Get Unstuck With Britt Frank - Judd Shaw

Get Unstuck With Britt Frank

Judd Shaw

Britt Frank

Episode Summary

Britt Frank discuss overcoming addictions and mental health challenges, emphasizing the importance of micro-steps in facing adversity

Britt Frank discuss overcoming addictions and mental health challenges, emphasizing the importance of micro-steps in facing adversity

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Episode 009

In this episode of “Behind the Armor”, host Judd Shaw talks with licensed neuro psychotherapist Britt Frank about her journeys’ in overcoming addictions and mental health challenges. Together, their conversation tackles understanding human behavior and the importances in micro-steps when overcoming adversity.

Key Lessons from the Episode:

1. Ditch the Why: When facing a significant challenge, especially addiction, avoid starting with “why.” Focus instead on what small steps you can take immediately to improve your situation.

2. Micro Yeses: Identify and take micro yeses, which are small, manageable actions that help you move forward. These tiny steps compound to create significant change over time.

3. Normalize the Imposter: Everyone experiences imposter syndrome. Instead of fighting it, acknowledge and understand it. Turn the inner critic into a coach that can guide you towards improvement.

4. Shifting Between States: Understand your brain’s response mechanisms.Learn to shift smoothly between feeling overwhelmed (emergency brake) and being functional (gas pedal) without abrupt changes, which can lead to burnout.

5. Authenticity with Boundaries: Embrace authenticity and vulnerability, but maintain appropriate boundaries. Share personal struggles with those that are safe and can offer support, ensuring a balance between openness and self-protection.

Guest This Week:

Britt Frank

Britt is a licensed neuro psychotherapist and author of The Science of Stuck and most recently The Getting Unstuck Workbook. After struggling for more than two decades with chemical/behavioral addictions, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD, and complex PTSD, she eventually found her way out of that mess and became a therapist. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Forbes, and NPR. Today Britt is a featured wellness expert on podcasts, blogs, and television.

Show Transcript

Judd Shaw: [00:00:00] Welcome to Behind the Armor, where we deep dive into the heart of what matters. I’m your host, Judd Shaw, adventurer, storyteller, agent of change, and speaker on authenticity and human connection. Join me as we explore the complexities of human connection, featuring theorists, scientists, and speakers. Our mission is simple, to inspire you to reclaim your true self and create genuine connections with others.

Join me as we lay down our armor and live the armor. Hello, you beautiful people, and thanks for tuning in. Today we will be talking with Britt Frank. Britt is a licensed neuropsychotherapist and author of The Science of Stuck, and most recently, The Getting Unstuck Workbook. After struggling for more than two decades with chemical behavioral addictions, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD, and complex PTSD, she eventually found her way [00:01:00] out of the mess.

And became a therapist. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Forbes, and NPR. Today, Britt is a featured wellness expert on podcasts, Blogs and television. Let’s uncover what’s behind the armor with Brit. You and I are former hot messes. We have masters in hot mess, decades of hot mess experience.

And may I go to say, we could be considered a hot mess experts. Brit, welcome to the show.

Britt Frank: Thank you so much. Fellow member of the hot mess express. Glad to be here.

Judd Shaw: Brit, you know, you and I. struggled so much and we found pain relief in so many unhealthy ways. [00:02:00] We both had behavioral, we both had chemical addiction issues, uh, relationship issues, uh, You know, unhealed attachments, traumatic responses, dysregulation, uh, and so many other negative ways of dealing with the world around us.

Can you help us listeners understand what that was like for you? What was going on with this Brit, let’s call it one point out.

Britt Frank: The biggest thing I wish and hope for listeners to understand from everything we talk about today is that everything makes sense in context at the worst of my shenanigans. And it was pretty bad.

I smoked crystal meth. I have some pretty hair raising Dateline NBC level stories. But if I knew then what I know now, I could have started with, This [00:03:00] is a mess and it’s objectively bad, but it makes sense. I didn’t know that. So I just walked around the world with my head on fire thinking it was me. I must be broken.

I must be crazy. I was truly convinced that I was, it’s kind of a narcissistic orientation, but I was the only person beyond redemption, like recovery and healing was for everybody except me because I was so quote bad that there was just no hope for me. Fortunately, I, you know, found my way to good help, but you know, no, one’s broken at the, if you could have seen me through the glass of my worst moment on my worst day, knowing what.

We now know about the brain, you’d go, yeah, that’s not good, but it checks out how we got here. So yeah, at the worst, it was a depressed, suicidal, addicted, anxious spin of a human being who still managed to show up at a day job.

Judd Shaw: Wow. Did I resonate with all of that? And when I say all of that, and [00:04:00] for the listeners, we’re going to get into the science of that stuck and how to get unstuck through your framework and to the things you’re working on.

Uh, there became a cycle where I would put on my armor, my suit, my tie. I looked amazing. I not only had a day job, I was running a law practice with 50, you know, some odd employees and at the end of the day, uh, and towards the end of the night, I would go find the sketchiest warehouses, broken down factory places, uh, basement apartments that I could find, hanging out with a group of people.

that I didn’t know doing crystal methamphetamine all night. And then the cycle would repeat and go back and put on the shower mask up and go. And, and I couldn’t get out of it because I would tell myself I was broken. I use those words. [00:05:00] And until my dark night came, To unbreak me, which was really just show that I was never broken from the first place when you were able to put down your armor, Brit, from that 1.

