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Holistic Psychotherapy and the Practice of Being Human. A Conversation with Your Life Practice Podcast.

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What is Holistic Counseling & Psychotherapy?

This is probably the most common question I receive from clients and colleagues, friends and relatives. I am super passionate about the practice of being human, the art of psychotherapy and incorporating mind-body-spirit practices in my own life and in my therapy practice. I answer this question and more on the Your Life Practice Podcast (audio and transcript below).

The Practice of Being Human & Mind-Body Healing

I was super excited to be invited onto the Your Life Practice podcast and speak with Leah Carver and Sara Eavenson about the art and practice of being human. We discuss:

  • The intersection of holistic psychotherapy and yoga
  • Mind-body healing
  • How to identify spiritual bypassing and support your personal growth
  • Psychotherapy as a spiritual practice
  • Facing motherhood, postpartum depression, and cultural expectations of having it all together
  • How to find support for yourself when life is hard (spoiler alert, we are all struggling and need support and that is just part of being human).

Your Life Practice Podcast

The podcast is below along with a transcript if you prefer to read our conversation.

Being human is a practice with holistic psychotherapist, Kim Burris.

In today’s conversation we had a great chat with Kim Burris a licensed Marriage & Family therapist in California. She is a Holistic psychotherapist.

If you’re curious about holistic psychotherapy, working together, and how the art of therapy and counseling can support you in being the best version of yourself, go ahead and have a listen and reach out with any questions. My therapy practice is located in El Dorado Hills, CA and I also offer online counseling for individuals residing in California.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Please leave a comment below or send me a message. I currently respond to all comments.

