Freedom in Responsibility with Andréa Ranae Johnson
I'm excited to introduce to you today one of my mentors you've heard me speak so much about, Andréa Ranae Johnson!
In this episode Andréa and I touch upon so many topics, and the one main theme comes down to taking personal responsibility for ourselves, our actions and our choices--and the freedom we feel when we take responsibility for what is ours.
Listen in as Andréa and I speak about:
-Liberatory Living and Liberatory Leadership (06:46)
-Culture as a result of our decisions and actions (10:38)
-The roles we play in our culture (14:57)
-The freedom in taking personal responsibility (22:47)
-Sovereignty, oppression, and the ways we engage with others (30:11)
-More on our personal sovereignty (36:44)
-Freedom in oppressive systems (41:43)
-Back to our personal responsibility (49:52)
To learn more about the Whole Self Liberation School, visit https://wholeselfliberation.com/
To learn more about Andréa's work, you can visit www.andrearanae.com
You can follow Andréa on Instagram @andrearanaej
Let's have a convo! Take a screenshot and share this episode on Instagram letting me know what you got out of it, and be sure to tag me @shiranimpathak so I can respond!
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For a complete transcript of this episode or to purchase Fierce Authenticity the book, visit www.fierceauthenticity.com
Welcome to the Fierce Authenticity podcast where we're having fiercely authentic conversations on life, love, leadership, and our personal and collective liberation. In a culture that benefits from our fear, suffering, and disconnection from source, self, and others, we’re here to shift the narrative so that together we can create the world we want to live in. I'm your hostess, Shirani M. Pathak, and I'm excited for us to dive right in.
Shirani: [00:46:66] Welcome back to the podcast. Today, I am so excited for our guest because you have heard me speak about this person episode after episode as I have been sharing all of the wisdom that I have been getting from her. So, without further ado, you know, that kid that's always asking adults why at the most inconvenient times.
Andréa Ranae Johnson is the founder and director of Whole Self Liberation, a platform and organization dedicated to creating resources and programming to support people as they heal, grow, get free and lead. As a trailblazer in the personal development industry over the past five years, she has worked with hundreds of mission-driven people looking to use their gifts, skills, and resources to make an impact in the world.
Andréa is the host of a podcast called A Call to Serve; author of a poetry chapbook titled Love, Manifesting, a collection of poems and prompts for those seeking love and justice. And she's also a singer songwriter, and that's what really keeps her going when the world is a bit too heavy to hold.
And without any other delays, Andréa Ranae, welcome. Welcome, welcome to the Fierce Authenticity podcast. I am so excited to have you here. I've been learning from you over the past several months, and I'm just really honored that you're here with us and our listeners today. So thank you.
Andréa: [00:02:21] Thank you. I'm so excited to have this conversation with you.
Shirani: [00:02:26] Yes, me too. And, um, I first came across your work when Kate Northrup said, here are some people that you can learn from, and your name was up there on the list, along with Milagros Phillips, another teacher that I've really been learning from and sharing my learnings with her about.
And I started watching your Rise Up course when you were recording it live, I think I was only on a couple of courses, but I just knew that what you were offering was incredibly powerful medicine. And I got so much out of it, but before we go there, I'd love to have you introduce yourself a little bit further to our audience. Tell us a little bit more about you and also about Whole Self Liberation.
Andréa: [00:03:14] Yeah. So haven't answered this question in a while. I'm just like, tell me a little bit about you, where do I go? Um, there's a lot. I am, I contain multitudes. I, so, yeah, my name is Andréa. I currently live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I call Chicago home though, for real. I'm 26 years old and I've had my business where in general, I've been just supporting people who want to make a difference in the world with what they have, their gifts, their skills, their privileged, whatever it is, supporting them to do that. And I've been doing that in different ways, whether it was coaching or through programs, group programs, courses, different spaces that I've held.
Now, I still do some of that but I've also transitioned into even more of like a CEO or like director role with Whole Self Liberation where I have a team of people and we're creating this, this space. It's an online school for liberatory living where, um, there's a bunch of courses from these brilliant teachers that I have somehow gathered into my life to teach about all these different topics relating to really connecting the dots actually between like these very personal or like what we might call, not political, parts of our lives, and really connecting the dots between those things. Like our skincare or, our, just our feelings and, or our romantic love and, and all these things and connecting them out and using these little pieces of our lives to plant seeds for the world that we want to create.
