Krati: Out of all the lessons and learnings that you’ve shared, which one has been the most outstanding lesson that has shaped your life the most, that you may or may not have shared in your books?
Andrea: The first one is, knowing what your values are. I am a true believer that people who many times are unhappy or they feel stuck and they can’t make a decision, they aren’t looking at what their values are and just to very quickly kind of whip through it for people who maybe have never thought about it, is to an ask yourself the question, what’s important to me and what’s important about the way that I live my life? And start, that’s, you know, the starting point. The second one is being kind to yourself. I know it sounds a little cliche in this industry if you spend any time in these parts, but having self-compassion and giving yourself a break, as we live in a culture that is so, you know, push, push, push. Do more, do more. Keep going, keep going. Like pick yourself up quickly. Having compassion for yourself when you are stuck or you have failed, or you know, many of the various things that are challenging in life, it’s imperative. And then the last thing I think, especially for women, is learning how to listen to your gut and your intuition. When I’m coaching clients one-on-one, oftentimes the question I ask them when they’re feeling stuck is, what is your gut telling you? And I would say, eight times outta 10, they can tell me pretty quickly. But they are second guessing themselves and aren’t sure if what they’re feeling is right.
Krati: Women are changing a lot. But do you think the good girl narrative is still hijacking women’s lives and still obstructing their growth? Is it still a dominant part of society?
Andrea: Yeah, a hundred percent. I had a woman on my podcast and she’s an expert on negotiating for women and she’s probably in her fifties and I asked her, do you think the problem and, and negotiating is just like kind of one aspect of what you call ‘the good girl syndrome’ of women who tend to not negotiate a salary when they’re coming into a new job or even asking for a promotion or a raise or whatever it is. And I asked her, do you think that this is more of a problem with the older generations? Like the baby boomers, I’m a Gen Xer. Do you think millennials and Gen Z have a better handle on it and she said, not really. I just think that they got the memo sooner than we did, which I found interesting.
So, I think, we’re still in that phase where the conversation is just starting to happen but it’s like that discomfort phase of, oh, okay, like we see what we need to do, but it’s actually learning and implementing, the action that is, that we’re all still kind of struggling with.
Like, I still struggle with it sometimes, like having hard conversations, setting boundaries, realising that I’ve been people pleasing or been codependent. So that was sort of a long way of saying, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Krati: The strange thing that I have noticed with the Gen Z especially, is that these women seem to be very angry. I don’t know if it’s just the women who are very prominent on social media and that’s just the narrative that they’ve picked up or attached their persona to but they seem to be very angry and they seem to be angry at mostly men and, I feel like yeah, there are still women who are being repressed but the systems and the cultures that are doing that are just as detrimental to men. I feel like women have the opportunities, the platform. It’s no longer men holding you back. If you are being held back, then there’s something that you are not doing. I mean, you could have a toxic man or someone abusive in your life. You also have resources to kind of get out of that situation. I know it’s never that cut and dried, but I also know that at the end of the day, for most women, it’s in your hands. Would you agree with that?
Andrea: Let me start where you, where you started and like, being angry. Yeah, they are. And I think that it’s a, it’s a kind of side effect of their mothers and grandmothers, you know, my mom was born in 1942, which was, it was like a million years ago. I wasn’t even born in the 1960s where we saw that feminist wave and so now I think that what we’re seeing happen is social media, you know, younger millennials and Gen Z only know social media and it’s this really amazing platform so that they can voice their opinions and say what’s on their mind. and it stems from the women who have come before them talking freely about like what is actually going on. So, I think the anger is righteous. I also think that it can be toxic if it’s not channeled in a very specific way. There are some amazing women out there, and leaders and men as well. I don’t wanna leave them out of the conversation who are doing things to dismantle these systems of oppression for not just women, but for people of colour, for the LGBTQ community, poor people, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that there are a few cases where it gets to the point that yes, there are open doors for women and they’re not taking it. I mean, this goes for anyone and they’re not taking advantage of it because, for whatever reason. But I still think largely it’s the system that needs to be dismantled and, and by the system I’m talking about like patriarchy and misogyny as a whole.
