Exploring Identities with Elijah Jackson LSW

Exploring Identities with Elijah Jackson LSW
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Listen in on Episode 5 featuring Elijah Jackson, LSW (Licensed Social Worker), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional and HYR Podcast Producer).

PART 1 -Getting to know Heal Your Roots Wellness therapist, Elijah Jackson, LSW, and discussing intersectionality of identities (Race, Sexuality, Gender, Ability, Class, etc.)

PART 2 - Communities Elijah’s worked with throughout his social work including the homeless population in Long Island, NYC Child Welfare System, Foster Kids entering into adulthood, substance abuse organizations in Philadelphia and opening up on things that need to be addressed.

PART 3 - The Importance of Identity and Relativity for Professional Support, Mindfulness and Accessing Safe Communities while Exploring Identities.

Content Warnings: Mentions of Mental Illness.

Some episode highlights include...

  • We were “charmed” by his “silly” and sincere reasons as to why he became a Licensed Social Worker, which includes understanding more about himself, relationships in his life, trauma experiences, and more.
  • His Licensed Social Worker Journey that supported him in clarifying his niche, recognizing his capabilities, addressing a difficulty in being vulnerable with people, and accessing emotions for himself.
  • Acceptance as a tool; the idea of not pathologizing people’s identity; suggestions on accessing communities of acceptance.
  • Perspectives on how to navigate your environment so you find safety while exploring identities.

More About Elijah…

“Hello, My name is Elijah Jackson and I'm a 27 year old Licensed Social Worker from Long Island, NY. I currently work and reside in Philadelphia, PA as a therapist working primarily with young adults in the greater Philadelphia area. In my therapy career I've worked with many different populations Including the NYC child welfare system, the Long Island homeless population, and persons diagnosed with substance abuse disorders in Philadelphia. Currently, I work primarily with the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ population in Philly doing trauma-informed care."

- Elijah Jackson, LSW

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Podcast Transcript
Expand for Podcast Transcript

How did you get into the mental health field?

Elijah Jackson  0:02  

Rather than saying, in order for you to feel validated, I have to appear this way. We should be thinking about what is it? What do I need to get myself to feel comfortable where I'm at right now.

Daniela Galdi  0:18  

Welcome back, everybody. Hello, hello to all of our listeners. This is Daniela Galdi. I am the producer and co-host of Heal Your Roots Podcast. And I am so happy today because we have our newest member of fuel your roots wellness here to talk with us. But first, we have Kira, the co host, who is also here with us here, go ahead and give them a real Hello.

Kira Yakubov  0:43  

Hey, everyone, I'm Kira Yakubov, co-host and therapist and founder of heal your roots wellness. Every episode we talk to a practitioner in the field gets to know who they are as a person and some of their specialties. And I'm really excited for today because we get to have Elijah Jackson. He's part of heal your roots wellness. And I'm just excited to hear his stories today. And so thank you so much, Elijah for being on today. Absolutely. So we had some technical difficulties, but we're rolling through it a lot, just a bit of truth. So I'm really happy to hear. So it's kind of the first thing I asked everybody is Elijah, how did you get into like the mental health field? And when did you know you want it to be a therapist?

Elijah Jackson  1:26  

Yeah, so there was a there was a silly answer. And then there's, there's a more seriously answer, which one do you want first?

Kira Yakubov  1:37  

I'm always gonna go with Philly first. And then you could totally share the serious one, or which one are you?

Elijah Jackson  1:45  

Absolutely. So when I was when I was a kid, my favorite show in the world was sure all of you are familiar with a charmed. But the three and Phoebe the youngest, which was a had an advice column, and she had a degree in psychology. And I was like, I thought that was like the coolest job in the world. I was like, I wanted advice column. I should go to school to be a therapist, and maybe I can have an advice column. And then I like then after doing research, I was like, great. CV shouldn't be giving people advice. That shouldn't happen. I'm gonna go to school and I'm going to do it the right way.

Daniela Galdi  2:32  

That is the best response by the way. At the top of everything, all the answers we've heard for this question.

Elijah Jackson  2:42  

So I if you if I have one person to thank for my career, it's a Phoebe Halliwell shout out.

Daniela Galdi  2:51  

I think that was Alyssa Milano, right? She was always dressing so like, I loved how she dressed to I was like, I was aware that

Elijah Jackson  3:00  

she was the coolest one. Oh, that's hilarious. But yeah, the more serious, you know, the more serious kind of like grim version is that I've just always wanted to learn a bit more about myself, you know, I think lots of us go into the mental health field to, to be to figure out our stats, you know, just figure out our traumas, to understand our bodies and brains a little better. And to help understand the people that are in our lives. So it's kind of like, so it's kind of both, you know, I want to figure myself out, as well as figure out some of the people that I grew up with navigated that way.

Daniela Galdi  3:44  

Oh, wow. I like your response to.