Recognizing that like what's happening in our individual lives isn’t exempt from influencing or being influenced by the world around us, and wanting to really use the power that we have to influence the world that we experience tomorrow. So, that's what I'm up to right now, making that magic happen. Um, yeah. And it's a good time.
Shirani: [00:05:36] Yeah. And I'm really excited for that. I know that when I first came across your work, it was like in the works and then there was a go-fund me and I contributed to that. And I was just so excited. And you did this whole campaign. I have a whole episode dedicated to the world I want. And I just thought that was such a powerful statement, you know.
Cause one of the things that you talked about in that campaign was so often we talk about like dismantling what isn't working, but we're not thinking about like, what do we want to put in its place? And so I thought that was a really powerful campaign. I mean, for us to really think about what world do we want to live in.
Andréa: [00:06:15] Yeah. And I love that you did a podcast episode. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm going to, yeah,
Shirani: [00:06:19] Yeah. It's a whole eight minutes of like, this is what I want, I could have gone on and on and on. And I had to cut myself off at some point.
Andréa: [00:06:27] I love that though. Cause it's, I mean, it's just like what you said, like having that space to really think about not just what you want to, um, get rid of, or stop, or like what's not working, but like, okay, well what do you want to replace that with? Like that's such essential work, which is why we do that.
Shirani: [00:06:46] Yeah, it’s beautiful. And now, Andréa, I was going to ask you to talk a little bit about liberatory leadership because I've been listening to your podcast and that's something that you continue to speak about over and over is this liberatory leadership.
And then I just heard you say that the school is actually focused on liberatory living. So can you share a little bit with us about, first of all, liberatory living and then, um, segue that into liberatory leadership?
Andréa: [00:07:19] Oh, well that could take, we could, we could have the whole conversation and more just on that alone.
When I think about liberatory living, I really think about living in a way where you're conscious of the world you're creating with your decisions and actions, not just for like what you're experiencing, but how are you influencing the world that other people are experiencing as well, and maybe people that you don't even know, people that are on the other side of the worldnd recognizing that interconnectedness, but also recognizing like you have a very important part in the world we have today.
We, we are small absolutely as, as individuals we can only do so much, but we can also do a lot like that, that so much is a lot. And I don't think, I think a lot of people don't see themselves in that way. They don't see themselves as powerful because maybe they're not in the, in a position of authority or like they're not in politics or whatever it is.
But I like to talk about, instead of like talking about people in positions of power, which absolutely there's responsibility in that for those people, but to talk about the power in your position. And that each of us have power in whatever position we're in and we're using it already, like it's not dormant power. Some of it might be, but we are using some form of power in order to live right now, in order to listen to this podcast right now, we've had to use some of our personal power.
And so looking at what is the power that I have, how am I using it? What do I want to do with it? What's the impact of it? So there's that with liberatory living, and we can go so many different directions with that.
But in terms of liberatory leadership, I think it's just taking that and being intentional with what is, what's my vision. What am I creating for real in, in the world, and really looking at people that are wanting to create, whether it's a project or a community or an organization or a business, an institution of some sort. Going about doing that in a way that's in alignment with your vision, in alignment with your values, it's relational and takes care of you. Like it has all of those elements in it.
Shirani: [00:10:05] Beautiful. And, I love the element of the fact that we have power. Like we may not be in positions of “authority or power”, but that each and every single one of us has power. And we're living in that power every day. It's what's even fueling us, it’s the energy behind even listening to this podcast right now. I think that's so beautiful.
And in terms of that liberatory leadership, what's my vision, how am I creating it? What am I creating it? How am I living relationally? All that good stuff. I'm so excited to get into that. And one thing that you mentioned when you were talking about liberatory living, actually, you talked about how it's really about the choices that we make. And that's one of the things that I learned from your teachings in the Rise Up program, was that every, like our culture, our society, as it is right now is micro decisions that we have made. Can you share a little bit more with us about that?
Andréa: [00:11:09] I can, I love it. Yeah. I love talking about, because I, I think many of us think when we think about culture, it feels like something that's outside of us, but that we're influenced by, that we like learn from or grow up into or like, and that it's, it's like this, I don't know if amorphous is the right word, but it's like this energy outside of us, that's like intangible, and that's not how I understand culture.
I understand culture to be about the decisions and actions that a group of people are making consistently. That it becomes a way, it becomes a habit, a tradition, a ritual where it makes sense. But if we're talking about toxic masculinity in culture, that's about the decisions and actions that a group of people, predominantly cis men, have consistently made.
