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It’s the final episode in my Moving Forward series and I want to leave you with some high-impact coaching from a recent coaching call.

How we think about our thoughts affects our emotions and actions. In times of uncertainty, many of us grasp for a tighter grip on things we cannot control. Then, we judge ourselves for the thoughts and feelings we have.

I want you to slow down the cycle. Judging yourself only leads to more shame and judgement. Instead of trying to control your thoughts, what would happen if you worked through them?

In today’s episode, I’m coaching a few of my coaches on things they’re dealing with right now amidst the panic and uncertainty. We talk about balancing our judgmental thoughts with positive ones, dealing with uncommunicative family members, and the first step to believing in your worth. It’s an intense one today, my friends, but so good.

What you will discover

  • Why it’s okay to have judgmental thoughts and how to respond to them.
  • How to address Imposter Syndrome and feelings of worthlessness.
  • How to communicate with loved ones without trying to control them.
  • Why sometimes your thoughts are wrong and that’s okay.
  • Why resistance makes your anxiety worse.

Featured on the show

Episode Transcript

Welcome to The Life Coach School Podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems and real coaching. And now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

Well hello, my friends. This is the last in our series of moving forward. And what I wanted to share with you here is a little bit of coaching that I did on what we’re all experiencing right now. I think it’s a different approach to anything you’re probably reading online or seeing out there.

So, I pulled out a couple of pieces of some coaching from one of my Scholars calls. This will be the last in the series and the last of the coaching that I will share. So, if you’re interested in watching more coaching or getting coaching, please join us in Scholars. Talk soon.


Speaker 1: Alright, good morning, Brooke. Thank you for calling me. So, real quick, or maybe not, I’m having lots of thoughts and wanted to get your advice on it. Judgements, lots of judgments, self-judgments, judgments of my husband. And I get so irritated and annoyed by them all.

Brooke: By the judgments or the people?

Speaker 1: Well, both. But definitely I know it’s my thoughts. But what I was struggling with – so I was doing my models last night particularly about it. and it’s things like you’re not doing enough. It got down to it and it’s all about being lazy. So, for instance, this morning, I’m rushing to get ready this morning because I feel like I should have got up earlier. And although I gave myself time to rest and I feel like we’re needing this time right now, it’s that kind of thing. I’m constantly feeling like I’m judging what is, that it’s not good enough.

Brooke: Yeah, so one of the things that I want to do on this call for you all, and one thing that’s been super-effective, kind of when we’re in crisis, in this moment, there’s lots of reasons why, lots of excuses why we can justify judging other people and ourselves, and trying to eliminate all that constant judgment has been really difficult for people, all the constant fear or whatever.

So, what I’ve been saying and what I really recommend that we do is just the equal airtime. So, your judgment is, “I’m lazy.” Okay, but you’re also not lazy. True?

Speaker 1: Yes. And so, I was trying to look at the balance yesterday when I was writing it down and just embracing that, okay, sometimes I’m going to feel lazy and sometimes I’m going to do a lot of shit. I’m going to get a lot of stuff done. But I guess it’s just why do I get stuck in the judgment of when I am…

Brooke: But see, this is the problem. There’s judgment, and then there’s judging our judgments. So, you’re just doubling down on the judgment. So, what I’m trying to help you guys do is open up to of course you’re going to have judgments, of course we’re going to be criticizing other people and ourselves, that’s okay, and we’re just going to also talk about what’s great about our husbands. Tell me something great about what your husband’s doing.

Speaker 1: Right now, he’s trying to get better. He’s been struggling with sciatica and a shoulder issue, some physical stuff.

Brooke: So, what’s positive about it is he’s working to get better.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Brooke: So, that’s it. It seems like a little thing. You’re like, “Yeah there’s good stuff, but look at how judgmental I am all the time. I’m so judgmental about my judgment.” It’s just a subtle gentle focus over here. You’re judgmental, but you’re also not judgmental. You’re also really understanding and compassionate. Can you find that?

Speaker 1: Yeah…

Brooke: Tell me, with yourself, tell me how you’ve been compassionate with yourself.

Speaker 1: I kind of let myself sleep a little bit today.

