Tent Talks Featuring Sunni (Sun) Brown & Liya James: The Deep Self Design Method

Tent Talks Featuring: Sunny (Sun) Brown and Liya James
Sunni (Sun) Brown
Founder & Author
The Center for Deep Self Design
Sunni (Sun) Brown is the founder of creative consultancy Sunni Brown Ink and recently reincarnated the Center for Deep Self Design (getting its second life after a tragicomic opening in March of 2020!).
Liya James
Author & Co-Founder
The Center for Deep Self Design
Liya is co-founder of The Center for Deep Self Design. She joined the Center as it was re-incarnating post-pandemic, bringing a welcome set of insight and expertise that is harmonious and complementary to the mission.

Join us for an illuminating Tent Talks session with the visionary founders of the Center for Deep Self Design (CDSD), Sunni (Sun) Brown and Liya James. This session explores the transformative power of the Deep Self Design Method, a groundbreaking approach to self-development that diverges from traditional methods by integrating the principles of design thinking with personal growth strategies.

Sun and Liya will share insights into their work at CDSD, offering an engaging overview of how the Deep Self Design Method can offer profound insights and solutions to personal and professional challenges. Attendees will gain an understanding of the method’s application across various industries and professions, alongside personal anecdotes of transformation and enlightenment from the speakers themselves.

Whether you’re looking to navigate personal hurdles, seeking innovation in your professional realm, or simply curious about the intersection of design thinking and self-development, this session promises to inspire and enlighten.

Session Notes

Session Overview

In this episode of Tent Talks, Sunni Brown and Liya James share their insights on the creation of a virtual community centered around contemplative practices at the Center for Deep Self Design. They emphasize the impact these practices have had on their lives, enabling them to live more authentically and utilize their full potential. The conversation delves into the method behind Deep Self Design, highlighting its focus on exploring the inner world with benevolence and compassion rather than avoidance. They share personal and professional experiences to illustrate the transformative power of engaging with one’s inner world, underscoring the method’s effectiveness in fostering personal growth, overcoming internal obstacles, and enhancing relational dynamics.

Deep Self Design Virtual Community:

  • Creating a community for people interested in contemplative practices.
  • Focus on personal growth, leadership, and becoming better at life and work.
  • Transitioning to a virtual community to reach more people.

Deep Self Design Method:

  • Emphasizes engaging with the inner world for personal insight and growth.
  • Different from other methods by encouraging exploration and benevolence.
  • Particularly beneficial for designers and creative professionals facing obstacles.

Challenges Addressed by Deep Self Design:

  • Suitable for personal risk-taking, career changes, and overcoming internal obstacles.
  • Helps with achieving personal and professional goals through inner exploration.

Personal Benefits from Applying Deep Self Design:

  • Provides a pathway to peace, inner stability, and resilience in the face of challenges.
  • Has been a transformative and healing process for both Sunni and Liya.

Notable Quotes:

  • “Engage with the inner world because there’s data in there to help you get to where you need to go.”
  • “Real courage comes from working with self-talk in a compassionate way.”
  • “Deep Self Design is well suited for taking the meaning out of it’s not just about you.”
  • “Exploring thoughts and being curious about them can open up a whole world that helps you understand why you behave a certain way.”
  • “Peace and inner stability… that’s the thing we both return to again and again in the face of chaos and adversity.”

Session Transcript

[00:00:32] Chicago Camps: Sunni, Liya – Welcome! What are y’all up to at the center for deep self design?

[00:00:38] Liya James: We’re creating a virtual community for people who are interested in developing contemplative practices. We’re going to drop a lot of words that no one knows what they are, or maybe they do, but we’ll go get into these.

[00:00:52] And we do this because these practices have helped us a lot to live into our full potential to be more authentically ourselves and laugh all the time like this. Even maybe when we shouldn’t be laughing, live into our gift and power. And frankly, so we can become better at things, right? Whether it’s like we want to be collaborators or facilitators or better leaders, designers.

[00:01:20] It should just be better people live and at work. And we have both been on separate growth and spiritual journeys. And we met up again last year, actually, and decided this is what we want to commit our lives to do because we’ve benefited so much and it’s time to get back.

[00:01:44] Sunni Brown: She was saying that we are establishing sort of a relational community and a relational space to educate people in creative and contemplative practices that ultimately result in a sort of liberation, a sort of a freedom from all of the strategic and behavioral moves that we make that may not serve us and serve others.

