S1E14: Moving Forward with your Back Story (ft. Dr. Kirleen Neely)

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Transcript S1E14


In this episode, I present you an inspiring woman that continues to support and inspire me in my journey as a person and as a provider, Dr Kirleen Neely. Dr. Neely has worked in the mental health field for over 25 years. She is a founder and CEO of Neely Behavioral Health, host of Drop the BS podcast, educator, researcher, counsellor, and public speaker. In this episode, Dr. Neely and I will talk specifically about your Back Story. Dr. Neely is so passionate about you knowing your backstory in order to know yourself, find purpose and meaning in your life… she is so passionate that she created a course. We will talk about the importance of knowing your backstory, what kind of dysfunction could arise if you don’t deal with your backstory, and lastly how you can live a complete and full life by understanding and accepting your backstory. I am so excited for today’s episode so lets get started!

Connect with Dr. Neely: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Drop the BS Podcast

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Hi! Welcome to It’s Like This podcast, your common sense mental and spiritual talk show. My name is Dr. Uejin Kim, a dual board-certified psychiatrist from Texas. In this podcast I explain mental and spiritual concepts with fun analogies, real stories, and positive messages. So you can, not just survive but thrive. My goal for you is to gain understanding, acceptance, and healing so that you can know your worth and live the life that you are meant to live. If you want that as much as I do, hit that subscribe button, and let's listen to today's episode.

In this episode, I present you a woman that continues to support and inspire me in my journey as a person. And as a provider. Dr. Kirleen Neely. Dr. Neely has worked in the mental health field for over 25 years. She is the founder and CEO of Neely Behavioral Health in Texas, host of Drop the BS podcast, educator, researcher, counselor and a public speaker. In this episode, Dr. Neely and I will talk specifically about your backstory. Dr. Neely is so passionate about you, knowing your backstory in order to know yourself. Find purpose and meaning in your life. She is so passionate that she created a course. We will talk about the importance of knowing your backstory, what kind of dysfunction could arise if you don't deal with your backstory. And lastly, how you can live a complete and full life by understanding and accepting your backstory. I am so excited for today's episode. So let's get started.

Dr. Uejin Kim: Hey, guys, welcome pack to It’s Like This podcast. I'm Dr. Uejin Kim. And we have a special guest, Dr. Kirleen Neely. And I'm just so inspired because, you know, therapy, and medications can work hand in hand, and she featured me as a doctor. But I want to feature her as kind of like a therapist who is really passionate about knowing your backstory. And I think that's what sets her apart. And she's been doing this. She has an online course. So welcome, Dr. Kirleen Neely. Thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Neely:           Absolutely. I am stoked and excited to be here. I can't wait to have the conversation. 

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. So just for my listeners, you know, who are not familiar with therapy and what you do, tell me a little bit about what's going on right now in your life? What do you do with the backstory?

Dr. Neely:           Sure. So from a business perspective, we have a private practice in San Antonio with a couple locations where we do kind of the traditional counseling and things like that. My office also has an EAP program where we provide counseling services to businesses and organizations. So basically, because I worked on my backstory, I get to do lots of really cool things. But my specialty more specifically is helping people understand how the stories that have happened to them, the things that have happened to them. How they translate those things into meaning. And how that meaning shows up in their life and how they think. And how they move and how they love and how they listen, just everything. So that word backstory, I keep thinking I should be sick of it by now, but I'm not. Because I think it just clears everything we do.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    I love that. And I caught that because I know my backstory that affects what I do. And you not only mentioned like, how you love and how you have relationship, but also your business having a meaning.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, absolutely. Because I think that you know, what makes me passionate is that I'm a first-generation immigrant. And so coming over, I was just very curious about how people lived and how they moved. I was just almost hypersensitive to it. Because I had a thick accent, got teased bullied, the whole nine. And so I think it just put me in a position to look at story to understand it. So from a business standpoint, me now getting to create space for diversity and story and allowing those diverse stories to be heard and understood because I know my diverse story, at one point wasn't heard and wasn't understood.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Wow. Yeah. And as an immigrant myself, I attract a lot of patients who are immigrants themselves. And it's just so awesome that I get to create that space for my patients as well. So that's kind of like how the backstory works. So you know, we all have a backstory. How did you formulate the idea like, ‘This is what it is?’ Like, how did that kind of pop up for you as a therapist?

