I was joking with my coach recently about how when I’m feeling down, I’ll sometimes start to mentally photoshop my life.
I wish I was a little bit taller, I told her.
I wish I was a baller…
Just kidding. That wasn’t it.
All The Tweaks
But what I DO do, is think about what my life would look like with just a fewww tiny tweaks with the magic wand tool, like if…
… I didn’t have this little belly pooch.
… Or my forehead was a little smaller.
… Or I was a little bit tidier, or a better cook.
… Or I was a little smarter, and more bookish.
… Or (my personal favorite) if my godzilla of a personality was juuuust a little more palatable for more people — like those girls in high school who told me they preferred to interact with me in “small doses”.
Life would probably be easier, I think to myself, if I didn’t have to worry about these pesky little things.
Seeking Solutions For Non-Problems
My coach reminds me — accurately, I might add — that these thoughts are neither true, nor do they originate with me.
They’re a result of the cultural and sociological messages and symbols that are sold to me by the patriarchy and corporations and patriarchal corporations etc. etc. — intent on keeping me in a loop of seeking solutions to problems they’ve created, in order to embody an impossible ideal that literally does not exist outside of screens and photoshop.
“BUT.” my coach asks. “What if those things you don’t like about yourself were actually your superpowers?”
(Belly pooch and fivehead included, apparently. I asked.)
What if, indeed?
But the personality thing? Whew. It still gets to me sometimes.
All my extroverted life, I’ve found introverts to generally be far cooler than my rowdy, spazzy self could ever hope to be.
A Little Mystery Is Appealing
Long have I yearned to be the mysterious (and by society’s standards, more feminine) young lady in the corner of the library, quietly taking in books, or unassumingly chillin’ in her corner of the party surrounded by a few friends, lookin’ all calm and hot and unbothered.
My way of being has made me almost torturously noisy and botherable — a receptacle for All The Feelings that crash through me like tiny thunderstorms.
I tear up watching most movies and TV shows, I have trouble sleeping when I know people I love are hurting, and if I’m not taking good care of my mentals, a tiny snide remark can prickle at me for months on end.
Despite all this, my confidence is mercifully borne of the fact I know I’m gonna crash into most things anyway, so why not barrel forward in a consistent direction and see what happens?
And my general openness/social clumsiness also means I’ve already embarrassed and mortified myself every which way, so I tell myself (when I’m feeling courageous): take the risk of looking weird, because what’s another drop in the ocean at this point?
While my experience is of course not universal, the older I get, the more I see this as the extrovert’s advantage — and perhaps even superpower — in so many ways.
Life would probably be easier, I still think to myself, if I could just learn to tone it down and be a little more introverted.
But What About A Little “Look At Me” Action?
But in my years of knowing and adoring my introvert friends, I’ve discovered they actually also experience a mirror image of the same problem I have:
Their perceived sensitivity and lower-keyness (both of which can come across as aloofness or disinterest) is something society tells them they MUST also overcome and/or fix.
In her now-famous book “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”, author Susan Cain expands on her argument that “we dramatically undervalue introverts” and sets a course to show how much we lose in doing so.
It’s a fascinating look at the rise of the Extrovert Ideal, apparent in both workplace and popular culture over the last 100+ years, and how it underpins a lot of the way modern society functions.
In the workplace particularly, ambitious introverts can also find themselves pulled painfully thin between their sensitivity and their desire to strive — often stumbling into isolation and burnout and paralyzing levels of perfectionism by sheer accident.
It can frustrate my beloved intro friends to no end, and made them ask themselves what their life could look like if they were just a little more extroverted.
Your Introverted Sensitive Striver Superpowers
Which is why I’m so excited to share today’s all-new #HAMYAW episode with friend of the show, and author of the new book Trust Yourself, the fabulous Melody Wilding.
Because, for introverts everywhere, she makes the same ponderous case my coach makes to me:
“Introverts, and sensitive strivers: what if those things you feel are pitfalls were actually… your superpowers?”
What if, indeed?
I’ll let Mel tell you all about that part. She’s coined the term “sensitive striver” for a reason. ;)
So without further ado, dive into today’s “HAMYAW and Friends” episode where we dig into:
- How you can be ambitious and super sensitive (and why that’s a good thing)
- When being told you’re too much turns into unhealthy self-censoring
- How self-censoring turns into perfectionism
- The difference between self-censoring and good boundaries
- Listening to your own voice
- How confidence is earned through action
- The danger of over intellectualizing
- Specific tools Mel uses with her clients to help them (re)learn to trust themselves
Insight From Our Superpower Aware Introvert Fans Please
And because we KNOW we’ve got a whole heap of introverts in the audience, we wanna hear from you (as noisily or quietly as you prefer).
How do you balance your ambition with your sensitivity and self-care? Or is it still a work in progress?
And have you figured out what powerful advantage your own introversion offers you? Even if you couldn’t see it immediately?
