[*Automated Podcast Transcript. Typos likely.]
Hi everyone. It’s Amber Desmond, Emotional Awareness Coach at Emotional Medicine Coaching. Today I wanted to talk about the mirror of life, uh, the mirror of our own relationship with ourselves and the mirror that life holds up to us. And I wanted to ask you what you believe is your biggest obstacle in life. I just want you to think about that. Really think about it for just a moment here. There was probably some instantaneous thought, something that popped up. What is your biggest obstacle? I would say my first thought for me would be, Oh, I don’t have enough money. And then that is an obstacle that holds me back from being able to do things that I want to do and travel and invest in my own business. And you know, that money and not being able to make enough money would be my biggest obstacle. And then the next might be, Oh, well having been a massage therapist for the last 16 years, segwaying now into being full time coach.
You know, my biggest obstacle is the uncertainty of becoming a full time coach, leaving my career as a massage therapist. And then also with massage therapy, feeling like, Oh, well I can’t, you know, there’s like really this platform and this ceiling of how much money I can make because there’s only so much I can do. If I’m not working with people and not doing massages, then I’m not making money and there’s only so many massages I can do and I’ve got all this pain in my body. And so then the next obstacle would be my body is holding me back. So whatever that might be for you, maybe you’re sick, maybe you have chronic pain, maybe you’re handicapped. Maybe you suffer from severe anxiety or depression, some sort of mental illness or diagnosis. Maybe it’s poverty, it’s money. Maybe it’s her partner, your children, your job at the town you live in, whatever, whatever it is. And I’m going to brazenly say,okay,that your biggest obstacle is you. My biggest obstacle call is myself.
And that is really, really hard to swallow because it, it seems like it’s other things. Oh no, it’s this, it’s that. Like it’s not just me, it’s something else outside of me, outside of my control. Something I have no power over. You know? Of course my biggest obstacles, cancer of course, and that could be very well true, is that your, you could be currently dying. But I ask if that is the case, that the most extreme case is how can you get out of your own way even while dying?
How can you step out of his story of dying and embody life right now? Even though you may be in immense amount of pain and suffering? How can you not find a way to make that happy or you know, make you love that, that this is happening. I’m not talking about being like, yay yippie Skippy, I’m dying of cancer to continue use that example because it’s so extreme. So because people die of cancer all the time. So [inaudible] what I’m saying is how can you be dying of cancer but not make that meaning that while you’re alive, you can’t still enjoy the bits of life you have left. And if you really think about it, we’re all dying. That brings me to this amazing quote. I wrote this down in one of my many journals that have kept over the years and I didn’t write down who said it, so I can’t get from credit, it’s not mine, but it says, make a counselor out of death and ask death, what should I do next? And that is a really amazing question for anyone, even people who aren’t necessarily on the brink of death due to any kind of illness, because ultimately we’re all on the brink of death at any given day. We have no idea when our time will come. None. And I know that sounds morbid and depressing and maybe it’s something you don’t want to think about, but for me, acknowledging my own death and that I literally have no idea when that time will come.
Not to live like you’re dying is really the only thing that actually makes sense because we all are dying and every day is a gift and that the biggest obstacle in our lives is us. It’s not our relationships, it’s not money, it’s not even cancer, it’s us. It’s our relationship with ourselves and everything that’s going on in our lives. First and foremost, the thing you are contending with every single day is your mind, your beliefs, your story, what is the story? What do I mean when I say your story? My story, my name is Amber, I’m 39 and I’m a Libra and I live in North Carolina and I have a partner named Zach and we have two cats and I’ve been a massage therapist for 16 years and I’m now an emotional awareness coach and I created a podcast. I do pole dancing for my extracurricular, fun activities.
I write, I do yoga, I hike, I’ve got parents who I’m close to, I have siblings I don’t talk to, you know, and then I’ve got the entire story of my childhood and my circumstances and my education and ex boyfriends and ex friends and lovers in the past and all the things that have added up to who I am to who I believe myself to be. These are my stories, the story of my life. He has, Oh, I was born in Orleans and I was raised by Tom and Hannah. I had half brother and sister who came to live with us. It was very, very challenging. I experienced a lot of um, trauma due to circumstances at our household. I experienced emotional neglect, you know, and out of love and not meaning to. But when you have chaotic situation going on, then you can get lost in it.