Brooke: You let yourself rest.

Speaker 1: I let myself rest and get up slowly this morning. That’s my work is just finding…

Brooke: These are not hard questions, my friends, but your brain is like, “Wait, we’re in the middle of a crisis, we need to think about all the horrible things and how we’re doing it wrong.” And you’re like, “I know, we’re going to do that too. But we’re also going to focus on how we’re doing it right and how we’re holding it together and how we volunteered to get coached and how we were honest about it and how we showed up for our call on time and how we’re being super-honest and being willing to look at our brain, and how we’re giving ourselves some extra rest and acknowledging what our husband is going through.”

So, that’s what I’m saying. We’re just going to flow back and forth gently between, “The world is going to end,” and, “The world is going to be fine.” And everything in between, we’re just going to balance it out. That’s what we’re going to focus on today. I recommend this is what we focus on until we get to that peak of crazy, which is going to be how many people get this and the overwhelm. We’re heading that way, right?

So, I think trying to be happy about this is not something that’s useful or that anyone wants to do, pretending that nothing’s happening, anything like that. But what we’re going to do is just ease into we’re going to imagine the worst and we’re going to imagine the best and we’re going to imagine everything in between and we’re just going to focus on equal airtime. So, your work is, how are you doing it right? How are you not being judgmental? How are you having compassion? How are you not lazy? Your brain won’t want to go there. That’s where we’re going to gently ease it that way, alright? Sound good?

Speaker 1: Yes. Thank you so much.

Brooke: Do that work. You’ve got it. Alright, who’s next.

Speaker 2: Can you hear me?

Brooke: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Okay, hi. First, I joined the coaching program, I start this week, I’m super-excited about it.

Brooke: Oh my god, I’m so happy for you. That’s the best place anyone’s brain could be right now.

Speaker 2: Exactly. I heard about you from three different friends, so I was like, let me look into who this Brooke person is. That was October of last year, and I listened to whatever that recent podcast was and I was like, okay, I need to start at episode one. And so, I went all the way through. And having listened to all of them, I relaunched the program that I do in December, showed up fully. My first time, I was a wimp through the whole thing. And then I was like, I know I want coaching. I know I want to become a part of Scholars. But I want to listen to all her free content first and then I’m going to join.

And then I was like, this will really help me, because I’ve been trying to teach the model, but there’s some gaps in my understanding because I only have it intellectually, you know. Really holding space is something I need to work on, not judging in my head while I’m trying to work with people. That’s what I’m noticing.

My biggest challenge right now in the current environment is managing my mind around my daughter. A couple of days ago, she sent a text saying that one of her students – she works in Oakland and has been self-sheltered, I guess now 10 days. I had an email, and they’re teaching from home. and one of her students shared that he had been sick all week and that they tested him for the virus and so she texted me and my husband – and just one more layer…

Brooke: Did he test positive?

Speaker 2: We’re waiting to hear. We don’t know. And my husband lives in Florida, I live in California, and we usually are together every three weeks, but now we’re stuck apart. So, there’s extra lack of support, you know. Anyway, so she went right from, “It sounds like he might have it, which means I have it, my whole class probably has it, and all of my coworkers.”

And I just started asking questions. And then my husband had also chimed in with possibly, possibly not, you know, and gave her a bigger picture. I can’t guess what she was thinking, but she pretty much stopped responding to us. Wouldn’t answer phone calls, wouldn’t answer texts. And then the next day I was just like, “Please just communicate with us so we know what’s going on, have they found anything? I love you. We’re here for you…”

Brooke: Okay, but let’s pause here. This is really helpful. She came to you not asking to be coached, not asking for you to help her feel better. She just said, “I’m pretty sure I have it and everybody has it.” And you said, “No, no, no, no, no.”

Speaker 2: I said specifically how do you know, and then she sent me what information she had and I was like, “Let’s please not jump ahead.”

Brooke: Okay, so that’s how you said no to her. She was jumping ahead and you were telling her no, don’t do that.

Speaker 2: Absolutely.

Brooke: Now, here’s what’s important. Why were you telling her, no, don’t do that?

