Episode 199 | December 17, 2019

Living a Kick-ass Life with Andrea Owen


A Personal Note From Orion

Today, we’re going to talk about how to live a kick-ass life. Life coach, author, hellraiser, Andrea Owen is passionate about empowering women to value themselves and fiercely love who they are. She helps women let go of perfectionism, control, and isolation and choosing courage and confidence instead. She is amazing. This girl is on fire and you’re going to get tons of value from listening to this episode. I’m sure it’s going to inspire you to live your kick-ass life.

 

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About Today’s Show

Hey, Andrea, and welcome to Stellar Life podcast. It’s wonderful to have you here.

Hi, Orion. I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Thank you. Before we start, can you share a little bit about yourself?

First and foremost, I identify as a woman. I am a mom, wife, and business owner. You and I were chatting before, I’ve got a lot of stories so be careful when you ask me that question, but just on paper, that’s what I am.

Great. Tell me about what you do and what brought you to this point.

I am an author, I’m about to write my third traditionally published book, I speak up on stages around the world, and I’m a life coach. What brought me to this is I’d been interested in becoming a therapist. I told my first husband, this was around 2002, there were two life coaches in the world back then and I found it online. I thought this is the coolest thing ever and I was telling my then-husband, “I think I’d be really good at this. How awesome is that to be able to (for a living) help people live their best life?” Then I said in the next breath, “But I think it would be helpful if you had a lot of great life experience and I don’t really have any life experience.”

I was in my mid-20s at that point. Then the universe is hilarious because, after a couple of years, I got handed a whole lot of life experience. I was in the fitness industry before. I went to college for exercise physiology, worked both on the gym floor as a personal trainer and corporately for the American Council on Exercise. I loved the industry and still love the industry. Then when my life fell apart around 2006, I decided to jump into life coaching and be trained in the modality. Fast forward 13–14 years, here I am.

It sounds very interesting because I was in the fitness industry. I used to be a trainer, then my life fell apart, and I became a life coach, too.

Stop it, really? I didn’t know that.

It’s interesting. What happened there? You told me this extraordinary story, maybe you want to share it.

Sure. It’s pretty extraordinary. Sometimes, when I tell the story, especially when I tell it in full version, I watch people’s faces and I’ve had so many people say, “That sounds like a lifetime movie.” What had happened was my first husband and I started dating when I was 17, he was 18. We were together for about 10 years before we got married. When I was 31, we had been together at that point for 13½ years. We always knew we wanted two or three children, it was our dream, and we were talking about conceiving our first child. He had an affair with our neighbor who lived across the street and got her pregnant.

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This wasn’t the first time. I had known that he had messed around before but I thought it was over once we got married. I had done the same thing to him when we were much younger in our 20s. It was this unspoken thing that had happened, the conversation that he and I had never had. I really and truly thought that when we got married, it had stopped because it stopped with me. Apparently, I was alone in that but we really were on the upswing.

A lot of people when their relationship falls apart, they saw it coming. I really didn’t. I thought we were doing really well at that point. When you’re together with someone for that long, of course, you have ups and downs and we surely had ours, but I was blindsided. He was in love with her. One of the things he told me was, “I never meant to fall in love with her.” I was like, “Oh, you just wanted to have sex with her and call it a day.”

Apparently, he did both. They were going to have this family and he was divorcing me. I was 31 and it was right around the time when a lot of my friends were getting married and having babies. It was just excruciating. The humiliation and shame that I felt, it was just that how did I get here? This is not how I anticipated my life would end up. I really truly thought I would be with him forever. I was very close to his family.

It got worse after that. There’s more to this story. In retrospect, I had not listened to my intuition because my intuition told me when I was 19 that I had outgrown that relationship. I was ready to grow up, I was just over getting in fistfights at keg parties and he was still in that place. Things like that were happening and I stayed with him. My intuition told me not to marry him and I did it anyway because I thought marriage would fix us. I thought growing up would fix us. I was severely codependent. 

Just a really quick version of what happened after. So, we split up, I started dating, which was the last thing I should have been doing, but I did because I didn’t have any coping skills. I met someone whom I thought was Mr. Right. He was tall, handsome, and funny. You probably know where the story is going. Nine or ten months into that relationship, he ended up conning me.

