Join Sheryl Paul, a counselor informed by the Jungian depth psychological tradition, and her co-host Victoria Russell, as they dive into the realms of our inner worlds and explore actions we can take to grow more self-trust and self-love. These bi-weekly podcast episodes will provide guidance for diminishing fear and shame, embracing sensitivity and creativity, and approaching life with curiosity and compassion.
If you would like to support the podcast and connect more deeply with Sheryl, Victoria, and the Gathering Gold community, please consider joining our Patreon.
Many of us feed our shame with the very food that makes it grow: criticism and cruelty that inspires deeper disconnection and despair. We think that we can control and punish ourselves into perfection, that we can banish our exiled parts into the shadowlands and transcend hurt and vulnerability.
And yet, if we take the risk to feed our shame with love, acceptance, and compassion, we will see what’s underneath: a young, soft part of ourselves who is here to help us heal.
How do we find that love and compassion and heal our shame?
This is what we explore in today’s episode.
Everyone feels shame at one time or another.
For some of us, shame is an occasional or even rare experience. It’s an awful feeling, but manageable.
For others, shame is a state that we are particularly prone to; our shame gets activated quickly and intensely. We might even walk around in a haze of free-floating shame, inhaling it with the air we breathe.
In today’s episode, Sheryl and Victoria explore shame and some of its shifting forms: shame as a creature of the dark that hides out in our innermost places, that flees when we attempt to bring it into the light. Shame as a voice we hear deep inside, convincing us that we don’t deserve love and belonging. Shame as a cloak, shielding us from the vulnerability of exposure and visibility.
Join us in this episode to tug at the cloak and take a peek at what’s underneath.
- Break Free from Anxiety 9-month course
- “The Good Girl and the Inner Teenager” episode
- Sheryl’s most recent blog post: “Healing Shame is One of the Keys to Healing Anxiety”
- Sheryl’s “You Are Loved” MP3
- Shame Spiral podcast
- Harriet Lerner
- Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict, by Tsultrim Allione
- Andrea Gibson on double suffering
- Jen Campbell talking about queer coding and disability coding in Disney
- Sheryl’s Sacred Sexuality course
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Today’s episode is from the Gathering Gold Patreon Bonus Episode vault! Sheryl and Victoria address a question from Olivia, who is considering marriage with her partner. Olivia’s family expects a big wedding, but she dreads being the center of attention. Also…she has some fears about making this forever commitment.
Though Olivia’s question is about marriage, the themes in this episode will resonate with anyone currently facing a big transition, like Sheryl and Victoria: right now, Sheryl is preparing to bring her eldest son to college for the first time, and Victoria is wrapping up her last few days at the job she has held for the past nine years.
Stay tuned for reflections to come on these big milestones.
Everything we do requires some effort. We wake up in the morning, and from that point forward, we exert effort, starting with getting out of bed and brushing our teeth.
In our society, it is easy to think of effort as synonymous with drudgery, exhaustion, and an attitude of “never enough.” Because of this, we also have a complicated relationship with ease: we struggle to rest, and to trust ease. We often stumble from overexertion into numbing out.
Humans seem to be happiest when we find a flow between effort and ease, a satisfactory relationship with trying and allowing, practicing and surrendering. How do we come to cultivate that symbiotic relationship in our lives? How do we find that flow?
This is what we explore in today’s episode.
In today’s solo episode, Victoria responds to Patreon Community questions about resistance to growing up and learning to connect to our wants, needs, and values.
Sharing anecdotes from her life, she reflects on core fears and beliefs inside the aversion to responsibility and adulthood, and discusses gentle approaches to examining the invitations inside our existential anxieties.
She also shares approaches to developing a stronger relationship with ourselves, even when we feel very disconnected, and to making decisions while holding space for ambivalence.
You may be familiar with the inner child and the inner adult, but when was the last time you thought about your inner teenager?
In today’s episode, we’re exploring what qualities this often-forgotten inner part brings to the table. And, we’re exploring why those of us who grew up trying to embody the “good girl” might have struggled to fully tap into the potential of our inner teenager. The characters are seemingly at odds: as Sheryl explains, if the good girl is all about saying yes, the inner teenager is all about saying no.
But with our loving adult at the helm, ready to guide both the child and the teenager to safety and freedom, what might they have to learn from each other? And what might they have to teach us now?
All this, and more, in today’s conversation.
Studies suggest that about 85% of what we worry about never happens.
And yet, for many of us, worrying is a way of life. It is our go-to response when we face uncertainty or perceive a threat to something or someone we care about deeply.