And that’s a story. And I’m not saying that that doesn’t end in any way diminish ish. My experience of what happened, it doesn’t make it in valid. It doesn’t make it not true. It doesn’t make it not important. But my relationship with that story can make me or break me. I, we’ve got stories that we create inside of our own stories. So that story of my life then adds up to beliefs I develop about myself due to my story, my education, where I was raised, how I was raised. They all created stories. The story of that, I was not smart that I really struggled in school. Um, I had high anxiety and did not do well under that pressure. And I let my feelings about that time to find me, how these moments in my life came to define me and to shape me and to tell me who I am.
And even though I came to know myself as a very intelligent and capable and remarkable woman, but even though come to know that inter realized that there was still this part of me clinging to this doubt, to this old feelings of secret and adequacy. I don’t matter, nobody cares. I’m not good enough. I don’t want them to find out how stupid I really am. I used to not, this is before computers and spellcheck and when you know, as you’re typing the right spelling is coming up on your phone these days. But back in the day I wouldn’t write things down and let people read them out of fear at them. Seeing my spelling and my lack of punctuation and how education, uneducated, that made me seem and the story that I created about being an educated or about not being smart and that it wasn’t ever the content of my writing that I was ashamed of.
Cause I generally thought my content was pretty good. It was the spelling and the punctuation and I had shame. So I embodied it. This deep shame that said like, you’re so stupid, you can’t let anybody read anything you write. You can’t let them see, see it. You could read it to them, but don’t let them read it cause they’re gonna laugh at you. And then they’re going to not actually take you as seriously because they’re going to see that you’re stupid. And if you’re stupid, obviously the content in what you’re saying has less value. And that my friends is the story of her culture as well. And our are very strong leanings towards what is intelligence and education and what we value. And so it’s just examining how we fit into these stories and what stories we take in and we make our own. And I take that story, you know, about how society can decide for me if I’m smarter. Not that school teachers have any say over how I feel about my own intelligence and what I believe to be possible for me.
You see just every moment we are creating beliefs, ideas, and stories about ourselves, about our lives, about what’s possible, about who we are, about what life will be for us, and we rarely truly take the time to say, what is this story that I’m perpetuating? What story am I making true? What am I making true about myself? What am I really trying to convince people that I’m not? What am I trying to convince people that I am? What am I afraid I am? What am I convinced that I might actually be? In what ways am I trying to contort and control myself and my life in order to be that thing? This is about being aware. This is about questioning your own beliefs about yourself, about saying, how am I standing in my own way?
I took in a lot of this belief about not being smart and it controlled my life. It controlled not just my writing, but a controlled jobs that I would take and things that I thought I could do, things that I thought were possible for me. I thought I was stupid and so from stupid, I don’t have many opportunities. I’m stupid. Doors aren’t going to open and I don’t have a big life ahead of me. I’m probably going to have a pretty small life if I think that I don’t have the intelligence and the skills to really be successful. And even I questioned that belief. We doubt that on some level it was true was what was killing me.
This, I had taken it in so deep that it had wrapped around my organs, that it had embedded itself into me, that it had become me.
So what I teach my emotional awareness coaching it’s about [inaudible] heavily. It’s like taking, you know, a jewelry box and say you’ve got a bunch of necklaces and earrings and, and bracelets and they’ve all just been thrown into this jewelry box and there’s no separation between all the different jewelries and it’s all just big giant in meshed, tangled mass. You pick it up and maybe one or two things falls out, but the rest you’ve got to spend maybe hours unraveling it and pulling little strings that pull onto other strings that go in through these other loops that are entangled through other earrings and and all wrapped up and nodded. Somethings are more easily let go of than others and some things are so tightly wrapped in there that it feels like it’s going to be impossible to undo it. This is going to take forever. We frustrated and we just want to quit. I don’t care if I’ll get it. I’ll just, I’ll wear something else. I don’t care.
That happens inside of us too. We’re weaving webs. It’s like giant story webs inside of us. All these beliefs and ideas, fears and insecurities and doubts, strengths and weaknesses, they get tangled into us to where we can’t distinguish what’s real, what, what do we really believe? Where did this start? Where does it end? Is there a beginning? Can I untangle this? Do I want to, who am I without this? What does my life look like if I’m not believing that about myself? If I am really, really intelligent and I’m really, really capable, then that means that I’ve got to live a bigger life. That means a bigger life has is possible for me. And that could be scary. That can be really, really scary even though it seems like something I might really want, I really want a bigger life, but a bigger life means facing more things, be more visible, being more vulnerable, putting myself out there and bigger ways. So then that little voice or saying, you know, you don’t really, you don’t need that. It’s okay, you, you’re, you’re okay the way you are. You don’t really, you know, need to grow or expand or challenge yourself. Not really. I mean, just enough, just enough, you know, your life isn’t amazing but it doesn’t suck. And then we start to slowly convince ourselves that it’s okay where we are.