Dr. Neely:           Well, you know, I think working over the 17+ years, right, and the underlying theme of anybody that came in, whether they were working with depression or anxiety, or, you know, trying to work through a marriage. What I continue to see across board is that the experiences they had before this thing happened. And you know, whatever those experiences were, how mom talked to them, how if that was available or not, you know, what happened with their friends, or the last boyfriend, those experiences, the story they were telling themselves was showing up and how they interacted now, you know. They interacted with the anxiety or whatever. So I think it just continued to show up. And so for me, it was like, ‘well, how do I take narrative really.’ Because it comes from an idea of narrative therapy, where I take that narrative. How do I put it in with some cognitive behavioral therapy CBT, some of the things that are a little more research, and marry these two? Because a lot of the theories that I had been trained on was void of the story. It was like, you know, we're going to rewire the brain, and we're going to teach them these techniques and these tools. And I'm like, ‘well, where the hell is their story, you know.’ Just looking at the fact that, yes, these are human beings. And we want to be, you know, very specific as we talk about certain things. And we want to have, you know, tools and techniques. But we also need to look at them as humans. And I could be using CBT with one person and, and not work because they haven’t dealt with their story. They haven’t dealt with the pain. And I’m wondering, ‘well, why are they learning these techniques? Why is it so hard?’ And when I dug deeper and allowed space to process to heal, to deal with the inner child, whatever it was that they needed to do, then all of a sudden, the techniques were like, ‘okay, they could do those because they weren't carrying the baggage anymore.’

Dr. Uejin Kim:    You know, it's interesting, because CBT and DBT do have a lot of evidence. But I completely agree with little or much therapy, exposure and training I got it is like a snapshot, you know. Like, what's going on right now? ‘Oh, you're having cognitive distortion?’ How to reframe that, like right here right now? And it is effective. But I think what you're saying is the backstory is like the river that runs underneath and pops up in these waves. So let's just kind of ride the waves and go back to like, how these cognitive distortions kind of came to place.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, and you know, there's a saying, and I forgot who said this, but you cannot rise to a new level of consciousness without new information. In order to rise to a new level of consciousness, which is what we want our patients to do. You have to be able to have new and look at things from a different perspective. You have to be able to go,Oh ‘Ah gosh, so the reason why I'm so fearful of, you know, public speaking is because, you know, when in fourth grade, I got up there. And Johnny Matthews told me that I was, you know, I couldn't speak and I had an irritating voice. And I didn't even know I was thinking about that still, like, I don't think about that.’ But processing it then opens space to go, ‘Wow, I've been holding on to the story that I have an irritating voice.’

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah, yeah. And, and sometimes why do you think people are hesitant to go explore their backstory?

Dr. Neely:           Well, I mean, I think it's because it's hard. It's really easy to deal with the top surface, because everybody wants a quick fix, right? We want to be able to, ‘Hey, I don't want to take a lot of time.’ And going back is painful. Because sometimes we all have wounds, you know. Even if you grew up in an amazing household, right? I don't care, I always say that we gotta give our kids something to go to therapy for, you know.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    So if you don't know my kids are listening to this.