0 stuff, tell me, how did you begin to get unstuck?

Britt Frank: So good. Well, it helped to, cause I kept at it from this. I have this bad Brit that needs to be eliminated and there’s this good, better version of me that needs to be actualized into. And that

Judd Shaw: fine. The parts I hate of myself.

Britt Frank: Exactly. But you can’t escape your parts.

So as long as I thought if I recover, that means parts of me will be destroyed. I wasn’t going to take the steps because the thing they don’t tell you about early recovery is you have a yay. I made a good decision for about five seconds. And then early recovery [00:06:00] sucks. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awful. It’s not, I quit drugs and now the sun is shining and life is grand.

It’s no, you quit drugs and all of your pain comes up and everything you’ve been running from catches up to you. And it takes a lot to endure the pain demanded by the recovery process. And I wasn’t going to do that without all of my parts, even the scrappiest, most damaging ones, everyone needed to be on board.

So, and those parts of me that I hated the most ended up being my fiercest allies in my healing process.

Judd Shaw: I love that. I love that. That is so good. So I developed, uh, my framework that helped me get out of my shit. And what it really did for me was what I did was I re engineered how I got healthy and created a framework called the Connection Cure.[00:07:00]

And cure meaning conscious awareness, understand, um, relate, and expand. And the idea of that is understanding that I’m masked up, I’m armored up, um, seeing it, being aware of it, understanding the roots of why I’m doing that, reconnecting with my, myself and with others as that new authentic, true, genuine self, and then going to expand that to create a ripple effect in the world.

And that was my framework. And I wanted to understand your framework called. The science of stock.

Britt Frank: Yeah. And in order to change something as severe as an addiction or as minor as revenge, bedtime procrastination, we all tend to start it. I need to change the behavior. And if you don’t understand the functionality of a behavior, it’s going to be damn near [00:08:00] impossible to sustainably change it.

So I approach my. Process of getting unstuck like any negotiation. Like, if you read Roger Fisher’s getting T. S. or you listen to high level F. B. I. negotiators. They’ll talk about this concept of interest versus positions. The position of my drug using part was go get meth. The person, you know, the position of my non drug using part was don’t do drugs, but getting stuck.

Drugs, bad sobriety, good doesn’t get the job done. We need to bring everyone to the table and understand the function of any behavior is self protective. Self sabotage is not a thing. So my framework starts with the idea that all behavior is not good, but all behavior is serving a job. And you have to understand the job in order to then change the system.

And the system starts by identifying not these huge transformational macro level changes, because the human brain hates change, even good change registers and your brain is threatening. So we have to start with what I call [00:09:00] micro yeses and the micro yeses are something Smaller than small steps. They’re smaller than baby steps.

There are steps that are so stupid that most people argue about their use and we’ll push back on how am I supposed to get any, like a micro? Yes. For me on the day I stopped smoking meth was not to address my childhood trauma or get into therapy. I called a friend and she’s like, Brit, when was the last time you ate?

I’m like, ah, I don’t know. I ate a yogurt. And this woman sat on the phone with me for an hour, eating that damn yogurt. Spoonful by spoonful micro yes by micro yes, because those micro yeses are all that’s available in the moment, regardless of where you’re stuck. Assume if you’re stuck with a drug addiction or anything, it’s because your brain is fighting between two opposites.

The solution is not to pick a side. The solution is make your choice points so small that it’s easier to do them than not to do them. And those micro yeses. Uh, compounds very rapidly and create macro level changes. [00:10:00]

Judd Shaw: How do you, how do you start? So for me, it’s that the conscious awareness and you were talking about that, right?

In order to sort of solve a problem, you have to be aware of the problem. And so how does somebody in our cycle, Stop it and start and start the process.

Britt Frank: So I have a hot take on this and it’s controversial and I am a licensed therapist. Like my job is to dig into people’s why and their past and their childhood and their origin.

And from all of my training, I am saying, Do not start with, why am I addicted? If you start with your why, and this goes in the face of all of the really awesome, find your, why know your, why start with why that stuff’s great for business developments, but when you’re stuck with a life threatening addiction or problematic habit, analyzing why it’s there is a mile five issue, not a starting gate [00:11:00] issue.

Why is this building on fire is not a good question when you’re in the building. The first question when a building is on fire is where’s the exit we need to get out. We’ll figure out what happened later. So when you’re struggling, don’t start with why the first step of my three step framework is ditch the why just put it on the shelf, put it in the closet.

We’ll find the why later. And by the time you’re up and running, you might not even need to know why. Sometimes you won’t know why don’t ask why instead ask, what are my choices? And how do I make them small enough to get a win? Because a win of any size in any direction. Immediately puts you in motion and stuck becomes unstuck.

The second you take a step and you don’t need to feel ready and you don’t need to feel motivated. Motivation happens after you get started. Not before micro yeses, get you to the point where motivation and momentum then click in, and then you can ride that wave to where you want to go. But my, I, we need to solve for the starting gate, not for the why.

