UFYB 201: UNLEARNING THE PATRIARCHY WITH ANDREA OWEN
My guest on the podcast this week is author, global speaker, and professional certified life coach, Andrea Owen. She’s here to shed some light on her new book, Make Some Noise: Speak Your Mind and Own Your Strength and to dive into our shared favorite topic: unlearning the patriarchy.
Andrea helps high-achieving women maximize unshakeable confidence and master resilience, so you can see why I had to have her on the podcast. After doing her own work of noticing the different ways in which the patriarchy was being manifested in her life, she decided to write her new book to tackle the topic of women’s empowerment through the unlearning of our conditioning.
Join us this week as Andrea gives us a preview of and shares the inspiration behind her book. We’re discussing the fears and struggles women have to grapple with, how women have internalized the patriarchy and how it manifests, and how to begin unlearning to empower ourselves and others.
If you want to be entered to win a copy of Andrea’s amazing new book, Make Some Noise, text your email address to +1-347-997-1784 and use codeword MAKENOISE to be entered into the raffle. Or, you can click here. Make sure you enter by September 9th to be considered, and we’ll be announcing the winner soon!
Joining The Clutch is even easier now! All you have to do is text 347-934-8861 and we will text you right back with a link to all the information you need to learn and join. It comes with a five-week self-coaching course that will walk you through exactly how to apply this life-changing work to anything you experience. Hope to see you there!
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- The four steps Andrea includes in every chapter of her book and why.
- 2 fears women have to grapple with.
- The common critiques and misunderstandings of the personal development space.
- Andrea’s take on why women struggle to ask for what they want.
- How internalized misogyny and sexism manifests in women.
- One question Andrea asks herself when she finds herself chronically checking out.
- Why adding pleasure is a crucial part of unlearning our social conditioning.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
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- Andrea Owen: Website | Instagram | Podcast
- Make Some Noise: Speak Your Mind and Own Your Strength by Andrea Owen
- Grab Andrea’s free 63-page workbook!
- The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to Unf*ck Your Brain, the only podcast that teaches you how to use psychology, feminism, and coaching, to rewire your brain and get what you want in life. And now here’s your host, Harvard Law School grad, feminist rockstar, and master coach, Kara Loewentheil.
Kara: My chickens, I am so excited for this conversation today. Some of you may already know our fantastic author and guest, and if you don’t, then you’re going to know her after this and you’re going to want to buy all her books. So Andrea Owen is an author, global speaker, and professional certified life coach. I personally am unprofessional life coach…
Andrea: Sometimes I am as well, I’ll be honest.
Kara: I like that. Who helps high-achieving women maximize unshakeable confidence and master resilience. So you can obviously see why I wanted to have her on the podcast. We have a lot in common.
She’s helped hundreds of thousands of women, tools, and strategies, to be able to empower themselves, to live their most kickass life through speaking, her books, coaching, and her wildly popular podcast with over three million downloads. And actually oddly, your podcast title is not in here. Tell everybody the name of your podcast.
Andrea: Make Some Noise.
Kara: Make Some Noise. That’s also the name of her book, her latest book. Make Some Noise: Speak Your Mind and Own Your Strength, which is coming out. So I’m so excited, Andrea, thank for being here.
Andrea: So excited to be here. You’re one of the people top on my list, I’m like, I have to reach out because I know that you’ll love the topic of this book.
Kara: Yeah. So let’s just start with that. Tell us what made you decide to write a book and why now.
Andrea: Honestly, because I was fucking pissed. That was the genesis of it. 2015, 2016 was an interesting year I think for many women. It wasn’t too much of a whiplash moment for me. I was sort of already on the journey uncovering a lot of my own stuff, but 2016 happened and the election, and then 2017 honestly with the Kavanaugh hearings and the Me Too movement.