The Trascript

Being Human is a Practice with Kim Burris, MFT – on Your Life Practice Podcast

Sara: Welcome to the Your Life Practice Podcast. I’m Sara Eavenson.
Leah: And I’m Leah Carver. And we’re two sisters who were just trying to figure out what makes life feel good. Let’s face it. Life can be pretty messy and uncomfortable. But in our experience, when we reframe life as a practice, we get better at being human.
Sara: Join us each week for the conversation as we ask big questions, poke holes in our own theories, laugh out loud, and get inspired by life.
Sara: Hi, welcome to today’s episode. Today we’ll be talking with Kim Burris, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. And what Kim is, is a holistic psychotherapist, which we’ll get into kind of asking what is a holistic psychotherapist and have Kim share with us how she works with her clients. She actually offers this kind of heart center therapy that definitely integrates traditional talk therapy, but also integrates eastern and western healing modalities.
Sara: What I loved about this conversation, other than the fact that I got to dive into my own issues a little bit, was that Kim made it really normal for all of us to recognize that life is challenging. We all have issues that we’re going to face and that’s really kind of the point of it. We talk about the idea of spiritual bypassing and what that is. And we also talk about motherhood and how that can really rock your world and how important it is to do motherhood with a community of other women that maybe you get to share with in this kind of bigger, more real way about how challenging it can be.
Sara: We talk about the idea of postpartum depression and anxiety that comes from being challenged in this whole new way. We also talk, we go really deep, we talk about what the meaning of life might be and how the idea of suffering really begins to bring us more towards the idea of who it is that we are and why it is that we might be here.
Sara: So I think you’ll really enjoy this episode as well and we love to hear feedback from you. If you want to be in touch with Kim, her information is at the end of the show. If you want to be in touch with us and share that with us, you can go to our Facebook page at Your Life Practice. Or you can send us an e-mail. Info@yourlifepractice.com. Let’s get to the conversation.
Leah: Okay. So we’re here today with Kim Burris, who is a holistic psychotherapist and just an amazing person I think. And a wonderful light to this world and sharing so much. I would actually love to just start the conversation today by sharing with everybody. I don’t know what you call it, but I kind of saw it as a proclamation of everything that you kind of stand for and it’s on your website and it was just so beautiful.
Leah: ‘I believe in the wisdom of the body. I believe in the soul. I believe in the power of the heart and the strength of the mind. I believe when given the opportunity to rest and reset in sacred space, we heal. I believe that the root of suffering is a disconnect from our true essence. I believe in the healing power of relationships and the art of psychotherapy. I believe the path home is available right here and right now. I believe that being supported is a gift. I believe that being human is a practice.’
Kim: Thanks for having me. Thank you for reading that.
Leah: I think it says so much. So I think my first question for you would be what inspired you to write all of that as this proclamation for the people that you’re looking to work with? And where does this connection or this desire to connect with people come from for you?
Kim: Yeah. Well I feel relationships are really, really important and the beauty of being in connection, the beauty of knowing who we are… I’m a writer. I started as a poet and I was a musician and I’ve always studied religion and psychology and moved into the yoga world and kind of always had that fascination with the whole being human and what does that mean? And I actually just wrote that recently a few weeks ago as I’m stepping into my work more, feeling like I wanted to offer something from my heart. Something to share with people that were looking for a therapist. A little bit about what I think and what I feel and it just kind of came out one day and I put it up there. So it’s nice to hear it and share that and feel like it’s a gift that it’s resonating with other people.
Leah: Yeah. I loved it. It was just… I think so often, when we’re formatting websites or whatever, we try to say the things. But what I really felt from reading that was just the connection. Like the integrity of just being like I am a real person and I see you.
Kim: Yeah. I love the name of your guys’ podcast… Your Life Practice. And I really, really believe that. I’ve been using it as kind of a tagline, if you will. A way of describing my practice, which is like you’re human. But being human is the practice.
Leah: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: And therapy, just like any other spiritual tradition or spiritual path or self-help path or self-help growth process is a process of uncovering and supporting and that we all need support. There’s a stigma around mental health and a stigma around going to therapy. And there’s a lot less now, and there’s some areas where there’s no stigma, but I think overall there’s this idea that oh therapy is this thing you go to when you have these problems. And it’s like well, we all have problems, right? We all have things that we’re suffering with and so that’s part of being human.
Sara: So it’s really just springing it to this kind of new forefront of this should just be part of our basic education as a human. Like it doesn’t come with an instruction book, right? And yet we learn all of these other things; science, math, English, all of these things. But the one thing that we don’t learn about is ourselves.
Kim: Right. There are some courses on understanding your mind. But understanding your mind and understanding your feelings and understanding your heart and your soul…That’s part of…I get this question a lot: What is holistic psychotherapy? And it’s somewhat of a new term. It’s the integration. The practice of therapy is not just your mind. It’s not just I have this mental issue… It’s not just your mental health. Just like it’s never just your physical health. It’s never just your spiritual health. They’re all intertwined. You’re having a spiritual emergency, it’s impacting your nervous system and your psyche and your heart and your mind and your feelings.
Leah: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: Same thing if you’re having a mental health crisis. If you’re feeling suicidal, you’re struggling with anxiety and depression. Those are not just your mind. Not just your feelings. It’s not just your soul and your heart and your nervous system. It’s all of those things. So coming in, when I work with people, I’m coming in from any or all of those different angles. But definitely feeling very curious and holding space for all of those experiences. Because they’re all really, really important. We could go in and change our thoughts, but we’re not necessarily going to change our feelings and rewire our nervous system just by changing one of those.
