62: How to Break the Shame Spiral with Dr. Sonia Wright

This week, you’re hearing part two of my conversation with physician and Master Certified life and sex coach, Dr. Sonia Wright. In part one, I interviewed her and we explored Women’s Empowerment Month and the ways women unwittingly play small. This time, the tables have turned and she’s interviewing me, and we’re talking all about shame and self-judgment.

Shame is a normal human emotion, it is how you respond to it that matters most. But because shame feels so awful, we develop habits that don’t serve us in our attempts to reduce experiencing it again. So today, Dr. Sonia and I are sitting down and discussing different and more effective ways to approach shame and self-judgment.

Join us on this episode as Dr. Sonia and I discuss ways to handle shame and self-judgment, especially as it relates to your self-concept, intimacy, and libido. I’m sharing my top tips for what to do when you’re flooded with shame, and why awareness, curiosity, and compassion are the antidotes to a shame spiral.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine, MD | How to Break the Shame Spiral with Dr. Sonia Wright

This week, you’re hearing part two of my conversation with physician and Master Certified life and sex coach, Dr. Sonia Wright. In part one, I interviewed her and we explored Women’s Empowerment Month and the ways women unwittingly play small. This time, the tables have turned and she’s interviewing me, and we’re talking all about shame and self-judgment.

Habits on Purpose with Kristi Angevine, MD | How to Break the Shame Spiral with Dr. Sonia Wright

Shame is a normal human emotion, it is how you respond to it that matters most. But because shame feels so awful, we develop habits that don’t serve us in our attempts to reduce experiencing it again. So today, Dr. Sonia and I are sitting down and discussing different and more effective ways to approach shame and self-judgment.

Join us on this episode as Dr. Sonia and I discuss ways to handle shame and self-judgment, especially as it relates to your self-concept, intimacy, and libido. I’m sharing my top tips for what to do when you’re flooded with shame, and why awareness, curiosity, and compassion are the antidotes to a shame spiral.

If you’re wondering how you can apply all the things I share on the podcast, join my Habits on Purpose small group coaching program! It starts in the summer of 2023, so if you’re interested in learning more, click here!

I’m offering one-off Internal Family Systems coaching sessions! This means 50 minutes of IFS-informed coaching sessions to deep dive into any issue, dilemma, decision, or habit you want to explore more and understand better. If you want a little taste of an IFS-informed approach, click here to learn more and sign up for a session!

If you find yourself curious about coaching even if you aren’t a woman physician and you’d like to connect, you can schedule a consult with me to discuss if we’re a good fit for your goals by clicking here!

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • How, like all of our emotions, shame serves a purpose and what that is.
  • Why awareness, compassion, and curiosity are so powerful in breaking the shame cycle.
  • How to create your own unique blueprint for handling shame.
  • My tips for approaching shame differently when it comes to sex, intimacy, and your libido.
  • Why a sense of self-judgment is at the core of the habits I coach on.
  • What is underneath perfectionistic thinking.
  • Why you can’t be curious if you’re simultaneously judging yourself.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Episode #62. I’m your host, Kristi Angevine. This is part two of a conversation I had with Physician, Sex and Life Coach, Sonia Wright. This time the tables are turned, and she interviews me. We talk about shame, and the power of awareness and curiosity as an antidote. Let's get to it, shall we?

Welcome to Habits On Purpose, a podcast for high-achieving women who want to create lifelong habits that give more than they take. You'll get practical strategies for mindset shifts that will help you finally understand the root causes of why you think, feel, and act as you do. And now, here's your host, Physician, and Master Certified Life Coach, Kristi Angevine.

Hello, hello, everyone. Ever struggle with the shame spiral? Well, you're not alone, welcome to the club. Shame is a normal human emotion, and it's how you respond to it that matters most. Yet, shame can feel so awful, that in an attempt to reduce the chances of feeling it again, we develop habits like ignoring our own desires, perfectionism, people pleasing, and being chronically self-deprecating.

Today, my guest and I discuss ways to approach shame and self-judgment, especially when it comes to your self-concept, intimacy, and libido. This episode is a real treat because it's Part 2 of a conversation I had with Sonia, or Dr. Sonia as her clients and listeners call her. Part 1 was Episode 60, so check that one out if you haven't heard it yet.