And then you start talking about, you know, the police systems or college. It’s a never ending conversation, but I think that we are nowhere near the point where we can point a finger at any specific gender or any specific community. I still think we are definitely in a place of, the problem is the system. I also just wanna say one last thing, it’s easier to point the finger at men than it is the system because we can talk to a man, you know, we can argue with a man.
It’s really not their fault. They were born and raised in the same system that we were in. They drank the same water, they breathe the same air. This system hurts everyone but it also benefits men more so they’re less likely to see that the system also hurts them.
Krati: In my capacity as a volunteer, I spent a huge amount of my time around women from underserved communities. I actively worked with them and these women, the first time I met them, they were applying for bank loans for their business.
And I was like, are you serious? I thought they were, they were there with someone cuz they were wearing ethnic clothing, old fashioned ethnic clothing. They had chunky jewellery on their arms. They were not educated. They were older. They said to me that, ‘we’re not gonna change who we are, but we want this bank loan. So tell us how the conversation goes. Educate us on that. We’re gonna go dressed like this, so that’s not gonna change, but we want to be able to hold our own in this conversation.’
I’ve met athletes who come from circumstances that you look at and think, how did this person even have the balls to dream of going into the Olympics? Look at where they’re coming from. This is amazing. Their dreams are bigger than my dreams have ever been. And my life has always been very comfortable.
So for the benefit of my listeners, I think you are right to a certain extent, but I think just for the benefit of the women listening, if you are in that place, it always helps to look at other perspectives after putting your anger aside because of that old conditioning and the narrative that has been playing for so long, men seem like very good targets.
But there’s so much more going on here. And if you’re attaching your destiny to that narrative, then that’s just hurting you. Because for most of us, we’ve got options. Even for those underprivileged women, they had options. They found out about it, and they’re running like these amazing businesses selling soaps and selling jewelleries on an international level.
This is something I’ve noticed, and I’ve never considered women to be superior to men. I would never say that, but at the same time, I do believe because of all the years of repression, when a woman really recognises just how powerful she is, when she gets that spark, the transformation is way more impactful and way more powerful than it is for men.
Andrea: Like magic. It really is. But I mean, to your argument, you’re always gonna find people who don’t take advantage or squander the resources that they’ve been given, and I can’t remember where I heard it, it might have been the podcast series, SCENE on radio, and they were talking about a study that was done. A marginalised community of people who were given scholarships to college, regardless, I can’t even remember what it was, but what they found is that a lot of them didn’t finish and they studied it. They were looking at epigenetics and things like that. So there are other factors involved than people just not wanting it bad enough or you know, their lack of education and things like that.
Krati: So, we are socially conditioned to do certain things and it’s not easy to fight that conditioning so taking that into account, what advice would you give to women on recognising when they’re walking paths that somebody else is dictating and how they can find the power to first of all, identify what it is that they really want and then to actually find the courage to go down that path.
Andrea: Yeah, this is a tricky one, and I think it happens more often than we know. Also, I think that for some women it’s not safe for them to either change paths or go in a direction that they think is the right one for them because they are economically reliant on someone else. So to be able to choose your own path, it is absolutely a privilege or change paths is also a privilege. I would just first wanna acknowledge how difficult it is. You know, I was just talking to a client the other day, it was a new client and she’d been, she’s my age, in her late forties and has been in a career that her parents encouraged her to go in when she was in college and, and now is absolutely miserable and has been miserable for a long time and feels like it’s too late to change paths.
But when she was talking about this other career path, she lit up. This is probably one of the very hardest things that you’ll ever do, and also I call it the point of no return, when you’re in that place where you realise how unhappy you are and moving backwards feels impossible, to go back and be happy where you’re at, but also to take the steps to move forward also feels impossible.
So it’s like both outcomes feel terrible and are equally as scary. So I always tell people to take care of yourself when you’re in that place, because there’s grief involved. There’s terror involved. We seek the council of so many people. I always tell people like, I’m really good at what I do, and you might have a really good therapist or a fantastic mentor, and none of us can make the decision for you. We can just hopefully be a soft place to land. And when that person is ready, they will go.
I also will never tell you that the net will appear, sometimes it doesn’t, and you have to understand that. Resilience is going to be the thing that I can guarantee that you will gain. It might not be success in this new path. It might not be success in this new career or whatever it is, but I assure you that what you can count on is gaining more resilience on the other end.