Don’t start with why.

Judd Shaw: You know, for [00:12:00] me, that was just picking up the phone at one point

Britt Frank: and just

Judd Shaw: asking for help. Um, What’s the second, what’s the second step?

Britt Frank: Yeah. First step, ditch the why. Step two, identify three micro yeses available to you. Sometimes all of the choices legitimately suck in a moment, but we can sit here and wish that we had better options, but we have to start, to get unstuck, you have to start with what is actually available to you.

Step one, ditch the why. Step two, identify what your choices actually are. Step three, shrink it down so you can do something. Anything, any step, even in the wrong direction is preferable to that analysis spin where you’re thinking about everything and accomplishing nothing. We’ll figure out why the pain, why the problem later.

Let’s start by getting you into motion. And that three step process works with everything from high level addiction and severe mental health challenges to the day to day annoyances and stupid habits that we get stuck with. [00:13:00] But micro yeses get you unstuck.

Judd Shaw: Yeah, I was going to say, it sounds like it applies to.

Your whole world, the places you live, work, love, and play.

Britt Frank: Mm-Hmm. .

Judd Shaw: Um, because in all those places we can get stuck.

Britt Frank: Mm-Hmm. . That’s why I use the word stuck and not trauma, because not everyone identifies as having trauma. But I have never been in front of a, a human, a group of humans, no matter how high, high functioning that does not currently struggle, feeling stuck with something.

Everybody gets stuck somewhere and it’s not a moral failing. It’s not a character flaw and that’s not a personal brokenness issue. It’s a brain issue. If you know how your brain brains, then you can drive it. Micro yeses are how you get your car into first gear and go.

Judd Shaw: Yeah. And, and, and that’s personal and professional because if, if you’re not really growing, uh, I guess then.

The irony is the more you grow, the more likely you’ll get stuck.

Britt Frank: That’s true. That is a guarantee. Stuck is pretty [00:14:00] much guaranteed, but it’s not bad.

Judd Shaw: It

Britt Frank: just

Judd Shaw: is right. You’ve now get unstuck and you’ll go through another development of growth.

Britt Frank: Exactly.

Judd Shaw: And it’s stuck again.

Britt Frank: Exactly.

Judd Shaw: So what’s the third step?

Britt Frank: The third step is pick a micro yes and go, right? Don’t think about it. Don’t. And again, the thing with micro yeses is they’re so small that you’re not going to throw your entire trajectory off course. A micro yes is going to create a feedback loop where then you can go. How’d that go? Right? How did that work?

Okay, everything seems safe. Now I can do another one and then another one and people will say, well, how am I supposed to get anywhere if I’m taking steps this small? And the answer is a lot faster than if we argue about it and try to analyze it all and we’re going nowhere. So those micro steps. Steps are not that the pace you start at is not the pace you stay at.

Step one, ditch the why. Step two, identify your micro yeses. Step three, just pick one, the easiest one. You don’t have to be a hero at this point right now. Just grab the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest [00:15:00] option, bank it. And then that registers in your brain as a little dopamine drip. Oh, we did a thing. We kept a promise to ourselves.

And that little dopamine drip will also then compound. It’s sort of like microdosing your brain with its own chemicals. to get

Judd Shaw: moving. I love that. And you know, for, for me, sometimes at one point it was just making the bed, right? And so, but not everybody is trying to also unstuck from a cycle of crystal methamphetamine.

So what does this look like? Can you give an example of what it would look like in a workplace?

Britt Frank: Absolutely. Let’s say someone really wants a job switch and they’re sitting there like, do I stay or do I go, you know, I’m unfulfilled this job I’m under earning. This job is not giving me purpose and meaning I can do more.

I want more challenges, but do I stay or do I go? If, if you have kids and financial obligations and responsibilities and a partner in a life, that question is way too big and you’re going to get stuck in the analysis. So instead of, do I [00:16:00] stay at this job or leave, let’s just start by assessing what are your skills?

Do you have the skillset? Do you have the financial means at the moment? Sometimes you can’t leave a job until you. Improve your skills and get some networking done. Then the do I stay or do I go question makes more sense. So rather than trying to answer the big question, we want to break that big question down.

I would start for anyone who’s seeking a career change. How much money do you need every month to make your life work? Because that. Number is going to inform all of the other choice points. If I’m used to making multiple six figures and my family expects that I can’t just go and hope for the best doing a brand new career.

So we need to know some things before those decisions get clarity. And then you micro yes, your way. If looking at your finances is scary, like, I don’t know how much I have. I don’t know how much comes in or goes out. Then you break that down into its micro yeses, but we want to start gathering information.

So by the time we get to the big decision about [00:17:00] work, it makes more sense.

Judd Shaw: Oh, that’s, that’s, that’s cool. That’s actually really cool. How does this science of unstuck correlate to imposter syndrome?

Britt Frank: Oh, that’s a great question. So again, the thing with imposter syndrome that drives me a little bananas is this idea of tell your imposter to F off and kick your inner critic to the curb and tell that mean voice in your head that they’re a piece of shit and to get out of your way.