And it's different when we talk about toxic masculinity in America or Australia or India, it's going to be different if we talk about it in relationship to race. Toxic masculinity for black men is different from toxic masculinity for white men. So it's about, but we can identify it because it's about the group of people and what decisions and actions are they engaging in. And thinking about it in that way, instead of thinking about it as this like amorphous blob that we're like, it's just swimming in, puts the responsibility back on our plate. Which is why it's easier to talk about it as like, it's just this thing out here that we can't touch, but it's there and we have to stop.
We don't actually have to engage with it, head on in ourselves and with the other person in front of us, because it’s, it's in the air versus it's in the decisions we're making. So that's how I, when I'm thinking about culture and if there's a culture that we're wanting to shift, the shift is in our decisions and in our actions. It’s in how we're being, who we're being, what we're doing, why, it's in all of that.
Shirani: [00:13:30] Yeah. And I love the way you described that and how it ties back to our personal power that we just talked about. Because on the one hand, you know, we think that culture is like something that we're born into, we just inherited it. Like I was born into a Brown body, and so it is what it is, you know.
And instead, actually, if I look at it as actually my culture is the decisions and choices and actions that I'm making and how I'm acting in accordance to my decisions, it brings it back to me. And I think that's really powerful because like you said, so many of us think it's easier if it's just this amorphous thing and we don't have power here, it’s just is what it is.
And I think it busts through that illusion when we say, actually, you have a responsibility here. And your responsibility is to look at what choices are you making, what actions are you doing, what your decisions are, and how you're acting upon them. And yeah, I think that's just so powerful because it brings it back to me.
Andréa: [00:14:39] Yeah. Well, and even just one more thing on that where that thing using the toxic masculinity example, like we also like to think that it's just the, the cis men in, in whatever culture, but it's also in how we relate to that cis man.
And what role are we playing in creating the conditions for that culture to exist. What are we doing? How am I relating to the system the cis man in my life that upholds toxic masculinity. So it's not just about the people within that, like are at the center of the culture, but it's about how we relate to it as well, how we relate to the people there as well.
Shirani: [00:15:25] Yeah. And can you share a little bit more about that? Because in ”normal culture” or the regular world out there, you know, that person who engages in toxic behaviors that are of the toxic masculinity spectrum, we want to shun them. We want to be like, Oh, whatever. And I have a feeling that you're going to tell us something different, about how we relate with them.
Andréa: [00:15:52] Yeah, well, I'm going to take it to an even more extreme place where like often, and for pretty much my entire life, I've struggled with this. But like when I think about prisons or I think about someone who has done harm or done something that is against our code of what is right and what is wrong, or what is legal and what is not, which isn't always the same thing. And when I think about someone who, who has, let's say physically hurt someone, there’s so many factors in that there's of course, the person who did the harm and the person who was hurt, and both of them are human, both of them are valuable and both of them might have some work to do to tend to the harm that has happened with each other or not, or alone in community, wherever.
But, we often, and especially in US culture, but I think it's also like a facet of white supremacy and just European culture as well, where we, we see the one person who did the harm and we go, Oh, we need to put that one person away in a cage and they will be surrounded by other one person people that did harm or did something that we don't like and put them away. And they'll just hang out there until we say so. And that, that absolves us of our own responsibility.
The question is hardly ever asked, how did this person get here? Who influenced, who supported, who didn't support, what systems failed this person or hurt this person, what factors went into the decisions that this person made?
Absolutely they are responsible for the hurt that they did. And we are too. We are responsible to any harm that happens in this world because we have contributed to creating the conditions for what happened. So, if my friend gets hurt or if one of my friends is depressed, I'm not responsible for their depression, but I am responsible for my contribution to their life. And I get to decide what I want to do with that. That doesn't mean that like I am in charge of how they feel, that’s totally up to them, but I do have influence.
And so, I get to look at what am I doing to create conditions that are evidence of my love for this person I care for, this person. That's mine. That's all mine. Even if they didn't ask for it, I'm responsible for what I do. And what I'm creating. So yeah, we could go down so many tangents with that one, but..
Shirani: [00:19:18] Yeah, well, and I love it and I love that very real example also, I mean, there's several very real examples there, right. First with incarceration and locking people up. And, I'm actually just coming off of the Joy and Justice Empowered Learning Summit. And it is, my dear friend, Robin morning, who's an anti-oppression consultant and her co-founder, CéShaun, I can't recall her last name right now, Hawkins, I think. They co-founded Joy and Justice, and they did this a week-long, this was their second annual one.