In today’s episode, Sheryl shares personal reflections on her relationship to worry as her eldest son Everest embarks on the hardest challenge he has ever faced. She has a thousand reasons to worry, but an even more important reason to break the habit, and tap into another way of expressing her unshakeable love for her son, and her abiding trust in this life.
In this conversation, we spend time in the realm of spirit and sky, feeling into the mystery of trust and surrender. And, we spend time planted into the earth, focusing on the things we can control, where we place our attention, and choices we make about which thoughts and actions to water and grow.
There are all sorts of blocks that get in the way of us connecting to our creativity, our life force.
There’s the inner critic, and then there are the outer critics. There’s perfectionism, and the fear that “it’s all been done before.” There’s the despair of “not enough,” and the ache of lacking inspiration.
Even after we’ve bushwhacked our way through the thickets of inner resistance to actually create something, we often prick ourselves on thorny choices around sharing what we’ve made. How do we know when it’s time to share, or if it ever needs to be shared? Is wanting to share our creativity inherently narcissistic? What if we get attention for it? What if no one pays attention? What’s the point of all of it, anyway?
All of this, and more, in today’s episode.
We are honored to bring you a conversation with Stuart Ralph, host of The OCD Stories podcast.
Stuart founded The OCD Stories podcast in 2015 to improve the lives of those with OCD. He holds a masters degree in psychological therapies from the University of London, Queen Mary and a masters degree in integrative child and adolescent counselling and psychotherapy from the University of Roehampton. He works in private practice as a child and adolescent counsellor and psychotherapist in the UK.
In this episode, Stuart graciously shares his personal experiences with OCD, from his first childhood intrusive thoughts, to dealing with an OCD relapse as a new therapist.
We discuss why Stu chooses to practice as an integrative therapist, and how he uses modalities including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion-Focused Therapy, and psychodynamic approaches alongside Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
Can we find a sense of aliveness rooted in our everyday lives?
Does the magic of life simply disappear as we age?
How do we take responsibility for our own aliveness?
In today’s episode, we are exploring all these questions and more to get at the heart of what it means to live fully and deeply, swimming in a sea of fear, courage, and connection.
When we stop taking risks, aliveness shrinks.
When we ignore hard feelings, aliveness suffers.
When we hide from the world, aliveness is elusive.
We invite you to get curious and consider: what areas of life are calling for you attention?
- Richard Rohr quote: “Mystery is not something you can’t know. Mystery is endless knowability. Living inside such endless knowability is finally a comfort, a foundation of ultimate support, security, unrestricted love, and eternal care. For all of us, it takes much of our life to get there; it is what we surely mean by ‘growing’ in faith. I can’t prove this to you. Each soul must learn on its own, hopefully aided by observing other faith-filled people.”
- Gilmore Girls episode “The Third Lorelai”
- Ladybird: “Don’t you think maybe they are the same thing — love and attention?”
- The Four Givens of Existential Therapy
- A Streetcar Named Desire: “The opposite is desire.”
There are times in our lives, especially around transitions, when we might wonder: what if? What if I had done things differently back then, or if circumstances been different? Would I suffer less now? And what about the future — what about all the paths that I can’t take? How do I honor them, let them go, and keep moving forward?
In today’s episode, Sheryl explains why and how to grieve unlived lives: the ones behind us and ahead of us, the ones that we turned away from by choice, and the ones that were barred to us by circumstance.
We explore how grieving the roads not taken, and holding awareness of death, can help us to live more fully and courageously now, with hearts open to everything that is present for us in the only lives we truly have.
We begin this episode about attraction by uncovering some core beliefs that get embedded into us at an early age — as early as childhood, when we watch classic cartoons featuring smitten characters with bulging heart eyes, salivating mouths, and hearts thumping out of their chests.
As we grow up, we see these depictions of attraction replicated in all types of media, glamorizing first sight, instantaneous chemical reactions between people, woven into a culture that often focuses on the superficial, on what we see at skin level.
Today, we’re talking about what it means to experience true, ongoing attraction in a committed relationship. Sheryl dispels common myths and misunderstandings, expanding and deepening our understanding of attraction as connection that can be cultivated through loving actions.
Sheryl describes one of her favorite loving actions, which is simple but not easy, fundamental and yet not always obvious, something that can change the way we move through relationships and through the world.
You know how to take care of yourself, right? It’s simple and easy. Just eat healthy, exercise, get the perfect amount and type of sleep every night, find meaningful work that pays you fairly and doesn’t overwork you, spend lots of time cultivating strong relationships, but don’t forget your relationship with yourself, go to therapy, be an active part of your community, grow a garden and make yourself a fresh green smoothie every morning–
Okay. So maybe not so simple.
