The Power of Healing, Boundaries, and Joy with Josh Odam

Today I’m talking with Josh Odam about healing, boundaries, and joy. Josh is a Trauma-Informed Life Coach who is the Founder and Curator of Healing While Black, an online platform devoted to normalizing conversations around mental health for Black and Indigenous queer, trans*, and gender non-conforming people. Josh holds nothing back as he recalls the experiences that pulled him to his current coaching path focusing on the Black LGBTQIA+ community.

What to Listen For:

Being outed in 8th grade by a friend he thought he could trust
His drive to be the person that he needed when he was younger
How fortunate he feels to have had nurturing parents
Wanting to be involved in all things political from a young age
Where he got his first taste of grassroots activism

“I was able to meet David Dinkins, and it was in my senior internship where I was able to meet Nancy Pelosi. Having these experiences as a 17-year-old, an 18-year-old going into high school or going into college, it definitely solidified my want to be active in my community.”

Why his sophomore year of college was so pivotal
Not wanting the role of a charismatic Black male leader
Not knowing how to set boundaries at that time and feeling he would be letting people down

“A lot and people would always say, you know, ‘Josh, you gotta slow down. This is a marathon, not a sprint.’

I didn’t take their advice, and it led to a point where I just had to sit down for a while. I was running for a long time dealing with very stressful, traumatic instances, personally and collectively and politically, and I wasn’t taking care of myself.”

What happened when putting himself last caught up to him
His unhealthy habit of seeking out therapy in a reactive instead of proactive manner
His first therapist and how this experience ensured he got back in school and graduated
How wanting to get back to his family served as a major motivator
The piece of wisdom shared with him on transactional living that really stuck with him
Learning to shed the parts of his identity that revolved around being everything to everybody to be validated
Incorporating journaling and reading as self-care practices
Where the spark for Healing While Black came from
How had landed on social work and life coaching vs. psychology or psychiatry

“I landed on social work because I had a lot of conversations with my friends and colleagues and mentors who were in all different avenues and fields, psychiatry, psychology, licensed professional coaching. Social work was the place that felt most natural for me because a social worker has to do so many things. No, I’m not a social worker, but that’s why I landed on social work as a field to move into.”

Feeling pulled to do his part to help with all the grieving and trauma of the Black death, Black queer death, Black trans death that has been happening
Changing his view on life coaching through research but still feeling hesitant to step into this line of work

“You don’t play psychologist. You don’t play with somebody’s mental health. I think there are a lot of fields where you can learn on the fly and kind of figure it out as you go. But I don’t think this is one of those fields, especially not right now.

So I was very hesitant about that because I was like, Oh, I don’t have the credentials. I don’t have the certification.

And everybody was talking to me about like, you make the license, the license doesn’t make you, and you’re not passing yourself off as a social worker. You’re a coach; as long as you’re forthright and forthcoming with that information, people will gravitate to you. And I was like, all right, I guess and then lo and behold, I did all this stuff. I got my certification, and the response was overwhelming. And now I have a full client load.”

Working through his imposter syndrome and announcing his availability and specialties within this line of work as he fully stepped into…