092: The Achievement Trap with Brandliyn Tebo

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Welcome back to Tuff Love with your host, Rob Kandell. This week the guest star is Brandilyn Tebo and she’s here to talk about the concept of the achievement trap. She teaches workshops for women called The Shift, and has a book coming out in January about the Achievement Trap concept.

Brandilyn is an acclaimed transformation coach, retreat host, writer and speaker. Once a Type A perfectionist who struggled with anorexia, she knows first hand how destructive attachment to external validation can be through years of inner work, meditation, training, studies. She learned how amazing life can be once you let go of limiting beliefs and false identification with achievement. She has travelled the world teaching empowering workshops for high schools, Fortune 500 companies, and colleges. Today she coaches clients on how to remove internal barriers to following their hearts to be the fullest expression of themselves.

Rob and Brandilyn explore the achievement trap, her journey and the steps she took toward awakening:

  • The Achievement Trap is when we get completely dependent on needing outside approval and needing external validation in order to fell worthy
  • Brandilyn was so far deep in the Achievement rap that she was numb. She was sleeping 4 hours a night, had an eating disorder, was working a job, modeling and in school getting straight As, as well as in leadership positions. She was disconnected from herself and her heart, lived completely in her head and didn’t give herself permission to do much of anything for the sake of joy of it.
  • The turning point came when she wasn’t going to be allowed to go back to school unless she started gaining weight. So she did some soul searching, started meditating and doing the inner work needed for transformation. In the process, she flipped her entire life upside down.
  • After doing this work and getting reconnected to her joy and the ability to play and express self and be vulnerable and connected to heart, Brandilyn started wanting to give back to others. She started teaching workshops in schools and after school programs, and prisons and colleges, coaching people one-on-one, leading retreats, writing and doing everything she could to get the transformational work out in the world.
  • Brandilyn got stuck in the mindset of trying to be the best model, and achieve extreme thin-ness, as a way to succeed and then make a difference. She was depriving herself of food because that was the only thing she could control in that situation.
  • Eating disorders happen to all genders, not just women, however it’s most concentrated in young women. She thinks this is because we’re told that’s the pathway to success and fulfillment.
  • The first step to healing for Brandilyn was in realizing that the questions haunting her—am I good enough? Am I doing enough? What do people think of me?—are unanswerable. It’s an optical illusion: you just see whatever your perspective is, you don’t see what’s actually there.
  • Then, the question was ‘Now what?’ and the answer for her was to be the most loving person possible, to connect and make a difference. Service has been the savior. Putting attention on other people has been the thing that’s really transformed her life.
  • Rob says service to him is a selfish act. It’s a way to get out of his own way and stop thinking about that repeating loop.
  • Brandilyn made gaining weight about other people and being able to serve more. She recontextualized it. Putting weight on would help her think more clearly, be healthier, be more present and more available to help others.
  • When you’re stuck in deprivation you’re a prisoner of your own mind and you can’t get out. You’re constantly in survival mode. Brandilyn believes we should nourish ourselves so that we’re able to be present and not have to focus on the body sensations over here.
  • Food is a metaphor, like receiving, it’s linked with intimacy and connection. Anybody who has blocks around food, probably has blocks around receiving and being able to nourish themselves with love as well.

Brandilyn and Rob discuss the ways she works with people:

  • Brandilyn works in prisons, companies and schools, teaching one-off workshops on a topic that the school has requested, e.g. forgiveness, empathy, connection, communication, body image, self-love.
  • The retreat is called The Shift and stands for sisterhood, healing, inspiration, freedom, transformation. They’re where a group of women gets together in a home for a weekend and go really deep, do a lot of inner work, individual coaching, kundalini breath work, yoga, dancing, singing, and connecting with nature.
  • They retreats are a communal, cooperative co-creation of a weekend where women really get to overcome the barriers that they have to being able to connect to themselves and each other and connect to a greater purpose. They’re like a reboot, for women who feel empty, disconnected, out of alignment.
  • Brandilyn also taught for 6 months in the largest maximum security prison in South Africa to a group of 25 male inmates. It was life changing for her, and she had to overcome a lot of her own prejudices and biases. She feels like the inmates taught her more than she taught them.

Rob and Brandilyn coach a listener about intimacy and authenticity in her romantic relationship.

  • The listener feels dissatisfied with the result she have in this relationship in some way and doesn’t feel that this person has fully opened to her. It’s very early, opening up is a process of trusting each other and trusting self and getting to know each other.
  • He’s doing a lot of hiding and she’s trying to figure out how to have a heartfelt conversation to let him know it’s safe to let her in a bit more.
  • They’re not in the same place in terms of evolution and self-work, and she currently wants but doesn’t have more honest, open communication and connection.
  • Brandilyn says, “The only place can have power in being able to produce this result is by looking at the way you’ve been being. That’s your only access point.”
  • There’s some withholding on her part where she’s withholding communication from him out of fear that he’s not going to get it, or he’s not evolved enough. Brandilyn explains that when you withhold communication because you think somebody else isn’t evolved enough, then you’re creating them to be that and you’re relating to them as if they are weak or small.
  • Rob says guys love to produce. They love to build stuff, they love to do support stuff. The best way to empower a man is to do it with him. Enroll him in the vision of what you’re seeing.
  • He suggests saying something like, “Wow, I know probably in the past women have cut your balls off for being who you are or disapproved of who you are, my desire is to create a space where we can be as authentic as possible. I want to know who you are 100%. I want to show you who I am 100%. I know it’s not going to be instantaneous, but how do we co-create the world where we can be unhidden together?”
  • First acknowledging what you’ve been withholding because then he’ll feel free to be able to acknowledge what he’s been withholding.
  • It’s scary for guys and it’s getting scarier. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were definitive roles of men and women, but that’s really changing in this century. Rob suspects that saying, ‘you’re safe to be who you are’ will be revolutionary for this guy.
  • For the listener, what comes to mind is giving herself that same safe space. If she feels like that hasn’t been given to her, she can give that to herself. Maybe acknowledge that she’s felt like she’s had to hide a little bit of her awakening or consciousness. He’s just a mirror for her own belief about herself.
  • Men like when a woman knows what her desires are. Walking in with some concepts of a perfect date, Rob believes, would turn this guy on. Give yourself permission to have those desires come out.
  • In society, women’s desires are taught to be squashed and persecuted on some level. Look inside of yourself, figure out what you want, and then enroll him into having your desires be right and seen.
  • Guys like team sports. Invite him on your team to have more love and intimacy and connection. For example, say, “I know in the past that circumstances have arisen to have you not feel safe, and women have disapproved of who you are. I want to co-create a space, a container, so both of us can show up authentically in who we are. Do you want to co-create that with me?”

Where to find Brandilyn

The best place to find her is at www.BrandilynTebo.com or Instagram @brandilyn_tebo