Sara: I love that you said that. Because there’s so much out there I feel and not to bash it, because there’s a lot of good information out there about just this whole idea of the thoughts. Like change your thoughts. Change your mind. Change your life just by changing your thoughts. And to me it feels like that’s a piece of it. But you’re saying there’s so much more. There’s all these other pieces of who you are. It’s your…Soul. It’s your…physicality. It’s even like your connection to something bigger than you as well as your mind.
Kim: Yeah. I think it’s all of that and I see it on both sides. I think we can see it in the world of yoga and meditation and spirituality and religion too. I don’t know if you’ve heard this term, spiritual bypassing. It’s like well I’ll just go and meditate to get rid of my feelings.
Sara: Okay. Can you unpack that term just a little bit more. Because I think it’s a big one.
Kim: Yeah. It’s this idea of I’ll just be more spiritual and then I won’t suffer. I’ll be more spiritual and then if I practice my spiritual practices, if I do more yoga, if I do more meditation then I won’t hurt. These bad feelings will go away. This idea of escaping. And kind of skipping over our issues. Which I don’t think we can… I guess part of it, in my personal experience, in how I work and why I do what I do, is that if we turn towards the things that are causing us pain with this integral, integrated approach of loving kindness and compassion through spiritual practices and through mental, emotional practices we can of untangle the knots. We untangle the things that are causing us suffering. And from there, we find relief. It’s not necessarily that the challenging thoughts or feelings go away. Some of them will unravel and be left in the dust. But sometimes it’s just being with who we are. We kind of have this… I don’t want to feel the feelings. Right? I just want them to go away.
Sara: Mm-hmm
Kim: You know, there’s a delicate balance there too. Because we don’t want to just merge with our suffering and then stay with the knots that are not who we are.
Sara: It does make sense and I think that there’s so much confusion around that. As either if you’re coming into kind of looking at yourself and your mind and your being on all these levels from the angle of yoga for example. So you’re getting all of these spiritual teachings fed to you and they’re amazing… But if you’re not with a really good teacher, like my first teacher was an okay teacher and I was getting a lot of these deep teachings and it was like just don’t be attached. Don’t be attached. Don’t be attached. And I’d be like I’m feeling all… You know I was frustrated with my marriage at the time and I was like I just need to transcend this in some way. And it caused a lot more pain.
Kim: Yeah. I find there’s a common misperception of people that are starting to meditate or are experienced meditators or even long term meditators, this idea of trying to stop your thoughts. We’ve heard this, right? I hear this a lot from people and I’ve experienced myself. Well I can’t meditate because I can’t stop my thoughts.
Sara: Yeah.
Kim: But that’s not the point, necessarily, right?
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: The point is to sit and be with yourself.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: And if that means your brain… I mean I am a super pita woman and I have a constantly racing mind and it’s very hard for me to sit. I now have two small children. It’s become increasingly hard for me to sit and enjoy that more blissful, peaceful space that used to take me a long time to get to when I practice.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: And now I have less time, so it’s hard for me to access it, but it’s still available to me and it’s a practice for me to remind myself of like it’s not the end game. It’s the practice of sitting. The practice of being with yourself.
Sara: Yeah.
Kim: And that’s somewhat how I look at why I do psychotherapy. For me, it feels like that same sense of space and practice. I’m sitting and trying to be as present as possible with another human so I can help them be present with themselves. So if I can sit and be present like I’m sitting with you, like we’re sitting right now, just all trying to be present and look at stuff. That’s part of the practice and that’s part of where just more calmness comes and healing comes. Because we’re not just holding onto things. We’re looking and loving and moving.
Leah: I love that perspective. Because I think typically as humans, we’re either living in the future, like okay, I’m going to get here or we’re living kind of attached to our story in the past. You know? And people don’t really know, I think, how to be so present with themselves. Because they either fear that they are too attached to their story if they’re actually feeling what’s present or they’re worried that it’s going to keep them from getting to where they want to go.
Kim: Right. Or it’s trying to change something, which is part of the beauty of being human, that we’re constantly changing and evolving. So how do we balance our nature, which is to constantly change and evolve, with that idea of radical acceptance, right? Where it’s just like… I’m perfect the way I am. Yes I have traumas and knots and stress and I’m unraveling that and I’m working on my evolution. And I’m also perfect. When I say it out loud, sometimes it doesn’t quite make sense, but then it does.
Leah: Right.
Kim: Right, it’s the dilemma. That human dilemma. How do we just be and how do we evolve at the same time? It’s hard to do.
Leah: So when people come to you, are they coming… I mean, they’re not coming to you and saying I want to practice presence, right?
Kim: It’s usually stress. We’re stressed. We’re overwhelmed, it’s anxiety. I work with a lot of people that come in and they’re just like ‘I’m anxious’ and I feel like that is so much of what we’re talking about, we’re moving so fast, we’re disconnected. We’re just feeling unfulfilled. Like something’s off. So that tends to be a lot of the people that call me or come into my practice. And I think they kind of have this ‘I know I’m missing something here’. I can’t quite see it… Usually triggered by some kind of event, some kind of trauma in their family or a breakup or just have struggled with anxiety for a long time and a lot of my clients have tried the western medicine approach and had success or not success with trying some different medications and just this overall feeling of I need more resourcing. I need more support. And so that’s typically what I see in a lot of the people that I work with. And then from there, it’s a process of learning different practices for soothing the nervous system. For just understanding what the experiences are and kind of figuring out what’s causing the stress and what somebody needs…
Sara: So in your modality that you offer, this holistic psychotherapy, someone’s coming in and obviously there is a component of talk therapy and you’re teaching them to be with whatever it is or at whatever level they can be with that at that particular time. And you’re saying that you have these other tools that you bring in as well.
Kim: Yeah.
Sara: If someone’s listening and they’re like, huh, what do I need? You know? Like I’m feeling anxious. How would you… What’s an example of what you would do?
