Mom Guilt, Worthiness, Intuition & Boundaries: How to Reconnect with Yourself
EPISODE: 57 | DATE: August 26, 2021
“In society I think we’re taught that we have to allow another person’s opinion or another person’s thoughts in between us and our relationship with ourselves. Of course you’re going to be confused! So how do you get rid of that person and that mentality that you need someone else’s opinion?”
I feel like the best life coaches have been through some adversity themselves. And you have quite the story. Can you share it?
- Yes. About four years ago my husband was deported to Mexico from the US.
- I went with him with our two small children.
- My son was 4 and my daughter was 1 ½ at the time.
- It was a really traumatic experience.
- It was very hard to leave everything that we’d ever known – the culture that we had known, the people – everything about our life was kind of ripped out from under us.
- We landed in a wonderful place in Mexico. I didn’t know it at the time because it was such a traumatic event.
- But where we ended up here and the community here really showed me a different way of living.
- It showed me that there was another calmer way to live other than the US standard.
- I’d never really been in my own place in life.
- I was always being influenced by the opinions of others and then the societal standards and I’d never had my own space to breathe.
- And yes it was such a traumatic event. It was so hard what we went through.
- But it almost forced me to land on my feet in a way that I had never done before.
- And as soon as we got here and got over the initial shock of everything that happened, I really started searching for a way to help people.
- And originally it started because I was helping other women who were trying to make the decision whether or not to move to Mexico with their husbands.
- I’m still very passionate about it. But it got to the point where I needed to find a way to make money, to be honest.
- I asked myself: How can I marry all these passions?
- And I also had my own health struggles, which we’ll get into in a little bit.
- So I had a passion to help people with the health struggles that I had started to overcome and I wanted to monetize that method.
- It dawned on me that coaching was a thing and that I could help people and marry all of my passion while helping support my family living in Mexico.
- I cannot explain to you how much gratitude I have at this point in my life because it’s been a really wild ride and just so grateful that we landed where we did.
I feel kind of jealous that you’re living in a culture where busy isn’t a badge of honor!
- Yes! I’ve also noticed that I tend towards that busy/go-go mentality because of the way I’m conditioned.
- So we did live that kind of life here in Mexico initially but then we slowed down. Because I realized I wasn’t happy.
- I decided I was fine not having all the activities planned for the kids and not leaving the house every single day and not doing the hustle and go go go constantly to entertain them.
- But in Mexico it’s a choice whereas in the US – yes it’s a choice, but it’s a lot harder to make that choice.
- First I think it’s because of our conditioning and addiction to being busy. Our worthiness is tied to being busy.
- Second is the comparison game.
- We are taught to do and be like everyone else.
- So breaking away from that “I don’t want to do it like everyone else” is really hard in the US culture.
- Whereas I’m in a smaller bubble here in Mexico because we’re English speaking.
- So it gives us a little cozier feeling – and we speak Spanish too but in our English speaking community here – it’s just smaller and more tranquil than it was in the US.
I really want to unpack those concepts of busyness and worthiness but before we get to it, before you were a life coach you were a gut health coach. I feel like moms especially are so busy that we ignore our health issues, including gut health. And it’s really hard to thrive when you’re not feeling good. Gut health issues are very convoluted but is there any kind of general action plan for anyone feeling like they have gut health issues?
- Yes for sure.
- So like you said it’s very convoluted and very personalized because so many symptoms manifest differently in different people.
- You might not equate that headache to your gut issue or that you even have one.
- For me the bottom line is managing your stress is my first go-to.
- Because you can be eating all the right things and doing the right probiotics and supplements and doing the elimination diet.
- And if you’re not managing your stress, you’re going to suffer.
- Stress is actually a physical problem. And hormones and stress can actually cause that leaky gut which is the root of most gult health issues.
- We could talk for hours about the different bacterias and infections you can get.
- But the bottom line is gut permeability is when the lining isn’t holding everything in its place.
- It’s allowing things to cause inflammation in your body.
- So it’s imperative to go back to that stress management, and that ties into the cultural norm that we’ve been talking about.
- So many people are over stressed and under diagnosed for gut health issues.
- And so I say – finding a way to manage your stress that works for you is across the board bottom line.
- And also that paying attention is very very important.
- That slowing down and paying attention to your thoughts and your feelings and your physical sensations is important.
- Where I always start with a gut health client is with observation.
