Polymath of the Soul

Date Published: August 3, 2021

Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD, is impossible to pigeonhole. She's a psychologist, professor, minister, poet, dancer, podcaster, and more. In every role, she brings a message of relief and empowerment to marginalized people. A trauma survivor and specialist, "Dr. Thema," as she's known, helped pioneer the study of racial trauma. In this conversation, she shares pearls of wisdom from her deep knowledge of science, faith, and art.

Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Culture and Trauma Research Lab at Pepperdine University.

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Thema: 00:00
When I meet with someone or a family, I'm not just listening for the pathology, the presenting problem, I'm listening for the strength of, like, what has allowed you to make it this far? And I saw this lovely interview with a Jewish woman who said, "The ways that we have survived have not always been beautiful, but we survived." And I think that's the truth for many of us. It didn't always look good, it wasn't always neat, but this is how I made it. So being able to integrate or acknowledge those strategies is really important.

Host: 00:44
From the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, this is Road to Resilience, a podcast about bouncing, walking, crawling, and leaning back from adversity. I'm Jon Earle. That phrase comes from our guest today, Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis. She's a polymath of the soul. Dr. Thema, as she's known, is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Culture and Trauma Research Lab at Pepperdine University. Her many books and academic articles include Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide. Dr. Thema is also an ordained minister, as well as an accomplished slam poet and dancer. And lastly, she is the Host of The Homecoming Podcast with Dr. Thema. Like Dr. Thema's work, our conversation was wide-ranging, touching on psychology, faith and art. About halfway through my collaborator, Nicci Cheatham, takes over, and the topic turns to racial trauma and healing, a space Dr. Thema has worked in for many, many years. And so this is a special episode, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Host: 01:45
Dr. Thema, welcome to Road to Resilience.

Dr. Thema: 01:46
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here and glad for the conversation.

Host: 01:51
So I've been working on this podcast for a couple years now, and I still struggle to define resilience. Very early on I moved away from the, I think, very common definition of resilience as "overcoming adversity." It's too heroic, it's too rosy, it doesn't capture all the ways that people can be resilient. You've described resilience so beautifully. You've said it's bouncing, walking, crawling, and leaning back from adversity. I love that variety of ways of being resilient. And so my question is why is it important to acknowledge all the faces of resilience?

Dr. Thema: 02:27
Yes, I love you for starting with that, because it is really critical for us to be compassionate with ourselves and compassionate with others, to know that we don't all come with the same makeup, the same personality, the same stress load, the same supports, and so the ways we respond to stress and trauma are going to be different. If we only recognize resilience when it's shiny, we will miss it. So even during the pandemic, some people took up a hobby, learned a language, learned a new instrument, and for some people it was resilient to be able to get out of bed each day, to be able to bathe. To be able to give food to their children was an act of their resistance because everything in them was telling them to stay under the covers. So it will cause us to overlook our own growth and progress if we miss that, or if we have one cookie-cutter picture of what it looks like. Even in this season of the Olympics, we have seen the announcement from Simone Biles that she's gonna step away from the games for her mental health. We had Naomi Osaka stepping away to take care of her mental health. Those are acts of resilience. And many times we would think that it's the people who stay and the people who win a gold medal. But I think all of us can think about times when walking away from a job was an act of resilience, when walking away from an unhealthy relationship was an act of resilience. So I may not have a trophy to show for it, but I did a radical act for my wellness, for care, sometimes in service of other people, and we want to be able to see that.

Host: 04:32
This word "radical." You use it to describe joy, to describe stillness, to describe making space for yourself, taking care of yourself. What's radical about these things?

Dr. Thema: 04:44
We live in a culture and a society where those things are not authentically promoted. So they are given lip service, but the environment is not created for that to happen. So, for example, I teach in a graduate school, in a doctoral program—wonderful program, I love it—however, we talk to our students every semester about self-care and how important it is to take care of yourself, but then we hand them these class schedules and internship schedules that really are not conducive for self-care. And so for them to be intentional when there are all these pressures that tell you to erase yourself, to deny yourself, to ignore even your own bodily signals. Your body is saying you're tired, your body is saying you're hungry, your body is saying, I need to get outside. And this structure, this system that we live in really promotes [the idea] that our worth is in our busy-ness. There's nothing radical about being busy. That's ordinary, right? That is the expectation. We teach kids all the way from primary school—line up, aim for the A's, do what you're told, be quiet. There's nothing radical about being a quiet, busy bee. What is it that the family, the world, sometimes faith communities teach us [about what] makes us valuable? And so often to daydream is not what is promoted. We don't say to young people, what are you dreaming about? Or, what is bringing you joy? Even as adults, we run into each other and we'll say, what's your latest project? What are you up to? Because we are naming what we value. And so what did you do to make yourself laugh or smile or exhale this weekend? That's radical.

