WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
60: The Truth About Self-Love, Healing, and the Path to Remembering Our Deepest Selves with Ruthie Lindsey
“All that I offer is all the medicine I so desperately needed for myself.”
– Ruthie Lindsey
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
Why is it so hard for women to bring all of ourselves, imperfections included, to the table? For starters, we’ve inherited deeply ingrained narratives — stories that shame us and drive our truest natures into hiding. That’s why we all need the support of someone like Ruthie Lindsey, my remarkable guest on this episode of What the Fundraising. She is an author, coach, speaker, and extraordinary healer whose rare wisdom I was recently privileged to experience in both startling and life-changing ways.
Ruthie’s “Love Reflection Sessions” are just that — a beautiful mirroring of all that we are, including the difficult pieces so many of us are reluctant to expose. Honoring our whole selves requires an expansiveness that we rarely afford ourselves, which is where Ruthie intervenes with loving-kindness and permission. She invites us to embrace our truest selves through practices such as intentional expression (Dance! Journal! Scream!) and the RAIN framework that author and psychologist Tara Brach recommends for processing jealousy and other challenging emotions.
Enjoy this powerful conversation with a woman who has worked tremendously hard to fully embrace every facet of herself and is now serving as a beacon for others finding their way towards self-love and acceptance. If you work in the service or nonprofit world, this episode is likely especially relevant. Here’s a chance to pause and reflect on what it means to feel nourished and deeply worthy, which in turn will fuel your life goals and mission!
Click here to learn about Ruthie’s memoir, “There I Am: The Journey From Hopelessness to Healing.” You may also want to listen to her The Unspoken Podcast, with cohost Miles Adcox, or sign up here to receive her newsletter.
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- This episode of What the Fundraising was sponsored by Neon One. You need more than just technology to meet your fundraising or membership goals. That’s why Neon One offers you affordable, integrated nonprofit tech solutions like Neon CRM, AND the resources you need to focus on what matters most – your people and their passions. Learn how Neon One is designed for growth and built for good by visiting neonone.com/mallory.
- Click here to learn about Ruthie’s memoir, “There I Am: The Journey From Hopelessness to Healing.” You may also want to listen to her The Unspoken Podcast, with cohost Miles Adcox, or sign up here to receive her newsletter.
- Tara Brach RAIN Method
- If you need a reminder of your fundraising magic specifically, you might be interested in taking my Fundraising Superpower Quiz.
TIPS AND TOOLS TO IMPLEMENT TODAY
Get to know Thistle Farms:
For 25 years, Thistle Farms has lit a pathway of healing and hope for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. The free two-year program based in Nashville provides housing, therapeutic services, training and employment opportunities. Their model for international trade addresses exploitation and poverty through a network of social enterprises.
Get to know Thistle Farms:
This episode of What the Fundraising was sponsored by Neon One. You need more than just technology to meet your fundraising or membership goals. That’s why Neon One offers you affordable, integrated nonprofit tech solutions like Neon CRM, AND the resources you need to focus on what matters most – your people and their passions. Learn how Neon One is designed for growth and built for good by visiting neonone.com/mallory.
Click here to learn about Ruthie’s memoir, “There I Am: The Journey From Hopelessness to Healing.” You may also want to listen to her The Unspoken Podcast, with cohost Miles Adcox, or sign up here to receive her newsletter.
If you need a reminder of your fundraising magic specifically, you might be interested in taking my Fundraising Superpower Quiz.
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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
Mallory Erickson: Welcome Everyone! I could not be more excited to be here today with my friend Ruthie Lindsey. Ruthie, welcome to What the Fundraising.
Ruthie Lindsey: Thank you sister! Oh, my gosh. I just get so excited. I feel in my body so much excitement every time I get to sit across from you on a computer. I was just like, oh my gosh, I get to be in this beautiful human’s energy and I just feel so honored. So thank you, I’m so excited to be with you.
Mallory Erickson: Oh, my gosh, I feel the exact same way. And I’m so excited to have the conversation we’re going to have today, but let’s start with you just telling everyone a little bit about you and what brings you to today.
Ruthie Lindsey: Yeah. As you said, I’m Ruthie Lindsey. I have a home in Nashville, Tennessee though I travel a lot. I love it here very much. And I am a speaker and an author. I wrote a memoir and I get to do coaching of sorts. I need to come up with a better term for it because it doesn’t feel like it’s, I don’t know, it feels different to me than coaching. But I guess it’s a form of coaching and I get to work with incredible women and do just, my gosh, work that brings me so much joy and it feels like such a privilege and such an honor.
And all of my work is under the umbrella of healing and a lot of embodiment, a lot through the divine feminine lens which is through our bodies. And I also get to lead workshops and retreats and do all kinds of fun things. I pinch myself at times that I get to do this work because it’s just what I’d want to do if no one paid me. And that’s what I do when no one pays me, it works out great. I’m nailing it. The moral of the story, I love it so much. And the only thing I offer is all the medicine that I’ve so desperately needed for myself.