Dr. Neely:           I know, right? And I always say, ‘Well, I wonder what my kids are gonna go to therapy for.’ Because as a parent, we do lots of things, we say things, we address things. Kids are constantly interpreting. So at the end of the day, you know, when those things, you have to go back and deal with those wounds, it's difficult. But it's so worth it. Because then you can move through your present in a different way because the past is not holding you.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. And it is painful. And I completely agree that everybody wants a quick fix. And sometimes there's two groups of patients that come to me, you know, for psychiatric evaluation. They just want a quick fix medication just make me happy, Just help me not deal with this. And the other ones are like scared to be, you know, on the meds for the fears. Bbut it's just like the whole society is revolving around Quick Fixes in life and relationships, you know, medications, happiness. It's just as overwhelming sometimes to even take the time to breathe and just think that you have a backstory, and that backstory was painful. So God forbid, like, I don't want to go there if I don't have to.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, and you know, sometimes our backstories are beautiful, right? You know, even within the pain because what I said before about making meaning of it, no matter what your backstory is, when you're able to really, truly reframe it to look at it from a perspective of resiliency. Then it doesn't matter what it was. It could be maybe a dad who abandoned you. It could be anything. You can make meaning of it, because we do rise from our backstories. It's not always a negative. And I think we need to stress that to people that sometimes you have to go back to go forward.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. And there's something to be said that without going back. You will never make sense of it. And you will never rise above it, you will never heal from it, if you don't revisit the past and the story. I know, from personal experience, it does take a lot of time. Like, you have to respect the aspect of time and aspect of hard work, you know, carrying those wounds again. And I think that's why I do emphasize, maybe you need a therapist and a professional to do it with you.

Dr. Neely:           You know, absolutely. I think that a lot of people, what I see when I start to do backstory work is a lot of people feel like, ‘I've dealt with that. I'm good, you know,’ and so sometimes it's hard to get them to see the need for it. But when we do start to process, it's not that they haven't dealt with it, they may have addressed it, but our backstories I like to say are tricky and controlling. They develop out of a defense mechanism to protect us, right? You know, maybe we go into fight or flight mode a lot when, you know, we're triggered or we shut down, you know. Some people on relationship standpoint, they may give more than they’re getting, because they feel like in order to be loved, I need to be the giver, I need to be whatever the story is. And so, you know, a lot of times when we engage in those things, it’s hard and difficult for people. But ultimately, on the other side, they end up realizing that, ‘wow, I get the connection now in a bigger and a better way.’ So it can’t show up the same way anymore. You know, they’re like, ‘Okay, there it is. There's my backstory. I see it, that's the trigger. That's the distortion happening right there. Now I can pivot, and I can use those tools, because I'm so much more aware of how it shows up.’

Dr. Uejin Kim:    You know, you mentioned some of the ways that the backstory shows up, you know. And even though we are not, we can pinpoint, ‘oh, that's from my past.’ It kind of comes up in a very repetitive cycling dysfunctional way. And you mentioned, you know, like, this poor portion of give and take in the relationship. Can you kind of explain to the readers like or listeners, like, how else would, you know, might make you think like, ‘Oh, I think I have an issue and I think I need to revisit my backstory?’ What would be the symptoms to look out for?