It is totally up to the person and they will jump when they are ready and it might take them 10 years, it might take them a day. Again, it’s not up to us to decide
Krati: As you are going through this process, do you believe that we can walk both paths? Because sometimes I do see women who are going through those transformations, they have to go to one extreme and then figure out a balance. So they go from being this very good girl to being this like badass who’s just burning bridges left, right, and centre and not worrying so much, and then like, finding an equilibrium. Is that okay to do or is there a better way to go about these things?
Andrea: I think a lot of that comes down to personality. I’ve seen people do it very differently. I was kind of what you described, someone who just started cutting people out left and right but I also had a situation where I had a very dramatic thing happen in my life. That’s not the case for everyone.
For some people, it’s more of a slow burn. Maybe they listen to podcasts like yours and they read a few self-help books, and they’re starting to realise their patterns. So it’s more of a slow process. Or if it’s like me, where you hit your absolute, you know, quintessential rock bottom, and then you decide to burn the whole thing down like I did.
I don’t think one way is better than the other. I just, the question that I like to ask people when they feel like they might be in that place, you know, if this is helpful for people listening, I wrote about it in my third book. In the very beginning, I asked the question, what is your conditioning versus what is your truth?
So if you find yourself in a place where, for instance, your boss gives you yet another project that you do not have the time to take on and then they say like, can you handle this for us? You’re such a team player. You handle this for us. Your conditioning very well might be to say, yes, absolutely. I can take that on. Happy to. But your truth is that you cannot, you are headed for burnout.
It’s incredibly unfair. It’s not in your job description and again, you’ve reached that point of like, okay, I have a decision to make, and I wanted to kind of distill it down into something a little bit more granular for people to think about if they’re in that place of wanting to make some changes.
Krati: I read your book and that one hit me so hard, conditioning versus truth, because I think, a type of war happens internally, and I don’t think that ever stops happening because I am a pretty confident, strong person, but I deal with it constantly.
I think, women often forget that you can be a lot of things. You don’t have to pick one persona. There are passages in your books that make people realise that even as you are waking up to your power, you are allowed to be fearful. You are allowed to be, no matter at whatever stage you are at in your transformation journey, you’re allowed to, have those moments where it’s like, oh my God, I’m back to square one.
Andrea: Yeah. You just took a couple steps back.
Krati: I want to talk about shame, how it shows up, and what behaviours are typical of having a lot of internal shame?
Andrea: When we think about shame, a lot of times we think about these, these shaming moments that we’ve had in our lives. So maybe it was like our parents used shame to discipline us and kind of keep us in line. Or maybe you come from a very religious background where shame was used as this tool to control or we did something in a relationship where we’re just so ashamed. I know a lot of people, they talk about sex or even money and it brings up feelings of shame. And so when I talk, yes, those are all very valid and they happen to all of us. When I talk about shame with my community. I talk about it like this.
I’m certified in Dr. Brene Brown’s work since 2014. It’s been almost 10 years. And this was one of the aha moments I had going through the training which prompted me to write my second book. And anytime you are engaging in perfectionism where you are afraid to put some of your art out, cuz you’re worried about not being perfect, if you are engaging in people pleasing, in poor boundaries setting at work or in a romantic relationship, if you are overachieving to the extent where it is just driving you to burnout, but it’s the only way you know how to feel accepted.
99.9% of the time, I never wanna say a hundred percent of the time, we are doing those things in an effort to avoid talking about sex because we’re, we feel ashamed about it. We’re avoiding setting boundaries cuz we’re worried people are going to not like us or reject us. We’re avoiding putting our art out into the world because we’re afraid we’re going to be judged. Or we fear failure if we try to sell it to an art museum or something. The problem is that, and many times we don’t realize this, like shame is running our life, whether we know it or not. By avoiding all of these things we are doing so in an effort to avoid shame. And that’s the entry point that I talk about and a lot of people are like, oh my God, I am doing all those things to avoid shame.
Krati: We struggle with just recognizing the shame […] but it’s happening and it’s subtle and or it’s insidious and you just don’t realize it, you know?