I was really unwell for a really long time and it sent me on such a journey and it became such an invitation to come back home and do really beautiful inner work. And to begin this, I think I’ll be on this journey until I’m back home and then between, but it’s just ongoing. I’m learning a lot of stories, of all the stories and better what is so wrong with us, that we’ve been here at it and remembering our inherent value and worth and goodness because we exist, period. So that’s a little bit about me.
Mallory Erickson: I love that you said that about what you call yourself because I have struggled with that too. I’m like, she’s a coach and a healer and I don’t know what term she uses, but.
Ruthie Lindsey: Well it’s funny because I also try to not label myself because it’s so easy to put ourselves, I’m a this, I’m a woman, I’m a Southern person. I’m a sister, I’m a daughter. And I tried so hard to unlabel myself. None of that is actually who I am. Those are parts of what I do, but it’s not actually who I am. So then after unlearning so much of that to put myself in a category of what this is, because I don’t really, it’s I made it up. Not that I’m unique in what I do, because hello, but I don’t. Yeah it’s funny, but it feels really aligned with an extension of just who I am and how I live and what I need for myself.
And I call the work love reflection sessions and we do these containers. Because I think ultimately everything I’m doing is just mirroring what’s so true and what your soul already knows that we just need remembering of. I’m no one’s guru, there’s no hierarchical thing here. I’m walking alongside women and mirroring all that I know is true for them because it’s everything I know is true for me. I don’t really necessarily know how to put that in a category and the business end of it is, it’s just interesting but it’s work and I’m so grateful.
Mallory Erickson: So I think we should start with my love reflection session story because I was just telling this to someone the other day. And I was saying how you and I are more recent friends but we’ve become really close really fast. And I jokingly said to them. I said, yeah, that’s because I told her I lied to her within 60 minutes of meeting her, and they were like, wait, what? So I’ll tell everyone my version of the story. And then you can say what it felt like for you. Because I think it is just this moment I certainly have never had it before, but basically you posted on Instagram that you were offering these sort of one-off love reflection sessions. Something inside of me was like, I want that. So I bought it for myself. But then immediately had a narrative around that’s not the type of thing you buy for yourself. That’s something someone gifts to you or someone thinks you deserve. And so I told you that Ryan, my husband, had bought it for me.
And we went through the session where I was mostly crying and I’m feeling really seen. And you said so many things during that session that I think about all the time, about how all the parts of us get to sit at the table with us, the parts we think are worthy and the parts we’re ashamed of. You talked a lot, you shared a lot about yourself, those pieces are at my table too. And just really held the space for me to just be my whole self and feel so not judged. I truly felt a sense of unconditional love in its purest form.
And so then we get to the end of the session and I tell you, I have to tell you that I lied to you, Brian didn’t buy this for me I bought it for myself. And I started hysterically crying and I admitted that I felt like I didn’t deserve to buy it for myself. I didn’t deserve it, it felt weird to say I bought it for myself but there was something wrong about that. And I felt I needed to justify this hour of love with someone else thinking I deserved it. And you said in that moment, oh sister, I love you even more.
Ruthie Lindsey: Absolutely. I love that part of you and the only reason I could say that it’s because I love that part of me, I have lied. I have stolen. I’ve cheated. I have used people. I have, just kinda name it. I’m like, oh yeah, that’s at my table. That’s in me. I’m not beyond any of this. And I understand the story, we all have so many stories, but I understand the story of unworthiness that sits at my table or not thinking I’m deserving of time and love and tenderness and affection that I have to do something to earn it. That’s in me. And I think we’re not unique in this. It’s something we just inherited and that’s something that our culture has taught us and that the patriarchy has taught us.
It’s a story we know by heart, doesn’t mean it’s true, but I know it by heart. And no one on this planet has ever healed by shame, ever. We heal by learning to love these parts of this that are so human. Oh, that was just the most human thing that you did. It’s the most human thinking.
And I had an experience not too long ago. My best friend, I’m sure I told you this story because it was so impactful for me. It was such a linchpin and like something shifted for me when I experienced it. And my best friend was telling me a story from years ago about her new partner and it was so incredible. And she’d been through so much and it’s a thing that I’d honestly prayed for her. That’s what I wanted for her more than anything, yet she’s telling me the story and I’m happy for. And at the same time, I felt that earlier my body felt so much jealousy and the old version of me would feel jealousy.
And then I would become my own second wound because then I would shame myself for being such a horrible friend. What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you such a bad friend? This is your best friend, and then it’s this downward spiraling within jealousies, literally. But even though I was really scared and also really brave, I mustered up courage and I told her, I’m so happy for you. And then I tell her what’s going on in my head and the story of jealousy and feeling that in my body. And she did something that changed me. She was behind the counter. She walks around the counter, stands in front of me and she looks me in the eye and said, Ruthie, I love that part of you. And that part of me gets to be here and gets to keep feeling, it gets to be loved on. And I love every part of you. And we both started crying and we were just holding each other. And then it opened up dialogue for her to share with me some things that she had felt. And I got to love on those parts of her.