I fell for everything. He lied about having cancer to cover up his opioid addiction. I was completely clueless. I had never been around an addict before. I didn’t know what the signs were. I started to get suspicious towards the end that he had a drug problem. I grew up in San Diego and we were living down there. You can go to Tijuana, Mexico to get really anything you want and we were going down there to get his “cancer medication.”

I thought it was suspicious that he would make me stay outside the pharmacies while he went in to talk, all these things. I finally had to confront him about it but still thought he had cancer because who lies about that? In my little sheltered world, no one would do that. Sure enough, I was not the first person that he had pulled that con on. That’s really when everything fell apart.

My divorce wasn’t even final yet but everything truly fell apart. I was completely broke. I had broken the lease of my apartment because he and I were going to move away together, I had left my job that I loved, and they had replaced me already. It was one of those moments where I was on the ground in the fetal position. I know a lot of people that story is like I was in the bathroom in the fetal position, I was actually in my bedroom in the fetal position, all my furniture was out, it was the last days of being in that apartment.

I was on the phone with my sister. I think she probably thought this is really bad because I just kept repeating to her, “I can’t believe this is happening again. I can’t believe this is happening again. How am I going to pick myself up off the floor?” Because my life has totally exploded. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it got worse. I was also pregnant at the time with his baby and I was like, “What am I going to do?”

You wanted life experiences?

Exactly. The universe was like, “Okay, how are you going to handle this?” What I ended up doing was picked myself up off the ground and took it one step at a time.

All that while you’re pregnant.

I ended up having that baby. He’s now my 12-year-old son. My son knows this story. It’s not like he’s going to listen to this podcast and be like, “What?!” He knows. I ended up meeting someone amazing who adopted my son and we have a child together. We’re still married and did a lot of healing. I went into therapy full-time. That’s the very condensed version of what happened to me over an 18-month period.

Okay. When it comes to healing, what really helped you? You said therapy, do you do any other modalities?

So many things. One of the things that happened several times during the worst of it was I had to surrender. Surrender was one of those things that I had heard about. I don’t know what that means but I’m really over here trying to control everything I can control.

There were a couple of moments where I had a pretty deep spiritual experience. I’m talking right in the beginning, one moment where something had happened. I can’t even remember what it was but I had moved into a studio apartment at that point and I fell to my knees. I was going through a spiritual transition at that point where I grew up in a Christian home, going to church, and a lot of times, feeling wrong for some of the things that I believed in my heart because they didn’t fall into the rules of what “we believed” as Lutherans, and really struggling with my spirituality at that point, but I did have some foundation.

I knew to have something out there that was bigger than me, I don’t know what it was. I fell to my knees at one point and I said out loud, “I don’t know what you have in store for me but I know this isn’t it. At this moment, I am willing and open to listen and learn whatever it is that I need to, to move through this because I don’t like it here. I’m not my best here, so what is it?”

Wow. I don’t know, I listened to your life story, and of course, we listen and we want to relate.  I relate so much because I was in a super bad relationship, I ended up in a hospital. I became very masculine. I find that surrender has a lot of power in it. When I was younger, I didn’t like the word surrender because I thought surrendering meant weakness.

Quitting, yeah.

What does surrendering mean to you?

It means a lot of different things, depending on the day and depending on the situation. I think surrender means that I can only do so much. Really, the only thing I can control is my state, how I’m showing up in the world, what I’m putting my focus on, if I’m being compassionate with myself, if I’m being compassionate with other people, how much patience I have, how much acceptance I have, and that I don’t know all the answers. I’m very generally speaking. I do think I’m an expert at a lot of things.

It’s also changed as the years have gone on and I’ve really tried to sink into that. I got the word surrender tattooed on my arm in my own handwriting after my dad died in 2016 because I had never lost anyone before. My divorce was really the most grief I had been through but it was based in anger. It was very different than losing my father. I never had anyone die in my life that I was close to besides my cat when I was in high school. Really that was it, Orion, I had never lost anyone.

He got sick and died very quickly which I think is a blessing in many ways that we didn’t have to watch him deteriorate for all that long. When he died, I was in the room with him and it was just me, everyone else had left. I had never even seen a dead body before so it was my father. The whole experience, I would really like to tell you the way this story goes is it was really beautiful and I climbed into bed with him, but it wasn’t. I panicked when he stopped breathing. He was in hospice, it’s not like we didn’t know this was coming. They told us. He’s probably going to pass within the next 12 to 24 hours. When it happened, I did not handle it well.