Host: 06:50
Well, why don't I ask you that question?

Dr. Thema: 06:54
I would love to answer! One of the beautiful gifts of parenting is that kids will want to play, so then it makes me play. Going swimming with my son. I took my son and daughter to play soccer in an open field with our masks on. We were out there playing soccer, and my son was very frustrated with me because I'm not a great soccer player, so I was not giving him the competition he wanted. But we had a good time. I also try to get in my steps, so I go walking, and I have not seen my parents, who live on the east coast, since the pandemic and so I was able to talk with them yesterday. We do a family call, actually a prayer call, once a week and that really nourishes me and helps me to feel like it hasn't been as long as it's been. So those are some of the things I enjoy.

Host: 07:52
A question for you about the podcast. It's called The Homecoming Podcast with Dr. Thema. You do these brilliant, typically about 30-minute monologues on things like fear of commitment, being open to feedback. But my question is about homecoming. Why this word, "homecoming," this theme that you return to again and again?

Dr. Thema: 08:09
It's because so many times we think we need to become something other than who we are—that's peer pressure and social comparison. It's like if only I was like this sibling who's the favorite or this cousin who's the favorite, or if only I were like this model on the cover of a magazine or on this billboard, or one of these popular Instagram models who looks very attractive. And if my aim is always out there, then I will always be second best, because I am not the thing I am pursuing. And so it is liberating to discover that we are enough, that the magic, the beauty, is to stop chasing, to stop performing, that the authentic you is the truth. That's the good stuff. It's remarkable and it's also contagious because when you're in the presence of someone who's at home with themselves, it often gives you permission to take off your mask and to be more real. I mean, that's what intimacy is, right? It's sharing this openness versus the performance that many of us engage in. I give by way of example when we say, "How are you?" And the socially appropriate answer is, "I'm fine and you?" And the other person says, "Fine." Or in faith communities, "How are you?" "I'm blessed, I'm better than blessed." In my community we would say, "I'm blessed and highly favored." Really juicy. But there is something so freeing about being able to give a real answer, to know that people want to actually know the truth, not from a nosy surveillance place, but human to human, making that connection. And so homecoming is the reminder that you are already enough, that you are already "good," and that when you lay down the baggage and the performance, that's where the gift is.

Host: 10:29
All the tools and techniques that you talk about, do they all lead to that one place?

Dr. Thema: 10:35
Yes, it's the reason why we need an array of tools. One is we have different personalities, so some people like different things. Some people, if I mentioned poetry therapy, they would be like, "Oh, my God. I would love that." And then other people are like, "I want to meditate or pray." Interestingly, I'll start a lot of my therapy sessions with a brief meditation and I have some clients who are like, "Oh, my gosh, if I could just get that I'm ready for the session to be done." Like, that's all they needed was this few minutes of guided meditation. And then I have other people who will say, "Can I say a prayer instead?" Or other people will say, "I just want to start. I don't want to do that breathing thing." All of which is fine, there's not one path. It's discovering the path that brings you home.

Host: 11:23
You are the daughter of two ministers. You are yourself an ordained minister. When I've heard you talk about faith, you often talk about the things that many spiritual traditions have in common—meditation, which we just talked about, is one of them. Is there something that you feel that your Christian tradition brings that's special to the conversation about resilience?