Dr. Neely:           Sure. So I like to say that, you know, your backstory shows up in five kind of predictable ways, right? Five patterns, right? So depending on how you're triggered or what your trigger is, or whatever it is. For a lot of people when this feeling and it's a familiar feeling. It's a feeling that you had at another point. And so sometime you disconnect, you know, the feeling, you feel it. It's visceral, when you feel it, but you're not making the connection that ‘oh, that's when I, you know, failed out of college, that's the feeling’ or whatever. So it shows up in kind of that traditional fight or flight, you know, okay, ‘maybe it's time for me to try for a promotion. I need to go interview so I start talking myself out of it. No, you know what, they probably want somebody else like, you know. What do I have to offer all those things like that?’ In other people, I see them were from a relationship standpoint. They shut down. They're not able to, if there's a fight, if there's confrontation, they curl in right? And they curl up and they're like, ‘I don't know why I can't get my words out. When it's time for us to like have this conversation,’ and making the connection that ‘Oh, because you know, when you were a kid being heard was not what happened in your house.’ So now when you need to be heard again, you turn into the little kid you turn into the six-year-old who can't get their words out. As mentioned before, you know, I see this one a lot giving more than you're getting in relationships feeling that based on who I am and what I have to offer. That if I am not the giver, the doer the one who is you know, ‘oh, yeah, I'll volunteer for the PTA or No, you watch the football game, I'll make dinner take care of all the kids’ and you know, whatever. Yeah. You know, the other. The other behavior that I see is what I like to call hiding bad behavior and hiding bad behavior means to me that kind of minimizing when people hurt you. Minimizing when they want you and sometimes even hiding your own bad behavior. Not being willing to recognize that how I treated X, Y, and Z, how I talked in that moment wasn't good, almost kind of, you know, minimizing what you've done. And then the last behavior that I see a lot is what I like to call, kind of, you know, and it really has to do with cognitive distortions, kind of just that whole thinking paralysis, you know, over analyzing. Reading the email 10 times, revisiting a conversation. ‘Well, why did Dr. Kim say that? I wonder, I wonder she said it. Because of this. I wonder if this’ you know, so these are some predictable patterns of behavior that I see. Of course, there's lots of other ones that doesn't encompass everything, but just to give people a snapshot. So we look at those behaviors. Let me back up, we deal with the undercurrent of the backstory, we process the pain, the wounds, the good, the bad. We make the connection to how that story shows up in these behaviors. Do you go into fight or flight mode? Do you isolate and shut down? Do you give more than you're getting? Do you hide or minimize bad behavior? Do you do the thinking paralysis? We make the connection there. And then we start to teach them a process to every time you're triggered this is the process you know. And we can talk about that process a little bit more.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah, yeah. So and as you're describing, these are all kind of dysfunctional, inappropriate response to what's going on, like, exactly like minimization. You're minimizing trauma, you know, like what happened or abuse or neglect. And also, it makes you minimize the effects, like the negative effects that you have on people. The trauma that you might be causing, or the abuse and neglect that you might be causing. And it's all because of the backstories of what happened. And something that I, you know, if the listeners are listening, and you're like, ‘that is me, you know, like, or I think I do that,’ I just want to encourage your listeners that you're in a really good spot, if you can point that out. You know, like, if you can be humble enough to listen to this podcast and be like, ‘that might be me.’ You're actually in a very, like, soft hearted, you know, humbled spot. And, you know, because a lot of times when I talk to patients, like a lot of times I talk about their backstory from their childhood, and they cry. And they all say, ‘I did not expect myself to cry, but I don't know why,’ you know, like, but they feel seen and heard, unexpectedly, you know. So I just want to encourage our listeners, like, if you're thinking like, ‘oh, man, I feel very seen and heard,’ this is a really sweet spot, that I'm just glad that our listeners can like, you know, process right now.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, I am smiling and vibing off of what you said, because as I start to do work like this with people, that is exactly what I hear too. Like they're talking about it and all of a sudden, they're like, ‘Why am I crying? Why?’ And so our body stores these things, right? And so it's on a very subconscious level. But it affects us consciously, and we're not aware of it. But not until we give space, you know, why would talking about something elicit so much emotion if it doesn't matter? That alone lets us know how the stories and the things that happened to us, they are still traveling like a time traveler. They're just traveling with you. You just need to be aware of it. You can't change it but with awareness, you're able to do something with it once you have the awareness and the tools, of course.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Right? And you're exactly right. Like why would you be crying if that doesn't matter? Like, it's just like we live in a society and maybe some of the cultures that we grew up in is like, ‘we just have to get stronger, you know, stronger and stronger and just beat or beat ourselves up.’ And then our body's just telling us ‘I'm tired of carrying this, like, can we just do something about it?’

Dr. Neely:           Yeah. And you know, the other thing is like, culturally, right? Like, we talked about both being immigrants. Culturally, as my parents came over, it was about a better future for us. We're going to work hard. You're already an immigrant, you know, all these things. And there was no space for emotion. Yeah, they had no use for feelings. And for me, I think that’s why I picked up on it because I was a little kid with lots of emotion. I was feeling everything, and there was no place to put it. So I think yeah, I said, ‘Well, let me just understand feelings better, since I can’t, I don’t have the avenue to, you know, let my feelings out. I’ll just understand other people’s feelings better.’

