If there’s one thing women have in common it’s that we are really, *really* good at making ourselves feel crappy. We do this in a variety of ways from people pleasing to trying to be perfect; from catastrophizing to overachieving, or simply isolating ourselves and numbing out because feeling our feelings is simply too scary.
It costs us our happiness and holds us back from the things that we want most – health, happiness, and love, not always in that order. Andrea Owen, life coach and author of “How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t” offers a no BS explanation on why women engage in these often invisible, but certainly damaging habits.
With wit, humor and bucket loads of compassion, Andrea and I dive deep into the root causes of how and why we create our own suffering and how to navigate the way out.
In this episode we talk about:
- How spiritually bypassing the crap in your life by resorting to “positive thinking” is just as unhelpful as binging on food to numb the pain
- The beginning steps you need to take in order to start feeling your feelings (it’s not as hard or as scary as you might think)
- What a “compassionate witness” is and why everyone needs to have at least one in their life
- How easy and addictive it can be to run from shame – it’s a natural way to try and protect yourself but that are better ways to deal with that painful emotion
- The transformative nature of grief and what Andrea had to cope with after her father passed
- How there’s an “unsexy” side of personal development but yet it’s such an essential part of the self-discovery process
- Learn more about Andrea Owen here: yourkickasslife.com/free
- Connect with Andrea on Facebook or Twitter
- Books mentioned on the show: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
P.S. I would love your review! If you enjoy what I share in this episode, please leave a review and comment on iTunes. I would greatly appreciate it. I truly believe every woman should listen to this podcast episode. Thanks!
How To Stop Feeling Like Sh*t [Full Text]
Jen: I am so thrilled for you to be listening to this episode of Energy to Thrive, because I have a dear guest on today who I’ve actually known for quite a long time.
Andrea, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to interview you.
Andrea: Thank you for having me. Oh my gosh, we go back to the beginning of time of online businesses.
Jen: It’s so true, with little baby businesses. Now look at you, the author of a second book. Andrea Owen is the founder of Your Kick- Ass Life, she has written two books now, and we’re going to be digging in and talking about how to stop feeling like shit, which is the title of her new book.
I just want to dive right in. The whole title is basically How to Stop Feeling Like Shit: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back From Happiness. I want to start off with asking you why you wrote this book.
Andrea: It’s funny, when I wrote my first book I told myself, “There’s no way I’m writing another one ever. Everything I know about personal development is in this book, I’m done.” Then what happens is they say – they, the people – that we don’t write books, that books find us. So I really sort of surrendered to the fact that maybe I would write another book.
I’m certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown, I got certified in her work in 2014.
The whole concept that she calls ‘the armor’ really fascinated me because it resonated with me personally and it’s something that I saw in all of my clients and friends, and humans. That is the behaviors that we engage in that we do in an effort to try to protect us from criticism, from judgment, from other people’s opinions, feeling left out and all of these things that are hard to experience. This is the perfectionism, the people-pleasing, the self-sabotage, isolating and hiding out for some people, numbing, overachieving, just to name a few of them.
When I would talk about these behaviors I would always say, “These are the things that end up making us feel like shit.” Hence the title of the book. I wanted to write about it because they are so common.
Jen: So common.
Andrea: I still engage in them.
Jen: Me too. I was just saying this is stuff that I go through daily, things that I’m working on. The work is never ending, which I love that you repeat that in the book throughout. There is no finish line.
Andrea: I didn’t want this to be a book where it was like, “Here are all the things that you’re doing wrong and you need to fix them in order to be happy.” I make it really clear in the introduction that these are normal behaviors that we do and that we’ve been doing for decades. What I want the win to be for women is that you recognize them quickly when you’re engaging in them, know that they are not for the greater good of who you want to be so that you can get out in front of the quickly and choose something else.
Jen: Yes. I love this. As you know, who I work with are women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who they’ve often struggled with their weight or lack of confidence around their appearance and who just constantly feel “less than”, like they just can’t achieve the things that they really want to in life. Why is this book so important for women now?
Andrea: I know that we live in a culture that thrives off of us not feeling good about ourselves. Our economy does better when we think that we are not enough, because we buy more things in order to feel better. I think that if all of our mindsets shifted that things would really change.