[00:02:03] And we are doing that on purpose because to Liya’s point, we, she and I were, and I think perhaps all humans on some level are on that journey, that arc for growing and waking, and we happened to intersect each other sufficiently to where we were like, Oh, we need to do this together. And so it’s a very new, I opened the center originally right before the pandemic, and then it just slammed, like the doors just totally slammed.

[00:02:27] It was downtown Austin, physical space. And so thank God, actually, Liya, that it didn’t open then because I, I needed you and it wouldn’t have been like a two wings of the bird, like I need the other wing. And so I’m really grateful that it’s now.

[00:02:42] Liya James: And I think now that we’re re envisioning it as a virtual community, we hope to reach more people as well.

[00:02:49] Sunni Brown: In terms of everything happening for a reason, I know what you mean, like it’s very cliche and it’s also has a sort of attempt at rationalizing things that we don’t like. Which may be a false positivity, but the way I carry that is make everything the path. So I cannot predict what’s going to come, but I can do my absolute utmost to transform it or transmute it into something I can use.

[00:03:14] And that’s part of the value of what we’re trying to do and support people in because shit gets crazy and we don’t know how it’s going to go. So the question is, how do you meet that?

[00:03:24] Liya James: Yeah. And we’re both living examples of what happens with the mud. I think our best growth, if you lean into it, those moments where everything looks like shit is where the biggest, best growth can happen, but it takes that courage to lean in.

[00:03:42] Sunni Brown: Liya’s nickname, my like affectionate nickname for her is Lotus because that’s the metaphor of the most beautiful flower emerging from conditions that are suboptimal.

[00:03:53] Chicago Camps: Can you give us an overview of the Deep Self Design Method and how it differs from other self development approaches?

[00:04:00] Liya James: I’ll address the last part. What’s different is that the message. It’s about exploring the inner world. Okay. And I know some people know what that is. Some people don’t. Uh, I actually recently went to University of Texas and I surveyed the class and I said, “how many of you have an inner world?” And about 30 percent people raised their hands. And these are like the next generation.

[00:04:26] So I’m like, okay, we have some work to do here, but. I think what’s different about what we do is instead of escaping the inner world, like most people do with eating, drinking, whatever it might be, , your favorite escape is, we want you to engage it because there’s data in there. There’s data to help you get to where you need to go next, where you want to go next.

[00:04:49] And the way to engage with it is through benevolence. And again, we’ll explain what that means too. It’s really important for people, especially in moments in their lives, when they’re meeting a part of themselves that feels hard.

[00:05:05] Okay. So designers in particular, really what we do because they have this occupation hazard that often leads them to want to make change happen, whether it’s like changing processes or systems where they work. A profession, I used to be a designer for 20 years, so a profession requires us to go discover things, look places where no one wants to look, ask questions about why does it work this way, or explore topics really deeply through research, right?

[00:05:36] So we look at systems, we look at how things are interconnected and all of a sudden, usually we’re like, this doesn’t work and it doesn’t serve people, or we see injustice. And we get a fire going inside of us, right? And when those, when that happens, what happens for a lot of designers is they want to go change it.

[00:05:59] Okay. So that’s the occupational hazard.

[00:06:02] The reason they like our work so much is because when they go and try to take those risks, go pursue paths no one has done before, make change in a way that no one has seen before, when they try to be quote unquote, innovative, they meet. A certain kind of obstacle they’ve never met before that a wireframe, a user flow, any sort of systems thinking or not, those strategies are not good enough.

[00:06:29] And they start to ask questions. Why isn’t it working? Why is this person in the, in my way? Why is this process in my way? Why is the culture in my way? And they start asking those questions. What happens? The answer always lies within them. And I know, cause I’ve worked with a lot of designers in my time.

[00:06:55] Along the way, they’re going to run into some kind of inner obstacle. And for a lot of people that inner obstacle shows up as maybe like negative self talk, right? I’m not trying hard enough. This is not good enough. They’re not good enough. Or maybe it’s the same self limiting strategies that got you here is not going to get you there.

[00:07:17] And Whether it’s like you’re taking on a path onto an entrepreneur journey to try to solve a problem or start a nonprofit, or just try to change your boss’s mind or your, the engineering manager’s mind about why we need to change how things work. Right? It takes a different skill than learning Framer.