Dr. Uejin Kim:    That’s awesome. And, you know, that kind of speaks volume to when we grew up in a household where our parents didn’t create that space. Maybe unintentionally, or intentionally, they were not able to, you know, create that space. You know, we all grow up, maybe thinking and the message from the world to us is that your backstory doesn’t matter, shouldn't matter or probably doesn't matter. You're functioning well now, so why does it matter? You know, all of these kinds of doubts kind of come so I think it's really important that if you're listening to this podcast or are recognizing that you have these dysfunctional patterns, and the therapists kind of create this safe space for you. It might be the first time that we ever get to talk about our backstory.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, you know, the other thing I want to say is that this doesn't mean we all have a story, we all have a backstory. It doesn't mean you're not successful. It doesn't mean you're not a rockstar at your job, or kicking butt or whatever. But I also know that even some of the most successful people that I've worked with, they will tell me, you know, they have impostor syndrome, or they're still, you know, ‘yes, I'm over here doing you know, I'm a lawyer, and I'm in this big courtroom talking to these attorneys. But, you know, my heart is beating up my chest, because in the back of my head, I'm thinking they're gonna find out. I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.’ And so when we're able to connect, you know, well, where does that come from? And connect that story, we're able to help them move through it in a different way.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. And, you know, you mentioned like processing these things. What are the steps of, you know, if you can kind of touch on that briefly the process of understanding your backstory?

Dr. Neely:           So, you know, I think there's a couple of things I like doing. You know, for instance, I'll usually do a quick assessment in terms of adverse childhood experience, right. That's a, you know, quick 10 questionnaire thing. So we'll look at that first, right, let's look at what are some of those things? And, you know, a lot of times people will say, ‘Oh, I had a really great childhood. I didn't have anything, you know, my parents were great.’ And then we'll do the questionnaire. And we'll, you know, some things will start popping up on there that they're like, Yeah, think about that. And it's, you know, Dr. Kim, now they're looking at adverse childhood experiences, and even like bullying, and some things are being added to it that weren't there before. And so we start there as a layer to start exploring that story. One of the things I love making people do also is some sort of a timeline where they start to look at, you know, those different sections of their life and us capture out, pull out some pieces to explore. So we'll do it from that standpoint. First, once we're able to identify these are the stories these are the themes is really what we're looking for, maybe a theme of rejection, a theme of I'm afraid of disappointing people, I’m a people pleaser, you know, whatever the themes, we extract the themes, and then we go into a deeper processing. And there, I like to do what's called inner child work, where I have the patient almost talk to that other part of themselves and that inner child, you know, tell that inner child that they are safe. That they are loved, that they are seen that they are heard, that I got this at this point, you don’t have to keep showing up, you don’t have to keep popping up and making me scared or anxious, or whatever it is. It’s a powerful ceremony. And then after that, we usually move into them doing something symbolic, something tangible. So sometimes people will do a balloon release, might plant a tree, something symbolic with their hands to show, this is me reclaiming my story. This is me releasing it into the universe into the world in whatever way that is healthy and productive for them. So that’s some of the work we do when we’re trying to really uncover and dig.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah, and I’m just like nodding along too, because that’s like, I do a mini version of that in my office too where I tell my patients talk to your little Uejin, you know, talk to your little Kirleen right now, you know, and I make them do it in session. And of course, it’s awkward, you know, to talk to yourself like little Uejin, you know, like, you’re heard, they’re seen, but I almost like encourage them to talk to yourself, like a third person, like, you know, and I think that’s so powerful.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, it is because we all have that part. Right? When you think about like, as an adult, we you know, some of the behaviors we engage in, right? We know better. Like cognitively I know that I should not give more than I’m getting. I know that. But why am I engaging in and what I talk about is that it’s that little version of yourself that’s like, ‘Oh, love me love me love me. Oh, you know, like me’ or whatever it is. And so being able to heal that little Uejin, little Kirleen and let them know big Kirleen has it. I haven't controlled. Trust me, I view it, there really is a transition that needs to happen.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    It's almost like I like the word, it seems like you're parenting your inner child's needs. So that it'd be like, I got you, you know that and I will get you and you can trust. So it's like almost letting that inner child trust you. And like reparent yourself. If you weren't parented, you know, up until this point, this is why you're have dysfunctions, but I'm going to parent you now.