Speaker 2: Because I wanted her to hopefully have a perspective that I might not have it…

Brooke: Why? Why did you want her to change her perspective?

Speaker 2: So that she would not torture herself.
Brooke: Okay, because what is it like for you when she tortures herself?

Speaker 2: I mean, ultimately, it’s for me, but you know…

Brooke: It’s important, you want her to feel better so you can feel better.

Speaker 2: I mean, she wouldn’t agree to that, but yes, 100%.

Brooke: But just notice, you want her to feel better and not torture herself and be happier so you can be happier.

Speaker 2: So I can have communication with her, so I can…

Brooke: No, no it’s the opposite. You trying to make her feel better is closing off your communication with her. Do you see what I’m saying? The opposite is true. She’s where she is. She doesn’t want you to coach her. She doesn’t want your help. She just wants to convey the news to you. And sometimes, when you tell people, “Hey, don’t do it the way you’re doing it, let me help you fix the way you’re doing it so you’ll feel better and then I’ll feel better about my relationship with you.” This is high-level work. So, here’s what I want you to see. She calls you and says, “We probably all have it.” And you say, “Okay, how are you feeling? Tell me…”

Speaker 2: Can I tell you what I did say after…

Brooke: I want to know what she said. Did you ask her that?

Speaker 2: Yeah, I have asked her that.

Brooke: And what did she say?

Speaker 2: Not responding. She’s cut me off.

Brooke: Okay, so you didn’t ask her that initially.

Speaker 2: Yes, I did. I did. I don’t know which came first, but I know I definitely asked her those things, you know, how are you feeling, because she did have a fever last week, as a matter of fact.

Brooke: Okay, but here’s what you’re missing. I really want you to take a deep breath because you’re defending yourself to me.

Speaker 2: I’m trying not to. I will not.

Brooke: But I want to point it out to you because it’s not helping your relationship with your daughter. You’re scared and you’re trying to fix it and it’s not helping. So, what I want you to see is when your daughter calls you – let’s say your daughter calls you and says, “I’m probably going to die. I probably have it and we’re probably all going to die, like that’s the worst-case scenario. From your perspective, you’re going to be like, “You’re not going to die. It’s all going to be fine. Let’s work this out. Let’s do some models.” She doesn’t ask for that from you…

Speaker 2: I wouldn’t go there with her.

Brooke: No, but I’m just saying, in your mind you’re wanting her to feel better. However you approach it, you’re trying to change that. And the reason I want to do this so specifically with you is so everybody can hear this, okay. She presents you with the information and you’re trying to contradict it a bit. Do you see that you did that?

Speaker 2: Yes.

Brooke Okay, what I want you to know is you did that really well-intended. You want her to feel better than she does. Nothing wrong with what you did. It just doesn’t have the effect you want.

Speaker 2: For sure.

Brooke: Understand that? You for sure get it.

Speaker 2: Can I ask you another question then? So, after 18 hours overnight, I responded and I said, I love you, you know, I’m here for you, I want you to feel safe talking to me, giving you space to, you know, we can have different opinions, but I love you and I just want to hear from you and know that you’re okay. And she’s not responding, so I’m done, I haven’t said anything else to her, but said just right after, like, I’m sorry, I did not mean to offend you, I love you and I want you to know you can come to me, I’m here for you.

Brooke: Here’s the thing, momma. She doesn’t want to come to you.

Speaker 2: Obviously.

Brooke: And that’s okay, yeah.

Speaker 2: It sucks. And I’m beating myself up because I go back into our history, like it’s all the things that happened in the past…

Brooke: Here’s what’s true. The first thing is the reason why you reacted the way that you did is because you’re momma. You want to fix it so they can feel better so we can feel better. Nothing wrong with that at all Then we realize that and we judge ourselves. That doesn’t help the world at all. Then we try to apologize and we try to get them to do what we want them to do again, which is talk to us. It’s just another flavor of the same kind of thing that we want. But right now, she doesn’t want to talk to you. And that’s okay.

Speaker 2: That’s a tough one.