One of the things that I talk about in the book, and that I’ve talked about since the beginning of time, is negative self-talk. That’s the very first chapter of the book. If people listening walk away with nothing else today, I want them to walk away with this: Taking inventory of the way that you speak to yourself is profound. And the way that you speak out loud about yourself, too, because usually what’s going on in our head is coming out through our behaviors and through the words out of our mouths.
That’s where I would love people to start who don’t feel good about themselves and who feel different. What are the thoughts that are going on in your mind? Take inventory of them, know them really well, know what your triggers are, and that’s something else that I talk about in the book, so that you can know quickly and do things that are in alignment with who you want to be.
Jen: For my listeners, I just want to say wholeheartedly that this is a book that I absolutely recommend that every woman reads. I’ve been in the world of self development since I started coaching back in 2006, I think.
Andrea: Like 150 years ago it feels like.
Jen: It feels like forever. It’s what I do. What I’ve realized is this skill set that we get to develop in ourselves as we go through coaching, and I’m sure the work that you did with Brené Brown, another author and speaker who has had a profound effect on my life, you get a skill set and one of those skill sets is paying attention to your inner dialogue. What I realize is most people just don’t do that, they think that’s who they are or that’s just how life is.
Being able to separate the truth from the bullshit that we say to ourselves over and over can change the way that you live.
Andrea: What is that anecdote? I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s about the two fish that are in the fishbowl. One fish says to the other one, “What do you think of this water?” and the other fish says, “What water?” It doesn’t realize that it’s living in water. I think for many people it’s the same with their self-talk.
I remember sitting at the Coaches Training Institute, which is our coaching alma matter, and they call it the saboteur, which is very fancy and French sounding but it’s basically the same thing, your inner critic, your negative inner dialogue. I remember learning about it from them and being just mind blown, “What? You mean to tell me that all of these thoughts that I think about myself and the fears that I have are not true and that I can actually manage them and make them different?”
I don’t want to sit here and tell people that you need to only think… I can’t stand good vibes only and think positive thoughts and your life will change. I don’t know anyone that does that. You’re still going to have the occasional negative self-talk. I do as well. Compare and Despair is one of the chapters of the book, we fall into that behavior sometimes. Again, it’s about knowing quickly when you’re in it so that you can use the tools.
My favorite tool on that is just to have a thought that’s neutral. I just recognize it. I don’t turn it around, I just say, “Well, that was interesting,” or, “That just happened.” I’m recognizing my inner critic for what it is, negative self-talk, and then I choose different behavior. Some days I’m a champion at it and I will turn the thought around and think something good, other days not so much.
I always like to really hit that home with people, that it’s not about hitting it out of the park every single day. Sometimes it’s just recognizing that you’re having that voice and trying to move away from it a dozen times a day. That’s a win, a huge win.
Jen: Totally. I love that you’re so real in this book. For instance, numbing, “Are your numbing mechanisms still working for you?” It’s chapter three in Andrea’s book, called Checking Out: Are Your Numbing Mechanisms Still Working for You.
So much of the work that I do with my clients is how food and booze, wine or whatever, is used to numb because we don’t want to feel our feelings. You go into depth about the fear. It’s not even a logical fear, we don’t even know that we feel afraid to feel our feelings, we just avoid it like the plague.
Andrea: Right, because it’s uncomfortable.
Jen: It’s uncomfortable, yes. I even posted this on Facebook, “I highly recommend having the courage to feel your feelings,” and somebody wrote back saying, “I don’t even know where to begin.”
Andrea: Yes. That’s a big question that I get all the time. “I don’t even know how to begin.”
Jen: It’s almost like, “I’m afraid to start, because what if I never stop feeling it? I don’t want to feel that way for the rest of my life.”
Andrea: I hear that all the time.
Jen: What’s the starting point?
Andrea: What I hear is, “If I open up Pandora’s Box I’m never going to stop crying, because there’s so much.” I quote a woman in my book who was in one of my online classes who says, “I have a black hole of pain that is so huge that I feel like if I poke it it’s all going to come tumbling out.”
I think all of us feel some variation of that. Some people it’s not as dramatic as others. I think that’s part of the human experience. I know that we also live in a culture that has made it very easy to not tune into our bodies and our feelings.
To be honest, this has been one of the ones for me that has been so difficult. Probably like many of your listeners, I am an overachiever, I like to do and think my way through things.
Jen: Yes, exactly.