- And we use something called a FOOD MOOD POOP journal.
- And we just pay attention to your food intake. And your bowel movements and your mood at different times of the day.
- And if you really start to pay attention to those things, that’s where you can know what’s working and what’s not.
- So those 2 things: stress and paying attention is the general advice around gut health.
- And we need support. We need support from a coach.
- There is an emotional reckoning that happens when we address our gut health and physical symptoms, and having a coach to help you navigate that is so important.
- I think coaching is the missing piece in wellness.
- And this to me all ties into trusting your gut – your intuition – because if we were taught to be doing this paying attention and tuning into our bodies and our intuition and our inner knowing always from childhood then we might not suffer as much.
- I know this is a fantasy world at the time we’re living right now, but I don’t think we would ever get to the point where we’re just suffering in silence because we would have stopped and been like, “Oh that’s not right!” from the beginning of the issue.
- But we’re taught that we need something in between us and what we know about ourselves and our bodies.
- And that is one of my biggest passions in life coaching is to help people reconnect to that notion of, “I know what’s best for me” unwaveringly.
Let’s get into your life coaching work. Also side note: I think it’s interesting to note the parallel between gut health coach and life coach because the root of the work is teaching women how to trust their gut. And with some exceptions, we haven’t really been taught to do that.
- No. We have been taught that busyness – being busy – is the currency of worthiness.
- I believe it’s one of the hardest beliefs to overcome: That we have to be busy and productive in order to be worthy.
I struggle with that big time. So, in your practice you have a framework that you use with your clients called The Grounded Mother. You help moms live from their intuition because when they do that, they inadvertently raise grounded, emotionally intelligent children that trust themselves. Can you elaborate more on that framework and how you help moms put this into action?
- Ok so going back to that our parents didn’t teach us this stuff, right?
- The saddest part is that this is an instinct. Trusting yourself is an instinct. Setting boundaries is an instinct.
- And we are trained out of our naturally instinctive reactions to life.
- And the question is: how do you get back to that? For me it comes to 2 things: We have things I call filters.
- We have all of this input from the world and some of it is helpful but most of it’s not.
- But how do you discern what’s helpful and what’s not and what you really need?
- And for me it’s almost like an infinity symbol.
- You have to have both of these things constantly going in an infinitum in order to filter all this noise and number 1 is boundaries and then the other one is your intuition.
- And it’s almost like: which comes first – the chicken or the egg type thing.
- How do you tap into your intuition?
- Well you have to have boundaries in order to have the space to think.
- Well how do you know how to set boundaries? You have to trust your intuition!
- So it is kind of this chicken and egg scenario and what I always suggest is some of us still have moments where we know what we want and need and we have those thoughts but we’re not paying attention to those thoughts.
- And then we seek outside of ourselves to validate what we think and feel.
- And I just really encourage women to not second guess themselves.
- And this is where paying attention to your thoughts comes in.
- And how you stop second guessing yourself is by setting boundaries.
- So they have to happen simultaneously.
- But you really start with whichever one you’re more in tune with.
- If you’re good at setting boundaries, or you’ve started to, then you can start communicating in that way: this is what I need and this is what I want right now.
- And then in doing that you create the emotional space to pay attention to your thoughts and then tap into that intuition.
- I have actually rebranded The Grounded Mother Framework recently because I have lots of feelings around women and tying their identities to motherhood.
- That is a part of our identity but that’s not who we are.
- So I’ve recently rebranded this to be called UAF – which is also the name of my podcast.
- And just figuring out who we are and then designing the mother role from a place of who we truly are intentionally.
- And not just subscribing to what the mother role looks like from what we’ve been taught and what society says.
- There are so many different pieces.
- It’s a 3 month or 6 month program – whichever you feel guided to do. It’s a lot of action.
- It’s a lot of figuring out what works for you to unravel all of those beliefs around not trusting yourself while simultaneously setting those boundaries.
- And setting boundaries is so hard because there are the boundaries and then there is the aftermath: the reaction from the people that you’re setting boundaries with. And when they aren’t used to that, that can be really emotionally draining and exhausting on you.
- But with time and with the right support, both of these things start to balance out.
- And then how it trickles down to your kids is you can tell your kids what to do or try to guide them verbally all day long.
- But the truth is kids instinctually are their own human and instinctually have boundaries and instinctually trust their gut.