Andrea: It’s all of those things that you just said and I. Well this too, because I, we even have a, we don’t have a word that we are comfortable saying when we are even telling a story, which might seem innocuous to us. So, so many times I’ve heard stories, whether it’s even just in a casual group setting or one-on-one privately with a client, and they’re telling me a story and they say, you know, such and such happened and I was so embarrassed, and I ask.
Like, were you embarrassed or were you ashamed? So we sort of, kind of tow the line. And sometimes the thing with, you know, in this work, we talk a lot about the differences between shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment, and I love Brene Brown, but sometimes when she explains it, she makes it seem like there are hard and fast lines between each of those four experiences and feelings, and there are not, we sort of bounce back in between, especially I’ve seen like with embarrassment and shame.
So for instance, I was at a talk with a very popular podcaster and I went by myself and I didn’t know anyone and it was a pretty big crowd and he asked the crowd to like, what are some topics you want me to talk about? And I shouted one out and I am very loud. And it was at a moment where nobody else was talking and it was super loud.
And a lot of people, it like startled some people and like they kind of turned around to look at me. And because I was by myself and even the speaker like looked over at me like, whoa, you settle down lady. Like he had that kind of look on his face. And so it’s a funny story and I was, and at first I was shame, like that immediate kind of like hot feeling.
I even get a little bit warm, like telling the story and then I go into embarrassment cuz I can tell this story now and it’s funny and people, you know, can relate and things like that. But that’s an example of something, a story where we kind of can bounce back and forth between the two and yes, it’s insidious. It’s one of those things where it happens fairly regularly to people, and many times, like we know what it feels like and we know it when we see it in other people and in ourselves, but we can’t describe it and that’s how it’s insidious.
Krati: How do we navigate it without feeling like a bull in a China shop? Because again, people swing between extremes and then they have that vulnerability hangover where they’ve overcorrected and they’re like, oh, I’m just gonna go say this thing and I’m gonna be this person and then they’re just like, oh my God, that was way too much and then they just completely shrink.
Andrea: Well, we are a bull in a China shop. We do it very messy. Like I guarantee you that that is how it’s going to look. You are gonna knock things over, you are going to feel stupid. You are going to possibly hurt people’s feelings and have to circle back. Thus is life. We are all going through this China shop, you know. One of the things, like, if I can give people another tool, it’s my favourite module in the curriculum that I facilitate, and it’s called your ‘Triggers and ideal identities’. So if you break down, like, just for sake of time and this conversation, let’s talk about, our persona, our work persona, more specifically how we show up to these kinds of interviews.
So you, Krati, have an ideal identity of how you wanna show up as a host.You wanna show up as a podcast host, as professional, articulate, you know, well researched with your guest, wise, experienced, seasoned, like all of these things, you don’t want to be perceived by other people, by your listeners as unprofessional, you know, kind of the opposite of what I just said, right? And so inevitably you’re going to make a mistake. And maybe you’ve totally got the schedule wrong or the time zone wrong, or maybe your assistant, you know, got the time zone wrong and you space on recording time and then you have to come to me and apologize and you could, because you don’t have any control of how I perceive you or how your audience perceive you, your mind very well could go to that place of, oh my God, Andrea Owen thinks I’m unprofessional that I don’t know what I’m doing.
And that elicits shame and the exercise involves you breaking down the different areas of your life and listing out your ideal and unwanted identities. So this is the way you would love to be perceived by other people and the way you would never wanna be perceived by other people.
And what ends up happening for most people who don’t know this work, is that when they inevitably fall into one of those unwanted identities instead, Having compassion for yourself and also sharing your story when appropriate to someone who Brene Brown says, who’s earned the right to hear your story?
And hopefully you are met with empathy cuz those are the antidotes, self-compassion, empathy. Instead of doing that, we try harder to get to our ideal identities so we bend over backwards and this is where people pleasing and perfectionism are born. So to use that same example, If you totally forgot your. , appointment and missed it. Maybe you would, you know, say, I’m so sorry, Andrea. Let me buy 25 of your books and give them away to my audience. Like, well, you don’t need to do that but it’s like you’re trying to people please or brown nose and we do this all the time. So that’s kind of a very quick take on an hour long module that I take people through to figure out their shame triggers.