Actually, Kavanaugh was 2018 but Me Too in 2017. I just was retraumatized like many women and had a hard time and had to dig up some stuff and do the work. And I came to the realization that I cannot talk about women’s empowerment anymore without talking about the root of the problem, and that is patriarchy.
If you’re talking about women’s empowerment, you’re talking about feminism, which is talking about patriarchy, so that was sort of the jumping off point. And then I had to calm down and actually make it readable.
Kara: You’re like, I like this screed that I just wrote of me screaming in all caps.
Andrea: Just a long rant. It’s not.
Kara: Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of – that was such a kind of – awakening is the wrong word, but it’s sort of like the fire’s already going but then you add some coal to the fire kind of thing, you add some logs I think for a lot of women. Obviously, I don’t know a lot about fire since I don’t know what you call that.
So tell us a little – I’ve been on your podcast, you’re familiar, I really like concrete actionable things people can use. I’m really big about that. So you have at the end of every chapter, you walk your readers through something you call the unlearning, which I just also love because it kind of sounds like a mystical quest a little bit.
It sounds like – or like a little bit of a cult initiation. I’m into this title, this term. And there are four steps, so I’m hoping – obviously everybody should get the book and read it for themselves, but just a little preview, can you tell us what those four steps are and kind of why you think they’re so important, such that they’re in every chapter?
Andrea: Yes. It is like a secret little justice league that we have, secret handshake and all that kind of thing.
Kara: There’s special pins, Andrea and I are wearing them, you just can’t see them.
Andrea: The reason I wanted it to be called the unlearning is because as you well know and all your listeners know, we’ve been conditioned and socialized to be a certain way for decades. And it’s not just about learning new tools, which are great, and which we all should do.
But it is about unlearning the conditioning that we’ve all been taught. So there’s four steps, and the first one is – and this is really great for people who are just starting out on their personal development journey or seasoned people to kind of go back to brass tacks.
The first one is to pay attention. You can’t fix what you don’t know is messy for lack of a better expression. So it’s about paying attention to your thoughts, paying attention to your own internalized misogyny, paying attention to where you’re not showing up out of fear and looking at is that your conditioning.
And then the next step is to just get curious because many times, we start noticing things then we’re like, holy shit, I’m fucked. And so…
Kara: Totally. This just came up in the – I’ve been doing this five-day bootcamp and somebody was like, “Okay, I’ve been doing thought work for three days now and I hate everything even more, is that normal?” And I was like, yes, totally normal.
Andrea: That means you’re doing it right. And I don’t think that’s everyone’s experience, I think it’s a spectrum of how you feel.
Kara: Some people it’s like, instant relief, and then some people feel worse right away.
Andrea: Exactly. And so I’m mostly talking to the people who feel worse right away, and it’s like, no charge on it. It’s not positive or negative, you followed the rules basically. We were only given one beverage choice growing up, that Kool-Aid was patriarchy.
So just get curious. Why do you think that you judge women who show a lot of cleavage? Why do you think that you aren’t asking for the sale? Why do you think you hesitate to set boundaries? So just getting curious.
And then the third step is self-compassion. You can’t change by beating yourself up. Nobody gets to betterment that way. So lots of self-compassion. And then the last step is to keep the momentum.
So a lot of times that’s having conversations with people that we trust and in your membership community, bringing it up to your therapist. If it feels right, bringing it up to your siblings or your parents. And I wanted to have that in every single chapter because I mean, who doesn’t love a process? And just some things for people to remember.
Kara: We’re like, what are the steps, tell me exactly how to deprogram my brain and I totally will. Should totally be color-coded for sure. I love that. I mean, I think all of those elements are so important. It’s awareness, self-compassion, and I think it’s such a misunderstanding I think of personal development.
I think there’s this critique, and maybe you hear this too, I think because I come from the social justice world, especially my social media feed is half radical leftists, half life coaches. It’s very confusing. It’s socialists and then intense capitalists, the whole gamut.