Andrea: Give me a concept and a strategy, I’m going to check off those boxes. But when it comes to feeling…
I remember at Coaches Training Institute there was one modality that they call process coaching, basically feeling your way through it. I completely checked out thinking, “I will never use this. That is too woo-woo froo-froo for me.”
What I’ve come to realize, years and years of pushing all that away, and making fun of it too, that’s how I would kind of cope with it. I got sober in 2011 and drinking was my last coping mechanism. I went through years and years of love addiction and codependency, then I got healed from those, I had a couple of kids, and then I started drinking a lot and I realized it was starting to get out of control and I needed to abstain completely.
I’ve been sober for six years now. When I got sober in 2011 what I was not expecting – I don’t want to scare people – is all of the feelings that I had pushed away for so many years, my divorce in 2006, some really hard things that happened to me when I was younger, my parents’ divorce, I had an abortion when I was a teenager that I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision at the time, all of these things that were so hard for me came out and I had to grieve and process them.
To answer the question briefly of what it actually looks like, I’m a big fan of journaling. I think that anger is one of those things that, as women, we avoid because it’s scares us. We stereotypically don’t want to be categorized as hysterical and things like that.
I’ll tell you what. I had more than anger. I had full on rage. Rage over things that had happened to me, about how I had been treated, about so many things. Writing about it was so incredibly therapeutic. Kickboxing was helpful. Screaming in my car alone. Crying my eyes out in my shower, crying so hard where I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
I want to say one more thing about feelings. This was kind of an epiphany for me. Our bodies are the wisest part of us, our bodies know what to do. If anyone out there has ever birthed a baby, you know that your body knows exactly what to do. If you have ever thrown up in your life, you know that your body knows. Sneezing, crying, all of these things, even allergies when we’re trying to get something out of our bodies, it knows what to do in order to heal us and bring us back to a place of homeostasis.
I love science. I know you do, too, Jen. I can get on board with that.
Andrea: When I put that in perspective of feelings, “Oh, it’s just my body’s way of knowing what to do in order to heal me,” Then it was like my body needs to do this in order for me to be a better human. That was really helpful for me to start to feel my feelings.
Jen: Amazing. That’s a thing that I really want people to listen to. There are things that can rattle you to your core, and sometimes you do need to go into a mode of survival, you need to survive to get through it.
Jen: The problem is that once you’re through it, you’re like, “Glad that’s over. I feel better, I don’t want to go back and deal with the pain or the trauma.” For me, that was for sure with the experience of divorce. I had two little kids and it was awful, but yet if I didn’t go back and heal that I would have become like my mum. My mum is to this day still an alcoholic and never healed from the experiences that she went through when she was younger.
I think it’s about finding courage to do it. Also, don’t do it alone. That’s the other thing that you talk about. Who are your people? Compassionate witness, you mention. Talk about that. So many people have fixers, “You’re doing it wrong.” Minimizers, “Honey, don’t pay attention to that. Don’t even think about that.” We have all of these people who assume roles in our life, because other people can be really uncomfortable with hard emotion.
Andrea: They don’t want to see us hurting.
Jen: Exactly. Talk a little bit about the compassionate witness. I loved that term.
Andrea: It’s really about finding the people in your life who you trust enough to share your shit with. I think we all have known people and have even been that person who didn’t really show up the best for somebody else. You mentioned a couple of them and I give some examples, like the one-upper, the person who tell a story to and they think that they’re relating but they’re actually trying to tell you how their pain is worse. You mentioned the fixer. If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, then probably your male partner is the fixer, stereotypically that’s what they are.
I’m going to circle back to the compassionate witness, but I want to say this before I forget. What I’ve learned is that what can be really profound in your relationships, whether it’s your friendships or your romantic partners, is prefacing the conversation with what you need. I don’t know about you, but in my 20s I wanted my partner to just know what I needed. Through osmosis or something, I thought he would read my mind, “I just want you to know what I need.” I look back at that and I’m like, “Oh, Andrea, that’s not how the world works, that’s not how people work.”
I know that my husband is so grateful when something happens at work or with the kids where I’m feeling that I need to be seen and heard for that thing. These aren’t just the everyday stories of, “They were out of lettuce at the grocery store,” this is bigger things. I say, “I’m going to tell you something that happened to me that was really rough and all I need you to do is listen. Just put your phone down and listen to me for a minute. I don’t need any advice. Just can you hear me out?” Then I tell him.