And I’m not saying we should not say it’s okay where we are because where we are is where we are. But you start from wherever you are and if you want something more, if you know in your gut that there is more to you and to your life, look in the mirror, in the mirror of life, the mirror of yourself.
How can you get out of your way? How can you become less of your own obstacle? How can you be your biggest champion? It’s another thing we spend so much time with our inner critic with that voice of doubt, fear and disbelief. The voice that tells you to stay comfortable. Stay small, stay where you are. It’s too scary. It’s too much. It’s unfamiliar. You don’t know how you’re not smart enough. You’re not thin enough, you’re not feminine enough. You’re not masculine enough. You’re not aggressive enough. You’re not assertive enough. You don’t know enough about the subject, whatever it is. I mean, we have eight bajillion different excuses. Trust me, I have used them all. I love my excuses. Oh, I love them and I believe them at times or like I believe my own excuses. Oh yeah, that’s so true. But challenges, learning how to hear that voice question it you’re like, is that really my authentic best self, best life, best me voice or is that a voice of and doubt and disbelief, a voice that belongs to a story that maybe I don’t really need anymore that I don’t want to invest all my energy into. I don’t want to give power over to that version of myself anymore. I had trauma, I had struggle, I’ve had pain, I’ve had loss, I’ve had natural catastrophes. I’ve been in accidents, have been homeless. I’ve been heartbroken. I have been shattered as a person. I have abused drugs and alcohol. I smoked cigarettes, hurt people. I let people hurt me and those are all parts of life, but I can stay stuck in all of those things that were painful, like up, look at all that horrible shit that happened. Now I need to avoid anything that could potentially lead me into having any of those experiences.
Again, I experienced that pain and now I will do everything I can to avoid it. And that can mean maybe I don’t take the risk of being a bigger version of myself because that risk means I could be hurt in a way that I don’t ever want to be hurt again. And that’s understandable. We are wired to protect ourselves, to avoid pain. That’s how our brains are made. It’s pretty annoying at times. Everybody keeps us alive at the same time, our survival mechanism, our brain literally cannot distinguish between what’s happening and what’s being imagined. And that’s a really, really powerful thing to realize. Our brains can’t distinguish the difference between what’s happening and what’s being imagined. So your brain has no clue that your daydreams or you know anything that you are thinking and feeling and imagining are not actually happening. So it’s like, you know, if you got a panic attack, it’s a great example or an erection, you know, a, a wet dream, a fantasy, getting aroused.
Like your body is literally responding to something being imagined. If you’re a guy or if you don’t even know about how penis is work, then if you know a guy is thinking about something desirable, something that turns him on his body will literally send blood to his penis. So he gets an erection. That’s his body responding to something imagined to something of we don’t think about how, because we might not have all these obvious reactions like an erection to notice, but it’s literally the same thing is when we’re thinking over and over again and we reaffirm over and over again through our continued inner dialog and to then our behavior and response to that dialogue that perpetuates. The truth of that is that we’re not good enough. We’re too fat. We can’t, you know, be in a healthy relationship. We can’t take that job offer because we’re going to fail.
And so we believe it. We give it power and we don’t question the fact that we ourselves are the ones standing in our own way and say, do I really want to believe that I’m not good enough? Do I want that belief? You know I’m thinking it, but is that what I really want to believe about myself? Like Oh well it must be true because I’m thinking it thoughts aren’t necessarily true just because I can think, Hey, pink elephants are in this room. Does that mean it’s real? No, it’s just a thought. Thoughts are wind. Ultimately they’re just passing things and we get so into loops because thinking certain thoughts literally is wiring your brain. This is science wiring your brain to think thoughts, more thoughts like that kind of thought. So it’s like the more negative thinking you practice, the more you’re literally wiring your own brain to think negative thoughts about yourself or about whoever.
And so it is going to seem very unfamiliar when [inaudible] we start to try to shift our thinking and it might even seem hard, you know, and I’m not just talking my positive thinking like just be happy kind of stuff, but I’m talking about questioning, long held and practiced stories and beliefs about you that you work are really hoping and wanting to let go of to change. You know, I, I, I’ve had lots of fears in my life and lots of stories that I’ve been actively untangling for many years now. And I’m not saying I’m, all the jewelry is on tangled, but I definitely have it more sorted at this point. And there are still some areas that are pretty nodded up, but I’m working on it. It’s a work in progress. Sometimes I slip, sometimes I’m, you know, sometimes I think I’ve got that one not undone and then I realized that there’s this whole other tighter little not inside of that.