Self-doubt happens, but you will overcome anything if you just keep going towards your goal.

I remember thinking like where are the grown-ups? Because I am not equipped to handle this. It just was brutal. That whole period of time afterward, planning his funeral. I did the eulogy at his service, I got through that, went home, and then had to go back to my life, go back to my business, my two kids, my marriage. For me, that was the highest form of surrendering to the grief that came with it. There is no handbook for that kind of grief.

My friend, Carrie Clausen is a writer and she wrote me a handwritten letter. She just lost her father about three weeks before I had lost mine and she said, “I feel like my DNA has been rearranged.” It was just surrendering to that grief has no schedule. Grief can make you feel like it’s swallowing you whole.

For me, it was the biggest lesson of surrender that I could ever experience in my life. It’s been three years and I still have moments of it. I’ll tell you what, surrendering to anything-if you have anxiety, if you have depression, if you are in grief, if you are struggling, if you just surrender to the feelings of it and let your body process what’s going on, you get through it a lot faster. It’s what’s been my experience. That was a long way of saying, surrender gave me a big life lesson.

I know. I totally get it. I used to hate the word surrender. It meant being weak. It meant giving up.

Quitting, waving the white flag.

Yes, but no. I think surrendering to the full of life and surrendering to your highest self is the answer to move forward. If you fight against your emotions and what’s happening in life, you’re not going to win. You’re just going to be more frustrated, more angry, or more sad. It won’t move you forward. But when you allow yourself to be in acceptance, and like you said, you go down on your knees and you say, “God, I can’t do it on my own anymore,” God, the universe, higher power, whatever you call it, but you believe that there is something, this force that moves your life, and you surrender to that force, it will move you forward.

At a time of surrender, we can’t see the bigger picture, the gifts. It’s like a gift with a bow on the bottom. You can’t see the gift, it doesn’t look like a gift. But later on in life, you see how it can relate to your higher purpose, for example. You went through all those life lessons and now, you’re an extraordinary coach. You helped so many women and wrote those two books that probably helped so many other women you don’t even know you helped. You speak so eloquently. You’re so fun, vibrant, and full of light. You spread that light in the world because you’ve been through so much darkness. It’s based in contrast. Without darkness, there’ll be no light.

I just feel like the people that went through the most difficult times and surrendered, and found their highest purpose, they bring the most light to the world. They are the leaders and luminaries. They are the people that lift the energy of this planet because there is a lot of density and a lot of struggle. People need that light. People need that guidance.

You’re like, “Where are the grown-ups?” Then you woke up and you’re like, “I have to be the grown-up.” You’ll be the grown-up for somebody else and she will be the grown-up for somebody else. It’s a ripple effect in the world because when you share that light that is in you, you really help the world.

That’s so beautifully put. I really appreciate all those kind words that you said. When my dad died, it was really something I had been working on for a long time, but especially when I was going through my divorce and that whole mess that was happening. What I realized through therapy is that I think like many people listening, grown-up in a family where we didn’t have a whole lot of space for vulnerability and the more difficult emotions to feel anger, massive disappointment, or just tears in general. I never learned that it was okay to just sit with emotion. It’s not necessarily that I was ever chastised for it. It’s just that it wasn’t ever talked about or the space was never made.

My mother’s brother died when I was probably eight or nine years old and she just locked herself in her bedroom for three days. My dad told me not to bother her. She just would walk down the hallway looking like a zombie because she was on valium and I was scared. That’s just one example of a few that I have when I saw grief growing up. It was something that we just did not talk about. We didn’t have words around that.

I couldn’t be with my own emotions, so I sure as hell how could it be with yours. It made that really difficult to connect in relationships. That was something that I had to learn to be with, not only to feel safe with my own emotions, but to also hold space for other people. When I was a brand-new coach, if somebody would bring something emotional, I would run right around that, I’d be like, “All right, sure we can set up yourself care regiment but what’s the gift in this? Where are we going to go next?” It was so uncomfortable.

You skip the dealing with the emotions and you go through the, “Oh, let’s do positive thinking.”