Kim: So, it really is unique to each person, as you would imagine. I have a giant tool box and the overarching work is talk therapy and sitting in presence and talking and understanding. As someone is explaining to me their present and their past, it’s kind of like these a-ha moments of, oh no wonder I close down and get super anxious when I’m doing this. It’s because there is a lot of our… I call them relationship templates. The way that we’re wired to be in relationship. The templates, they come from our childhood. You know? I know it’s almost a cliché. People are like I’m not blaming my parents for everything, but. No we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about how your relationship blueprint was formed… You know, our brains are formed to be in relationship by the time we’re like 18 months old. It’s like before we can talk.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: So I could go on and on about that, but I’ll just kind of put a little bookmark down there that that’s super important. So it’s kind of that in combination with real life, self-care practices and a lot of that will look like meditation and yoga. So a lot clients I work with are interested in yoga and meditation or are our serious practitioners. Or a lot of my clients are like nope, totally not into that. And then it somehow usually ends up to be, not like oh well now you’re going to do it, but practicing the idea of just being present with our thoughts and feelings. So I will do guided meditations with clients in session. With a lot of my clients, we’ll start and end with a grounding practice.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: Just being present with whatever is and for some people, that’s a brand new thing. For some people, that’s how they like to begin and end things. So it kind of runs the gamut. And then a lot of it will be psycho-education. Just education on how the nervous systems works. Like hey, when you get stressed out, when you’re responding in anger to your partner when this happened, it’s because your nervous system is triggered and now you’re in fight or flight. A lot of the practices will be twofold, looking at what is actually stressful in your life currently and how to deal with that. And a lot of it is more foundational, how do you take care of yourself when you’re not stressed out?
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: So that’s a big practice. Going back to what we were talking about earlier, it’s like I’m suffering. I don’t want to suffer. How do I fix it? In the moment, there’s a lot of stuff to do. But also, what do you do when you’re not stressed out? How do you just expand your own capacity for feeling joy? Expand your capacity for feeling good so that you’re coming back to that experience more so than the stress response, if that makes sense.
Sara: So creating a more time and space…
Leah: I love that. So you’re expanding your capacity.
Kim: Yeah. And so doing that in sessions…If you’re sitting with me and working with me, we’re going to go through the hard stuff and we’re going to move through it. Whereas often times the things that we’re stressed out about or anxious about or struggling with, we’re stuck. That’s what’s happening.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: We’re stuck in our own patterns. We’re just repeating the same thing. We’re doing the same behavior and we’re like I want to change this. But I don’t know how. That’s a normal response. It would be weird if you were like oh well, I can just rewire my nervous system this way, this way, and this way and then we never have any problems, right? We’re stuck because we can’t see where we’re stuck. We know we’re stuck, but we can’t quite see it. So that’s where therapy comes in. That’s where yoga comes in. That’s where doing something different that changes your way of thinking, changes your body, changes your nervous system, gets you a different perspective to actually make something change.
Sara: So you’re using all these different tools to help people, it sounds like learn new habits in your office, but also when they’re going home to learn. Which I would imagine takes some time for people to actually adjust and shift and decide to actually do the thing that they need to do when they’re not in the space of stress.
Kim: Exactly. And that’s one of the things, it’s like therapy is usually an hour every week. But it’s more than that, because I usually find when people are coming in for therapy, they’re really motivated to change. They’re like something is not right and I want something different to happen. So they’re coming in, but then they’re going home and they’re practicing stuff outside of sessions. It’s not just, okay one hour a week I go and I talk about my stuff and then hopefully everything changes. It does take time.
Sara: Yeah.
Kim: A lot of my clients come in, they’ll come in short term, couple months, get a bunch of skills and they’re off to the races. And then some people come in and they’re like oh this is my practice and they stay for a couple of years and just work on their stuff. And we look at their life and we unravel the knots. And it’s part of their practice. You know, kind of like they go to yoga, they go to chiropractor, they go to therapy. It’s part of their… again that holistic piece, it’s part of their practice. It works.
Sara: So can we talk about the… you mentioned fulfillment and that some people come in and generally they don’t really know what’s necessarily going on. But you can insight potentially from talking with them that there’s this lack of fulfillment. Can you just speak a little bit more about that? Like what that tends to look like if it is kind of like a prototype. I know everyone’s a little bit different. And then how you… If that person can’t see it, but you can, how are you kind of… broach that? Or get to turn people towards it? Towards themselves.
Kim: Yeah it’s reminding me… kind of linking a couple pieces we’ve talked about. One being that connection to our essence and this idea of … And this is actually one of the questions that got me to where I am today as far as my profession and life path. This whole idea of What the heck are we doing here as humans???Like what is it? What is happening? That has always been this driving kind of struggle, fascination, inspiration of just exploring that. And obviously, just to point out the obvious, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have it all figured out. But I think that exploring that question feels like it’s linked to that idea fulfillment.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: Whereas if we’re just ignoring that and if we’re just like oh I believe A, B, and C, so I’m just going to go about my life and pretend like I have it all figured out, there tends to be this fear, this anxiety under that of like well I don’t really know. It’s kind of weird, that we’re here. We’re here and we die and then what happens? There is this kind of undercurrent under that, just that, the human experience of fear and uncertainty. And so I feel like part of the work is even just taking one step closer to that experience. Again, not figuring it all out and having it all dialed in so that it’s not scary anymore. But that idea of having some sense, some turning towards purpose. I kind of get why I’m here.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: It’s kind of… Whether it’s the grander scheme of this is what I think about God and the universe and source and where we all came from and what we’re all made of. And also, even just more simply like, am I doing what I’m meant to do? Our dharma…am I feeling joy and fulfillment? Do I feel like there’s a reason for me being here? And then just moving with that. Moving towards that.
