When nothing seems to go your way, here’s 3 questions to get back on the journey to happiness.
S1 EP3 - Doing the Inner Work & Getting Out of Your Own Way
In this episode, I dive deep into the heart of self-awareness, the masks we wear, and the journey of self-acceptance.
Here are the 10 crucial points we touch upon:
So, if you’ve ever felt the weight of the world’s expectations, or felt like you’re wearing a mask, this episode is for you.
Dr K xoxo
[00:00:00] Welcome back to another episode of the Self Respect Revolution podcast. My name is Dr. Katherine Iscoe and I’m so excited to dive into episode three with you because if you would have listened to episode two, which I hope you did, at the very end I said I was going to share A topic that was so important to me that I got it tattooed on my arm.
[00:00:23] So I’d love to dive right into that story. So what I got tattooed on my arm is a quote. If you’re watching this you can see it sort of on the inside of my left forearm. And it says, To thine own self be true. Love dad. So I actually got my dad to write this quote ten times. He has horrible writing So we barely got one legible one out and I took it to the beautiful tattoo artist who replicated it to a T.
[00:00:50] So I now have my amazing father who’s always with me on my arm. Now why this quote? Well, I
[00:01:00] can’t even remember the first time he told me this quote. It would have been at least two decades ago. And you know when you’re young, you’re sort of like blow off your parents. You’re like, you’re weird. I don’t understand you.
[00:01:10] And he would repeat this quote now and again over the past sort of two decades. And it started to make more and more sense. And it comes from Hamlet, where a character, Polonius, I believe his name is, was speaking to his son, who is about to go off in the world. Basically, what he was trying to say to his son is, hey, you know what, there’s going to be a lot of hoopla, you’re going to meet a lot of people, there’s going to be good people, there’s going to be bad people, you’re going to be thrown a lot of things, but just be true to yourself.
[00:01:41] Because when you can be honest with yourself and true to yourself. You can therefore be honest with others. This really resonated with me about a year ago, and I only got a tattooed about three months ago because tattoos kind of are long lasting, so I needed to think about it, but it really started to [00:02:00] resonate about a year plus ago.
[00:02:02] It was just. not a happy time in my life. And I would go to work and I’m like, I just don’t feel like myself. And I was working with two beautiful ladies and they could see the sort of decline where I just started to get a bit more short and I just, I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t smiling. I wasn’t laughing.
[00:02:21] I wasn’t cracking bad jokes as I always did. And one of them said to me like, why don’t you take a break? And I was like, Oh, that’s so funny. I don’t take breaks. I mean, even on the weekend I go to the office, right. But you know, she kept on pushing and I said, well, how about this? I’m going to go to a psych just to bounce off, maybe, maybe there’s something there.
[00:02:45] Maybe there’s something under the surface. And I went to a psychologist and one of the first things she said was, you’re burnt out, you need time off. And I’m like, I’m a mindset expert. I don’t get burned out. You [00:03:00] know, I know everything. Like ego, ego, ego. And so she kept on like. Gently pushing, and then about 20 minutes in, I was like, yeah, I’m burnt out.
[00:03:09] At the very end, we agreed that I would take the rest of the afternoon off. So, on the way home, I remember seeing this sign, something along the lines of, follow your path, follow your purpose. It was like a university sign. I was like, that’s weird. And then I saw another one that said basically the same thing.
[00:03:29] I was like, okay, clearly the universe is trying to tell me something. But I’m just going to ignore it because it’s too hard. I just don’t want to think about that. So I got home, took the rest of the afternoon, and I think within an hour it hit me. Wow, this is burnout. You start to reflect and you really start to think, what is going on here?
[00:03:56] And really what it came down to was I was
[00:04:00] not being true to myself at all. Now, the rest of the story is a bit long and complex, which went from quitting everything to stepping in as CEO of a technology company that I co founded several years ago along with my partner. And that did not go well at all for various reasons.