And the whole conversation this year was around abolitionist practices. And so they had guests Akilah S. Richards, Thea Monyeé, like these are some of the people that came on. And what I'm hearing you say is very much what I heard in the summit, which is, we need to look at how we as a society created the conditions in which this behavior occurred.
Instead of simply just saying, you're a bad person and we're going to lock you up. It's to say, Oh, this thing happened, how did we, as a society contribute to this thing? Like, where did we go wrong? Um, and that's something that Milagros right now is also teaching and sharing about. And I'm learning from her right now, as well is just we externalize it. We say, they're the problem, and we don't look at how our actions, our decisions, our choices, our systems have failed that person.
Andréa: [00:20:47] It reminds me of that, I used to hate this when I was a little, but where a teacher would be like, when you point out a person you have three other fingers pointing at you and it's like, yeah.
When, when we go, no, you're the bad one. Like, what are we doing there? What are we passing off onto this other person? What are we avoiding in ourselves by putting this person away, cutting them off and I'm all for boundaries. Absolutely. And I think we have a lot of opportunities to look at. How do we relate to people that have done something that we don't like that has done harm, how do we engage with that person? And how do we engage with ourselves when we do something that we don't like, or that has done harm?
Shirani: [00:21:46] That's a really powerful question. Not just how do I engage with the other person when they've done harm? But how do I engage with myself when I've done a harm? Andréa, you're asking us to do something that a lot of people don't want to do, which is look at themselves.
And I am all about that. Like I love, I didn't at one time, I did not love looking at my part in situations. Everything was external. It was all out there. And as a result of walking my own spiritual path, I have really come to learn how much power there is in me looking at where I have done harm. And me, where like, really reclaiming what is mine in interactions where I have contributed to harm.
Andréa: [00:22:47] Yeah. And there's freedom, too. There's freedom. It may not feel good at first or for a while. I don't think freedom has to feel good, but I think we do associate, like, I want to like feeling free means feeling joy. But I have been, especially this past like year getting acquainted with the freedom of taking responsibility. Yeah, and that feels kind of like an oxymoron to flick energetically when I'm saying it, because for so long, I felt like responsibility meant like I was bound. Like it felt heavy. It felt like I have no wiggle room, to like be fully me.
And that's not the case because when we're in that space of like, I don't want to look at myself, I don't want to look at this thing cause it's hard and, and everything, we are in an energy of resistance to ourselves. Cause it's, it's stuff that's here in ourselves, in our hearts, in our, in our bodies. And we're going, no, I don't want to look at that. And I'm saying it’s, it's in ourselves. We might think, Oh no, it's this person out here, it’s this person, I don't like them, or they're doing this and it's making me feel, but it's still in you.
It's in how you are reacting to and influenced by whatever's outside of you. But it's here inside of you. And so, when we're like, I don't want to do, I don't want to look at that and we're avoiding it, we’re avoiding ourselves. And it may even go to the level which certainly has in terms of a practice for me, it might go to a level of abandoning yourself and completely vacating the premises, which I am a pro at to avoid “responsibility”.
But when you actually go head on and go, okay, this is mine, these are my fields, this is what's in front of me, this is what's on my plate and engage with it may not feel good, but when you engage with it versus avoiding it and you make that a constant practice, there's so much freedom in it because you know that you can tackle it.
You know, you can be with it and you're building up that resilience to be with it, to be with the hard and uncomfortable challenging things.
Shirani: [00:25:23] Yeah. And when I hear that, it makes me think of every time I have taken personal responsibility for when I have caused a harm. Um, every time that I have taken ownership of what is mine, I've grown in my self esteem and my self confidence. Like it's really strengthened my sense of self, when I've done that.
I’m in a 12 Step Program that's spiritual path that I walk, and they have a phrase that says in order to develop self-esteem you have to do esteemable acts. And it took me the longest time to figure that out. And then the more I practiced really taking ownership and personal responsibility of what's mine.
All of a sudden my esteem grew. And I wasn't like one down anymore and you weren't better than me, and I wasn't less than you and I wasn't better than you, and you weren't less than me. Like it brought me more, even with my brothers and sisters in humanity.
Andréa: [00:26:19] Yeah.
Shirani: [00:26:20] And something else that you said, you know, that there's freedom in responsibility.
And you're right. It could be perceived as kind of this oxymoron where like, yeah, a lot of times we think of responsibility and we do think like, Oh, that's heavy. I was a burden. It's too much to bear. And yet there is so much freedom when we take responsibility for what's ours.