Dr. Neely:           Exactly. And you use the exact word. It is the reparenting. Whether you had parents who didn't have parents or had parents who didn't know I think most people's parents just did what they knew how to do. It wasn't because they wanted to hurt the child or harm a child. They just did what was done to them. Now it is our job to parent ourselves and not show up in these ways anymore.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    You know, and like talking about parenting and reparenting myself. I think it is so powerful when we do that. Because you mentioned like, knowing your backstory gives you meaning. And for me, knowing my backstory gave me meaning as a mom, you know, so I knew that if I did what my previous generation did, I'll just continue to cycle a dysfunction. And I was like, ‘You know what, I'm gonna repair myself, so that I don't continue this generational cycle of dysfunction to my kids.’ And I think maybe, if you can touch on that, like, that's how I received meaning. And in my role as a mom, and what are other ways that people can find meaning, you know, through understanding their backstory?

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, so I want to tap on this first, because this is really good. What you said is what we want to see happen, right? You know, you understand your story, you repair it yourself, but and most people, I think, go into things thinking that like, when they have kids, they think ‘I'm not gonna do what my mom and dad did. And I'm gonna do this, I'm not gonna do that.’ And they're so they're aware that they want to do something different. But because they haven't done their work, what they do sometimes is they go to the extreme. So wasn't, maybe the parent didn't have enough money to buy you the best clothes all of a sudden, what am I over here buying everything.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Oh, yes, I see that all the time. 

Dr. Neely:           Yes. So that's what I mean by really understanding your story, right? If you just understand it on a very top level, that's what you're going to do, you're just going to make an adjustment. And you're going to go in the opposite direction. But the opposite direction often is not necessarily what the child needs. You've created a whole other issue. Yeah. So I hope I just had to get back in there, though.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Because that swing it to the other side is still rooted in insecurity of not knowing your backstory, right? So if you're insecure, you will always go back and forth. But guess what, your kid if they're insecure, they're gonna do the opposite. Like, my parents always bought me like Burberry's and like Louis Vuitton tall, so now I'm gonna make them so cheap, you know, like, generation will always swing and overcorrect. If we really don't understand and be grounded, and I think that's what you're talking about.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah. And that's exactly what I'm talking about. So I'll see even like, I'll have somebody that they're bringing families coming in. And one of the things that's happening is the mom is smothering the child, right? You know, they gotta be on top of everything. And the child is at that teenage years where they're like,’ Mom, you know, you don't trust me.’ And so they're having a lot of conflict. When I start to look at the mother's backstory and help her explore it, she grew up in a home where there was no touch. There was no love. There was no you know, and so she thought to herself, ‘well, when I have a kid, I'm gonna make sure they know I love them. I'm gonna love them all the time. I'm gonna kiss them all the time.’ Swinging the pendulum not realizing, and now she's going well, ‘what am I doing wrong? I thought I was doing everything right.’ And so our backstories are tricky and controlling, and they find a way to show up. And so once you understand them, you're able to make more of a neutral balance decision about how you will engage with that story.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah, yeah. And that, and then we just kind of parked here because once it's like, trying to find meaning, without work, makes you forget and overcorrect and do it wrong again. So it's like you need to do the work. And that is so important to find those Shades of Grey that you should go not swinging from black and white. Now when I became a mom, I just had like a new life, like new motivation. And I think a lot of people find the true that when you have a child on your own, you know, you start to have new motivation to change that. What are some other ways that you found people finding meaning by understanding their backstory?