Kira Yakubov  3:48  

And it gets funny and not funny that a lot of therapists like it would probably be cheaper if we just went got therapy instead of becoming therapists.

Elijah Jackson  3:59  

Absolutely

Kira Yakubov  3:59  

Right, it's part of the same reason I went into like, I had a tough time growing up. And I didn't understand myself and I would just learn more about psychology and human behavior to understand like, why I am the way I am. And I was like, Oh, I can help other people do this, too. So I love it. That was a similar path for you as well.

Elijah Jackson  4:18  

So it was the world's most expensive therapy, therapy experience.

Daniela Galdi  4:25  

What was one thing that you learned about yourself from going through all of your schooling?

Elijah Jackson  4:32  

Yeah, I would say what I learned about myself was that I am extremely hot, I find it extremely difficult to be vulnerable with people. And therapy requires a lot of vulnerability on the therapists part as well. You know, it's not all about the client being able to access certain emotions and feelings, you know, I have to do that as well. And you know, showing up in therapy, you're in the room to, you know, your feelings are coming up as well. And you have to, you have to confront that and process that, in the moment, not make it about you, like therapy isn't for me, you know, I have to go see my own therapist for that. But, you know, remembering that I'm also in the room is really important during the therapy process with the client. You know, in beginning the beginnings of my therapy career, I found it very hard to access certain emotions in the room. Because I was so used to not being vulnerable in that way.

Kira Yakubov  5:36  

I really appreciate that that was so vulnerable.

Elijah Jackson  5:40  

I've done a lot of work,

Kira Yakubov  5:41  

Look at you; check you out. And so I know you are a licensed social worker. And so my license is a little bit different. So I didn't necessarily know the path that social workers that's a take or kind of like, the classes and things you learn. So what was your experience becoming a social worker? And why did you kind of pick that direction instead of any other type of license?

Elijah Jackson  6:07  

Yeah, it was a, it was a journey for me. I was actually just talking about this with another client, because they're pursuing a degree and they're very frustrated with, you know, having to be set back and switching switching majors, you know, having that take longer. So my, my experience was also very similar. Or went to school, I was originally a psychology major. And I wanted to, I wanted to get my degree in psychology, I wanted to get a PhD of all things. And I, you know, I was going through it, I did a year at a really expensive school, and then I ended up not being able to afford it anymore. So I went home, and went to community college. And then I was working somewhere, I think it was probably like at DSW, or something. And one of my co workers had a master's in psychology and she was like, please don't do it. You can get the same, you can do the same amount of work, you can, you can work with the same people with a degree in social work. And you'll be able to have a much more well rounded career because you could work anywhere. And that's not to knock the psychology people, you can also do a lot of things with a psychology degree. But I just felt like Social Work fit for for me, because it allowed me to access a lot of different communities that I might not have been able to access it a more specific degree.

Daniela Galdi  7:43  

Actually speaking to that, can you share a little bit about the communities that you've worked with? Because I know that you mentioned in your bio about like, working with the homeless community? So tell us more about that?

Elijah Jackson  7:54  

Absolutely. It's kind of an all over the place. Both, you know, as far as location and career stuff. I'm originally from the island. So my first experience during this kind of work was with the homeless population on Long Island, and being able to kind of do more hands on stuff, you know, still looping in the therapeutic, the therapeutic work all those interventions, but actually having boots on the ground and being able to, you know, have access to communities that people wouldn't normally have access to being able to see the real the real side of it, rather than just what people see walking past, you know, homeless person on the street. I also had experience working with the New York City child welfare system, which was traumatic. I did a lot of work with foster kids, mostly teenagers and people who are aging out of foster care. So there weren't a lot of resources for them. Most of them were just thinking about trying to graduate high school, let alone their future without certain supports, like family, and lots of lots of trauma, just in general a collective trauma. I worked for a college prep program that focused on getting foster kids into college because statistically, it wasn't something that happened that often. And it was pretty difficult. That was pretty hard. So I never want to do that again. But it was very it was a very formative experience. I did really love being able to, you know, hope help people, help kids access certain things that they might not have, you know, an opportunity to do that. And I ended up in Philadelphia, because New York City got too expensive. And I started working with the substance abuse population and Philadelphia. And that was also very heavy. The fentanyl epidemic and substance abuse is very, very rampant in Philadelphia and all across the country. So being able to also see these people in the throes of their addiction, and allowing myself to be more vulnerable with people and recognized similarity. You know, a person who's in the throes of addiction isn't that different from an average person, they still have the same problems. But it's they're still navigating the same stuff. They just also have a layer of trauma surrounding substance abuse, sort of really did open my eyes to lots of uncomfortable things, but also things that need to be seen and addressed. And it changed my views a lot about, you know, how substance abuse should be, the epidemic should be addressed. Here.

