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Lindsey T. H. Jackson speaking on the microphone

Moonshots Podcast with Naveen Jain: Healing Trauma

Healing from trauma is lifelong work, but it can help create a better world. Past trauma locks us into boxes with worldviews that can be harmful to ourselves. What can we do to move past it?

TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to another episode of Moonshot. As you know, every week we bring amazing guest. These amazing guests not only tell you about their Moonshot, they give you the wisdom about how you can find your own Moonshot and how you can go about actually executing on your Moonshot. And this week is absolutely no exception. This week, I bring you Lindsey T.H. Jackson. So Lindsey, what is your Moonshot?

Well, my Moonshot is to use film, storytelling, poetry, spoken word, to help us collectively identify our childhood trauma, our lived trauma our social trauma. And then through identifying it, begin to heal ourselves and shape a new world where we all can thrive and reach our potential.

What would you call that new world?

I love that question, I love that question. I think it would be for each individual to find a name that is true and meaningful to them.

What would that be for you?

I have experienced moments of it, which I think is what is powerful about doing this work is that it’s not necessarily every minute of every day. Even through the day, especially as we’re leading up to the holidays, we might have moments of stress, but there are moments within that, when a favorite song comes on, when I’m with my children, when I’m traveling. Where I feel that knowing and that stillness and that quiet. What would it be for you?

Who is Lindsey?

Who is Lindsey? Lindsey is dynamic. Lindsey is laughter. Lindsey is loving. It’s taking me a long time to get to that.

So Lindsey has used the poetry and everything to get over the childhood trauma. So it has to be a childhood trauma. You want to talk about that?

Yes. And in my experience, and what was really powerful through my journey was realizing how being molested at a very young age. One in three women, one in four men. How that created an entire world view around what I was shameful of, what I was worthy of, what I had to do to earn love. And it took me many, many years to not just understand that experience, but understand how that experience colored every moment of my life. And through my
research, which I started, ironically, I started my research at quite a young age because what I learned about how I was meant to receive love was to achieve and to achieve as fast as I could, as much as I could, and so I did everything to get into university at a really young age, to start my Master’s at a really young age and was on this pattern of having to be perfect Lindsey. Which is very different than what I described a moment ago. But what I realized through that research and through my travels around the world is how so many of us have a moment that can be very big trauma or even little, tiny traumatic experiences that shape our world view and then lock us into a way of experiencing love, experiencing connection and belonging.

So how do we change it?

Each person is different. Each person is different In my journey, it’s been through storytelling, it’s been through listening to the stories of elders around the world, of entrepreneurs, artists, what we would call every day people, but I hate this term because we’re all one people. Right. And collecting those, I started to realize my belonging and my connection to all things. And to pull out that story that the little child in me had created, and then in doing that, began to distance myself from that and create a new truth.

So what story did you tell yourself?

Story for me was, only if you are perfect. Only if you are successful, do you get to be loved. And that turned up in so many ways. How I dressed, how I approached relationships, how I approached mothering, how I approached being a daughter. And there was never any stop to that because perfect is such a arbitrary idea that I kept grinding myself, grinding myself every day until I burned out. Until I couldn’t get up. Until I started having really negative thoughts, and it was surprisingly in that, in that darkness, that I began to question, there might be something else here. And that was what was in the research as well, that was in the stories that I’d heard again and again. That darkness, sometimes illness, something that made us be still and be quiet for a moment was when people began to imagine something different.

As you were listening to the stories that you had created for yourself, there must be some point of time, you see, you know what, I am the director of this movie, I am the actor in this movie, I’m the producer of this movie. I’m going to rewrite them, I’m going to rewrite them, or recreate them and I’m just not going to play the old movies anymore. I’m going to go ahead and produce a new movie. What was that moment and what’s a new movie you created? Because you have to change the story to come out of it, right? You can’t keep playing the same movie. If you see the same trigger and you play the same movie it’s going to end the same way.

Yes, yes, yes. And I think we’re often surprised by that and we think, oh, this will be the time, but we’re doing the exact same thing, the exact same way. And I’m gonna flip it a little bit because it was actually coming back to that little child before the trauma and coming back to my real self that flip the script.

So what’s the new script now?

The new script is, I’m too loud, I’m dramatic, I’m bossy, I’m fiery, I’m challenging. All these things.

And you’re not perfect anymore.

I’m not perfect anymore, right. But I’m perfectly me. Right, and all these things that we challenge that little girls are not meant to be. Oh, I said, get that out of here. I’m going be all that all day long. And the benefit is that now with my children, I get to also challenge them. Don’t fit into those boxes. Somebody gives you a box, burn it down, smash it. And that’s the work that I’m trying to inspire, empower others to do through my films, through my plays, through my books, through my startups. How do we leverage technology to do the same thing? Is to say Whatever box somebody has put you in, here’s some tools to burn it down.

Very interesting you say that. Now, a lot of people listening to it and say, well, gee, I have young kids. What should I do? How do I tell them to burn those boxes? But by telling them, hey, take a box and burn it, they may literally burn it, but that’s not what they mean.