- This is why I get so angry at people who are like, “hug auntie!” without asking permission and then when our kids say no I don’t want to then we tell them that they’re rude.
- And that is where the “don’t trust how you feel and don’t have boundaries” messaging starts.
- So it’s like we have to do our own work now as adults and model that work for our children to see.
- There is this poem from my children called Sermons we see. And it starts out:
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather one should walk with me then merely show the way.
- And I embody that in my parenting.
- When your children exhibit the behaviors of trusting their gut and intuition and setting boundaries you teach them how to respect themselves and respect others while keeping those things in tact.
- And it’s so hard but if you’re doing the work – the more you do the work and the more you solidify those two things and stay on the infinity spiral of boundaries and intuition, you’re tapping back into your own instinct and then you can see when their instinct kicks in.
- I know this is very kind of nuanced but when you’re doing the work it becomes very clear.
It’s so true that those experiences as children when we are forced to hug our family members is one of the first experiences that begin to guide us away from our intuition.
- Exactly and it’s body autonomy and spiritual autonomy.
- And we don’t teach children that.
- And in society I think we’re taught that we have to allow another person’s opinion or another person’s thoughts in between us and our relationship with ourselves. And you insert something in between that – of course you’re going to be confused!
- So it’s like how do you get rid of that person and that mentality that I need someone else’s opinion?
- And sometimes we do – we like to be affirmed in how we feel.
- But I always say: deciding whose opinions actually matter is the first step to setting boundaries.
- Think of people who you know are in your corner wholeheartedly.
- They’re going to give you their opinion in a kind way with you in consideration but they’re also going to set boundaries with you when you’re being less than – I don’t want to say perfect – but when you’re not being your true self and call that out on you in a kind way.
- And then really evaluating those people in our lives: who are they?
- And if we don’t have them, how can we create those people?
- Because yes we need to trust ourselves and we need to do what’s best for us.
- But there is a reason human beings lived in tribes for thousands of years.
- We are communal, social creatures. And we do need that human interaction.
- But it’s finding the right type that fills your cup at the same time as you are giving.
What are some of your favorite tools for helping women tap into their intuition? How can she tell the difference between her intuition and her critical mind or ego? Because it all sounds like the same voice.
- Yes – it’s really hard to discern between the two because it’s a feeling. It’s not a thought.
- And my phrase that I use is “your true self and your intuition want connection and your ego wants protection.”
- The truth is we know when we’re going for connection and when we feel anxious or stressed. That’s protection.
- Worry is also a form of protection.
- Your ego is desperately fighting to keep its job.
- That is a phrase from a book called The Big Leap. And it’s fighting constantly to keep its job.
- So we have to put it out of a job by constantly trying to go for that human connection rather than living in a protective shell of our ego.
And then what happens to the ego? What is the conversation you need to have with your ego to be like it’s ok, dude! This path of trusting our intuition is going to be good for you too!
- Your ego is never going to go away.
- But what you just said – you asked about the tools and I didn’t quite get to that.
- So I do things like – we talked about those stories and paying attention to your thoughts – I do something like you rewriting your stories that you have.
- Because a lot of those stories are your ego and physically or mentally rewriting them to be in a more connective path rather than the protection path and talking to your ego like it’s a separate entity.
- I do this a lot, especially with mom guilt because that’s a part of our ego that we think is necessary as mothers.
- And yes your guilt is never going to go away. It’s there for a reason.
- And just like our ego – it’s part of our ego – everything we feel, every emotion we have actually has a positive purpose even though we ended up not having a positive result from its intention.
- So your guilt is there for a reason and your ego is there for a reason.
- Talk to them as if they’re a separate entity from who you are.
- For example, I always tell my clients to give their mom guilt a name! Or give their ego a name.
- My mom guilt is Sheila. And I’m like, Ok Shelia, I see what you’re trying to do here. And I understand that you are trying to protect me but if you keep trying to do that I’m gonna lose it and I don’t want to so could you quiet down for a little bit, Shelia?
I love the levity that brings to the situation. And it’s almost like pressing the pause button so you can step back and see the big picture.
- Ya. What makes us human is the circumstance and the environment and the reaction. That’s primal.
- But our human ability is what happens in between and that’s the ability to think about our reaction and pause.
- And this is why managing your stress is so important.
- When you’re not managing your stress it robs you of your capability to pause.