Kira Yakubov  11:20  

Wow, that's, that's definitely really deep work. And it's pretty crazy thinking about, like, you know, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, like, you can't even address other stuff on the surface, if you don't have your basics. Like, if you don't have shelter, if you don't have a home, if you don't have food, you don't feel safe in your environment. It's like you can't even talk about like how my relationship feels or how I'm communicating. It's like, no, I got to think about day to day. So that's, that's really heavy. I mean, I commend you for going into that site didn't have the experience, through my training to to work with people that were in those circumstances and situations.

Elijah Jackson  12:02  

It was absolutely eye opening. And I really did love, I love the communities that I've that I've been able to navigate. And it really helped me clarify my niche around what I wanted to work with what I wanted to do, what I thought I was capable of also being able to push myself to be able to say, I didn't think I was capable of this, but I actually Oh,

Daniela Galdi  12:25  

wow. So that sounds like another something that you learned from, from your work with that? Was it something that you were positioned in? Or was you were drawn to it? And how did you get started doing that?

Elijah Jackson  12:38  

Each of those experiences that kind of fell into, I continually told myself that whatever comes my way, I'm going to hop on it and see how I like it. Just to clarify, just to continue to clarify what I want to do you know how I want to the kind of therapist, I want to be the kind of social worker I want to be. So it really, it really was important to me to make sure that I continued to try new things.

Kira Yakubov  13:07  

And so I know that you mentioned it kind of allows you to get more into your niche and like figure out who you want to work with the kind of things you want to work with. And so what have you come to now thinking about that, like who would be your ideal client or who you enjoy working with?

Elijah Jackson  13:25  

Yeah, I think I've already have, you know, over my very short career, I think that I learned a lot about my own identities and how and how I am impacted by the people that I've worked with. And I really do think that it's important that I continue to work with people that look like me, and other people of color, people with lots of different different intersectional identities, people who, you know, I love working with the LGBTQ community. I love working with bipoc You know, black indigenous people of color. I love working with people who identities are considered minority, you know, and whatever case that might be, you know, ethnically, religiously, whatever the case is, if you're not considered the norm, as they say, then you have a home with me

Kira Yakubov  14:20  

Aww

Intersectionality of identities and intersection of identities.

Daniela Galdi  14:22  

I love that you have a room with me. I just I wish I could like hug; it was so beautiful. it really is. I love your sincerity with everything Elijah, I think that you know, from a third party, I tried to give this perspective since I'm, I work trying to do my advocacy with mental health. But I learned a lot from like yourselves and here and all the therapists and coaches and people that I work with in this advocacy and just seeing your sincerity is just such a draw to me from that third, you know that outside perspective as someone who's not a licensed therapist or social worker, it's just like so comforting. So I appreciate that so much. But the work that you want, and aim to do and and that you are doing now is just so impactful. And I want to know a little bit more of of a breakdown, or maybe your own perspective, because you shared with us in in the form that we spend to just get to know everybody a little bit more intersectionality of identities. And you know, to me, I was like, wow, like, that's a powerful statement category, right there. Can you share your perspective on that?

Elijah Jackson  15:36  

Absolutely. With the intersectioning of identities, I think lots of people view it differently. And my understanding of the intersection of identities or intersectionality of identities, it's just that we're multifaceted beings, we're not defined by one aspect of our lives, you know, we're all impacted by everything that we go through, you know, someone who is black, gay, poor, differently abled, those are all different identities that impact them every second of every day. So it wouldn't make sense to say that I am all just one thing, you know, or they are all just one thing. You are defined by all the stuff that you go through your positionality is, you know, comprised of everything, all the good and bad, you know, all this stuff that you can't control when you can, all of that stuff impacts how you show up in the room. And I think it's important for me, as a therapist, to help clients understand that they're more than just one thing. You know, you're not just a queer person, you're not just Muslim, you're not just, you know, your racial and ethnic identity. There's more to you than that. And, yes, some things are easier to hide than others. But you shouldn't need to think about hiding it in the simplest form, you know, you should be able to say, I'm all of these things. And that's okay.

Kira Yakubov  17:13  

I love that so much. And this is when I interviewed you, I was like, oh, Elijah is just so warm, and welcoming. Like, you just provide this sense of safety and opening that I really loved when we even just had the interview. And like even you expressing that everything you say is just so genuine. And like, we don't look the same on the outside. But I would love if you were my therapist. Yeah, and like, you know, therapy seekers. I think the biggest thing that someone wants to know when they're going into therapy is like, can you help me? Can you relate to who I am and what I've gone through? Really like the credentials, all that stuff? Yes, that matters to a degree. But at the end of the day, it's like, we're two people in a room or in a virtual room, like, I need to connect, and I need to know that you're going to be able to help me because I'm not just this one sliver of an identity. It's all these different parts. Yeah, absolutely.

