On this episode of Straight Up With Stassi, Beau’s mother Isa Clark — a psychotherapist — joins Stassi to talk about relationships, the reptilian brain, and more.

“I choose dead bodies every time.”

“Welcome to ‘Straight Up With Stassi.’ I’ve got a good one here for you today, okay?” Stassi begins. “This is a really big deal because a lot of my listeners email me, tweet me, and come up to me and ask me about relationship advice. But I’m not really someone who is an authority on that, let’s be honest. My picker has been off pretty much my whole entire life, until now. But, you are in luck today, and I am in luck, because my boyfriend’s mother, Isa Clark, is here, and she is a psychotherapist who deals a lot with relationships and sex and other things. So she is here to give us some wisdom.”

“Hello, Stassi,” Isa says.

“I feel like most people would either be scared or totally excited to find out that their boyfriend’s mom is a psychotherapist, and I was both of those things,” Stassi says.

“That’s good to hear,” Isa responds.

“Because I was like, ‘What if I do one thing that she analyzes that she’s not going to like?’ but also, ‘She can help me with any problem that I have,’ so it’s both,” Stassi explains.

“I didn’t think about that, but I can understand that reaction,” Isa says. “I thought you were going to ask me ‘Would You Rather’ questions! I didn’t know it was going to be relationship questions.”

“Oh no, I’m going to pepper in some ‘Would You Rather’ questions,” Stassi assures her. “Do you really want me to come at you with the worst one?”

“No…” Isa says.

“I’m going to start off with this one: Would you rather swim through a pool of—”

“—no way, I know this one—” Isa interjects.

“—of dead bodies, or poop?” Stassi finishes the question.

“I remember the first time you and Beau were on a podcast together and you asked him this question, and I laughed so hard, hearing my child saying, ‘Well is it diarrhea, or is it floaters?'”

“Which is a great follow-up question to ask,” Stassi says.

“And I’m not allowed to commit suicide, right?” Isa clarifies.

“No, suicide is off the table,” Stassi says. “It’s always off the table.”

“I would definitely rather swim through poop than dead bodies,” Isa answers.

“Really?” Stassi asks.

“I know, you were saying that you were happy that Beau chose that too,” Isa says. “But, no, I just have an aversion to dead bodies. I’d just keep my mouth closed very tightly, my eyes closed, and I would pretend I was surrounded by a circle of golden light as I swam through the feces.”

“See, only someone who’s good at meditation could have that answer,” Stassi says.

“That’s right,” Isa says. “Meditation, or oblivion.”

“It’s life or death.”

“We all need relationship advice,” Stassi says. “Even those of us who think we’re in perfect relationships… there’s no such thing. I don’t know if you feel okay talking about the reptilian brain right now…”

“Oh absolutely, you know I can’t shut up about it,” Isa says.

“This personally helps me a lot, because, you know, I’ve told you that I have my late-night drunken freak outs on Beau or at my friends and I don’t know where they come from,” Stassi says. “I wake up the next morning and I just feel like shit about myself, and I think, ‘Why did I do that? I have nothing to complain about. What is wrong with me?’ So the way that you described the reptilian brain, it made sense to me, because I feel like that’s what happens to me. So, the floor is yours.”

“So, as I said, I learned this after I’d been working as a psychotherapist for quite a long time,” Isa begins. “When I first learned this, it was from a man named Phil Deluca, and I just thought, ‘Oh my God, why doesn’t everyone know this?’ It explained what was going on with me, as well. I had this pattern of, what my right hand would build, my left hand would destroy. It’s like, ‘What is going on?’ So basically, the reptilian brain is the old brain. The primal part of the brain. It’s sole function is to protect me if my life is being threatened. The reptilian brain ignites, it takes me over, my attention narrows, I’m focusing on the threat coming at me, and it reacts with fight, flight, or flee to save my life. Once the threat has passed, it lets me go. The problem is that when we are emotionally triggered, the reptilian brain ignites. That means it takes me over and I’m in the part of the brain that is reacting to a threat to my life and I’m thinking, ‘I’m trying to solve a problem with a loved one. And this is a big deal.’ So when I understood this, I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I would be in the state of mind of, ‘We need to deal with this now. We need to sit down and address this issue.'”

“It’s life or death,” Stassi says. “That’s what it feels like. When you’re in a fight with your significant other, especially, you feel like if you don’t fix it right this second, the world is going to end. And that’s when the explosive fights happen.”

“Exactly,” Isa agrees. “I thought I was passioned. That’s how I saw myself. But you’ll never be able to solve a relationship problem in the reptilian brain. All the reptilian brain cares about is who lives and who dies. And that’s not really good for a relationship.”

To hear more about the reptilian brain and how to keep it from ruining your relationships…


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