But I feel like one of the critiques I feel like is so misplaces of the self-development, self-help industry, whatever you want to call us, I think we’re practical philosophers personally, is that it’s sort of like, self-indulgent and myopic and it’s just about individual responsibility.
And I am just always like, who do you think is creating social change? It’s people and their brains. So if we haven’t deprogrammed – I call it deprogramming the patriarchy, you call it the unlearning, whatever you call it, we’re the ones coming up with the ideas for the social change. We’re the ones trying to convince other people to change their minds. Who do you think is doing the social justice? It’s us.
The more that we can unlearn this stuff, free our own minds, and then I love that your step four is share with other people. That’s what this work is about. It’s so wild to me when people are like, think that these are somehow different things. As though structural change is happening without individual human brains being involved.
Andrea: I agree with you, and I think it’s both. I think that personal development, that’s why they call it personal development. I’m not going to lie, I am self-absorbed.
Kara: Why do women have to justify that? Men aren’t running around justifying caring about their own emotional and mental experience.
Andrea: I have to be self-absorbed. I care – exactly what you said. I care about my emotional intelligence, I go to therapy, so that I can be a better human. I’m constantly thinking about it. And we also think about the collective.
Kara: Any revolutionary is somebody who mentally freed themselves from what they were told is possible. So where do we think this is coming from? So you also talk about this thing that I think a lot of women have very complicated feelings about, which you call shining too bright.
I hear so often from women, which I think it’s probably like a Venn diagram. This isn’t always what they mean, but sometimes it is. A lot of fear of being too much. It’s like that famous quote, which is like, who are we to be so – what is it?
Andrea: It’s our biggest fear. Marianne Williamson.
Kara: So can you talk a little bit about that? What do you sort of mean by shining too bright and why do you think that’s such an important thing for women to kind of grapple with?
Andrea: There was a very specific reason that I put the word too in there, and what I found with clients over the years is that there’s two fears and this isn’t totally universal. I’m speaking generally here, there are exceptions.
But there’s the basic fear of visibility and putting yourself out there. We see what happens on social media. You and I are both friends with Susan Hyatt and just the comments in her ads, both from men and from women, it’s happening all around us.
So we fear just shining in general, and there’s a lot of fear around outshining others. So Gay Hendricks talks about this in The Big Leap, and his quote is people think to themselves, if I grow to my fullest potential, if I have all the success and get all the degrees or whatever it is that we want to do and meet all of our goals, I will outshine fill in the blank, and make them feel or look bad. This could be a parent. Many times a sibling. I know when I started to out-earn my husband, that was a thing. Mostly for me. He didn’t care.
Kara: He’s like, this is great. I’m going to retire.
Andrea: Right. Or a sibling, a parent, a spouse, it really could be anyone, and not necessarily people who come from families where they talk shit about people that go to grad school, people that outgrow their family. Sometimes we make up these stories all on our own, even when we have supportive people in our communities and families.
So that’s a very real thing. Many times unconscious for women. So that’s part of what I’m talking about in that chapter is we need to look at – my friend Elizabeth DiAlto early on when I was writing this book, she has this great quote and she says, “What is my conditioning versus what is my truth?” And that is a question I weave throughout the book for us to think about.
Because many times when we’re afraid to show up, to start a podcast, to do whatever, even if you just pause to think about what about this is my conditioning and really look at your truth, I mean that in and of itself can be life-changing.
Kara: I love that. This is something I struggle with actually. In my life, it has been not a specific person in any way, but this sort of – I think probably women and people from social justice backgrounds have this more maybe, but I still sort of am thinking through it so I don’t have a pithy way of talking about it.
But on the one hand, especially with self-help, I feel like there’s very democratizing impulse of this work is for anyone, everyone can expand their possibilities, there’s nothing particularly special about me, other than that I have done this work. And if you do it, you also can have this amazing life, which I totally believe.