In today's episode, she interviews me. This episode initially aired on her podcast, The Midlife Sex Coach for Women™ podcast. But we both thought it would be really fun to give you a little peek behind the scenes of me answering her questions.

Sonia is the perfect person to lead this conversation because she's a Master Certified Life and Sex Coach, and she runs an Advanced Certification in Women's Intimacy. Listen as Sonia and I discuss different and more effective ways to handle shame and self-judgment.

Sonia Wright: Hello, hello, hello, Diamonds. I'm so excited to be here today. And this is Part 2 of this amazing conversation interview that I am having with my friend, Kristi. You've got Part 1 already. I'm going to have her introduce herself, and then we're going to get started. But I'm so excited because this is about Women's Empowerment Month, also known as Women's History Month.

I just wanted to continue the conversation that we started previously, and just learn more about Kristi and the work she does, and how that work will help Women's Empowerment Month. So, I'm going to start by having Kristi introduce herself and tell us who she is and what she does. And then, we're going to go from there.

Kristi Angevine: Yes. So, I am Kristi Angevine. I am a life coach. I work on habits, and I primarily work with, primarily women, but I work with men as well, on recognizing habits like overthinking, catastrophizing, and perfectionistic thinking. So, that they can understand themselves better and live life on purpose. I am the host of Habits on Purpose. I was an OB-GYN for about 11 years and now I’m a full-time coach.

Sonia: So good, I love that. You said all the things that you do and work on, and I was like, yes me, yes me, yes me. I don’t know if people know this, but I have one of those wonderful anxious minds. And I am a recovering perfectionist, and Kristi has taught me so much about how the mind works and how we think about things.

And so, we were talking last time kind of about shame. We were saying how shame always kind of keeps people small, specifically, and especially women. Kind of keeps us in our little box and doesn’t allow us to be all that we can be. Can we talk a little bit more about shame?

Kristi: Yeah, so how long do you have? I mean I could talk for about three years about shame. I mean, the way I think of shame, and I think it’s important for your listeners to know that I am not somebody who… I mean, the people who study shame at length have such phenomenal resources on this.

But in general, the way I think about shame is that shame is something that has to do with when we think of ourselves as being wrong, no matter if it’s how we’re emotionally responding, how we’re thinking, what we’re doing. Any time we are judging ourselves, and we are judging not the thing we’re doing, the emotion we’re having, the thought we’re having, but we’re judging the person behind that as being wrong, we can experience the emotion of shame. And shame is a normal human emotion to experience.

We’re not going to demonize shame, but shame can feel so debilitating. And in the way that we’re talking about it, if we’re going to be internalizing things that we have heard in the world from all the sources in ways that make us wrong and make us feel shame, the ripple effect of that in our own personal life and in the world at large is usually not good.

Sonia: Yeah. So, the ripple effect is not good. Because you’re right that shame is a normal emotion. And I kind of think of the purpose of shame as kind of our survival brain that’s kicking in, so we don’t get kicked out of the group.

Because if you’re back in cave person days and you got kicked out of the group, you probably weren’t going to make it. So, it’s a good thing. If you did not have shame or something to ‘keep you in line’ then you might be eaten by the saber-toothed tiger or whatever, or you might have starved through the winter.

We don’t necessarily want to get rid of shame because it served a purpose. But now, it’s kind of triggering to us to this point that it doesn’t necessarily need to be. When we get triggered and we’re feeling a lot of the shame, what type of tools do you talk to people about to help you? Kind of keep it in perspective, is the word that I’m trying to think of.

Kristi: Well, I think first, it’s just really important to just recognize that, yes, all of our emotions serve a purpose. If they are so enormous when we experience them, that they are out of proportion to the situation that we’re in, unlike what you’re describing back on the savannah of life, so to speak. If they are out of proportion that’s when we can be curious about them.

So, in terms of tools, for me, the first thing we talk about this a lot, but the first thing to emphasize is always to have awareness. If we are aware of the specific circumstances in which we feel triggered to have shame, that’s the first step. Just being like, “Oh, these are the unique circumstances, for me, where my shame is activated.” Okay, good to know.

And then, after awareness always comes compassion and curiosity. A sense of kindness and warmth. Like, “Uh, it’s so interesting. Number one, it’s so hard that I’m having shame. Shame doesn’t feel good. Okay, that’s hard. And I wonder why. I wonder why, for me uniquely, there is shame in this situation? What am I thinking? What am I believing? Why is that coming up?”

