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Couch Coaching: 7 Self Care Lessons from The Bold Type

Last updated on April 28, 2021

In honour of the Millennials of The Bold Type (and in slight fear of Jacqueline), here’s a listical:

1) THEY SEEK THE TRUTH

Jane is as tenacious about finding the truth within herself as she is with the stories she reports. Even when she doesn’t want to know, she KNOWS that, ultimately, the truth is what matters.

While Sutton (fashion assistant then – spoiler alert – stylist) isn’t a dogged reporter, she is honourable in terms of sharing extremely difficult truths – sometimes maybe TOO soon (I have hope for S5) to ensure her partner, Richard, knows BEFORE making big decisions.

What is YOUR truth today? What supports can you put in place as you dig deep and find whatever courage you need to face the truth in your life?

2) THEY EMBRACE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS

The four seasons so far have covered so much – from race to sexuality, illness and miscarriage to infidelity, sexual harassment, toxic masculinity to addiction and gun control.

All the characters (not just the main ones) are nuanced, doing their best. Because they approach their friends, partners and colleagues with RESPECT, even though we see them struggle with the relationships, they grow. They learn. They’re forgiven when they get it wrong. And they celebrate, they have fun together – it’s not all serious. The laughter and love support the challenges and growth areas.

Who are you afraid to speak your truth to? Who do you find it hardest to listen to? How might you go a little easier on yourself and them?

3) THEY APOLOGISE WHEN THEY NEED TO

As (editor) Jacqueline mentors (new writer) Jane, she’s very clear around not apologising when it’s a reflex and not warranted and also the need for it when it is. I’m attempting to avoid any spoilers but think I can safely say that when Jane hurts Alex, she apologises. He brushes it off calling it business and instead of accepting the out, Jane apologises again, accepting responsibility. After the past several years of so many people doubling down after bad behaviour, I rewound this scene a few times, drinking it in like a little oasis of hope for humanity.

Do you apologise when there’s no need? How about when there IS?

4) THEY HAVE A SAFE SPACE

Cagney and Lacey had the women’s loo at the police station. Jane, Kat and Sutton have the fashion closet at Scarlet magazine. They send each other little bat signals (via text and saying ‘Fashion closet, now’) and use their superpowers of support and empathy as they help each other through bad days and support each other in digging deep for courage. All surrounded by pretty clothes and accessories. And no matter HOW busy they are, they make time for each other.

I realise that the pandemic limits things potentially but where are your safe spaces? Who can you count on to come when you call? Who can count on you?

5) THEY ASK FOR SUPPORT

They’re (fictional) humans so they struggle with it too – in some cases, they’re amazingly open about certain things while struggling alone with others but I imagine Brene Brown would be very proud of their vulnerability with people who can help them become more wholehearted rather than shaming them further. And this applies to the other characters, too – there are no Mean Girls here. They’re inclusive and listen to, support (and challenge) the others, too. Where they recognise they CAN’T access the support they need, the conversations help them see how they MIGHT get the kind of support they crave. There is a beautiful balance in the way the writers have them almost equally supporting and being supported (and I hope they up their game for Sutton in S5!)

Are you used to going it alone? Do you offer support but rarely receive it?

6) THEY OWN THEIR SHADOWS

Kat mentions her parents being shrinks so often, I laughed (having struggled through my own therapy training) at the vibe she gives around that being all there is to it. And yet, her direct and compassionate approach to so many issues make it easy to imagine endless conversations at the Edison home as she was growing up where (even though race was never discussed until it was) things were talked about and shadows were owned.

Sutton’s upbringing meant she had to be more emotionally intelligent than many to better manage with her mother. She has some battles ahead of her as she comes to terms with some deeper issues around how she truly is worthy of all the good things life has to offer but with the battles she’s faced so far, when she deconstructs them afterwards, there’s no projecting everything onto the evil other. A couple of spoiler free examples:

‘She was awful. I was awful.’

‘The stuff he said. The stuff, I said. You can’t take that back.’

Her clarity about her own part in situations gives her a courage that is beautiful. She owns her mistakes (with Oliver, with Richard) while also being true to herself.

When something goes ‘wrong’ in your life, are you able to own your own part in it or is it always someone else’s fault? What about people you disagree with? The more we own our own shadows, the more peaceful our presences can become.

7) THEY TAKE RISKS

It’s not called The Bold Type just as a pun on fonts. Kat, Jane and Sutton are very different but their boldness is inspiring to watch. There’s an element of Veronica Mars, Dr Quinn Medicine Woman and Little Women as they forge their paths in the world.

The other characters are inspiring, too – Jacqueline, the editor who seeks to build them up as well as demanding excellence. Alex, the ‘good guy’ who is (eventually) open to memories that contradict his own. Richard, the board member who (mostly) listens to Sutton (at the start, an assistant)…

Whether they’re wondering how to navigate work, love, healing aspects that feel broken within themselves or the world at large, they keep on keeping on and I cannot WAIT for S5.

What risk would you take, today, if you felt bold enough? What about in your love life? Career? Any other area of life?

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy the other Couch Coaching blog posts with self care lessons from fictional characters including:

Dr Jo Karev (Grey’s Anatomy), Bill and Ted (Bill and Ted Face the Music) Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote), Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) Malificent, Link (Grey’s Anatomy), Nola Darling (She’s Gotta Have It), Sheila (Santa Clarita Diet), the March family (Little Women) and more.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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