And that was a really useful thought for me. But then there became this thought plateau where I got coached maybe a year ago, is it even that long? Maybe six or eight months ago by my teacher and mentor Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School.
And she just loves to find something that you would rather die than call yourself and tell yourself that that’s your new identity you have to practice. And so mine was being brilliant. I was happy to say I was smart, I was happy to say I had done hard work, but the idea of saying that I was brilliant made me want to throw up in my mouth.
It was so uncomfortable, even though other people call me that all the time. And I just dismiss it, or I just don’t even think about it. So I notice that even there, and I was like, what is this about? And it’s the shining too bright, but in my mind it was like, if I lean into that, somehow that’s implying other people are not brilliant and that’s what I ended up figuring out was that in my mind, I was thinking that brilliant is inherently comparative in some way.
Because that’s how it was used when I was growing up. That’s how I understood it at home was that intelligence was comparative, it’s like you’re smarter than someone else.
Andrea: So it was like a zero sum game.
Kara: Yeah. It’s like, well, if I’m brilliant, that’s me saying I’m better than other people or smarter than other people, as opposed to it’s got nothing to do with anybody else. It’s just – and I hate it because she’s always right when she does this, but that was exactly right. We just talked about it; I’m working on a book proposal.
If I’m going to lean into being a thought leader, which I think I am and truly that was where practical philosopher came from. She was like, what do you think you are? Are you a coach, are a teacher, are you whatever, and I was like, I think I’m a philosopher actually, I’m a practical philosopher.
I think that’s actually what I do. Coaching is a way that I serve and communicate that stuff, but that’s really what I’m doing. I had to lean into it. But so I think this is so important and it’s something I want for all my listeners.
Even if you feel like you’re self-confident and you’re happy to go after achievements and whatever, it doesn’t mean that you fully dealt with this thing because if you’d asked me before that conversation, I would not have said that I had any fear about being in the spotlight.
I had this podcast, I have a public profile, I talk about how much money I’ve made and what the business is doing, and I talk about my accomplishments. I’m a fucking confidence coach. But we hit a ceiling and I was like, wow, nelly, no, we can’t say I’m brilliant, that’s not – no, that’s not okay.
Andrea: That’s so interesting. And it’s like you said, it’s these things that you probably – face value, you wouldn’t think. And mine was the talent. So my brilliant is talent. All I want to do is be the talent, but when I actually think about it, I feel small suddenly.
Because I was the first out of my circle of close colleagues back in 2011 to get a book deal. And people were so excited for me, and it was exciting. It was really awesome to get a traditional book deal. And I felt like oh, better slow down. You don’t want to outrun anyone; you don’t want to leave anyone behind.
That’s a lot of times the fear that people have, that women have is the fear of leaving people behind. We feel it is our duty to make everyone comfortable, to be accommodating, and if we out-succeed, then that’s unsafe. Obviously in our subconscious.
Kara: Totally. I feel like there’s some evolution of biology. There’s the socialization that probably some part of us is like, we’re a pack animal and you don’t want to be too far away from the pack. You’re going to get picked off.
Andrea: Yeah. And that points to also tribal shame and I don’t know if that’s an actual psychological term, but it’s talked about in our circles how families and organizations who say things like, “Oh, you think you’re a big shot now moving to New York City,” things like that, we don’t want to be more or less excommunicated from our family because our lizard brain tells us that we will die. It’s a real thing.
Kara: That is a real thing, yeah. Totally. So you also talk about the idea that women’s empowerment begins with women asking for what they want. So this is something that I talk about a lot on the podcast obviously. So I’m just curious for my listeners, kind of hear your take on it.
And in particular, I’m curious if – I don’t know if this has been your experience, or your experience has been different than this. I get a lot of people telling me they don’t know what they want, but then when I dig into it, they almost always do know what they want. They’ve just told themselves they can’t have it, they can’t ask for it, nobody should know, whatever.
