Being Honest With Yourself

Being Honest With Yourself

Being Honest With Yourself

Being Honest With Yourself

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Being Honest With Yourself

How to Be Honest With Yourself

Being honest with yourself… is, honestly, sometimes harder than it sounds. It’s said that “the truth will set you free.” Sure, we’ve been schooled about being honest, but being honest with oneself is a different story.

Being honest with yourself requires self-awareness and even courage. It can sometimes be challenging to make contact with your truth, and even harder to take action based on that truth.

Honesty is a little threatening because it’s so powerful. It’s also transformational. And (again, if we’re being honest!) sometimes we’re not ready for all the changes that radical self-honesty can bring.

When We’re NOT Being Honest With Ourselves

So what do we do instead of being honest with ourselves? We play little games with ourselves, or minimize away our feelings. We might even convince ourselves of things that are absolutely NOT true, in order to make peace with non-ideal circumstances over which we feel we have little influence or control. (We might even convince ourselves we have less influence or control than we actually, honestly do).

These strategies to avoid being honest with ourselves are especially common when embracing the fullness of our power feels scary. Honesty challenges us to take action and do courageous things in service of our own health and happiness.

Honesty is hard. Honesty is elusive. It can be anxiety-provoking. It can also be exhilarating. Being honest can be quite tricky, in reality — Whether we’re being honest with ourselves, or with others. But above all else: Being self-aware, and being honest with ourselves (whether or not we choose to act on our truth!) is essential to our overall wellbeing, and the quality of our lives and relationships.

Because being honest with yourself is SO important (and SO challenging) I’m devoting this entire episode of the podcast to it. I have invited my colleague, Denver therapist and online life coach Josephine Marin to share her unique, compassionate insight into why being honest with ourselves is crucial for our growth (no matter how uncomfortable it could get), and some real-world, down-to-earth strategies to help you connect with your deepest truth. 

In this episode, Josephine gives us a glimpse of the process of becoming honest and self-aware so that we can live in a way that is congruent with our true selves. Furthermore, she explains why being honest with ourselves is the key to love, happiness, and freedom.

Tune in to the episode to learn more about being honest with yourself to live out your true and authentic self. (Scroll down to listen!)

Here are some of the main takeaways from today’s conversation:

Why Being Honest with Yourself Is So Important

Not being honest with ourselves can be a form of protection, but it is essential to tune in to ourselves. Without self-awareness and a connection to our core truth, you can get involved in situations (jobs, relationships, and more) that are not good for you.

The worst thing is investing years or even decades of your life to something that is not truly meaningful or satisfying to your authentic self. Josephine offers some suggestions to make radical self-honesty part of your daily practice, particularly when it comes to the most important parts of your life. 

Learning how to be honest with yourself ensures that you will make choices and create a reality that is congruent with who you really are, and what you really want. 

"I have tried counseling for about a decade with various counselors and have never been able to connect or grow with them. [My Growing Self Coach] has connected with me genuinely and helped me grow more in two meetings then several counselors have done in a decade.”

— Coaching Client

The First Step in Being Honest with Yourself

The first step is becoming aware of how you feel is to mindfully and non-judgmentally begin observing your inner reactions to the experiences you have. Noticing how you think and feel is the foundational starting point for compiling information about yourself and your truth. Changes may happen later on, but what’s important is to develop the ability to observe how you think and feel first.

Knowing What Is True

One of the tricky things about “truth” is that it can be subjective. What is true for someone else may not be true for you, and it doesn’t have to be. It can be surprisingly easy to have our thoughts and feelings about what feels true for us tangled up with the perspectives and truths of others — especially people who are very important to you. We discuss some ways to identify what’s your truth vs. what’s someone else truth. 

 It’s also true that your truth can change: What was true for you at one point in your life may not be true after you’ve grown and evolved. Remembering that “truth” is not a constant can help you compassionately and mindfully observe, without judgment, what feels true for you now. We discussed some tips for how to keep track of how your truth evolves over time (and how to be okay with that!)

Reasons Why It’s Hard To Be Honest With Yourself 

While we discussed a number of different ideas and strategies for how to be honest with yourself, we also touched on the main things that can block you from being honest with yourself:

  • Invalidating yourself and minimizing your experiences.
  • Judging or criticizing yourself for your truth.  
  • Feeling threatened or challenged by the truth can make us afraid to sit with our emotions and thoughts.
  • Feeling defensive or rejecting of parts of ourselves that make us feel guilty, ashamed or uncomfortable.
  • Feeling pressured to take action on our truth, instead of being patient and thoughtful.
  • Fearing the consequences of our honesty, for ourselves and for others.
  • Fearing our own power and feeling anxious about what might happen if we trust ourselves, and our feelings about what is true for us.

We discuss ways to manage all of the above, and more, so that you can move forward fearlessly into YOUR TRUTH — whatever that may be!

5 Powerful Takeaways from This Episode

“I think about what it would look or feel like to not be honest with yourself. And to me, it seems like kind of walking around in the world with blinders on or we’re not fully experiencing everything that life has to offer.”

“I think the witnessing that somebody’s sharing or taking an interest in you and your experience, that can just be so powerful.”

“There’s not a human being on this earth that hasn’t had some growth opportunities…. We’re asking for progress, not perfection.”

“A way of thinking about being honest with ourselves is like not doing so is a disservice to who you are, that your needs and your values deserve to be tuned into.” 

“The longer that we are dishonest with ourselves, I think the harder it is to change or to create change.” 

About Josephine

Josephine Marin, M.S., MFT-C is a marriage counselor and relationship coach who provides online therapy, life coaching, and couples counseling here at Growing Self. Josephine is passionate about helping people move forward on a path toward self-discovery and authenticity. 

You can read more about Josephine in her Growing Self page

Enjoy This Podcast?

Learning how you could create love, happiness, and success for yourself has never been this easy. If you enjoyed today’s episode of the Love, Success, and Happiness Podcast, hit subscribe and share it with your friends!

Wishing you all the best on your journey of growth!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: We often use a variety of assessments and questionnaires with our therapy and coaching clients here at Growing Self in order to help provide insight and new self-awareness about subconscious aspects of themselves. One such tool is our “What’s Holding You Back” quiz. It shines a light on different ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that may be creating issues in your life — without your even being aware of them. You’re welcome to take it too!

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Being Honest With Yourself

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Malyssa Bellarossa, “Pretend”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

 

 

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Being Honest With Yourself

Episode Transcript

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Access Episode Transcript

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you’re listening to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

[Pretend by Malyssa Bellarosa]

Malyssa Bellarosa with the song Pretend, song about coming to terms with who she is, who she’s been trying to be, and how to develop radical honesty with herself. Because that’s what we’re talking about today on the podcast, getting honest with you. 

In my experience, being honest with yourself is a fundamental part of the personal growth process. Without that self-awareness and, you know, being connected to your personal truth, it’s very difficult to even know in what direction you need to grow much less do it. Yet, it can be really hard to be honest with yourself. And it can sometimes even feel threatening to be honest with yourself. And it’s also true that we all have blind spots, things that we don’t know that we don’t even know. So being honest with yourself sounds easy, it’s a little bit more complicated in practice. And that’s why we’re talking about how to be honest with yourself today on this episode of the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast. 

My guest today is my dear colleague, Josephine Marin. She works with me at Growing Self. She is a Marriage and Family Therapist [candidate] and a Relationship Coach. But she also works with a lot of individual clients as a therapist and coach, and helps her clients move forward on that path of self-discovery and authenticity. And today she’s here to join her wisdom and perspective with us. Thank you, Josephine. 

Josephine Marin: Thank you so much, Lisa, for having me on. Very excited to be here today and to talk about this topic with you. 

Dr. Lisa Marie: Me too. Well, it’s an important topic. And I really wanted to talk with you about this because, and we work with so many amazing people, but I think I’ve always viewed you as being just like this, especially just like an authentic person. And I know like in our consultation groups, you talk a lot about working with your clients around how to get connected with their truth and affirm that. And so, I know you know a lot about being honest with yourself. And so, let’s just start there. I mean, from your perspective, personally, professionally, through the work you do with your clients, why do you think it is so important to be honest with yourself in the first place? Like why even try? Why to begin? 

Josephine: Sure, yeah, thank you for saying that. When I think about why it’s important to be honest with yourself, I think about what it would look or feel like to not be honest with yourself. And to me, it seems like kind of walking around in the world with blinders on. Or like we’re not fully experiencing everything that life has to offer. It makes me think about when people say, “Oh, well, they’re just in denial, right?” It’s like, what is the opposite of being honest? It is when we are actively denying something. And so, if we aren’t being honest with ourselves, we can find ourselves in relationships, jobs, situations to where we are unhappy, or they aren’t serving us. And that’s one of the reasons that I think it’s really important to make sure that we’re living the life that we want to live and have the relationships that we want to have.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, you bring up such a great point. Like without that connection to your authentic truth, you can kind of just wander into situations that you haven’t like intentionally created and something that can be not good for you. And like relationships, in careers, I have talked to people who have like, you know, are 10 years into a career that they hate every day. And when you kind of unpeel the onion and figure out like, “How did this happen?” It’s often because they made those decisions when they were in a lifespace where they were really not connected within themselves. 

Josephine: Absolutely, I think this, you know, “How did this happen? How did I get here?” These are the kind of questions thatit makes me think of where along the way were we not tuned in. And that’s what really comes to mind when I think about this topic of like tuning in to our thoughts, our emotions, the reactions that we have. We either were not aware of them, and that’s possibly how we got to this point. And sometimes being honest with yourself isn’t intentional. But I think that is, you know, unfortunately that’s part of the problem though if we aren’t tuning in, how are we going to recognize along the way if this isn’t a good fit for us?

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, that’s such a great point. And I also love the fact that you brought up that it’s not intentional. I guess out there somewhere but someone who’s like, “No, I will not think that thought.” But really, like, and as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I immediately thought about the kind of, you know, agony that perhaps a gay boy, or a lesbian girl, adolescent living at home with parents they perceive as being unreceptive, you know. They might have some of those thoughts and feelings like, “Nope, that is not okay for me to think about.” You know, and so that’s like survival. 

Josephine: I think you bring up a really important point, though. That sometimes not being honest with ourselves is a protection or something that we need to kind of get through a period of time, situation, and that can be tough. And that in and of itself, I think it’s about weighing what we really need most right then. Is it going to be most helpful or important to sit with those feelings and to think about what that means for us? Or do we not have the time or resources to really think about what being honest with ourselves really means. And sometimes, it’s not always going to be helpful. And that’s an important distinction too.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Thank you so much for giving everyone permission for that to be true. Like it is okay, Like “I do not have the mental, emotional bandwidth or personal resources to cope with that reality right this very second. So we’re just gonna let that one slide until it is the right time.” Because that’s, I think one of the obstacles to being honest with yourself a lot of times is because if you make contact with something that is true, and is important, and your life as it is is not currently congruent with whatever that truth is, then what? Like, do you have to make changes or have hard conversations? And let’s just let that answer be no, you don’t. You don’t have to do anything.

Josephine: Mm hmm. Absolutely. Now, I’m so glad that you say that. Because I think one just noticing or recognizing that this is a thing, whatever it is. That this is like, “I need to be honest with myself, I need to do something or I’m just noticing.” That is the first step of like, okay, and that doesn’t mean that we have to do anything with it right then or ever. It could just be an observation of, “Hmm, okay. I’m gonna take that in. And then we’ll see.” And I think if it does need to be addressed, it doesn’t have to be then. And the important thing is that we do come back to it when the time is right.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, that’s important. So, that honesty, self-honesty, it’s important for, like you said, you know, making sure that you create a life path that is congruent with who you really are. And also, I mean, I don’t know if this has been your experience, but when I think back to the work that I’ve done over the years with clients, and even myself personally, that moment of clarity. Like even if it’s not the right time to act on, it is very difficult to create any change without that experience of honesty, or clarity, or truth. Why is that like, do you think the first step for people and change is really difficult unless they have that first honesty, piece?

Josephine: Yeah, I think why it’s necessary is that otherwise how do we know where to focus? Or like when I think about if we’re trying to create change or you know, looking for treasures, what’s coming to mind for me is that we don’t know where to start if we don’t have a map, or we don’t know where to start digging, right? And so I think it’s this awareness, this noticing, is absolutely the first step in creating any kind of deepening of understanding. It doesn’t always have to be growth, I think. It doesn’t have to necessarily change as a result of being honest with ourselves. It could even just be better understanding ourselves, our partner, or a situation. And that in and of itself can bring healing, or closure, or some kind of positive difference. We don’t have to do something about it all the time in order for that to be meaningful.

Dr. Lisa Marie: That is also a great point that change can be a change in perception or the meaning that you make of something as opposed to an actual, like practical change in the way that you do things. Change happens on so many different levels. That’s a good point. 

And so when it comes to, like strategies that you’ve seen people use. I mean, like, and there are a lot of practical strategies. But like, if first though, we were just to have some discussion around what it even means to be honest with yourself? Like, what is the goal? Okay, here’s the different question. How do you know if you’re being honest with yourself? Or if you’re like, you know, I mean, you can trick yourself into believing all kinds of things and it can be really confusing to sort through, is this like, the bottom? Is this the deepest layer of my authentic truth or isn’t? Am I playing a game with myself right now? How do you begin to like dial in and even know what’s true and what’s not true for you? And I’m aware that that’s kind of too big of a question. But like, do you know what I mean?

Josephine: Yes, absolutely. No, absolutely. And so I think that’s one of the wonderful things about being human is our executive functioning, and how we can, you know, manipulate, and explain, and help ourselves understand all these things. It can also, I think, be our detriment where it makes things harder. Or like, is this even real? We can go really existential. 

But I think what helps for me I mean, even like, personally or with my clients to think about, like, what is the real truth here? And I think it’s helpful to also remember that our truth can change or what our truth is now doesn’t mean that it’s stagnant. It’s not a consistent state. That in itself could change and it likely will, and that’s okay. It’s really kind of finding our truth in the moment. 

And so, I think having that in mind of kind of really looking inward and sitting with what it is that we notice either in our body, what our thoughts are, what we’re feeling as we are exploring whatever the topic at hand is. If we are thinking about where we stand on a particular issue, or what to do about our job, relationship, and can we explain it to ourselves as a way that I think about it. If we say, “Well, you know, I want to get up earlier. I want to start going to bed earlier, and I want to do that.” Okay, well, why is that important to me? Can we explain the why? And if I’m having a hard time thinking about why I want to do that, do I really believe that? Is that really my truth? Or is this something I think I should be doing, or saying, or thinking? And so if we can’t explain it to ourselves, why is this important to me? Why do I want to do this? Then maybe there isn’t really a whole lot there.