And there’s moments where I feel like I’m just going to give up. This is too complicated. It’s, I can’t get this on done. And then I might slide around for awhile and feeling sorry for myself until I’m finally ready to start again. So it’s like how do we begin to recognize what we’re believing about ourselves? For me, it’s really been about writing, like just writing down when you know, you know, you’d call it journaling. You could even just write lists of words that come to mind. You know, some of your main beliefs. Some of the big ones that maybe jump out at you every day. Something you might actually even say out loud like, I don’t have enough money. You know, to use one of buy. I don’t know how. There’s another one of my favorite mantras. [inaudible] I’m too fat. I’m not strong enough. I’m scared. What if I fail? What if they think I’m stupid? What if they reject me? What if they say no? What if they don’t love me? Just start to notice things that you’re
affirming, that you’re telling other people. You’re giving power to these beliefs by sharing them with people, telling people who you are and how you are sharing your limitations. Saying, join me. Join me, me, my limiting beliefs about myself. Show me, show me how this is true. Because if it’s true, then I can continue to stay here in this horribly heinous belief that I feel comfort in because it’s familiar because it’s practiced cause I know how to do this belief. I don’t know how to believe. I’m amazing. How do I believe I’m smart? Incredible, beautiful, powerful, sexy, interesting, lovable, kind, great with money. Rich, how do I believe that? You start practicing telling a different story. What story are your, what story you’re telling yourself about yourself? Write it down. Just keep writing every day. Check another word, thought idea, pops in your head, put it in your notes, in your phone, put a voice memo. And then as you start to unravel, recognize maybe it’s a bigger theme story in your life. Then you start writing the new story. Practicing the new story of now, because you know, we don’t, we, we want to create a new thing to fill the space. Cause if we’re not filling it with something new, we’re just gonna refill it with what we already know. It’s just the nature of our minds and how we think and how we operate. So creating then the counter story of what you want to believe instead. For me, I practice saying to myself in the mirror, I look at myself and one of my core wounds that I discovered was I don’t matter and nobody cares. And that’s a deep, deep one from my childhood. And I practice saying out loud while looking at myself in the eyes, I’m at her and people do care. I matter and people do care. Practicing saying, I’m willing to believe that I matter and that people do care and willing to believe I can be good with money.
Cause maybe saying I’m good with money doesn’t really feel real yet it feels really untrue. Or looking in the mirror and seeing a larger body and wanting to be thinner and being like I am Finn might feel ridiculous to you, right? So I am willing to love myself where I am. I am willing to allow my body to do what it needs to do. I am willing to see myself getting thinner and thinner and take steps towards being that if that’s what you desire but ultimately it’s practicing, seeing yourself, telling yourself, and most importantly feeling it. Because at first you’re going to say things and you pee. It’ll probably feel weird or unreal or stupid or silly and authentic, but it takes practice because the other thing you have practiced for so long that that seems really true because it’s really practiced. Something you’re really good at believing you’ve given it tons of energy and you’ve had lots of confirmation. Your life has proven it to you over and over again. So learning a whole new belief system about yourself can feel really hard. But it is like everything. It’s practice, it’s commitment, it’s a commitment to yourself. I mean, the very fact of the matter is, my friends that none of this will work if you don’t actually do it. That’s the rub. I wish we could just hear this and be like, Oh, that’s great.
Oh, and then that like just instantaneously changes your mindset. But sadly, having just an intellectual understanding of something doesn’t generally create any real lasting change. It might start to shift some things, but it’s definitely not enough to really be a catalyst for transformation. Transformation is a journey. It is a practice. When you first go into yoga class, you’ve never done yoga before. Maybe you’re really stiff, maybe you don’t have a lot of mobility and flexibility. Maybe you feel really weak. So the class seems really hard. It feels daunting. You’re like, I don’t, I can’t do any of this. Oh my God, this is just, Oh, okay. But then you go back and then you continue and you go and you go and you go and you keep practicing and practice to sing. And slowly you begin to just be able to do things you couldn’t do before. And you’re like, Oh wow. That thing that used to be so hard and seemed so out of reach is now just so easy. And then you have the next thing that seems unattainable, the next challenge, the next belief. And then you started working on that. That’s what it’s all about. So how can you get out of your own way and start allowing yourself to tell a new story and to recognize what’s really, really possible for you. Thank you everyone. Have an amazing week.