Click here (or the purty video thumbnail below) to catch the episode now, and come yell/whisper with us in the comments — and we’ll catch you over there.
Your overeager neighborhood extrovert friend,
I think I wanna yell at Margo.
Welcome back marketing nerds of the world, it’s time for another episode of HAMYAW, and today we are joined by the fabulous Melody Wilding, who is an executive coach and author of the book “Trust Yourself”.
And today, we wanna talk about a little something that’s sorta gaining traction as a conversation piece around the internet at the moment, which is this idea of self-censorship, particularly in the context of being a little more introverted, a little more sensitive, but also ambitious, or as Melody puts it, sensitive strivers.
So, we are so excited to chat today, by the way, Melody and Margo are IRL friends, so I’m really excited to dig in with you today Mel.
But before we get down to it, first of all, Mel, welcome to the show, how ya doin’ today?
Thank you so much for having me, I’m so excited to be here.
Excellent, and Margo, would you qualify yourself as a sensitive striver?
Yes, and I wouldn’t have until Melody really explained the concept to me, because for the longest time, I’m an outgoing person, so I didn’t identify as an introvert. I read “Quiet”, did everybody read Susan Cain’s book, and I was like, “Oh my god, I’m an introvert!” And I was so confused by this.
And Mel and I were getting drinks, and she was telling me more about the types of people she works with, and how they have this ambition, coupled with this highly
sensitive personality. I’m an HSP, shout out to all the other HSPs out there, where you’re really having physiological responses to stuff.
So, it was always really fun to geek out with Mel and even understanding what was happening, for me personally. So I’m really, really, really excited, pre ordered the book already, everyone else go do that.
“Trust Yourself” y’all.
But I know Mel, you and Margo had this conversation that sort of inspired this
convo around self-censorship. I know this was a long time ago, but I would love sort of to hear a little bit from you two about how that conversation went, and where this idea of self-censorship and how we navigate with it, and how we move with it, kind of in the online space, and also in the general world.
Mel, talk to us a little bit more about that idea.
Yeah, well you know, first of all, sensitive strivers, it’s that combination, as Margo was saying, about thinking and feeling everything deeply, while also being incredibly driven, ambitious, you want to achieve a lot of goals, you put a lot of pressure on yourself to achieve those goals.
And so, sensitive strivers are incredibly thoughtful, creative, just like Margo, very inventive and original with everything that they do, but they can overthink situations,
so all of those strengths can also be our Achilles heel. So, overthinking, worrying
about what other people think and their perceptions, getting stuck in imposter syndrome.
“Am I an expert enough? “Who am I to say this?”
And I think that’s where our conversation began was really talking about creative work and actually how, at different times in our lives, both of us have felt stuck, but I think Margo, you were feeling some friction with something you were trying to work on, and write, and it just wasn’t coming together.
And as we peeled away the layers of the onion, it was that you were trying to fit into a box, or write in a way, what you thought you should be, rather than what you really wanted to say. And it was almost like you were self-censoring, trying to live into the expectations other people had of you, which is really common for sensitive strivers. And I spent pretty much my whole life, up until my 30s, doing that.
So, we contort ourselves to try to suppress, or hide our sensitivity because, for the longest time, who has wanted to be sensitive? I think Susan Cain really did that with introversion, made it something that was more desirable and a cool thing to be, and to claim that you are.
And I think we can do the same for sensitivity.
Oh my god, I love this so much. So, to give people some context, we were literally getting drinks, and I was so stuck in book writing, and Mel and I were writing books
around the same time, but she was zooming past me, but normalizing my process, ’cause she was just a few steps ahead.
And every time I’d be like, “I can’t do it, “I’m doing everything wrong,” she’s like, “No, I already went through that stage, let me tell you, “here’s how it goes down.
“And it was really, really validating to talk to her, and I wanna revisit something you said about sensitivity, because it is something that gets stigmatized and taboo, and it’s something you are told to repress, like you shouldn’t be so sensitive.
Like it’s a bad thing.
And I think this is where self-censorship, I think, comes in is that you are trying actively not to be so sensitive, when really, that’s your superpower.
And it took me the same amount of time as you, where I was like, “Wait, my thoughts and feelings “are the power here.
“It’s the perception, the observation, the point of view, “this is what people are coming for.”
So your whole life, or at least for me, I was always told, “Tone it down, tone it down,” and all of a sudden, in my career, everyone’s like, “Tone it up, tone it up, tone it up,” and I’m like, “What?” It doesn’t come natural anymore!
100% yeah, Hillary, go ahead.
No, I just agree, and while I don’t necessarily identify as an introvert, I think that being told to tone it down your whole life, that was really kind of an aha for me too, sort of at the start of my career, where it was, “Tone it down, you’re too much, “you’re blah, blah, blah.
“Your personality’s very large,” and then I was suddenly in a space where my personality was an asset, which was extremely cool, but also very unexpected.
But I think that’s actually something that I see a lot, ’cause I do my own work with creatives, sort of helping them create their personal brands, and start showing up more and more.