He is so grateful that he knows in those moments all he needs to do is listen and give me a hug. Sometimes if it’s a really big thing he’ll say, “I don’t know what you need from me right now,” and I will tell him. Usually it’s nothing, I don’t need anything, I just needed to get it out into the world, into his ears, and share it and be seen in my pain, and then it starts to dissipate.
That’s really what a compassionate witness is, it’s someone that you trust enough that you can preface the conversation with that and they won’t get defensive or they won’t ignore you, or whatever.
What I hear a lot from people is, “Why do I have to be the person to put in all the effort?” with compassionate witness and with communication in general. Unless you live in a place, like a Buddhist Monk place where everybody is into personal development, I don’t know where these places, I live in the rural south and it’s not happening here, most people don’t speak our language.
Jen: They don’t. I’ve had to learn that over and over. My husband has been my biggest teacher. He’s like, “You forget that this is who you are, it’s part of you. Most of us aren’t like this.”
Andrea: Right. I think that, welcome, you have to be the person to make the first move. You are the one who has been chosen on this path to better yourself and learn all of these tools to live your best life. It’s on you. You can’t sit here and complain, “I really want them to be the one to just know or start the conversation, or be perfect in their reciprocity.” It’s not going to happen.
People are going to not show up for you and they’re going to get it wrong and mess up. It’s about asking for what you need with kindness and grace, and also modeling what you want and showing up for those people.
Jen: It’s such a vital part. I think in our 20s we’re conditioned to think, “If they love us, they’ll know what we need and want.” That’s not love.
Andrea: That’s mindreading.
Jen: How else do you learn it except by going through it and going, “Oh, that doesn’t work.”
Jen: Half the time I think, “How can that person know what you need and want when you don’t even know what you need and want?” Self identification of it is key.
Shame – I want to go into this a little bit, too. Obviously you’re training with Brené. For people who don’t know of her, she is an expert and she has written many great books now, all of which I recommend people reading. The first one I read was Daring Greatly and it changed a lot about my self-awareness of myself. The 14 habits that you discuss in your book, I feel like shame is interwoven into almost all of them.
Andrea: It is. That’s why I talk about it a little bit in the introduction of what does it have to do with these behaviors. A lot of people know that I’m certified in that work and I do basically shame work is what it is. It sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. It’s also around courage, values, vulnerability, and communication, but we do talk about shame.
Shame runs our lives, whether we know it or not. If you’re engaging in any of those behaviors, if you’re numbing out, you are running from shame. Shame is running your life, basically. If you are engaging in perfectionism, in people-pleasing, in self-sabotage, in isolating, in all of the habits that I talk about in the book, that is shame manifested.
What’s happening is we do these behaviors in a way to try to protect ourselves. That’s one of the reasons I named that chapter Are Your Numbing Mechanisms Working For You Anymore, because for a lot of people these behaviors work for awhile, the overachieving, the control, the perfectionism. Then what ends up happening, what I saw in my clients, is that they get to a point in their life and I like to say you tied a knot at the end of your rope, you’re hanging on and your palms are starting to sweat.
The women that come to me for my private work, which is very in depth, they have gotten to the point where they know that they’re doing these things, they recognize them in their lives, and they don’t know how to change, they don’t know how to speak this new language, they don’t have the tools. Really what it is at the end of the day, it’s coping mechanisms. It’s new coping mechanisms to be able to deal with life, because life is messy.
You’re not doing it wrong. You don’t have a bad vibration. Sometimes life is hard.
Jen: It is hard. You’re so right. Everybody has a back story. I think what’s so interesting about what you’re saying is you’re right, for that high-achieving, high-capacity driven woman the doing is addictive, because you get praise, recognition, and often promotions, acknowledgement, and awards. Who doesn’t want that? Except when all of your value comes from what you do and not more inherently who you are, it leaves you feeling empty.
Numbing – this was me; I drank red wine every night and had chocolate chips. I didn’t want to be alone with the emptiness in my marriage. First of all, I had to identify it, become aware of it, face it, and then figure out those new coping mechanisms so that wine and chocolate weren’t my best friends at night.
Andrea: That’s quite a process. Kudos to you for doing that. Even sometimes just admitting that there is this big elephant in the room that needs to be addressed can take years and decades for so many people. I imagine that many people listening to your show, they know stuff that is going on that they need to address.