Brooke: Yeah, but can you see how if you want to let her be who she is and do what she does and you really want to be there for her, I think that you get to do what you want to do and she gets to do what she wants to do. So, if you want to text her every day and say that you love her and you hope she’s doing well, that’s one thing. When you text her and you say, “Please just talk to me, please just behave differently, please just do something other than what you’re doing,” it’s a different effect, do you see it?

So, there’s sending love, “If you don’t want to talk to me that’s fine I just want you to know I’m here and I love you and I’m not perfect at this mother thing and I’m scared and I’m doing it wrong but I’m here and I love you,” That’s a different kind of energy. Right now, you’re so hooked into her contacting you and acting differently than she’s acting, it’s just more of the same. So, what is a thought you can have that will help you let her be who she is right now?

Speaker 2: The thought I could have is that she’s frustrated and it’s okay.

Brooke: And what about you? Are you frustrated and is that okay?

Speaker 2: It has to be because I am.

Brooke: You’re frustrated and so is she. You guys have a lot in common right now with each other.

Speaker 2: Yeah, for sure. But do you think it’s okay if I do text her again and say, “Hey, I love you, just thinking about you today,” and just leave it at that.

Brooke: Of course, why not?

Speaker 2: I’m not pushing her away? I’m bothering her, you know.

Brooke: Well, it’s completely up to your choice of why you’re doing it, but here’s my opinion. If you’re texting her because you’re trying to get her to text you back or you’re texting her because you want her to change how she feels right now towards you, you know that. But if you’re just texting her to let her know that you love her and you genuinely can be at peace whether she returns the text or not, that’s a different thing. And you have to tell yourself the truth about that.

Right now, you’re very controlling, you want to control her because you’re afraid. You’re afraid that’s he’s sick. You’re afraid of her relationship with her being strained. You’re afraid of how you’re feeling, like all of the things. You’re afraid of the history that you have with her and your relationship and all that. All that’s okay. But just notice that from there comes a desire to control and that’s normal, just not useful.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I get that intellectually, but this is the one area that I need the most coaching on, every aspect of our relationship. Because it’s always been tenuous.

Brooke: Well, the hard part of it is because it’s so well-intended, right? You’re trying to control her because you love her, which is so screwed up. That’s what we do. It’s like, my mom did it to me too. It’s like we try to control the people we love the most, which makes them want to kill us. They’re just so frustrated with us because we’re constantly trying to control them.

So, when you understand that dynamic and you understand that you’re human, then you can forgive yourself, you can forgive her, and then you can find that common connection. But I completely understand where you’re at and what you’re going through, I completely understand where she’s at and what she’s going through.

Speaker 2: I understand what she’s going through. And I know she’s isolated too. I know worry doesn’t help, but I can see her, she’s just hanging on news and – she did respond and say, “Obviously if I knew something, I would have told you already,” but apparently the school’s under no obligation to tell her whether or not that boy tested positive or not, and so she’s just maintaining self-quarantine until further notice.

Brooke: But think of that text. “Obviously, mom, I would tell you if I knew something.”

Speaker 2: Obvious to her because she knows what she’s thinking…

Brooke: But she told you that.

Speaker 2: Right, after – I hear what you’re saying.

Brooke: No, I want you to really hear what I’m saying. “Mom, obviously I would tell you if something was wrong.” There’s so much she said there.

Speaker 2: Yeah, followed with, quite frankly, I think talking to you is negative.

Brooke: Yeah, like think about that though. “Talking to you is negative. It’s not helping me; it’s not serving me. But if there was something wrong with me, I would tell you.” And that’s okay. Soften your heart around that. That really is your work. That’s your work.

Speaker 2: That is.

Brooke: Can you guys feel the grip inside of you when you get scared, like this grip to fix and control and solve. That’s so normal. But there’s a lot of love here between you two and your desperate need to make sure she’s okay is 1000% normal. But notice you judging her when she does communicate with you.

Speaker 2: Yeah, for sure. Judging her on that and then going into judging myself and how am I going to be a good coach for other people when I can’t coach myself through this.