It’s like they’ve covered it up. They’re sort of like, well, I know what I want but I can’t have that, and if I can’t have that, then I don’t know what I want. It’s like they don’t have the food I want and I don’t like any of these other options, so I guess between all the options I don’t like, I don’t know what I want. But I’m curious how you think about this and how you teach about it.
Andrea: I feel similarly. And also, this is kind of just another way of explaining it I think is that women tend to have judgments around other women or this persona even, this identity of somebody who does ask for everything they want.
And that’s a lot of times where I want to start. What are your judgments? Where did they come from? Et cetera. And also, I agree with you. I have met so many women, when you ask them the question like, what do you want? It’s like deer in headlights, no idea.
So I start with asking them what do you not want? What do you want less of in your life? And typically they have a laundry list of shit they don’t want to do anymore, people they don’t want to have to interact with. All of that. And that will sort of open the door to looking at what you want.
Kara: Yeah, that’s such an interesting technique. I always remember coaching this Clutch member who was like, 19 or 20. She had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. She was very meek in the – eventually after enough questions, it turned out she had this incredibly specific desire, which was to be a marine biologist who worked on sea turtles or something.
But she had all these reasons she couldn’t do that. But it was just such a – our brains are such liars to us. It’s like, I don’t know at all what I want to do, oh actually, I know this very specific job that five people in the world have that I know that I want, but I can’t let myself see that.
One of the things you brought up a couple times, I think it’s interesting so I’m curious to hear a little bit more about this is this idea that it seems you find women are often judging other women who are doing whatever, showing cleavage or asking for what they want. Is that something you feel comes up a lot in your work?
Andrea: Not as much in my work but just the gen pop. I just like to say that term.
Kara: We’re familiar with institutional slang.
Andrea: You’re familiar with the muggles. And I think it comes up a little bit in the women that I work with and it’s so interesting. I don’t know if you had the same experience or any of your listeners had the same experience. When I started really digging into internalized misogyny and internalized sexism, it was a rough road.
It was a rough road to really take accountability and responsibility. And also for me, I access anger very easily. I got really angry just at the patriarchy for essentially being the root of the problem in this.
And for people who might be unfamiliar, it’s our own internalized patriarchy and this manifests as slut shaming, it manifests as chronic dieting, it also manifests in – I’m a competitive person by nature and I think that there’s healthy competitiveness. But when it crosses the line into “backstabbing” or being so competitive in a family unit or a workplace, especially when it is for the proximity or attention of men who have more power than us, that’s how internalized misogyny manifests.
And I encourage people to look more into it. There’s some really fantastic feminist writers who have written and are much more experts at it than I am. And we always hear people saying like, we need to lift each other up and women supporting women, and why are we so mean to each other?
And I’m like, patriarchy. It’s not our fault. One of the things I started doing is just gently calling it out when I see it. I was playing tennis last summer with some friends of mine and we were just chatting afterwards and somebody just casually made the comment, “You know how catty women can be.” And I was like, actually…
Kara: It’s a stereotype. I’ve never really had – not that I don’t think it happens and I coach people who have a lot of drama in their friendships for sure. But all my friendships with women have been always supportive and loving and amazing. So it’s sort of that there is something under the stereotype. It does happen and we have to help women see how that’s internalized patriarchy, but then also not just accept the stereotypes that the patriarchy tells us what women are like.
Andrea: My argument is that it’s not inherent. And that’s what we hear sometimes that women are inherently backstabbing and catty and gossip-y. I have had some really hard friendships and I’ve been a terrible friend. It was all my internalized stuff.
Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to circle back with some women in my life and make amends where I could and learn how to be a really good friend, and also distance myself from people who still gossip. Because I know they’re gossiping about me if they’re gossiping about other women.
Kara: Yeah, that’s interesting. So I’m going to take a little bit of a turn although of course it’s all related because you also write about something that I talk about a lot on the podcast, which you call checking out and I call numbing out or buffering, but kind of the same thing. All the ways we are like, I’d like to not be conscious of my human experience right now please. What can I imbibe or do that will take me away from knowing that I’m a human that exists?