Elijah Jackson  18:13  

I think sometimes we, we, I even though I've had this experience, where I've looked for a therapist, and I said, Okay, well, this person isn't going hasn't gone through the same thing that I went through, so they won't know how to help. And that's, and that's not true. I think that just because I don't have the same experience as someone doesn't mean that they can't offer insight or steal helped me navigate my own stuff. You know, we're all we're all too unique to assume that someone is going to have the same experiences as us or to cast out someone because they don't

Daniela Galdi  18:52  

the acceptance piece is so prevalent. And I keep thinking, you know, in the other episode, we, we kind of, well, I pegged marinas the sexpert, and I almost want to take like I was wanting to title you as like, Elijah the embracer. Like I'm pacing everybody's differences and similarities and making everybody feel united. So I love that. So Elijah the embracer. My question to you with that is, do you have a certain tool or approach that is like one of your go twos with with anybody that connects with you?

Tools and approaches for dealing with clients.

Elijah Jackson  19:35  

I think kind of like what Kira said earlier about acceptance, I think is really important to me. accepting people for who they are is like my most powerful tool, my most useful tool, the one that I you know, someone that I pulled from often being able to sit with a person and say, You don't have to explain this to me. You don't have to argue this to me, you know, You don't have to try to convince me that, you know, this is how you need to be, this is why you need to be this way, I am accepting you for who you are, we don't have to go, we don't have to have this discussion, which is something really important, I found that as a tool that I use of queer theory, you know, many people don't know about it, it's the idea of not pathologizing someone's identity, you know, not using them as not using tools or theories to try to, you know, turn a client into an experiment or a study tool, this is a person, their identity is their identity, I shouldn't be trying to, you know, examine this, this is just, they are, you know, if they tell me that this is how they see the world, and I have to respect that. And I can't say, oh, well, because of this book right here, you know, we can't we have, I have to convince you that your identity is wrong. Now, if you believe that you are this way, then as a therapist, I have a duty to respect and accept and validate that. And I think it's important that lots of other therapists adopt that too. We shouldn't be pathologizing our clients.

Kira Yakubov  21:23  

Absolutely; that gave me the chills. I mean, I, you know, we take an insurance that we accept, and sometimes it really upsets me and makes me angry, it's really frustrating for the therapists, because we don't always want to give someone a diagnosis, right. Like, if it's like a serious, a serious disorder, or it's a psychotic disorder, like things that are physiologically going on. But it would actually be beneficial to have a diagnosis, this is one thing. But the other thing is, if you're just a person existing in the world, and it's hard, because it is, and you're responding to trauma that's happening around you, and your body is adapting new ways to survive. I don't think that we should be diagnosing people for that, right? Like, you learned how to figure out how to survive in this environment, because you had to. now you're in a new environment. And it's not helpful. But that doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. That means we're shifting into where we live, and who we need to be.

Elijah Jackson  22:27  

That's one of the things that I've always told, like, when I was younger, I used to tell myself, I don't need a therapist, because I don't see people I don't hear voice. I don't need to be in therapy, because, you know, I don't have you know, dissociative identity disorder are where do you get the severe disorders? And I, I, I questioned myself a lot growing up, and I was like, well, maybe I shouldn't be in therapy. And then after learning more about actually what therapy does, I'm like, Yeah, I should have been in therapy. It's not, it's not just it doesn't just require a severe disorder to be able to see someone and navigate your life, and work through some of the things that have stuck with you for a long time.

Daniela Galdi  23:15  

The word doubt keeps coming to mind. Because for right now, you know, I'm experiencing that a lot. What's interesting is like, I think that it's in me because of those I've surrounded myself with. And so I think about that, and you know, I voiced it outwardly, you know, I do I have gone through anxiety and depression, and I managed that, but I've kind of broken it down recently is like, wait a second, I feel good about myself. It's as soon as I can, there's other, you know, that other noise coming in from others, that kind of beats me down a bit. And so thinking of that is just an example for anyone listening have like, you know, I can't diagnose, right, but I wouldn't say that things I would say that's just, you know, a feeling based on the environment that I'm in like, here, I mentioned about the environment. So like, that's one thing that I'm like, I did not talk to somebody about this big could just spiral.

Elijah Jackson  24:15  

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think if you are someone who experiences how horrible life can be, then you have a right to be in therapy. You don't have to be a traumatized broken down person to go to therapy. You can just be someone who needs support. Absolutely.

Kira Yakubov  24:36  

And so it's interesting with all these different identities, right? Like, it's our subjective experience, for the most part, right? Like there's an external expression of who we are that people can kind of see in the label or put us in a box. And I think that, especially with gender, it's very much a subjective experience. And so I'm curious of how that shows up in whether it's your session. maybe some of the experiences you've had with people who have like this discrepancy between the subjective experience they're having, and maybe how people view them on the external

What do I need to feel comfortable right now?

