Writer, speaker, teacher, healer Iyanla Vanzant may get most of the kudos for her OWN TV show Iyanla, Fix My Life, but she’s been teaching an healing through her books, appearances and through the medium of television for 25 years.
On her show this season, she’s dealt with challenges including a 600 pound women who hadn’t left her home in 7 years, and a man who told his wife he was joking when he proposed – 20 years ago. On this week’s episode, she deals with a man who stopped drinking years ago, but is angry that he is not feeling valued by his wife and children.
Vanzant tells the Tom Joyner Morning Show that that is reflective of a lot of her work with men. “I don’t know if it’s as much low self-esteem as low self-value – not feeling valued for what they do or what they bring to the table. So often men think that their job ends with providing and they don’t have the emotional connection or emotional attachment, which drives women crazy.”
Vanzant says that men and women simply respond differently to different stressors.
“I think it’s the whole piece about communication. What a man will do is shut down when he’s not being heard, or when he’s not being appreciated. What a woman will do is she’ll withdraw. So this story is really about alienation of affection in the marriage – what happens when the two parties are not getting what they need or want. They don’t know how to communicate and then they just kind of pull away.”
In her 25 years of working to heal relationships, Vanzant says she’s discovered one of the biggest challenges for couples and indeed, one that affects many different kinds of relationships.
“You know the thing is that so many of us have a limited emotional vocabulary and a limited emotional library. We know anger, we know fear, we know good/bad, not nice, but when it comes to feeling sorrow and grief and inadequacy and disappointment, we don’t know how to communicate those things so we shut down. It’s very, very common.”
Vanzant recognizes that she can’t help everyone. There have been a few shows where guests were so entrenched in emotional patterns that even she couldn’t budge them. But she also says one show might not give viewers the entire picture of what happens during one of her sessions.
“You see 48 minutes of what sometimes is two days, three days. And we put it on the air when the people are not cooperative, weren’t ready to do the work. That was the three sisters a few weeks ago. That was a show about not doing a show. (Laughs).”
One of the more surprising things that she has found is that men are just as apt to seek help and be willing to do the work as women are, even though it can be a challenge for men to seek help or to express themselves when they are experiencing certain emotions.
“I think its kind of balanced. Women have probably done more work and I can speak to women and approach women in a very different way. Men usually come in willing but this is very new territory for them, talking about their feelings and seeing somebody’s side and understanding the bigger picture. Men are like ‘What are you talking about?’ It’s really kind of equal but I usually walk very delicately with men because their ego structures are very different.”
Although the DMX episode last season may have been the exception, Vanzant says she doesn’t worry about men getting too out of line Her son acts in a security capacity, traveling with her and making sure no one takes Vanzant’s kindness for weakness.
Overall, Vanzant says she is grateful to her guests on Iyanla Fix My Life for their willingness to trust her and the process.
“The blessing that I have is that people trust me. People want the help. What happens is when fear sets in and they get afraid. But the reaction is not towards me. It’s usually just about what they’re feeling. My guests have been so respectful and so trusting. It’s really a blessing.”
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