[00:04:23] So then I was like, okay, what am I going to do with my life? Maybe I’ll start a dog company. And I was just, I was so. So lost, but the amazing thing about that experience is I think I’m a professional when it comes to you to thine own self, I was not true. I know all the signs and symptoms of when you’re not being true to yourself.
[00:04:46] And I think it’s so important that we recognize these because That was a really, really horrible time for me and I don’t want you to go through this. Or if you do go through this, I want it to be a heck of a lot shorter than what [00:05:00] I went through because it just sucked. So let’s now dive into the top 10 signs that you’re not being true to yourself.
[00:05:09] So number one, you’re constantly telling yourself, I should just be grateful for what I have. And I’m very fortunate. I mean, I come. I hate saying this, but it’s absolutely true. I’m white privilege. I’m educated. I come from a very loving family. Who’s always supported me. I’ve amazing friends. And this is what I kept on thinking over and over again.
[00:05:32] I’m like, why am I thinking the way that I’m thinking? Because I shouldn’t be thinking this way. I should be grateful. I should be practicing gratitude. I should be like out in a frigging field somewhere with like cows moving and saying Kumbaya and shit. Because. There’s no reason for me to complain. But it reminded me of this story of a flea.
[00:05:52] The story of the flea is this. So it’s a little girl that captured a flea and wanted to keep it as a
[00:06:00] pet. So the little girl puts it in a jar and puts on the lid, you know, puts a little air holes in it and the flea’s like, ah, well this sucks. So for the first couple of days, the flea is constantly trying to jump out, so it would jump with all its might and it would hit the lid.
[00:06:16] Ow, gosh, that hurts. Well, let’s try again. Ooh, ouch, that hurts. And it would do this over and over again and eventually just said, like, Well, I’m not gonna do that anymore. I’m just gonna be here in this jar. And I should just be happy with just being in this jar. So you get into this place. I’ve learned helplessness and I think when you’re there, and this is obviously a different sort of concept of learned helplessness, but I think that’s what It was less about being grateful for what I had, and more about not recognizing that I was setting myself up for failure.
[00:06:57] I was only thinking about all the things
[00:07:00] that I could have, or I should be doing, or I should have achieved. And it got me in this mindset where I was just scared to
[00:07:15] Um, and I was like, well, clearly I thought I was being myself and that didn’t go well. So maybe there’s something wrong with me. So I think one of the first signs to really recognize is when it maybe poses as, hey, you should be grateful for what you have. But the question that I sort of pose to you is, is it really masking this thought of?
[00:07:39] Almost learned helplessness where you’re putting yourself in this position where it’s almost like woe is me number two You are experiencing a mixture of rage Fear and anger now. I did a post today about rejection what I see online is I don’t want to say this, but a lot of
[00:08:00] fluff, positivity and compassion and showing yourself grace.
[00:08:04] So when I was in this, I’m going to quit everything. I can’t be me because it’s not working. Who am I? You know, this existential crisis, I was like, okay, I’m going to, I’m going to journal a bit. I went to Kmart because Kmart’s fabulous. Let’s just be honest here. And I got myself like a pretty journal and a, you know, a pretty pen, even though I have like 6, 000 pens.
[00:08:25] I’m like, no. Clearly for this exercise, I need a new pen. So I got the pen, made myself a cup of tea and I’m like, oh, I’m going to sit outside in the fresh air and like do journaling and like be so cool. Right. So I started writing. First sentence was something along the lines of like, how do I feel right now?
[00:08:46] And what happened was. A satanic rage where I felt like a psychopath. It was like this whole like
[00:09:00] fire and lava was coming out of me and I was just like full of hatred. I was like, you know those like horror movies when the person is going crazy and then they’re just scribbling all gibberish like all over the walls?
[00:09:13] That was me. And then I start like yelling it out. Like. F. F. F. I hate you and like, I hate life and life is always a mad woman. So I’m like, this is definitely not Instagrammable. So I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel like myself, I don’t really feel sadness. I don’t really feel low. I feel this mixture of like, rage, fear, and anger.