I think it's a quote by Mark Twain and I'm going to totally butcher it. And it's something along the lines of like, if you tell the truth, like you never have to remember a story or something like that. And that's what happens for me every time I take accountability for what's mine, you know. It frees me, it clears my side of the street, it clears my spirit.
What someone else decides to do is totally up to them. Whether they are open to accepting it or not accepting it, like that's on them. And I have to be totally detached from whatever it is that they choose to do with my ownership. And it's really funny because I'm recalling that there was a time where I realized not everyone is ready to have their personal power returned to them.
Andréa: [00:27:41] Oh, yeah, no.
Shirani: [00:27:46] Yeah. Yes. And then you're the bad guy. Yeah. And I'm remembering clearly there was a situation that occurred and I really was like having a conversation with this person and it like literally was giving them back their power. Like, how do you want to show up in the world? And I became the black sheep in the whole situation.
And it took me forever. Cause I would take it so personal, that interaction, I'm like, what was it about that? And it was like, Oh, that person wasn't ready to have their power handed back to them. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Andréa: [00:28:26] Have a lot of experience. Um, yeah, I think my only, my only thoughts around it is I have, um, I don't know if you've talked about human design at all.
I know we, we've only just, Oh, we were just talking about it the other day, but one of the things in human design, which is the system of, kind of understanding how your energy works, basically. It brings together a lot of different theories and ways of understanding humans, but learning one of like my type is I'm a projector, which means a lot of different things.
It doesn't mean in like the psychological term where you’re like projecting..
Shirani: [00:29:06] I mean, you’re not gonna put your garbage on me and say it’s my fault..
Andréa: [00:29:11] No, it literally means like I am projecting energy out. I absorb people's energy and it moves through me. Anywho, I realized it’s one of the things that has been really supportive of just learning more about that system of thinking, is this idea that like my strategy for success is to wait for the invitation, which means essentially like, because I am so porous and just like take in so much energy from other people, I can read them really well, especially if they don't want to be read. Like I can feel into like when there's something going on for someone or they're like moving through something.
And I learned a long, I learned when I was like a child that pointing those things out was not a good idea, especially when I haven't, nobody's asked for it. And so I've had to get into a way of being around it where it's like, if I recognize that someone's not interested in being held as sovereign or powerful, they might say that they are, but they're actions and decisions show differently, that's a clear, no.
So, what am I up to trying to get around that no, and trying to convince them otherwise when they have a no. And that's okay. That's fine. It might suck, for them, but that's, it's theirs. That's their suckage to deal with. And it might not suck. They might be enjoying themselves, but..
Shirani: [00:30:54] Right, because who's to say it sucks. I might think it sucks. You might think it sucks, but they might think it's absolutely fine and dandy for them.
Andréa: [00:31:01] And the reality is none of it is my business. And so with that, and I think like bringing this out even more where I know a lot of people who want to make a difference in the world and are like really on this train of anti-racism or anti-oppression like want to convince the people in their lives to see things differently or understand like this thing or that they're realized that they're perpetuating this thing over here.
And, and there is a way that we'd go about it. That does the very thing that we're asking them to see whether it's like we're wanting to like uproot any form of dehumanization in the world and you're going, Hey, I see something better than you do and you're wrong for the way that you see things. So I'm going to berate you for having your own way of thinking and being, because I want you to be different and I won't be okay until you are.
Shirani: [00:32:05] Oh, you just took us deep.
Andréa: [00:32:09] It's contemptuous. In the sense that it's, it's assuming that, you know, better than the other person, that you see and understand them better than they do, that you have the right answers and they don't. And so you need to teach them or show them the way. You're making yourself superior to them.
And that is the very thing that so many of us are fighting against, supremacy, contempt, dehumanization, disregard of people's experiences and wants and needs.
Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the podcast. If you're enjoying what you're hearing and you'd like to contribute to the sustainability and accessibility of the podcast, then please find your way over to the show notes where you'll find several different ways that you can contribute and support the podcast, and also an invitation on how you can join the Fierce Authenticity community.
Andréa: [00:33:24] So I wanted to bring that in there too. And like widen that where it's like, when somebody is doing something that we don't like, how are we engaging with and what tools are we using to try to get them to be different?
Shirani: [00:33:40] Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And you're taking us right into another part of the conversation that I'd love to have with you.
And first gosh, just thank you for the way you described it. You just answered a personal turmoil that I've been in, where I have a friend who I'm not in agreement with some of the choices that she wants to make with her business. Cause I think that she has a lot more learning and unlearning and deconstructing to do before she can support the people that she wants to support.