The solution. I totally bypass it. That’s BS.

It’s like Turkish coffee.

What is that? I don’t know what that is.

Turkish coffee is coffee that’s not filtered. It’s like putting coffee with water with no filter. All the coffee—

Isn’t ground and everything?

Yeah.

Okay, that’s a great example.

Then when you mix it, when life mixes it for you, everything comes up, all the emotions, all the problems. You cannot not deal with your emotions.

I found that out the hard way, but now, when people are around me, even if I’m not coaching them, if it’s a personal relationship, they start crying, and they apologize. I’m like, “You have absolutely nothing to apologize. Your body is just taking care of itself.”

My friend, Amy Smith says, “What if we looked at emotions like sneezing or burping? Your body is just expelling and doing whatever it needs to do to get back to homeostasis to take care of you. What if we looked at emotions as that being the exact same thing?”

Once I heard that perspective, I was like, “Okay, I can handle that.” Also, knowing how much stronger and better I become on the other side, I am totally cool with it. I don’t love the hard ones. I’m not going to sit here and be like, “I love it. Grief is amazing.” No, but I don’t fear it, or stuff it, or numb it away anymore.

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I spent some time in India at the Oneness University. One of the monks described emotion as a tiger. He said, “Let the tiger devour you but don’t stay there too long.” You want to let the emotion devour you, you want to sit with it, you want to feel it, and it’s okay. Just don’t stay with it for more than, I guess when you get very good at it. You stay with it for 10 minutes and it’s gone, but don’t stay with it for that long. Feel it and then let it go. Allow yourself to feel it because only then you can move forward.

You can’t skip the emotion because that’s how people get cancer. It will manifest later on in life in different ways; the suppression of emotion. Eventually, it can become a sickness, it can affect your body, it can come up in your relationship.

You want to deal with it right here, right now. I found movement as a good way to deal with emotions—we have a lot of issues in our tissues. When I recovered from my ex-relationship, now I’m in a beautiful relationship to an amazing man. When I had to recover from my abusive relationship, first, I had to find my strength. I went and I did martial arts, I took MMA, I took Aikido, I became a kick-ass.

Completely. You had to see me. People are like, “Oh, you sound so peaceful,” but then you see me in the martial art class and you’re like, “Who is this monster?”

I also did yoga and I danced. Later on, I also learned pole dancing, I did some pole dancing with Sheila Kelley. I learned how to express my emotions through my sensuality and express my anger, resentment, disgust, joy, and everything through my body. Being applauded for it and being okay with it. Sometimes, emotions are stuck. You can’t just talk therapy through your emotions. You have to move your body. You have to release it. Massage is good, being in nature is good, all those things. I used to watch really funny cat videos on YouTube.

At times where I didn’t have money and I didn’t have money to do all the fancy seminars I went through, I would just read books, I would go on YouTube and watch funny videos, move my body and do whatever I could because I knew that there is a light in me that I can hold on to even though it seems very small.

I held on to that light because I knew that I can rise like the phoenix and I believed in myself. I didn’t know how but I tried. The most important thing is if you’re sick, if you’re unhappy, if you’re down, just do anything that you can. Fight for yourself, fight for your well-being. Do not give up. Do not wait for the grown-up to show up. Do not wait for somebody else to give you the answer. First, you have to initiate and then the answer will come.

100%, I love that. I have been back and forth—it’s a long story—my relationship with exercise, the long and short of it is that I totally agree with you 100% and I went through a thing after my dad died where I decided that I would not, and I don’t recommend this to everyone, but I was going through some stuff and I knew that I had always exercised to change the shape of my body or maintain the shape of my body, no other reason.

I could sit here and tell you, “Oh, it was totally to stay healthy, to work on my issues, and express emotions.” That was a bunch of BS. It was because I have also been fed what all of us women have been fed that our worth and our value is based on the shape and size of our bodies.

You look amazing. Girl, I’ve seen your guns. You look amazing.

Thank you. I decided though, in 2016, that I was done. I was done with that whole story that I was telling myself and I needed to dive deep into that. It did. For two years, I didn’t work out, I gained weight. I was the heaviest I had ever been. I just bought bigger pants and I was like okay, these are comfortable, this size, popping your underwear, went through the whole thing, did a photo shoot, and saw myself at that size, I was like that’s interesting.