Dr. Lisa Marie: You bring up such a good point and it sounds weird to think about. But it can be surprisingly easy to be kind of like living according to someone else’s truth. Like particularly I think for younger people who have inherited the set of messages about who you should be, and then a way to live, and this is what successful happy people do. Like we internalize. Or like messages from, you know, YouTube or social media. Or like, yeah, I was, I can’t rememberI was with, I’m likeit was some podcast I was listening to. But it was about the experience of someone who was going out to dinner with a friend, and the friend was sharing an opinion. But the other person has been trending on Twitter earlier. And I think it was like political news, but the person stopped his friend, “Is that actually your opinion and how you feel? Or is that something that you heard and absorbed without realizing it?” And the friend was like, “I’m not sure.” I think you know what I mean, like an onslaught of all kinds of people with very strong opinions, like beaming into our brain. And it can be really hard to parse apart. But how do I feel? What do I think? Because, like, there’s so much noise from other people’s opinions. Have you found that to be true with your clients?

Josephine: Oh, yes, absolutely. This is something that I talk about with all my clients, whether it’s individuals or couples. Especially when it comes to relationships, when it comes to expectations that we may hold, and where is this coming from. Is this something that we saw in our family that we are just, you know, internalizing? And is that something that’s actually important to you or to parenting? You know, are we doing this because this is what we feel like we should be, this is what I think a good parent should be doing? Or is it actually important to me to do these things?

And I think that is part of where we get lost as a culture or society of what I like to think of is like mindlessness. You know we aren’t actively, or not actively, but kind of like tuning out. Or we’re so busy, and we’re going, and trying to do so much that we are unable to take the time, of course. I mean, it takes intentional efforts and energy to tune in. And check in with ourselves, “Am I happy? Is my life looking the way that I want? Or am I content with my relationships?” And it’s kind of tuning into those emotions and thoughts that we have throughout the day, as we notice things, and it’s a lot of work.

Dr. Lisa Marie: And you bring up such a good point. It’s like usually we’re all, I meanI know me. I’m like, blalalala, you know. And then along the way, like absorbing information generated by other people all day long. And like, stop for long enough to ask yourself some of those questions like, “How do I feel about this? What do I think about this? What is my true opinion?” And I think what can be especially challenging, and not always, I mean, certainly you can have an honest moment when you’re like, “Hey, I’m really having a good time right now. I love this. This experience is what I want to be doing all the time.” You know, that happens. And that also it’s true that many times, you know, that first inclination of like, “Wait a minute, what do I think about this?” can come up as an uncomfortable feeling, like a vague discomfort. Or, “Why am I having this reaction?” And it’s often like, our dark emotions that are that first like, “Hello, something’s going on that you need to pay attention to.” Has this been true for you? I mean, of course, I’m across the spectrum here, but…

Josephine: Oh yes. I feel like all the time. That very much feels like for me personally when I am noticing something, or I need to be honest with myself, or sit with my emotions to where something will happen, and then I’m like, “Hmmm, what’s happening here?” Or like, “What is this that where I’m unable to make sense of it?” And that is a really big clue for me to sit down, and just kind of think, and say, “Okay, what is it that I’m feeling? Why am I maybe feeling this?” And, of course, as a therapist I validate myself, you know, makes sense that I’m having this feeling. And, you know, all the skills that I work with my clients on. 

Dr. Lisa Marie: Now you’re out Josephine. Now they all know that you use these same skills on yourself. [laughs] 

Josephine: I try. I mean, I will be honest, I am not always perfect at it. I do not always, you know, practice what I preach, but I try. 

Dr. Lisa Marie: I hear you. 

Josephine: My clients help keep me accountable in that way. And so I try to think, you know, “Okay, makes sense that I’m feeling this way.” And then, okay, “What am I going to do about it? Do I need to do anything about it?” And sometimes just sitting with the emotion, thinking about it is enough. If it is a belief or something, if it’s coming up, you know, “I’m having this emotion, what’s happening here? Why does this make me so upset?” And then it could be just realizing, “Okay, so maybe I actually believe this. Or the next time I have a conversation with somebody, maybe I need to bring this up.” 

Dr. Lisa Marie: And yeah, that’s so good. And you know what I also, though, I want to rewind just a little bit because you sort of fleetingly talked about what I think is a hugely important micro skill when it comes to being honest with yourself. And I think because you’re just so good at this and you sort of like, “Well, I’m a therapist. I validate myself.” But I just want to highlight, I think, how easy and common it is for people, particularly women, but men do it too to have a feeling when they’re like, “I am not having a good time right now. Or I don’t, this is not going…” And they minimize their own experience. They invalidate themselves. Like, “You’re just being hormonal. You can never be happy. And just let this go, don’t be difficult.” Or whatever it is, like, there’s all this, like, mental minimization that sometimes they really have to actively fight through. Because it’s sort of like this running commentary about how they don’t have the right to have their own feelings or how their thoughts aren’t quite as trustworthy as those of others, you know. And so, that can be hard. You know, again, you do it so naturally. But I just wanted to point that out because that can mess people up.

Josephine: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, thank you for saying that. But I will also be honest in that I also can minimize myself. Absolutely, no, and it’s such an important thing. I’m really glad that you said that. Because I think if we, that’s a good clue too if we notice ourselves, like, “Oh, stop. It’s just this. Or it’s not a big deal. Or you’re on your period this week.” Or whatever it is, to maybe stop and say, “Well, hold on. I mean, even if all those things are true, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less important what it is that you’re feeling.” So I think one if we noticenoticing is a big skill here. But “wait a second,” kind of having that loving parent voice within ourselves, I think is a great way to frame it. Or like if you were talking to a small child, I would hope you wouldn’t minimize what it is they’re feeling. We would sit with it. And so I think kind of talking to ourselves the way that we would maybe our inner child or somebody who maybe doesn’t necessarily have the skills yet. How do we talk them through it? And then trying to do that with ourselves can be a really big game changer.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. And honestly, I do think that that can be one of the experiences that we have like in therapy or in good coaching that can be difficult. Because I don’t think that therapy and coaching is like the Alpha and the Omega, I think that people can do all kinds of personal growth without that particular experience. But I do think from my own experience and like being with clients, there are two parts of that. I think sometimes when people have the opportunity like that time and space to say out loud how they are really feeling and kind of be invited to dig more deeply into that, is oneit kind of generates that honesty. But the second part just, I can’t tell you how many times I have had a client say something really importantabout who they are and how they feeland then immediately say, “But there are so many people in the world who are suffering with X, Y, Z. So I’m just making a big deal out of nothing. And I haven’t really so good compared to how things could be. I have nothing to complain about. Let’s just move on.” And I need to be like, “No. We’re not moving on. Go back to what you just said. Say that again. Notice how you feel when you say out loud to me right now.” And then, they usually cry. That is the ultimate goal of every therapist. But you know what I mean? Like, I think sometimes it takes that partner to sort of like, validate when it’s hard to do it by yourself. So, yeah.

Josephine: It can be so powerful. And I think part of it is, I think the witnessing that somebody’s sharing or taking an interest in you and your experience. And that can just be so powerful. But I think it’s again, it’s what you described is that slowing down, tuning in, and really thinking about what it is that you’re thinking and saying, and how that impacts us emotionally. Yeah, it’s justit can be so powerful. I lost my train of thought.

Dr. Lisa Marie: That’s all good. You’re being totally honest with me right now. And I really appreciate that. But yeah, that and but also, I think that tendency to minimize can be one thing that makes being honest with yourself hard in addition to sorting out like, “What’s my thought? What somebody else’s thoughts are?” 

But also, um, I don’t know if you’ve encountered this but like, I think being radically honest with yourself can be a little bit threatening sometimes. If you determine that something is true for you that might not be true for people that you care about, where it might go against, you know, cultural beliefs or might potentially create friction in relationships. I’m trying to think of a good example here. Well, I mean, just you know, even with some of recent awareness I think around racial injustice. I mean, for someone who has grown up in a privileged white family who does not discuss such things and who maybe doesn’t recognize that as being an issue at all, to, you know, for a person to begin to have ideas, or feelings, or awarenesses that are against the grain of that. That can feel threatening if they’re no longer in agreement with their culture, even. 

Josephine: Mm hmm. Absolutely. And that is one of the hardest parts, if not the hardest part about being honest with ourselves of kind of, “What this means? And what now? This is the way that I lived my life and conducted myself before, now I’m having this thought. It’s challenging my status quo. What does this mean about me and who I have been? What do I do with this? How will it affect going forward? Will it? And this is a lot.” 

And so I think when we do feel threatened or challenged by something, naturally, we’re going to feel afraid. And fear I think, is kind of hard to sit with. And so then we get angry because that’s easier. And so anger can be a little easier to deal with in terms of its activating, you know, “What am I going to do? Am I going to actively push it away? No, that’s not true.” Or if we can kind of sit with that and be curious about anger, “Well, hmm. What about thisis threatening or makes me feel upset?” And as much as possible trying to get to the heart of the matter but a lot of these things can be changes that might need to take place as a result. And if it is an entrenched deep thing. It could impact our relationships, or how we feel about the community, or groups we belong to. That’s no small thing. Yeah,

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, that can have a major impact on many different areas of life. And you brought up such a good point Josephine which is like, you know, a big part of being honest is having kind of clarity and like taking responsibility for maybe things that you haven’t done as well as you would like to. Maybe mistakes that you made. I know a lot of white identifying people these days are you know, sort of sitting with, “Oh, I did not realize that that can be perceived as being really like a racist way of being.” Or, you know, to say, “I don’t see color feels extremely offensive to people.” And I think especially when we feel confronted by that honesty or that honesty sort of shines a light on mistakes that we’ve made or things that, you know, let’s not call them mistakes, let’s call them growth opportunities or learning. You’re saying that, that can still feel very threatening. And that the immediate reaction is a tendency to be defensive, or to deny, or to displace blame. 

And, I think it’s like, I don’t know, I think that’s an internal process that happens. You always see it with couples, like if Person A is confronted by Person B about somebody that they’re doing that feels really bad to Person B. They’re like, “No, that’s not true. I don’t do that.” Whatever it is, but like that self-honesty, that can also sort of happen internally where they begin wrestling with themselves a little bit around. I just had this thought about something that might be true, but that made me feel bad. Let’s talk about why that might not be true actually. You know, the back and forth.

Josephine: Definitely, yeah. Oh, absolutely. And when I talk about defensiveness and taking responsibility with my couples, I explained to them just the way that you did. Like, it’s hard to sit with that we either upset, or disappointed, or let down our partner. And so of course, we’re going to be defensive, or we don’t want to accept that as the reality. So we’re going to try to fight against it or explain it away. But if that is somebody’s truth, then we can’t argue that it didn’t happen.

And I think going back to outside of relationships, that when we feel defensive, or we notice anger about something like “oh” that we’ve done in the past that we don’t like, we can validate that. That we don’t have to be hard on ourselves about that. We don’t want to beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up in a way, you know. And that’s not going to be helpful. So I think one, not being too hard on yourselves is the key thing with being honest. Practicing that patience and compassion, that’s where the validation comes in. That, you know, it’s okay to make growth opportunities or mistakes. You know, that we can say, “I’m not perfect, nobody is. There’s not a human being on this earth that hasn’t had some growth opportunities or maybe to be honest with themselves, and that’s okay. We’re asking for progress, not perfection.” And so we’re recognizing this, what is it that we don’t like? Like, I don’t want to be seen as somebody that I’m not. Okay, then what do we need to be different? Or what is it about this that made us upset? And we don’t have to beat ourselves up. We can own it and then move on from there.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Completely. And like not beating yourself up, and being like, you just sitting with the truth. And also like, I think being honest enough with yourself to say, “This doesn’t feel good for me right now. I feel embarrassed. I feel guilty. I feel kind of a little bit ashamed. What is this feeling?” And also just this idea that it is absolutely okay for people to feel those feelings sometimes. You don’t have to push away all those dark emotions immediately. It is okay to feel uncomfortable feelings, and healing, and helpful, and important. And a big part of that honesty process, I think.

Josephine: They tell us something. I think it’s uncomfortable, of course. We don’t like them. So that’s why we push away shame, and guilt, and all of that, but let’s listen to them. And like what they are trying to tell us. Like I feel ashamed that I, you know, reacted before thinking about what it is that I wanted to say. Or I feel guilty that I may have accidentally offended someone or something like that. And so, alright, well, what are we gonna do with that information? Do I need to reach out to that person and maybe like, clear the air? Or do I need to think about taking a breath before I respond to what somebody said? So we can meet our learning opportunities too. And so it’s, you know, treat them as such.

And I think also a way of thinking about being honest with ourselves is like not doing so is a disservice to who you are. That your needs and your values deserve to be tuned into. That we don’t want to be walking around, not thinking about what it is that we’re doing. And then be unhappy one day or be satisfied where you’re at. That you’re worth tuning into yourself, even if it is uncomfortable.

Dr. Lisa Marie: That’s a good reminder. And I think that experience is so important when it comes to growth, like letting in the possibility that there are opportunities for growth. Even if they are uncomfortable, that you deserve that. 

And I wonder if you could also speak to what is like, I think even a different kind of self-honesty. Maybe not so much around like, this is where I need to grow, or this is maybe mistakes I’ve made. But like, you know, I think some people are in situations that if they are really honest with themselves, they don’t like. And if they are really, really honest with themselves, like might not be sustainable long term. And so like I’m thinking of someone who is in a relationship that they are really unhappy in and that the relationship is very unlikely to change. Like, they get real honest with themselves about like, “Okay, what does that mean?” Or like in a career, “I absolutely hate this and yet here I am.” You know, well maybe you could talk a little bit like what makes coming to terms with that level of honesty feel so uncomfortable and so difficult.

