people try and talk themselves into. Right. They try and do the self-talk, which is an important first step. Right. Battling those thoughts in your mind, when you think something about yourself, ask yourself, is that true? Or what do I want to believe?

What do I want to replace that with? But that's not the only way that we need to do it because our beliefs, our core beliefs about ourselves are really set in our early child. And so if we develop core beliefs, whether they're told to us explicitly, like I have some clients whose parents explicitly told them, you're a piece of trash.

I wish you were never born. , I hate you, et cetera, et cetera. Then of course they develop that belief. But even those of us who have really great parents who are doing the best they could, might have. Implicitly gotten a message of, oh, I need to be happy or, oh, I need to be skinny. Or, you know what I mean?

We may have implicitly or, oh, I need to be perfect or, oh, my room needs to be clean, whatever, whatever. So we have to not only fight those thoughts, but we have to go back to our nervous system because under all our thoughts, there's another layer and it's our beliefs. And our beliefs live in our nervous system.

And you can't rationalize with your nervous system, right? So your nervous system is what tells you if you're safe or not. And what we have to do is we have to teach ourselves, this is why, where mindfulness comes in is we have to teach our nervous system that it's safe. So we can't just tell ourselves if we, if we think a thought about ourselves, like if I, think, oh, I'm such a bad mom, right? I can tell myself you're not a bad mom. You're a great mom. You're doing X, Y, and Z, , and that's really positive and the best place to start, but then I have to allow myself to feel that. I have to step back from the thought and say, what would I feel like if that was true and let the emotion come as well?

Because our thoughts and our emotions are so inextricably are so I don't know that word inextricably intertwined. So we have to not just think it, but feel it.

Kimber: And I, I just did a post on positive affirmations because I just found this out that a lot of times when we're telling ourselves, , if my positive affirmation in the morning is I am a great mom, I can say that. But then a lot of times my brain will come up. Now you're the negative self-talk will immediately, all that resistance comes up.

And so I love this idea that to reframe your affirmation, instead of saying something that isn't a belief you already hold to reframe it as a question. Like, what if I'm a great mom or in what ways am I a good mom or I'm in the process of becoming a good mom. There's all these different ways that maybe not quite so much resistance is there to help our brains start looking for evidence instead of arguing with ourselves and this belief that we don't really hold yet.

[00:13:06] Feeling Like Enough

Anna: That's a perfect summary. Kimber. I read this question the other day. Cause one of the beliefs that pop up that's really sneaky, I think, especially in women, in our society, is this idea of not being enough. You addressed it in your very first podcast, right. That we're constantly fed this idea that we're not enough, whatever, whatever.

And the question that someone posed is what does enough feel like in your body? What do you feel like when you feel enough? And I really had to think about that. And I'm someone who works with somatic body stuff all the time. And I'm like, what does that feel like? But it's allowing yourself to have that feeling instead of just thinking, I know I'm enough.

I know I'm enough. It's being secure enough in that feeling that we hold it with us. Even when the thoughts come in,

Kimber: And going back to when you said mindfulness is so important, this is the feeling I feel like this is the feeling that mindfulness teaches us that this moment is enough and that if you can let go of all of these thoughts going on in your head that are telling you whatever, and just focus on your breath, ground yourself in your body, which is I'm sure a lot of the stuff you do very much bodywork and being in your body.

That's this feeling of enough that we need to train ourselves to feel. And are you familiar with the work of Byron Katie? I talk about, I feel like she keeps coming up everything and everything I've been talking about, but her whole thing is also about it's our thoughts that keep us trapped in this prison.

Our thoughts are not reality. And she posted something on her Instagram account the other day that said something like other than all the thoughts that are going on in your head telling you whatever, are you okay in this moment? And if you can let go of your thinking about the moment and just be in the moment.

That's enough. That's enough.

[00:15:02] Reparenting the Inner Child

Anna: and I wanted to touch on one of the ways that I teach my clients to do that. It's to cause mindfulness, when you, when you don't feel safe or you don't have a safe background to come back to, And you've never really felt safe in your life. The kids I work with, , have been victims of extreme abuse and neglect, trafficking, things like that.