Those are the first ones. If you can take just those things right there, awareness, curiosity, and compassion, you’re golden.

Sonia: So, the awareness. I think that’s interesting how you say in certain scenarios. This shame or whatever the emotion is, is not necessarily going to come up for each person in the same exact way or the same scenario. So, we need to kind of have an understanding of how it shows up for us. is that what I’m hearing from you?

Kristi: Yeah, I’m just thinking of the example of somebody who’s speaking at a conference. And let’s say they’re up there speaking and they kind of forget where they’re going. They got a little bit off track, and they fumbled their words a little bit. They look up at their slide and they realize, “Okay, I went down this rabbit hole. Okay, I’m going to come back and we’re going to get back on track.”

One person might have the thought, “That’s just what I do when I’m my authentic self. I go, and I might mention a tangent, but honestly it might have been the most important thing I said for that entire talk. I’m so glad I did it. How amazing.” And they might, if they notice they’re repetitively getting off track, be like, “Oh, it might be good for me to recognize that sometimes I go all over the place. And the way I keep myself grounded and anchored, and sort of on task and focused, is I do this and that. And no big deal.”

Someone else, in that same set of circumstances, as soon as they notice what’s going on might feel deep shame. “There’s something wrong with me. I was never meant to do this. I’m awful.” They finish their talk and all they want to do is go hide. They do not want to be around people saying, “Thank you, that was a great talk.” They don’t believe that. They feel horrible shame.

And so, recognizing your unique circumstances in which shame comes up for you is how you create your own personal blueprint, so you get to know yourself better.

Sonia: That’s really good to know. So, just observe, over a period of time, when it comes up for you or when it feels like it’s out of proportion to the situation, and then you kind of have a better idea of what scenario this your shame kind of shows up.

And then, you said have compassion and curiosity for it. Because that’s not what we do. The shame comes up and we go into this panic mode and we’re either trying to hide or we’re trying to fix the problem. But what you’re saying, is just calm down for a minute? [inaudible]

Kristi: I think it’s so important that you mentioned you’re in the pit of despair of shame and then “Yeah, just compassion, curiosity. Ta-da. We’re good.” When we are feeling pretty much almost flooded or completely consumed by an emotion like shame, in that moment, let’s just say, it’s almost inaccessible to feel anything else when we are there. And so, usually this compassion and curiosity comes up retrospectively.

So, not when I’m feeling shame after I flubbed my words on a podcast or on the stage and I am feeling shame. But five minutes later, when I go, “Wait a second, hold on, I’m feeling shame. I was feeling shame. Okay.” And normalizing me, and sometimes telling ourselves things like, “Shame? Shame’s hard.” That’s a really difficult emotion to be in.

When we are feeling shame, hearing that compassionate voice, it usually doesn’t happen. So, what I usually recommend is get to the point where you can get through that emotion, and you retrospectively look back and go, “Okay, that was a shame spiral.” In this set of circumstances, “I had this. That felt really hard.” And then you can get curious.

The cool thing about practicing that, getting through the emotional state and then on the backend looking back on it, not with, “What is my problem? I had shame after something like that? How lame.” And adding on to that, judgment. I think of it like the sandwich, where it’s meat, cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese. This is like shame, judgment, shame, judgment, shame, judgment. That just locks us in.

So instead of that just being like, “Oh, this is how I break the cycle of shame/judgment,” of going like, “I had shame, that’s hard. I wonder why? I wonder why for me,” in that unique set of circumstances, “Shame is where I went, when I know it’s not where everybody would go? I wonder why?” And once you practice that, it’s like a microcosm. It’s a transferable skill.

But then the next time you go into that set of circumstances you get to anticipate, “I’m going to feel shame here because of these things I discovered.”

And then, you get to the next phase of this is, being able to feel and experience the shame itself differently. Such that you actually do have the opportunity to, in that moment, to bring in a little 95% shame, 5% curiosity. And then the next time, it’s 80% shame, 20% curiosity. “I notice I’m feeling shame…” in the present moment.

So, when you practice it retrospectively, then later on, you can actually start doing it in the moment. Such that you actually experience the shame itself differently.