[00:07:40] It takes a different skill than learning how to present, make slides. It takes a different skill. And. When that happens, inevitably, we always end up being asking questions about our own inner capacity to create change outside of us. And it often asks us to create change within us.

[00:08:03] For a lot of people, experiences like that, where you’re going into a situation where it’s really hard to make change happen. And, I meet some young designers sometimes where they feel like it’s all in their, on their shoulders, right. Or new leaders or managers where they’re really taking it on as if it’s about them and what that brings about.

[00:08:22] What it brings up is a lot of negative self talk and just take self talk as an example, what makes this to your original question, our strategy, our method different is I actually work with individuals, right in, private sessions.

[00:08:38] And we work with this a lot, the self talk thing where a new job, a new role, a new challenge that’s full of uncertainty always brings up in people and the conventional wisdom that I think you hear, when you search the internet, what do I do with my self talk? It’s usually dismiss it, silence it, suppress it, or suddenly has a whole list.

[00:09:00] Sunni Brown: Yeah, I have a list or banish it or villainize it. There’s, I used to record every time I would hear someone say attack your inner critic, it makes me insane because it’s the completely wrong thing to do actually.

[00:09:13] It has a militarious effect on your internal system.

[00:09:16] Liya James: They call this courage. So with our method, we teach real courage, which comes from working with that self talk in a compassionate way and getting to know it better. And if you take this process, you’ll discover a world of inner wisdom and even your own hidden talent and what’s stopping your talent from fully being realized in the world. And treating as a doorway to living into your full potential, your full self. And it really does change the way that people relate to the world and themselves dramatically when they take the path of compassion.

[00:09:55] Chicago Camps: What kind of challenges is the deep self design method, particularly well suited to address?

[00:10:01] Liya James: Think about that personal risk. When do you need to take personal risks? Risks brings up a lot in people. Changing careers. Pivoting your career path. Anytime you’re trying to do a thing that’s new, we get a lot of people that’s because of Sun’s reputation. We had a lot of people who were like, I want to be a better speaker.

[00:10:19] I want to be a better writer. I want to start putting my voice out there. I want to start being seen. Oh God, being seen and heard. Trying to do that brings up a lot of stuff in people. And that’s for me, the, a lot of my personal growth happened during the times when I was pursuing those things in my journey, or even projects that involve uncertainty.

[00:10:43] You’re not guaranteed a certain outcome. You go out to do user research. You’re not necessarily going to bring back the most groundbreaking insight all the time. And how do you handle, how do you manage that? When people who are trying to change, I don’t know, deep seated patterns in their relationships, that’s the other thing that brings people to us.

[00:11:04] I get a lot of people who don’t want to pass down certain behavior traits that they have, to their kids. You know, and they want their kids to have a better life and they realize, Oh, I’ve inherited this scarcity mindset.

[00:11:18] That’s not from me. That’s from generations of that’s passed down to me, collective trauma, and they don’t want to perpetuate that in their lineage. We get all kinds of people wanting to do different things with their lives coming and saying. But I keep trying to change it and it keep not working. I have people showing me Miro maps of mind maps of their behavior patterns. And they’re like, I figured it out. I mean, it is elaborate, right? Especially you work with designers and creatives, right? They’ve mapped it all out. The problem is they’re like, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I haven’t changed it.

[00:11:58] Sunni Brown: I was going to yes and something around that. So to her point about taking a personal risk and because Liya works like daily and with people really in the, on the battlefield speak, she’s referring to like pragmatic, practical, actionable things. And sometimes I operate in this other weird artistic visionary space.

[00:12:17] So thank God she can translate me to people often. But it’s also about unobstruction of your potential, right? So like who everybody on earth wants to be potentiated and we all want to be expressed and loved and we want to belong and we want to unleash our own talents and gifts and so even if it’s not career focused desire or longing, like sometimes you just want to sing a song in front of other people, it could be something that simple, but for you, it’s like terrifying.

[00:12:52] And so that has a block. So there’s an energy that’s basically blocked. And so we help people unblock that energy and you don’t know where it’s going to go. You don’t even necessarily want to make it a commercial endeavor or monetize it or whatever. You just want to be free. You want to be unstuck. So it helps people get unstuck.

[00:13:11] And to Liya’s point, there’s such an incredible world inside of there, and the invitation is to explore that world so that you can help it flow. You can help things flow.