It took jealousy from being in the driver’s seat to love. Love was driving that, it transmuted where it’s still in me. It still sits at my table. It just doesn’t have to be the head of the table, it doesn’t have to be the driver of the table because these parts of this long to be felt, they long to be accepted. They long to be communned with. They long to be born. They long to be loved on and we only heal through love. That’s the only thing that brings actual transformation is love and self compassion and tenderness. And that is what Audrey mirrored for me and what is for me. And it was a massively shifting moment. Whereas now, because I’m learning to do this. This is my own practice that I do constantly. The only reason I could offer that to you is because I offer that to myself. I have lied a million times trying to get to belong and I’m wanting acceptance and I want people to think I’m wonderful.
I’ve learned a million ways to fold myself up, to fit in a little box, to be accepted and to get love. We are literally wired for belonging. So it’s again, I’m not unique in this but the work is like unfurling in allowing every part of me to be here, which includes, shadow and profound light, right. I am so joyous and generous and kind and loving and fricking hilarious and silly. And all of those parts of me get to be here. Every part of me and when I do this work for myself, the overflow of that is, every part of you gets to be here. Every part of a partner of mine gets to be here. Every part of my family, even the ones that I’ve judged and criticized and shamed. And when I do that and I project that on someone else, it’s always this great indicator of parts of me that I’ve rejected and exiled and have not wanted to be with and not wanted to commune with.
I had an experience last month that really was so beautiful. This precious girl who I had hired, she was going through a transition with a job and I hired her to come help me organize my house. And hadn’t seen her for like a year or two and a few things I couldn’t find after she left because you’re organizing and things get thrown away and she wrote to me about a month ago and was so vulnerable and so honest. She shared with me that she had stolen some things from me and I was so moved. I was so moved by her honesty and by her willingness to share that. And I just got so emotional and I left her a message, I love that part of you. There’s a part of me that believes that there’s never going to be enough for me. I know that so viscerally, I’ve learned to love on that part of me. And I just, I love that precious part of you that just longs to remember that there’s always more, there’s always enough for us. And I’m so honored that you would share that with me and that gets to be here and it gets to be loved on and it gets to be felt and mourned than that. But I can only offer that because I do that for me and meant it with the depths of my soul. And I was so touched by her bravery to share that with me, holy hell, that was so brave. And it touched me so much. And I think that if we were able to do more of that for ourselves, the way that we would move through the world, it just changed it. I really think this work is like life changing, shifting work for the collective because it shifts things. It just does. It shifts things.
Mallory Erickson: Yeah. And you’re right. We can’t hold space for someone else in a way we don’t hold it for ourselves. We can pretend to maybe, but we can’t on a cellular level really fully accept it, fully embrace it, fully love them in that same way if we’re not doing it for ourselves.
And the jealousy, it’s really interesting that you brought up that jealousy story. Because I just posted something last week on LinkedIn about jealousy. How I feel like jealousy is this really shameful emotion that we don’t give a lot of space to. And I don’t see it talked a lot about here and I just want to name that I feel jealous here a lot of the time. I always feel like I’m not smart enough, witty enough, creative enough, liked enough, cool enough on this platform. There were a lot of people who reflected feeling similarly.
And a lot of the suggestions or what they were staying for them is they would redirect their energy to the work that’s in front of them or to all the opportunities they have. And I really sat with that, that’s my condition tendency too, to work harder. And what I said to one of the women is, I’m like that too. But actually what I want to work on is how to not do more to be more, how to just let myself feel jealous, acknowledge that emotion, not shame myself for feeling that emotion and then not make it about what I’m doing or not doing or what opportunities I have or don’t have, I don’t actually want to do anything.
I want to just feel and process and be okay and allowed to feel that thing without it being about gaslighting my own feelings to just say, you do have all these opportunities or saying if you want to be like that let that light a fire under you to start to do more of X, Y and Z. And it’s just so interesting because that’s all our conditioning is not just that we’re not supposed to feel that thing but when we do, how to shift ourselves back into a disembodied overdrive state.
Ruthie Lindsey: Avoiding, yeah, totally. And is there a place for feeling grateful for what you do, of course, for what you have and all of that. But I think for me, and what makes me curious about for other people, because I’ve found that this has been the biggest shift for me is first letting that part be here. Because usually these very conditioned parts of us come up, that’s a conditioned feeling that something inherently is wrong, that I need to do more to be more accepted, to be more loved, to be more liked, to be more worthy, to be more deserving, blah, blah.
And so I love Tara Brock because she has this practice called Rain. And the first thing is you just recognize that it’s here. A) is you allow it to be here, hi jealousy. You get to be here. Thank you for showing me you. This is so human. This is not shame, it’s just so human. I) is for inquire, like we get to inquire and get curious and feel where does jealousy live in my body? Every feeling, every emotion lives in our body but we’re usually, we’re so cute. We’re just up here in the future. In the past, we’re ruminating, future tripping. We’re feeling regret, shame about something and it’s conjuring up stories and so when we go in our body where we’re here, we’re feeling sensations. We’re letting ourselves feel where we feel that thing in our body. And it’s usually old. It’s usually really old and it’s usually an old story.