It's mindfulness can be really, really difficult to be still and trust your body to be in. The moment is really scary. And so one of the things that I work with my clients on is this idea of re parenting. It's one of the ways we can work through trauma. , going back to that little child, little you, what did you need that you did not have?

And how can you give yourself that? Whether it's and then, so of course I do a lot of concrete in your body stuff, so we'll get a doll, that's baby them, and we'll write a lullaby to see to baby them. They'll they'll create a bedtime ritual for themselves where they, , their parent, was gone for five days and was not home and they didn't know what to do.

And there was no one to put them to bed. So now let's put that little child to bed. What would that look like? Creating a bedtime routine for yourself, where you told yourself a story. But reparenting, and we can do that even without extreme trauma, we can reparent ourselves. One of the things that I see a lot in my friends is, or women, my age is body image issues.

And it's so interesting because people think, well, I never tell my kids that their body is bad. I always tell my kids, , that their body is perfect just the way it is, but our kids are not just listening to the ways that we're talking about their bodies. Our kids are listening to the ways that we talk about our own bodies.

So maybe your mother never told you you were overweight, but maybe your mother always said, oh, I just need to go on another diet. Oh, I can't eat that. , I can't have a slice of birthday cake because I'm trying to whatever, whatever, or, Ooh, I am so ugly and wrinkly, right. The voice that our parents have becomes the voice in our head, unless we change it.

And so going back to yourself and saying, what did I need in that moment? I needed my mom to tell herself she was beautiful so that I could feel like I could be okay with my body. And so you can go back and try and reparent those moments and give yourself the grace, the love, the understanding, and, and recognizing that all of our parents were doing the best that they can.

Kimber (2): As a parent, I've been able to give and I had, let's be honest. I had a great untraumatic childhood. But your parents aren't perfect. And they're their own humans. Right? And as a parent myself, I've been able to give so much more grace to my mom and, and realize like, even though I'm trying so hard to be this perfect parent for my kids, I'm still a human and I have my own issues.

And so I think this idea of re parenting such an important one because. are probably the only people that can be the perfect parent for ourselves, because we know what we need and to be able to show up for ourselves and to go back and do this inner child work. When you were talking about the work you do with your clients, do you get emotional like in the moment or do you have to be really good at keeping together that oh, that was hurting my heart listening to.

[00:18:18] Holding Space for Emotional Work

Anna: Yeah. It is emotional work. It's so emotional, but it's healing, it's cleansing and, and talk about getting to see people at their most vulnerable. I mean, it's so vulnerable and authentic and real and raw, and you're just sitting in the messiest moments of people's lives with them.

And it's a real honor. I'm really blessed that I get to experience that, but I I'm the container in those moments. So I, while I'm informed by my emotion, because I'm a person Right.

I have to be with my clients and my emotion will inform the practice, but it's not about my emotion. So everyone needs a good container person in their lives to just hold it for them.

Kimber: And as someone involved in the arts, that's what the arts are for a lot of people too, right. That it's not, I was in a vocal jazz group in college. And one thing our professor was always saying to us, if we sang something that would get us emotional and someone would start tearing up, she'd say, This isn't for you to feel these emotions.

You're here to allow someone else to feel these, which sometimes the arts are good to be able to express and feel all the feels. But sometimes they're also there to be, like you said, a container for other people to experience this and get that growth.

[00:19:40] Becoming Creators

Anna: Yeah, and that's, what's great about creative arts therapy is it's really process based. The process is more important than the product. And I think that's similar to the idea that you're putting forth here is it's not about what I come up with in the arts. It's about the process of me creating. And one of the things I've learned is that when people step into the role of a victim, Whether they've been severely victimized or they've been so used to being victimized, that they live in that role of victim, or whether it's a perfectly healthy adult who finds comfort in that victim role.