Josephine: Mm hmm. Yeah, I think what comes to mind for me is that we can’t unlearn it, or then we can’t ignore it anymore. It’s like there’s no going back. Like, once we fully recognize or are honest with the scope of the situation. Yeah, it’s like, well I can’t go back to like, “Okay, well, I’m just gonna keep doing this now.” Like, every time that we walk into the office, or do a certain task, or maybe come home from work, and then we’re confronted with that reality and we can’t ignore it, or it’s a lot harder to ignore once we confront it. And so I think that the hardest part about this is, one, that we can’t go back and two, and I’m gonna have to do something about it. And change is really hard and scary for most peopleunderstandably so.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, and it’s uncomfortable. And it creates the psychological term, that cognitive dissonance. If you feel and believe one thing, yet you do another, it creates this internal sense of pressure. And I don’t know if I ever shared this with you but I came across something in research not too long ago that I thought was just fascinating, I think it was an article talking about like, it was related to like goals. It was along the lines of our coaching work, but that cognitive dissonance is so uncomfortable that it is often easier, and you’ll see people willfully changing the way they think or feel, in order to be in alignment with what they’re doing. Because in some ways, it can be harder to change what we do than it can be to change our internal narrative about what we’re doing. And so like you see that all the time if there’s a mismatch between how you feel and what’s actually happening, people will twist themselves into pretzels for like all the 573 reasons why this is actually okay. If you know the reality of making a changequitting a job, leaving a marriage-feels too big. They will sacrifice their truth to make it work, but to their detriment. Because long term, it’s not good for people.

Josephine: I agree. I think at what cost, you know, that we can keep going along. But then at what point? Because the longer that we are honest with ourselves, I think the harder it is to change or to create change. And when you were talking, it absolutely reminded me of what can happen, how we can devalue our partner in our mind, if we are going to engage or are engaging in an affair. The cognitive dissonance there, “I have this commitment to my partner, but I need to have it make sense as to why I’m able to do this. Because there’s such  X, Y and Z to where it supports what it is that I’m doing.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: And to talk a little more, so you’re talking about, like, if someone is, say, married and is having an affair or an emotional entanglement with another person, then that behavior conflicts with what they think they believe or should believe. That they’re committed that they, you know, this is not what married people do. They need to find a reason to justify having an affair or having romantic feelings for someone else, which will almost always be, “Well, my partner, I found a toenail clipping on the bathroom floor once therefore I can no longer have sex with that human.” Or whatever it is, like there’s some kind of justification.

Josephine: Yeah, it’s a tricky thing, I think. Yeah, it could kind of go back to the first question that you asked about, “Well, how do we know if we’re really being honest with ourselves or not?” Really kind of sitting there and then thinking, well, truly “Is what I am doing, thinking, matching up with my values, or my beliefs? Kind of checking, are we all aligning there?” And if we can explain, well, let’s say that I’m doing does support this value, then okay, maybe we’re being honest with ourselves. But that can also be a good way to kind of check.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, you brought up a greatand this is a hard question. Okay. But we have people in our practice come in and they are in reallyJosephine, sometimes exactly that situation. They are married or partnered, and they have developed an emotional entanglement or they’re having an affair with someone. And they come because they would like our assistance and getting clarity about what to do. And it can be very difficult. And so like, on the one hand is your honest truth. Like, “No, this person makes me happy. I deserve to have this kind of fun and love in my life. And this is what really and truly feels most important to me.” Or, “Is it most important to me to have a stable, long-term, faithful, committed, secure marriage that’s based on friendship, and mutual trust, and respect? And it’s also for the benefit of our children, and I keep my promises.” And like, weighing out those two things.

And you’re totally right. I mean, how uncomfortable is it when someone is like, “No, I’m actually doing this horrible thing to my family because I kind of like the way it makes me feel.” Like it can be the truth. And then people say that and they’re like, “Oh, my God, what does that mean about me?” Right? And that’s not always the outcome, but it can be.

Josephine: Yeah, when I think of what you said, if that was my client that I was talking to, I’d want to slow them down. And say like, “Hold on. Wait a second. Okay, one. Great, you’re having a lot of revelations. But like one, let’s sit with that feeling that makes you feel really good. Okay, it sounds like that’s a need that’s not being met. Do you think you would rather have that need be met by your spouse? This idea of we’re noticing something that we’re not getting and then kind of turning that back to our partner as opposed to the outside person?” And so then I think kind of sitting with that if validating, it sounds like you’ve been wanting that and you haven’t been getting it. That must have been really hard. Of course, it makes sense that you’d want to keep doing that. But what is more important to you? Having fun and feeling good or preserving your relationship with your partner and the family that you have? And if that answer is no, that can be your truth. That’s okay.” 

“No, actually, that is important to me.” 

“But okay, let’s think through what that would mean for you if we were to make that change. And is that your truth, and what you want, honestly? Is that something you think you can be okay with? And is that worth it to you?”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. And going into that clarity and the intention around it. That’s a hard one. 

Josephine: Yeah. It is tough stuff. But I think it’s worth doing because then at the end of the day, if we make that choice and say, “No, having fun and feeling good is more important to me.” And then one day down the road, we’re honest and said, “But was it really the most important thing overall, or even at that time?” And if we weren’t honest with ourselves, we didn’t take that time. We can make decisions that we regret.

Dr. Lisa Marie: I want to do an episode at some point on that experience of regret and how to avoid it. Because, I don’t know about you Josephine, but I think that regret for something that happened that is no longer fixable is the absolutely worst of all human emotion. I think it’s worse than shame. You know, because you can work your way through shame but like regret, that something that you can’t fix, is the worst feeling. And really in a roundabout way, we are talking about how to protect yourself from regret, because we’re talking about how to be honest with yourself. And that really is, I think key. Yeah.

Josephine: I agree. Absolutely. It is tough.

Dr. Lisa Marie: And so, I know that we’re probably coming up on our time here. But if we were to just kind of briefly talk through some strategies that people who have been hearing this conversation and like, “Yeah, I really need to get honest with myself.” I mean, we’ve talked about some of the common obstacles. You know, being honest with yourself, that tendency to minimize, or that like, denial of things that make you feel bad. You know, the threatening of like, “Oh, what does this mean about me? Or do I have to do something about this?” But are there other strategies you found that people can use to, like, just facilitate their ability to get more clear and honest with themselves?

Josephine: Absolutely. I mean, I think just even reflecting on the conversation that we’ve had today. I think one, starting with naming and noticing our emotions is probably going to be the most helpful place to start. When can I recognize when I’m feeling something of, “Wow, I feel bad. Is this frustration? Is this anxiety?” So one, even recognizing that you’re feeling something is a good place to start. And then two, naming those emotions. Because then if we notice our emotions, those can be clues to say, “Hmm, what’s happening? Why am I feeling this way?” I think that is a fundamental skill that will get people very far, even just outside of this conversation. It’s so important. And so I think that is a great place to start.

To practice patience, and compassion, and the validation that when we do feel those emotions, that we aren’t shaming ourselves for them because we’re not going to keep doing it if we feel bad every time we think about our emotions. So we want to have some positive reinforcement. So thinking about our emotions, we can validate, and make sense that I feel this way.

And then, alright, we’re going to do what we need to do. “Do I need to do anything about this? Maybe not.” It’s also up to having great friends, great support systems, or people that we can have these kinds of conversations with, that even just talking out loud, listening to ourselves, saying things out loud, can be very helpful. And that requires no participation from anybody else, right?

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, yeah. But then being able to say things out loud, but also like having supportive people in your life who when you do say something that feels like a bit of a revelation, they can help you validate that. And so, “Yeah, it makes sense why you would feel that way, anyone will feel that way.”

Josephine: Right. This is an important one, so that our support system is not minimizing our emotions. You know, kind of recognizing who are good people to have these kinds of conversations with than to maybe we want to stick to more surface level kind of conversation. 

Dr. Lisa Marie: Anyone who tells you to stop crying because you don’t really have it that bad. I don’t get to hear about this stuff anymore.

Josephine: Yeah, try again. Yeah, I definitely think those are two great starting places.

Dr Lisa Marie: Yeah, good. And I found too, like personally, like journaling, I think can be helpful sometimes in conversations. But journaling can be helpful. And then lastly, I think it was a point that you brought up at the very beginning of our conversation, just to remember that just because you think a thought or that something might be true, no action is required. It’s absolutelyand it might be uncomfortable to be in that space of dissonance, but it also can make it feel safer to be honest with yourself, if you give yourself permission to just, it’s okay. If you’re having a thought, you’re having a feeling, no action is required. Until at some point in the future, maybe you decide to do something about it, but you don’t have to do anything right now. Because there can be consequences for honesty, and those are realistic consequences. And that can lead to changes. And you get to decide whether or not it’s the right time, if at all.

Josephine: Mm hmm. Absolutely. Reminding ourselves we are the expert on ourselves and what we think and belief matters the most. And nobody else gets to tell us what our truth is, or what’s important to us, or what we should be doing. We don’t want to shoot all over ourselves. That just kind of looks like let that go. No more sheds.

Dr. Lisa Marie: What a nice positive note to end the conversation today. I love that, though. So thank you and thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I really appreciate your time today, Josephine. 

Josephine: Thank you so much for having me on. It’s such a pleasure and love just talking with you Lisa. 

Dr. Lisa Marie: Have a good time.

 

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You Are Good Enough

You Are Good Enough

You Are Good Enough

You Are Good Enough: How to Feel Like It, and Overcome Imposter Syndrome

You Are Good Enough

Self-Esteem & Feeling Good Enough

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH: When someone gives you a sincere compliment do you automatically think of six reasons why you’re really not good enough? Do you compare yourself to others, and imagine that they know more, have a better time, or are more successful than you? Is it hard for you to feel “good enough” no matter what you do, or how much you achieve? How about on the job? If you’re in a position where others look to you for leadership or guidance, do you doubt yourself and struggle with “imposter syndrome?”

If you can relate to the “I’ll never be good enough” experience: Welcome. I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I’m glad you’re here so that I have the chance to help you. As a Denver therapist and life coach, I so often work with clients who struggle to feel “good enough” even when everyone else (including me, their therapist) thinks they’re amazing. I know how painful this life space can be: Feeling like nothing is ever good enough is an exhausting and demoralizing way to live. It takes a toll on your self-esteem, and makes it hard to enjoy your life.

I also know from my work as a Denver self-esteem therapist and life coach focused on empowerment and strength that hope and healing are possible, with the right help. On today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m going to be sharing some of the evidence-based therapy and life coaching strategies that I share with my private clients who are struggling to feel like they are good enough.

We’re doing to be doing a deep dive into the causes of feeling like you’re not good enough (including “imposter syndrome!”), and then discuss in-detail some actionable strategies you can use to genuinely, from the bottom of your heart, say, “Yes. I am good enough.” Because you are good enough! This episode will help you FEEL it, too.

Here’s an overview of what you’ll learn in today’s episode:

What Do Your Circumstances Have to Do with Feeling Good Enough?

Did you know that most people who don’t feel good enough tie it to their circumstances? Your circumstances have almost no actual bearing on how you feel about yourself. Really! Even the most successful people sometimes don’t feel good enough. Remember: all these “proofs” that you’re successful can be taken away. The only thing that matters is your relationship with yourself, and learning how to feel good about yourself and your life even when you’re facing challenges. I’ll explain how!

How to Believe You’re Good Enough

What research into evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy shows is that getting a handle on your inner narrative and inner dialogue is the most powerful way to change your relationship with yourself. I’m sharing some strategies to help you keep from getting swept away by your automatic (even subconscious) thoughts so that you gain control over your inner experience. We’ll talk about how your thoughts impact your feelings, and how to heal your heart by getting clear in your mind.

How Therapy & Coaching Help You Feel Good Enough

Therapy helps you gain self-awareness about what’s going on inside of you. This self-awareness allows you to step back, and make intentional changes to the way you think and the way you feel. Effective life coaching challenges you to take positive, intentional action that helps move you towards your ideal goals. When you’re in a good place and emotionally healthy, positive actions are much easier to follow through with. Then you can begin an upward spiral of wellness that supports the highest and best of your whole self. You cannot take an empowered stance when you’re at war with your thoughts.Your therapist or coach is your ally in creating a sense of self that is different from your inner narrative: That’s where it all begins!

"I have tried counseling for about a decade with various counselors and have never been able to connect or grow with them. [My Growing Self Coach] has connected with me genuinely and helped me grow more in two meetings then several counselors have done in a decade.”

— Coaching Client

 

The Impostor Syndrome

Another really common aspect of feeling like you’re not good enough is when you’re struggling with imposter syndrome on the job. “The impostor syndrome” refers to the experience of not feeling good enough in a professional context. Even when intellectually, you know what to do, you feel like you’re faking it. The imposter syndrome leads to feelings of shame and anxiety that people will realize you don’t know what you’re doing. (Even though you do!) This can lead to paralysis, disempowerment, and even burnout. Let’s not!

Impostor Syndrome vs. Growth Mindset

To help you overcome imposter syndrome on the job, I’m also speaking with career coach Dr. Lisa Orbe-Austin about where imposter syndrome comes from and what you can do to regain your trust in yourself. We talk about the difference between “growth opportunities” and imposter syndrome, and how to tell the two apart.

Why Accomplished People Still Don’t Feel Good Enough

Here are some of the imposter syndrome-busting strategies that Dr. Orbe-Austin is sharing with you:

  • How to identify the origins of your impostor syndrome as being rooted in childhood experiences.
  • People who were considered smart kids doubt their intelligence when things don’t come easy to them.
  • People who were not considered gifted growing up are the opposite. Because they had to work hard for things, they doubt they have natural talents and skills.
  • Lastly, those who had to survive without adult figures fear their success could be taken from them at any time.
  • Having codependent or narcissistic family members is also correlated to impostor syndrome.

The Impostor Cycle

  • People with impostor syndrome often get performance anxiety, and they cope by either overworking or self-sabotaging.
  • When feedback comes in, they internalize the negative and minimize the positive.
  • They get so caught up in their mistakes that the next time they perform, it’s as if they’ve never done it before. Then the cycle repeats.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Overcoming imposter syndrome, just like repairing your self esteem, is not easy work but it is essential. Here are some tips to guid you on your journey towards healthy confidence in yourself:

  • Remember that letting go of your impostor patterns is a lifelong process. Understanding your triggers is incredibly important. What are your triggers for not feeling good enough? Listen, and find out!
  • Becoming empowered means getting in control of your inner narrative: Learn how to use the skills of rational thinking and self affirmation to support yourself when imposter syndrome flares.
  • Did you know that perfectionism, imposter syndrome and low self esteem are all connected? Learn why!
  • Learn why it’s so critical that you reprioritize and take care of yourself first — even when you feel like you haven’t “earned it.” 
  • Having a community of support is incredibly healing when you’re struggling to feel like you’re good enough. It’s the antidote to shame. Learn how to create a chorus of confidence in your circle that lifts you up!