And we run into this every single time, it’s so universal, and I’m so glad we’re having a chance to talk about it, and I’m so glad you’re here to share more about how you talk about this in your book.
But what’s also so interesting to me is the fact that while everyone goes through this process, it always takes so much work to get to the aha that your personality and the person that you are is your greatest asset, is your flavor.
There’s no secret costume you have to put on, but what it requires is that depth, less of the performance and more of the internal exploration that you then learn how to kind of dig out and share.
100%, and you know, Margo was talking about that everything she was facing, I had gone through in advance, because this book took me five years to write.
So yes, I may have been zooming past her, I definitely was not zooming anywhere, but it took me four years of wrestling with the concept and not knowing what I was writing, or being afraid to write about what I really wanted to write about, and just throwing out hundreds and hundreds of pages of the proposal and early drafts of the manuscript to actually get to, it was like creating a sculpture, where you start with this piece of clay, and you have to chip away to actually get to the art.
And so, yeah, it was completely that unlearning that I had to do to get to this point.
Can you talk to us more about the “What I really wanted to write about,” and what that feels like?
Yeah, tell us that.
Yeah, you know, I think I was afraid to touch my own story.
I’m even uncomfortable saying that, because I am someone who hates talking about themselves, but Hillary, like you were saying, it was almost like I kept being confronted
with the fact that this is exactly what you need to write about.
As much as I tried to get away from it, it didn’t matter, I just kept getting brought back to it by my agent, by my editorial team kept saying,”Yeah, but this is missing something. “There’s not enough emotion here, “or I feel like you could go a little deeper. “I feel like you’re playing it safe.”
From that, from readers, who when I would even give a little bit of an inch into my story would be like, “Wait, but can you talk more about that over there?” From my clients, who every time I would try to focus on a certain direction in my business, they would wanna focus on the things that were also most challenging to me, in my own experience, insecurities, that sense of inadequacy, perfectionism, poor boundaries.
I just kept attracting people who needed help with that, and then having the greatest success with that.
So, no matter what I did, I could not not write about it, but I was really afraid to touch it because of my own insecurities, and imposter syndrome about, “But really, is my story that really that impressive? “Everyone has gone through this, “who’s going to care about this? “It’s not an interesting enough story,” that’s what I felt like.
Yeah, I relate to that too.
That really kept me from talking about it, from sharing about it for a long time, because I would self-sensor, and negate, and invalidate myself in that way that, “No one’s gonna care about this.”
That truth stuff, that real stuff, it’ll come get ya, like Freddy Kruger. You wanna be able to run from it, but it’s gonna come, and it’s gonna rock up, and I think people need to find it.
You know, you circle the globe, and at the end of the day, you always come home to yourself.
That’s so interesting too where it’s like, “Can you say more about that?”People catch it.
And I would actually love to hear, the inner experience of this whole process is so deeply personal to everybody, but if you think about, aside from it not being exciting, talk to me a little bit about that vulnerability space.
Because I think when we start putting our ideas out there and telling these stories that we don’t think are gonna be really worthwhile, how do you kind of build the stamina to stay in that space when you have the imposter syndrome, flying monkeys, sorta swoomin’ around your head.
I just said the word swoomin’, I have no idea what that word is, but.
We’re gonna make it happen.
Invented here on HAMYAW.
You know, I think the other thing that I wrestled with, and I still do, to some extent, I’m not perfect and still go through a process with all of this is that, telling my story would undermine my expertise, would show, “Well, if you’ve gone through this, “then how can you possibly help other people through this?” And when I say that out loud, that makes no sense, because you’ve gone through it is exactly why you can help people through it.
But when you’re in that fear state, you’re not logical.
And I thought revealing that would reveal a flaw in me, and it’s that perfectionism, it’s that perfectionism that I have to be shiny and perfect, I cannot let anybody see any of my flaws.
When in reality, that is exactly what made me more human, and what attracted people to me is that I had been through this myself, and I had to take all of the tools from my background and use them on myself.
So, I think that mindset shift was a huge one, but most importantly, has just been shipping it, has just been not allowing myself to overthink things.
And really writing shitty drafts, and getting more comfortable just pressing send on the shitty drafts, and putting it out there, and realizing that that’s not my only chance.
One of my forms of perfectionism is very much that all or nothing, that, once I publish something, I can never talk about it again, was kind of this mentality that I had.
Again, it doesn’t sound logical-
Hard relate, hard relate, yeah.
Brain, that’s how your things work, and just realizing that my story is part of my brand, and something I now have had to talk about hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of times.
And you find better ways to say it.
At first, you say it in this very clunky and apologetic way, and now, I can tell it as a narrative, where it’s much more powerful, it has an arc to it, I can share the lessons behind it, and every time I tell it, I find different dimensions, like a diamond, I find different facets to pull out from it.
So, I think that has helped me the most, but a lot of that has just been the self-discipline of continuing to stick with it, and realizing that because I feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean I’m doing anything wrong.