Sara: Yeah. I love that. I love the word exploration. Because it’s like engagement to me. It’s like okay, I don’t have to have all the answers. But just… Being willing to be curious about it and to be… at least to have your heart or your awareness open enough to the fact that there is a mystery.
Kim: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I had someone describe the work we did one time as… She described me as being the blind tour guide in her mind. And it’s always kind of stuck with me, because that’s kind of how it feels a lot of the time. It’s like someone comes in and I don’t have all the answers. I have a lot of training and a lot of ideas and I’m a person. And basically the practice is you come into my office and I am dedicated to you for an hour and we’re going to go in your mind. We’re going to go in your heart. We’re going to go in there and see what we can see.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: And me, being someone with an outside perspective, where it’s like oh what’s that over there? What’s hiding behind… What did you just shove in the closet back there? Let’s pull that stuff out. And yeah, that’s pretty much what it… That’s kind of analogy I use a lot. It’s just a lot of gardening analogies and cleaning out your house analogies. It’s like you know, you had to stuff all this stuff away in your closet to take care of yourself at different stages of your life and now it’s like, well let’s clean that you-know-what out.
Leah: Yeah. Which I think kind of brings us back to that piece that you bookmarked. Which is that we learn these patterns of how to behave, right, within relationship at such a young age.
Kim: Yeah.
Leah: Can you speak more to that? Because to me, I just find it incredible that the things that don’t work for us anymore we still employ, because we learned it.
Kim: Yeah. Yeah. So that piece is pretty awesome because there is a whole bunch of super nerdy neuroscience stuff that supports it, which I think is awesome and fun because I feel like I don’t accused of being too woo woo…But in the world of psychotherapy, I’m definitely on the more woo woo side. Which I’m totally fine with. But I love it when new research and science comes out and I’m like ha! See? It’s proven by science. Because it helps some people really… They get really excited about it. They want it to be science backed. So yeah, there’s this whole idea of attachment theory, which is totally different than attachment parenting. Sometimes they get confused.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: But the whole around attachment theory is that we’re born into relationship. People always say we’re born alone, we die alone, but I do not agree with that. Because we’re not born alone. We are inside another person and then we’re born through that person.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: And then if you’re not taken care of by another person, you die.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: That’s failure to thrive, there are studies that show orphans, little tiny babies, if they’re not touched, they die.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: We have to be in connection. We have to be cared for as tiny humans.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: And so I often think just the simplest line from that is like, so if we have to be touched and responded to and given eye contact to live as human, like tiny babies, what happens when we become adults? We suddenly don’t need that anymore? We can just live on our own little island? That doesn’t make sense. But to go back to the brain part of that, we’re born into relationship and the studies are showing that the whole right side of the brain, basically the way that our caregiver, whoever it is, mom, dad, other, whoever our caregiver is, the way that they respond to us when we’re happy, when we’re sad, when we’re crying, when we have a wet diaper, when we need to be fed, the way that they’re responding over and over forms the neural pathways…it forms our brain.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: The way that we’re cared for literally forms our brain. And it forms a lot of the ways we learn and expect other people to treat us, to expect other people to respond to us. And I just mentioned earlier that that is stuff that… A lot of that is… I forget the statistic, if it’s like 70 or 80 percent of our brain, the neural pathways have formed by the time we’re 18 months old. Again, that’s something that’s pre-verbal. So it’s not even something clients can’t come in and say well, when I was eight-months-old, this happened. You know?
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: We don’t know what was really happening. We don’t know with the part of the brain that we’re using to talk right now, we can only just imagine. We have to imagine how we were raised. Imagine as far as that early, early attachment. And then obviously we get older and we have memories and then…The beautiful thing about our brain is that we have these templates and these downloads and we learned how to interact. And it also then continued. Right? Our brains aren’t static, they’re flexible. And they can change and grow and they did change and grow, depending on all the other people outside of our caregiver; our primary caregiver. And so… I’m kind of going off on a big circular tangent here, but that brings us back to how we change now, with how we change within relationship.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: Because our brains were formed in relationship and our nervous systems are wired to be in connection with other people. We’re wired to seek proximity to other humans for safety. So you think back… You know our DNA is still caveman time. That’s still wired in us. You don’t put babies outside the teepee to be hunted by lions. You keep them close, otherwise they cry because they know it’s dangerous.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: So our nervous systems are wired, our brains are wired to be in contact with other people. And I think that that is so important to think about when we think about okay what am I struggling with currently and how do I change this?
Leah: I think it’s so important too and it’s interesting because it brings to mind like how many people actually try to isolate when they’re struggling. Right? Like they pull away from all the relationships and it’s hard to lean in, because there’s a vulnerability, I think, that people are scared of, maybe.
Kim: Definitely.
Leah: And yet, we need to be in this relationship in order to work through it. And I guess that relationship can be with anybody, whether it’s a professional… Or just somebody…
Kim: Yeah. A trusted other is the phrase. A trusted other. Someone you trust. Someone you care about. Someone you love.
Sara: Mmm. It’s so interesting that we’re wired for safety. Right? And so that’s maybe why you kind of are like oh, I think I’m just going to preserve myself and not put myself out there. And at the same time, I know from my own struggles, which yes, I agree, I have learned so much from being in relationship. It requires courage. Like the one thing that you actually need to do is to be able to cast aside that wiring for safety.