Great. Great. But when you yell at yourself, who’s going to win? Like if you’re yelling at parts of yourself, just doing that inside of your, and this isn’t just a mental thing when you yell at yourself and you beat yourself up, you’re creating a physical cycle that releases stress hormones. That’s going to create more of the thing you don’t want.

So with imposter syndrome, Let’s start by normalizing the dilemma, like I work in private practice with very, very high achieving, [00:18:00] high functioning people that play at the top levels of their game. Everyone has an imposter part! If you are human, unless you’re a sociopath, or have a brain injury, everybody has a part that goes, ugh, if they really knew.

That I didn’t know anything, they would totally cast me aside. Let’s start by normalizing. It’s human. To have an imposter part means it’s human. Then, we want to go with, well, how would you work with Any part of you that is unskilled and not super helpful, the answer isn’t to kill it, it’s to coach it. And so we want to approach our inner voices like we would a member of our team.

Assume that you have a team full of people and you can’t fire them, but you can train them, you can coach them, or you can reorg the company. That’s the approach to take with all of the voices in our head. And you can only do that if you know, and here’s another controversial hot take, but it’s true.

Everyone has multiple personalities. That’s not a disorder. It’s just part of me knows I should do the good thing. Part of me wants to do the bad thing. Part of [00:19:00] me knows I should go work out. Part of me is cold and tired and wants to eat pizza tonight. It’s not anything spooky or weird or mystical. It’s we all have multiple aspects of ourselves.

So we got to talk to ourselves like we would. To a child or to a fellow coworker or to a team member discipline and boundaries. Yes, but beating ourselves up doesn’t help. So we want to turn the imposter from a critic into a coach because my imposter properly trained is useful. She’s not like, Oh, Brit, you stink.

Everyone will hate you. It’s Hey, maybe we should uplevel this skill because objectively we could probably use some help in this area. We want to turn that voice into a coach instead of a controller, but everyone has an imposter. I

Judd Shaw: love that. Um, You give permission to be the imposter. And that’s the humanness of what you’re saying to me, because I reached that point and, and, you know, [00:20:00] by any definition, if you want to talk about success, I had yachts, crude yachts, beach houses, mansions, Ferraris, private jets.

If you want to talk about in business growth, you know, multiple departments, offices, teams. However you want to define that kind of, and every time I got more successful, I felt more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like, I felt like I was like wearing, it was another mask.

Speaker 3: Mm hmm.

Judd Shaw: Like, and, uh, I, I didn’t deserve this.

If only anybody knew that I don’t know what the F I’m talking about. That I’m winging all this shit. That I’m, whatever. And so what happened was, I remember telling somebody, and that person told me, Ah, everybody in the top, you know, feels that way. And I felt so unheard. And so [00:21:00] unseen. And so what I found was that group then in meth where I belong then, because I’m, I must be an imposter that that’s gotta be, that success has to be fake.

I don’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. So let me go in that factory warehouse, broken down and feel broken. Because that’s, then I can feel like I’m embodied with the person who’s inside that, that outfit that I wear at my successful law practice.

Britt Frank: Yes. And what you’re talking about is the relationship with familiarity and certainty.

And our brains, again, our brains are not wired for success. Our brains are not wired for optimized living. Our brains are wired to keep us alive. Brains are wired for survival, not success. Now again, we can work with the default settings, but familiarity and certainty, like being an addict is not good, but you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to have a certain outcome when you’re addicted.

It’s, you know, prison or the hospital or death. Those are your three [00:22:00] choices when you’re an addict. Our brains like the certainty of that. So instead of feeling like familiarity equals good, we want to know familiarity registers to our brain as good, but the discomfort of the new, like something feeling bad doesn’t mean it’s bad.

And we know this with the gym. Like no one does leg day, expecting it to feel comfortable in order to build muscles, you actually have to tear them so they can repair and grow somewhere in the level up your life process. We all bought into this myth that leveling up is supposed to feel good. It will eventually, but before it does, it feels real bad going to the gym and doing leg day feels horrible, but I’m not going to sit there going, something bad is happening because my quads are on fire.

It’s Oh, great. This is growth. Growth is uncomfortable. That’s how it works in nature. You know, growth is usually accompanied by chaos. And that’s normal. That doesn’t mean that it’s invalidating. So again, your experience of that, everyone has an [00:23:00] imposter. It’s not to invalidate it. It’s get curious about it.

Everyone has one. Yes. But what does yours sound like? You know, what kinds of things does your imposter tell you? How can we work with those? Where did those come from? Often our imposter sound like our parents or our earliest caregivers. And it’s like, well, do you Is that, you know, is that true? Do we want to believe that?

How might this imposter be trying to protect you? Because if you stay the same, you could pretty much guarantee that you’re not going to be risking the rejection of growing. You’re not going to be risking the social failure of the growth process. You know, addiction will create its own mess, but that’s a guaranteed mess versus an uncertain mess.

Judd Shaw: Yeah. That’s why I encourage men so much to do shadow work.

Britt Frank: Yes.

Judd Shaw: Right. Um, and, and, and really sort of get curious with that imposter. But what feels so green and calming and beautiful to me is the fact that. Giving validation [00:24:00] to my imposter feeling like, Oh, you’re not alone because that feeling drives loneliness and disconnection.