In fact, it means I’m doing something right, ’cause I’m going into that conditioning, I’m undoing that, and that’s going to be an uncomfortable process.
So, I think also that I’m someone who because I am so emotional, I have the tendency to believe my emotions, that everything I feel is automatically true, and that’s not the case.
Okay, well you can’t just hint at the story Mel and then not tell us the story, what’s the story?
Oh, the story, the story is, all my life, I was someone who, like Margo was saying, I think I’ve realized my whole life I was more sensitive, in that I was more affected by everything going on around me.
When I was a kid, do either of you remember “Andre” the seal, the movie “Andre” the Seal?
I can see the cover of it in my mind’s eye, don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie.
Oh my gosh, it’s about this little girl who befriends a seal, and the seal lives with her, and it’s this whole thing.
But anyway, at the end, Andre goes back out to sea and she doesn’t see him again.
And I was inconsolable about this for weeks.
And even to this day, in my family, it’s a joke that my parents can say “Andre” and I’ll just start crying.
That’s the backdrop here.
But I didn’t have words for it then.
Of course, people would say, “Oh, you’re so sensitive,” but I didn’t realize I was highly sensitive.
And so, all my life I kind of tried to hide that, I kind of tried to push it away. I wanted to be accepted, and I only wanted for people to see the parts of me that I thought they would like, and that was not a part of me that I thought they would like.
But then, the high achieving side of me also led me to be that A+, gold star, good girl.
Get all the A+s, go to a good school, get a good job, do everything right, and that is the equation for happiness.
And so, I had done that, graduated with my Master’s, from Columbia, and I wanted to be a therapist, my background is in social work, and listened to the well-meaning people around me right after the recession who said, “You can’t make money doing that,” why don’t you do something that’s more stable, “like technology, or healthcare, or something like that?” So, that’s what I did.
I listened to them and not to myself and found myself very early on in my career, I hit a very severe burnout, to the point where I almost killed myself.
I had heart palpitations, my hair was falling out, and the story I tell in the book is kind of a snapshot of that moment where I ditched one of my best friends’ wedding weekends to work because I was so consumed with work addiction, with just wanting to be the best, and really criticizing myself.
“How could you be lazy and take a whole weekend off?” And all of that, that I pulled out of a wedding weekend, a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and sat in a cold Starbucks in Manhattan to work all weekend.
And that was the moment, to me, that, “Something is wrong, something is not right here.”
And so, that was my story of really kind of waking up to how much my unbalanced ambition had taken out of my life, but also just how unbalanced my sensitivity was.
Because I was so anxious, and stressed, and depleted, and people-pleasing all over the place, had no boundaries.
So, that was the wake-up moment for me.
I feel like we’ve had these conversations, very similar ones, on the show, about our similar moments of burnout, and-
We forget which episode, but you’ll find it.
Go click around here.
‘Cause it’s so real.
And also, I think this is a particularly relevant issue for women, because as women.
As a woman.
That you are socialized to sort of shut down that internal voice, because your sense of worthiness comes from self-sacrifice and martyrdom, and taking care of others, and listening to other people instead of your own.
So, you and I have very similar stories, in this regard.
And for mine, I think viewers know, it culminated in an eating disorder, where I literally shut down my body’s intuition and couldn’t hear that I was hungry.
And I think we do this a lot, in trying to figure out who we are and what we think.
And when I was a kid, I did a really similar thing, where I would be like, “I must be wrong.” Instead of going, “The something’s broken in the system,” I’d be like, “Oh, I’m too much, “something must be wrong with me.
“And so, I will just assume that you know better, “and I’m just gonna shut down my internal guidance system “and do what you tell me.”
It’s not something I did consciously, I don’t think anyone really does that on purpose, but you start to make these errors of attribution, and then follow that.
And then you wake up, later down the line, with all these physical symptoms, or a life that you didn’t sign up for.
I mean, that’s the thing that I think is so unique to sensitive strivers too is that they find themselves high achieving, and in positions where everything is supposed to be good, and you’re like, “Something doesn’t add up here.”
“I have checked the boxes, I have gotten the As, “where is the happiness coins?
“Where are they?” Yeah, I think that everyone sort of has that wall hit moment, and in business too, you know, it’s such a part of the process, especially when you are the face of the company, especially when you take pride in your work, and when you also tie so much of your worth to the work you can do, and what you can deliver to other people.
And I’m really glad, Margo, you raised that, “Other people must be right,” ’cause that was a big issue for me for a long time, and something that got in the way of my showing up is that I always assumed that people who were mean to me were right.
I was like, “Well, no one else is gonna tell it “like it is like this, so you must be correct.”
It has really just followed me, and even now, it’s something that I struggle with.
I’m like, “That person was an asshole, “but were they correct? “What were the nuggets of truth?” And sometimes an asshole’s just an asshole.
I’m really glad that you raised that point because this is also what I see in my clients, I know both of you see it too, where that’s the greatest fear.