Elijah Jackson  25:10  

expression. So many of my clients are questioning their gender feel like, because they're not at one end to the extreme, where it's like, so, you know, I always say gender and sexuality is a spectrum. Everyone falls somewhere on that line, you know, some people are more in the middle, some people are all the way at either, you know, and when some people are more in the middle, or in one of the other gray areas, they feel like, they don't have a right to explore that. They don't have a right to, to think about how they'd like to clarify. What would it take for them to clarify what their gender is, or their sexuality is? Some people feel like, Oh, well, it's not something that's really that deep for me, I just feel sometimes I like to address it, or sometimes I feel more comfortable going back to him rather than she heard. And you know, the discussion of pronouns. And the clothes you wear, how you present your gender, all of that is so fluid. And people think that in order to live life, they have to be perceived one specific way. And rather than saying, This is how I this in order for me to feel validated, I have to appear this way, we should be thinking about what is it? What do I need to give myself to feel comfortable where I'm at right now? You know, maybe down the line, you will want to go? Do you want to go further down that spectrum, and maybe get top surgery, or explore taking hormones, things like that. But right now, where you are? What feels right. And that's a lot that's questions. That's a question that I love to ask my clients. What do you need right now? Maybe it's not in the cards to get top surgery, or bottom surgery for that matter? Or, but how can we get you where you'd be six? You know, what a safety look like right now?

Daniela Galdi  27:21  

I absolutely love that. That question. I want to adapt that for myself every day. Like what do I need? What right now? I think that's such a great way to bring us. I mean, clearly, it brings us back to the moment but brings us back to knowing who we are, as well. And so you know, I love that I love that you start with that. I feel like it just simplifies these complexities that I'm sure the people you are talking with or, you know, minds or might be racing with, do you have any thoughts around the idea of like mindfulness to share with with anyone in listening?

Elijah Jackson  28:00  

Absolutely. Being present is so powerful. That's one of the things that I've struggled with the most in my life, even just, you know, not even in my therapy work just in my day to day life. Being present, being mindful, is extremely hard. We are always I think as humans, we're trained to be forward thinking. We're trained by our society, whether it be capitalism, or our jobs, whether that's capitalism. All aspects of our lives are pretty much training for us to be forward thinking, from the day that you graduate high school. Even before that, they asked you, what do you want to do for the rest of your life? What's the thing that you what's at 18 years old, we're expected to decide what we want to do until we retire at 65. That's really traumatizing. It's felt scary, and so scary. So we're trained to be thinking in the future, and we're trained to be anxious. And it's important that as as, for me, as a therapist, it's important to help clients slow down to pull you back into reality, you're back into the real world. We don't always have to exist in the future. Yes, we do have to plan for some things. You know, we do have to plan for our futures in some capacity. But we can't do it all. We're not that powerful. I think one of the things that I've learned as a therapist and it's just an individual is that I don't have that much power. I can't control that many things. I can do my best. I can try to show up as best as I can. But for the most part, I'm just coasting along on this on this rock floating through space.

Kira Yakubov  29:47  

Right

Daniela Galdi  29:48  

Oh, yes. Aren't we all but

Kira Yakubov  29:52  

I want to go back to something you said a little bit earlier that came up for me is the way you were describing accepting people and towards the end it was, what would be the safest for you right now. And I think that is so important to consider, especially when we're talking about minorities and cultures, because I think in America, we're a very individualistic society. And a lot of minorities and I'm an immigrant is much more collective. And when we think about how we move in the world and decisions we make, it's we are trained to think about how is this going to impact my family, my community, who I live with how people view me and people who work or identify like me? Absolutely. And that feeling of safety, and making a decision when you live in a community like that? And I'm curious, so what's been your experience with some clients when maybe they are starting to embrace who they are, but their community or their family is not okay with it?

The importance of safety and acceptance.

Elijah Jackson  30:53  

Absolutely. I think that kind of goes back to what I was saying for about intersectional identities sometimes are just actually identities kind of go against each other. My you know, a client's a client sexuality, my buttheads with their religion, you know, a client's gender identity might buttheads with the culture, you know, so a client who is trying to explore their gender identity, they don't feel right in their body, they want to explore wearing jet other other other gendered clothing. Even though clothing isn't gendered, that's just clothes, just fabric. But as a society, we've assigned meaning to a dress we've assigned meaning to suit. So I think that clients want to explore that feel that, wow, I don't feel safe, wear nail polish at home, I don't feel safe wearing the skirt around my parents, I could be cast out or worse for doing these in my community than these things in my community. So when it comes to exploring our identities, we have to think about safety. First, you know, what's going to ensure that you are going to be safe, until you can get to a point where you can go out on your own and explore your identities. You know, I have so many clients who live in toxic households, and can't explore their identities, and they feel stuck. And it takes a lot for them to really pull themselves back into reality, and say, Yes, I can't do this right now, because it's scary. But I'm working towards a point where I can get away and still explore who I truly am. Sometimes that's, that feels like, you know, that's not enough. But safety matters, above all. You don't deserve to suffer over things that we can't control.

Kira Yakubov  32:58  

Powerful.

Daniela Galdi  32:58  

Yeah, that was amazing. That's I was just thinking, like, the way that you break that down so that they always have a place of safety within themselves, even if it's not in their surroundings.