Sonia: That’s so good. That’s really good. I love that. And I love how you come at it from a place of curiosity. I think the nature of curiosity, it just calms you down. When you have to step out and start thinking and observing more, it’s like a third person observer to the situation, it just settles that whole system down. So, I love coming at curiosity. I work a lot with my Diamonds, and of course there’s a lot of shame in some way or another that comes up around sex.

And I’ll just bring up the libido thing, because a lot of women tell me, when they’re in their 30s, their late 30s I would say, into their 40s and 50s, and you can also talk about this from the OB-GYN side of things. Our libido is shifting for 70% of women, and it goes from that spontaneous to more of the responsive type of libido.

And there’s so much shame that comes around there. Instead of just being, “Okay, this is a different phase in my life. This is the way my body works,” and things like that. It just goes straight to, “I’m broken, there’s something wrong with me. It’s never going to get better. My sex life will never be good again. My partner’s going to leave me.”

It is that shame spiral that you talk about, that just doesn’t seem to stop. How can we come at it from curiosity? I know that I’m doing the sex coaching, and you may not come up with this on a regular basis… Your skills, and your tools, how can I utilize that to help my clients as well?

Kristi: 100%. I love this question so much because this can be something that is, oftentimes… I mean you can describe this better than I can. But oftentimes, when it comes to anything related to body, to sex, to intimacy, there can be a degree of tenderness that is like a shortcut to shame. If there’s anything that’s sort of not working well or not working the way we want it to.

So, I love that you brought this one up because it’s the same process, no matter where we’re experiencing shame. Whether it’s libido, whether it’s talking in front of a group of people, it’s the same process. And the process is this knowing, “Hey, I have some shame.”

And so, the first part people need to know is what it feels like to feel shame. The first time I learned about shame I remember thinking, “Other people have shame.” I don’t know that I experience that. That’s something that if you’re demeaned as a child and made to sit in a corner and starved, well, you might feel some shame, feel ashamed.

I remember as an adult, maybe not even knowing what that felt like and not even recognizing, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been feeling it so much.” So, it’s really useful to know when you actually feel that emotion of shame. And usually, it goes along with the classic things like, I’m too much, I’m not enough, I am unlovable, there’s something wrong with me. Any time we notice...

Sonia: I’m too much, I’m not enough, I’m unlovable, there’s something wrong with me. Okay, I love that, thank you for just laying that out for us.

Kristi: Yeah. Those little thoughts, which can have their own unique variants; I’m such an idiot. I’m not cut out for this, what is my problem? Those can be the more ordinary thoughts that are connected back to the core belief that can create shame.

So, once you know what shame feels like to you and then you’re like, “I have shame related to my libido,” the way you approach it from curiosity is first, just that awareness piece of, “When it comes to how my libido is, right here right now, there’s something about it that I think is wrong and it’s a problem with me.”

And ‘when it’s wrong, and it’s a problem with me,’ what I’m doing is… we sort of need to be very clear, I am making myself wrong with the way I’m thinking about this. Not on purpose, but I am just making myself wrong because I may be relying on a lot of the messaging we receive from society that, “A woman, when she’s whole and amazing, her experience of sex is thus than so.” And so, I’ve internalized that and I’m accidentally making myself wrong.

When we recognize we’re doing it, then, once we’re aware, we can go, okay, every time, when it comes to sex, when it comes to I initiate/my partner initiates, we’re having foreplay, we’re thinking about what we want to do with sex, or I’m thinking about how I say no to sex.

Whenever it comes up and we notice that familiar feeling of shame, then we can go, “Oh, I wonder why this is coming up for me? Why is it? Why does it make sense I might be making myself wrong in this set of circumstances? Does it have to do with something I’m thinking about how my partner sees me? About what it means to say what I want? Why might that be?”

And that curiosity of, I love to think, “If my girlfriend or if my boyfriend or if my BFF was experiencing something similar and they came to me and they were like, ‘I have shame about this thing related to my libido.’ What would I be curious about for them? ‘How come? Why? How does this make sense?’” Not what’s wrong with you, that you have shame, but how did this come to be?

As opposed to what you teach, when you get to that place of being like, “This is me. This is how I feel. This is what I’ve got. Okay.” How come it’s different than that?

Sonia: That’s so good. I like that. Okay. So, we’ve been talking a little bit about shame, and we’ve been talking about how to identify it and then what to do with that. What else do you coach on?