Brooke: Oh my god, are you kidding me? There’s so much stuff I can’t coach myself through. That’s why we need coaches in the world. That’s why we need you coaching people on stuff they can’t coach themselves through. And what makes you a fantastic coach is getting coached because you really can appreciate the value of it. You’ll get off this call – I want to tell you something, you’ll get off this call and you’ll never be the same again. Coaching will change you forever. You won’t completely change dramatically, but you’ll change a little and you’ll see it a little differently. And every time she texts you now, you’ll see it differently and you can never go back. That’s the value of coaching and that’s what you’re going to offer to other people. You’re doing it exactly right.

Speaker 2: Thank you. I appreciate that. Scholars is the gift that keeps on giving because you get this 20 minutes, and I’ve taken advantage of this, since I signed up, every chance I get…

Brooke: And that’s why you’re going to be a fantastic coach. Because you’ll understand. Alright, my friend, let’s give someone else a chance. Take care.

Speaker 2: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Brooke: Aright, who’s next? Who have we got?

Speaker 3: I’ve been working on the relationships work this month and a lot of it’s coming down to my feeling of worthlessness. So, with my coaching calls, I’ve been doing work on my mum. But I was just thinking of doing it on more current manifestations of it. So, for example, I have an assistant who works for me. Ad any assistant that I have working for me, I get this constant feeling of intense embarrassment and feeling of, like, I’m a total dickhead, how can I be employing this person to work for me when I am just not an example of a boss. I’m not an example of…

My job is that I’m an artist. And I feel like I get this imposter syndrome where she’s discovering that the real me isn’t this artist that people see on the outside, and I feel really exposed. And in this time of Corona times, I’m doing online stuff and I did a DJ set live online the other day. And I worked really hard on feeling worthy beforehand and I feel like it worked. But I just feel like I’m on the edge, in the balance, and that it could all crumble and I could just feel worthless again. So, I want to grab hold of something. Like, I have it by a thread.

Brooke: So, let’s do this. Let’s put that you have a chronic struggle with worthiness, kind of like I have chronic anxiety, you have a chronic struggle with worthiness. Let’s put that, just for fun, because this is a diamond call, in the C-line.

Speaker 3: Okay.

Brooke: What is your thought about your chronic worthlessness, thinking you’re worthless?

Speaker 3: That I shouldn’t think that.

Brooke: And so, when you have a thought that you’re worthless and then you shouldn’t think that you’re worthless, how do you feel?

Speaker 3: Stuck.

Brooke: And I’m going to guess shame because you’re judging yourself for being wrong for the way that you are. And then what do you do when you feel stuck and maybe shame?

Speaker 3: I feel like I’m working really hard, so I try and improve on myself all the time, all the time. And I criticize myself and I nitpick and I analyze and I plan. Some of it’s really productive.

Brooke: But anything productive that’s fueled with worthlessness is going to wear you out and exhaust you.

Speaker 3: And the reason I also don’t stand by it is that I never – well, it’s hard for me to then appreciate any success.

Brooke: Right, so here’s what I want to suggest. Before we work on you believing that you’re worthy, which is phase two of this…

Speaker 3: I’m just doing spiritual bypass on that and just going, “I am worthy, I am worthy…” like a Band-Aid.

Brooke: That’s not working. So, what I want to do as phase one is we’re going to stop judging yourself for thinking that you’re worthless sometimes. You’re going to stop judging yourself for thinking that you’re worthless sometimes. You’re wrong when you think you’re worthless, but it’s okay that you think it sometimes because that’s what the human brain does.

Speaker 3: Because my brain wants to be right.

Brooke: Yeah, but here’s what you do. Right now, you have a thought that you’re worthless and then you judge yourself and feel shame and feel stuck about this pattern that you have. And what I want to do is release you of that judgment. I want you to allow yourself to think you’re worthless sometimes. And you have to recognize that it’s just your brain being wrong about you and that’s okay. Your brain can be wrong about you sometimes.

Speaker 3: I think I go into a panic when I start thinking that I’m going to keep thinking it about myself.

Brooke: But let’s just allow the brain to do what the brain does. The truth is, you’re 100% worthy and there’s nothing you or your brain can do about that. But your brain’s still going to tell you that you’re worthless and you’re an imposter and you’re not even really that good and you shouldn’t even have an assistant.