It’s not that you’re afraid what article you’re writing is gonna take off and go viral, and everyone’s gonna cheer you on, and how will you deal with the fame? Although sometimes that’s really one or the other, everyone’s gonna be obsessed with it, everyone’s gonna hate it.
But right now especially it’s like, “Well if I post this, am I gonna get canceled?”
“Are people gonna get mad?” And it’s like, “I have to tell you, “your audience is 30 people on your email list, “chances are you’re gonna be fine, “and actually that is a blessing to have a small audience “to kind of build that resilience.”
I’m really glad that you’re sort of having this conversation around trusting yourself as well, because Margo and I have talked about this on the show, around imposter syndrome, where the only way out is through, and so often, I’m sure in the work that you do, that’s really the only answer, which is the answer nobody wants.
Exactly, exactly, no one wants to do the difficult thing.
In the book, I actually have an entire chapter about getting better at doing hard things, because as sensitive strivers, we’ve internalized that message that we’re fragile, that we’re weak, that I can’t take on too much, because I can’t handle it.
And you know, in business, that mentality has really held me back for a long time, and I intentionally kept my business small, because I told myself, “Well, I can’t handle it, “I don’t want it to be too stressful for me,” not realizing that, “Hey wait, I also have “this striver side, and I have a tremendous capacity for,” like you were saying, sometimes our greatest fear is the fear of being successful.
So, I’ve really had to challenge that lately and question some of that, so yeah, in the book there’s a whole chapter about getting more comfortable taking risks, and even doing it in different parts of your life.
Taking risks in your professional life translates over to your professional life, but it’s giving yourself the exposure because the only way you build that capacity is through repetition.
I think a lot of people think that “I’ll just take a training or a webinar, “or I’ll find some magic pill that will bestow me “with that confidence,” rather than realizing it’s something that’s earned in a capacity, like a well you have to dig.
Yes, oh my god! I love this, and I think it really ties well into why Hillary and I are staunchly against cancel culture, because I think, if you are thinking in public, you are gonna iterate on those thoughts.
And I think there’s a difference between self-censoring and not being a dick.
Yeah, I think it’s really important, you do need to do self-work, you do need to check, you can’t just be reactive in public all the time.
That’s not what we’re advocating for.
You do need to edit, but editing is different than when you start out in a space, and you’re not being honest with yourself.
This is where I think boundaries come in real hard.
You’ve gotta have boundaries, ’cause there’s certain things where you’re like, “I’m not done processing yet, “I need to be public and get my reps in “with a safe group of people to talk about a topic “I’m not done processing yet.” That’s important.
Leave that shit in the oven y’all, leave it in the oven for a few, think of it like chocolate chip cookies, you pull ’em out too soon, you’re like, “What happened?”
Text your Hillary.
Because that’s a thing, there’s a difference between your friends and your audience,and I think that we blur this line, and when we wanna make our audience our friends, we start to get confused as our position as a leader, and as an authority, and as an expert, and that’s when we start self-censoring because we’re like, “Well, they must think “all these things of me, and so I must be this person.”
“I’m very important, people think about me all the time.
“You know, yeah, not themselves, me.”
You know, you also get really dependent on their feedback and the input right?
And when you think of your audience like your friends, in that way, you get very hooked into making sure you have a certain amount of likes, and I think that’s a really slippery slope that leads to that people-pleasing again, which can force you to show up in a certain way in your business, and not really authentically.
I think another piece of self-censorship, and ladies, if I’m totally off base, we can edit this out in post, but one thing that I’ve been thinking about too, around self-censorship is, I know for many years, in my business, I’m definitely an over thinker, in a really big way.
And for many years in my business, around sharing my story and sort of talking more about myself, I was like, “Well, I can’t, “’cause I don’t have a rags to riches story.
“I don’t have these signposts along my journey “that the most compelling people do.”
I’m like, “Hi, I’m Hillary, and I grew up “in white person suburbia in South Florida, “and privately educated, and every privilege “you could think of,” you know?
I was like, “No one wants to hear that, no one cares.”
And it took many, many years to kind of figure out why are people attracted to my brand and the conversation that I have?
That’s also not your story, that’s also not your story, let’ give yourself some help here.
Yeah exactly, it’s not, and- Framing matters.
– And that’s the thing.
I think we all have these secret checklists in the back of our minds, about what makes us worthy to show up and share about ourselves.
And for me, it was just like, “Well, you know, “I haven’t really, rags, riches, no, “it’s just I kinda jumped in with both feet, “and I was able to do that because of where I come from.”
It took me kind of years to develop the realization that my story was actually what happened when I entered the space, where I had to figure out on my own, had to get scrappy, and tested a miLlion billion different things.
It really was the weirdest aha moment that I was like, “Oh, people wanna learn about “that stuff too, they haven’t even noticed “that I don’t have the rags to riches “story quota over here.”
Maybe that’s just me and I’m a weirdo, I dunno, ladies?
