Exclusive: Iyanla On Evelyn Lozada’s “BBW” Return, Why Neffe Was “Out Of Order” And Fix My Life Season 7
Your Saturday-night obsession is back, beloved. A majority of the episodes from this upcoming season of Iyanla: Fix My Life, which premieres on Saturday at 9/8c on OWN (check out the new trailer here), deals with doing the work to heal relationships. That includes stars like Neffeteria “Neffe” Pugh working to mend her marriage and Laura Govan trying to work on her co-parenting relationship (and relationship with her family) to everyday people trying to better themselves and their families. In preparation for Saturday’s premiere, we had the opportunity to chat with the wise Iyanla Vanzant about what it was like trying to fix the lives of this season’s guests, celebrity men becoming self-help gurus, Evelyn Lozada’s return to Basketball Wives and everything in between. Check out the knowledge she dropped.
On Working With Neffeteria and Why She Called Her a “Gutter Snake”
All of the experiences I have with my guests are growth, healing and learning opportunities both for me and the guest. I am the cold water in your face coach. And I don’t accommodate bad behavior in any way. I don’t support the guests in living out their illusions and fantasies in my presence. And the thing about Neffeteria, she is like many women who have lost themselves or their authentic identity in a way of being or an expression or habitual response or series of habitual responses that they feel are necessary to deal with the situations that they’ve lived through. I made a very clear distinction in supporting her and understanding this distinction between Neffeteria and “Neffe.” “Neffe” was a character. Neffeteria was her authentic identity. Moving back and forth between the two, Neffeteria and I got along very well, but me and “Neffe,” we just did not see eye to eye. And again, understand that “Neffe” was a character created to address certain circumstances, situations and to respond to experiences that she really thought was necessary. Those behaviors became habitual. And one of the reasons she reached out to us was because she said her intention was to understand and discover who I am. And she is Neffeteria, but the behavior belongs to “Neffe.”
How Women, Including Neffeteria, Can Move on From Being “Out of Order“
Being out of order is different for everybody. Some people are out of order financially. Some people are out of order emotionally. Some people are out of order physically. Some people are out of order spiritually. So there’s no blanket remedy. You have to look at what’s not working in your life. So when I say order for a woman, I mean a woman who understands who she is, what her strengths and weaknesses are, how she’s using her strengths or not using them and how she’s allowing her weaknesses to reign, causing consequences that are manifesting in her life. So in this particular instance, “Neffe” was out of order. Not Neffeteria, because I don’t think she was present in the equation most of the time, but “Neffe” was out of order. The story is about the healing or solidifying of her marriage. Because she was out of order as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother. The details of that will be revealed in the story.
But one of the things that we need to do is to be clear about who we are and what we’re doing in the moment. Because if you’re a woman and you’re a mother and a wife, you got to understand what the roles and responsibilities are and who you are in each one. You can’t be mothering your husband and wifing your children [laughs]. Your expectations have to be different for every role. Your responsibilities. This doesn’t mean you have to have different personalities, it just means you have to be clear. Clear about who you are. The clearer you are about who you are, the more fully you will show up in every experience.
On Her Emotional Work With Laura Govan and What Other Mothers Can Learn From It
As a mother of four, part of the challenge that she faced was really learning how to co-parent with her ex who is the father of her four children. It’s a huge issue for many, many women. She too was overcoming the pollution of her reputation on reality television. Laura represents to me so, so, so many women who end a relationship with a man in a very contentious or dysfunctional way. They don’t know how to be in the new form or new normal of the relationship because of the unhealed wounds that occurred in the relationship. And then when you add to Laura the fact that her breakup was played out on social media, which is the workshop of darkness [laughs]. It is the workshop of darkness to me! Because you don’t have to be accountable or responsible. You don’t have to own stuff, you just dump and put it out there, forgetting that every thought you think and every word you speak is going to create an experience in your life. Both Laura and her partner played out this very contentious breakup on social media. So she was trying to learn how to pull that back, how to live beyond the pollution of the reputation she had from being on reality television, and then how to be in a relationship with her children’s father now that the romantic relationship with them is over. One of the things I say to women is that when the relationship ends, don’t call them your ex [laughs]. “Ex” is like marking them out. In this case, she could say, “That’s my children’s father.” That’s what she was learning how to do while trying to live down all of the, what I like to call “wahala,” that went on on social media. There are hundreds of thousands of women who don’t know how to make that shift from what was to their new normal. And because of the unhealed trauma, unhealed wounds and upset that occurred in the relationship, they carry that into the new relationship. It just doesn’t work out well for anybody.
How Iyanla Deals With Negative Responses to Her Work and Messages Online
I don’t have to deal with that. People have a right to their opinions, they have a right to their experiences, they have a right to express it, but why do I have to deal with that? What people think of me is none of my business. Everybody has a right to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. And if I were doing this work to make people like me then I would probably have a reaction or comment, and I don’t [laughs].
What She Thinks of Famous Men Trying to Be Self-Help Coaches
Everybody has experiences that they can speak to and speak about. And everybody has two ears. And when somebody’s two lips are moving, you get to choose what you’re going to do with your two ears. I don’t necessarily understand the phenomena of making someone an expert just because they’re in the public view. I don’t understand that. But just because they’re not necessarily an expert or trained in a particular field doesn’t mean they don’t have valid things to offer. It doesn’t mean they can’t share their experiences. What you do with it and how you respond to it and whether you take it in, whether it’s meaningful to you, all of that is a personal choice.
Her Thoughts on Evelyn’s Decision to Return to Basketball Wives
Evelyn learned some very powerful lessons. What I’m clear about is that the Evelyn that’s on Basketball Wives today is not the Evelyn that was on Basketball Wives many years ago. She’s just not the same person. And her choice of career, I’m sure that she has good reason to feel that was a good move for her. Actually, if she just went on there to share some of the things she’s learned over the years since our work together, I think that would be positive for every woman on the show [laughs]. She lives a different life now. She has a different understanding now. She has a different awareness. And if you recall our show, one of Evelyn’s greatest revelations was the things we talked about and I shared with her she hadn’t learned. She didn’t know. She had upset with her mother, she had upset with her father, she had breakdown around herself. So she learned a lot, not just from me, but what she’s done with her life as a result. So she’s a very different Evelyn.
Don’t be fooled by appearances. The mere fact that she’s there may be to help somebody else.
Image via WENN