[00:13:21] Liya James: And that brought about actually a memory of, remember years and years ago, I came to you, son. And that’s before we ever worked together. And I was like, I feel a call to have my voice out there. Do you remember that? Yeah, you were all for it. And I was like, teach me how. And you were trying to teach me. Russ also tried to help. I’m actually having a full circle moment here right now.

[00:13:43] I’m like, all my allies are here and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it. I would take hours and days and months sometimes trying to put a talk together and it would just bomb like hell and I would, it would take me days to recover from how I bond and I keep putting myself through it again and again. And what’s beautiful about that experience, and I experienced this with my clients a lot who are high achievers, is that we are not afraid to meet the moment and answer the call, right?

[00:14:15] I’m had a call to do something with, I have a desire that comes from within me that you need to go out there and speak. And I think after doing the Deep Self Design process. What I found was like, I just gave a talk last week and it went freaking amazing. All of every single person came up to me and said, how do you show up so authentically you were so vulnerable out of bed and they were so moved by the content because they found it helpful.

[00:14:49] And the difference is that I am not, I don’t have this need to show, like I’m not this perfectionist. And I have a few other parts that really needed to be almost like healed through this experience. But the beautiful part is that I thought the way to do it meant it had to be hard. There’s a part of me that believed that things had to be hard.

[00:15:15] And until I was able to work with that part in a benevolent and compassionate way and understood where it came from, why things had to be hard. Why that was actually something that I believed and once that part softened in me, I could actually focus on the real work, which is I stand for something. And it’s really important to me when I’m using someone’s 90 minutes that I’m helping them get something.

[00:15:43] And it wasn’t about me at all. Whereas before when I was pursuing the speaking, it was all about me. And now when I go up and I do something, it’s about us. And that was a real big change. And my system calm and my system is just, I was just there to do a job. It had no meaning really. So I would say it’s really what the method is really good for is well suited for is taking the meaning out of you.

[00:16:13] It’s not just about you. It’s giving it, it’s giving what you do new meaning. It’s the kind of meaning that create the peace and calm. Interrelationality. Relationality, equanimity, and you can show up anywhere and just be you.

[00:16:29] Sunni Brown: Yeah.

[00:16:30] Chicago Camps: And now, a question from our live studio audience. Charlla asks, acknowledging that this is not as simple as it sounds, don’t you think it begins with changing your thoughts?

[00:16:41] Liya James: I actually think it starts with meeting your thoughts, being curious about your thoughts.

[00:16:47] What are the thoughts? What’s coming up? And following that and actually using that as a pathway to understand what the thoughts are trying to tell you and what it’s about. And you’d be surprised that one thought that floats up can open up a whole world that. Helps you to understand why do I behave this way?

[00:17:14] Why these feelings are coming up like this? What do I automatically do when I feel this way, when I have these feelings and thoughts and sensations, and are there other ways to react?

[00:17:27] Sunni Brown: Just do something.

[00:17:28] Liya James: So that’s what I love about this question. Is it about changing your thoughts or is it about actually exploring the thoughts and being curious about the thoughts?

[00:17:36] Sunni Brown: Yeah, it’s a great question, Charlla, because I think a lot of people have that question and it’s a very reasonable thing to wonder and to your point, Liya, like it’s both in a way, so there’s also, there’s thoughts, sensations, and emotions, those are different things. And this body and mind and heart is an emergent adaptive system.

[00:17:57] Sometimes we have actually a sensory experience and that leads to a thought. So we might follow the path to a sensory experience or an emotional experience and explore that. So thoughts are just one object of mind, okay? Just to make that clear. And then, you’re right, it’s yes and, it’s yes and no. If we’re trying to change our thoughts, meaning that we are opposing it.

[00:18:19] So a thought comes up. So here I’ll give you a thought. I actually had this thought today when we were, I was coming into this space, because I haven’t. I’ve been speaking in public cause I’ve had some real serious shit going on in my life. But my thought was I have to bring my bright energy in order for people to want to hear me talk.

[00:18:38] That was my thought. Now, do I want that thought to be different? Yeah, I do. Of course I do. Cause it’s not, it creates all kinds of anxieties in me like, Oh no, I don’t feel like myself and I need to now I have to put on a happy face or whatever. So I do want the thought to be different, but I don’t want to have a combat toward the thought.