[00:09:42] So the Rage and anger is because I’m mad at myself, but we’re going to get to how that disguises in just a little bit. So the rage about like, why am I this quote unquote intelligent person that cannot figure out her life?
[00:10:00] That can’t feel like herself and feel like those successful people on like Forbes and like the hashtag success business chicks.
[00:10:10] Like, who am I? Why am I like this? So that’s like that rage and anger, but the fear, the fear is pure. If I don’t figure out who I, who I actually am, that means I’m never gonna actually be successful because you can’t be successful if you’re pretending to be someone else. It doesn’t work that way. You cannot be successful if you’re pretending to be someone else.
[00:10:36] I know this because I tried for a long time. It don’t work. Number three, you were feeling resentful. And the reason why I quickly went into that one, because they’re so intertwined. That fear, that rage, that anger, and resentment weave together like peas and carrots. A little Forrest Gump for you. Peas and carrots.
[00:11:00] What happened is, you know how I was saying about like that, that anger and rage? Really it was about myself, but it started as resentment. Resentment to all the people that were quote unquote involved, like how can you let me get to this point? So what I found in that period of sort of resentment was like, why am I talking about things like productivity and focus?
[00:11:24] Why am I talking about stress? Why am I talking about
[00:11:32] like I have no passion for it. So when I was thinking about like looking at all the content that I had developed, I’m like. Who the F was that? Like, why did I, why did I let myself get to that point of not talking from my heart? Why? And so I went and did this whole thing of, well clearly that couldn’t have been my fault because I wouldn’t have let myself like, you know, ego, ego, ego, ego.
[00:12:00] So you get this point of resentment, resenting others. But it has nothing to do with them. You know, when you’re being true to yourself, that is no one’s responsibility but yours. Let me tell you, it feels really good to blame others. Don’t get me wrong about that. But, the trick is to understand the only person that can really figure yourself out is you.
[00:12:25] That was deep. That was actually really deep. So symptom number four, you find yourself people pleasing. So people pleasing is a massively hot term nowadays so I just want to break it down a bit because I don’t actually really resonate with the concept of people pleasing. You know when you were a kid and you did something wrong and your parents would say something like, I’m so disappointed in you?
[00:12:52] To me, is my version of people pleasing. I think one of the things that I realize is when I’m not true to
[00:13:00] myself. This really overwhelms me. I’m constantly, 24 7, thinking about all the people I have disappointed, I am disappointing, or catastrophizing, thinking about all the people that I will disappoint. I don’t think about myself, I think about, Oh my God, I’m going to be disappointing so many people.
[00:13:20] And one of the things that I realized through this whole process, is actually, I was just disappointing myself. But you just think, Well, who cares about you? You’re nobody. You’re not important, right? We care so much about disappointing others. Why do we not think about disappointing ourselves? And I think on that same vein from people pleasing we can go right into number five, which is you find yourself not speaking up, not really saying what you really think or You find yourself carefully choosing every single word that you speak.
[00:14:00] One of the things that I find as a step parent, as a step mom, uh, which, by the way, is really friggin confusing. I wish there was a guidebook. I actually said to my step daughter the other day, I just want to let you know… I have no idea what I’m doing right now and I just hope I don’t put you in therapy.
[00:14:18] So I find myself when I’m talking to my partner, his name is Vlado, as soon as I’m about to say something, like make a suggestion for the kids, I can find myself like literally thinking, should I say the or should I say to? Like it’s every single word I’m worried about because I’m so concerned about But what if he doesn’t like what I have to say?
[00:14:45] And this is my partner of more than 10 years who has seen me at my worst. And when I say at my worst, like buck naked,
[00:15:00] who had had a very bad stomach flu, so you can just, you know, draw the picture for your own conclusion there. It’s interesting that I’ve been through that with him. But then when it comes to this, like certain situations, you’re like can I really be true to myself?
[00:15:15] Can I really be true to my beliefs, my thoughts, my values, my, my, my suggestions? It’s really hard. So that’s one of the major signs for me that I, that I start picking up on and it’s not just with him. It could be like with a friend. It could be with, uh, you know, someone that I’m working with. It could be with a potential client.