Did I mean to make a pyromaniac? Although, some interesting data though may come out of that. Why are you lighting things on fire, Johnny? I think when I’m working with parents, and this is from Australia to Spain, when I’m speaking to parents on stages in different countries. The number one thing I say is, what would you have wanted as a child in the moment you felt sad? In the moment you felt angry? In the moment you felt scared? And where we often get lost is that we go, well, you got to get through this, right? If you’re at school, you’re scared of it, but you still have to go to school. What if we took a moment and said, what are you scared about? Where are you feeling it? A lot of the physical cues that the body gives you should jump on this. What we know now about the gut and the knowledge that’s
coming out of there. And what the gut can tell us about, we’re feeling anxious, we’re feeling excited, we’re feeling tired, all of that knowledge.

How do you listen to your gut?

The gut is so smart, the gut is screaming at us all the time

Why do you stop listening to it?

So for example, my five ­year­ old, she used to always say, mommy, my stomach hurts. And what we’ve been able to see through the gut knowledge, the research that’s coming out now, and in terms of connecting my little one to that knowledge is, are you needing to go to the bathroom. This is five year old talk. Or are you nervous about something? And just that moment of mindfulness, that taking a pause. Now she’s able to say, I think I am anxious, mommy. And then we say, what are you anxious about? And then we talk about strategies for letting mommy help her manage what she’s anxious about. Instead of trying to push her out of anxiety. Tell her that that’s a wrong emotion. We validate, we empower.

What are the tricks and tools that you could teach the parent who say, look, I have a child. How do I go about creating that relationship that you created with your kids? Obviously, I’m gonna start now. I can’t just suddenly change a dad who says just get over it. I’m gonna sit down and have you talk to me about it.

Yes, yes. The place to start is with the self. Always start with, I need to do my work. Then we have a desire, once we feel that we have a desire to give it to everybody. But when we talk about our collective trauma as a society, we have so many individuals who are walking around trying to just get over it.

You’re not talking about just having Trump as president as collective trauma?

You said that. I think it’s interesting because the thing about being a storyteller, the thing about studying trauma, it makes you very empathic. And I don’t know, Mr. Donald Trump. I have read a bit about his childhood

I think it was trauma.

I think there’s a lot of trauma there. And I think if you look through the lens of somebody going, how are you acting out that trauma? I don’t condone your behavior. But I can be empathic.

I think that’s very interesting you say that. He was on the Jimmy Kimmel show or something and the topic came up and he says, he needs love.

He needs so much love, yes.

So people are constantly telling him he’s a bad person. You’re not getting through to him. What he needs is love. He’s screaming for love, he’s screaming help me. And the more you try to show him that he’s the bad person, the more louder he’s screaming, look, my dad maybe didn’t give me love, I just need your love. Tell me, I’m a good person, I can get through it.

Exactly, exactly. And it baffles us to try to understand how someone would choose bad actions or what we view as bad actions to get attention. We see it in kids all the time. Just to try to still earn that attention from a father or a mother, and then that turns into a world stage.

How do we create that world where when we see someone acting out as opposed to getting angry and putting them in prison? And instead look at the saying, you know, I really feel sorry for what’s going on with you, and I wanna tell me about yourself, tell me about how you got here. And maybe is there a better way of creating the society instead of punishing people? To maybe give them extra love?

Absolutely. It’s two­fold. As the Co­-Founder of the Diversity Center of Seattle, one of the projects I work on, we do make a very clear distinction between where one decides to be an activist or a teacher. And so in encountering so much trauma and then talking about systems and how we apply that thinking. If I am trying to change the overall system but I’m so angry still because of how it’s affected me, maybe I’m better to be an activist. I’m not gonna ask somebody who is directly suffering under Trump policies, let’s say, to go be empathic and sit and give him love. But as a teacher, where I’m able to distance myself from it, I can say, let me look at the bigger picture, let me understand how someone who has entered into the prison system might have gotten here and treat the individual with love and empathy. And so that really requires, again, that self-­work to say what level am I and my journey to provide empathy, or to say, I can’t provide individual empathy, but I can dismantle a system that’s not working for anybody.

I’m gonna ask you a personal question because its always troubled me. It’s easy for you and I to sit here and teach and talk. If somebody were to come and hurt your little girl, would you say, honey, can we sit down and talk about how you got here? Or you’re gonna say, I’m gonna just kill you?

It’s a valid question, and not having experienced it, I can say that we know enough about the mechanisms within the brain where fight or flight is so real, I would act.

But even if you thought about it, would you still be able to get there? You’re watching your girl cry, somebody hurt your little girl. You’re gonna sit down and talk to the person and say, maybe I need to understand how your childhood was or you’re gonna say, hey, you know what you did is wrong and I’m not gonna let you get away with it.

The only data I have to answer this question is to say, I’ve forgiven my molester.

It’s easy, easy to forgive for yourself but would you forgive for your child?

Exactly.

It’s such a big question, because what I want to do in terms of the teacher that I want to be in this world and what I do in the moment that one of my children was hurt, I don’t know, all I can say is I’ve heard enough stories from parents who have been in that situation to empathize with the decision that they made.