It says, don’t tell anyone you’re feeling this way. You’ll be judged. It’s shameful, whatever. And so it, it actually, the more lonely I felt, the more lonely I got.

Britt Frank: Yes, it does create its own cycle of that, right? But if you’re fighting with yourself and saying, Oh, shut up, imposter, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

Then you’re going to create conditions inside your body, in your physiology that are going to make you want to isolate even more. So, you know, I tell people, how would you validate a kid who came up to you and said, I suck and I’m terrible. You would start by saying, Oh buddy, sounds like you’re having a hard day.

Judd Shaw: Yeah.

Britt Frank: Validating is a good starting place.

Judd Shaw: Shedding, shedding light. And demonizing the parts of yourself that you don’t like only exaggerated and aggravated. So, [00:25:00] okay. Oh, wow. I love this. So how then does someone who’s feeling in my situation that I’m a, I’m a CEO and I’m like, I’m in a big blue ocean right now.

And how do I ask for help? In a vulnerable, authentic way, but in a way that, um, safely. Oh, look at this fireworks here. I love that. This is zoom effects are incredible. That’s safely. It’s incredible. Moves me from my position to getting unstuck.

Britt Frank: It’s a great question. And if, if, If you’re at a CEO level, it’s not safe to share.

Well, I know that there’s this trend of bringing your whole self to work and human centered workplaces, and that’s great, [00:26:00] but we also need to be smart. If you’re the head of a company coming out and sharing with everyone that you’re, you know, non functional between the hours of midnight and eight behind closed doors is not safe, nor is it effective.

So wherever you play, we want to start with. Who are the safest people, places, or things available to me right now? And then of those, which ones do I choose? This is the same thing as the three steps to unstuck. Don’t, don’t start with why. Step two is identify what are my resources in this moment? Do I have a trusted friend?

Do I have a therapist? Is there someone in my circle that’s not enmeshed in my world, but adjacent enough that they would be a safe source of support? But you can’t come to a conclusion or a decision. you don’t first assess for who’s safe, what’s safe, what makes the most sense in the situation. And if you’re spinning, having an objective pair of eyes on that to help you is useful, but we want to take an inventory before we make a decision.

[00:27:00] So it’s the same process. Step one, ditch the why. Step two, who’s safe? What’s available. Step three, pick one of your choices. Do it. You know, check for feedback. How’d we do? And then repeat.

Judd Shaw: And I love that the choices are just the most low hanging because from even personal experience, sometimes the hardest thing to do is find the solution out of the hole and that keep digging.

Britt Frank: Exactly. It’s sort of like trying to untangle a ball of wires or string. Sometimes you have to work the knot in different places. And then as you loosen up one area, the whole thing sort of opens up. And this is the same thing. We can. Beat ourselves into the grounds with this one stuck area, but sometimes you need to get some unstuckness in another area before the whole system will open up to you.

And again, there’s no merit badge for doing the hardest thing first. If you do those easier things first, you’re going to create the brain chemistry that will enable you to see more, to do more, and to have faster decision making [00:28:00] capacity. And so doing those small, silly things first. Is a scientifically proven way of getting unstuck.

Judd Shaw: Mm. You are a, uh, award winning author and adjunct professor, keynote speaker, uh, a therapist, right? Um, you just doing so much. Where, where’s your world taking you right now? Like, what do you, what’s driving you?

Britt Frank: It’s so much fun right now. And I, I still find it hilarious that my greatest, most shame filled moments give me the most professional credibility.

Like no one comes to me for therapy because I went to a fancy school. They come. Cause I say, fuck. And I was a method. It’s, it’s hilarious to me. So I get a daily kick out of. Like alchemizing all of my shame into not everyone needs to make their pain, their life’s purpose for me. I did. And it works and it’s great.

Um, so it’s, but [00:29:00] you know, the more I learn, the more I realized how much there is to learn every day, new things about the brain are getting uncovered and it explains our stuff, you know, our stuff so beautifully. So the most amazing thing I ever learned in my entire journey is. Oh, there’s no such thing as a crazy person.

You know, behaviors might be devastating and damaging and baffling, but everyone makes sense up close and if we can take crazy out of the equation, we can solve for almost anything and that is incredibly good news. And I’m having a really good time sharing how, you know, life’s not easy, but some of these tools are so simple.

I got mad when I learned, I’m like, how many years have I wasted destroying my life and my body and relationships? And you’re telling me it’s this. It’s like, yeah,

Speaker 3: like it

Britt Frank: is. And that’s infuriating and comforting simultaneously. So I’m having a really good time with the writing, speaking, therapizing thing.

I just find it. It’s endlessly rewarding when you see [00:30:00] people connecting dots and the result being, I make sense. Oh, and if I make sense, that means I have power to change. And that also is incredibly comforting news.

Judd Shaw: You know, likewise, I’ve been, uh, now launching this keynote speaking and been speaking on, uh, the power of authenticity, unleashing authenticity, um, both yourself and, and, and, and in the workplace, uh, tell me what, what is your keynote or keynotes, what, where’s your focus there?