No, not a weirdo at all.
Isn’t this in “Steal Like an Artist”?
Where he’s like, “You’ve gotta share your work, “sharing along the way.”
And I think a big part of your story is also just your perspective.
I don’t remember what specifically was my tipping point moment, but I know the more that I was like, “I don’t have all the marketing answers, “but we have a problem in this field,” and I just started publishing what I thought was the problem.
And so, I didn’t offer any tactics or solutions, I just shared my point of view, and I also didn’t feel entitled to do that for a very long time.
So, I totally get that, ’cause I’m like, “I don’t have the results, I don’t have the numbers,
“but that’s also what led me to the results “and the numbers.”
And so, I think the bigger thing is, don’t claim to be something you’re not.
I love Mel what you said, because there is this element of wanting to put on airs, and wanting to not correct people’s misconceptions, and wanting to be at a further point in your career so you can reflect back and be wise.
And we just wanna jump ahead, and I wanna nest that within a conversation of, also, we exist in a space with a lot of charlatans.
And so, some healthy dose if this self-censorship is important, and maybe not calling it self-censorship, but calling it self-awareness, of when you’re doing something that comes from a place that is insincere.
Like, I had a lot of clients that they would come to me claiming that they had a marketing issue, and they just wanted to be famous.
I’m like, “If you wanna be famous, “then say you wanna be famous!
“Let’s start there.
“Let’s start there, but don’t pretend you care “about your audience.
“Be real!” Sometimes that desire to stay hidden doesn’t come from necessarily a bad place, it comes from a place of someone trying to keep you safe, and trying to avoid being those charlatans.
I was thinking the whole time Mel, when you were talking, that I actually love talking about myself, I don’t have as much of a struggle.
I worry and get self-conscious about being self-involved because I see that in so many online business blogs, and platforms, and I’m like, “Until I can tell “the difference, I’m not allowed to talk.”
That was the story I told myself.
But really, it was those reps, it was having to post stuff that was really self-involved, and then watching how people respond and be like, “Oh, that’s what that sounds like, that’s about me.
“I got it, sorry.”
“Oh, sorry guys, that’s annoying.”
And like what you said Hill, the only way out is through, there was no way of avoiding it, I had to be super self-involved to go, “That is not a pleasant thing to read, I get it.”
Yup, yup, I understand.
The lack of stories, and the lack of trying to figure this out, there are folks out there guys, by the way, who will tell you to exaggerate an event in your life.
I’ve heard about people be like, “I got into a fender bender, “and some coach was like, now it’s almost “a deadly accident.”
And it’s just, you don’t have to do that either!
This is not what’s for real.
Torch that, no lying.
What you’re talking about, in my terms, and my psych brain is, boundaries and discernment, right? It’s that process of discernment of listening to your own voice, of figuring out your own internal boundaries of what’s comfortable for me?
What’s in integrity? What’s not?
And sometimes the only way you figure that out is by testing the waters and pressure testing certain situations, and so again, it’s just you have to take the action to get the information.
You can’t just expect to sit there and intellectualize this, which I think as all fellow overthinkers, we think just like, “Well, let me figure out a strategy, “and I need to reflect on this more, “and let me observe,” and that’s just not-
Gotta marinate, noodle.
Three years later, “Are you still digesting?” It’s like, “Yeah, I guess so.”
But I would love to hear Mel, some of the sort of, I don’t know if we wanna call ’em tips, or steps, or mental sort of strategies that you kind of tend to offer your clients,and anything that’s in your book, ’cause we know we have a lot of over-thinkers watching this show, a lot of perfectionists, a lot of sensitive strivers, we see y’all.
So, I would love just to hear, what are some sort of pieces that you can offer to our audience, that you offer maybe again, through your book, or in your client work, to help people sort of practice this self-trust.
Yeah, you know, first let me say that I love that there are sensitive strivers in this audience because we are the ones with the bullshit detectors, right?
We are the ones that have that heightened sense of being able to pick up on, put pieces together, so, I think we are the bullshit detectors in the industry, which is amazing, and a great service.
One of my favorite techniques, and one my clients love too, it may seem a little silly, but it’s really powerful if you dig behind it is naming the inner critic.
My favorite things.
Yeah, it’s very simple, just giving your inner critic a name.
Yeah, I have one client who calls his Darth Vader, and he has a Darth Vader Lego figure
that sits on his desk, and every time his inner critic starts acting up, he’s just like, “Not today Darth.”
And it’s really helpful to unfuse you from those negative thoughts, to see them as just a passing state, to give you that moment of pause to decide, “Is this what I wanna think right now? “Or do I wanna take a different path?” So, that’s one of my favorites.
Ooh, Mel, and even recognizing that it’s a thought, I think that in and of itself is so huge!
‘Cause how many of us are just like, “No, this is just the truth, this is how the world works.”
Another one similar to that is called the THINK technique, which is another way, a little checklist to run your brain through, to really see if a thought is helpful to you.
