Iyanla Vanzant is continuing her work but fixing lives with on a new show, Shondaland’s The R Spot.
Iyanla: Fix My Life fans were devastated when she announced that she was ending the OWN series, but the famed Spiritual Life Coach is back with this podcast.
The podcast, which premiered on August 3, is described as an opportunity to engage in real conversations about the challenges of relationships. These conversations will examine, explore, dissect and investigate relationship issues; before and after a crisis. The intention is to learn how to be better as individuals so that we can behave and feel better in every area of our lives in a way that will impact and improve every relationship.
Available on iHeartMedia and wherever you listen to your podcasts, there will be a total of 52 episodes, released weekly on Wednesdays. Ahead of the first episode, Shadow and Act Unscripted spoke with Vanzant about continuing her life’s purpose of helping and healing in podcast form.
S&A: I'm so happy you're back on this platform, in the podcasting medium.
IV: You know, I started my career in radio. So podcasts, to me, is just the elevated version of radio.
What do you feel has been the most beneficial aspect of your reset or your slowing down since ending 'Fix My Life'?
IV: Clarity. Even though I don’t know how it’s showing up out around me, but inside I just have a different level of clarity, and I’m centered. I feel a lot more centered. A lot more grounded. Those are, I think, the two biggest things.
You're back on Shondaland with your new podcast, ‘The R Spot.’ Why did you feel that Shondaland was a good umbrella to be a part of?
IV: They could see the vision. Anybody that could create the fix or help you get away with a murder, I need to be over there. They could see the vision. And that was important. And they understood the importance of relationships because The R Spot is all about relationships. And they understood that.
You mentioned that the arc is about relationships. If you could sum up ‘The R Spot,’ what would be your elevator pitch for it, and what's different about it from ‘Fix My Life?’
IV: I think The R Spot is raw. It’s real. And it brings to the forefront things that people talk about and think about but don’t know how to address out loud, which is the same thing we did on Fix My Life. The distinction is that The R Spot, because it’s a podcast, gives you some level of anonymity. I had many, many people write us and Fix My Life who wanted to do it. They’d say. ‘I want to do the work. I want to heal, but I don’t want to be on television.’ So many people, particularly men, a lot of men involved in the story, they didn’t want to do it on television. So they asked, ‘What is that space?’ But those people who didn’t get to come in front of the camera.
What has been the most rewarding part about ‘The R Spot’ for you? How are you feeling that your experience has been different and compared to others?
IV: I love the fact that I can go to work braless [laughs]. I had to be dressed up and dressed down for Fix My Life. Now I can be braless. But I think every experience is what it is. I frequently say to people, ‘If you want to know the end, look at the beginning.’ And I began in radio. So moving into this next phase, to be able to do a podcast that is very similar to radio, we just don’t get to play music. I think it says to me not completion, but, first of all, it says consistency. Because I did radio in the ‘80s, so it just speaks to me about consistency and the continuum. And it speaks to even though so much has changed in the world for me – because when I did radio, there was no internet. And yet now people – more and more people – have and are listening to podcasts where you have to listen as opposed to seeing. And listening is such a critical element for relationships. So many of us don’t listen. So I’m excited about that.
You've been the biggest example of what it means to heal out loud. And I do feel as if we are seeing more people do exactly that. If you scroll through social media or you listen to any podcast or radio show or watch anything on television, everyone's using these buzzwords. We hear a lot about boundaries and energy and breaking pathology, and these are all words that you put to the forefront. How does it feel to see your work continue in certain elements? And do you feel as if there has been someone who has picked up where you left off, who's doing this type of work on a more public platform?
IV: Interestingly, I became a meme. I think it’s flattering. I think it’s a testimony to the power of the work. And even though I couldn’t see people, people saw, and they noticed. So I think I think it’s an honor, and they always do it with such respect and great comedy. I love it. Also, being a social media influencer is something else. I had no idea I was one. But I see that people want to be influenced.