Resources To Help You Feel “Good Enough!”

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“Your circumstances have almost no actual bearing on how you feel about yourself.”

“You can’t flip a switch and change the way that you feel. But you can change the way you think. And when you change your thoughts—you change the script, you change the story—you will feel differently about exactly the same thing.”

“If you are still learning and growing doesn’t mean that you’re not competent.”

“The person that we take care of last is us . . . And so it’s such an important thing to kind of reprioritize that and think about how we’d like to live and the way that we care for ourselves.” 

“It is sort of getting a community around that so that you can deal with sort of what’s happening structurally to you that is real, that is attempting to make you feel invalidated.”

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Wishing you all the very best on your journey of growth my friend!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

 

 

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You Are Good Enough

Access Episode Transcript

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, and you’re listening to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

[Superman plays]

That is, of course the, I think, classic song, Superman, a poignant exploration of someone who is not feeling good about themselves, who is focusing on their flaws but who is also harboring this idealized fantasy of what they could be. They want to be Superman. They’re not going to be Superman, but they can feel good anyway. That’s what we’re talking about today on the show. If this is your first time listening to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I’m so glad you’re here. I am Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby I am the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching, and this podcast is all about helping you create love, happiness, and success. And thank you if you’re a regular listener and have gotten in touch with me through growingself.com on Instagram at @drlisamariebobby, or of course, on Facebook.

And today, we’re talking about how to feel good enough, genuinely good enough. And we’re talking about this today because you have told me that this is a pain point for you. I’ve gotten so many messages through social media and through comments on the blog, and also even in conversations with my therapy and coaching clients here at Growing Self, and also, you know, listening to what my colleagues are doing in their work lately, and this is such a painful life space to be in. I wanted to bring you some things today that could help with this. You may remember a while back, we talked about self-esteem in depth, you might want to take a look a few podcasts ago if you’d like an overview of that. And if you’re interested, you can certainly help yourself to the self-esteem quiz that I created. If you even want to pause this, take the quiz again to see where you are. You can get that by texting the word esteem, E-S-T-E-E-M to the number 55444 just to kind of get a read on where you are in terms of your overall self-esteem. 

And feeling good enough, I think, is connected to self-esteem, but it almost has like a different life of its own and can be a little bit different to shift it as opposed to like a global self-esteem kind of situation. And I want you to know that if you struggle sometimes to like, feel good enough, it can be sometimes related to what you’re doing in life where self-esteem is kind of just this marinating and a sense of not feeling that great about yourself more globally. I think feeling good enough often manifests in like comparing yourself and being linked to achievements andlike what you’re doing and what other people are doingthese perceptions of success and whether or not you’re living up to whatever that definition is. And I have to tell you something, so as a therapist and a life coach, I work with you know, people from all walks of life, and I often speak with people who are objectively, very successful. You know, they’re successful in their careers or their business owners, and like, subjectively when you look at them from the outside—or objectively—I should say, they look like they have it all going on. And it doesn’t really matter that much, I mean, like even though things are working out for them, things are going as well as possible, that truth does not touch them on the inside.

And I say this because if you’re like most people who are struggling to feel “good enough”, whatever that means, it can be very, very easy to tie that to whatever your circumstances are. And for, you know, normal average people like us to be looking around at our circumstances and viewing that as evidence of why we’re not quite good enough, you know. So you can look around and be like, “My house is a wreck, I’m a mess,” or “I don’t have as many friends as other people do,” or “I’m kind of struggling financially,” or even some people, you know, think, “I really am not…” you know, “I have a job; I don’t have a career that I’m passionate about. I should,” and all of those external circumstances conspire into these like reasons why you’re not quite good enough, right? 

But I am going to tell you a secret. This is a big, top secret like life-changing information that I’m going to share with you right now. Here it is. Your circumstances have almost no actual bearing on how you feel about yourself, and I know this for a fact. Here’s a secret, it’s gonna tell you why. I know this for a fact because I have served as the therapist or life coach to extremely successful people, like, way more successful than I am. I mean, I have literally had clients drive to my office in a Ferrari and flop down on my couch and tell me all the reasons why they’re not quite good enough. I have been in life coaching sessions where I have said things like, the words that have come out of my mouth have been, “You’re the most successful real estate developer in your region of the United States. You have built hundreds of homes. You are worth millions of dollars. Really, you’re not that good enough?” And the answer back is, “Well you know, I mean. Yeah, there’s that. But let me tell you about all these other areas that I’m failing in.” I mean, physicians, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, like who are multimillionaires, they vacation in Switzerland, they live in mansions, they havelike live in help, and they still feel this way. They still feel like they’re not quite good enough. 

And so the punch line, the thing that I’m trying to communicate here is that whatever circumstances are going on, changing those circumstances will not change the way that you feel because the other side of this too. I have had the honor of serving as a therapist to people who are absolutely on the opposite end of the spectrum. So you know, someone who was living in their car and got food exclusively from food bank donations at one point, and they felt like a fundamentally worthwhile human being who was going through a hard time and who deserved more and who was going to be okay. It was not tied to their circumstances. The way you feel about yourself and whether or not you feel good enough comes exclusively from your relationship with yourself and the way you think about yourself, and that can be cultivated intentionally. So do not get tricked into believing that your happiness or your worthiness as a person is dependent on outside circumstances and that if you worked hard enough and you’re able to create these specific set of circumstances, then you would feel differently. Because I’m telling you, as somebody who has had a front row seat to this, you will not feel differently because people who have done that don’t automatically feel differently. 

The feeling good enough cannot be linked to achievements or status or any other, you know, “proof” that you’ve done it. It doesn’t matter. And another thing to think about is that all of those circumstantial things can be taken away. You could live in a mansion and go vacationing in Switzerland and live in housekeeper—and then lose that. And then what does that mean about you? Similarly, all kinds of privileges are bestowed on people who have not earned them, they are worthless in that sense. So the only thing that matters is your relationship with yourself; everything else stems from that. If you have an abusive critical relationship with yourself who is always telling you how bad you are and how you’re not quite good enough, you will feel anxious and unlovable in many different situations. You’ll feel anxious and unlovable in your relationships even if you are connected to people who love you to pieces and just tell you how fantastic you are and think you’re great. It  doesn’t matter, you will not feel that way. If you are fundamentally harsh and judgmental with yourself, you will dismiss and devalue everything you do. 

“Yeah, I’m a published author, and yes, the book won an award, but it was like four years ago. What have I done since then?” I mean, really, it is so easy to slip into that inner dialogue. And so the key here is not just intellectually believing that you’re good enough, but it is feeling the truth that you are really good enough and that comes through a growth process. And I’m going to tell you the steps. I am not even going to mess around here.

I once wandered into a Chick-fil-A, and they had a poster on the wall, it was like, “Lemonade. Here’s the recipe: water, sugar, lemons. The secret is out,” and I just thought that was so cute because it’s like so obvious. And I am going to give you the secrets to changing the way you feel about yourself as, hopefully, as directly as the lemonade recipe. And here it is. Super straightforward.

Step one of feeling good enough, is recognizing, first of all, that you are not the same thing as your thoughts. Your inner narrative, the one that is telling you who you are, what you are compared to what you should be, is not the objective truth. It is an opinion, and it is not you. It isn’t. 

Once you’ve realized that, then step number two, once you’ve recognized that you are not your thoughts, is realizing that you have control over the narrative. That voice inside of yourself can be shaped intentionally, and you have the power to change it. 

Once you have embraced that truth, then step three, is recognizing and experiencing that your thoughts and whatever is going on in your head in terms of the narrative, the story, the script—that determines your feelings. Your thoughts create your feelings, your thoughts create your perceptions of reality and your experience of reality, and you can’t flip a switch and change the way that you feel, but you can change the way you think. And when you change your thoughts, you change the script, you change the story, you will feel differently about exactly the same thing. And when you’re able to do that, there is a sense of peace and your emotional experience of yourself changes. 

And then step four is that when you shift into that emotionally-felt experience of being good enough and the sense of like peace and fundamental worthiness, you will make better choices for yourself that stem from that fundamental worthiness, and that the things that felt difficult to do intentionally will all of a sudden feel much, much easier to do because they’re coming from a place that feels true, as opposed to you trying to wrestle with yourself to do things that are incongruent with your self-concept. 

So that’s it. Those are the steps. Anyone can do them—anyone can do them. I would also like to add, while we are on the subject, that the process that I’ve just outlined for you, just so you know, is not my opinion. I did not make this up. This is the foundation of something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which through countless hundreds, possibly thousands of clinical trials that explore what actually changes the way that people feel, think, and behave. This one wins every time. This approach is certainly useful for mental health concerns. It is also the approach of evidence-based coaching. And I think that’s why I have so much—is frustration the right word?—or discomfort with approaches of therapy and personal growth that focus on other things. And not that the other things can’t be important or salient, I do think that it is sometimes necessary to figure out, “Okay, who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I the way that I am?” But to be involved in a growth process that stops there and doesn’t really explicitly help you change that narrative is going to be very limited in terms of its effectiveness, and you deserve that. 

So changing your thoughts is really core to changing all other aspects of your experience and feeling better; it is the most direct path. You can certainly learn these skills. There are self-help books galore. I, myself, have done an online, you know, my online happiness class is all about, it’s like teaching you how to recognize thoughts and change them. And it can sometimes be very, very important, even necessary, I think, to partner with someone who can help you gain that first step of self-awareness. In my experience, the first one is the hardest, just like they say in AA, “Watch that first step. It’s a witch,” right? It can be challenging, I think, if you have been marinating in the broth of your own self-concept for your entire life to begin to get the psychological distance between your thoughts and the true you. That is hard and it’s also necessary because you cannot take an empowered stance towards your thoughts unless there is a you and a difference between you and what’s knocking around in your head. 

So that first step is often where therapy or coaching comes in and can really be the most necessary as is. Because without that, it’s like you being at war with your thoughts and trying to figure out what is true, what isn’t true. And when you connect with someone who’s there beside you saying, “Is that really true?” or “Where did you learn that about yourself?” or saying things like, “I know that’s a story that you’re telling yourself, but here’s what I see about the situation.” So it’s like you have an ally who can stand with you and help you see the thoughts and the inner narrative differently and begin to create a sense of yourself that is different from your thoughts because, again, it’s not the same thing. So to get an ally in that change process can be really, really helpful, and from there, once you have that sense of empowerment, then you can begin to change the story and feel differently.

And it’s also true that when people are struggling to feel good enough, it can show up in numerous dimensions of their lives. But for a lot of people, a real pain point comes around feeling good enough in their career or at work, and again, because that good enough feeling is so often linked to achievements or advancements or, “What am I doing compared to what other people are doing?” Professionally and occupationally, there is a lot of growth that can be done in service of feeling better about yourself when you look at how you are showing up in your career. And when it comes to looking at this experience from the mindset of a career coach, an easy way to get a handle on this is to think of the impostor syndrome. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that term, but the impostor syndrome refers to the experience of being in a professional role, often one where you have responsibility or you’re in a position of leadership where people are looking towards you to make decisions or provide guidance, and if you don’t feel good enough, you feel like an impostor. You feel like you’re faking it. There’s this voice in the back of your head that’s like, “I don’t really know what I’m doing,” and this anxiety that comes with, “Sooner or later these people are going to realize that, and they’re going to know that I don’t really know what I’m talking about, and that I am not good enough, and I’m going to get humiliated or criticized or even rejected and run out,” right. This is a terrible experience, and the impostor syndrome is also very common and deeply linked to that deeper experience of not quite feeling good enough.

So for the second half of this episode, we’re going to be talking more specifically about the impostor syndrome experience, and for that, I have enlisted the support of an expert on this topic. We are going to be turning our attention now to a conversation with a licensed psychologist and executive coach,  Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin. She’s based in New York City, and she is the co-author of a book on this exact topic. The book is Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life. And she’s with us for the remainder of the show to share her insights on where impostor syndrome comes from, related to the work experience and what we can do to change it. Dr. Orbé-Austin, thank you so much for joining me.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: I’m excited to talk with you about this. And so I have a number of questions prepared. But the first one, and I hope it’s okay to jump in with this. But so you’ve written extensively on the subject of impostor syndrome, which is that experience of like feeling, not confident, worried that you don’t really have mastery over the subject that people are kind of looking to you to guide them around, and so it’s that experience of not feeling good enough when actually you are. 

And to begin, I am wondering how one can tell the difference between not feeling good enough when they actually are? Or are they having an experience of needing to grow and develop skills and maybe get more experience or expertise in order to really legitimately feel more competent? How can you tell if it’s a confidence issue? Or if maybe you do need to develop yourself? Can we start there?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s a great question. I think a lot of people ask me this, especially when, you know, people are coming straight out of college in their first jobs struggling with this feeling of being incompetent. Is that impostor syndrome? Well, you know, if it’s about that particular domain, and you’re coming out of college and it’s your first job, it’s probably not. That specific instance, it’s probably not about impostor syndrome. It’s about when you have these accomplishments, skills, credentials, like you have verifiable concrete proof, you have 10 years of experience in the business, like you have like significant proof, you know, behind you that’s concrete, and yet you still feel like you might be exposed as a fraud or incompetent. And it’s not you know, it’s the differentiation between the idea that you have to be doing something perfectly in order to be competent or excellent or expert and the idea that we have to constantly work on our growth and be in a growth mindset and constantly adding on skills, like these are not mutually exclusive. Being an expert and skilled and being at the nth degree of our careers, like those are not sort of what we’re talking about, you know.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That’s a great reminder, and I love that it’s like, you’re just reminder that if you are still learning and growing doesn’t mean that you’re not competent. It’s a good thing to be continually learning and growing, and you’re saying that’s just an easy way to figure out, is it impostor syndrome or is it actually anot just growth opportunity, but growth necessityis to look at that just like rational peace? “Have I gotten the level of training or experience that other people of kind of maybe around me have?” or, “Am I brand new into a field or a role?” then it’s kind of like expected that you would be learning, figuring it out, and that’s okay, too, compared to like a feeling, like you don’t know enough when you actually do. I appreciate that because it’s hard for some people to know.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. It’s hard to differentiate it. And I think, some people, what’s interesting is that when you have impostor syndrome, sometimes you even dismiss the concrete credentials. So then as I’m working with my clients, and they’ve gone to like an Ivy League undergrad in an Ivy League grad school, and meanwhile, they’re like, “Oh, that’s nothing.” That’s like they blow it off. So even a concrete credentials are sometimes hard for them to hold on to. But you know, they have to kind of work on sort of being able to recognize they are meaningful. They do mean something to—if they don’t mean something to you right now, they need something to the outside world, and they are worth something. And so that can be even hard, even with the concrete things. Oftentimes, with impostor, to dismiss them as well.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. That’s like, really be aware of the credentials and the expertise and the skill set that you are bringing into a situation and resist the temptation to like, “Ah, that doesn’t matter, but that doesn’t…” Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yes

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Right?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That’s really good. Wonderful. And then, okay, so then let’s dive a little bit more deeply into the experience, though. Say, you know, like so many people that you and I have both spoken wit—intelligent, accomplished, educated, experienced—all this stuff, yet struggle to feel like they really know what they’re doing. What is that about? For most people in your experience, what does that even come from?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: It’s about a variety of things. You know, so a lot of people say very kind of colloquially, like, “Oh, it’s just about internalizing your accomplishments. And if you just say some positive affirmations, you can make it go away”.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Like it’s easy.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Like it’s easy. But oftentimes, there’s some pretty deep rooted sort of early childhood experiences that come along with that and so one of them is sort of these ideas of these very like calcified, very narrow roles in the family, where you’re either considered the smart one, and if you were considered a smart one, it meant you didn’t have to work hard at anything, everything should come easy and natural to you. So when things did come natural easy to you, you thought it was evidence of the fact that everyone was wrong, and you truly we’re not as gifted or intelligent people thought you were. 