The antithesis of the victim role is the creator role. And so because the victim is stuck in what's wrong. And a creator is stuck in, what do I want to see happen? Right? The victim is stuck in anxiety. The creator is stuck in passion about what they're going to create. And so the arts is a really accessible way to step into the creator role because you literally are creating something, write a song, an art piece, a poem, but in life, we are all creators. We can step into that role where things are not happening to us, but we are seeking what we want and actively working on creating that.

Kimber: Oh, I love that. I love that the victim versus the creator, and that's a message that keeps coming at me from everywhere. Right. And I think, it's something that most people don't even think about. I've have you heard of this book calledThe Courage to Be Disliked?? It's a book based around Adlerian psychology. Which Adlerian psychology. Are you familiar with Adlerian psychology?

Anna: Yes.

Kimber: it's very much about, we are responsible for our own lives and it's our thoughts and our thought patterns that put us where we are. And so many of us like to be the victim and blame everybody else and well we had horrible circumstances, and this, this, this, this, this, but the truth is we can do that all we want being the victim, isn't going to help us at all.

Anna: Yes.

Kimber: if we can take that next step into what am I going to do about it? Or what can I create? What do I want and how am I going to get there? It's a total game changer,

Anna: Absolutely. And, and that's not to ever minimize people who have been victimized. right?

There's a difference between victimization when something happens to you and victimhood. Victimization is when something happens, that is awful. And those are the clients I work with, and I would never diminish their pain or what they've been through, but they have the opportunity to choose to stay in that place of victim hood and to live the rest of their lives that way, or to say that was awful. And I am so sad and I'm in so much pain and I'm going to really feel that. I'm going to really experience that pain and that grief and that sadness. And then I'm going to decide what I want to do with those pieces.

Kimber (2): I think it's also important to not use this idea of victim versus creator to victim blame or victim shame, right? Like, oh, just pull yourself up and put on a happy face and you can get through it. It's a thought game. That's not what we're saying either. It's a Personal thing of deciding to take what you've been through and what you're going to do with that.

It's not, it's not a tool for someone else to be like, well, you can get through it. It's just your thoughts. Cause I think a lot of us have had that done to us as well, which isn't helpful at all.

[00:23:28] Starting the Healing Proccess

Anna: Absolutely. And I would never, ever, ever tell someone that at the beginning of their healing process, right? The beginning of a healing process, whether you're healing from trauma or whether you're healing from life circumstances, which side note, when I talk about trauma, , we think about these big things like abuse and neglect, but trauma is anything that overwhelms our ability to cope.

And so for everyone that's going to look different and trauma is a fact of life. We're all going to experience trauma for some people it's just moving schools for some people it's someone bullying them or it's losing a job. , trauma is just anything that overwhelms us in the moment. So it's a fact of life and Yeah. I would never use this at the beginning of someone's healing process.

I always, the first step is to feel what they are feeling to grieve, to be sad, to be mad, to feel betrayed, whatever feeling it is, feel it. Fully before you can pick up the pieces and move forward. Just don't get stuck there is the goal. So but you're right. Part of being a creator is acknowledging that others are creators as well, meaning to not buy into that victim blaming or victim shaming, because you're recognizing they're a creator.

They are creating in their own sphere and that choice is theirs.

[00:24:44] Working with Resistance

Kimber: Yeah. So when you're working with your clients and doing your therapy, I would imagine that you come up against a lot of resistance. You probably have a lot of clients who don't even want to be there in the first place. how do you work with that?

Anna: So resistance is one of my favorite things, actually. That's why I really like the population I work with. I work with adolescents that are inpatient, so they don't choose to come. They need to come because their behaviors are unsafe and they need a higher level of care. So understanding that first of all, resistance is fun.

Resistance is just protectiveness and playfulness. And I really genuinely believe that there is one, at least one road to everyone's heart. And I have the amazing opportunity to try and find that road. But I really believe that for most people, if they can feel safe, those defenses will come down. I believe that people are hardwired to want connection,

and that if people can feel safe, and the arts does a really great job of that, then walls will come down. Connections will be built, but I also very clearly recognize that I cannot want change for anyone that they are very much on their own journey. And I don't even know what's best for them. I can help them along with things that I've learned and help them with the healing process, but it's all about them needing to want what it is.