My goal was to get to a place where I was okay at a bigger size and I knew it was going to be a bit of a slugfest. It wasn’t easy. I am just a product of the media in this culture.

I love what you did and I love that you loved your body. You love your body just the way she is because she’s beautiful at any size. As long as you don’t go to become unhealthy, you don’t want to do that because a part of self-love is to take care of yourself, but if you are a little bit overweight, you don’t have the perfect body in shape, and you still love yourself, you’re a winner. This is what being a woman is.

It’s not about having the perfect Instagram photo. It’s not about that. It’s about loving yourself more. It’s about caring for yourself. Everytime I exercised, it’s not to lose weight or to have the perfect body. Except for before my wedding, I exercised with my trainer (Mr. California) at one point and he was awesome. I trained for an event, I trained for my wedding, and I got in amazing shape. But in the past, when I just trained to release anger, I just trained to be stronger, I just trained for myself, not for anybody else. I was in the best shape of my life.

Yes to all of that. I also think that coming from the background that I do in exercise physiology, I’ve seen the research. It’s been a long time, but I’ve seen the research of that just because you have a smaller body doesn’t mean that you’re healthier, but we think that. There’s plenty of research that shows that there can be a large body, what we even would look at and consider overweight, but that person is technically healthier than someone who is a size 2 or a size 4. I just want to say that for the people listening that it’s impossible for one to look at a body with your eyeballs and judge health, you just can’t.

Without jumping too much into the body positivity movement which has its controversy—I don’t even remember how we got on those topics—I just want to say out loud that I still had enormous privilege, I come from genetics that are thinner. I also grew up in a family where exercise was fun and it was never punished. I grew up with that mentality of like, “Oh, this is fun.” I know that not everyone has that. I have enormous amounts of privilege and just wanted to name that.

For me, it was really great to be able to go through that, to throw the towel and just be done. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me but whatever. I finally got to a place where I was ready to go back to exercising my body and could truly say that it was because I wanted to be stronger and healthier. I’d be lying to you if I said it really truly is only for that. When I see myself look more muscular or fit into a pair of pants that hasn’t been fitted into in a while. I’m happier about it. The old paradigm hasn’t gone completely but it has shifted a lot.

Of course, we were vain as well.

I live in America.

Yeah, living in America. I’m from Israel and I feel like we wear our emotions on our sleeves, we’re maybe a little too much. I feel like in American society, it’s more muted. People don’t really share what they feel and it was a culture shock for me coming here when I was younger because I thought that people really mean when they say they like me or they mean it when they say things to me. I was like, “Oh, no.” It’s the tone of voice when somebody’s saying, “Oh, that’s interesting.” I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting, that’s great,” but they want to say something.

I guess I never thought of that because I’m from here.

I had to find my way here and learn how to handle it. Actually, when I came here, I tried to be more like everybody else, didn’t work for me. Then I had to figure out who I am and become more of my authentic self. I think I’m still in the process of figuring it out.

When you look deeper within yourself, your intuition- which is a part of you that truly knows the right path- will be as clear as day.

It’s a lifelong process for sure.

It takes a while.

It does. It takes a minute.

How did you become so confident? How do you teach women about confidence? Because you were there on the floor fetal position, hitting rock bottom, and now you’re this vibrant, confident woman who teaches other women about confidence. How did you do that?

It’s really about taking action. I’m going to say the same thing that everybody else does. Trust me when I thought there was some secret sauce, I was going to hack into it, and I was going to teach it. Turns out it’s really what the masters are telling us. For me, it was about taking a small action and gaining the confidence on the other side. It feels counterintuitive because it’s like, “Oh, wait I need to gain confidence first before I start this thing, or ask that question, or have that conversation,” whatever it is, but there’s that saying like all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, that’s really it. You might not have any confidence or courage at all but you go in anyway.

There are a couple of things that are going to happen. Either it’s going to be great and that’s a confidence booster but I can’t promise you it’s going to be great. That person might say no when you ask them out on a date or you initiate sex with your partner. That conversation to try to set a boundary might go terribly, the person might get defensive, or rude, or whatever. Confidence is also built-in your resilience.