And then N) is when we get to nurture it, we get to love on it and we get to repair it. We get to bring radical compassion, kindness to that part of this. Because usually what happens, like I said earlier, we see this condition thought, it’s always the first thought is always the condition belief. But usually we shame it and then it’s this downward spiraling thing because of course no one heals from shame. But instead if we recognize it, it gets to be here, you feel it, you nurture it. You get to bring compassion and love to it. Then from that overflow, you get to feel the gratitude for all the things that you have.
And I really believe jealousy is such an indicator of things, that it’s just an indicator of things we long for. Like we label these things as good or bad, and we’re very dualistic about, what if it just is and what if it’s just an indicator? What if it’s just an imitation? What if it’s just a feeling. The story we tell ourselves about the feeling is where we suffer.
Mallory Erickson: Just in that last part of what you said, I just realized how much around jealousy in particular we do this whole thing about what it means we’re not, like we’re not a good friend. Like you were saying if we feel jealous, we’re not a good this, we’re not a good that, because I think about one of the places I experienced a lot of jealousy has also been with fertility stuff. In my infertility challenges and it’s interesting of course I’m jealous, of course I’m jealous. I want that experience to be different for me. I want what they have. It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad friend. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. That actually means literally nothing about them. And so I love that reframe because I think that’s really where we do that second harm of I’m bad because I thought that.
Ruthie Lindsey: Yes, something about me is inherently bad, wrong and undeserving. Then think about the culture that we’ve been raised in. I was brought up in purity culture and Christian culture and morals to be a good girl. I was taught that my body is sinful, that my flesh is deceitful, I cannot trust my emotions, that my heart is deceitful, that I am a broken, depraved,wretch.
That’s the hymns we sing, were about being a broken to depraved,wretch. Hello. And that’s the shit I inherited. I believe with every part of me that something about me is inherently bad or wrong. Is any of that the truth? No, but we believe these stories that we know by heart, that we inherited, that our mom has probably believed, that our daddy’s believed. They weren’t taught anything different either. They weren’t taught to commune with their feelings to move them through their bodies. Like they swallowed that ish, so of course they couldn’t teach that to us and they found their worth and people outside of them. So they want us to behave in a certain way so their friends think we’re wonderful.
We have been breathing this air in our whole lives, it’s in ourselves, literally. It’s what we have been just ingesting. Every time you pick up your phone and get on Instagram, you’re told you need this thing to be worthy. You need this thing to be pretty. You need this thing to be skinny. You need to do this work to be valuable and worthy. It’s just story after story. And I think the first word is starting to recognize the story. And then we get to be the second feeling. Because the stories it’s gonna come up, I’ve been doing this work for a very long time and this shit still comes up. It’s just, it’s in me. Am I a horrible human? No, I’m just really human.
And the perfectionist part, perfectionism likes to crawl in my lap and sit right here. We know each other really well, because there’s also a part of me that knows that I am a divine human, as so is everyone else. We’re divinity and we are human, we get to be both, we are both. And my humanness of course, is like filled with shadow and light and contradictions. And I forget everything I’m saying to you right now, I can forget in five minutes and go back and just be right. But then we get to remember again, and I think about so many of the practices that I do. And so many of the things that I share are all things for remembering because we just forget. We come here to earth school with amnesia, we forget our divinity. We forget our worthiness. We forget how valuable we are because we freaking exists.
I don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love. Now my sweet little conditioned self thinks that I do. And that’s what’s so interesting. That’s going back to what you were saying at the beginning. There’s many people that don’t love themselves that are doing really generous kind things in the world.
But the difference is when you’re doing it out of an overflow of love, out of loving yourself first, we’ve all heard you’d have to fill your cup up first. You have to put the mask on yourself first. When we do it from that place, it’s not out of a place of I need to be needed. I need to love you so I can get your love back. Because that’s what drove me most of my life.
Mallory Erickson: Me too.
Ruthie Lindsey: I didn’t not know that I didn’t have to do anything to be worthy of love. I thought I had to give all of myself and that’s in me. That is in me. I care so much. I feel people’s emotions. I just, and I love that part of me. And so often it came out of a place of lack. Like I have to give everything so that I can have people think I’m the most generous, loving, kindest, name it. And that was the deeper level shadow part that was driving so much of me, loving so much and giving so much of myself and being so generous and neglecting my own needs to do for others because I needed to be needed. I needed their affirmation and I needed their love.
And was any of that sustainable? No, it burns you out, pain in your body. You’re denying your own needs and worthiness. And so learning how to bring this love, bring this compassion, bring embodiment practices to actually feel what my body feels and needs and my body’s yeses and my body’s nos because I didn’t learn any of that growing up. Now what that gift’s me is the ripples that allow me to actually sit across from you and have you bring up any part of you, right? Yes, you precious human, it gets to be here. It’s changed my dynamic in my relationships. It’s changed the way I interact with people. It’s changed my dating life. It’s changed because if every part of me gets to be here, then every part of you gets to be here. And I get to love on that part of you and you get to love on that part of you. And it might not on the outside look like that from someone who’s just giving of themselves and being so generous and so kind, but on a pretty massive foundational level, it’s so different. And I can feel different now.