The second role is this idea of you were the one who was never naturally gifted in anything but knew how to work hard, and so everything must come hard, everything must require like an extreme level of effort and work in order for it to be successful. And in those cases, it’s very hard for you to even see that you might have any natural talents or skills. 

And the third one is an experience where there weren’t a lot of adults or parental figures around, and you had to survive. Your successes were about survival, they were about you know, sometimes, putting food on the table or making sure you did well in school, so you know, you could stay in the graces of somebody, or like it really sort of required you’re very vigil, you have an incredible vigilance on your achievements, so that you could actually be successful, so that you could survive this all. So even for them in the C suite and still be like, “Any day this could all be gone.” You know, so.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wow. And all of those are difficult experiences, but I’m hearing you say that there’s like these internal core beliefs. And like in the case of the first two, if the experience of what it actually takes to be successful isn’t in alignment with what you think it should feel like, with what success should feel like, that will create kind of confusion and damage people’s confidence that it’s, no, it’s actually okay. And then also in that third one, certainly, it’s just like being chased by wolves experience that it’s like, any second now, it’s just gonna leave.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, you can’t let it down. Yeah, you can’t let the guard down any time, it could all be taken from you, which is the experience that early childhood survivor experience. There’s all kinds of other additional connect correlations, like codependence is correlated to, you know, having a codependent family dynamic is correlated to impostor syndrome. So is having a narcissistic family member, usually parental adult figure. A family that was focused on achievements only and nothing else, so that only your achievements got recognized as valuable, or you got seen as valuable in those moments. So, you know, families that have trouble dealing with high assets, and so there’s a lot of sort of correlations to impostor syndrome.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. So many, many paths to that same destination. But you know, I had the most interesting experience. I think it was a couple of weeks ago, we, on Instagram of course because, you know, but we shared…it wasn’t a story from our account, somebody else had done this little drawing, and it was a drawing of like a little stick figure and four mountains, and the stick figure had successfully scaled and come down on the other side of like three mountains and was like close to the top of the fourth and was like, “I can’t do it. I’m a failure.” And you know, just like the kind of black, white, but you’ve done all of these, and I think like the fourth mountain was even smaller or something. And so we put this at our stories, and I seriously had like so many people, including a number of current clients of mine. Reach out to me—”I so identify with that drawing,” and I think what that kind of captures that in some ways, it’s like despite all of these achievements and successes and strengths and abilities and competence, and like you have all these people who maybe perceive you as being this person who’s like doing all these great things, and you haven’t done all these great things, like it doesn’t get in all the way emotionally.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: And it’s because of the impostor cycle. Because in the impostor cycle, you have like a highly visible event or performance or something, you know, that’s pretty visible or something that’s new for you, then you know, you get performance anxiety, and as a result, you either overwork or you self-sabotage, and then you get the feedback. You don’t internalize any of the feedback unless it’s negative, and if it’s negative, we blow it out.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That we let in. Blow it out of proportion, does that what you mean? 

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. It becomes even way bigger than that, and then you also internalize it, and then you don’t internalize any of the positive feedback or in the positive experiences, and you get in that cycle all over again. So that idea of the four hills makes sense because once they see the hill again, it’s like if they’ve never seen the other three hills, you know, because they haven’t done any of the work to internalize all the positive feedback. The hill becomes, it’s like climbing it for the first time. Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wow. So the cycle, so big events, lots of anxiety, overworking, like killing yourself to make it good, and then what was the next phase of that cycle?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: The next phase is you get some kind of feedback after you perform. You get some feedback. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: 500 people are like, “That was amazing.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: But one person 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: One person was like, “I don’t know.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah. And that’s the one you listen to, and that’s the one that sort of gets out of the proportion. If everyone says, “It’s great,” you still minimize it. You still are like, “Well,” then you get caught up in your own assessments of all the mistakes and places where you made errors, and that’s what you’re taking in. And then you kind of get right back into the cycle again the next time. It happens, it happens as if it never happened before.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Oh, my goodness. What a painful place to be. And so, it really, it sounds like, I mean, the thing that I’m hearing the loud and clear between the lines here is that this experience is very much one of perceptions rather than reality and perceptions that maybe have been shaped by experiences in early childhood.

And so then, and I know from your work, and what you’ve written about in your book, kind of walks people through beginning to reevaluate those perceptions and shift those perceptions, and I’m sure that it is a process. I mean, if you’ve had that sort of relationship with the world since earliest childhood, and you’re not going to snap your fingers, like, “Four easy steps to…” Yeah, but so, you know, with cautioning people that it’s going to sound much easier than when we talk about it than it actually has to do, right. Now, what are some of the growth moments that people need to work through in order to release this—this pattern, this dynamic?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, and I think it’s good, it’s great that you point out the fact that it is a long process and, you know, nobody likes to hear this, but I sort of know it is a lifelong process because I’ve talked about my own TED Talk that I’ve had impostor syndrome, and I still get triggered for, you know, on a number of occasions, I just make different choices now with the trigger. As opposed to the ones that I used to make when I was in the throes of it. And so I think, you know, one of the things we’ve talked about, which we were just talking about is really understanding the origin, how it uniquely got to be your story based on some of the origin issues that are sort of laid forth, how you understand them, where have you identified this in your own experience. The reason why the origin issues are so important to us is because it really helps us to understand the triggers in the here and now. So oftentimes, those triggers that we experienced in our day to day lives come from those earlier experiences, and it becomes easier to identify when you know you have vulnerability for them. And it doesn’t become so surprising why these things are happening, you’re like, “Oh, I get it now.” It just gives you a sort of agency and power to feel like, “This is not so mysterious anymore.” What’s a piece of it, I think another piece of it is around really learning how to restore your narrative and choose the words and the ways that you tell yourself the stories around what’s happening to you and really kind of examining and listening to the way that you’re storing the narrative and then kind of picking and choosing different ways to tell the story. 

We also talked about sort of getting triggered for automatic negative thoughts and how to kind of rationally respond to your automatic negative thoughts, be able to identify them, categorize them, and then also be able to respond to them differently than you use to respond to them. Rather than you know, I love the Amit Ray quote like, “You are not your thoughts; you are the observer of your thoughts,” and sort of teaching people to be the observer of their thoughts and being able to kind of construct a new way of responding to them. It’s also about. you know, really embedding self-care. When we have impostor syndrome, the person that we take care of last is us, which means last around our dreams, last around our self-care, last around everything. And so it’s such an important thing to kind of reprioritize that and think about how we’d like to live in the way that we care for ourselves. It’s also about for us, you know, building a team around you. So, you know, oftentimes we suffer in this alone, and it’s beginning to kind of tell people that we struggle with it, share it, like find a team around us that really know how to help us kind of move the needle forward. 

So those are some of the things that we talk about, but you know, these are like, they’re easy. Like you said, they’re easy to kind of like say, but they’re much harder to do, to institutionalize, to make them part of the new way that you live.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, no, I absolutely get that. And yet, they’re also powerful. You know, self-awareness, being able to observe what is going on between your ears being, able to have a way of responding to that, that’s healthier for you. I especially like the strategy that you brought up around building a community, and I don’t know if this was true for you, but I know for me personally, I think most therapists probably have this experience. We first start seeing clients, you have this moment where you’re like, “Is this okay?”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: “What am I doing here?”

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: I know.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: “Who let me do this?”

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Exactly, right. And I remember just in my cohort, my peers, you know, like to have a group of people who I perceived just being very, you know, smart and competent, probably much more so than me being like, “I feel like such a fraud right now. Like I said XYZ in my session, and they believed it, like what is going on?” and just like to have that moment of like, “Ah, it’s not just me. I think it’s actually the experience.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: It’s so powerful. I mean, I think, you know, when I see on my Instagram page, you know, different places where people would admit, they’ll tag each other and admit that they have impostor syndrome. And there’s such a powerful dynamic, you know. It happen, people say, “Oh, my god, I didn’t realize you had it too.” And, you know, the stat I think is that 70% of people have experienced impostor syndrome in their life, and I just saw a new study that just came out that said 82% of people, so it seems to be going up. And so I think a lot of people have experienced, and I think oftentimes, we’re hiding in this shame that if we share being that we have this that we will actually be found out as a fraud. It would be like, “You don’t have impostor syndrome. You’re actually an impostor.” And so I think there is a lot of like, quiet-shameful retreating into this. And I think the other thing I hear a lot is that people say, when I tell people I have impostor syndrome, they’re like, “Get over yourself. You’re so successful. Like, are you kidding me?” Like, you know, people dismiss it and don’t recognize the pain it is to sit in that and how difficult it is to sit in that experience. So it’s so important to have a community around you that really got it. I talked about it in our book, like having different people who fit different roles, like somebody who’s like the cheerleader and somebody who’s the grounder and somebody who’s the big picture, like a variety of people who hold different types of roles for you.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: That is a fantastic idea, that there’s different kinds of people in your life that can help you in different ways. But that’s very interesting, though I wasn’t familiar with that statistic, so that 82% of people have this experience, which is basically everybody. That idea that, you know, you brought up another such important thing, which is that when we likebelieve what shame is trying to tell us, that we’re like uniquely horrible somehow, it’s very, like people hide that. They hide it.. They don’t talk about it. What I’m hearing you say is that the most direct path to just blowing this out of the water is talking about how you feel and addressing it openly

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yep, taking the ownership of it, meeting it on head-on. Because the other thing that’s weird about impostor syndrome is that people like to hold on to it because they believe in some ways the impostor syndrome has got them where they are at. So they sort of believe like, “If I let go of this or I start to admit it, I let go of it, I’m going to have nothing. Everything is going to crumble around me.” So they’ve come to believe the impostor syndrome is like their best friend, and so letting go is a very difficult process. And having people around, you know you’re struggling with it makes it easier to kind of be like, “Don’t hold on to it. Let’s do this instead,” like, you know, somebody who can really understand how to re-pivot those thoughts, you know, and in vivo.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: But that’s so interesting. And, you know, I’ve heard of that idea, like as it relates to perfectionism, like people believing that their anxiety is what makes them be okay and to release it feels incredibly scary, and you’re saying the same thing with impostor syndrome. “If I believe that maybe I actually am okay, and I am actually good enough, I will stop trying as hard as I am. And as soon as that happens, I will be the failure that I fear my else to be.”

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yep, that I’m always scared that I would be. You’re not, I think the reason why you point to a really good, you know, an example of that is that perfection underlies impostor syndrome. So perfectionism is a piece of impostor syndrome, and it’s very central to it, oftentimes. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Now, and can I just briefly, and I know we’re coming up on time here, I would love to like go deeper into that 82% statistic, and I don’t know if that’s broken down, but like when I think about the people that I have knownyou know, of course, in addition to myselfwho have had this experience, like thinking about clients, for whom it’s like a major ongoing struggle. I think that while some people—many people, most people—feel this way from time to time, for others, it’s a bigger deal than it is, and it’s harder for them to release these feelings. And when I think about in my own practice of people that that has been true for are, specifically, women, and I think even more specifically than that—women who are people of color or in maybe a differentwere raised in a different socioeconomic class than the one in which they are now functioning. I have certainly, you know, seen it in men as well but to a lesser degree, and I’m wondering, in your experience as a therapist but also as a black woman, do you perceive this experience being different or sometimes more challenging or internalized in a different way?

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: So I think you’re getting to a really bunch of interesting points. What some of the research reveals for men and women is that when men and women deal with it differently. The data around it has been quite like equivocal. It’s like sometimes, it’s more women, sometimes, it’s more men. They can sort of figure out whether it’s more women or more men, but what they have been able to see is that, generally, women are more counterphobic. So women will face the fear, go headlong, go into it, and then just live in the constant like paralyzation of the impostor syndrome. They’ll like be paralyzed internally, but they’ll still go forward professionally,. Where men, tend to do a lot more saving face, and so they will underperform or be in a place where they can be top of the heap, and so that they feel less threat of their impostor syndrome. They felt less prone to it because they’re putting us in the situations where they’re less at threat. 

For people of color, women, first gen, what we see is that both the internal experience of impostor syndrome and then the external experience that, “You are actually an impostor. You don’t belong here.” So you get these internal messages that you’re trying to shut down, and then the outside world is telling you, “No you don’t belong here. No, you’re a token. No, you got in because of affirmative action. No, you got this. No, you got that.” So it’s very, it’s specifically harder to deal with because you don’t get enough external reinforcement from the outside world that you do belong. And so what a lot of the research suggests is that you need to find community along the identity dimension that you feel like a preston. 