Britt Frank: And again, it’s sort of the hot take, like, yes, authenticity, but with boundaries, yes, vulnerability, but not vomiting and trauma dumping on everyone. It’s like, we still want to have boundaries and context. So my keynote is sort of driver’s ed one on one for the brain. If you, you know, you said you had a Ferrari, if your Ferrari was the most amazing car in the world, if it’s a stick shift, I’m not going to be able to drive it.

And I could sit there and beat myself up. Well, [00:31:00] okay, well, I don’t know how to drive and I’m a bad driver. Or it’s, Oh, there’s a skillset here that I need in order to do this task. And again, I share some very simple tools and very simple, like you don’t need to be an auto mechanic to drive a car. You just need to know the basics.

That’s what my keynotes do. It’s here’s the brakes. Here’s the gas pedal. Here’s why anxiety is not a disorder. Here’s why you need stress. And here’s how to drive that three pound lump of salt and fat between your ears. So your life works better.

Judd Shaw: Yes. And for me, underneath authenticity. Is really connecting with your core self and showing up consistently in the world.

So for some, if you have a nose piercing or lip piercing, but the workplace doesn’t permit that or whatever, you may still be able to show up at work. You take that out. That doesn’t make you inauthentic. What you really want to do is make sure that your core values, your non negotiables Align [00:32:00] with the company’s core values and non negotiables, and then you can go and surface problems, raise your hand and say, I have a feedback or I have an idea you can, uh, collectively work in an energy, creatively, in Uh, innovating, you know, a authentic workplace culture fosters all of that because when we say bring your, your genuine true self, it means I hired you for you.

Not this, not this, not this, not this, and whatever. And so tattoos, for instance, I, I may wear a shirt that’s, but it doesn’t make me inauthentic because I’m hiding it. But I, I want to be with this company because they want to make a positive impact on the world. And they’re looking to do this and, and they care about children and what, you know, that aligns with my values.

So, you know, that, that I think is it’s you, to your point, it’s important to say authentic and vulnerable, but it’s important for [00:33:00] everybody to say, what’s underneath that. In the way we’re saying it.

Britt Frank: Exactly. And again, this trend towards empathy and understanding, especially in a corporate environment is good, but we’ve like most things we’ve over indexed from leave your feelings out the door to bring all of your feelings at work.

And I think companies find it relieving when I share that you can be. A person of empathy and not necessarily create a situation where everyone is sharing all of the horrible, hard things they’re going through because that doesn’t create psychological safety and empathy doesn’t require you to feel everything as a therapist.

If I felt every single thing, every single client felt, um. I would not be functional. Empathy just means I see you. I’m with you. I’m not trying to fix it, solve it, or change it. I’m going to stay with you in it, but you don’t have to feel another person’s feelings or understand where they’re coming from to deliver empathy in a healthy, skilled way.

Judd Shaw: Uh, so well said. And I [00:34:00] love the psychological safety. Not just saying safety because, you know, when I began my healing journey, really I had to understand the nervous system, how it worked, green, yellow, red, and, and really go into that. And, and I know that there’s a famous saying that says, if you want to improve the world, start by, you know, having people feel safe.

And. You know, that’s by a man named Steven Porges, who’s actually even a testimonial on your book. How did you get to that?

Britt Frank: That was a career highlight. Oh my gosh. I don’t

Judd Shaw: blame you. I lose my life and so did his understanding the polyvagal theory.

Britt Frank: Yeah. And one of the things that I do is take complex ideas and simplify them so that anybody in any place can understand them.

Cause all of this stuff generally is really hard to access because you need a specialist and not everyone can afford a trauma specialist. I turned Dr. Porges work into this ridiculously silly cartoon swing set. [00:35:00] And then I don’t know what came over me. This is because I know my parts are like, he’s gonna, he’s gonna hate you.

And I’m like, he might, but like, let’s give it a go. I just cold reached out to him and said, hi, Dr. Porges, huge fan of your work. It’s been life changing. Uh, I have a book coming out and. I did this to your work, um, would be so honored if you’d even consider looking at it. And he did, and he gave a beautiful testimonial to the work.

And oh my gosh, my parts are still sort of shocked by that.

Judd Shaw: I don’t blame you. Congratulations. That’s incredible. And you know, if you ever happen to run into again, please let him know on the 458 million deeply, deeply helped. Um, you know, yeah, the polyvagal theory is just fascinating. It really is. And, and that, that changed everything because when I learned first, I had this regulate my own emotion before I could do anything.

Uh, it really changed the course of how I interact, you [00:36:00] know, and show up in the world. Um, it also. You know, I have a children’s picture book series called Sterling the Knight and, you know, and the little inner child, but how the, the idea of how, um, helping children. Develop emotional and social skills that they need.

So the first book, uh, is about empathy. A little boy wants to be a knight. He goes to fight a dragon, the dragons hurt. So he has an opportunity, fight or help, and he chooses help. And in empathy turns out to be the knight that he always wanted. In the second book, you know, he goes to school, but girls aren’t allowed to do something.

He thinks that’s unfair. And so he, uh, finds a way of. Showing the school that girls can equally participate, uh, as boys. And then the third one, it’s all about the idea that that dragon in the first book who got hurt, it’s his birthday party. And why is he sad? He said, because he doesn’t know any [00:37:00] other dragons.