One thing that I want to point out that you said that really jumped out me. You said that the women don’t know who they are. Yes, I agree with that. One thing that I want to give people for that is if you’re feeling like, “I don’t even know who I am anymore,” and I think that happens a lot when we wrap our identity in what we do or as a mother, or any other identity hat that we were, is do values work. In the last chapter in my book I go into depth about it.
I kind of half joke that it’s the unsexy thing of personal development, “Values? That isn’t any fun.” But it is foundational. It’s not just about professing, “I have a value around honesty and integrity and authenticity.” I want to know what that actually looks like. When stuff goes down at work, what does it look like for you to actually honor that value?
What does it mean for you to be authentic? Don’t tell me, “It’s to be my true self.” When someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, how are you going to behave? That’s what I get really fired up about. What do the behaviors look like in your everyday life that line up with your values? At the end of the day, we all want to feel proud of how we’re showing up in the world. That is who you are. That answers that question.
Jen: I love it. The values work is critical. You do such a good job of helping people. In that chapter you do a great job of helping people, the reader, understand the importance of it.
Andrea: What they look like. That was the thing, even in the beginning of our coaching journey, when I had my first coaches many years ago, the first thing that we’re taught is to do values work with our clients. I had brand new coaches that were working with me and we would define what my values were, but nobody asked me, “What does that actually mean for you?” It’s only like 5% to know what they are. The big work is actually doing it and knowing what it looks like.
Jen: Totally. I’m going to jump to another area, because I know you experienced or went through a personal crisis in the middle of writing this book. I know you’ll share. I want to know how did that change things for you, how did it influence how you wrote this book? Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
Andrea: Yes. I can finally get through telling the story without crying now, so that’s good. I was probably about 60% done with the manuscript. My manuscript was due to the publisher on December 31, 2016. I got a call at the very end of September.
My family and I had just gotten back from a Disney Cruise. I knew before we left that my Dad was sick, but we didn’t know what was wrong. I asked my stepmom, “Should we cancel our trip?” and she was like, “No. Just go. We’ll find out by the time you get back.”
We get back at the end of September. My stepmom called and I was talking to my brother as well, and found out that he had a rare form of Leukemia. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was basically turning his bone marrow into scar tissue. They said that anyone diagnosed with that basically has about a year to live and they said he probably has some months. I didn’t know what that meant.
I flew home on October 5, and I did not even recognize my father. I talked to some doctor or hospice person and said, “I wanted to know how long he had.” That’s what we want to know when someone we love is terminally ill. She said, “It really depends on how fast he’s declined.”
I said, “I just saw him in June and he was my Dad. Now it’s the very beginning of October and he looks like a different human being.” I knew in my gut that we had weeks. My poor stepmom was talking about what she was going to get him for Christmas and I’m thinking, “He’s not going to be around.”
I was there for five days, flew home for another five days, went back because they said it was time, and he died the next day. It was just he and I. My stepmom had just left 30 minutes prior to go home and get some sleep. She had some health issues of her own. I was there with my dad and it was both an excruciating and beautiful experience.
Jen, I didn’t know anyone who had died up to this point. I was 41 and I had never lost anyone. I had never even lost a pet, let alone a parent. I was with him when he took his last breath. I wish I could say that it was beautiful and I was hugging him and crawled in bed with him. I kind of panicked and it was a really weird experience.
We knew that he was dying, that it was going to happen within a day or so. When he stopped breathing, I just was calling the nurse. I don’t know if I expected them to resuscitate him or what. I’m yelling, “Dad!”
I turned into a child in that moment. It was excruciating. Then I’m pacing the room. I was by myself. I sort of left my body in that moment and it felt like I was like, “Where are the adults? This is a very adult situation.” I was pissed at my siblings because they didn’t want to be there. At the end of the day, it turned out exactly as it needed to turn out for both of us, for he and I.
To bring that back to the book, I got home and I was like, “I need to finish this self help book. You have to be kidding me? There’s no way I can do it.” I asked for a six month extension and they gave me three weeks.
What was really interesting is that here I am writing a book about the behaviors that we do when life gets hard and I am faced with a personal crisis. Will I eat my words? I wrote about this in the book, I went back to some of the chapters and wrote about it where it made sense.
I did. I went to the mall the day that we found out he was terminal and I bought a dress and a pair of shoes that were entirely too expensive, because I couldn’t even fathom not having the perfect outfit for my Dad’s funeral, an outfit that I would wear one time. I lashed out at some people that didn’t deserve it in my grief. I numbed out, there were a few days where I just didn’t even get out of bed.