Kim: Yeah.
Sara: So. That’s… Poor us.
Kim: Yeah. I always think… And I’ve experienced this personally and I see it professionally as well, just that idea of looking for a partner, looking for a connection, because it will make everything better, right? It will feel… I’ll have someone I can trust that’s close and that will protect me. If we’re not using those exact words… I think that’s kind of our instinctual drive. I’ll seek another for comfort and connection and love. And that is the initial draw and there’s always what I see, again, personally and professionally, after a nice coasting along that road of good feelings comes all the crap. Comes all your stuff. Right? Now it’s like oh this is actually really scary. I’m wired to behave this way. And that doesn’t quite work with my partner. That’s self-sabotaging or I’m feeling really insecure or feeling really anxious and right now I don’t know how to connect. It feels scary. There comes a time where the good feelings turn into scary feelings.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: And I always feel like that’s the time. I feel like that’s the universe saying yeah you’re doing something right. That’s what happens. It’s not that you find a person that you trust and then everything feels better forever. You are building love and trust and then you have a safe container and then your knots get to come. Your knots and your unhealthy parts, your scared parts, whatever you want to call them, go oh it’s safe. I’m coming out now. I’m coming to the surface to be healed. And it throws a lot of people off. They’re like wait, I was feeling so great. Wait, I got married and it was so wonderful. What happened? That’s when I say…congratulations. You’re ready to heal.
Sara: So it’s almost like, do you feel like there’s a part of us that’s programmed to want to stay safe and keep it… Like let’s just stay with the status quo. Let’s not go in there. And then there’s another part, like a deeper part. Maybe it’s the essence that you were talking about before that’s like… hello. This isn’t okay. You know? Is that what that is?
Kim: Yeah I think it is the essence part coming. Like let’s have the full experience of what I’m doing here. As in like really being connected. What is it like and I don’t know the answer to this… If I was to really think about it, I’d like to think I’ve had some moments of it. Of that real, this is it, this is connection. This is just… When you’re not stressed, right? It’s just like bliss.
Sara: Yeah, everything feels right in the world at that time.
Kim: And how do we come back to that and create that and move towards that without dismissing everything else? Because I think part of the work is going to the everything else and moving through it, incorporating it , again, it’s sorting through your closet, right? Getting rid of the stuff that’s really not real, that’s really not yours. But it doesn’t mean that everything… I guess my thoughts and beliefs on that is we’re not trying to get to the place where everything just feels good all the time.
Sara: That’s not real.
Kim: I don’t think so.
Leah: It’s not sustainable.
Kim: I’m thinking no.
Sara: So this is to be expected, essentially. And then it just becomes how skillful did we get at being human.
Kim: Yeah. Moving through it. I love a surfing analogy. It’s like you’re kind of out there and the waves are… the set is rolling in and you’re just getting pummeled, right? And then it stops. You have a pause. And then you get to decide all right, am I going to try this again and get up to my board and learn how to do it? Or do I need to swim to shore and take a break? It’s not right or wrong, it’s just figuring out how to ride those waves.
Sara: Mmm. Right.
Kim: Move through it and learn and get stronger.
Leah: And so part of this conversation, I think, is starting to break down that story that most of us have been fed about like and then they lived happily ever after.
Kim: Yeah. You know, I think about it a lot. And I don’t work with a lot of couples, I have before, I might again. I’m married. I’m doing my own work and I’m happy just doing that on my own … I think about that a lot. I think about the divorce rate, I think about our cultural ideals, and just the cultural shifts that have happened with relationships. They’re changing. They’re always changing. But there is this idea of, again, that honeymoon phase, right?
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: It’s kind of a known thing. Like, well what happens when the honeymoon’s over? It’s like, yeah, what happens? What are you going to do? You know? If you look at it from this perspective of relationship templates, it’s like we have our own blueprints and templates of how to relate. So my kind of personal experience and from what I know professionally, it’s like well, we’re just going to keep repeating that, right? There’s some phrase like what you resist, persist, right?
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: Well okay, so this isn’t working with this boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, whatever. I’m out of here. I’m going to go try it again with somebody else. It’s like if you don’t do anything differently between relationship A and relationship B, it’s probably going to feel different at first and then the same thing is going to happen.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: Maybe in a different state, but like the same… Your struggles, whatever it is I am personally struggling with, it comes out everywhere. It comes out with my kids. It comes out with my husband. It comes out with myself.
Leah: And I think you just said something that speaks so loudly to me. Is it comes out with my kids. More than anybody else, they’re the people that I love more than anybody else and they have been my biggest teachers. Especially my first one when I had her. All I wanted in the world was to be a stay at home mom. And then I had a baby and I was like… I just want to go back to work. You know? Because it hard. It was really hard. And that for me was actually where yoga started to take its hold on me and it was kind of like oh this is how I stay sane. Because this is really hard work.
Sara: Yeah. You know what I love? I love that you used the surfing analogy and then you just saying that about having Ella and having her at home and the idea is that you were like oh…You just met yourself in a whole different way. Like it was like oh my god, I didn’t even know this about myself. This is like news to me. I thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom and stay home and do all of that. And then you’re like no…And then when you were talking about the surfer and you were saying I see the waves. I’m going to get on the board or I’m not. Or I’m going to get pummeled. But it’s like this observation of yourself. Like you’re actually starting to take that step back and be like oh. I’m driving this thing. At the same time, I can watch myself go through it and have revelations about myself and it comes back to that whole exploration.
Kim: Yeah.
Sara: And maybe the idea of… I love what you just said. We have all these crazy expectations. I’ve actually been a little bit bitter about this in my life if I completely admit it. Because I was a great fairy tale reader when I was young and it was like oh! You know. Everyone will be great. And sometimes, I think I’ve said this on the podcast, sometimes I worry that this is negative to say, but it’s like this is real life. Real life is actually quite hard. And maybe the only expectation as you said is to expect the unexpected. Or to expect that things are going to be… require something.