[00:18:56] Does that make sense? So, in other words, the thought will shift once I meet it, Liya said, with kindness and curiosity as opposed to me trying to manhandle it into a different state. So I hope that makes sense. So the way I changed the thought, meaning that I respected the thought, I was like, that is a legitimate concern.

[00:19:15] You have not ever spoken from this sort of energetic state. So I just attended to it with You know what? Let’s see what happens when we show up with lower energy and I’ll just love you throughout the process. And so then my thought did actually change, but only because I was allowing it.

[00:19:32] It’s a great question. I appreciate it, Charlla.

[00:19:34] Liya James: Our cognition is so valued in this day and age. And it should be, because it’s a powerful tool that’s available to all of us. We also have so many other skills and talents that are naturally an innate in human beings that we don’t ever explore.

[00:19:53] And as a result, I think we all live with this whole part of our lives that no one knows about. I’ll make this really explicit. Cause I think people that are listening in my might be like, what are they talking about? So I have a client, I’m still working with them and I’m going to call him Tom because he’s actually in a design executive. A very successful person raising the bar wherever he goes. Okay.

[00:20:17] But what people don’t see in Tom is that he’s extremely unhappy, joyless, he says to me. And companies lose a lot of Toms, by the way, because leaders don’t know how to support when Tom, what the Toms are going through a personal growth phase, like my client.

[00:20:35] All right. He comes to me and just say, I see that I am making my team really unhappy. I see that my wife is unhappy. I see that my kids are unhappy and I’m extremely joyless. I used to have joy in certain areas of my life and I don’t have it anymore. And I’m anxious all the time. I’m worried they’re going to find me out that I’m actually not very confident.

[00:20:55] I don’t think what I do is very good. So the first thing I had to educate Tom on is this exactly what we’re talking about in every scientific field. That you look at today, every single one of them agree on this. There’s no one psyche or personality that you can’t ever escape. That’s how he felt. He’s just, I’m just this unlovable person.

[00:21:20] There is not this one unified personality that we’re just stuck with forever. But truly within each of us is this constellation of personas. And it’s never shifting and they, each individual, one of them have a need, a desire, a way of protecting us. Brene Brown calls it armors. We actually have tons of armors and Tom is not stuck.

[00:21:45] So that’s the first thing I wanted him to know. And Sunni and I see our, see ourselves as educators. So we’re not like coaches or whatever. So it’s really important to educate, like fundamental sign to be found about us as people. Yeah, I doesn’t know about this yet. It will one day. Parts of him have strategies and outdated perspectives and automatic reactions that are limiting him from becoming who he wants to be.

[00:22:11] Okay. He’s got a lot of successful areas of his life. He cannot enjoy. He’s got a lot of talents and gifts he cannot enjoy. And all he sees is people don’t like me. So in our work together, we did discover lots of these personas that live within his inner worlds. We have a perfectionist, we have a critic, we have some controlling parts, a bunch of other cast of characters.

[00:22:35] And what I found that Tom has a pretty negative relationship with them. He actually used the word hate for his inner critic. I hate critic. And as we were exploring this. I discovered that it sounds a lot like dad hovering over him when he was growing up. Like the other day he was telling me about his, he’s trying to write, he’s working on a book and the critic said, make it better.

[00:23:00] You’re not there yet. So he kept trying. He got done the page and he looked at that page and he said, this is shit. And then he ran out of juice and the belief that he could write this book also went out the window. And then he ran out of motivation, creativity, energy.

[00:23:15] Sunni Brown: And then there you’re at your joylessness.

[00:23:17] Liya James: Yeah, there you go. And that was, I think, two or three hours that he had that didn’t, the kid and wife were not around. And he was really intent on getting this idea down. Okay. Tom’s, I asked him, how do you feel about this part? I resent this part of me. It makes me feel like I’m stuck all the time. Yeah. And he said, if I wasn’t so identified with it, I’d let it go.

[00:23:44] Sunni Brown: And just to add a little footnote on that. So a lot of these beliefs that essentially are limiting and contractual contracting, they do, we are, Liya mentioned that you’re inherited, they’re inherited. Some of them are from generational lineage stuff. Some of them are cultural and some of them are like internalized from mysterious places that we don’t even, one experience happened one time from a teacher and then boom, it’s stuck in there.

[00:24:08] And your brain just keeps revisiting it over and over. So, it’s fascinating in that regard that you can find out often where the ideas come from. But they’re, because we’re like antennas, they come from all over. Right.