For me, it’s a big example, but when my life fell apart, I gained so much confidence. Looking back and realizing, “Oh, my God. Look at what I can do. Look at what it is that I can walk through.” If I can do that, I can do anything. Still, I have doubts of, “Oh, my gosh, can I do this?” It’s vigilantly working on a couple of things, my self-talk, recognizing quickly when I fall into patterns of negative self-talk, and learning to manage that. You cannot silence your inner critic, you can’t. You can manage it quickly.

Then the other thing is adhering to my values is knowing what’s important about the way I live my life. Sometimes, I don’t want to. Sometimes, if there’s a really difficult conversation I need to have and I remind myself, I have a huge value around courage. Today, I want to just ignore that person’s text messages. That’s my very short version of confidence.

I guess I always had stupid courage when I was younger. I went to Japan when I was 21. I went to Japan, I had $700 in my pocket, it was my first trip out of the country, and I didn’t even know where I’m going to stay.

Find that little light inside you no matter what. Even if it's just a tiny spark, you still have the power to light up in flames. Click To Tweet

I traveled there, landed in Narita, and it was like a sea of Asians. We didn’t have that many Asians in Israel back then. It was just like a sea of Japanese people who were mostly shorter than me. It felt like I landed on Mars and I didn’t know what to do. Somehow, it’s a whole story of how I got where I got, but I wanted to stay for three weeks. By the way, $700 in Japan of those days were good for 3-4 days.

It was like nothing in Tokyo. Tokyo, big buildings, crazy. Somehow, I found my way, somehow, I found a job, and I wanted to stay for three weeks. I ended up staying for 3½ years. I met this amazing Japanese man. It was one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever had in my life. Then I traveled the world and all that, but I used to have this stupid courage to do things. I feel like as I’m getting older, my courage is not as I won’t do that these days. I won’t go to Japan with $700 in my pocket. How can I revive that courage?

I’m not sure if it ever really leaves you, it just might look different. For a lot of people starting a podcast is just as scary as going to another country with $700 in your pocket. Everything has shifted for you. You’re in a completely different season of your life. I think you’re selling yourself short a little bit.

Just to answer your question more generally, I would go back to what I was saying before. Start with your values because it sounds like back then, you probably had a huge value around adventure. That’s what it sounds like to me. That might not be what you value anymore. Seasons change and our values change as well. You might still have a value around adventure, it just looks different or you might have a completely different set of your top values.

We all have a lot of values, but when I’m talking to people, when I’m working with them, especially in the beginning, I want to know what are your top three that are so incredibly important to you about the way that you live your life. You might not be doing it now and we call those aspired values. That’s where I would start with you is what’s important about the way you live your life. I just think that your adventure is going to look different.

I like that. It reminds me of an exercise that you do to feel more secure, or have more courage, or more confidence. You go back and you write all the things that you have achieved in your life, that you never believed that you can. Then you have this humongous list of things that you have achieved. You look at it and say, “Oh, wait a second. What am I thinking? I’m pretty damn cool.”

Yes, women typically sell themselves short.

Or you work with somebody like you that will remind you.

I will tell you. You’re pretty awesome. Wake up. Move forward. You’re great.

Some things that I’ve done in my life to be more courageous and it was usually in one of the seminars that I went to. I went to a million of them. I walked on hot coals at the Tony Robbins event. I walked on glass, I climbed to a telephone pole and jumped off of it. I broke an arrow in my neck in India. I broke boards, all those crazy things. One of the things that I did that was actually really cool is that I did the Tough Mudder.

Okay, I’ve done one of those for fun.

That was so cool. I remember I used to have a fear of heights and we had to jump into those muddy waters and I did that. I felt really good. I think continuing doing those mini-adventures or doing little things that are out of your comfort zone really helped with confidence. Do you have any more tips for confidence?

It’s exactly what you said, you just have to move the dial a little bit. I’m just going to underscore one that I said because I really summed it up very quickly. I think people just forget or push aside their failures. I grew up on the tennis court. My parents played tennis my entire life. There’s a picture of my mom playing tennis and she’s 41 weeks pregnant with me. I learned how to ride a bike and learned how to do cartwheels on the tennis court.