Dr. Thema: 11:48
Yeah. So actually I have a model that I either created or received, however you want to think about it, the Christo Psychology Model of Trauma Recovery—Christo in Christ-centered—and looking at the crucifixion as a trauma. And I think we can all agree, it was traumatic. I think sometimes with this Easter presentation, people are telling this horrific story, but like the smiles and joy, but this is a horror, right? So then it's interesting, because there's nothing new under the sun, when you look at the steps of what Jesus did after the crucifixion, a lot of what he did models or reflects what is recommended in terms of trauma recovery. So it is a great example of how do I come out of horrific situations? So the first one is what I call "tomb time." And I like to say, because of who God is, at any moment God could have gotten Jesus up. But I know in the church tradition, especially in the Black church tradition, we love a good dramatic story. So often the way pastors will preach it is that they'll say, "For three days, Jesus was fighting the devil and fighting death and it was a close call and then he finally broke loose." But because of who God is, I just believe that at any moment God could have brought Jesus out of there. But it is a message to us to sometimes give ourselves permission to be still, especially in the aftermath of tragedy. That often we feel like as an act of our faith that we have to pretend nothing happened, that we have to jump right up. So taking tomb time is one. The second one is that he appeared to the women, and this issue of social support, of not everyone can handle your trauma and your blood, so you want to choose those who have shown you they'll show up for you when you're hurting, when it's not pretty, when you're not being miraculous, when you're not being glossy and shiny. That's a certain kind of person. So choosing who can be with you when you are in the aftermath or in the midst of a trauma. So anyway, it goes on. There are seven steps.

Host: 14:25
I think this also ties into this idea that you've been exploring for a long time of cultural competence in trauma healing. The idea that we can tap into, and we need to tap into, our traditions and our context in order to heal. We can't simply rely on the playbook provided by people from different communities. Can you unpack that idea a little bit for us?

Dr. Thema: 14:49
The field of psychology, of course, I believe it's wonderful because I'm in it, and at the same time, a lot of times we need more professional humility. There can be an arrogance in assuming that there is one way to heal and if you haven't done this one way that we have formulated or that we have packaged, then you haven't worked on yourself. And I hear people even in the public saying that if you have not done individual psychotherapy, which for many people is inaccessible, that somehow you are less thoughtful. And I value therapy, I promote it, I encourage people who can access it to access it, and also I'm very much aware that there are multiple strategies and pathways, and some of those when it is culturally appropriate and respectfully we can even integrate into therapy. And one of the things that psychologists talk about, especially community psychologists or liberation psychologists, is the importance of a strength-based approach. Which means when I meet with someone or a family, I'm not just listening for the pathology, the presenting problem. I'm listening for the strength. What has allowed you to make it this far? And I saw this lovely interview with a Jewish woman who said, "The ways that we have survived have not always been beautiful, but we survived." And I think that's the truth for many of us. Like, it didn't always look good, wasn't always neat, but this is how I made it. So being able to integrate or acknowledge those strategies is really important.

Host: 16:40
What's the tool that you reach for when life throws you a curveball?

Dr. Thema: 16:44
There's a couple. One is individual therapy. It's so helpful because I am among the people that—and some of you who are listening will be that one as well—where you are the "strong" one. Or you are the one that usually pours, or you are the one who is in leadership. And we've seen in the news many pastors who have struggled with depression, with suicide, and feeling like there was no one they could turn to. So I never want to put myself in a position where I believe I have to figure it out all by myself, or I believe I have to have all the answers because sometimes we're too close. If we're honest, it's always easier, usually easier, to see something if you're looking at it outside of you. If someone else is explaining to you an issue and you're not caught up in it, you just have more perspective. So therapy has been a wonderful resource for me. Another one for me that I've talked about a lot in the podcast is dancing. Dancing and poetry. The arts are a way of speaking the unspeakable. There are some things we don't have the full language for, or some things you don't want to fully say, and so we can code it in our art in a way. Trauma survivors often have been denied their own power, but when I am creating art, I have power over my narrative. And so whether in dance, or poetry, or visual art, or music, I can say as much or as little as I want to, and that can also be freeing. I will also say, as a trauma survivor, dance is one of the main reasons why I have always pretty much had a good relationship with my body. Because my connection to my body is not just as a site of violation. It's a site of strength, a site of expression, and a site of freedom. And so that's just one of the many experiences that I have had in this body. And it can be a wonderful way of reclaiming yourself. So art therapy, and then of course I will say my faith. How do you have hope or faith to hold on when you can't see the end? Like, how is this going to turn out? And for a lot of trauma survivors, there is this panic when things feel out of control, because in the past, when things were out of your control, it went terribly wrong. So you don't want that to happen again. So you can be in this anxiety or this panic. But that foundation of faith lets me know, as it's been said, even when I'm not sure what the next steps are, I just believe in the end it's going to work out for my good. I just believe it. So it's not convincing me that every moment or every day is going to be sunshine, but I believe it's not permanent when I'm in a pit. It's not permanent.

Host: 20:02
I wonder whether you've been drawing on that this year?