[00:24:20] And they’re reinterpreted in a different environment.

[00:24:23] Liya James: He did discover it came from dad hovering. That was a quick, like, first session we got there. And then, what’s amazing that happened next, I started to ask him if he’d explore what talents or gifts or things that he appreciates in his life that came from this part of him. And he could find a lot. He surprised himself actually. He literally had this moment of, Oh, and then I asked him, what do you feel about this part now?

[00:24:51] And he said, I’m curious, I’m curious. And maybe it’s not all bad. Maybe it’s not all bad. And so when, when he started getting curious, he actually started to get to exactly what you’re talking about, Sun, how it has helped him over the years, how it has helped prevent dad from hovering even more or from saying you did that wrong.

[00:25:15] He was preventing and when we’re three or five, a parent telling us we’re not good enough can feel really threatening. It can be life threatening. It can feel like, what if they leave me? This is not logical, right? Kid is not logical. A kid is like, all they want to do is make sure mom and dad don’t leave them behind. That’s their only survival mechanisms.

[00:25:34] So in those days, this part was critical for survival, but now. It only has one strategy, which is to work until there’s no problems. And that’s not real possible. So Tom discovered that. He’s like, Oh, wow. I was using a strategy that was never going to give me what I want. So then we started exploring creatively.

[00:25:56] So this is a creative process, right? So when we say design, this is what we mean. Then we said, now we’re being a startup. Now we’re like, okay. What do you think would be some other strategies to get well? And he’s like, wow, I could.

[00:26:11] So he starts brainstorming different reactions to the fear. After we said this fear is legitimate, tom, you don’t want people to think you’re incapable. You, in fact, you’re a very capable guy. Look at all the things you’ve accomplished in your life. And he’s like, Oh yeah, my bosses used to tell me that I like raised the bar.

[00:26:33] He quit his job, by the way, because he’s just like, I’m such a shit. I don’t think I can keep doing this. So companies lose Toms a lot. And it’s really important to know that there’s this whole inner world that can be met with compassion that can be met with curiosity. All right. And, and even grown ass people grown ass men really can explore different strategies of reacting to fears, their innermost fears.

[00:27:02] And this can become fun. Now he’s having fun with me. He’s experimenting, he’s collecting data. We’re schematically anchoring it in the good data. Like when he has like deep connected moments with his kids or he’s writing and it’s joyful. And he wants to do more of it. And he like, this is pretty good.

[00:27:19] I’m like, did you? Yeah. It’s pretty good.

[00:27:21] So general work can be pretty fun, really.

[00:27:24] Chicago Camps: What have been your most rewarding experiences in teaching and applying the Deep Self Design method?

[00:27:30] Sunni Brown: I’m going to do a short anecdote. Okay. So there was a, a person at the last organization I was with and a new boss comes in and the new boss had as new bosses often do have this sort of silver back gorilla behavior where it’s, I got to piss in all the corners and make sure that everybody knows my authority.

[00:27:50] And it was really, it was a purposeful intimidation campaign. And the gentleman, one of the gentlemen I was working with at the time said he was anxiety just daily, every day he’d come to work. And it was like this profound sense of anxiety. Cause he couldn’t know, he didn’t trust this person. He didn’t know what they were up to.

[00:28:07] He thought there would, he didn’t know what to think. And in his mind, there was, and this is his language, an active and visible enemy who was going to come for him in some regard. And so his perception was heightened. His vigilance was really heightened. And he couldn’t perform on some level because of the anxiety.

[00:28:24] It took ten minutes to bring that part into our relational dialogue. And update, kind of, Liya, what you were doing with Tom’s parts was helping them update and soften the distortion around the view. And so, it was like, we didn’t say, oh, that’s not true. We were like, that may be true, you may actually have an active invisible enemy, but you have resourcing and you have ways to approach it that you’re not aware that you have.

[00:28:49] And once he figured out that he’s like stronger and bigger and more capable than he had anticipated, then his anxiety the next day he was like, I got this and it took 10 minutes. You know, but until we had that experience, it was just a plague in his house. You know what I mean?