What's a way that they can explore like, what's a safe way that used to be just to explore, but still withholding that safety within where they are, like living there to say, part of part of what makes

Elijah Jackson  33:31  

the internet so powerful, I mean, the internet sucks, and a lot of so much, that's horrible about it. But I will say that lots of clients who cannot access certain communities, in their general area, find those communities online. You know, they're able to find through through apps like Twitter, and Instagram, you know, all those places are toxic, et cetera, et cetera. But you can still find communities with people who identify the same way you do. You can find someone who you can talk to when your parents scary. You can find someone to communicate with when you feel like you're being silenced. You know, I think that community is very important. And if we can't get it in our general vicinity, if we can't get it in our hometown, we have to find it else. Because in order for us to, you know, to be validated, we need a community that looks like us. Our experience is what we experience

Kira Yakubov  34:41  

that's so important. I think it always kind of comes down it's tough, because there's always two sides of the same coin. Right? It's we thrive and community we feel connection and I mean, we're social beings, right? Like we're built to last with other people. And then at the same time, if there is a norm around what we're supposed to look like feel like act like, and we don't, a shame comes up and internally. And then two, we can get ostracized from that community that we so desperately need to be a part of to feel like we belong. I just can't imagine the amount of suffering that someone might go through feeling like they have to, like, walk the line between those things. And I'm so glad there are therapists like you, Elijah that, welcome that. And it's like, here's a space to explore that, and be mindful of what I can do right now. And just hold that space for somebody.

Elijah Jackson  35:38  

Absolutely, absolutely. Part of you know, I think some people have these ideas around therapy, where it's like, every time I come to therapy, I have to be talking about stuff that really hurts. I happen to be talking about all this, all the trauma and all the all the all the sucky stuff. And I'm like, Well, I guess you should be exploring your traumas, because they need to be explored. But also, we can use therapy to talk about, you know, the fact that you just bought a dress, and you feel really comfortable. You know, we can talk about the fact that, you know, you had your first kiss from a same sex person. And, you know, I think there's so many ways to experience acceptance and validation. And we don't just have to validate the traumatic stuff.

Celebrate what you want to do.

Kira Yakubov  36:23  

Having a space where you can have like, someone excited about the news you want to share? That's just as important, I think,

Daniela Galdi  36:29  

yeah, I was just going to touch on that. Because the celebration part is what you both mentioned. And that, to me, means so much, you know, to have that person by your side who's like, yes, that's great. And that's regardless if they understand it or not, but they're happy to see you happy and doing what you want, and what has meaning to you, and living living the life that has meaning to you. And, you know, taking action in that way. So having that celebration, and I can attest to going into therapy, I usually recommend that people, you know, they're like, I'm feeling great. I don't know, do I have to go to the session, and I'm like, I always encourage you to keep your sessions because you never know what could come up. But like, just tell somebody something that you know, has your back, you know, just go talk to somebody that you can feel safe with. That's like the key word here. Right? safe and supported with and so you know, I always I always feel like in in my own personal experience, I've done that. And then I shared great things. And then all of a sudden, I was like, it's one of the best sessions because something else came up, I think, you know, because I had, I had let go. And I had let all of those great things come out that it was like, okay, there might have been something else that I never allowed to surface, but then needed some some extra support, you know. So

Elijah Jackson  37:44  

that's why I think mindfulness is so important, you know, and mindfulness can be anything, being mindful of what comes up in the moment, being able to process that as it comes by, and being able to say, you know, I'm going to stay present where I am, I'm not going to let these intrusive thoughts are these negative thoughts. Hold me a certain way. I'm going to sit where I'm at, and continue to explore this thing that I'm really excited about, you know, I'm going to continue to sit with what feel what I'm feeling right now. Rather than being pulled aside by my anxiety, or by the things that hurt. Mindful practice can be anything; I just discovered that you can mindfully eat.

Kira Yakubov  38:25  

I discovered that too, and it's not fun.

Daniela Galdi  38:34  

It's so funny, I've, I've been doing like, Well, I've been trying to practice like consistently like mindful conscious eating. And to your point, yeah, sometimes it's not fun. But definitely, you know, real quick, a quick digression here is like, that shame piece that you mentioned earlier eating is I'm Italian first generation. And so it's such a big practice. And fortunately, my, my parents are understanding about if I'm trying to eat a certain way, right? And then I find that difficult because I feel the guilt and a bit of a shame that I don't want to always go with the traditions because of the way I want to choose to eat. Right. And that's always on me. But that's something with the mindfulness where it's like, once I can accept that for myself, that this is how I'm choosing, and it's my choice, you know, becomes a bit easier to recite that right and like claim it and assert that to somebody else and in a in a graceful way. So to add that in terms of like mindful eating, but just in terms of mindfulness in general when it comes to different cultural things.