Kristi: Right. It’s interesting because I’m not a shame coach. There are lots of people in therapy who focus on shame specifically, and coaches who focus on shame. But I think the thing that shame connects to the most is self-judgment. And I think for me, at the core of most of the habits that I coach on, is the sense of self-judgment. Of not being all those things I mentioned; not being enough, not doing enough, not being far enough along.

And the way that that presents for my clients is a very prominent self-critical voice, that’s very opportunistic, and is ready to tell them how it is, no matter what they do. If they have a snafu at work, a miscommunication, that’s because, “I’m a terrible doctor and someday somebody’s going to find out that really I don’t know what I’m doing.”

If they are snippy with their kids, “Yeah, see?” They have horrible guilt. “What’s my problem? I can’t even handle getting out the door without blowing up and yelling. I’m an awful person.” So, inner critic is a big part of things.

And then, like we mentioned at the beginning, the way perfectionistic thinking shows up. At the core of perfectionistic thinking, underneath it there’s an anxiety, and then underneath that is the source of a self-judgment. And so, self-judgment is one of those things I think affects almost every habit that I coach on.

Sonia: Okay, so self-judgment. This is really interesting because what I got from that little section is definitely the self-judgment there. There’s kind of this imposter syndrome that could pop up. It’s just going to the extremes. And one thing happens and then your mind, it’s so self-critical that it just goes to the extreme.

So, what do you do if you have a person that is dealing with imposter syndrome, or really something goes wrong, and instead of taking it in the context and being like, “Okay.” But they are like, “I am the worst doctor in the world?”

I’m a radiologist, so you might have 80 million dictations that are wonderful and one that’s not perfect. And then, you just have this thought that focuses on that one dictation and not all the other amazing work that you’ve been doing.

So, when you have people that are dealing with imposter syndrome or I don’t even know what you call that, when you’re just focused on that one little perfectionistic thinking or just being a perfectionist. So, how do you coach around that?

Kristi: Yeah, I think the first piece is, a lot of my clients are very similar to yours, really like information and they like to understand things. I think sometimes the first approach is just a little bit of education. To use that imposter… Those feelings and fixating on… Imposter syndrome, it means a lot of things. But if imposter syndrome and perfectionistic thinking could get married, this is where you have a fixation on minutiae going wrong. And then, making that mean something about our personal worth or our personal capabilities.

I like to do the education piece and say things like, “Hey, did you know that when we feel like an imposter, the way it presents is as focusing on minutiae that goes wrong and an inability to internalize achievements?” This is what happens. “When we have this, this is maybe how you might see it,” or whatever a client has just told me.

That you’re like, “That connects to this.” We do some education on ‘this is what this might be.’ And once we have a word for it or a phrase that encapsulates what they’re experiencing, they can be like, “Oh, that’s just what this is.”

Then we can do, I like to call it the three N’s: You Notice something, Name something, and Normalize it. Then we could say, “Okay, I notice when this shows up for me. I notice I did something wrong in my dictation. And then I just go down this loop of what is wrong with me? I’m a terrible doctor. Okay, I notice it. I can now name it. I can normalize it. So many people would experience this.” Which is how we make ourselves not wrong for experiencing it.

And then, the way I coach on it, is I really like to use thought work plus Internal Family Systems work. Which is a little bit more being like, “There’s a part of me that when something goes wrong in a dictation, this part finds it excruciating. And because of that, this part’s really worried that I’m going to cause harm to somebody. And this part’s really worried that I’m going to miss something. This part’s really worried that, whatever the key, dark,” maybe not dark, “key core worries are, of the part of me that shows up and is like, aaah.”

And get curious about, how long has that part of me been working so hard to make sure that I do the right thing? And maybe, why did that come to develop? In childhood? In medical school?

And how there’s positive intent with those parts, that sometimes present as these flurries of anxious thoughts, what the positive intent might be so that we can better understand it. So, then we can essentially go back and be like, “Hey,” to ourselves, “What am I worried would happen if in the aftermath of making a mistake in a dictation, I didn’t get so wound up? What am I worried would happen?

And once I know what that is then I can be like, “Well, I can update my system,” and be like, “Here we are now. I’m no longer 10 or 20. I thought a mistake meant all these things. Now, I know that I have perspective. One small mistake is not a big deal.”