When I was 14, it was time to try out for the high school tennis team. My dad dropped me off, I looked through the chain-link fence, I’m watching these girls, and I was so scared. I’ve never been on a legit team like that before and the thought of losing in tournaments or some of the girls being better than me was way too much.

Any kind of life journey is a slow and sometimes excruciating process. Learn to be patient with yourself and your capacity to accomplish your goals.

I called my dad and said, “I need you to come to get me. I think I’m done with tennis.” It was one of my biggest regrets. I consider that a failure because I didn’t even try. That was a failure. It wouldn’t have been a failure if I had gone out there and lost every day in the tournament. At least, I felt my fear and did it anyway, but I didn’t. It was just earlier this year, actually, when my dad died, I got his tennis rackets, and I went back out on the court. It was super emotional. I went back out there and I’ve been playing die-hard ever since. It’s winter now so we don’t play as much but it was amazing how it all came back to me. Muscle memory is amazing because it took a 30-year break. I’m 44 now, I took a 30-year break and I’m pretty good, turns out.

I tell that story because it’s such a clear example for me as a failure because I did not even try. At least, if I had tried, and this isn’t to blame and shame my parents, but here’s what I would have done if it’s one of my kids, I would have said, “Listen. You’re going to go try out. If it’s terrible, if they’re mean to you, if you are the absolute world’s worst tennis player, you can quit,” because we know none of that would have happened. At least, they would have given me those conditions, so I tried but my parents just weren’t pushy like that and that’s what ended up happening.

I know. When I was five or six, I drove my mom nuts. I was like, “I want to study ballet.” My mom was like, “No. We can’t afford it.” Finally, she signed me into this class and they didn’t teach me how to do a split in the first hour. I was very disappointed.

How dare them.

How dare they not teach me how to do a split in the first hour? I came back and I was like, “Mom, I don’t want to go.” I wish she did push me. I would have been so much more flexible.

I know. Dang it.

Dang it, Mom.

We’ll always find a reason. That’s what I tell people who would ask me parenting advice. I always say, “First of all, I’m not a parenting expert. Second is that our children will talk about us in therapy. Just bank on it, so do your best.” I know that my kids are going to talk about me in therapy and I’ve accepted it. I surrendered to it.

Because you’re an alpha type, do you find that at some point in your life you had to deal with trying to control everything or trying to be perfect?

That was my whole life. That’s what codependency is. One of the reasons I think that I stayed in my former relationship for so long was because I was convinced I could fix him and I was convinced I could fix us. I had no interest in fixing me. Codependence, we really try our best to control our surroundings. I think it was partly because it’s just my personality and partly because I didn’t have any other coping skills.

That was the reason I quit tennis because if there wasn’t a guarantee that I was going to do well and win, then I didn’t want any part of it. I struggled with an eating disorder in my 20s and that can stem from perfectionism.

What’s the difference between perfectionism to being afraid of rejection?

I think that they’re definitely intertwined. I think it depends on the person and what their perfectionism looks like. We go after perfectionism because we’re trying to avoid rejection, judgment, shame, ridicule, those types of things. We make up a story. Sometimes, it’s unconscious. Sometimes, it’s totally conscious. If we strive for perfection, if we can somehow get there, then we’re going to avoid all those really difficult things, when the truth is that you can’t.

For many women that I work with, they logically understand that. They really do. It’s the unraveling of these core beliefs that they have. That’s why a lot of the work I do is within shame. I’m certified in Dr. Brené Brown’s work because early on in my career, I was like, “Okay, I can help people with their inner critic and with their perfectionism a little bit, but there’s something they keep circling back to it and I don’t know what that is.” Turns out shame is the root of it. That’s what I help women do who are ready and willing to do that work because that really truly is the root of perfectionism.

What are some ways to deal with shame?

The steps of shame resilience are outlined in Brené’s books. It’s a few things. It’s having self-compassion, and that is one of those things that I can just rattle off and you’re like, “That sounds great,” but it’s a day in and day out work. It really truly is letting go of your negative self-talk, learning how to manage it, working on self-compassion. It is also having a small group of people who have earned the right to hear your story. It’s about sharing your story, your shame and difficult stories, and having people just hold space for you, who will truly listen and see you.