Dr. Neely:           So you know, I think of course, there's these tangible things like you know, your appearance, so you do something different. I think the meaning really comes in and seeing themselves you know, like a lot of times we walk through the world not seeing ourselves like almost a zombie to a certain extent, you know, not really being able to look in the mirror and say, ‘I like the person I see I see I can look in her eyes. So I think one of the biggest overarching things I see as people explore their backstory that comes up is that they begin to like what they see in the mirror they they're able to look at all of the wrinkles and how the eyes are shaped and the neck and all those things and see that this woman in front of them or man in front of them has a beautiful story. They're able to take themselves in fully and wholly in a different way. If that makes sense to you.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. And you know the there's an episode about intutive due to eating and, you know, it's like, Intuitive Eating is just like separating yourself from a culture of diets and disordered eating. And you're really appreciating you as who you are not based on maybe relating to this case, what your backstory was telling you, what your parents are telling you, what your society is telling you, and your I like what you're saying, because you're appreciating and accepting yourself, and maybe like, to a degree of impressed with yourself. Like, wow, like, you went through all of that, and you are here today. And sometimes, like, you know, and as a role of a psychiatrist or therapist, like you hear people's backstory, and they're still down on themselves, I have to be first the positive voice be like, ‘do you understand, like, what you just went through, and you're still trying to be a good mom, or like, you're still like, trying to function as a human being, that's amazing.’ And they're like, you know, first it doesn't stick, because it's like, awkward, but like, the more that I encourage them, you're like, you're right, like, my backstory is pretty significant. And I'm still here trying to do my best and, and I think people get impressed like with themselves, which is a first. 

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, you know, words have power. And the words you tell yourself, you know, one of the things about the backstories that is rooted in a lot of self-talk. How it continues to show up in your life is that there is a little voice in your head, that is constantly saying things. And so when that backstory is saying you're broken, if anybody knew that you went through this, if anybody knew you had been molested, if anybody knew, whatever, when that little voice is telling that story, you always move in a place of insecurity, when that little boy's voice is saying, girl, do you know what you went through and look at how you came through it, you move differently. And so reframing that stories is extraordinarily important.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. And I think we talked about in your podcast of like, having a mental health team, you know, like for you. But what I like in this podcast episode is the importance of addressing your backstory, and how the backstory talks to you so that your backstory can be part of your mental health team like inside your head.

Dr. Neely:           You know what, you're giving me something new there? Yeah, like, invite anybody? Yes, yes, you'll hear that show. You know, and I think the other thing is, you know, so once you process all of these things like that, I always say that all of that's great. And we do all the processing, but we are living in the today moment. And so the back story work is not just about going backwards and just backwards. It's about understanding the backwards and paths and then moving to the today. So we then do a lot of work on, you know, what do we do right now and you're talking about some of that reframing, I usually start out talking about a bottom up approach that in order for us to be able to use the tools we're going to work on, you have to make sure that you're grounded in your body, that there's some sort of maybe some meditation happening, something to calm yourself that you're aware of when you're triggered because awareness is the key. You can't change anything unless you go okay. So when my heart starts beating fast like that, every time I'm in this meeting with this guy over here, it's because he over talks me and when he over talks to me it feels like when my brother used to overtalk me and I shut down when you ever talk to me and why am I doing okay, you know what the next time going to take that breath. I'm going to breathe through it. I'm going to say ‘you have it you got it stand up for yourself and I'm going to speak out this time.’ That is real practical in the moment. That’s how our backstories show up you know the girls in the meeting and she’s like, ‘Why do I shut down in this meeting? I'm smart as these guys’ but it's because they're over talking her again connected to the brother.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah, reframing and I also like teasing apart like that guy is not your brother you know is like it's not the same guy and a lot of times we have our body reaction by triggers that looks similar you know but it's like telling our body ‘Hey is a different situation’ and you have control in this situation. You know unlike in last situation when you were a little girl and your brother was bigger than you. You didn't have control but right now you do because you're an adult.