So if it’s that you’re black, it’s finding more black people in that particular field or in that particular area, both at your level and above your level, that help you to kind of navigate the waters and help you to deal with the external pressures that are coming at you. So that becomes, like we were talking about before, community becomes so important in managing the external invalidations that you’re receiving, that are telling you you are an impostor. “No, you should believe that impostor syndrome. You don’t belong here. Work harder. Work twice as hard. Work three times.” So it is sort of getting a community around that, so that you can deal with sort of what’s happening structurally to you that is real and that is attempting to make you feel invalidated.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. That is so beautifully said and just like the challenge of doing this inner work and changing this inner dialogue in the face of external circumstances that almost like I want to agree with that negative injury in terms of that dialogue.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: I want to reinforce it 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Yeah, and how much more difficult even that is. And I could see how having a community of people who’s able to kind of like be a healthy supportive chorus to kind of counterbalance all these other voices is essential, and to be isolated in the face of that is probably about the worst thing.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, that’s what you don’t want to let happen is become isolated, which can be happening in a lot of these circumstances, where you can feel very alone.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Well, important message. Well, thank you so much for spending time with me today. This has been a very interesting conversation, and I wish we had more time. I’m sure my listeners wish they had more time with you too. And so if you guys would like to learn more about Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin and her practice, her practice is called Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting. Her website is dynamictransitionsllp.com. And on your website you have access, of course, to your book, which is called Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life. And I think I noticed an online course kind of walking people through your material as well.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Yeah, it’ll be an online course. The first one will start in September, and it will be in beta. So we’ll take a small cohort of people during that time before mid-September. So yeah, so people who are interested, that also is on my website. 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: Wonderful. Well, thank you again so much for joining me today. This has been a lot of fun.

Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin: Thank you so much for having me, Lisa. This was great.

 

.

Being Organized

Being Organized

Being Organized

Being Organized Begins Within

[social_warfare]

Being Organized

 

BEING ORGANIZED: Creating an organized life can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal, especially when it’s not your natural way of being. One of the things I’ve learned over the years as an online life coach and Denver therapist is that being organized is more than learning about “organizational tips” or “time management skills” or a new plan for where to put stuff or reorganizing your drawers. Being organized (genuinely, sustainably organized) is actually a mindset; a way of being that cultivates order and calm. And unless you figure out how to be organized from within, all the “how to be organized” how-to’s will be short term and ineffective. 

How to Organize Yourself

Now, before we go further I must be honest with you my dear reader. I’m going to step out from behind the Therapist / Life Coach “Dr. Lisa” facade for a moment to share a secret: I am not a naturally organized person. In my personal life, particularly when I was younger, I have struggled to manage time effectively, keep control of the clutter and chaos, and maintain an organized life. I didn’t come from an organized family and arrived into adulthood without organizational skills in place.

I squeaked by for a while, but then when my life got harder I really needed to up my game. I could not get through graduate school or run a business without doing a better job of managing my time, energy and tasks. When I became a mom, that balance became even harder, and in order to do the things that we most important to me I really needed to work on my organizational skills. So I did!

I actually spent a lot of time figuring out how to get organized in order to do the things I wanted to do, to be the person I wanted to be, and to achieve my most important personal and professional goals. On my lifelong quest for personal organization, I have tried all the systems, all the hacks, and read all the “how to get organized” self help books there have ever been.

I am pleased to report that over the years I have grown into a reasonably organized person. I’m able to get important things done, and I usually have my act together. I still lose my keys sometimes (but not my shoes!)

How to Organize Your Life

Many people who are not good at being organized from within do have to work harder to create organizational systems, and stick to them. Many “Messies” dread these systems and will fight tooth or nail to avoid the types of routine and structure that being organized requires. But — I’m here to tell you, from the other side of this chasm — It’s much, much less stressful and easier to cope with basically everything when your life is generally in order. There’s less anxiety and drama. Your relationships feel easier too.

While it can feel hard to get organized and stay that way, once you do, you’ll be amazed at the contrast: Being organized and living an organized life is actually much, much easier than being chronically disorganized and chaotic. (More on this subject in the marvelous interview I did with Dr. Marilyn Paul, on “How to Be Stress Free.”)

I have learned from my own process that being organized, really, genuinely organized, is not about the systems and the containers and the calendars. (Though all those tools can help). Being organized begins with a shift in mindset. Organized people actually think differently than Messies. By learning how organized people think, and cultivating an organized mindset, you too can achieve the Nirvana of feeling genuinely in control of your time, your energy, your stuff, and your life.

The Organized Mindset

I considered inviting an “organizational expert” to come on today’s podcast and share their strategies for being organized, but then I had a better idea: My pal, Denver therapist and Denver psychologist Dr. Danielle Kahlo. Dr. Danielle is not a professional organizer, she’s way better — a blazingly talented therapist who is also a next-level organized person. She has incredible insights into the life experience of being organized, and how to achieve it.

Let’s Get Organized!

Listen to today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast for Dr. Danielle’s down-to-earth advice for:

  • The biggest differences between an organized mindset and a disorganized one
  • Why being organized has to come from within, especially when you’re working from home or managing a household
  • How being organized has a direct (positive) impact on anxiety
  • What causes procrastination, and the new ideas to nip it in the bud
  • How to achieve meaningful work / life balance and still get all the important things done
  • Ways to cultivate present-moment awareness in order to be more organized… and happier too.

I hope that this heartfelt advice on being organized is helpful to you as you juggle all the demands of your beautiful life!

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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Being Organized

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Jules Gaia, “Two Steps Back”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Being Organized

Access Episode Transcript

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby: This is Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby and you’re listening to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

[Two Steps Back by Jules Gaia]

That’s Jules Gaia with the song Two Steps Back, which I felt kind of captured this sort of frenetic energy, maybe? That I’m hearing so many of you are feeling these days trying to manage all of the stuff that you have going on between working from home, parenting, homeschooling. Oh my goodness. And you know, for as quiet as our lives have become in some ways during this whole Coronavirus experience, I am hearing from so many people that you feel busier than you have ever been in your life. And that is really a daily challenge—to figure out how to manage at all. If you too, have been living this experience, today’s podcast is for you.

And I have some very special things planned. Today we are talking about not just organizational tips, we’re talking about cultivating an organized mindset. And my guest on the show today I am so thrilled to introduce to you. She is Danielle Kahlo, but she is Dr. Danielle Kahlo. She is a psychologist. However, Danielle is also a wonderful dear friend of mine. And I wanted to talk with Danielle about this because she is the real deal. She is not some organizational guru who wants to sell you an online course to learn XYZ; she lives it. I have been in this woman’s house; I have opened her silverware drawer. I have seen the truth. She is next level organized and today she’s here to talk with us about how to cultivate this inner and outer state of zen. Danielle, thank you for being here.

Dr. Danielle Kalos: It’s my pleasure. And it’s interesting that we’re just doing an audio recording because if this were video, people would just see me cackling.

Dr. Lisa Marie: She is actually rolling her eyes as I’m talking so I can confirm this. No, but it’s true. You are among the mostlike supernaturally organized people I have ever met. Well, you know, it’s important though because some people talk the talk. And they like talk this big game and then you likemeet them in real life and they don’t always live it. But you exude organization.

And so let’s just start with a couple of questions because myselfas a person who can only be kind of organized with great effortit seems like magic. So now, let’s see. You and my stepmother, Bobby, are the two most organized people I have ever met in my life, and you are both from the South originally. She’s from North Carolina, you are from Mississippi. Question one: is this a Southern thing? Is that what makes you organized?

Dr. Danielle: That’s a fascinating question. I’ve never thought about it in that way. I don’t think that’s what drives me.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay.

Dr. Danielle: It may be different for other people.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Also, common factors here—you and Bobby both, at least at one time, drink large quantities of Diet Coke. Does that have anything to do with why you’re sobecause I don’t drink Diet Coke. And I was thinking, is that what this is about?

Dr. Danielle: I genuinely do not see any correlation between Diet Coke consumption as my way of being in the world, but who knows, there are so many chemicals in that. Something may have gotten in and changed my…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. Changed your brain.

Dr. Danielle: …your own wiring.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay. Well, I’m then going to write that one down as a hypothesis to continue going into because those, those like, “What? What? What is it? How do I get it?” But okay, so it’s neither of those things probably. Well, let’s talk about other possibilities then.

Dr. Danielle: Okay.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, so for now, so what I am really interested in digging into is… because I think like superficially, you can read books or watch a YouTube video about like, here’s how to clean out a closet, here’s where to put stuff, you know, like that kind of thing. But for people who struggle with organization, it’s always hard to maintain those systems. And I think it’s because it’s really just like a different way of thinking and like being oriented to stuff. Like there’s really an organized mindset. 

And I think it’s so important right now because people are dealing with more stuff to wrangle. And it’s been interesting because like, even people that I have talked with, like clients who are extremely successful people and who have done a lot, like I’m thinking of a client I work with who’s a physician. I mean, she is an extremely confident person. And, um, even her, like working from home, it removes the external structures that you have in place that kind of allow you to be organized. Like you don’t necessarily have to be places on time in the same way. Or you don’t have a routine that you are kind of funneled into. There’s not this external set of guide rails and or a company policy that says, “here is how to do XYZ” that we kind of follow along with.

When you’re working from home, you have to figure out how to be organized in a very self-directed way. You have to figure out your own routines and your own like procedures and processes that aren’t something that you’re being made to do. And so what I’ve experienced is even really highly competent and organized people that function very well in a workplace, when they’re working from home, there’s like this sort ofnot chaosbut it’s like they need to figure out how to organize themselves from within. And so that’s why I wanted to talk with you about the… how the thinking is differentlike that internalized organization, because you do this all the time. You do not just, you know, have your systems at work. 

And like, I don’t know if that makes, make sense or not, but what I’m hoping is like to get a sense of what the inner process is, and like, okay, let me actually ask you a coherent question. Do you feel that you were, like looking back on your life, always an organized person? Like is it just something that you’re born with? Is it a personality trait? Or do you feel like it’s something that you had to learn or cultivate or be taught or practice over the years in order to be organized? Is it? Is it nature or nurture? Is it you? Is it something that everybody else can learn? What do you think?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, that’s a great question. I certainly, you know, can remember as a kid, having a really messy, messy room and my parents having to say, “Clean up the room, clean up the room,” so I think that I…

Dr. Lisa Marie: That makes me feel so much better.

Dr. Danielle: …came out of the chute this way. Um, I do think… so I do think it can be cultivated. I think for meand I have shared this with you beforeit’s honestly, there’s a lot of anxiety management that comes with a strategy, so I feel less anxious when my surroundings are put together and in order. And I have a sort of an internal structure that helps me sort of navigate the world and feel like there are guide rails, even if they’re not being imposed from outside. But there’s a little bit of anxious temperament that I think goes into that. 

But I think I also have sort of practiced this over the years, and most of us do in school. You’ve got the structure of school, but then you’ve got all the activitiesthe homework, the assignments, the dissertationthat has to be done outside of school. And so you have to practice this. And so I think, remaining in the academic world for me, I’ve had to work remotely for years and years and years. And so there is some bit of things get very easy the more you practice it. Maybe getting started for people is the hardest part. I don’t know.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, no, those are, those are interesting reflections. And but I think that maybe that what you just shared is an important takeaway. And something that would be useful for all of us is this idea that when you do have an organized and kind of serene environment and systems and sort of a, you know, inner slash outer sense of control that everything is sort of in its place, it makes you feel better emotionally. And I can certainly understand. I mean, I think, even for me, like my natural tendency is to get a little frenetic and chaotic and I don’t feel good when things are like that. I don’t know where my keys are. I can’t find stuff. I feel disorganized. And when I can kind of come back and make a plan and put things in place, it just, it feels, it feels better. And so maybe that’s one takeaway is that even though it takes time and effort to create organizational systems, there is a positive impact on… yeah.

Dr. Danielle: I think that does stick from reinforcing, yeah. When you’re cooking a meal and you know where to find the utensils the same place every time or when you’re sitting in your office and you know, you know where this stack of papers or references is all the timeit does make things go smoother in the moment. And then there’s this reinforcing sense of, “okay, that went well” and efficiency and so…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: …that is, that is a good feeling.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, yeah. And then, okay, and so now just, just for the benefit of our listeners, I can tell you that Danielleher homes are always immaculate and you have just such a wonderful sense of design. I mean, I always joke with Danielle that yes, if the psychologist thing stops working out for you, that you should definitely look into interior design because you just create the most beautiful environments.

And I’m curious to know so if you have, you know, want to share, share something for the benefit of a working mom who has like… a family dad, too, that keeps the home together. When there are a lot of people in it all the time and buzzing around and doing things and moving stuff, are there systems or practices that you have found over the years that help you kind of um, keep it together? You know, because a lived in space will always start to get messy because people you know, you take the silverware out of the drawer, you do stuff, and you cook things. Are there any things that you have found to just like make it easier to restore order or maintain order?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think two things work for me and that’s something that doesn’t work for everybody. But I think keepingyou mentioned earlier stuffa minimalist approach. And that’s not to say you can’t have any art on your walls, but a minimalist approach to stuff like when you get something new, you give something away. So you know, before I make a new clothes purchase, I make purge my closet and see what needs to go to Goodwill. So keeping stuff minimal so that it, there’s fewer things to sort of get, you know, kind of explode in the inner space. That’s one thing.

And then the other thing is, and I heard this from someone years ago, so this quote is not from me but I have subscribed to it for much of my life, “Don’t put it down; put it away.” And that philosophy really works for me because it’s just as easy to drop it on the couch when you walk in the door as it is to hang it on the coat rack. It doesn’t take any more time. And so if you put it away instead of just dropping it down, that just keeps the order throughout the day.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: So that’s kind of, those two principles really work for me.

Dr. Lisa Marie: That’s great. I like that. “Don’t put it down; put it away.” Because I, because then here is actually another question that I had for you. So, you know, you are a psychologist and as such, a keen observer of people, and you know, have a lot of contact with different personality types and ways of being and I can absolutely relate to what you just said. Like I think that that is part of my disorganized mindset when things do start to get, you know, too much. It goes in a stack and this sort of mental narrative is, “I will do this later.” Like I know that when I listen to, “I will do this later,” it creates disorder for me. And so I’m going to practice swapping out that “Don’t put it down; put it away.” But, you know, have you also observed like, when people are more chaotic or have more difficulty just kind of keeping themselves organized. Are there other differences that you have noticed in terms of the mindset or the things that they’re telling themselves that seemed, from your perspective, to be contributing to their difficulty? Because we all create our own reality, right? And whatever our world looks like, is a manifestation of whatever is going on inside of us. And so I wonder if you could eliminate this for us, around what is the thinking style or the inner story that contributes to messiness?