Elijah Jackson  39:42  

Absolutely. Mindful eating does talk I tried it one it was like, but I guess the idea behind it is like you're supposed to be more conscious of what of what you're putting into your mind. And you know, lots of times People are just they're eating, they're not thinking about it. And then they're not realizing that, oh, I'm full. And I, you know, I don't, I'm still eating because I still have food on my plate, you know, knowing when it means knowing when you're being present in what you're doing, rather than doing things on autopilot. We do that a lot. We're always on autopilot. Because it makes things it makes the time go by faster. But sometimes, we need to be just slow down a little bit.

Culture, eating and accountability.

Kira Yakubov  40:29  

So I feel like there could be a whole episode on culture and eating. Because that, and I remember learning about this long time ago, like the way that it even came up, the people eat together. Like that is like a gathering is like when caveman or humans discovered fire. And they would all sit around the fire to be warm and to eat. And you know, you spend time talking, singing whatever, right? You're bonding over eating. I think at least definitely, in my culture, it's so interesting, because there's like this very mixed method between, you need to eat Byron to eating you look, you look too thin, like you're not healthy, like you should eat more. finish everything off your plate, people are starving in the world. And then it's like, looks like you're gaining weight. Who's going to marry you? I'm like, damn, so which is it?

Elijah Jackson  41:23  

Honestly, honestly, how many talks you know, there's so much there's so many image, there's some of the toxic messages that you know are perpetuated through culture, through history and through families. And sometimes you get treated like an outcast, when you start to think about Wait, these are the things that we say to each other all the time. This is okay, this baby is your son or your daughter or your or your aunt or uncle, you know, why are we focused on much about what this person's body looks like, you know, or how much they're eating? Why does that? How is that going to impact them getting married and such? And be away? I think it's that's why I think our younger generation is so powerful, because, you know, Gen Z as kooky as they are, they're questioning everything. They're questioning a lot of things, they're starting to do some of the things that we felt a little bit uncomfortable.

Kira Yakubov  42:20  

And I think it's so interesting, it's like, because I see things from such a cultural perspective, because of how I grew up. And it's even questioning why things are the way they are. It can be frowned upon and seen as disrespectful and like disobedient or is, you know, like subordinate, like, how dare you ask about this thing. And really, it's like, A, you probably don't want to take accountability for the thing, because I just realized it's kind of shitty, that we've all been doing this for so long. And be it's like, well, now it means if I accept that it was wrong, that means I have to change. And I have to put in an effort to do something differently. And I felt listened to understand your experience. And that's too much work.

Elijah Jackson  43:07  

Absolutely. Absolutely. Accountability is hard for older generations. They don't want to they don't want to accept that they've had an impact on you know, how we show up today

Daniela Galdi  43:19  

Do you either of you have have to share in terms of like being better about accountability, because I kid you not I was just looking up for myself the other day, two things. One was, how to understand accountability, and then one was working through entitlement.

Elijah Jackson  43:36  

For me, I would say that when it comes to accountability, the the main thing that comes up the most is expectation. What do we expect another people? You know, what do our expectations too high? Are we expecting things that people aren't capable of doing? And what do we expect from ourselves? You know, how are we showing up in a way that validates ourselves, but also other people, because we also have to think about the people that we're interacting with as well. And when it comes to accountability, sometimes people's you know, people expect someone to show up a certain way, you know, and or you don't expect anything for of yourself and others. And you're wondering why people are like, No, I need you to respect me, you know, I need you to understand that this is how I am and this is how I show up. And then we then make the requesting like oh, so there is an expectation around how I show up in the room. And I have a duty to either, you know, respect that, you know, and validate that but also question if it's too much, and if someone is expecting something of you, that is too much for you in the moment or doesn't align with how you want to show up how you want to be present. Then you have a right to question

Giving and receiving feedback and expectations.

Kira Yakubov  44:59  

I love that. I think for me, what comes up is giving and receiving feedback. Because that is a skill on its own, that I was never taught. And so I think even just through the therapy process and working with couples, that's if you want things to be a particular, if you have those expectations, if you want to a certain type of life or quality of life, is considering, like, Can I share this with someone? And am I open to hearing what they have to say about me, if I want my relationship to improve if I want my life to improve my problems to dissipate in some way? Am I open to hearing how I'm getting in my own way. Because if you're not open to hearing how you're getting in your own way, or you're impacting somebody else, you're going to make them the bad guy, and you're not going to change or put in any effort. And then you're kind of in that victim mentality.

Elijah Jackson  45:59  

Right

Kira Yakubov  46:00  

And so it's, so you have to be and it sucks, right? Like, it's not fun, right? Like, I'm in a marriage, I have other relationships, like, it's not fun, or pleasant or comfortable to hear how your behavior is negatively impacting somebody that you care about. It's not. And if you're not willing to hear how they feel, or the impact it has on them, don't expect this relationship to thrive, or to move somewhere. And like Elijah said, if you feel like, well, maybe these are unreasonable expectations you have of me, then you can't question and say, This is what I'm willing to provide, based on the feedback you gave me. And then they have a decision to continue this or not?