Kim: I love what you’re saying and you see me nodding over here, I’m like yes. I feel like, again, personally and professionally, I see that so much, this idea of expectation. Especially around motherhood. About half of my practice is working with moms. I love working with moms. New moms. Experienced moms. Moms, moms, moms. But especially new moms, because what happens, and I experienced this as a mom, it was like holy crap. This is really hard. And everyone’s like oh are you having the best time with your baby? And I’m like yes? And everything else … and there’s not a lot of space for talking about it. There’s just not.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: So after I had my kids, I had already been through graduate school and everything and when I was pregnant, I was like well where do I go to process all the thoughts I’m having about being a mom? Becoming a mom? And it was like, well there’s nowhere. And then I had the baby and I was like okay, seriously guys, where do I go? You know there are mom groups and stuff and I ended up just starting a bunch of therapeutic mom groups. And that’s a big part of what I do, just trying to send out the bat signal of just come somewhere and sit. And part of that experience has been that idea of expectation and it being hard.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: I can’t tell you how many times I sit with moms and they’re just like… They come in, right, and they’re just like ahhh…this is so hard. And I’m like yep, momma. It’s really hard and they’re just like oh. Just having someone to be with to explore and to let it be okay that it’s hard. I feel like there’s not a lot of space in our culture for life to be hard. I think that would be true for all of the clients I sit with. There’s this expectation that I’m not supposed to be anxious about this. This is not supposed to be this stressful. Motherhood’s hard, but it shouldn’t be this hard. It’s like who told you that? What does that even mean?
Leah: Right.
Sara: I mean do you think that that’s like a… just like an old paradigm of people not sharing their lives with each other? I mean, I think it… See, not just recently, not in the last 50 years, but before that it was like everyone was raising their kids together and there was kind of more of this togetherness. And now I feel like often we look around and you just think to yourself oh, well they have it all together. Right? And that seems to be a really big myth.
Kim: I feel like that’s… Yeah. Again, every mom I’ve talked to, myself and my friends and my clients, that seems to be the… That’s kind of the feel out there. It’s just like everybody else has it more together than me, right? Nobody else is going home and crying…for a minute or an hour or whatever it is. Everyone else must have it figured out and there’s not a lot of space for both. That you’re like yay and I’m crying. You know? Or not. Postpartum depression is real. Postpartum anxiety is real. That’s not just like I’m having a really hard time. It’s like yes and the layer of not having the right support, having your body chemistry, brain chemistry, nerve chemistry, nervous system, totally out of whack from hormones. The list goes on and on of what can cause that serious suffering in mothers. And there’s just such a lack of understanding around that. And again, a lack of that sacred space of just being able to talk about it. Talk about it and get support. That’s what heals.
Sara: Yeah. I think it’s really important work and I think… I love that we’re talking about this on the podcast, because I don’t think it is talked about enough and I know for myself, after I had my son, Bo, he’s 17 now. But looking back with all of my awareness that I have now, I think I actually had postpartum depression. And I just thought that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t really talking about it to anybody. Not to my husband. Not to… I just thought… I’m just not happy. And I was blaming it on all of these other things. And in retrospect, it’s just like wow. Why didn’t I have the insight to go talk to somebody? And maybe it was just because it wasn’t being talked about enough.
Kim: Yeah. I think it hasn’t been talked about enough and even now, I see a lot of women coming to my practice and they are three, four, five years postpartum. And they’re like oh, I’ve been struggling for a long time and it’s still not getting better. For years! Something shifts in the heart and the mind and it is really hard. And then what I see and sense is it just… It’s like that snowball. The knot, right? This thing happens when this big knot gets tied and then we just keep going and dragging it along. And we don’t realize we don’t have time. A lot of moms don’t have time to think about it and it’s not a known… There’s more conversations now, but there’s not a lot of support for that. There’s a lot of horrible things that happen to moms when they go to their doctor and tell them the thoughts they’re having.
Sara: Mmm.
Kim: Like, it’s mind boggling to me. It’s definitely getting better and here in California, there’s been a bunch of new bills that have been passed for mental health awareness and education for hospitals and doctors. But I don’t know if you guys heard anything, it was like a year ago, a woman in Sacramento went to her OB and told her about the scary thoughts she was having and they called the police. So moms hear this and they’re like well I’m not going to tell anybody. Or they go and tell someone and they go oh you’re fine. Are you feeling suicidal? No? Okay, you’re fine. You know, women are not being taken seriously and they don’t quite know what to do or where to go or that it’s okay to ask for help.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: It’s okay to say this is really hard and I need a place, a sacred place to go and talk about this.
Sara: Mmm.
Leah: And I think that is part of society, right, is we’re more isolated. As far as social media, we’re more connected if you can even really call that connected. But we’re more isolated than ever, so all we really have to compare ourselves to is the things that we see which might not even be real because everybody’s trying so hard to be okay.
Kim: Exactly.
Sara: I have a question on that. Whether it’s postpartum depression or just… One thing that I know for my… I’m just letting you be my therapist today obvious.
Kim: Okay.
Sara: One thing I’ve noticed for myself and I don’t think I’m alone in this is that when, like when I was feeling that way when my son was a baby or even now. Like last week, I had just a really crappy few days. Just whatever was going on, the energy was moving through. The full moon. Whatever it was, my anxiety became heightened. Some things that I professionally am kind of involved in, I was very anxious about that. And immediately, my go-to can be just I suck. Like I’m terrible. I’m a terrible… Not I’m a terrible person, but ugh. Just this sense of… Criticism.
Kim: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Sara: So I think that that’s rampant.
Kim: Oh yeah.
Sara: But when… Even if it was just me saying that about the last few days, what would you recommend to somebody for them to do?