Dr. Danielle: Well, I think, you know, to your point, the um, one of the things that I see sometimes with people who struggle with this is a tendency or procrastination. You know, that’s a problem for future me. And I think, you know, that mental way of approaching life creates piles in our mind, in our psyche, in addition to the piles out in the world. And so, for me, procrastination has never been effective. Because the anxiety just builds as the list builds in my mind and as the stuff builds on the, on the desk. So tackling things now is sort of a similar approach to “Don’t put it down; put it away.”

Not putting things off, for me, is a really effective way to stay organized. Because I don’t think that you know, and I recognize procrastination as an anxiety management strategy of its own, but that avoidance of dealing with thing right here, right now, and putting it in a mental pile for laterI think it builds up and builds up, and then life interrupts. And this is what I see happening with clients all the time. Or students even. You know, putting things off, putting things off. And then all of a sudden, there’s some sort of crisis, or things happen or whatever else. And people didn’t bank that into their mental timetable for when they could get this project done or this activity or whatever else. And then suddenly something has to fall off and can’t get accomplished. And so for me, sort of approaching things with “just go ahead and do it now,” because I know that something out there is going to come in unpredictably and I need to have some cushion. I don’t know. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, no, it really does. That to do it now; don’t put it off; and also expect that whatever you think is going to happen in terms of the plan is not actually what is going to happen. And so to account for thatand because I think too, like when I think about my, my messy mindset, so to speak, there is this overly optimistic narrative about what I will be able to accomplish that has no basis in reality. You know what I mean? Like I can really realistically do probably 25% of whatever is on my giant list or whatever. I think I can get accomplished on a Saturday morning. So you’re saying, I don’t do that and that’s why I’m organized. I love it.

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, well, I mean, how many of us have you know, started a work day and then a supervisor, a co-worker, a client, an administrative issue pops up that we didn’t build into our work day and it’s like, “when am I going to find time to do this thing that you need me to do that’s suddenly so urgent?” And so I think expecting that, that is the reality does keep me very focused on staying on top of what I can see that I need to do in an efficient way. So that if there’s cushions, I can enjoy the cushions when it comes instead of being taken by surprise.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, so then let’s, let’s go there for a second. So when it comes to like, routines and work days, in order to stay on top of things and do what needs to be done, and not get either blindsided or lost down a rabbit hole of whatever you know… and you have a lot of experience from working. And I should tell listeners: so in addition to being a psychologist and carrying a caseload, that DanielleI don’t want to call you Dianethat Danielle is also a professor of psychology at the University of Northern Colorado. She’s on the faculty.

And so you have a lot of plates spinning in the air. When it comes to personal routines and just like, I mean, do you, do you do like a task list? Do you like prioritize things to figure out what you’re going to work on first, or what you’re going to work on second, and when you’re going to work on that? And do youdo any like formalized kind of planning things to stay on track? Or is it so deeply ingrained that you just kind of know what to do and when to do it?

Dr. Danielle: I do think some of it is muscle memory that builds over time with practice. But yeah, I certainly have, um… especially on days when the external structure is not imposed. So, you know, when we’re seeing clients back to back, then that’s just the schedule. That is what it is. But on days where there’s less external structure imposed and it has to be more internal, I absolutely have a mental list. And so for me, the list begins with certain things that have to happen at a particular time.

So you and I had this, this meeting scheduled this morning at eight and I’ve got some appointments with students scheduled this afternoon. And so I’m looking at my day and those have to happen at a particular time. And then everything else gets slotted in around that. And, and then for me, there is a prioritization. You know, which of these things can wait and which of these things is urgent? And I don’t know that, I think that’s a values-based decision. I think it’s a sense of, you know, what the world is demanding from us in different areas of our life and what takes priority. So for me, there is a, you know, “These are my values so these are the most important things. So I’m definitely going to accomplish these. And the other things can wait until tomorrow evening, if, if they need to.” So, I don’t know that that’s very structured.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Well no, but, but I think what you’re talking again about the most important piece of this, which is the mindsetwhich is that you’re thinking about, “What is the most important, you know, what’s, what’s the stuff I have to do. But then what’s the most important or valuable stuff for me?” And then I think, I think you were insinuating this without saying it out loud, that you would do that important stuff before you would do the other thing. And so, so then, I mean, that seems like so natural to you. It’s probably not even a thought, but like, I talk to people all the time who like, know that I have these important things to do. And instead, they will mess around with like, low-level tasks because they’re easy. They’ll clean out their email box. They’ll mess around on Reddit for 45 minutes before they start doing stuff. Do you have… you don’t do that?

Dr. Danielle: I know.

Dr. Lisa Marie: What? Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: That’s a great, great observation. And I certainly have clients who do the same thing. I think, two things. I think some of that is avoidance, you know, when we can sort of cross easy things off the list because we know other things are bigger or require more energy. Then some of that could be, is sort of an avoidance or escapist strategylike, “I don’t want to deal with that; I’m gonna bury my head in the sand of the Reddit or the inbox.” But I think some of that is also, at least for some of the clients that I work with, that they haven’t really explored what their values are. They haven’t really explored and outlined, “This is what’s really important to me, and this is what I want to commit my time and energy to,” and made a conscious decision to focus on those things. So they’re much more easily be derailed because they haven’t outlined and committed to those things…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: …um, for themselves. Yeah, and so some values exploration is a lot of work that I do with people. “Really what matters to you? Are you aligning your life with that?”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay, like a true life coach, like we’re gonna bring you over. But, but really though, and you know, as you’re talking, I’m reflecting on what I have seen clients do. But also personally when I have, again, I need to be much more intentional in order to be as organized and productive as you are. And when I am moving into that space, I do have to be very deliberate about what is the most important thing today, and you know, like as it attaches to bigger goals. And I think what I also probably tell myself is “Do the hardest thing first and resist the temptation to do the easiest thing first.”

Dr. Danielle: Yeah.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Like I have to do the hard thing at the beginning of the day, and then the easy  pesky things in the last hour of the day because that takes less mental bandwidth. And I think I’m hearing a similar process there that the easy stuff happens when it happens.

Dr. Danielle: I think that’s right because you know, we sort of lose steam throughout the day. So when we wake up, and we’re fresh, and we tackle the hardest thingsit’s the whole “eat your vegetables” first kind of a deal. I think there’s a reason, structurally, that we teach and train kids, you know, dessert comes after you eat all the other healthy things so that you don’t fill up on dessert first, right?

And so I think there is that, that of, you know, let me get these things out that will require more energy while I’m fresh. And then at the end of the day, if something comes up, if life intervenes, if I get derailed by another urgent issue, then at least I’ve done those most important things.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And the other things can fall off and wait until tomorrow. And you know, I never subscribed to that whole… I don’t know if you remember back when we were a little bit younger. We’ve known each other for 15 years, can you believe that? That’s the whole daytimer process. And you know, there was a big… But there is something there about having a list, having it on paper instead of just in my head, and then being able to prioritize. “This is an A item. This is a B. This is a C.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah, I have to do that. I have do that.

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, but it’s helpful.

Dr. Lisa Marie: So okay, so prioritizing. When it comes also to time management, have you observed in yourself any strategies that you use that maybe are a little bit different than what you see less organized people doing that help you, you know, I’m thinking get places on time. You are also supernaturally punctual. I should, I should… but like, be able to, like schedule things.

Okay. So here’s a, here’s a more specific question. One of the things that I have observed in myself and also people who are—have of a less organized orientation is that there is a different sense of maybe how long things are going to take. Whereas, and, but this is a hypothesis; I don’t know this for sure. I mean, I’m wondering if part of being punctual and good time management is having a more, maybe realistic sense of how long things take? Or do you feel like it’s attached to something elselike your ability to get places on time and to know, “I’m going to spend this much time working on this report?” What do you think?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah. No, I think that’s right. I think that this goes back to what we were talking about a little bit earlier, which is the idea of building in a buffer that things are going to go wrong. How do I create a cushion for that? Right? So there will be an accident on Colorado Boulevard as I’m trying to get somewhere. Or you know, something, something else will, will interrupt my ability to, you know, get to this particular appointment on time.

And so building in that cushion, I think when, when I haven’t done that so well, you’re right, I have assumed that I could get somewhere or do something in a particular amount of time. And that has, I underestimated how long things would take or what would get in the way or whatever. And so, I may work on fiddly tasks up until the last minute and say, “Oh, I need to go.” And I should have stopped those fiddly tasks, you know, 10 minutes earlier and be more efficient with my time management. So I think there is a little bit of predicting that things may go wrong. And so my strategy islet’s say I’m trying to get to an appointment and the Google Maps says it’s going to take 20 minutes to get there. If I leave 35 minutes early, then I’m not panicked if there’s an accident. And if I arrive early, then I’ve got that cushion to then do whatever that was answer those emails or whatever because we can do that from anywhere now…

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: …while at, while I’m waiting at that appointment. And so it’s not that I’m getting less done. It’s just that I, you know, plan the cushion, and then use that cushion when I arrive and I’m waiting for the appointment.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Got it.

Dr. Danielle: I don’t know if that makes sense.

Dr. Lisa Marie: No, that’s a fantastic strategy. And that has like, never actually occurred to me before, but I think I’m gonna start doing it, Danielle. No, but so, so like, I mean, so just out of curiosity. So Google Maps says 20 minutes, do you add 50% to that? 75% to that? Like, is there a little mental calculus that you found to be… “If I add 50% more or whatever it is, then it’s usually okay.” I’m just curious.

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve done the mental math and like actually calculated, “Okay, 20 minutes divided by two and then blah, blah, blah.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: 14.75 seconds. Right.

Dr. Danielle: Right. Right. Right. Right. But, but I think some of it depends on, you know, actually how far I’m going. And so there is a little bit of a ratio there, although it’s more of a gut instinct than anything else. But I think it’s a question of just building in some buffer, instead of working up to the last minute on the project that’s right before. And, and, and then slotting in some of those easier tasks that we were talking about that can sort of occur throughout the day, can then occur in those buffer windows. When I arrived to that appointment 15 minutes early, okay, let me answer those emails now instead of trying to do it before I got in the car. And so there’s a little bit of just sort of restructuring and sliding the smaller tasks in when I find that there’s a window of opportunity. So yeah, so there’s some reorganization of bigger items and then slotting in the smaller items in between.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Okay. Well, that’s great. So this is wonderful. And so okay, then lastly so let’s say you have your, your typical typical familywith you know, mom and dad trying to work and manage a home, but also now managing kids, and keeping them on track, and homeschooling and schedules. And just trying to make sure that everything, everything that needs to happen, happens to a degree, with the understanding that right now for many people, there’s some stuff that isn’t going to happen because it can’t. So you know, while we might like to have our socks matched and in the drawer, it may be realistic to get the clean clothes out of a laundry basket that never actually gets put away because nobody has the bandwidth to do that with everything else that needs to be done. I mean, there are, there are finite limits. But do you have any last words of advice for, you know, a family in the situation with going in a zillion different directions in this contextwith not external structure, you know, child care, having to do all the stuff–that might help them begin to create a workable plan to make sure the important things at least get done?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a, that’s a great question. And I think it involves, I think, a lot of communication and a lot of sharing together——at least the adult partners in the, in the family system–saying, “Okay, what is most important to us as a family?” And putting those things first, and then coming up with a strategy for managing that together as a team.

I think one of the things that can happen is when we get stressed out and we go into our own, our own little bubblesthat can be isolating in a family system.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And when we can sort of just sort of spin off into our own little solar systems instead of really consciously coming together and saying, “Okay, what’s most important to us? And what do we value here?” Again, going back to those values. And then, and then sort of choosing, “Okay, let’s tag team this. I’m going to do this with the kids today. You’re going to do that with the house. You get that done.” That’s a good day.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And really just making a conscious effort to communicate about that and be, be working together as a team instead of spinning off into our own little zone.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. That’s fantastic advice. Okay, so to recap, I mean, if I, if I kind of just run down the big takeaways. I think the first thing, the first thing you said was just get deeply committed to, “Don’t put it down; put it away.” And you also talk about minimizing like, you maybe make it, do some curation to make it so that you do have a place for the most important things and that it’s not overwhelming sprawl. And I think that’s fantastic advice.

You also talked a lot about figuring out what your priorities are, and what is most important, and making sure that you do whatever that is first, and the lower value or less important things after that. Yup. And, and I think woven throughout this is sort of this core belief of that, you can probably do less than you think you can. And it’s probably going to take longer if it’s driving or doing a task. So maybe, I mean, is it fair to say like, lower your expectations about what is possible, and really focus on what is important? Does that kind of summarize it?

Dr. Danielle: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think that’s right. Having a, having a sense of buffer for anticipating that, you know, things will, you know, go wrong or take longer and, and really focusing on what matters most.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah.

Dr. Danielle: And then, and then making that explicit for yourself. And so whether that is you know, as a calendar or a list or whatever else. Getting it out of your headwhere things tend to swim around and get lostand really outlining it for yourself in a very clear way, so that you can feel like, “Okay, yeah. I’m, I’m actually, my behavior is consistent with what I’m saying matters most to me.”

Dr. Lisa Marie: Yeah. Yeah. And then doing it now. Don’t put it away.

Dr. Danielle: And then doing it now. That’s right. That’s right. Easier said than done.

Dr. Lisa Marie: Wow, so many, so many wonderful tips. Danielle, thank you so much for spending this time with me today.

Dr. Danielle: Pleasure. Thanks for having me.

 

How to Practice Self-Love

How to Practice Self-Love

How to Practice Self-Love

Let’s Talk About Self-Love

[social_warfare]

During my master’s program and newly into seeing online therapy and couples counseling clients, I was paired with a woman seeking individual treatment. Throughout the first session, I learned that she had an adult son who was new into recovery for alcohol and substance addiction, which was her primary reason for seeking services at the time. It was easy to tell that she cared for her son immensely, but that she was placing a considerable amount of blame on herself for enabling her son’s addiction. While there was attention placed on the reason she initially sought therapy, after exploring parts of her life, we discovered a much bigger overarching issue that was causing problems in several areas in her life – she did not know how to practice self-love.

Self-Love Journey

After we had talked greatly about her son’s previous addiction, his newfound recovery, and how she could best be supportive to him, I began to ask deep questions about her life. Sadly, her mother had passed away when she was very young which led to feelings of not truly belonging anywhere. Throughout her childhood, there was a spotlight on her from her remaining family and community to ensure she was taken care of, which brought about discomfort from always being the center of attention. Once she was old enough to begin making her own decisions, she worked tirelessly to take herself out of the spotlight, which inevitably shifted that attention to others. From then on, she unknowingly had dedicated her life to serving others, at the expense of her own happiness and wellbeing. 