[00:15:36] All of a sudden I’m like. I go almost into the shell and I’m trying to like rub a crystal ball and say, okay, if I say this, I wonder what’s going to happen. But this is something that I’m really catching myself and calling myself out on because at the end of the day, when I’m one foot in the coffin, I would hate to look back at my life and say, I wish I would have
[00:16:00] said that because that’s really, really what I believed.
[00:16:02] All right, let’s move to number six. You’re finding it hard to make difficult decisions. The reason why I found it really hard to make a difficult decision is because I was waiting for the perfect solution because when I had the perfect solution, that mean, that meant that I was perfect. So when I was thinking about this whole thing about, you know, finding it difficult to make decisions.
[00:16:27] It actually just remind me of a very basic physiological principle. So if you think about the nervous system, which is your brain, spinal cord, and all the connections that go away from it and back to it, the main jobs of the nervous system is twofold. One, to avoid pain. Two, to seek pleasure. And obviously we want to avoid pain because we don’t want to die.
[00:16:51] And pleasure is reproduction and obviously eating, especially when it involves vanilla slice, clearly. You know, I have 10
[00:17:00] plus years in physiology, like I knew this, but when you’re in that whole situation when you feel like a turtle in a, in a shell, and you’re just hiding, you’re so scared to make a decision, I was just trying to avoid pain, like it actually was really normal.
[00:17:17] So one thing to consider if you’re feeling, you know, when you say to your friend like I just don’t feel like myself Ask yourself. Are you also finding it hard to make a difficult decision and ask yourself? Okay, why is that if you really siphon it down? It’s because your brain is saying This is yucky.
[00:17:38] You need to avoid the discomfort and pain of making a decision And I think once you realize that you can hack it number seven You’re over reliant on external validation. When I’m at networking, this is where it really hits home for me. So if I’m at networking, you know, you get the whole name tag and often times it
[00:18:00] has Dr. Katherine Iscoe. I’m like, ooh, that feels good for the old ego. Yes, indeedy. So the conversation goes something like this. Oh, Dr. Katherine, what are you a doctor of? I said, oh, well, you know, I have a PhD in, uh, biotechnology and physiology. I work with patients with type 1 diabetes. Yada, So the first thing that they usually say is, oh, so you’re not a real doctor.
[00:18:27] Yeah, that’s pause if you’re listening right now because that is a resting bitch face. So that doesn’t really feel that great. That is the opposite of external validation. The second thing that they say is, Oh, but aren’t you like a keynote speaker and don’t you do like motivational and like inspiring talks and stuff?
[00:18:47] Like what does that have to do with your PhD? And that’s when I think, wow, total. Turtle shelling. And that’s a funny thing, when I got my PhD, I’m just thinking
[00:19:00] back, I remember in my office at the university, they changed my nameplate over from Katherine Iscoe, PhD candidate or whatever it was, to Dr.
[00:19:09] Katherine Iscoe. And I remember taking a photo of it and putting it on Facebook. Why? Was I proud of it? Eh, sure, of course, I was somewhat proud of it, I guess. But the only reason why I was doing that is putting up that goddamn picture so I would get likes. Because I didn’t feel like I was myself unless someone said oh yeah, hey, you’re awesome, you’re a doctor.
[00:19:36] At the time when I, when I did get that PhD, did I feel like a PhD? No. I can tell you with a shadow of a doubt when I was walking across that stage I was thinking, I do not belong here. I’m such a fraud. You just walk around thinking. Someone is going to figure me out. You’re like this monkey swing through branches, just like
[00:20:00] validation, validation, validation. And you just keep on swinging because you’re so scared about someone figuring you out. So sign number seven, if you’re finding yourself, you know, just not feeling yourself in overly reliant on external validation. One of the things to ask yourself is, you know, are you that monkey swinging from branch to branch to branch looking for validation.