All I can tell you is that I’m just not as good a person because if somebody were to touch our children, I would murder, with my bare hands, if I could, I would kill them. I just don’t care what happens to me at that point, because to me, I can tolerate and I can forgive everything that happens to me, but there’s no way anybody’s ever harming our children.

Yes, and I agree with you, I agree with you. Just fascinatingly to this conversation, I was listening to an NPR episode, crying my eyes out in the car of a father who the gentleman had killed his daughter, gone to prison. Pleaded guilty, and the father ended up writing to him trying to understand why he did this. And then ended up writing to him every week for the rest of his life. And as a storyteller, all I know is that there’s power in story.

Let’s move on to a different subject. So tell me a little bit more about what you are doing and how the work you’re doing is actually helping the billions of people potentially live a better life.

Well, depends on the day, and I’m sure you can relate to that. But in doing this work for myself, in doing this research, I’m living a life that every moment is so joyful and so purposeful. So it’s whether I’m writing my play right now, which is about to go on tour. So my play is called Enlightened as Fuck, and it is a collection of about 10 years of research, collecting stories from women all over the world, and re­telling much of what we’ve been speaking about today, and we go from an arc, looking at what we call “crazy women” and really the crazy women that we’ve had throughout history are actually those women who have transcended to a higher plane. They’ve found freedom for themselves, and I have one of my poems, it’s called Enlightened as Fuck and I say, I am Susan B. Anthony enlightened. I am Pippi Longstocking enlightened. I am Nina Simone enlightened. I am Hillary before she married Bill enlightened. I am my four­ year­ old daughter who refuses to smile at old men enlightened. I am enlightened as fuck. And for me, that’s what it’s called, when you start doing this work. You begin to transcend. So that’s one thing I’m working on, really excited about that.

What would be your crazy name?

My crazy name for this world again? I probably would be enlightened as fuck. Visitors from other planets would come and they would, I would welcome them. Welcome to enlightened as fuck. Can I go on a moon scape one day and try to be at the helm of a ship? And welcome people.

Well there you have it. There’s no dream that’s not possible, so that’s what your dream is, that what your
moonshot is. Tell me a little bit more about the other plays and the things that you’re working on and how do people find that?

Yes, Enlightened as Fuck play will be on tour next year, and then I’ve been speaking a lot, which is one of my favorite things to do because I just love engaging with a live audience, so I’ve been speaking all over the world.

About what?

Mostly about women in leadership, mostly about rethinking what it means to fail, and liberating ourself from this idea that failure is the big scary goblin in the corner, and that really failure is the path to figuring out who you are and your company.

How long is your talk?

We really have been so blessed to have such various organizations reaching out to…

If you’re gonna be delivering something, can you give us three takeaways that people who sat down and listen to you. What are the three takeaways that would come out of it?

I think the three main takeaways are when you stop caring what people think and start living your life, there’s nothing but potential.

So basically, don’t worry about what other people think of you, only worry about what you think of yourself. To fall in love with yourself and that’s all that matters.

Yes, yes.

Got the first one.

Two, is how to do that, which is, begin understanding little moments of trauma and your childhood when the ego was formed. Healing that will not only heal you as an individual, but it’s how we start healing this world.

Okay, so that’s the second thing, is how you go about doing that. So understand your child who would understand what is the one that’s causing you anxiety and deal with it

Yes.

Okay, this is number two.

The third one, and this is the one that always leaves people sitting in the audience, they have their hands sort of half up, half down, ’cause they’re really thinking is, there is a you that is so wonderful and lovable, that is not the things you do, the things you’ve achieved, or the ways you help.

You mean the things that are completely invisible that nothing that you, people will notice about you, and that’s your wonderful you.

Yes.

And that only you can see.

Yes, and I told you mine at the beginning.

Which is the crazy you.

It’s the crazy, it’s the dynamic, it’s the love, it’s the laughter. That’s me.

That people don’t get to see that is what you’re saying?

When they get to see that, they’re seeing me authentically.

But generally, you’re playing actress?

Generally I’m doing, I’m doing a lot. Yes.

Where do people find you?

They can find me at anything Lindsey­ T­.H. Jackson. And before you ask, the T is for Tarah, the A is for Holland. So that’s my ancestry. And they can find me on my tour starting in 2020. They can find me speaking at an organization or bring me to speak to their organization. And they can often find me playing with my kids in a park.

Really. Is there any parting words that you have for the audience? You say look, I know you probably didn’t pay much attention to this episode, but here it is.

Of course they did.

But at least here are the things, nothing else, here is the key message from this.

The key message would be, if you can figure out who you are authentically are, and that comes by telling your story, you have the power to not only achieve my moon shot, but yours.

So help everyone else achieve their Moonshot by being who you are. So going back to the same thing you started with, the day you fall in love with yourself is the day the world will fall in love it you, and if every one of us can fall in love with ourselves, the world would be a better place. Well Lindsey, an amazing episode, and I look forward to seeing you again in the next episode.

Thank you.