“So, what if I approached it from this other way, where it’s like sometimes there are small mistakes, but they don’t actually make any connection to me? And how would that shift how I look at it the next time I make a mistake?” So that’s how you can do that.

Sonia: That is so good. I’m going to ask you that same skill set on performance anxiety around sex in the bedroom, because this one’s a big one. I’m going to give the scenario, and then I would love to go through that. So, I know a lot of women that have this concept that they have to have an orgasm and they have to have it within 30 seconds, an unrealistic amount of time. And then, because they don’t think they can have it within 30 seconds they think they’re taking too long.

And sometimes, I make them get information. I make them actually look at a clock to see how long; when they start with foreplay, when they actually have an orgasm to; see how long it is. And it’s usually five minutes or less, but in their mind it’s 30 minutes. So, that’s one thing.

But they’re in this place where they’re like, “Okay, it takes me too long to have an orgasm. Then my partner’s going to not be happy, is going to be upset. So, either I won’t have an orgasm and I’ll just rush through sexual intimacy, or I just won’t even have sex.” They’ll just be like, “It’s going to take me too long to come. I’m not good at this thing.”

Performance anxiety kicks in and then their partner is like, “Why have we not had sex in two months?” And they’re over there thinking that it’s better not to have any connection and intimacy, than to do something wrong and not be perfect at it. So, how would you use those skills in that scenario?

Kristi: I love that. I think the first part of this is the fact that you just outlined that. Somebody listening can be like, “Yes, that’s me. And if Sonia, on a podcast, can describe me so perfectly, it’s not just me. It’s not just me.” When we know that our experience is shared by many other people, sometimes we can feel less isolated and alone. So, that’s the first part.

What you just did so nicely, and what I know you do, is you’re basically doing all the same things I do. But when it comes to this scenario the education piece is number one; this is how bodies work.

Number two, when a human feels performance anxiety or feels dread, it is natural for them to do the very things that you do. When you feel performance anxiety, you want to rush through, just sort of get to the end, pretend you had an orgasm, not really be engaged, or completely avoid sex. That makes perfect sense.

So that education piece of, “This is normal physiology. This is normal age-based things. This is normal.” Great. Then “the notice, name and normalize” piece of this is somebody listening, going, “Okay, I notice I do this.” Either they notice that they’re avoiding because of this, or they notice that they’re rushing through sex, they notice the action.

When they notice that or if they notice, they might not notice that, but they noticed beforehand, they’re just like, “Yeah, when it comes to sex, I just feel like I need to perform. I need to do this.” They can just notice that and make space for, “Okay, this is what I’m doing.”

And because they’re doing that they can be like, “Okay, I can name it.” Just be like, “This is anxiety.” And then they can get curious, once it’s normalized, then they can get curious. And what I would do with somebody is I’d be like, “Alright, so when you’re thinking about having sex with your partner, you’re feeling performance anxiety or you’re feeling dread. And what you want to do is you want to rush through it, or you want to avoid it. What is it that you’re thinking about yourself, about your partner?”

And we would probably come up with all the thoughts that you said. I’m going to be taking too long. Taking too long is bad. My partner is not going to be happy. They’re going to come up with all these thoughts. And then what we do is, “Alright, when you think those thoughts, how do they feel in your body? How can you locate where they are in your body?” And once you can kind of locate them, then you can have this beautiful compassionate inquiry.

And the first step of this, that I love, this is kind of adding to the previous protocol, is when somebody notices that, we want to check in and be like, “How do you feel towards that part that feels anxious?” Because if your first response is, “I want it to go away. I hate it. I wish it wasn’t there.” Then we say, “Okay, there’s the self-judgment piece.” You have to just notice that before, because we can’t really get to know why the anxiety is there if we’re judging it at the same time.

I also think of it as, you know when you’re talking to your patient, and the patient’s just not really responding to you much. And you’re like, “I just don’t understand. I’m being warm, we’re establishing rapport.” And you leave the room, and you find out later, that behind you were the patient’s family members who were glaring at her, being like, “Don’t you say anything.”

And so, the patient shuts down, because little did you know, that there were people who were sort of communicating implicitly, “This is wrong, you shouldn’t say anything.” And when we do that to ourselves, we can’t get anywhere.