[…] I wanna just point out this one quick last thing. People who have been doing this long, this work as long as I have and as long as you have consistently, the difference is not that we don’t have those thoughts pop up. The difference is that we catch them very quickly and we see them within sometimes seconds if not minutes, so that we can course correct and choose another way of thinking or behaving and or believing about ourselves.
Like that’s the difference, and that’s the goal that I hope that people understand is the correct one. It’s not that you don’t ever have the thoughts.
Krati: Shame is one emotion that we struggle with, another one is anger. I feel like women still, and even men, like nobody really has a healthy relationship with anger. They’re either not allowing themselves to be angry at all. A lot of the older Indian generation here, what happens is anytime you get angry, like your anger is completely right and justified, the reaction is you need to calm down. Why are you getting so angry? You’re gonna cause a fight. You’re gonna cause a scene. And I’m like, are you serious? This deserves a scene right now. So why is that such an issue? And what can we do to change that?
Andrea: It’s, I think it’s kind of complex, you know, and it depends on the gender, it depends on the culture but to kind of go backwards and what you were just saying is I think that for women to see angry men, that very well may signal danger and or upcoming violence. So I can understand why there are, and I don’t mean to stereotype, but I think it’s valid for women to be worried and afraid if they see anger in men that they’re around.
That being said, in psychology, many people think or say, anger is actually hurt that is being channeled through anger. So a lot of times when we are angry, if you can think like what all is really going on? Like, what hurt you or who hurt you that we can pinpoint what it is that we are actually hurt by, and it’s channeling through anger and I also feel like for men, like patriarchy has created a belief system that anger is the only acceptable emotion for them and so that’s what they’ve accepted and that’s what we see a lot of times, which I think is incredibly sad. Like all humans have a multitude of feelings that many times we don’t even know what they are or how to name them.
You know, speaking of Brene Brown, like, that’s why I love her book, Alice of the Heart, because it gives you almost like a glossary of all of these different feelings and what it actually looks like and many times what they stem from. And for women, I think, again, culturally, anger is the, I mean, they have done studies on this and the bottom line of it, and this is not a scientific thing to say, but people don’t like angry women.
Especially rage and there’s some really great books out there, Eloquent Rage is one of them, and if I have to give advice around it, I invite people, if they have the resources to do so, is to dig into it with a therapist someplace where you feel is safe, and just start thinking about like, what is your relationship to anger?
What did you see growing up that has shaped the way you feel about anger in general, and anger in particular. Start there. You know that question of like, what is your conditioning versus what is your truth? I think, I’m a bit of a minority because anger has always been an emotion that’s very easy to access for me.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m an Aries, I don’t know, but it’s just one of those things but I also have had repercussions for it. And there are consequences because angry women are deemed as difficult and we don’t play by the rules.
Krati: In this day and age, social media is so much a part of our life that a lot of people process their emotions on social media. On the one hand I admire it because that has to mean you’re so comfortable with your emotions but does that, is that what it means? That’s something that fascinates me. Is it healthy? Can we even have an opinion on this?
Andrea: Yeah, that’s a really great question. I don’t know if I’ve ever discussed this with anyone publicly, but it could be that they’re that comfortable crying in front of the internet. It also could be that they are very uncomfortable showing their emotions in front of people that they have an emotional attachment to.
So it feels a lot easier to do it in front of their phone and post it to the internet and kind of walk away or see what happens to it. I think at the end of the day, all of us are craving, sometimes with desperation, to be seen and heard and not just be seen and heard, but more specifically seen and heard in our pain. It is incredibly intimate to be that connected to someone else. And I always kind of half joke that in my twenties and even into my thirties, the thing that I wanted more than anything in the world was connection. To be seen and heard, to trust someone else with reckless abandon and that because it’s intimate, it’s that intimacy with another human and it was also precisely the things that I was deeply terrified of. So I was constantly in this push pull with people of like, kind of like, go away, but come here and it does not, let me tell you, everyone listening, it becomes a mess. I’m almost 48 years old, like going through the process of really learning how to trust people.