Dr. Thema: 20:08
Oh, my goodness. And the timeline keeps changing, I remember when the pandemic started and one of my clients kept setting herself up for disappointment, because she would say, like, "In two months, I think we'll be out." And it was by the third time she did that, it was just too much. So I said, "Let's release trying to predict it." Because sometimes setting those goals can help us if that's really gonna happen. But when that's not happening, sometimes we have to—and this is something many of us do, I think, all of us do. We created these false timelines for how our lives are supposed to be. I laugh when I think about as a kid I would say, "When I'm 21, I'll graduate from college. When I'm 22, I'll get married. When I'm 23, I'll have twins." I had my twins' names! We have it all laid out. But that's not what happened. So it is an exercise in releasing our grip on the illusion, because we never really were controlling it all anyway.

Host: 21:14
I'm thinking of the friends who scheduled weddings and then rescheduled weddings and then rescheduled weddings.

Dr. Thema: 21:20
It's hard when we can't predict and control, and that's been the message that many of us have gotten—be organized, set deadlines, work hard, and you can control your life. And this has been a lesson that some things are out of your control. It doesn't mean anything about you being a good person, doesn't mean God is mad at you, doesn't mean you failed. It means it's different from what you pictured.

Host: 21:48
The past year has also been a time when lots of people have been thinking about racial trauma and healing, which is an area of expertise for you. I'm wondering whether the past year has sharpened or changed your thinking, and how your experience in this area has shaped how you've seen the events of the past year.

Dr. Thema: 22:09
Many of us have been doing this work for a long time, and it was startling when so many people were able to see the alarm we have been ringing for years. In 2006, I wrote a therapeutic framework for addressing racial trauma. But when everything happened this past year, suddenly psychologists were saying, "I think we need some kind of framework! I think somebody needs to look at this." And we're looking like, well, the framework is there! We've already done this. So it was a little disorienting. It's like for people who are passionate about the environment, and then suddenly people are on board and it's like, "Oh, like, so y'all are ready? Like, I've been ready, but you're ready now?" So it has been a really busy year and a half where so many people, organizations, because at first a lot of organizations and corporations and institutions of higher learning were posting statements, and rightfully so many of their students or employees said, we don't just want a statement, what are you going to do? And so it's been a very busy time for those of us who do consulting work in this area, to come in and facilitate a process, a learning process, a community-building process, a process around equity. And even though at first we were, like, "Oh, this is like a divine time for us all to be still in our homes." But then when people figured out these virtual meetings, it was non-stop meetings. And I'll say for me personally, this push and pull between, to be frank, to be explicit, educating white people or taking care of members of my own community. People in the black community, Asian community, Latino community, American Indian community, have been really traumatized and there is one of me. And, of course, one of the things I had to do during this year was start referring people because there are just more people who know my name, but I know other people who do great work who just aren't as known. But trying to decide in the limited time I have, like this week or this month, am I going to go do this series for this all-white organization about what is racism? Or am I going to do this series in my community with people who are grieving and angry and feeling loss of hope? So you had those pools, and then I'm a faculty member at an institution, so then of course, my own home institution was wanting a lot, my faith community was wanting a lot, and then I started with this whole thing of radical self-care, right? I am not only an instrument, or a vehicle, or a tool—I am a person who is feeling a lot of these feelings. And it became a choreography, a dance, between pouring and finding ways to rest and receive, learning when to set boundaries, and then when to re-engage, and that continues to be a challenge.

Nicci Cheatham: 25:48
What you're talking about is really resonating and hitting home in a sense, because I feel like this has been such a major milestone of a year in so many ways, but there's also in a sense this sort of, I don't know what the proper term is, but like Black fatigue of always having to be that person to represent these messages and to teach what's appropriate and what's the conversation that needs to be had. So much is put on Black employees, it's a little bittersweet. It's like, we've been waiting for this moment, and I'm glad we're having these conversations, but then so much is put on specific individuals, and especially what you're talking about I can only imagine how much you've been tapped for these types of conversations. Sorry that was not really a question, it was just on my mind.