Mallory Erickson: And I think everyone can if they listen to it, and we can feel it when it’s happening too. We can feel when someone’s doing something for us as a way to stack up points, versus giving really generously from a place of desire. And even if we can’t in our head recognize that we feel it in our bodies and I talk a lot on this podcast around the behavior is not the thing. The thing is the energy behind the behaviors. Is it bad that I watched five hours of Netflix?
I’m like how did you feel after you watched five hours of Netflix, did you feel refreshed and inspired and excited? And all these things? Then it doesn’t sound like it was bad. Did you feel anxious and stressed and worried and couldn’t sleep? All right, so maybe that’s something to look at if your goal is to not feel that way.
But we so often just look at the behavior and we’re like is it good or bad to do this thing? But actually if we want to be existing in more sustainable ways with ourselves and feeling better ourselves, then it’s not just about what we do, it’s the energy behind how we do it, why we do it, all of those different pieces. And something you just said that I’m really thinking about now is how, of course we feel external validation is how we know whether or not we’re good or lovable or worthy because our whole lives, the feedback we get is based on how comfortable it makes someone else.
And I talked a little bit about crying on Instagram, it was like noon in California. And I had already heard three women tell me, someone had told them not to cry. Oh, so I took out my camera. I was like, I got something to say about that. And not only is crying so beneficial and healing but that, don’t cry, and now I see it all the time on TV. Someone’s is, oh, don’t cry. And even said from a voice as if, oh, I don’t want you to cry because I care about you not crying. What’s happening in that moment is they are uncomfortable with you crying.
Ruthie Lindsey: Yes, in therapy when I went on-site, they won’t allow you to even offer tissue to someone unless they ask for it because it’s our own conditioning, like I’m uncomfortable, wipe your eyes. I’m going to give you tissues right now. We’re thinking and sometimes that’s not always the case, but like someone who gets tissue from someone that we can make them feel like, oh, I need to stop and so they might get that narrative that’s not okay to do this.
And the amount of times my clients will apologize for crying. I’m like, oh, your tears are the most sacred holy. Yesterday I had two different clients cry from second one until 60 minutes. Like we literally cried and it was the most sacred, holy, beautiful. Hillary McBride told me this in one of our courses we taught together. Tears are one of the only, I don’t know what the correct terminology is, that we can cut off and not let come out. Like you can’t not pee. You can’t not poop. Eventually if you’re going to snot, it’s going to come out. But tears, we can cut off. And she said that, this is wild, that they did a study and when a full, weeping, shedding clearing tears come out, they tested the tears. And they’re so toxic that they can actually kill a small mouse. And we’re trying to keep that inside, but it’s so cleansing. It’s letting out so many toxins from your body. It’s releasing so much. It’s the most loving thing that you’re getting.
Mallory Erickson:Oh, wow.
Ruthie Lindsey: But we can cut it off and then that toxicity is staying in our body. My brother used to call my nephews if they’d stopped crying, he’d be like, good job nails. You’re tough as nails to stop crying. And I would be, oh, no please cry. Cry all you want, let it all out. But we are so taught, especially males you know that’s not what a man does. And I think tears are the most sacred, loving, holy, most beautiful.
Mallory Erickson: I love that. And I definitely have been one of the people who’s apologized to you crying.
Ruthie Lindsey: It’s so human.
Mallory Erickson: And yeah, and I remember one of my mentors Karen Mulvaney. One time, I told her a story and she started crying from it and I immediately felt guilty and I started to apologize for making her cry. And she just turned to me and said, I love that I can access my emotions like this. And I was just, wait,wait. And I think these are for some folks, a super radical idea, a super radical idea because they have 10, 20, 30, 40, 80, 90 years. I talked to my 96 year old grandmother who says everything she’s thinking at the moment and to not everyone’s pleasure, sometimes, a lot of the time. And recently I dug into it with her a little bit and she started to share with me how she spent 80 years of her life feeling like she couldn’t speak her mind. She wasn’t allowed to say what she thought or how she felt and hearing that, knowing that, really even shifted my compassion when she says something that feels inappropriate to me. And it’s just such a healing practice for you and for the community in which you’re in.
Ruthie Lindsey: I’m think about someone that’s never done, or I don’t want to make assumptions about your grandmother, but for people that haven’t done in their work, because what I’m not saying here when I talk about bringing all of our parts for ourselves, it’s just being so you get to just go out and be an asshole. You can just say whatever, no matter what that gets to be here. But what she is and what’s so beautiful is now like I’ll have conversations and I’ll get to say, I know my audience, if I’m talking to someone that feels safe, that has earned my trust. I get to tell the story that my low condition brain is telling me right now. And I don’t believe that’s true but here’s what my insecurity is saying. Here’s what my fear is saying. Here’s what my criticism is saying right now. And again, it doesn’t mean any of this is true but here’s the stories that are playing. And I want to bring a lot of love and compassion and just be honest with you that this is what’s playing in my head and I don’t believe this is true, but here’s what’s happening.