And THINK stands for, is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it, wait, T, H, true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, kind.
So, really running your thoughts through that sort of rubric can be a really helpful checkpoint of mine are none.
None of them.
No? None of those.
None of the above?
Margo’s inner critic’s name is Asshole.
Does yours have a name Margo?
An inner critic?
I call it the gaslighter.
I have different ones.
So, I’ve done this as well, I can attest, it’s really powerful.
I do this when I used to coach, and I’d call it Name the Voices.
I have different ones come up for different things.
So, sometimes it’s the Twitter troll, sometimes it’s the old English teacher, sometimes it’s my dad, it’s all these different, an old client.
They’re different voices, all of which are fabricated in my mind and made worse.
But yeah, I try and name them and try and figure out which one’s which.
I don’t just get one.
There’s a whole smorgasbord in there.
Variety, the spice of life.
Yes ma’am, absolutely.
You know, one I think is helpful for the business owners who are listening that’s been really instructive for me in my business is, looking for the emotion of resentment, and using that as a signal that that is a place where you need to set stronger boundaries.
Yeah, learned this one the hard way.
But that signal of resentment is usually a sign that you’ve let a situation go on way too long, without addressing it, but that it’s within your power to change.
I’m gonna need to take a moment.
Yeah, I’m gonna be workin’ on these.
I’m like, “What is my inner critic’s name?”
Initially, I was like, “Vanessa,” but I also work with some people called Vanessa, so I’m like, “Sorry Vanessa, I love y’all Vanessas, plural,” but anyway.
Yeah, I love these tips, ’cause I think also, the process of showing up and building these businesses, and creating this content, and being who you wanna be in the world, it is a practice.
It’s not some one and done, so you need these tools, kind of along your road, to make sure you stay on the path, that things stay clear, and that you’re also taking care of yourself and supporting yourself.
So, I love these.
I love that, I love saying it’s a practice, that’s perfect.
Mel, to that end, before we wrap up, I’m curious if you had moments where you felt like you overshared, or you had a horrible vulnerability hangover?
What was that process like?
Oh man, I feel that way with the whole book.
I have an anticipatory hangover here.
You know, I think the first time I shared that kind of opening story about the wedding weekend thing and all of that, that was the biggest hangover moment, because I had never been public about any of this.
So really, that coincided with rebranding my website and really going in the direction of claiming the sort of sensitive striver, making that part of my branding.
I launched with this story on my website, and those two things together was like, (Mel gasps) you know, like hold on tight, because I didn’t know how it was going to be received.
I didn’t know if people were gonna be like, “Sensitive striver, that’s stupid.”
I was fully bracing for that.
But people were like, “Oh my gosh, yes, that’s me.”
And so, I think that was the biggest moment, that whole rebrand and really putting the story out there for the first time, and showing that dark side that I have.
And I got a lot of comments back, for people to say, “Wow, I never realized that was what you went through too, “you look like you have it all together,” and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, you have no idea “what goes on over here.”
Yeah, I think that was the biggest moment that I remember, at least in the recent past.
Hill, have you had an overshare rebound story?
Oh geez, yesterday, in general.
I have vulnerability hangovers after one-to-one conversations on “I’ve said too much.”
But, I think for me, the vulnerability hangover tends to, just, it’s slow, right? ‘Cause it’s not ’til years later, looking back, I’m like, “Ooh, maybe not that one.”
Actually, hilariously, well not hilariously I guess, but I have deleted posts from the back,
I remember I wrote this blog post, it may still be online somewhere, don’t go looking for it everybody, but it’s called “What it Takes,” which was about my experience hitting a physical wall.
For me, I was laying down on my living room carpet, feeling like I was gonna throw up, just because I was so stressed out, but I had so much to do.
I was like, literally laying prostrate, being like, “Okay, I will lay here for 10 minutes, “and then after that, I will magically have the energy “to figure out and finish all the things.
“Let me just lie here.” And it’s a whole post about that being what it took to succeed, and of course, I was wrong.
You don’t have to fry yourself and get yourself to the point of physical illness in order to achieve the things you achieve.
But I remember writing it at the time being like, “I’m being so honest right now,” and then looking back at it, I was like, “Oh my god, people read that, people with eyes.
“God forbid anyone internalize that.”
For me, it was more of a concern that someone saw me and be like, “Oh, well, should be working that hard.”
For me it’s about, what is the impact I’m making, and by sharing this, am I giving someone permission to do something that’s not good for them?
And I think that’s where the hangover comes through for me, and where the concern, and why I’ve become so much more responsible over the years about what I share, because transparency’s a brand value of mine, it’s why we do this.
I talk about it in all my work, I’m very honest.
As Margo says, it’s really about sharing your work as you go.
The vulnerability hangover, ’cause I tend to move and I don’t look back at much,but it’s when I realize that those moments, those ahas that I was having, that I was sharing as I went were the wrong ahas.
So, that’s sometimes where it gets tough.