Dr. Thema: 26:44
Yes, it's so true, and it's called "racial battle fatigue." We actually have a name for it, of being in an environment where racism is so tangible. It is exhausting. And another piece people don't often recognize is the emotional labor. It's not just, what do I know? As every good teacher knows, it's trying to figure out a way to articulate it in a way people can hear it and receive it and know that many times the defenses against it—you feel the urgency of if you don't get this, lives are at stake. If you don't understand why this is important, there are consequences. And there is the urgency, the intensity, the emotional labor, and I will say from having done it for many years, what makes it a little easier for me is usually I can predict the pushback. Like when I'm talking I already know what people are going to say, like, "But what about the blah, blah, blah." So then I'm like, okay, here we go, that's fine. But, yes, as you were saying, it can be draining, so figuring out ways to refill your well. And for some of us the thing we used to do to refill was community. And then, okay, now church is online, poetry is online, which feels a little different.

Nicci Cheatham: 28:17
It has me thinking a little bit like there's been so much just from an organizational perspective when it comes to racial trauma. But even on the day-to-day things, the moments where someone just doesn't even realize or recognize that what they said is racist. They have no idea that what they said is absolutely racist and it just kind of hits you in your face. And my question for you, because this is something that I've, like most people, have dealt with and am still dealing with, how do you bounce back from moments like that?

Dr. Thema: 29:08

Nicci Cheatham: 29:13
Yes. How do you handle moving forward through that and not allow something like that to just totally blow up your day, your mood, your moment?

Dr. Thema: 29:28
Yes, thank you for that. Part of it is being a part of an affirming community and that's why it is helpful, whether it is members of your own community or allies, it's important to have people in that environment who get it and see it. I have worked in some places and it helped to just be able to catch eyes with somebody, like, did you just see that? This is some foolishness! When everybody around you is acting like nothing happened or it's not a big deal. It's gaslighting. But just to have someone, whether they are from the same community, same race or not, who validates it, who affirms that that was out of order. If they affirm it to you in private after, that can be helpful. What can be even more helpful is when people are willing to say something, and that's what it really means to be an ally. It's being willing to stand in the gap, being willing to take the discomfort for me, not to feel like if I don't say something no one will say something. And I'm one of those people that can have a delayed response, like hours later, where you're like, "Now what I should have said—." It used to just always kill me growing up, because I have a brother who's fast. If somebody says something he's like bam, bam. And, you know, I'm just more kind of deliberative. But one of the gifts is if it's your workplace or friendship circle, even if I didn't address it in the moment I can come back to it. So the next time we meet and I want to say, "I want to circle back to something that happened the last time we were here." Not to feel like because I missed the moment it's too late. So a part of that is empowering, having allies, having a support system, being able to address it if not in the moment, in a follow-up experience. And then reminding yourself who you are, because it's even more hurtful when we have what we call internalized racism or internalized oppression. If I feel like less and then you tell me I'm less, then it's even more devastating. If I feel like I am unattractive and then—. You know, they had an article in Psychology Today actually, this was a number of years ago, of black women being the most undesirable women. This established magazine! So if you see those things and you have already been taught that it will sting even more. So trying to really get to a place of affirmation. And here's our word, again, that radical acceptance of even if the world disagrees, I think we are amazing.

Nicci Cheatham: 32:22
I think that's really great advice and I too am like that, where in the moment I'm more than likely not going to think of what to say right then and there but I so wish on so many different occasions I could have gone back and really pushed that person. So one example that is popping up in my mind just because it's a little bit more recent—I went to Napa, it was my first time going to Napa. I love to drink wine. I was really excited about this, getting to experience wine in Napa, I was just like, oh, this is great. And I went with my husband and another couple, and we just got to Napa, get out of the car, we check in at the hotel, it's a really nice hotel, and we go to get into the elevator and there's this white middle-aged woman on the elevator and I'm walking around the corner and she sees me, just me because everyone else was further away, and she kind of was like, "No, no, no, no, no," like, "Don't get on the elevator." And my first initial thought was, oh, COVID. And then she was like, "Oh, it's fine." It was really confusing and I was like, okay. Well, then we walked into the elevator—and so it's me, my husband, who's also Black, and then two others who were the couple that we're with, we're all Black. We're sitting there in the elevator, and she's looking at us, and you can kind of tell she's had a drink or two. She's a little, you know. And she just goes, "Oh, how did you get here?" And I looked at her and I said, "What are you talking about? What are you saying?" And you could tell she recognized in that moment, like, oh yeah, that was not a proper thing to say. And then she immediately turns around and says, "Oh, no. Good for you! Good for you for—you guys are staying here? Good for you." And it happened so fast and there's so many things you want to say in the moment because we all recognize immediately what it was. And I believe that the couple we were with even gasped. You're just caught off-guard. And it's so subtle, and I think she thought she was being nice, which is so insane.