And what is beautiful is when you do this, a large majority of humans aren’t doing this work. So they don’t necessarily have the skills or the language yet to be able to know that the narrative that’s happening isn’t the truth. That it’s just a story or that, that judgment is it real? And that doesn’t mean that’s actually true about that person. So they just are either keeping it playing on the head all the time, or they’re saying it, and people are like, you’re just a dick. And I don’t want to hang out with you. Yet, they haven’t been taught the tools to commune with those parts of themselves, that the stories are just stories. They’re just stories, doesn’t mean it’s real.
I’m the best storyteller I’ve ever met in my entire life. I make up so many stories that very few of them are actually based in reality. It’s based on my past traumas and by past hurts and my past pains and wounds and abandonment. And so often, unless we’re doing this stuff and community with these parts, those parts drive, and we see the world through that lens. I love the quote “No one sees the world as it truly is. We see it as we are.” So I’m not seeing this person as they are. I’m seeing them as I am. And if I am criticizing and judging and hating myself, then it’s going to be really easy for me to criticize, judge and hate on them.
Mallory Erickson: Yeah and latch on to their criticism perhaps of me, because I think the piece here that you said is yeah, everyone’s coming into relationship with different skills, different levels of awareness. My grandmother hasn’t done that work. And maybe if it was a different relationship, I would try to create more growth between the two of us. But because of what it is, it’s just actually about holding that space, not taking it personally, recognizing my own boundaries around what I hear versus what I let inside my body. And it just has changed how I can show up because I think many years ago she could have said some of those things and because they’re not all untrue. Sometimes, she’ll say something like you’ve gained weight recently. That was not an untrue statement. Was it what I needed to hear today? No, but I don’t have to spin out over it, in the same way. Because I think that’s such a hard line. Obviously you don’t want to go around being an asshole in the world, but you might say things that are going to make people uncomfortable when you’re taking care of yourself.
Ruthie Lindsey: Of course you will, that’s a guarantee.
Mallory Erickson: And so it’s okay, like it’s not your job to make everyone comfortable all the time. And so really for me it’s also been recognizing that, I think for a long time I felt setting boundaries was unkind because it made people feel uncomfortable. And so pulling that apart, it’s nuanced.
Ruthie Lindsey: Yes, it is, so everything’s nuanced, I think we have these black and white things, but you’re so right. And when I’m saying loving and accepting other people’s parts, I’m not saying not to have boundaries. Just because I’ve learned to love and accept certain family members that they get to have their belief systems that are very opposite of mine and I get to just show up as love. I also have really strong boundaries. And there’s people that I can love them from afar and they get to be who they are and love who they are at this point in time and their journey is perfect. And there’s nothing for me to fix about them and they’re not in my life. They’re not in my life. I get to send them love from afar, but it didn’t feel loving for me to be in a relationship with them.
And so I am such a firm believer in boundaries and do I always do it? No, but it’s gotten so much better and it’s so different than it used to be. And I would stay in relationships that didn’t necessarily feel that good because one, I probably got something out of it and I got to use them on some level. Something kept me around and I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And the insecure part of me was worried about what they think or hurt someone’s feelings.
And now, it’s actually so loving to have boundaries, even if the person that the boundaries are put up with feels, hates it and thinks it’s the worst thing ever. It’s actually still really loving. It’s really loving. It’s actually loving for them too, which it doesn’t feel like in the moment, it just probably feels really terrible and they probably hate it. But anytime we honor our own agency and our own bodies and our own needs and our own desires. It’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves, but it’s also the most loving mirroring of what is for them too, they get to do that. Everyone has this within them, agency.
Think about when I was a child, go hug, Mr. Blah, blah, blah. And I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t say no. I had to, that would be rude and whatever. I just learned to say yes, ma’am, yes sir. There wasn’t room for no, there’s a very tiny margin for nos in my home. So I learned to not listen to my body’s no, my body’s agency. So I learned to do whatever I needed to do to get the love and belonging, affirmation to be pleasing, to be desirable, to get that affirmation. We’re wired for it. We’re wired for belonging. And so this starts so young.
And so often we also aren’t taught how to calm our own nervous systems because our parents don’t know how to calm their nervous system. So when we’re feeling big feelings and big emotions as a course, every child does. We’re either handed food or we’re wiped or we’re punished or we’re told we’re being bad, all these things. So we learn how to swallow them and not feel them, that they’re bad. That’s something about that as bad. So I can’t feel that but of course it doesn’t go away and internal family systems, they call it if it’s exiled into the basement and it comes out sideways and usually it ends up driving. It does end up driving eventually. Like it doesn’t go away and the most loving thing we can do is learning how to be with these parts that we’ve swallowed, that live within us, that long to be felt and communed with and it’s like, it’s agency. It really is.