And so Sterling goes to search for another dragon to find connection. Cause sometimes there’s only things another dragon can understand. And the reason I tell you this is because you’re, you’re kind of like description. Would play great for like children’s. Picture books,

Britt Frank: you know, yes, and I started my career as a play therapist and I had a play therapy practice with kids and I very quickly discovered that all of this amazing information geared for Children is incredibly needed for the adults who are in charge of them.

And some of this stuff again, it’s like. There are children now who are more emotionally intelligent than some of the adults I know walking around. And so take even that show, I don’t have kids, but that show Bluey, I’ve heard enough about this show. I watched it. I’m like, Oh my God, like every adult needs to watch this show.

Cause it’ll heal your inner child. So I love to, I closed my [00:38:00] kids practice when COVID hit, but I really love taking what’s meant for children. And. Passing it up because the people who need it the most, you know, our adults who know this,

Judd Shaw: then you need an adult. Picture book series.

Britt Frank: I know. I really do.

Judd Shaw: For Sterling.

I always said, you know, even I think at the website, it says that this series will, you know, help your children phosphorate a parenthetical and adults do.

Britt Frank: Oh, I love that. Yes.

Judd Shaw: Yes. And so to your point, though, the way you, you crafted the polyvagal in that way is just, it, it just It struck me in a very like picture book essence, simplicity and beauty and ability to understand.

And, and that’s amazing.

Britt Frank: Which is great because if you read Porges, the man’s a genius, but it’s hard to wade through that and make sense of it, um, for good reason. I mean, The man’s got a 40 plus year career, but again, distilling it down [00:39:00] into driver’s ed, you don’t need to know everything about polyvagal theory for anyone listening, polyvagal theory is essentially, here’s the gas, here’s the brakes, here’s the emergency brake.

Here’s how to shift between the three. And that’s incredibly useful information for everybody.

Judd Shaw: Can you say that again? Cause I had never heard it that way. And I love that.

Britt Frank: So again, apologies to Dr. Porges for the reductive simplification of your life’s work. So the polyvagal theory at its basic is like.

When you drive a car, you have a gas pedal, you have your brake pedal, but you also have the emergency brake. And if your emergency brake is everyone knows this, oops, I forgot to turn my emergency brake off and I’m pushing on the gas pedal and I’m revving and I’m not going anywhere. Polly Vagel. Is that in a nutshell, and here’s how your brain’s emergency brake works.

They call that, you know, dorsal vagal shutdown, but like, why not just call it the emergency brake? That’s easier. And then your gas pedal, social [00:40:00] engagement, that’s ventral vagal. That’s when you’re going and you’re connecting and things are well. And then the regular brakes are good. Like a car without brakes doesn’t work.

So we talk about things like feeling down and feeling lethargic and feeling burnt out as bad. But if you don’t hit your brakes. Enough. Then again, it’s going to over index, but we need breaks. We need gas. We need an emergency break. And Polly Vagel teaches people how to shift between the three instead of feeling like.

My God, I’m so burnt out. I need to get rid of my brake pedal and throw it out. It’s no, we want to figure out how to shift smoothly between the States, not eliminate States.

Judd Shaw: The shifting is so important because I didn’t, I had not thought of that before. And I have to give credit to this incredible, uh, trauma therapist, Dr.

Susan Penning, who. helped me understand that you can’t go from the emergency break, turn it [00:41:00] off and then suddenly you’re on the gas, like you actually still have to put your foot on the break. And so you have to shift. If you’re in red, you have to shift through fight or flight yellow to get back to that green state and vice versa to get to pull the emergency break.

You’ve already started breaking and so was shifting was so healthy because When I, when the emergency break would still go up after everything I learned, I would feel shame and guilt. Like what’s wrong with me? What, what happened? And, and I just want to get back to green. I don’t want to, I don’t want to shift through anything.

I just want to get back there. But I, but I learned that that’s not how it worked.

Britt Frank: That’s not how brains brain, or if you’re driving a stick, you can’t go from 90 miles an hour and fifth to 20. And first, you’re going to break your car at best and really injure yourself at worst. But we, most of us grind through our lives at 90 miles an hour and fifth gear and then Friday night hits.

And it’s like, why can’t I just relax? Why can’t I enjoy myself and watch a TV show? [00:42:00] It’s like, you can’t go from 90. In fifth to 20 and first, you’ve got to shift down or else bad things happen. But if you don’t know that that’s how your brain brains, you’re going to assume the problem is you and then beat yourself up and then create more of the problem.

So, yeah.

Judd Shaw: What a segue for a final question that I have. So my guests have this common thread. They seem to be just making. a huge impact in the world in micro and big ways, uh, from speaking and writing books and workshops and coaching and therapy. And you know, we’re, we’re all doing so much for others and to make the world a better place, really not in a corny cliche, but honestly and earnestly.

And so I wanted to know how does Brit Frank [00:43:00] most authentically connect With herself.

Britt Frank: Oh, that’s a great question. Um, and I do, I, I put a high premium on connecting because I have so many personalities in my head and they all demand a lot of time and energy. So I don’t just have one in her child. I have like 20 of them and three year old Britain, five year old Britain.