Elijah Jackson  46:43  

Absolutely, absolutely. And that also goes, that goes back to, you know, or at least that made me think a lot about readiness, how ready are we to change? Sometimes there are problems that arise and we don't know their problems, or there are questions that we have, but we don't feel capable or ready to address those questions. They're just questions that are popping up for us. That's something that I go through a lot with my clients is, how ready are you to address these problems that are that are popping up in your life? Because it's, it's one thing to just say, yes, the is a problem for me. But it's another thing to say, I'm ready to do something about it, you know, and some clients aren't ready to do something about. So it takes more time. We have to slow down and we have to be more mindful of where we are, and more mindful of our readiness to change.

How ready are you to go to therapy for therapy?

Daniela Galdi  47:39  

It's another great question to add to a little like self check-in that that we've talked about in this episode already. Because it makes me think for myself to you know, how ready Am I had a situation happen? Somebody said to me are you going to therapy, and I will, I will tell you both right now, I'm not at the moment. I'm an avid goer, but I've been taking some time off. And it made me think like questioning myself. Wait a second should I be and I had to kind of pull back and ask why. And that question. I didn't know it came up in this way. But now that you're saying it? No, I'm not. I'm not ready to address it yet. And it will be one of those situations where I would avoid talking circles, right? I'm not not ready to fully go there. But I will be and then I know that therapy is there for me when I'm when I'm staring to confront that situation. Although I do always suggest, like I mentioned earlier continue to go but you know, circumstantial situation. With that said, Elijah, what's one thing that you're comfortable sharing that your clients may not know about?

Kira Yakubov  48:50  

Well I wasn't gonna share it then [laughing]

Elijah's Love of Comic Books

Elijah Jackson  48:58  

No, I'm usually pretty transparent in my sessions, but I would say that I'm a big nerd. I do love all things, all things, comic books, all things, you know, all things action. I you know, it's kind of a guilty pleasure of mine. Actually. No, I should take that back. I don't feel guilty about any of my pleasures. But yeah, I do love I do love a good comic book. I love a good comic movie. I can talk about things like the MCU for hours. So yeah, any any, any client who was who loves comics. We can spend hours talking about them

Kira Yakubov  49:43  

this one was like, embarrassing, but I guess I shouldn't be embarrassed because it's fine. So when I was younger, I was like, for the listeners, have you guys seen Bob's Burgers?

Elijah Jackson  49:55  

That show is awesome.

Kira Yakubov  49:57  

Okay, you know, Tina? I am Tina. I was. So when I was younger, like, I don't know, 13 14 years old, I would write these like, romantic encounters of how I would meet somebody and like these erotic stories in my diary. Like a little weirdo. I guess it's not weird for anybody else who does it, but I thought it was a little weird. I would just like fantasize and live in a dream world.

Daniela Galdi  50:25  

I love that you're both sharing these please keep going.

Kira Yakubov  50:31  

That's all I got.

Elijah Jackson  50:31  

Okay, I didn't write erotic stories. But I did. Because as I mentioned, I'm a nerd. I used to create i Even though I was a horrible artist growing up, I did not have that kind of hand eye coordination. I used to create my own comic characters. I used to have whole stories for them. They used to have books growing up, my mom would always find books with the with like, different different characters that I created. And then I always used to tell her mom, I'm gonna put them all together. I'm gonna make comic books. She's like, Okay, I'm waiting. Years and years go by and it never happened. I wish I still had those books. Because it does. It does bring back a lot of fond memories. So it didn't I didn't do any of the erotic stories, but I did create a lot of scenarios

Kira Yakubov  51:18  

you were a sexully charged adolecent as I was

Daniela Galdi  51:26  

I feel like I should add to that, but I'm trying to think

Kira Yakubov  51:30  

Yea, you had us exposed

Daniela Galdi  51:31  

exposing something. I mean, I'm thinking of like one that's not that cool. I mean, but I guess I shouldn't judge. It's like I had a pet rock named Princess. Now my rock has turned into like a crystal obsession, I guess. Because I'm an adult. And I used to in terms of writing, not comic books, not erotic. But I plagiarized as a child and would write down song lyrics in my song book. And these were like my songs and I'm air quoting. And I remember my sister found my book and she was like, you know, these aren't yours. Why are you just writing lyrics to songs it was like Saved by the Bell like when a flyer thing and like, you know, I don't know some other artists in there. And I was like, this is my song book. And I think I convinced myself that like I wrote the song. plagiarize the crap out of them.

Kira Yakubov  52:32  

Look at us all just trying to cope as kids

Elijah Jackson  52:37  

we all find a way to escape. Escapism is real.

Kira Yakubov  52:42  

So as sad as I am to end this episode, Elijah, thank you so much for being on. this was this was a pleasure getting to know you a little bit more here and more about your life and background. So thank you so much for taking the time to be with us.

Daniela Galdi  53:01  

This is a by Vesta production.

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