Throughout therapy, we focused on the importance of putting herself first in life and took note of the impact those changes were having on her relationships with others and herself. After a year of work together and her deciding it was time to use those new skills on her own outside of therapy, she was able to terminate successfully with an entirely different perspective of her own life.

Can you too relate to this story? Many of my online therapy and life coaching clients that come to me seeking a better understanding of self and wanting to experience true happiness find themselves in this exact same situation – putting others consistently before themselves. 

Why Is Self-Love Important?

I often think back to our work together, as I learned a tremendous amount from her and truly looked up to her for seeking change in her life. There were times that we cried together because of the unhappiness she had experienced in her life due to putting herself last on her priority list. Knowing that she placed importance on taking care of other people, I chose to start her work by having continual conversations about what she would be telling someone if she saw they were not making themselves a priority. 

She had a profound insight and ability to speak to the imaginary people we were discussing, which led to conversations about why she could not give herself the grace to do the things she was preaching. I remember the first session we had after she had done something for herself during the week and pointing out how giddy she was. “It was uncomfortable to do something for myself, but it felt great and put me in a better mood for the rest of the day,” she said. I beamed with pride as I realized that she was not only willing to make this change but that she also felt relief through the process as well.

There are many questions that came up during our sessions that have since then affected my work with my clients. “Is it selfish of me to be putting this much focus on myself?” she asked. This sparked a conversation about the metaphor of not being able to pour from an empty cup. For those that have not heard this metaphor, it states that if you have nothing left in your metaphorical “tank”, then you will not be able to serve and help others. Eventually, we all run out of “gas” and cannot continue to give on an empty tank. 

Ways to Practice Self-Love

In order to refill your cup, you must do things that recharge your body and soul. This looks different for every person and takes inner reflection and planning to understand what activities will revitalize you. In the case of the client being discussed, we brainstormed and landed on several solutions. 

First, she was going to prioritize her health by taking walks and eating healthier. By taking care of others for so long, she had lost sight of what made her mind and body feel good. There was a visible difference in the way she presented herself once she started making healthier decisions in her daily life. 

Additionally, she wanted to spend time making her home feel like hers again. Her adult son that was mentioned previously had lived with her until he entered recovery, which led to her feeling that her home had become a shared space. We were able to set many goals, some of which were for a few weeks’ time and others were larger goals to have completed by the end of the year. By being able to have an action plan in place, she stated that she was relieved to feel that her home would reflect who she is as a person, rather than who she is as a mother. 

While these solutions may seem ineffective or intuitive to others, they were things that had become difficult for her to do, as this would mean she was not focused on taking care of someone else in those moments.

Finding what works for YOU is the most important step in your self-love journey. I will share more on this, but if you are still wondering What is Self Love? This article will help answer your questions: How To Love Yourself

Path to Self-Love

The topic of age came up during many of our sessions, as she was in her mid-70s and I was in my mid-20s at the time. Our focus on age was particularly around her internal battle surrounding the question, “Is it too late in my life to be making significant changes?”

I wanted to ensure that when discussing this issue, I presented my opinion in a way that truly made her value the idea that she deserved to find self-love and happiness for the rest of her life. I focused on breaking down the impact that the word change had, as we often associate changing with shifting 180 degrees, which can be overwhelming. I had recently read an anonymous quote that said, “If the path you’re walking on seems to be leading you to nowhere, stop and choose another. It’s never too late to change direction.” With this quote in mind, we discussed how she had been on a path that was not leading her to daily happiness but how she possessed the power to pick a new direction. 

We also discussed how much life she had left to live and made a list of the things she wanted to do for herself that had not been done yet. During these conversations, I questioned whether those things could be done on the current path she was on or whether a new direction could inspire the growth she needed to mark things off her personal checklist. Eventually, she came to the realization I had been hoping she would reach – and that was the last time her age was mentioned in our work together.

At some point in time, most of us wonder how to love ourselves in the best way possible. Even as a mental health professional that is trained to help others achieve their happiness and goals, I have struggled to figure out what I need to be doing for myself in order to lead my own self-love. There is no perfect solution to this problem, and as we grow and move throughout life, the answer will undoubtedly change. 

Regardless of which season of life you are in or the struggles happening around you, there is always room for grace. We can award ourselves the forgiveness to know that we aren’t always going to get it right, but despite the obstacles ahead, we realize we are making efforts to make ourselves feel loved. In the words of the great former First Lady, Michelle Obama, “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”

How to Practice Self-Love

In order to begin practicing self-love, I recommend first taking time to reflect on what makes you feel loved or appreciated. I encourage clients to think about what their love language is with others, and how that can impact the love for themselves. Love languages not only provide insight into how others can show us appreciation in a way that makes us truly feel loved but ways that we can work towards self-love practices that leave us feeling valued and respected.

The 5 Love Languages

If you feel loved by hearing words of affirmation, write positive notes to yourself or keep a gratitude journal where you focus on the positives in your life that you are thankful for. You can also spend time complimenting yourself in a way that brings you happiness and comfort.

For those that find receiving gifts as their ideal way to be shown love, take time to create a calming self-care kit for yourself or spend time engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. The idea of giving yourself gifts is to treat yourself in a way that makes you feel valued and appreciated.

Acts of service can show love by having something done for you that holds meaning. If you feel that you experience love deeper when someone is able to take time to show you love by kind gestures, you might consider being able to show appreciation for yourself by personal acts of service. You could cook yourself a favorite dinner or declutter an area of your living space that has been bringing on stress. 

If physical touch leaves you feeling loved, focus on things that make your body feel taken care of, such as skin care routines or relaxing baths. You can also do things to take care of your body like eating fruits and vegetables or higher quality foods that leave your body feeling nourished and respected.

Quality time is often viewed as needing to be shared with someone else. There is great value in being able to spend quality time with yourself by doing things such as time alone in nature, either hiking or enjoying a sunset. You can also watch a movie that holds meaning to you or take time to read your favorite book.

There are endless possibilities for how to show yourself the love that you deserve. Share with me your favorites in the comments below!

Warmly
Kaily Moore, M.S., LMFTA

Texas Marriage Counseling Online Therapist in Texas Kaily Moore M.S., LMFTA

Kaily Moore, M.S., LMFTA is a highly trained Marriage and Family Therapist. She has additional specialized training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, addiction, and recovery as well as Gottman Method Couples Therapy levels one and two.

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It’s Okay to Cry: How to Handle Big Emotions

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It’s Okay to Cry: How to Handle Big Emotions

Emotional Health

[social_warfare]

IT’S OKAY TO CRY | It’s ok to feel exhausted, or angry, or discouraged. It’s ok to find rage building in your chest, or to feel fear and worry buzzing like bees in your gut. It’s ok—really, it is—to have big, powerful emotions, and it’s also ok if you don’t know what to do about them.

This may not feel like a shocking statement, coming from a therapist, but it’s worth saying even so.

 It’s worth saying because I’m pretty sure you’ve heard differently.

You may have heard that being angry is unattractive. You might have been told (or you might tell yourself) that your sadness makes you weak, or that fear is unacceptable. You may have learned overtly, or through experience, that the things you feel are inappropriate for someone of your gender, your race, your age, or your position. You may have discovered that sharing your emotions with others can make them uncomfortable, and can have painful or embarrassing consequences.

I suspect you’ve heard and felt these things because I’ve heard and felt them too, and so have my therapy and coaching clients who come to see me, seeking a place where—finally—their emotions are welcome.

Validate Feelings

I imagine that you, like me, like each of us, have adapted to these expectations. You might use humor as your shield, or you might intellectualize, straining the vulnerable bits out of the experience in favor of a punchline or a cognitive conclusion. 

Another popular choice is distraction (hi, smartphones and those earbuds you never take out anymore); or—another crowd-pleaser here—you might use your work as a hideout, allowing busy-ness (and often, positive feedback) to drown out any emotions that might come knocking. One that I use all the time? Taking care of someone else: I let whatever the other person is feeling fill all the space in the room.

You might identify with some (or even all) of the defense mechanisms I’ve listed here, or you might not. Your way of coping might be food, or substances, or exercise, or sex, or sleep, or even—brace yourself—something you learned in therapy. Yes, strange though it might sound, most strategies related to “emotion regulation” (think: breathing exercises, grounding practices, and many forms of mindfulness) function primarily to protect us from emotions, buffers between ourselves and the emotions that plague us.  

You might be thinking, “hey, isn’t a lot of that stuff good?” If so, you’re right!

Wheel of Emotions

Sometimes—often, even—our emotions can feel messy, draining, unprofessional, and in the way. They can make it hard for us to, say, focus at work, or to be kind in conversations, or to fall asleep at night. They can also push us outside our personal windows of tolerance (the degree to which you can endure a particular emotion before you stop acting like your best self).

When that happens, things can get ugly, or even dangerous, and it is very important for each of us to have ways of helping ourselves stay within that safe, manageable emotional range. Some ways are healthier and more effective than others; the key is to find something that works for you in the moment without making your situation worse long term (addiction is one way certain defenses can backfire, for instance). 

But let’s say you’ve got a defense that’s working for you, consistently creating distance from your emotions, and not creating any kind of perceptible danger. Is this enough?

I would argue no. It isn’t enough, either for me, or for my clients.  Here’s why:

The emotions are still there, unresolved. In your less-guarded moments, you feel them.  And if you’ve been fending them off for a long time, you might notice that they start to change over time—and that these changes can be deeply unpleasant. We tell ourselves that emotions go away with time, but often the reality is much less rosy.

Feelings, like fruits and veggies, are meant to be digested while they’re fresh, and an emotion left unattended can rot: frustration can build into rage; hurt can fester and become resentment or even contempt; and sadness can, when left to itself, become a full-blown depression

We know, deep down, that we can’t go on avoiding our emotions forever, but it can be hard to stop—especially if the only alternative seems to be allowing the emotions to overwhelm you.

Emotional Goals

So let’s say you wanted to approach your emotions differently (Maybe you’re ready to agree that It’s Okay to Cry).  What would that look like?

This is a question I hear a LOT (especially lately from my online therapy clients), and it’s a good one. In fact, it still gets clinicians and researchers across the disciplines of psychology, counseling, and human development into spirited and complex debate. 

For starters, it’s important to recognize that we have emotions for a reason. Just like hunger lets you know that you need to eat, or pain tells you that you’ve been injured, emotions give us important information about ourselves and our needs

Emotions happen faster than conscious thought, which means that they give us the ability to notice and respond to our environment quickly. They are also fundamental to human bonding: without emotions we cannot experience connection, empathy, love, or loyalty. We can’t create partnerships, families or communities, and we can’t even communicate coherently with ourselves. 

In other words, our emotions are an asset. They’re not a necessary evil, an inconvenience, or a character flaw: they are essential feedback, allowing us to keep ourselves safe, whole, and connected to those we love.

In order to tap into this strength, I walk my clients (and myself) through five simple steps, counting them off on my fingers.

5 Simple Steps to Emotional Health

#1 The first thing to do is learn to notice our emotions as they happen. (Hint: the easiest way to do this, especially if it’s unfamiliar, is to start with your body. Is your forehead creasing? Is your heart beating fast, or slow? Are your hands or feet fidgeting? Might you be tensing your shoulders, biting your lip, clenching your fists, holding your breath?) This may involve learning to pause some of the strategies mentioned earlier, allowing yourself to direct your attention toward the emotion rather than away.

#2 The second step is simply to name the emotion. You may be feeling more than one at a time, but you can avoid confusion and overwhelm by just focusing on one at a time.  So now perhaps you’ve paused, noticed a lump in your throat, and thought to yourself, “I’m feeling sad right now.”

#3 Now for the third step: ask yourself where the emotion is coming from.  (This is a meditation technique called “reflecting:” you ask yourself a question, allowing your mind to answer without conscious effort, without pushing. You may surprise yourself with how you answer!)

#4 The fourth step is crucial: validate what you’re feeling. Emotions don’t get resolved until they’re taken seriously, so this is your chance to tell yourself things like: “It makes sense that I feel this way;” “My feelings are legitimate;” “It’s ok that I’m feeling this right now;” “I can feel this and still be ok,” “It’s okay to cry.” 

In this step, self-compassion starts to peel back the layers of resistance we have toward a certain feeling, giving ourselves permission to own our experiences rather than smothering them or shaming ourselves. And here’s the twist: even as we make room for the emotion, we start to feel calmer. 

Finally, we turn our attention to the need indicated by the emotion, and try to find a way of meeting it.  So if you’re feeling guilty, you might need to make an apology.  If you’re feeling angry or hurt, you might need to protect yourself.  If you’re feeling lonely, you might need to try connecting with someone.  And if you’re feeling sad, you might just need to cry. 

This step can be tricky, because sometimes the thing we feel we need is impossible (for instance, if you’re grieving the passing of a loved one, you might truly feel that you need them back; or if you’re deeply ashamed of something you said to your partner, you might feel you need a time machine to go back and change your behavior). 

It can also be hard because sometimes emotions urge us to try unhelpful things to make ourselves feel better, like punching someone who’s made us angry. It can be tempting to think that resolving the external event is the same thing as resolving the emotion, but that’s problematic too: it’s often beyond our capacity to “fix” whatever has happened to make us feel this way, and in any case, emotional needs often transcend their impetus (they’re often bigger or deeper than a single event). 

#5 The key to the fifth and final step of this process is to choose kindness toward yourself and the emotion at hand, demonstrating that you’re taking your feelings seriously, and that you’re going to act accordingly.

Walking yourself through these steps isn’t easy, especially the first time.  If you’re new to this sort of thing, be sure to cut yourself some slack: it takes practice. You might feel silly reassuring yourself, or you might get lost in your own thoughts as you try to figure out where a particular feeling is coming from. It’s normal to struggle.

As I write this, the world is struggling, and each of us are working as hard as we can to hold ourselves together, weathering circumstances we could not predict and cannot resolve. Our shared predicament makes it more important now than ever to know what to do with our feelings. In crisis time, we need something better than defenses and avoidance—we need to bring curiosity and compassion to our own emotions, and to the emotions of others.

And remember…it’s okay to cry. 

Wishing you the best, 
Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC 

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Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC is a marriage counselor, family therapist, life coach and individual therapist who creates a warm, safe environment, bringing out the best in you and your relationships. She empowers couples and individuals to heal and grow using evidence-based approaches that create real results and lasting change.

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