Kim: Like how to take care of that part?
Sara: To remedy that in the moment. I mean maybe postpartum depression obviously would be something bigger you’d say okay, let’s get you into some kind of program. But just on a general basis of somebody trying to have a remedy.
Kim: Yeah, you see the self-critic, the criticism, the blame, the kind of overwhelm of expectations. There would be a lot of different avenues to go through. And again, it would be unique to someone’s history and kind of… Part of it is looking at and understanding where is that coming from. But a couple different options are coming to mind. One is kind of challenging that. If you were my client and it felt appropriate, I would challenge that. I would say whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Is that really true? What do you mean, you’re the worst cook ever? Or the worst soccer mom ever? Or whatever it is the thought is, right?
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: I can’t do this right. I’m not going to succeed in my business. Whatever the thought is. That’s kind of like basic, expected nerdy psychotherapy response, right?
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: Well let’s challenge your thoughts and that can be really helpful. Sometimes the really basic things are really helpful, right? Especially if someone else is pointing it out. It’s a lot harder to do for yourself. But that does lead me into the second part. So part of that would be if you were struggling with that, would you be to offer you some practices to take with you. So part of… Like with any practices, even yoga…It’s like, we notice what we’re doing, and that is the first and most important step. So the homework, would be… The practice would be to notice when you’re doing that. Notice when that voice comes in and say whoa, whoa. Hey, hey, hey there. And take care of that voice. And this goes back to what we talked about earlier. A lot of times, the thought is that I have to get rid of this. Right? How do I get rid of that part of myself? You know, I’ve studied a lot with Katie Silcox and she’s so wonderful at this. I get chill bumps thinking about it. Of treating that part of yourself with so much sweetness and loving kindness. That part of you is scared. There’s some part of you that’s like blahblahblah you’re not doing it right. You’re a horrible person. Blah, blah, blah. You suck. You suck. A part of you is saying you suck! And you want to go know what? You suck. Get out. Right? But that’s a part of you. That’s something in you that’s coming to the surface and saying hey, I don’t feel good. I’m feeling really bad about myself.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: So noticing it, being able to identify it, and then turning towards it with love. So whether you… I’m a big proponent of writing, because if you write, you can put something down. So I always have notebooks with me. I did this a lot more when I was younger and had just all my time to myself to watch my thoughts. So some people have that luxury. Do it. Writing things down. Oh, I’m thinking this horrible thought. I’m going to write it down. And then I can look at it.
Sara: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Kim: And is that real or you can you write a counter to it. I’m really horrible at working at my business. So if you write that down and then counter it, like rewrite it. Kind of overwriting that script in your head. And another way of doing that, just the most basic and easy way would be to just turn towards yourself. And I always encourage my clients, like it sounds silly, but putting your hand on your heart and saying hey girl. It’s okay. I hear you. You’re freaking out. You’re freaking out. I’m here. You’re not alone. Let’s take a deep breath. Let’s move through it. Let’s go have some chocolate. Let’s go dance. Let’s go to yoga. Let’s do something to take care of yourself. To be nice to that part. Not to be a mean girl to that part of yourself, but to take care of that part. And that’s like a really new practice for a lot of us with certain parts. I think we all have those parts that we just go eh. I don’t like that part. Go away. Never come back.
Sara: Almost like if we resist it, we make it 50 times worse and… it goes back to what you were saying in the beginning of the conversation, like being willing to be with it. And just be nice to it.
Leah: Yeah, I actually a lot will thank that part of myself and just be like okay, you’re trying to keep me safe. You know? But we’re okay.
Kim: Yeah. Exactly.
Leah: Because it’s true. It’s like that’s your co-pilot. They’re going to be there, so I love what you just said. And for everybody listening, Sara always has at least one notebook close by.
Sara: Where’s my notebook?
Kim: Awesome.
Leah: In fact, I just let her take notes for me.
Sara: Okay, This has been an amazing conversation…
Kim: Yeah, wonderful. Thank you so much for having me and it’s been wonderful, inspiring, and a lot of fun.
Leah: Yeah. We appreciate your time and everything you shared.
Sara: Yeah is there any last thing that you would want to share or…
Kim: Just keep practicing. I feel like if we can all as individuals and humans keep practicing and doing our work and reaching out for support. And I need that message as well. I mean I’m in the helping profession as a profession and I have to reach out too. Again, I don’t have it all figured out. I’m home a lot with two young kids. It’s hard. It’s hard to reach out for that support. It’s hard to know that you need support and it’s hard to know that it’s okay. So that’s what I try to encourage everyone I know. Just like get on your mat. Go to a retreat. Call a therapist. Go to a doctor. Find something, someone, many people, many practices, multiple things. Find a few things that feel really good and let yourself turn to those practices and those people when things are feeling good and when they’re not.
Leah: So if anybody wants to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
Kim: They can go to my website which is just my name it’s kimburris.com. That’s K-I-M-B-U-R-R-I-S.com. And they can call me, e-mail me. And if you Google my name, too, I’m on Facebook and Instagram.
Leah: And we’ll put all of that in the show notes as well. So everybody can access that.
Sara: And do you do sessions over Skype and everything as well?
Kim: I do… yeah. I do video and online counseling sessions. And then in person, I work in a small town called El Dorado Hills, which is out past Sacramento, towards Lake Tahoe in California.
Sara: Okay. Well thank you.
Kim: Thank you both, ladies.
Sara: All right, take care.

kim burris mft, holistic counselor, online counselor california, anxiety therapist el dorado hills,  mind body counseling, spiritual counselor, virtuall holistic psychologist, virtual holistic counseling.

Kim is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in supporting individuals struggling with anxiety and depression and motherhood. A yogi and a psychotherapist, she believes that being human is a practice and that healing and change is always possible. Kim currently offers holistic psychotherapy and counseling to individuals in El Dorado Hills, CA. She also provides virtual and online holistic counseling (tele-health). Call/text to find out more: 916.467.9539.

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