[00:20:23] Why not challenge yourself to get off that branch, land your feet right on the ground and ask yourself, What could I do to be myself and actually like myself? Sounds like such a simple question, doesn’t it? Such a simple question, but let me tell you, 45 years, and I’m just kind of figuring that out. Number eight, you’re lacking spark, enthusiasm, drive.
[00:20:47] Because you’re not pursuing the things that really make you feel like you make you feel amazing. And I’ll give you an example of this and why it makes such a difference. So this
[00:21:00] was about 3, 000 years ago when I was working with clients who wanted to lose weight and I’ll always Remember this such a beautiful lady who wanted to lose some weight And we did a lot of work together, and she was just not happy with her job And I remember finally getting to know her and she says you know what I really like to do is.
[00:21:21] I really like to build tetraderiums What do you call it? Tetrariums? I can never say that word. You know when you get like the glass jar and you put a whole bunch of succulents in and you have like the layered thing and then you put the lid on? However you say that word is what she really loved to do.
[00:21:39] And so what we found was When she was in that job that she really, really didn’t like at all, she would skip the gym, go home, get takeout on the way, and then just sit in front of the TV, eat, eat, stay up too late, wake up, be tired, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.
[00:22:00] And when I challenged her to say, you know what, don’t worry about the gym.
[00:22:02] You know, cancel your gym membership if you want. What I’d like you to do is challenge yourself to get all your supplies, get whatever it is you need to do to do the Tetrarium thing at home. Lo and behold, for the next month, I saw a totally different person. We’re talking Spark Ola in her eyes. The way she stood was different.
[00:22:25] The way she presented herself was different. I’m like, that’s you. I see you finally that is you and what we discovered together Is that she was so concerned with all the things that we’ve been talking about today, you know, people pleasing, not being yourself, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda. She was so concerned about following the typical trajectory of one’s life, which is nine to five, you know, get your retirement.
[00:22:54] And she was so, so scared to make that hard decision to leave her job and follow her
[00:23:00] passion. Because what if it didn’t work out, but she did and I don’t know if you’ve seen like on Etsy or out there like Tetrariums are like gonna be the next fortune 500 company like she was killing it So what I would again challenge you is ask yourself on a scale from 1 being you are Passionate like a Latin lover like you could not feel any more passion Versus one is like I feel I feel numb.
[00:23:29] I feel nothing. What would that number be? Are you being true to yourself? Number nine, you are drawn to drama. And I think this is for a very, very simple reason. It’s because it distracts you. from dealing with whatever you want to deal with. I mean, that’s like why we like smut tv and like, you know, reality tv.
[00:23:55] We are drawn to drama because it helps us forget about
[00:24:00] the fact that we have to sort out our problems. It’s numbing. It really is numbing. And I think The other reason why is when we are looking at someone else’s problems, we’re like, Eh, maybe we’re not that bad. We’re like, oh, we thought we were screwed up, but they’re really screwed up.
[00:24:21] And that really leads me, I think, directly to number ten, which is you’re avoiding uncomfortable truths. Which is my life, My responsibility. Your responsibility to take off the mask. And you know what? People won’t like you. People will say that you’re crazy. People will say, why’d you give up that job? Why did you give up that relationship?
[00:24:44] But no one’s gonna know your truth. That’s it. No one is ever gonna know your true, beautiful self. Unless you present it. Where you get through that uncomfortable truth of I guess telling yourself, I’m not good
[00:25:00] enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not this. I can never run a business. My business is never going to run the way other people’s do.
[00:25:05] Like, it’s just like this constant barrage of worry and really at the end of the day for what I hope these 10 things have sort of all I want them to do is just to make you stop and think. Because for me, the one thing that I’ve recognized in 45 years, I’m like why did it take me 45 years to realize that I’m actually pretty cool just as it is and I don’t have to pretend to be someone else to actually feel good about myself.
[00:25:38] So you, whoever you are listening to this, please know that maybe this is a sign to ask yourself, you know, One of these 10 questions, what can you challenge yourself on? Just take that little tiny step into being just a little bit more you. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Dr. Katherine Iscoe Nisco and until next time, stay fabulous.
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