Dr. Thema: 34:51
The thing is that your strategy was actually one of the recommended strategies, to ask the person back. Because you didn't have to say a lot. But just by you asking the question, it made her see herself.

Nicci Cheatham: 35:06
Yeah, she saw herself in that moment and she kind of panicked.

Dr. Thema: 35:12
Yeah, so she had to chew on that. Because sometimes if people are absolutely clueless, you ask the question and they still don't get it. But in moments like that, people who have some insight, they will say, uh-oh, they'll try to backpedal or figure it out.

Nicci Cheatham: 35:28
Yeah, like, "Wait, oh, that was bad." And I want people to recognize this part of racial trauma, racial issues, is even in these little moments, we've been dealing with so many big things, but it's also these microaggressions and micro-moments that are still happening on a regular basis.

Dr. Thema: 35:52
It is important for people to know and even though we use the term "microaggressions," they can have a macro impact because it's cumulative. So sometimes people will say, oh, it was just a question in an elevator. But this question is not occurring in isolation and it's not the only event. So it's event after event after event that builds up, and it's important for people to know intention does not equal impact. So when some people say, well, I didn't mean any harm, it doesn't mean that it didn't hurt. And for us to be able to lean into the discomfort instead of avoiding it, because we have this whole thing now where people are like, there's too much cancel culture and just stop calling people out. But we have to understand accountability. And when people give you feedback or information that something is hurtful, offensive, racist, it actually is doing you a favor. They could not tell you, and then you just keep walking around doing these harmful things. So for us to get to that place of humility of even if "I didn't know it was wrong or bad," and "I grew up in a house where people said that all the time," or all of these things, "I went through 12 years of school and never knew of one black inventor," or, "I didn't know that you all had contributed anything to society." So now as an adult, you have to take responsibility for educating yourself. Because the miseducation has promoted racism, it's made you think that the only people who have made this country great are white people and it's just a lie. Unlearning and learning can be really uncomfortable, but the only way to do it is through it.

Host: 37:42
What do you say to organizations to establish a culture where that sort of exchange can happen on a regular basis?

Dr. Thema: 37:49
It really starts with the leadership because, often it is put on the backs of employees of color and often it is put on them for free. Like, this is a whole field, right? Just being born [Black] doesn't make you a facilitator of racial equity conversations. And so often the additional labor is put on people, and even the leadership has not really bought into it. It requires a long-term commitment and investment of not just, "We're gonna say something once or issue this statement," but this ongoing dialogue, and the leadership can model an atmosphere of learning and humility instead of defensiveness. The other piece I would say about that is we want to be careful about who is allowed to have feelings and what feelings are acceptable. One of the things that people have written about is this whole piece of fragility, specifically talking about white fragility, which is when if people of color are sharing their pain, if that moment is taken from them because white people are saying, "I feel uncomfortable," and now white people are crying because I shared my pain. Then all the attention goes to the white person who feels uncomfortable about me sharing my pain. So we can see how we totally missed it. It's like if you have a survivor of another trauma sharing what hurt them, but because they are upset as they're languaging it, we forget about their narrative and go to people's discomfort. So to say people who have been traumatized or stressed out by oppression may have anger, may have resentment, may have disappointment, may have grief, may have sadness about it and that is understandable. So I say as a psychologist it's healthy to be outraged about outrageous things, it's just, what do I do with that? As opposed to pathologizing or problematizing someone who is upset. So what people have said as it relates to the protests is some people were more angry that we're protesting than the deaths we're protesting about. So we want to work on our own emotional capacity to hear and sit with other people's pain without trying to force them to dilute it, to censor it or to take care of us.

Host: 40:39
Thank you so, so much, Dr. Thema:, for your brilliance, for your expertise, for your warmth, and for your time.

Dr. Thema: 40:46
Thank you for having me.

Host: 40:48
Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis is a minister, an artist, and a Professor of Psychology at Pepperdine University. That's all for this episode. As always, if you enjoyed it head over to Apple Podcasts, leave us five stars and a nice review, thank you. For more resilience tips, including transcripts and photos, visit our website mountsinai.org/rtr as in "Road to Resilience." The podcast is a production of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City. It's made by me, Jon Earle, Nicci Cheatham, Emma Stoneham, and our Executive Producer, Lucia Lee. From all of us here, thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.