And as a Brown person I’m like, Oh, you are not ready. And I want to, I want to tell her that she's not ready.
Andréa: [00:34:23] Yeah.
Shirani: [00:34:24] And I was messaging with some friends back and forth and another friend of mine said, check your motive, what is your intention? Are you trying to school her or shame her? And I was like, Ooh, ouch. Yeah, there might be some of that.
And so hearing your response right now, it really just answered that question for me. Which my mind is ping ponging in a bazillion different directions, because that was exactly what I ended up doing with my email community. When I was launching my most recent program, The Fierce Authenticity Liberation Experience and that's what led me to purchase the Rise Up program and actually purchase it so I have access to it on demand and can revisit it at any time.
And I had shared with you on our somehow private call that I was talking about liberating ourselves. And yet I was using all of the oppressive practices that a lot of online marketers use - fear, shame, there’s this thing I know that you need this thing, and I know better than you, and I was when it hit me, I was just appalled. I have a whole podcast dedicated to it. It's called Failure To Launch is the episode dedicated to debriefing that. And it was just it’s so insidious, the ways that we participate in these behaviors without recognizing it, even when we're on the path towards deconstruction and decolonization, and unlearning and learning something new, yet we can still operate from that place.
And so, that's kind of where I want to shift our conversation into, which is you mentioned sovereignty and you mentioned how a lot of people are trying to do like anti-oppressive things right now, and yet what tools are they using and stuff like that. So let's talk a little bit more about personal sovereignty and how oppression continues to show in our relationships and our world, with ourselves, whatever you want, Andréa, go.
Andréa: [00:36:41] So, I’m sovereign, you're sovereign. Every human being is a sovereign being.
We all have different abilities, different identities, different ways of being, different responsibilities, but we're sovereign in that like we rein over our being, period. Even, even in a space where people's sovereignty is being attacked, they still remain sovereign. Even when someone thinks that, and the same thing with power, like you're, you have power, even if a system or a group of people within a system are trying to take away your power, you will still have the power, you still have power period.
And so, when I think about sovereignty and I think, especially around making a difference in the world, I think a lot of people get stuck because we go, let's honor indigenous sovereignty, or let's honor the humanity of all people, but we're willing to deny the sovereignty of another human being to try to gain back “the sovereignty of another human being”.
It don't make sense. I mean, I get it. I get why we do that because that's what we know in terms of how, how to get what we want. That's those are the ways that we know, but we got to do it differently. We've got to do it in ways that when we don't know yet, maybe. And I think that's, that's where we, a lot of us get stuck because when I say that we're using the same tools of oppression to try to eradicate oppression in our relationships, our families, our schools, our work environments, online, everywhere, people go, Okay, well, what else do we do? That's my question back.
Shirani: [00:38:56] I know I asked you that question. What else do I do?
Andréa: [00:39:00] Well, and what did I say? Follow what, what speaks to you? And it's connecting back to yourself, connecting back to who are you? Who do you want to be in this life? How do you want to show up? What are you rooted in? If you have connection to any spiritual or religious realms, who did God make you to be? Who did your ancestors for you to be, or be able to do like connecting with all of that and then connecting with your creativity.
There are a multitude of different decisions we can make other than coercing someone into doing something different or manipulating someone, or shaming someone into doing something different.
There's so many other decisions we can make. And I'm not saying that those decisions are bad, but they're certainly not getting us what we want. Maybe for a moment.
Shirani: [00:39:59] Yes. It's temporary. It's fleeting. We think that we are. But long-term, it's not sustainable.
Andréa: [00:40:06] Yeah.
Shirani: [00:40:08] Yeah. Yeah. And your response to me in addition to what you shared right now, um, the other piece was, and remembering that no matter what I choose, I have responsibility.
Andréa: [00:40:22] Thanks for bringing that back.
Shirani: [00:40:24] That I have personal responsibility, no matter which tools I choose to use.
Andréa: [00:40:31] And that's where the freedom is. Like, I think, and there's a part of me that goes, Oh God, I still have responsibility no matter what I choose. There's also the freedom in that where it's like, okay, make a decision and to see what happens.
You're responsible for the consequences of your decisions, but once you see those consequences, you can always make another one. You can always make another decision, go out and make another mistake, or have another success or whatever. But you, you are always able to make another decision. You can always, you can't go back and change what you did, but you can go back and look and say, okay, well, I want to do this now. And change the whole game.