I haven’t seen anybody [take this spot]. I’m looking for one. I hope somebody younger than me steps in and picks up the mantle. But that means they have to do their work because it’s not entertainment. It’s work. And they must have the experience to be in integrity with the work, to be able to share the work authentically. So I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve been on the lookout.
How do you feel about the state of the world now aand what is your advice to get us to a better place?
IV: Well, my first it would be a reaction, not a response. It’s horrifying. I am horrified. And then number two, I’m excited. In the ‘90s, Whoopi Goldberg did a picture called Ghost. And I remember when I saw Ghost as a spiritual seeker and teacher. And I said, ‘Oh, my God, somebody knows what’s going on.’ Because that picture, everything that happened in Ghost is on social media today with the light and the energy and the spirit and all of it. So when I’m excited about what I see in the world because it says that things are shifting and changing. All of this upheaval is a function of who we are as individuals, as a society. It’s changing. And for real change to occur, there has to be chaos. There has to be a teardown for there to be a build-up. So every time I see or hear something crazier than the day before, I say, ‘OK, oh, this thing is to get this getting good. It’s getting hot in here. Let’s take off all my clothes, I guess.’
We are being forced to change. We’re being forced to do the things that we avoided, resisted, and denied individually and collectively. When you clean out your closet, you take everything out. The room is a wreck until you put everything back in its place. And that’s what happened. We are so out of order. We are so dysfunctional to things that are just being torn down to be put back in order. So while it is horrifying to look at, it’s also exciting to know.
In what ways are you hoping that our people specifically can take from ‘The R Spot’ and apply it to their own lives?
IV: Everything is a relationship. Everything. Your relationship with people, with food, with your clothes, with your home, with the world, with the news – everything is a relationship. And that’s what I want to talk about. Our relationships look the way we do. They do because we don’t have the skills and the tools. We don’t understand the principles. We don’t have the mechanics required to make our relationships function. And the first relationship that we have to pick up the appeal of clean up is the one we’re having. A lot also is going to be reflected.
The next one is our family. And because of the changing definition and dynamics of family, we really don’t know where to put ourselves because your family, whatever it was, has served as the foundation of your approach. Understanding and participation in relationships. So clean up self, clean of family. Those families build community. So as our families get stronger, our communities will get stronger. But again, skills, tools, principles, and practice. We don’t have it. Even though I failed algebra, what nobody ever taught me was how to give feedback effectively, how to handle a hurt when I have one. How to move beyond the offense into the opportunity for healing. These are all relationship skills. No one taught me how to hear, how to listen.
So when someone’s talking about me, I’m in my brain and formulate my answer. I can’t even hear what they say. Who teaches us that? Who teaches us the difference between disappointment, anxiety, anger, and gaslighting? Who teaches us how to dissolve bitterness? Sometimes so many people in the world are so bitter, that you can’t even talk to them about getting better because they are just too bitter. All of these things are relationship skills, and we’re going to talk about it on show.
The final question is that a lot of your work deals with families. What is your advice to people who don't have the best foundation who are trying to function in dysfunction? Is it possible to continue relationships within those families? Because you did say that that's where you're from and families build communities. But what if it’s not the most positive community? How do you go about navigating that?
IV: It goes back to skills, tools, and principles. I don’t know about you, but as great as I am as a human being, I am crazy as hell. I am subject to losing my mind on any given Sunday. So who amI to be telling you not to be crazy? It just cracks me up. A human can tell another human how they should and shouldn’t be.
What happens in our families and not in our communities, but in our relationships is no one has ever taught us how to speak about the things that bother us. So those things continue to bother us, and then we act them out. No one has told us how to ask for what we need and how to deal with the response that we get. So we walk around angry, upset, and unheard because of what we think we were supposed to have. Crazy as we are. And then we don’t know how to speak about it.
So what makes you think that your family was supposed to be functional and how do you define functionality? My relatives, I discovered, were crazy as hell. But the dysfunction in my family became the foundation upon which I built my fortress. Maybe your family is supposed to be crazy and dysfunctional so that you can learn what you have to learn, you can do what you have to do. But far be it from me as a human being to tell you not to be crazy.