Kimber: So you're just there and hold the space and love them where they're at. And when they're ready, they're ready,

[00:26:19] Everyone is Doing the Best They Can

Anna: Yeah, if they're ready. ever, , some people are, everyone is just on their journey and kind of honoring their journey. And one of the things, so one of the parenting philosophies that really changed my life is Dr. Ross Greene. And one of his fundamental principles is that everyone is literally doing the best they can.

And people have a really hard time. They reject that idea. They're like, well, If, I choose to stay in bed, am I doing the best I can? And I'm like, well, if that's all the energy you have, then, yes! And doing the best we can doesn't look the same every day. , sometimes doing the best I can is cleaning my house.

Sometimes doing the best I can is reading a book because I don't feel like cleaning my house. So this understanding that everyone is doing the best they can and the behavior is just communication. So what are people trying to communicate with their behavior? Those are two things that have really helped me and to pull this full circle, you asked me about my journey into being authentic and real.

[00:27:13] Wholeness is Not Flawlessness

Anna: And one of the things that has really helped me is that my oldest son is he has high functioning autism. So he's on the autism spectrum. He is more high functioning, but having a child with significant challenges.

Forces you to disregard any idea of being a perfect parent that you ever had. Like, my child would just have these full on meltdowns or he would lash out at other students or one year he completely destroyed a classroom at school. And I used to think I was going to be this great mom with this great kid.

And I do have a great kid, but with this perfect looking kid and we were going to have this great relationship. So the biggest way I think I found my authenticity is understanding that you need to accept what you have and find the glory and the gratitude in that. So my relationship with my son looks very different, but he's been able to strip down any pretense of what I thought I was going to be.

And just living in the moment with what I have, and sometimes that sad and painful and sometimes it's exciting and joyful, but the greatest gift that my imperfect relationships has brought me is a greater understanding of wholeness as not being flawless, but as being complete.

Kimber: That's so beautiful.

[00:28:43] Takeaway

Kimber: So if you have one, you've had so many great messages in this podcast, but if, if we're going to give one takeaway to those who are listening or, or strategies of what they can do to reparent or go through this process of accepting themselves in their imperfection. What would that take away be?

Anna: I think, I would say that you are not what has happened to you. You are not what you have been through. You are who you are creating, and that vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. And if you are looking for a way to tap into your vulnerability to reparent to give yourself more grace, Start by creating small things, whether it's a painting or maybe a painting is intimidating, whether it's singing in your car, releasing some of that emotion, whether it's creating a meal or creating a space or creating a relationship, start by recognizing the ways that you create and enhance those.

[00:29:56] Outro

Kimber: You can find Anna on Instagram @SouthernUtah.Dramatherapy. And I am so excited to announce that she will be one of the guests, clinicians, and hosts of the very first,Just Be Your Bad Self Retreat

your can get more information about the retreat by following me on Instagram @justbeyourbadself, or by going to the website, justbeyourbadself.com. Your invitation this week: pay attention to the needs of your inner child and recognize the ways in which you are the creator of your own life. If you enjoyed this podcast and want to leave a review, subscribe to the podcast or share it as always, you have my heart.

That's it from me now. Just be your bad self.

Anna Beck Profile Photo

Anna Beck

Drama Therapist

Anna Beck believes in and celebrates the innate power of the arts to express and heal. Anna pursued a Bachelor's degree in Musical Theatre, and then discovered the field of Creative art therapies, and got her master's degree in Drama therapy. She now works as a drama therapist, specializing in emotional expression and trauma healing. Anna believes vulnerability is key to healing and connection, and provides coaching and experiential workshops to do just that. You can find Anna singing loudly in her car, having impromptu kitchen dance parties, or taking a mid-day nap. Anna has a champion of a husband and four magical children.