- It robs you of your capability to pay attention to those thoughts. So that’s why that piece is so important.
- And another tool that I want to mention that I use is mental rehearsal.
- There is brain science around this. This is actually how Michale Phelps used this to win all his gold medals that one crazy year where he beat everybody!
- And what it is is practicing mentally what you want to do and how you want to feel about the thing.
- Because your mind and your body can’t tell the difference between what’s happening outside of you and what you’re thinking about.
- So if you are thinking about all of these threats, your body is going to react like there is a threat even if there is no external threat.
- So it’s training our bodies by intentionally deciding what our thoughts are.
- And we can’t do this all day long every day.
- But if you take the time – 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night – to mentally rehearse how we want to feel and what we want to do the following day or that day, it rewires your brain and actually creates new neural pathways for those more positive emotions.
Is it that easy to rewire our self-talk by saying positive affirmations or is there more to it?
- So much more to it!
- I think when you think that just thinking positive is going to change your life, that is called toxic positivity.
- Because that’s also masking how we really feel.
- A lot of us wear so many different masks because of conditioning and society.
- And to me one of the most dangerous masks that we wear is that just ‘stay positive’ one.
- And because it doesn’t take into consideration that your brain and your body are so intertwined and connected and stress is a physical problem.
- Trauma becomes physical because it’s a stress response that’s stored as information in your body.
- And when you don’t address that piece – if you don’t do the brain body connection and release all of the negative emotions underneath – then you’re going to end up snapping because you’re pushing that negativeness down and covering it up rather than releasing it and changing it to a more positive mindset.
- Because you have to change your thoughts, not force the thoughts.
- It’s all about working through. And this ties directly into that resetting your nervous system that I’m really something about too.
- So yes, positive affirmations, gratitude – talking about what you’re thankful for every day, thinking about what you’re thankful for every day – yes that stuff works.
- But when you don’t tie in the body piece and you don’t take that into consideration, that stress is stored in your muscles and in your muscle memory, that’s what stress – triggers are.
- So you have to address both of those hand in hand.
And how do you do that? I use journaling as a tool. Do you recommend that? What else do you recommend?
- If you’re using your journal to pay attention to your body, that’s a great tool because it’s always back to that paying attention that we’re all robbed of in the busyness of society.
- So being intentional and taking that 5 minutes to reconnect with your body consistently is really key.
- When it comes to past stuff that’s stored, for me it has to be something more physical.
- Working out can release that trauma in your muscles.
- There is a modality called TRE which are Trauma Release Exercises.
- And you cause physical stress on your muscles and then when you relax you start to shake. And that’s actually trauma releasing.
- I always equate this to childbirth. In transition, many women get the shakes.
- That’s your body’s instinct releasing the trauma of childbirth.
- And so what TRE is is a way to intentionally make that release happen.
- Because our bodies instinctually do that.
- When you work out really really hard afterwards when you have the shakes – that’s what your body is doing.
- And we think about this in physical trauma but it’s also emotional trauma.
- And emotional stress can be released through those modalities as well.
- I don’t want to just throw around the word trauma willy nilly because I know that that can be triggering for some people.
- So I want to define trauma real quick.
- When something stressful happens and you do something like this to reset your nervous system afterwards, it stores it in your body because you didn’t release it.
- And that’s all trauma is. It’s old stress information stored in your body and then it gets stored as memories.
- And I really do believe that this contributes to that gut health sometimes.
- Because when something stressful would happen when I was a kid, my stomach would hurt.
- So I feel like my trauma was stored in my gut and it wasn’t until I made that connection that I truly started to heal.
With regards to trauma, it doesn’t have to be big trauma to cause problems, right? There is big T trauma and there is little T trauma. Can you elaborate on that a bit more?
- Everybody’s had embarrassing moments.
- Think of a time when you were a kid and you got so embarrassed to the point that you made a decision about yourself. That’s a traumatic event.
- I remember I was really excited and talking a lot about something and someone said, “Oh my God – you talk so much, you’re so annoying!”
- And at that moment I was so humiliated. I made a decision about myself that I talked too much and that I needed to change the way I was.
- That is a trauma.
- And so yes there are the big T traumas like you said, but a lot of them are little moments that changed the way you thought about yourself and changed the way you felt about yourself because it always comes back to that true self inutiont.