The longer you stay stuck in blaming yourself, the more you keep repeating that story, the more you will remain in this same story. Click To Tweet

Even before that, is knowing that you’re in it because so many times, we don’t realize it. If you’re numbing out, that’s what my whole second book is about, all the 14 behaviors that I talk about, numbing out, isolating, perfectionism, overachieving, self-sabotage, impostor complex, all of those, we do those in an effort to avoid shame. Those become our coping mechanisms. It was me because they work for a certain amount of time.

How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t by Andrea Owen

Perfectionism and control got me to graduate with honors from college. Numbing out allowed me to avoid my feelings. They work for a little while, but when they stop working, it starts to feel like sh*t. That’s why the book is titled, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t, because that’s really what it is. That could be a whole hour of conversation. You can have me on again and we can jump into that, but that’s really the gist of it.

And if somebody’s dealing with shame right now, what are a couple of steps that he or she can take?

I just named them. It’s self-compassion and finding a group of people that are willing to hear your story.

How do you do that?

Do you have another hour?

I do. We’ll do a whole hour.

I wrote a 207-some page book on it, all the steps are there.

Cool. Everybody who listens, go get the book, and the name of it is?

My second one, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness.

If you feel like sh8t, get the book.

The title is tongue-in-cheek. If you have clinical depression, then you need to go get that treated, but this really is for people who struggle with the coping mechanisms that I listed.

Being a perfectionist, how did you manage to finish your book? What did you have to deal with?

My dad died during the middle of it so that really threw a wrench in things. I had to just take it one word at a time. I had to because to look at finishing the book, the perfectionism doesn’t really bother me, I’ve moved past it enough now as an author that I don’t struggle with it that much, but when my dad died, it threw me back into a tailspin into all my old behaviors. I had to really be careful. I’m also sober since 2011. I had to reach out for help with that. It just really was one word at a time.

Surrendering and letting yourself fully go through the process is the best way for you to move forward. Click To Tweet

What are your three top tips for living a stellar life?

It is probably to really understand—I’m going to underscore some of the things I said—what your values are and not just naming them because that’s like naming your kid and calling that parenting. That’s not how it works. You have to know what that looks on a day-in and a day-out basis for you or what you want it to look. I think setting boundaries, learning how to communicate, and have hard conversations is pivotal. I have realized that in my second marriage and have worked on it diligently, both my husband and I. I’m just going to go back to surrender, to what we talked about at the beginning of this conversation.

That’s beautiful. If somebody wants to work with you and reach out, where can they go?

The best place to do that is yourkickasslife.com.

Awesomeness. Thank you so much. This was really a fun conversation and I really appreciate you.

Thank you so much. It was really fun. You’re very inspiring and you asked really excellent questions. Thank you so much.

Thank you and thank you, listeners. Remember, know your values, set healthy boundaries, and surrender. Have a stellar life. This is Orion, until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Don’t give up, no matter how challenging life gets. You may have self-doubt along the way, but you will overcome anything if you keep going towards your goal.
{✓} Stay in tune with yourself through meditation. When you look deeper within yourself, your intuition- which is a part of you that truly knows the right path- will be as clear as day.
{✓} Take it one step at a time. Any life journey is a slow and sometimes excruciating process. Learn to be patient with yourself and your capacity to accomplish your goals.
{✓} Try consulting with a professional or going into therapy when things get too heavy to handle. Seeking help shouldn’t be taboo, it should be encouraged more.
{✓} Surrender in full acceptance and don’t try to resist when life unfolds, and reality hits you all at once. The only way you’ll survive is when you can adapt to change.
{✓} Share your feelings to the universe without shame. Find a core group of supporters who can listen to you intently without any judgment. 
{✓} Respect the space you need when going through grief. It’s definitely okay not to be okay.
{✓} Find ways to laugh it out and take things lightly. Laughter is and always will be the best medicine.
{✓} Initiate the change you need in your life. The only way for you to free yourself when you’re stuck in a rut is if you take matters into your own hands. 
{✓} Check out Andrea Owen’s website for awesome content on how to live a kickass life!

Links and Resources

About Andrea Owen

Life coach. Author. Hellraiser. Andrea Owen is passionate about empowering women to value themselves and fiercely love who they are. She helps high-achieving women let go of perfectionism, control, and isolation and choosing courage and confidence instead. You can learn more at www.yourkickasslife.com.

 

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