Dr. Neely:           Absolutely. So you know I tell people you know bottom up first. Settle the body down neutralize the thought next. Whatever you need to do neutral thought not the extreme thought and then state your truth you know positive affirmation for yourself Self kindness, I have this.’ You are intelligent, you have everything that you need, you are prepared, you are capable, say what you need to say. So just that simple three step process. You know, bottom up, neutralize the thought, state the truth.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    I like that. And I like simplifying it like that. I mean, let's be honest, like mental health like is blowing up and there's just so many thoughts in ideas and I think it can get overwhelming for people.

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, because, you know, there's stuff coming from everywhere. And, you know, I think the thing about mental health that people struggle with is that, you know, what works for Dr. Kim may not work for Kirleen may not work for whatever. So you have to find your sweet spot. And I encourage people don't give up, you know. What I'm talking about is one way, it's not the way. It's not. But if you're somebody who likes processing, they like understanding, they like making connections, they like being able to look at themes, and they want to do the work, then I think the process that I use is something that can be very helpful.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah. So at this point, you know, if we were to wrap it up, and if you had, like few minutes with our listeners who are just being awoke to this idea, ‘maybe I have a backstory, and maybe that was an explanation why I'm having these patterns of dysfunctional relationships or, you know, low self-esteem or anxiety,’ then what would you want our listeners to know,

Dr. Neely:           I would want them to know that whatever it is, they went through matters. That the experiences that they have shaped them. But those experiences also probably show up in ways that maybe don't serve them. That it's no time like the present. That it's not too late. You're not too old, whatever it is, that you're thinking in your head, seek help seek a professional to be able to help you to explore this. Therapists, psychiatrists, we all are trained, you know, I have packaged this in the way but there's nothing that I'm talking about that other therapists can't use and put together in their own way. But today is the day. Don't wait. Your story continues. And it continues if you are able to have more tools to do better with it.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    Yeah, that's really good. So if they're like,’ You know what, Dr. Neely, you know, I ready to move forward. And I want to work with you.’ How can people find you?

Dr. Neely:           Absolutely. So on social media, you can find me @drkirleenarlene, I usually like to hang out on Instagram and Facebook, you can also go to my website, which is neelycounseling.com. That's n-e-e-l-y counseling.com.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    And, you know, I'm gonna put all this information in the description box. So if you are interested in the work that she does, and I believe that online course will be available on your website as well, right?

Dr. Neely:           Yeah, yeah, we're super excited, we've been revamping it and working it and hoping that the course is going to launch or relaunch again sometime in November, for sure, so go to the site, you can save your seat, and you'll get some information about that. So it's going to be a really good course, it's a hybrid course we're doing this time. So there's eight video-based learning sessions that you're going to do, where you go through the process I'm talking about, and then you're going to do a live coaching with me where you get to actually be with me, and we talk about the process, you ask questions. So I'm happy that I'm gonna get to connect with people. It's not just going to be online, it's also gonna be where we connect face to face.

Dr. Uejin Kim:    That's awesome. Well, Dr. Neely, thank you so much for your time, I wish we could talk forever, because I really like our energy. And it's really amazing how therapists and psychiatrists, we can just work together and just bring different expertise. But we're actually saying the same thing. You know, like your story matters is worth exploring, that takes a lot of work, but understanding that it's gonna be more true to who you actually are, and ground yourself so that you can move forward in a very powerful way.

Dr. Neely:           Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

I really hope that you enjoyed the collaboration with Dr. Neely and I. In summary, it's like this, right? There's a theme of security and knowing yourself and trust in knowing yourself and feeling safe, because you can trust yourself. And I think through therapy, through community, through just creating that safe space within yourself, I just hope that you are brave and courageous to explore your backstory. And if you need a professional to do it, there's no shame we all do. And that is the best way to explore your backstory. I hope you really enjoy the collaboration. If you have anyone that you want me to interview and collaborate with, please write down in the comments below or review and or just email me at restorepsychiatrymd@gmail.com. So thank you so much for your participation and I'll definitely see you in the next episode.