But again, that’s part of it, you’re gonna run into that.
It’s not gonna kill you, hopefully, but I think that that’s been a huge part of my learning process is allowing myself to not be so afraid of being wrong, but to understand and do what I can to sort of course correct, or mitigate the damage, or talk about it openly on an episode of my show, upon reflection, so that people can also not be so uncomfortable to evolve.
Because I think we all have this image in our head of ideas,just poopin’ ’em out, perfectly wrapped and presented, and then they never change, and everyone’s just like,
“What a lovely gift, I’ll pass it to the next person.”
But in reality, an idea is, I guess the best metaphor for it is clay, it’s supposed to be built on, it’s supposed to evolve, it’s supposed to change.
Your perception of yourself and the way you move through the world, and what you value in business, and how you present yourself, and how you approach your work, all of it is supposed to evolve and change.
So, I think, just in terms of vulnerability, on the journey, that’s I think, the biggest sort of light bulb moment for me over the years is that it’s okay to look back on something that you wrote, waxed poetic on, and be actively incorrect.
Yeah, am I bringin’ up some memories here?
And that’s part of it, it’s normal, it’s healthy, it’s important, it’s part of the road.
Wait, I wanna share a story with you guys.
Now I can laugh at it, but I was very traumatized.
I had a week where I just couldn’t get to my email list, and I was trying something, kind of more of an experimental approach, a new approach, and I was also being a little reactive.
And I honestly don’t remember what I wrote, but I specifically remember where I was sitting where the responses came in, and I got like, “Are you okay? “Is everything okay?” And I was like, “What did I reveal?” I was just so paranoid.
I was like, “Did I say something wrong? “Why are they thinking that?” And I didn’t feel good about it at all, ’cause I was like, “I don’t want my audience “to feel like they need to take care of me.”
The sensitive striver’s greatest fear! Oh no, they see me!
That was wrong!
I didn’t wanna be seen in that level.
And that, again, I think to Melody’s point, having boundaries and discernment are really important.
So, I have learned since that I can write stuff, but what I publish is stuff that’s already been processed.
Sometimes writing is part of my processing, but then that stays in Evernote, or in my journal, so you can’t hack it.
And then what gets out is edited, it is specifically chosen to be a certain way, and even that will get better, even that might lack some self-awareness, but we’re getting there, because that is, you turn pro.
You turn pro, you take your work seriously, you take your story seriously, and you start to understand what you’re sharing because you need to get it off your chest, and what you’re sharing because it’s actually beneficial to someone else.
And that dance between the two is the journey, trying to find what is both interesting to you and relevant to someone else.
We could talk to you for like 30 more hours, I also feel like I just need to sit in your chair, have you ask me questions.
I’m so excited for your book y’all, I have seen the work that has gone into this, I know how good Melody, yes, I was just gonna ask you to do that!
That is a sight to behold, yes!
I wanna also just compliment my friend here, I have a background in mental health, so does Mel, and there are a lot of people in this space who are full of shit, or who push bad information, or who don’t do their own work.
Mel is just not one of them.
You have so much integrity, you put so much work into what you put out, put so much thought into the things that you do, and what you share, and who it’s for.
And so, I am so thrilled that this book is gonna be out into the world.
I hope everyone gets this, reads it, puts their hands on it, I think it solves so many problems for a lot of us.
Only if you’re vaccinated though.
Lick it a little bit, but only if you’re vaccinated.
The conversation about boundaries, on self-censoring, on putting your work out there, on the iterations that are required, on being honest with yourself about who you are and what you want, and accepting who you are, it’s just so big.
So, I invite everyone here to trust themselves, learn to do it, it’s not something you can do overnight.
All right, so as we close out, Mel, Hill, any closing thoughts that you wanna share that we didn’t go over?
I just wanna reiterate, the only way out is through, and Melody, if you have one takeaway, one tip, if people know nothing else, what do you want them to know about your work, about what they can do, what do you want our folks to take away?
Confidence is not a prerequisite for success, it’s a byproduct of it.
Boom, drop the mic, hell yes, absolutely agree.
Also, where can people find you?
You can find me at my website, melodywilding.com, everything about the book is there,
it’s available anywhere books are sold, eBook, audiobook, whatever you want.
I narrate the audiobook, which was a really cool experience.
Pick it up, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Buy Mel’s book, and let us know what you thought.
All right, so-
Yes, I love that.
I just love that cover, it’s a sight to behold, I love it.
I do too.
All right, so y’all, we want to hear from you, when have you been self-censoring?
What did you learn from the experience?
Have you overshared?
Have you under shared?
When did you learn, and how did you learn to trust yourself?
Tell us in the comments below.
And as always, if you liked this episode, please like it below, subscribe to our channel, and share it with your friends. This is an important one.
As always, I am Margo Aaron.
I’m Hillary Weiss.
And this is.
I’m Melody Wilding.
I did it.
This has been HAMYAW, and we will see y’all in two weeks.
Photo by Juliet Clare Warren