That’s okay. It’s okay. This is a lesson that I tell my children. You are allowed to feel whatever you feel, but you are responsible for your behaviors around it. I tell me kids, “You’re allowed to be mad at me, but you’re not allowed to be nasty at me. If you are, I need you to clean it up.” That’s what I did.
Jen: I just want to pause for a second, because I want people to get your circumstances.
Andrea is a mom of two. You’re married. You run a thriving company. You have a coaching business. You run classes. Here you are in the middle of this book, two months before it’s due, with a deadline looming, Christmas happening, and your dad passes away.
I do not know how much more intense of a life situation you could have had o handle. I really don’t.
Andrea: It was a really hard time in my marriage, too. My husband is one of those people who when someone is very uncomfortable he wants to just not talk about it. He’s come a long way. Thank God for marriage counseling, he has come a huge long way. But, when this happened, it was big.
Usually when stuff happens to me I can tell him, “Here’s what I need from you,” like I was saying in the beginning of our recording. When this happened I was like, “I do not have the time, the patience, or the compassion to guide you through this. You’re on your own. Figure it out.” I’m in bed with like a fort and he’s just in the doorway like a deer in headlights, calling my friends and saying, “What do I do?” and they’re kind of coaching him through it.
Just the existence of people around just enraged me. It was a rough few weeks in the beginning. I didn’t write. I wrote really dark poetry about my father, about our relationship, and about grief. That’s all I wrote. That’s how I felt my feelings. I would cry whenever I needed to. My kids saw me cry, I talked to them about it.
I’m also an over-functioner. What that means is when crisis happens I’m really good in a crisis. Through years of experience of pushing down my emotions, I am able to do it pretty much on call. I was able to do that. I was very helpful with all of the funeral arrangements, I spoke at my Dad’s funeral, I gave his eulogy. What I have come to know about myself is that I can no longer do that and then at the end of that actually feel my feelings.
There were things that sidelined me that I wouldn’t think would sideline me. It wasn’t his birthday or Christmas. It was I saw someone flying a kite and I was brought back to being 7-years-old and Dad teaching me how to fly a kite, running through the park. It was things like that, things that you don’t expect.
All of this to say that grief happens. Grief is one of those things that we don’t like to talk about, because it makes us really uncomfortable. I was one of them, I didn’t have time for your grief, I didn’t have time for my grief either. It was such a huge lesson that I’m so grateful for, of being able to trust myself enough that I’m going to get through this, that these feelings are not going to kill me, these feelings are not going to sideline me and make it so that I can’t function.
I know what depression feels like. I’m not going to sit here and say that I know this is other people’s experience, because I don’t. In my experience, it was about knowing that I was in it and knowing that I was going to come out okay at the other end. That’s how I got out of that.
All that to say that feeling your feelings is key.
Jen: I’m going to make the assumption that you also did what it took to meet your deadline, too.
Andrea: I did. I met my deadline, the three week extension deadline, pretty much to the day. It was a lot of writing on the weekends and getting up at 4:30. But, I gave myself that time. When he died, I didn’t write for an entire month. Trust me, I was on the phone with my editor crying and saying, “I can’t do this.”
Jen: I’m going to both acknowledge you and use it as a teachable moment. First of all, you did what you needed, you showed up for yourself. You must have had such a heart burning desire and passion to get this book out into the world, because of your deep knowing of how it was going to change hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.
What I find is that so often we can go right back to justifiable excuse making about why we don’t push through and do or achieve the thing that we really want to achieve. You had every possible justifiable reason in the world to just shut down and not get this book out, and you didn’t. I’m saying that because so often I hear, “I was busy,” or, “It was Saturday,” or, “My kids were sick,” or, “I had to stay late at work,” and it becomes the rationalization for not doing the work.
Each one of your habits around what’s holding you back from happiness are going to help a listener change this – and you modeled it so amazingly yourself.
Andrea: Thank you. Full transparency, in those first couple of weeks I was like, “I don’t give a shit if this book gets done.” There is something to be said for being held accountable by a corporation that paid me a lot of money to do this. Deadlines, yeah.
Jen: Exactly. In your work and what you’ve noticed along the way in developing your business and the countless women that you’ve worked with, what do you think are the two or three most common habits?