Like I saw something on TikTok that said, name three men that you implicitly trust. And I was like, even my husband, like he knows so it’s interesting. I mean like intimately, like I always say, like trusting someone I look at trust is like true trust is not that someone can like hold your heart in their hands, it’s that they can have it in their teeth and you can trust them with it.
Like that to me is like the ultimate trusting someone and it’s, yeah, the social media, again, just to circle back what I just said, like I think it could be a combination of that. They are so willing to do that with everyone, but my guess is that a lot of them don’t feel comfortable doing it with the people around them and asking for help in that way, but it feels safer this way.
It’s getting their needs met of being seen.
Krati: Would you advise them, the younger generation, especially young girls, to process it in the privacy of their own mind first before they do that and that there can be any pitfalls to it that may just be dangerous to their mental health?
Andrea: Yeah, I mean, people on the internet can be terrible. We’ve known this since the beginning of the internet when there was, you know, dial up and there was AOL chat rooms, like people can be terrible.
You know, no one is really taught how to be a good friend.
I didn’t learn this until I was in my late thirties, and I’m still making mistakes and learning how to like truly show up for the women in my life and be the kind of person that they need me to be. And also, everyone’s different. Everyone’s unique in exactly how they wanna be supported. And so I think to have these conversations and understand what it means to be a true friend is very rare, especially when you’re a teenager or in your twenties. Like I don’t know anyone who is really like that. And so I think that if that is your entry point, my advice is to tread lightly. I always say like, start with a trusted school counselor or mentor or teacher, or if you have a parent that you really trust or a grandparent before you go on the internet because also the internet is forever and you never know like how it’s gonna end up.
Krati: A lot of people are resistant to the word, power. What’s up with that? Why does power have such a visceral reaction to it all the time? And if you were to use like a different word for it, what would that word be?
Andrea: Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked that. Uh, you know, and this is why I love other languages, you know, especially like the Spanish language where there are multiple words for what Americans or English only has one word for, maybe power is one of those, but I think because we are used to a capitalistic culture where we are a democracy however, what we see a lot with people in leadership many times in our US government that it’s power over versus power with and you know, power over looks like, you know, I don’t even need to explain it.
Like, you can think of people in history who have and it’s not necessarily that they’re even, you know, dictators. They could be just people in leadership who create this culture if you will, of power over, instead of power with, and I’m sure you can think of leaders who have led the way where it is empowering people to use their own movement , to use their own skills and leadership and become better leaders themselves.
To create more of a collective, of empowerment, I guess is the only word I can think of. That’s what I would like to use instead of power.
Krati: If you could take away one emotion entirely from the human experience, like no one would ever feel this one emotion ever again, which one would that be?
Andrea: Oh God, probably anxiety.
Which is different from fear and worry and like nervousness, like all of those I think need to exist because they prevent us from making bad decisions or you know, things like that. But anxiety is, I think, unnecessary, especially people who have clinical anxiety. Like myself, I know so many people that do, where it’s just unnecessary.
It doesn’t help at all. It doesn’t prevent us from doing things that are harmful. It’s just completely unnecessary.
Krati: Do you regret anything from your life? Like, would you ever take away something that you were driven to do in your past life?
Andrea: Yeah. You know, so I go back and forth with that. It depends on the day how I answer that, but I think, you know, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That whole thing, you know, it’s like, it wouldn’t be where I am today if I had, if I had made any different decisions. But the one thing is maybe like more PG 13, , I would have had sex with a lot more people. Safely!
I’ve been a serial monogamist for so long and also, you know, I went very quickly from relationship to relationship and it comes from, I think, this might be helpful, it comes from that compulsive heteronormative like that. The prize and the way I would be most valued in the world is if someone picked me.
I believed that my worthiness was directly related to if I am in a relationship or not. And. I think that, you know, if that’s what you wanna be and that’s what makes you happy, great. And it does in some regard. But I do feel like looking back, you know, and if I have to give like my children advice, especially my daughter who’s only 13, not ready yet, but it’s like have fun.
And that includes having lots of sex with lots of different people safely and learn like just be a in. I wish that I would’ve grown up in a more sex positive. Environment. And that didn’t change for me until I had children and I wanted it to be different for them. And then this whole world opened up where I was like, look what I missed out on.
So that’s, that’s I think the only regret that I have.