And that makes sense too because so many of us are living in this state. So it makes sense that the majority of us are living with these little traumas that have added up over time and now we’ve reached a tipping point. We get on autopilot or we get gut health issues or mom rage or just general anger.
- Something that I do and talk about a lot is how to harness our anger.
- Because as women we’re told to be afraid of our anger because we’re not allowed to be angry. Society tells us it makes us dramatic.
- How can we harness our anger into motivation and dreams and gusto to do the things that we want? That’s the question.
- Because in that moment that you’re getting angry, most of the time it’s because you’re so passionate and you want something so deeply and your reaction is matching that passion within you.
- But then we get afraid and we construct it and that’s when it is that – I don’t want to use the word toxic, always, but that more toxic form of rage.
- Anger can actually be such a powerful tool for change in women.
- I wish that I could help women judge their anger less. That’s my mission!
- Obviously if we’re doing something that’s really hurtful when we’re angry, we have to look at ourselves.
- But it’s figuring out what’s underneath that.
- What’s the passion, the drive? What is underneath you snapping? Because if I know women, it’s something that’s important.
When a woman is knee deep in taking care of her children or work or whatever it is and her nervous system is out of whack, she can’t go to her usual tools because she can’t leave her kids alone or leave work. In those in-the-minute moments, what are some quick tips that you can give somebody to help them begin to calm down their nervous system?
- So it is so simple and not easy. Consider that the disclaimer to my answer, which is: breath work.
- There are certain ways to breathe.
- When we are in that stressed state all the time and it’s becoming chronic stress, we forget to breathe and we forget to oxygenate our bodies.
- And sometimes we actually over oxygenate our body.
- Anxiety is an over oxygenation of the brain.
- There are two techniques that I use that are so amazing.
- In that moment – I call this ‘how to create your own panic button.’
- And where most of my clients do that, myself included, is I lock myself in the bathroom. I make sure my kids are safe and lock myself in the bathroom and do this breath work.
- The 2 techniques: one of them is called box breathing.
- And you might be familiar with this. It’s super simple and you just breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4 and out for the count of 4 and then hold for the count of 4.
- And you try to do this for about 2 minutes and it will send the message to your body that you’re no longer under threat.
- Because stress is a physical problem.
- When something happens and causes stress, it sends the message to the brain that we’re in danger – even though it’s just like our kid is screaming at us.
- Our body is going danger danger danger.
- And we have to remind our body and let our brain know that we aren’t in danger. And so the box breathing really helps do that.
- And then the other one is the 5 7 8 breath. Which is breathe in for 5, hold for 6-7 seconds and then exhale 8.
- And it honestly doesn’t matter the numbers.
- The key here is to exhale longer than your inhale.
- When you’re in a stressed state, you’re over oxygenating your body in order to be able to run if you need to.
- So if you don’t run and get rid of all of those hormones that just went crazy then you’re left with anxiety. Or worry or panic or just feeling frazzled AF.
- So you have to lower back down that oxygenation which sends the signal to lower those stress hormones.
- And those are my favorite panic button tools for when you lock yourself in the bathroom when your kids are driving you crazy!
Katerina is an intuitive health and life coach dedicated to helping moms love and trust themselves. She believes that when women re-learn the primal skills of trusting their intuition and resetting their nervous systems, we in turn raise intuitive, emotionally intelligent children. She believes raising a generation with these skills is nonnegotiable to shift the mind of the world. The work she does is trauma informed, which means she always considers past experiences big and small that have shaped you,your beliefs and how you deal with stress. Whether your focus is gut health, or tapping into your intuition, this information is crucial to her approach. On her own health journey with chronic fatigue, gut issues and hormone imbalance, it wasn’t until she factored in that often forgotten piece of trauma and learned to rewire her brain and reset her nervous system that she began to find wellness again. She tries not to take life too seriously but also isn’t afraid to GO THERE when needed. She also has been known to drop an F bomb or 10 to make life more interesting. Be warned if you choose to follow her on instagram. She currently lives in Mexico with her husband and their 3 tiny humans where they dream to build a house at the base of a mountain and live a life balanced between technology and nature. She loves to garden but also needs to scroll tik tok late at night when the kids are in bed, because duh.
Resources in this episode
Episode with Mary Hendricks
NPR interview about Jesus’ deportaion
Book: The Big Leap by GrayHendricks
TRE – Trauma Release Exercises
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