[00:29:04] Liya James: And I’ll give you an example. My own kind of experience is, so I have a part of me that I call the helper. Some people call them the pleaser. These parts wreak havoc if we’re not aware of them in our lives, at work and at home. So my helper is, you gotta put other people first, because if you put them first, cause this part originated when my mom was always busy, whatever, like we were really poor. So she never had time to come to me and give me attentions. But when she was going through a divorce, I was really hopeful, right? When I was about eight, eight and 10.

[00:29:39] So I developed this idea that if I want love and connection and support from people that are important to me, I’ve got to help and put them first.

[00:29:49] But the problem is secretly. This part has an expectation. It has a need. I have a need that I need to be met, which is support, unconditional [00:30:00] love. So I go out of my way, help people out, put their needs before mine. And when it comes time for them to return the favor and I need them, they don’t know to show up for me because they don’t know I was doing shit for them out of my way.

[00:30:15] And so what happens is I just had this perpetual cycle of doing things for people, putting other people first, but not getting it back and then resenting people and burning bridges and walking away from relationships that I invest in work and personal. I spent most of my time and energy doing things that don’t move the needle in my own mind.

[00:30:38] Okay. So now I am able to say no. Now that I’ve done my steep self design work,

[00:30:47] I’m able to say no, but my “No”s are like this: that’s a great idea, but my life, my priority right now is this and this. And what you’re inviting me to do does not meet the third criteria. Thank you so much for thinking of, but please keep him in, keep me in mind because these are the things that I’m focused on when you’ve got opportunities that meet these criteria, please invite me to them.

[00:31:17] So my “No”s now are yeses of the future that are all about moving my needle forward. So what I invite your listeners to do is think about how doing your deep self design work and your inner work is going to help you move your needle forward.

[00:31:33] Sunni Brown: And I want to add a little one thing, which is that in her internal system, when she says those “No”s, it’s not terrifying because you can learn to power through and say no.

[00:31:43] But you’re still freaked out inside. And so this is a gentle process. So when she, and I’m making an assumption, that’s true for you, Liya. I’m confident, pretty confident about it, but that’s important. That’s important. We’re not manhandling the operation, right? We’re not forcing anything. It’s actually flowing naturally from her relationship with her inner system.

[00:32:03] Liya James: And the best, most rewarding thing about it is you live your life. Everything happens for you and you have so much more energy and capacity to show up for other people.

[00:32:14] We were talking when we were coming on earlier backstage about how I said no to the biggest thing earlier, and I got invited to do something that’s more on my path in saying that no.

[00:32:26] Right. And I, I was still terrified. That’s the thing is that these parts, they don’t go anywhere, but you have to learn, they don’t go, even if you push them away and suppress them, they don’t go anywhere. So you have to welcome them in and be in dialogue. And if you learn how to be in dialogue with your own parts, you’re going to automatically get better at being in dialogue with other people, your enemies, even maybe perceived ones. For the most part, our enemies are perceived enemies. They’re not real.

[00:32:56] Chicago Camps: How have you personally benefited from applying this method in your own lives?

[00:33:01] Sunni Brown: I’ve been practicing this for 18 years. I would have to say that, the probability, like Liya had a reference to her, both of our backstories are filled with adversity. Let me just say that. And were it not for methods like this, I’m not confident I would be here today.

[00:33:19] And if I were here today, I’m not confident I would be psychologically healthy at all. So it’s been for me a very dramatic, a medicinal approach to life. And so that’s partly why I’m so passionate about it. So my level of application is pretty deep. And, I have used it for all kinds of things.

[00:33:38] As an entrepreneur, you have to take risks all the time. And so my entire career has been as an entrepreneur. So I do use it in those capacities, but for me, it’s actually been spiritually healing. So I’ve had just a lot to overcome and a lot of mountains to climb. So it’s, it has applications that are surface level all the way to your soul.

[00:33:56] Liya James: Maybe I could sum it up by saying peace and inner stability. I think that’s the thing that we both return to again and again in the face of chaos and adversity and whatever comes up. Yeah.

[00:34:07] Sunni Brown: Yeah. That’s why it’s so valuable. And you just keep deepening, you just keep deepening.


Event Details
Deep Self Design with Sun & Liya
February 12, 2024
5:00 pm
February 12, 2024
6:00 pm
Tent Talks Featuring Sunni (Sun) Brown & Liya James: The Deep Self Design Method Join us for an illuminating Tent Talks session with the visionary founders of the Center for Deep Self Design (CDSD), Sunni (Sun) Brown and Liya James....


April 2024