The term “self-care” has gotten more and more infused into our everyday lexicon, and yet, it also seems to be more confusing than ever. With so much information at our fingertips, many of us feel guilty that we aren’t taking better care of ourselves. Why is it so hard?
That’s what we’re unpacking in today’s episode.
Today, we are finally addressing a topic that has been the pathway to Sheryl’s work for so many of her clients and course members: relationship anxiety.
In this episode, we’re talking to Katie, asking her to share her story in the same style as the popular course member interviews included at the end of the Break Free from Relationship Anxiety course.
Katie describes her relationship patterns before finding Sheryl’s course: how she would always run as soon as she thought someone might get hurt, how she thought that a relationship needed to start with infatuation to last, and how she held tight to a rigid independence to protect herself.
Katie explains why she was determined not to run when she met her husband, even when RA brought symptoms like persistent insomnia. She talks about the mindset shifts she learned in Sheryl’s course that helped her to question everything she thought she knew about attraction and independence, and let go of her long list of criteria for a partner. And finally, she shares her wedding vows, and brings Sheryl and Victoria to tears.
Sheryl and Victoria recently shared their own relationship anxiety stories in a special Patreon bonus episode. You can learn about joining the Patreon and listen to that episode at patreon.com/gatheringgold
And if you are interested in Sheryl’s Break Free from Relationship Anxiety course, you can register here before this year’s only live round starts on February 26th.
You probably know the feeling: it’s the pit of dread in your stomach every time you see a particular date on the calendar, and you know exactly what’s happening on that day. The plane trip. The presentation at work. The dentist appointment.
If your dread is strong enough, you might find it date consumes your thoughts. You’re distracted even during enjoyable activities, worrying about the outcome of this looming event. What if the plane crashes? What if you get fired? What if the dentist drills the wrong tooth?!
This line of thinking has a name: anticipatory anxiety. In today’s episode, Sheryl and Victoria share stories of their own recent anticipatory anxiety, how it affects them, and why it’s important to bring curiosity to this realm. And they share strategies and surprising sources of solace that bring a little more excitement, gratitude, and peace to their days, as they continue to hold space for fear of uncertainty.
If you enjoy the episode, check out a special “After the Show” video on Sheryl’s YouTube channel, in which Sheryl and Victoria tie up some loose ends, explain the abrupt podcast ending, and dig deeper into a spiritual response to anticipatory anxiety.
We were thrilled to speak with Michelle Kenney, a parenting coach who has helped thousands of parents stop using punishments and yelling and learn kind limits.
In today’s episode, Michelle shares her journey to connective parenting, and how she learned to be empathetic and playful with her own strong willed child.
In this conversation, we talk about perfectionism in parenting and navigating differences in parenting styles with family, other caregivers, and even one’s partner. Michelle describes how techniques like “special time” and listening partners can make all the difference for those who want to reconstruct themselves as parents.
You can follow Michelle on Instagram @peaceandparenting and check out her podcast, Peace and Parenting, including her recent episode with Sheryl: Anxiety Around Parenthood.
Our bodies know when we want to be touched, and when we don’t want to be touched. Desire and agency simmer in our throats, ready to emerge as “Yes” or “No,” to protect our sovereignty over our own bodies and sexuality. But centuries of patriarchy and violations in our personal histories may have disconnected us from the channel of our desire, and the agency of our voice.
In today’s episode, we explore how “yes” and “no” in the sexual realm are intimately and irrevocably intertwined. We linger on re-learning our right to say “no,” for, as Sheryl reminds us, there is no true yes without no. One depends upon the other. We explore some of the common themes that emerge when people feel disconnected from their desire—history of assault or abuse, feeling touched out, grappling with sexual pain, buckling under pressure and expectations. And we invite the warm light of compassion and gentle love to wash over us and bring us back to safety.
Within this vast, deep, and sometimes painful conversation, there is also room for rediscovering eros, for finding solace, power, joy and laughter within sisterhoods and within ourselves.
We can gently uncover pathways leading us back to the place that most naturally belongs to us—with time, patience, gentleness, and a bit of ferocity.
References and Resources:
- Sheryl’s Sacred Sexuality course information and registration
- Sheryl’s blog post, “This is One of the Best Ways to Get Sexually Aroused”
- Perennials Podcast Episode 61: Embracing Weakness with Shannon K. Evans
- Sheryl’s upcoming Sacred Sexuality free webinar
- Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
- The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler
- Story about Amy Poehler in Bossypants by Tina Fey
- Lizzo, body positivity and self-love