So I do spend a lot of time connecting with them. With all of those parts. It doesn’t take that much time, but we’re just talking about journaling and thinking, but my, the thing that ties all of my self care work together is kind of funny. I’m a amateur aerialist, so I perform with a amateur circus company and there’s nothing quite like hanging upside down in the air.

So. spinning, trying not to puke, bleed or die while wearing sequins and listening to me and we perform at street festivals and we do stage shows and it just hits every single, it hits the adrenaline, the inner child, the play, the fitness, the, all of the things. So doing, I’ll [00:44:00] continue to do circus as long as my body will hold up.

Judd Shaw: What kind of equipment or things do you use to prepare for you’re about to get aerial.

Britt Frank: Oh, good. I have incredibly, uh, skillful coaches. I do not have a rig at home and doing aerial is very dangerous. So I have a circus studio that I train at and my apparatus is called an aerial hoop. So it’s, we call it the circle of pain, this big metal spinny circle.

And it’s a lot of body weight exercises. It’s a lot of cross training. It’s a lot of endurance. It’s a whole hell of a lot of pull ups is what that is.

Judd Shaw: That is absolutely incredible.

Britt Frank: It’s fun.

Judd Shaw: Wow. Good for you. That’s what I

Britt Frank: do.

Judd Shaw: Um, two things on that. First is, I’m gonna have to do that with, I gotta get Ariel.

I wanna like, you know, do that. Um, and the second thing is, thank you for talking about your parts the way you do. I had never heard it that way and it [00:45:00] just felt so connecting for me. And I mean, talk about green, yellow, red. I felt so green when you said that. Um, and you know, I think I have a 45 year old inner child and I think I have a 40 year old and, and.

Knowing that really changed for me because I didn’t have just this idea of this one traumatic 11 year old inner child, my 45 year old inner child that was still acting out was also still wounded and that wounded. And so thank you for putting it in such a, Compassionate way.

Britt Frank: Thank you. That is the subject of my third book, which will be out next summer.

All the parts of you and how to make them all get along with each other.

Judd Shaw: Oh my goodness. Drop. I’m going to, all right. It’s more to that.

Britt Frank: We’ll do this again next year.

Judd Shaw: Brit. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Britt Frank: Thanks for having me.

Judd Shaw: I want to extend my deepest gratitude to you. If you’ve enjoyed this [00:46:00] episode, please follow us on your favorite platform, or share this episode with a friend.

You can also follow me on Instagram at Judd Shaw Official. Special thank you to personal injury law firm, Judd Shaw Injury Law, for their support in helping us bring this podcast to life. Remember friends, authenticity isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being perfect. It’s about embracing our vulnerabilities, celebrating our strengths and our stories.

Orange Star

Behind the Armor:
Judd Shaw

Hey, there. I’m Judd Shaw—a lifelong adventurer, storyteller, and emotional intelligence speaker. Growing up, I grappled with feelings of inadequacy, tirelessly driving me to prove my worth in every aspect of my life. As a successful attorney, I reached the top of my field, but success came at a cost. Pursuing perfection left me emotionally drained and disconnected from my true self. It took a global pandemic and the breakdown of my marriage to shake me awake.

Amid the chaos, I embarked on a profound journey inward, delving into mental health, trauma, and the power of authentic human connection. Through therapy and inner work, I learned to regulate my emotions and cultivate a deep sense of self-love. I’m on a mission to share my story and inspire others to embrace their authenticity.

Orange Star

Behind the Armor:
Judd Shaw

I’m Judd Shaw—an adventurer, storyteller, and EQ speaker. Raised in adversity, I internalized a belief that I wasn’t good enough—a belief that drove me to chase success at any cost. As a workaholic attorney, I climbed the ladder of achievement, but a deep sense of emptiness lay beneath the façade of success.

It took a series of personal setbacks, including the upheaval of COVID-19 and the dissolution of my marriage, to jolt me out of my complacency. In the wake of chaos, I embarked on a soul-searching journey, diving into my psyche’s depths to uncover authenticity’s true meaning. Through therapy and introspection, I learned to confront my inner demons and embrace my true self with open arms. Now, as a leading speaker on authenticity, an award-winning author of the children’s book series Sterling the Knight, and a podcast host, I’m dedicated to helping others break free from the limits of perfectionism and live life on their terms.

Orange Star

Behind the Armor:
Judd Shaw

Hi, I’m Judd Shaw—a speaker on human connection and authenticity. From a young age, I battled feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Determined to prove my worth, I threw myself into my career as an attorney, striving for success with unwavering determination.

As the accolades piled, I felt increasingly disconnected from my true self. The relentless pursuit of perfection took its toll, leaving me emotionally exhausted and yearning for something more. It took a global pandemic and the breakdown of my marriage to finally shake me out of my complacency and set me on a new path.

Through therapy and self-reflection, I began to peel back the layers of my persona, uncovering the power of authenticity in forging deep, meaningful connections. As a leading speaker on authenticity, an award-winning author of the children’s book series Sterling the Knight, and a podcast host, I’m on a mission to inspire others to embrace their true selves.


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