And I’m not saying it’s easy. This is daily practice for me. I saw it recently where I’m like going on dates with people and if I’m not interested, there’s this part of me that just wants to moonwalk the F out and not say that I’m not interested in them, just like all of a sudden not be here anymore because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. And I never want anyone to feel bad. And wow, that conditioned part of me is so strong. It’s so strong. I don’t want anyone to be disappointed in me. It’s just in me. It’s in me and integrity and to speak honestly, and to speak truthfully. And it’s Ooh. It’s no joke.
Mallory Erickson: Yeah. That’s one of the things I love about you so much is the way you allow your own work into your practice with other people. I think there’s so much in this industry sometimes that this is what it looks like to have it all figured out, and it’s oh man, all of this stuff is not linear. It’s, here are the practices, here are the rituals. Here’s the ways in which, you know, even with boundary setting. I felt for a while it was a skill that I needed to learn and then I had it and every day it’s oops, wrong boundary, too tight of a boundary, too loose of a boundary. And it’s like playing with it and just realizing it’s this constant dance with all these things.
I know I was like, this is going to be one of those podcast interviews that I really need 10 hours for. But before we wrap up something, I feel it is also really special about you is how you tie conversations like this to rituals. And that has been a way in which you’ve had such a profound impact on me by giving me tiny rituals that have completely shifted, done that one degree shift at a time, but have rerouted me in so many ways. And so I’m wondering if you’d share maybe three of your favorite rituals that relate to self-love, healing, boundaries, the themes I feel have really come up.
Ruthie Lindsey: Yeah. Oh, thank you for saying that. I received that so much because it’s what I’ve so desperately needed for myself. It’s just, again, the only thing I ever offered to share all the things that I’m constantly doing for myself. And I do love, I’m not a counselor which is ironic. Not ironic, that’s not the right word but it’s interesting because I work, probably half my clients are counselors, which is so fascinating. But there’s something special because I don’t have the rules that a counselor has to go by that I do get to share so much about myself. Like here’s my struggles. Here’s the thing and it opens up this, creates a container that’s really conducive to rawness, of here’s this. So then it opens up a place for the others to be like oh my gosh. Yeah, that’s been a struggle. You know what I mean? It’s so there’s something really, I don’t know. It just works for me. I also don’t know how to not share myself, I don’t know how to do anything anyway. So thank you for that!
So yeah, so much of my work. I left my body really young, I probably left pre-verbal, leaks trauma on some things. And everything I share has a component to bring it back into the body. And I will never forget hearing the shaman say this quote “knowledge is just a rumor until it’s moved into the muscle.” And when I heard that oh, my whole life feels like it’s been a rumor because I’ve not actually been in my body. I’ve usually been in the future or the past or in my head and not present in my body. And that is like our gateway to healing. That’s where all our trauma lives, it’s where all our pain lives. That is where all of our past, our parents’ trauma lives. And so if we’re not doing practices to move this head knowledge into the muscle, then it’s not going to be integrated and it’s not actually, it’s just a rumor.
And like you said, everything that I share has these different practices. So a few of the things that I offer that I do for myself is one, I ask everyone to dance. And again another Shamonic thing I heard a shaman say that when people come to him and are suffering, the first thing he asks is, when was the last time you danced. Because when we let ourselves move our bodies and move, think about animals. If a cat is being chased by a dog and gets away, what it does when it’s done is it just shakes, it shakes all over and then it goes and eats its dinner. Because it knows how to move the emotion through its body. But we are not taught this. We swallow these emotions and it makes us sick and it makes us anxious and it makes us have chronic pain. And it shows up in our body, we know the body keeps the score. So that’s just one, it seems way too simple and way too silly. It’s mind boggling how profound and how amazing it is, it’s just so freaking beautiful.
So that’s just one, there’s so many different things. I think I’ve learned a lot of tools for emotional releasing, practices to move. If you’re feeling anger, there’s ones where you can just scream or hit a pillow. And I literally will screen the F-word. I let myself scream no, I let myself throw tantrums. I wasn’t allowed to throw tantrums as a child. So letting myself get on the bed and kick and scream no, screaming at the top of my lungs is so loving to move. And the thing is it’s not to say that these feelings that we have are necessarily true but we felt them and then they get swallowed and then they’re stuck in our body so the practice is to get things out
My friend Nicole Sachs teaches this practice called Journal Speak, where you let yourself for 20 minutes free write anything that comes up. Like I have screamed at people. I have yelled, I have called them names. I was like, remember a good girl that’s not allowed to say, I just learned to smile, think all these things, of course I did. But swallowed it like good girls just forgive and move on. People had done some really painful things, which as have I, to so many. But letting myself scream at them, I’ve screamed at my dead dad who’s passed away. And I’ve said to him the things that I wasn’t allowed to say when he was on the earth side. And it doesn’t mean all the things are true but I felt them and I swallowed them.