Andrea: Oh gosh, there are so many of them. I always like to tailor it for the listeners. For your listeners, I would guess overachieving, perfectionism, and numbing out. Those are what I would say are the most common.
The one I love to talk about the most that I think doesn’t get talked about enough is the concept of being strong. I think that we wear that as a badge of honor. Again, it’s a whole chapter, it’s one of the habits. We feel like being strong is going to protect us from feeling our feelings or from looking weak, or from looking hysterical or whatever the labels are that we have.
That chapter came to be when I was on Facebook. It wasn’t a friend of mine, it was like a friend of a friend had lost her child in a car accident that she was driver in. One of her children had passed away. I’m reading the comments and so many people were saying, “Stay strong,” and, “Be strong.” It struck me, because the opposite of that is to what? To fall apart? This woman lost her child. I wanted to say to her, “Honey, if you need to fall apart, then fall apart. Find your people, find your compassionate witnesses, and fall apart.”
I want to turn the whole concept of being strong on its head and define it as being strong is feeling your feelings and working through grief. We are uncomfortable with grief and we tell people to be strong because we are uncomfortable in their grief. We are uncomfortable with our own grief of their situation, therefore we don’t know what to say, so we tell people to be strong. I want nothing to do with that.
Jen: I love it. The chapter title is Being Strong: The Elusive Tough Exterior. That exterior is like the mask or when people say that they’re fine. My acronym for fine is “Fucked up inside, nice exterior.”
Andrea: I love that.
Jen: Whenever I hear, “Oh, I’m fine.” I’m like, “Oh, poor thing. Talk to me. What’s going on really?” The shell and the mask, they don’t serve you.
Again, read everything in this book, but you could also go through this and just pick the chapters that you feel are really calling to you right now.
Andrea: It’s not meant to be read perfectly in order. I don’t like self help books that are like that, because if I see a chapter that jumps out me. That’s what I wanted for people, if you really struggle with overachieving or people-pleasing, then jump to those chapters first.
The very last chapter on values, I kind of wanted to put it in the front, but it ended up in the back because it’s a huge solution to all of them. Definitely read that one as well.
Jen: If listeners could walk away with one piece of advice that they could implement or start today, what would that be?
Andrea: This is a place I always want people to start. Your people are probably fairly familiar with this; taking inventory of your self-talk.
The way that I like to do it is break it down into parts of your life. It’s body and appearance, which P.S. everybody, for women, our body and appearance is our number one shame trigger. Body and appearance, career, romantic relationships, friendships, your past and your present, maybe parenthood as another area for you.
Write down what your negative self-talk is in those areas, if you have it. It’s not an invitation to make up stuff if you have your job on lockdown or whatever. What do you hear yourself say when you step out of shower and see your naked body in the mirror? What happens when you get into another fight with your partner, what do you walk away saying when you’re not blaming him or her for it?
I invite people to do that, so that you know. It can be the hardest step, but taking that inventory is huge. Like I’ve said several times, it’s about getting out in front of it and knowing when it’s happening and paying attention so that you can learn to be more compassionate with yourself and change that negative self-talk.
Jen: Amazing. I need you to share with listeners how they can find you, how they can get your book, where they can order, all of that good stuff. If you’re listening right now, all of the information will be at the bottom of the show notes page on my blog. You can go there and click podcast and you can get the resources there.
Andrea, how can we find you?
Andrea: The best way to do that is YourKickassLife.com/free and there are two options there. If you just want to get to know me better, there’s an option there. If you want to buy the book and get all of the bonuses that go along with that, there’s an option to do that and it will walk you through it.
Jen: Awesome. That will be in the bottom of the show notes.
My friend, it has been so amazing to learn more about the process and the woman behind the book, which is always what I get excited about when I have an author on. It’s been just amazing to hear you share. I just finished this book late last night, after starting it in October, and I highly recommend it to everybody listening.
Andrea, I want to thank you for coming on to my show today.
Andrea: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve loved watching you grow and your business. Thank you for trusting me with your audience. I don’t take that lightly. Thank you to everyone for sharing this time with us. I’m so incredibly grateful.
Jen: One last favor to anybody listening. If you like this, please like it, share it, review it on iTunes. The more women who get access to interviews like this with real conversations about what real life can be like, the better we can do as women helping to lift each other up. That’s just a request in there, please.
I’ll see you on the next show. Thanks for listening. Bye for now.