And you're responsible still. But you're responsible still. You, you get to just switch things up. If it's not working for you. If it's not in alignment with who you want to be or what you're wanting to create,
Shirani: [00:41:34] and they love that, that you get to bringing it back to freedom, decision and choice.
Andréa: [00:41:42] Yeah.
Shirani: [00:41:43] And you said something a few moments ago that I would love to dive a little bit deeper into because it's something that I continue to struggle.
It's like in my brain, it continues to misfire, like, I just don't understand how this works together yet, which is when you said that we can be sovereign and we can be free even when there are systems in place that, you know, you said it way more eloquently. But, yeah, that part of the conversation, you know what I'm talking about.
So like I have struggled and I continue to struggle with how to reconcile that. Like, how are we free while still being in systems where, um, it is so oppressive and it, there is an appearance that we don't have our freedoms.
Andréa: [00:42:34] There’s different levels where no matter what situation, culture, system I reside within at any given moment, who I am does not change.
Who I am is not dictated by what's going on around me. So with that, if the systems in place do not reflect our innate sovereignty or innate wholeness, humanity, responsibility, power, like all of these things, if the systems don't reflect it, that is absolutely an infringement on my power, my freedom, my sovereignty, that is something that I will have to navigate for sure.
But I remain sovereign, I remained free. The system in place that's not reflecting that right now, that is absolutely maybe attacking or victimizing, dehumanizing me or other people, but who I am remains. And I think I could absolutely be influenced to believe that I am not free, or to believe that I am not sovereign especially if I grew up in that culture, which is the culture we're living in now all over the world.
In the US it's like, it's, there's little things that attack our personal freedom, our personal sovereignty and power, and like, our ability to say, like, this is who I am, and this is what I want. This is me from the point of being born. There's different things in place to get at that because that serves the system in place right now, it serves the system and in place as. And when I say the system, I mean, the people that are making things happen in our government.
And like, I'm not talking about, cause we talk about system the same way we talk about culture, as if it's this amorph.. like no, the system is not a building, not this system is not in the computer, like in the sense of like, like our government exists within the people that are in place running it. So with things as they are, it serves them to act as if the people don't have power.
The average person doesn't have power. And so we might believe that because we grew up in that doesn't make it true. Even if you believe it, you still have power. So I think that's one of those things where many of us get stuck is like, how could this system be infringing on my power and I, and I still have power.
I think that's just, that's a question to sit with, how is it? I think about like an image is coming to mind of standing rock. I visited and supported in whatever ways I could back in 2017. And I remember we showed up the morning after. The police had hosed down a big group of protestors. And while their sovereignty was being attacked, the sovereignty of the land was being attacked and it continues to be their humanity being attacked, might have felt like they were powerless, like from the outside looking in.
But being there that was not my experience. My experience was not that there was with, within the people, the tribes present. It did not, I did not get a hint at a question of whether or not they were sovereign or whether they had power or not. They had power. They were using it.
They were sovereign and they were utilizing that. And I think about the, I think about the people, even within internment camps or concentration camps across time, whether it's Holocaust or here in the United States, there were people that said, okay, Book, this is where I'm at. And of course grief and all of like feared terror, all of that and went, okay, what am I going to do with this life of mine as it is.
And so it's really, I think it's, it's hard to pull apart because we are either a hyper individualistic society, or we try to like veer over into hyper collectivism. And it's both. The people that upheld the system of the Holocaust responsible, the person experiencing and at the brunt of. The Holocaust remains responsible for their own life and what they choose to do with it. Both exist.
And it doesn't take one person's responsibility or sovereignty or power off the table. Because another party is responsible as well. And it goes back to that thing that when we were talking about the prisons and everything, where we think if we talk about our responsibility, that means that they aren't responsible anymore.
And it's like, no, we're all, all of us have our part. All of us have our power. All of us have our responsibility. What are we doing with it? How are we engaging with it?
Shirani: [00:48:59] All of that was so powerful. And it's going to take me some digesting. I am going to,
Andréa: [00:49:04] You just took us deep.
Shirani: [00:49:06] Yes. No, you just took us deep. Um, and thank you for going there and for sharing that beautiful image of when you were at Standing Rock.
And that's actually one of the thoughts that I had as I kind of was listening and thinking of the question, um, and trying to make sense of it. It's what thought came to me. And it actually is like totally demonstrated by the example that you shared of when you were at Standing Rock was, you know, how in the face of violence, when protestors choose non violence, both with MLK, with Gandhi, even in the current BLM movement right now as like, you know, as it's coming towards the people and the people are like my freedom and my liberty is that I am not going to engage with you,
Andréa: [00:49:57] Right. Because you're not a product of what another person is doing or what a group of people are doing.