So I know you have nearly 10 years of sobriety and recovery, so I’d just love to hear both why that’s such an important topic to you, but also how you think it ties in. Because I think it’s totally connected to all of these things that we’ve been talking about.
Andrea: Oh my gosh, how much time you got? This topic, it’s also near and dear to my heart, and I recognize that not everyone identifies as an addict like I do.
Kara: But everybody is numbing out or checking out in some way.
Andrea: Totally. I still do. We all do. It’s self-care to a certain extent. But one of the questions that – and I don’t know how you teach it. You might use a similar question. One of the questions that I like to ask myself or my clients when I find myself chronically doing it is what do you think that that’s going to bring you?
So we were talking about TikTok before. I will spend a solid two hours at the end of the day when I could be reading something, fiction or non-fiction that’s so much better for me. So I’m like, what is it that I’m trying to avoid? What do I think that this is going to bring me?
And it’s fairly simple sometimes, but sometimes it’s bigger things. And when I say simple, it’s just I just don’t want to deal with my life at the moment, things are stressful, or it’s just the way I decompress. But sometimes it’s bigger things like I have to have a hard conversation with someone that I really don’t want to have and I’m avoiding it because it’s going to give me diarrhea when I have to do it.
Sometimes there are hard things and I only ask people, the bottom line is just shine a light on it. Because we hear take the edge off all the time, and a lot of times I think that that edge is something we need to look at that is for the greater good of our lives and other people’s lives as well.
Kara: I think it’s so normalized for women in particular in certain culturally specific ways. It’s sort of like…
Andrea: Mommy wine culture.
Kara: Mommy wine, yeah, or but even not mommy, just wine culture. A bottle of wine at night, which is so interesting.
Andrea: During the day even.
Kara: Yeah. I guess men have similar stereotypes. It doesn’t feel like the stereotype is as common for men. Even though obviously men can abuse alcohol also.
Andrea: I think where it’s different is that because for men, it’s more normalized and accepted as fun and something they deserve, but for women it is normalized and accepted and the cost is bigger to us. The cost, especially in the motherhood circles, good mothers aren’t drunks. But yet…
Kara: I feel like for women it’s stress related. The way the stereotype is for men drinking is fun, you can hang out with your bros and you’re not going to watch the game without a 700-pack of Budweiser or whatever is going on. But I think for women, it’s always decompressing, distressing.
It’s sort of like, yes, we know patriarchy is very stressful for you, here’s some booze so you can check out. It’s almost like there’s this assumption or understanding that women are more stressed out than men, that stress is somehow a thing that women need escape from. Even apart from the mommy wine, which is a very specific subgroup of it.
Andrea: It’s complicate and it runs so deep. Don’t get me started on alcohol companies and how patriarchal they are and how much money they’re making off of women and problematic drinking with women has gone up. DUIs with women have gone up, rehab with women have gone up in the last decade, and it has not with men. It makes me so angry. It makes me so mad.
Kara: As it should. So I think to kind of pull it together, I think part of the reason that women end up using or abusing or whatever, numbing out, checking out, all of these behaviors which I think are on a spectrum, we’re all doing them. Some of it is normal. I don’t teach never buffer. But there’s a spectrum obviously.
Because of not having the tools to recognize what’s happening to them, recognize the ways that they’re living under patriarchal stress, recognize all that internalized socialization that is coming out as just constant people pleasing and gratifying other people and putting themselves last and ignoring themselves and criticizing themselves. And of course you’re fucking exhausted by the end of the day and all you want to do is zone out on Netflix.
Andrea: Sure. And for me, it was all of that, and layered in was trauma that I had not looked at or properly processed, let alone healed from, and I think I didn’t know how much it ran deep because of the stigma, just the mental health stigma. When I say this, I mean this was a solid 12, 15 years ago.