Sonia: Yeah. Alright, I love that. We have that thing on our shoulder that’s talking to us and if we are listening constantly to it, we can’t stop for a minute and process, and think and come up with a different way to address the issue.

Kristi: You can’t be curious while you’re simultaneously being judged unless you notice that judgment. So, you can’t get to the heart of ‘why am I actually anxious? What’s really going on here that makes me want to avoid when I’m judging myself?’ You kind of peel back the layers and then basically inspect, what are all the thoughts and beliefs that create this anxiety.

Sonia: This has been so good. So, I have one last question and then the other question after that will be, how can people reach out to you if they need to? But you talked about internalized achievement. Now, I love that. I’m like, how do I get that? We could be internalized perfectionists, where we have all the critical thinking and stuff like that. But internalized achiever or achievement, where you own your achievements and you really bring that in, what does that look like?

Kristi: Yeah. So first off what it doesn’t look like is dismissing success, minimizing progress, not celebrating wins. Saying things like, “Oh, it’s just a fluke, anybody could have done it.” When we do that, that’s how, we do something good, and we don’t actually recognize it for what it is. We instantly say, “Well, it wasn’t good enough. Should have been better. Better will be next time.” That’s usually the norm.

And it can go anywhere, with being a doctor, with sex; “Well, that was pretty good, we connected pretty well, everything was amazing, but it probably could have been better.” And actually, internalizing achievement means you’re going against the grain of that natural desire to dismiss things, if you have sort of a highly judgmental, perfectionistic mind.

What that looks like, first off, is just being like, “Number one, I notice I don’t do this.” You need to know that you’re not doing it first. And then, once you know you’re not doing it, then it usually requires basically pointing out the things that are inarguable. That you can be like, “Man, I did a good job making that cup of coffee.” The things that seem like, “Of course I did a good job making that cup of coffee.”

When you can practice it on the small things then you push yourself to practice on times you succeeded, times people came up... I love this one, somebody comes up and gives you a compliment, it’s like, “That was the most amazing podcast I’ve ever heard, Sonia. I love how you put this together.” Before you go, “Yeah, yeah, sure, no big deal.” You go, “You know what? They are totally right, that was amazing.”

And you pause and kind of force yourself to savor and bask in ways that might feel really uncomfortable. And it’s just a skill. It’s like going and lifting, doing a certain bicep curl, you just practice it. And then over time, you will internalize it. And what the most interesting thing is, is what you notice is in the way. So, as soon as you try to celebrate or internalize achievement, when that feels wildly uncomfortable, you notice all the objections to doing that. And that’s the key to actually doing it.

Sonia: So, so good. So good. Alright, thank you so much for being on this podcast today. You were dropping nuggets and pearls! Oh, my goodness, this is so good. I learned a lot. I know my Diamonds learned a lot. How can we reach you if we need to?

Kristi: Yeah, so I keep it super simple. Everything is called Habits on Purpose. My podcast is Habits on Purpose. My website is habitsonpurpose.com. My Facebook group is Habits on Purpose. And then I’m on Instagram sort of I guess, it’s @kristiangevine.com. But that’s where I am.

Sonia: Alright, thank you so much. Probably going to have you back again. This is such a good podcast.

Kristi: Well, thank you, because the work you’re doing is so important and it’s truly an honor to be able to chat with you.

Sonia: Thank you.

If you want to learn more about Dr. Sonia, check out the show notes at HabitsOnPurpose.com/podcast.

If you're ready to stop struggling with habit change, and quit all the self-criticism, overthinking, second-guessing, and perfectionism, why wait to start being more present, deliberate, and compassionate? When you join me for private or small group coaching, you can start today with getting my expert guidance to understand why you think, feel, and act as you do. So, that you can start being more deliberate and intentional with your life.

For private, one-on-one coaching, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/consult. For a single Internal Family Systems session, to just dip your toe into using IFS to explore and understand your system better, go to HabitsOnPurpose.com/IFS.

And if you're a female physician, and you want the beautiful combination of community, structured didactics, and small group coaching, the next group for Habits on Purpose for Physicians starts this summer. Learn more at HabitsOnPurpose.com/HOPP with two Ps, that’s H-O-P-P. I'll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Habits On Purpose. If you want more information on Kristi Angevine or the resources from the podcast, visit HabitsOnPurpose.com. Tune in next week for another episode.

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