You're a product of what you decide to do. Um, and yeah. Yeah. And, and it's not, I mean, it's like your decisions are your decisions. If you're in that position and you, and you choose violence. Okay. Is that getting you what you want in terms of right now and in the longterm, maybe. I don't know. I don't know, but it's not a value system of like, you should do this over, over that. It's what are the decisions you're making and what are the results of those decisions, the consequences, positive, negative, neutral, whatever. And what do, what now?
Shirani: [00:51:05] Yeah. And another thought that I'm having, like, there's two other images that kind of pop up for me. Um, cause I was going to take it even deeper and even further back and be like, well, what about in, in times of enslavement, right?
When, when black bodied individuals were enslaved, like they didn't have the freedoms and the rights and the liberties.
Um, and then I'm thinking of well, they still had song and they still had community, right. And I could be totally misspeaking here, but it also makes me think of my people that were taken from India to Fiji to work the sugar cane plantations as indentured laborers, they still had their song and they still had their religion that they practiced undercover because you know, British rule, that wasn't allowed.
Yeah. So that's what it makes me think of. Those are some other images that come up.
Andréa: [00:52:06] And it's like, they, like, when I think about slavery, which I am like a descendant of people that were enslaved in America, there were people like Harriet Tubman who used what she had and who she was to do what she did.
And then there were people that jumped ship when they were on their way to this land. There, it's not one is better than the other. It's not like we should be like Harriet Tubman. No, that the people that jumped, jumped ship period. And it was a decision that they made about their life and how they want it to live it.
And beautiful, go or free other people or something else in between or beyond, but it's about like what, what life do you want to live? Who do you want to be? And do that if that's what you, if that's what you want.
Shirani: [00:53:22] Beautiful. And I got goosebumps when you acknowledged the people who jumped ship that like, Oh yeah, that was a choice. Oh, beautiful.
And Andréa, this is such a deep and rich conversation, and I feel like we could stay in this space and keep jamming on. And we are also at the hour mark, can you believe that? Like how, an hour has passed. I have no idea.
Andréa: [00:53:51] it's been so good though.
Shirani: [00:53:53] So good. So rich, so deep. And again, like I said, definitely an episode where I am going to need to rewind and relisten several times to be able to like really fully absorb the medicine that you shared with us. And how are you feeling about this as a place for us to wrap up?
Andréa: [00:54:15] I love it. And I just want to add, like, there may be some things that I said that don't resonate with you or like, or like picked on some things inside of you or like made you uncomfortable and, um, great. Like, please don't take what I have shared here as ultimate truth and try to fit yourself into it.
And also don't completely reject it, or you can do whatever you want. But I think my invitation is just to like, be with whatever came up for you in this conversation, because there might be some good stuff for you in that that has nothing to do with me or what I said. But it has to do with what you believe or, and, and what you want or who you are, and that's good stuff.
Shirani: [00:55:08] Yes, and I love that. And that's one of the pieces of my teachings that I'm all about is really like just paying attention to where things get sticky and icky on us, and getting curious and exploring, like, what's that about? Evaluating it almost like, um, as though it was a specimen that you were examining and, you know, as a part of our soul excavation that we do when we're on this path of growing and healing and learning and evolving.
And so, I love that. Thank you for inviting me and listeners to just really connect with themselves, get into right relationship with themselves and their truth and to get curious, and to not abandon themselves in the belief that you are superior and that you know, better than they do.
Full circle, here we are. And gosh, this was just such a wonderful conversation, Andréa, thank you so much for being here with me and bringing your medicine to my listeners and sharing your wisdom with us. And before we go, please let our listeners know how they can connect with you and where they can go to learn more about the school.
Andréa: [00:56:34] So, to learn about the school which is really like my primary offering right now, Whole Self Liberation, you go to wholeselfliberation.com, um, and follow us on Instagram, especially @wholeselfliberation. And then my website is andrearene.com and, um, and most active on Instagram @andreareneej and on YouTube @andreareneej.
Shirani: [00:57:07] Alright. Well, thank you again so much. And all of the links will be in the show notes, the podcast description, they’ll all be there. And again, thank you so much, Andréa. It has been such a gift and a pleasure.
Andréa: [00:57:21] Thank you.
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