Kara: I was going to say I feel like these days, trauma is the buzzword that…
Andrea: The pendulum has swung a little far.
Kara: A little too far, I agree.
Andrea: But 10 years ago it wasn’t, and it was still a little bit of a stigma to talk about that and I was burying it with booze. And before that I was burying it with relationships and sex and men.
Kara: Yeah, so many fun ways to bury our trauma. It’s not really fun.
Andrea: It works until it doesn’t. There’s a saying in the room of recovery, it works until it doesn’t.
Kara: Totally. So I would love to close with something that you and I both talk a lot about, which kind of lines up with this, which is like, okay – sometimes we call those in my world false pleasures, like they help you numb out, it stimulates dopamine, you get a psychological reward, but you don’t feel good afterwards.
Nobody feels good the morning after they have unhappy sex with a stranger. You can totally have happy sex with a stranger. Would never slut shame. I’ve had some great one night stands. But we’ve all also had the version whether it’s sex or booze or Netflix or whatever where you just feel terrible afterwards because you shoved down your emotion and burned your brain out and you haven’t solved anything.
So we’ve talked about the idea that one way you resolve that is you do the unlearning, you do the processing, you work through that stuff. But you also talk about the idea that adding pleasure is a way that women can, what you call, make more noise in their lives.
And I talk a lot about pleasure as a birthright and a thing that women are entitled to and don’t have to earn and don’t have to deserve. You’re the one keeping it from yourself usually. I would love to hear how you see pleasure fitting into this puzzle.
Andrea: It’s interesting, I’ll be super transparent about it. I hadn’t really thought about pleasure until I started writing that chapter. And I worked with a sex therapist just to unpack a lot of stuff. It was rough. We took inventory. I have a weird memory, I remember every single man I’ve ever slept with, first and last name. I don’t know why.
I don’t know why, but we took inventory and I had to go through each one. And then I realized that maybe 20% of the men I had slept with made my pleasure a priority. So that’s where that chapter title came from, but it goes beyond sex and the orgasm gap.
And looking at all areas of pleasure, and the thing that I thought of – a couple of points I want to make here. One is that for me, exercising and moving my body, as someone with anxiety disorder and OCD, I have to work out. I don’t enjoy it. Let’s be honest, I don’t love it. If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t.
But my mental health depends on it. But that is not a hobby. That is not something I do for pleasure. That is hygiene, that is absolutely just like brushing my teeth so they don’t fall out. I have to work out.
So all that to say I had to really dig deep and think what are the things that I really enjoy? And I had been moving so quickly through my life that I didn’t know. So I had to slow down, which is hard for me. I’m an eight on the enneagram. I just run way up here, fast, fast, fast.
And I’m going to sound super cliche and life coach-y here but it is like, going out and move to rural North Carolina so we can have land and I have a huge front yard, going out there with no shoes on and taking five or 10 minutes to stand in the grass. Sleeping naked and feeling my skin on the sheet, actually tasting my food, how delicious it actually is in my mouth. These seem like simple no-brainers, but I’m a middle-aged working girl. I don’t have time…
Kara: They all require embodiment, right? And I think the reason that women struggle with pleasure is that women are socialized to disconnect and become alienated from their bodies. We’re taught that our bodies are an object for us to manipulate and change in order to secure approval from other people.
Our bodies are objects for other people to desire and our job with our bodies is just to make them as desirable or useful to other people as possible. So we’re totally alienated from our bodies.
I go through this with women when I coach them. Before we get to pleasure, just their inability to know if they’re having a feeling or what it feels like or what’s happening in their body. They’re just like – I used to describe law school as like a bunch of brains in a jar. Nobody had any bodies. It was just – it could have been all a mirage.
So I feel like pleasure is important for that also. It’s your birthright but it’s also just a chemical reaction in your body. It’s not a sign of virtue and it’s not a reward and it’s not any of that. It’s literal embodiment.