So giving myself space to scream and yell and type, just free type. And then the second those 20 minutes are up and you select all and you delete it because it doesn’t mean it’s true. And also when we’re journaling, we’re like someone could read this and I don’t want them to know. So we don’t say it all and so you get it out. You let your body almost be animalistic. Like I barrel and then after I get to do this beautiful love meditation, and I cover myself in so much love first, and then I cover whoever I lost my mind on in so much love. And then I let them go back to God and I feel lighter.
And I’ll give you one other, I know we’ve done this. Asking yourself a question with your right hand and then allowing yourself to answer with your left or your non-dominant. So write the question with your dominant, answering with your non-dominant and letting yourself. ’cause it’s really wild, what will come out? It’s like the inner child, it’s the longing, it’s the deeper truer story that comes out with your non-dominant.
There’s so many, I could name 9,000 different things. I have learned so many practices and they all come back to being with the body, to moving emotion, to moving the knowledge from our rumor into the muscle. And that’s more of the divine feminine path. It’s more of the receptive, it’s the more embodied. It’s not forced, there’s no forcing, nothing in my work will ever be forceful ever because people’s journey is perfect. My goal is to create a really beautiful, brave container, but the image I always get is that there’s like padded walls to push up against edges, that it’s soft. I love what you said before because it is so true. It’s these one degree shifts because that’s what’s actually accessible and integratable and feels like you can be scared but also really brave.
Mallory Erickson: I just love you so much.
Ruthie Lindsey: I just love you so much. I’m so grateful I get to be your friend.
Mallory Erickson: That’s how I feel. Okay. Tell everyone how they can find you and how they can work with you. And I also invite folks if they want to highlight a nonprofit that they love for folks to check out, they get to do that too.
Ruthie Lindsey: Oh, I love that so much! The one that I work with the most is Thistle Farms. Do you know Thistle Farms? It’s here out of Nashville. Actually, my friend Becca Stevens started it probably 20, 30 years ago. They sell their products in Whole Foods all over the country. But she started it, it’s for women who have been in the sex industry and she creates places for them to live, therapy, work all this. She is an Episcopal pastor, preacher, I don’t know what they call it. Just the most wholehearted woman that I’m so in love with this human and her mission and her heart.
And I’ve had the privy of knowing so many of the leaders of this company. They’ve done it in such an incredible way that so many of the leaders had come through the school and through the training and through the program and the most incredible. They also have a cafeteria, this beautiful little restaurant and these incredible women, like they’re given therapy forever. If they go through it and graduate, like they have access to health the rest of time and they get to work, they get to provide for their families. They get their children back. They, it’s just, it’s done. I use it literally right here’s my chapstick from Thistle Farms, it says Love Heals. I’m obsessed with that company. I am such a believer in their mission. And these women are just the most profound, I get to experience God expressed through these women. They are just the image of God to me, they’re so profound.
And so you can find me. I have an Instagram and it’s just my name, Ruthie Lindsey, L I N D S E Y. And I’m actually updating my website right now, but on my website you can sign up for my newsletter and you can find out and get discounts on things, or you’ll be the first to know about workshops I’m doing when you sign up for it and you can pay I think $6 a month. I do a lot of offerings for anyone that signed up for this. And there’s also a free option if you just want the newsletter. If you sign up for it you get a free workshop basically each month. You also get a podcast that I interviewed just beautiful, precious humans. And you can find out about different workshops and retreats and things that I’m offering.
And then these love reflections. I just started another container. It’s a six week container and it’s the greatest privilege to be able to sit with and mirror everything I know is so true for these incredible humans that I get to honor, the absolute honor and privilege of sitting across from, and it’s just, it’s a deep, the words that come to me right now, it feels like a deep time of remembering. It’s just remembering our inherent value and worth and goodness and all the things that are so right and true, and bringing so much love and compassion to these parts of us that we’ve just exiled and hated and shamed. So yeah, that’s where I am. I love you.
Mallory Erickson: I love you. I love you, and I can’t recommend it more highly. I talk about it all the time to everyone. And I think for nonprofit leaders who are listening too, it’s just the type of space that is not often accessible. And I know so many people like me struggle with the self-care, self-love industry recommendations. I always felt like a massage but it isn’t what I need, or I kept really striking out. To add, I love a good bubble bath but I don’t feel more self-love after it. And I feel working with you is the first time, I was, oh, this is how I learned how to do this for myself. And so I’m just so grateful for you and the work that you do, whatever it’s called. Maybe you just get to be a unicorn.
Ruthie Lindsey: Love reflector unicorn. Here we are. All I know is you were so deserving of that. You are so worthy and so deserving of that. And I feel so proud that I’ve had the honor of witnessing you and watching you and getting to experience you. I’m in awe of who you are. And I just love you so much. And I feel like I just hit the jackpot that I’ve gotten to work with you. I just feel like the luckiest because you are such a gift Mallory. And the work that you do is so profound and so beautiful and all of us lucky enough to learn from you are just, we’re blessed. So thank you.
Mallory Erickson: Thank you.