You just give it space. Give it breathing room. Let it do its thing. Let it go there. Recognize that it is. That’s going to be your first phase. Right now, you resisting it is making it worse. Do you see what I’m saying?

Speaker 3: Yeah, is there any, like, more specific work I can do to go deep on that?

Brooke: I don’t want you to go deep on it because if you go deep on it, it’s with the agenda of changing…
Speaker 3: You see, I want to get it right already.

Brooke: Well, and also, I think a lot of times we’re like, “I want to do this work quickly so I’ll stop feeling worthless.” But what I want you to do is I want you to be willing to feel worthless. I want you to be willing to feel that way. You’re going to recognize that it’s just your brain causing you to feel that way, but you’re so afraid of feeling that way that you’re perpetuating it and making it much worse.

So, just hold space for your brain to tell you that you’re worthless and to feel worthless, and that’s not the end of the world. Hold space for it. But like I said, also give it equal airtime for not being worthless, for being worthy and all the things. Just let your brain go back and forth gently between the two and when you notice, “I think I’m an imposter. I’m not good enough,” all of that stuff, just hear it, “Yes, I hear what you’re saying.” I always say to my brain, “Your opinion is noted.” And don’t try and fix it right now because you trying to fix it is making it worse. You have a sense of that, right?

Speaker 3: Yes.

Brooke: It’s not working. So, listen, you’re 100% worthy. Your brain isn’t quite sure about that, and that’s okay. Tell me what it feels like to feel worthless.

Speaker 3: It feels like panic, I think because I’m supposed to be worth something. And it feels isolating because nobody wants to hear, nobody wants to talk to you in a casual or intimate way about you feeling worthless. The only thing they want to do is tell you that you’re not worthless. And so, they’re telling you that you’re wrong whilst you’re feeling bad about yourself, and so, it just feels like never-ending.

Brooke: Yeah, and you’re the one that’s doing that to you too. You don’t want to hear from yourself…

Speaker 3: Yeah, I don’t want to hear it. If I wanted to hear it, I’d make it sound good…

Brooke: Yeah because you’re trying to talk yourself out of it all the time. But as soon as you’re afraid of feeling worthless, you’ll never allow yourself to do it. as soon as you’re willing to feel worthless, it has no power. You’re like, “Okay.” It’s like me with anxiety. It’s okay. As soon as I push it, it turns into panic. As soon as I allow it, there’s peace.

Speaker 3: Okay.

Brooke: I can tell your brain is, like skipping thinking about it. But really, the way through it is through it and not denying it, not pushing it away, and not thinking that it’s wrong. And a lot of you are feeling this exasperation around this. You’re feeling it intensified because of what’s going on in the world. That gives us even more of an opportunity to work through it.

Speaker 3: Yeah, I feel a special pressure to work through it now because I always feel like, when there’s downtime, I know that I’m going to punish myself later for not having used it when I had it. Corona situation, for me, it’s like, here’s the opportunity to be a much, much better person. Come on, what are you doing? No one else is asking you to go out now, so you’ve got absolutely no excuses.

Brooke: And just be careful with the way that you talk to yourself. Just be aware of that and notice what you’re doing and just, like, really hear your own voice. And the other thing I’d really like you to do is listen to this call back, especially the beginning piece and how you talk to yourself. And I want you to imagine someone else talking to you that way. And just be aware. When I feel worthless, you ask yourself, “What’s the matter?” Instead of, “You’re a dickhead.”

Speaker 3: Oh yeah…

Brooke: Right? Just, “Hey, tell me all the things. I want to hear from you. I want to hear why.” Because your friends don’t want to hear it, but you want to hear it from you. And don’t try and change it. Don’t try and fix it. You don’t have to be better than you are. Just be the human that you are. It’s definitely 100% worthy, even if your brain doesn’t think so, I know so. Alright, my friend.

Alright, you guys, my beautiful diamonds. Thank you for an amazing call. I’m going to pull some clips out and put it on the podcast, hopefully help the world a little bit more with all this work you guys are so courageous and willing to do. Have a beautiful week. Take care. Bye.

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