I feel like I was doing a really good job because my boyfriend the other day said to me like, “I don’t even know what to get you for a gift because you just already – you buy yourself flowers every week and you already have nice…” you’ve done all the things that are pleasurable for yourself and you just do whatever you want. You’re not missing anything. I was like, I know you’re complaining but I take that to be like, the sign of a job well done.
Andrea: Exactly. And that was something I had to work on. And that’s exactly it. It’s embodiment. For me sometimes it’s ecstatic dance, which I used to so roast and make fun of.
Kara: Isn’t the worst part about being a coach that you can’t – I was like, I can’t make fun of Tony Robbins anymore, I can’t make fun of…
Andrea: We have to have a sense of humor about some things. But yeah, I am living it up, solid gold dancer style in my office some days. I tell Alexa to throw it on and I embarrass my children. They know when they can hear me bouncing around, don’t come in.
Kara: I teach that sometimes too to use dance to have emotions move through your body. It’s such a perfect example of something that all little kids know how to do, just move their body to music, but then women get totally perfectionistic about it and then they want to look good doing it, because what really matters is if a man is watching you dance, does it look like you’re doing it well?
Andrea: So much to unpack, yes.
Kara: So in sum, everybody should go turn on some music, dance around for yourself.
Andrea: I had a George Michael dance party recently and I’m a Gen X-er, so George Michael to me is everything and I’m like, this music is so good, sexiest voice, love him. Turn on some George Michael.
Kara: Yeah. Even I don’t put on George Michael. I might be slightly younger than you. I’m that five-year generation between Gen X and millennials, whatever they are, the organ trail half generation, micro generation. So if you wanted to give people one – other than buy the book obviously, one piece of parting advice based on this work and your book, what would it be?
Andrea: I must be feeling really nice today and it is go easy on yourself. Because this is such a journey and they probably already know this but I’m going to remind them that it is not a one and done. You don’t go through a six-month program and you’re fixed. I am still constantly uncovering things about myself and moving through layers and unlearning things like diet culture and internalized misogyny and anti-racism work.
All the stuff. It’s big. These are heavy, complicated topics that have been living, that for a lack of a better expression, embedded in our DNA. And it’s going to take a minute and it might be really hard, so be exquisitely kind to yourself.
Kara: And you’re also okay, you’re perfect the way you are already also. I mean, part of the internalization of patriarchy and white supremacy and all the things I think is this idea that – well also, just honestly, the internalization of Christianity is that we need to be constantly perfecting ourselves to achieve salvation, which is – I have gone on many rants about this on the podcast before.
But it is a very – Christian ideology is not just the truth about the world, and not even all religions believe this. So I think that shows up in self-development work for women I think a lot. That sort of, okay, I’m going to get to – am I de-patriarchy programming myself well enough? That’s not the right question. When you are judging and evaluating your own “progress” in doing this work, that is the patriarchy.
Andrea: It’s messy work.
Kara: If you learn nothing else, be kind to yourself will change your life. So 100%. Thank you for coming on. Where can they find the book? Everywhere I assume?
Andrea: After August 31st wherever books are sold and yes, I have a 63-page workbook that’s free if people want it, they can have it to work through.
Kara: How can they get that?
Kara: Alright, andreaowen.com/noise. And of course, you should go buy the book, but if you did not enter the giveaway, give somebody else an extra copy. Make sure you rewind, listen to the intro, and we will tell you how to sign up for it.
Andrea: Thanks for listening everybody, and you my dear, are brilliant. I just want to tell you that.
Kara: Thank you. I’ve never heard that before but I’ll try to internalize it. I had a hilarious conversation about this with my friend Rachel about this when I was trying to work on this and she was like, what do you often hear? And I was like, well, people often tell me I’m one of the smartest people they’ve ever met. And she was like, you know that’s not normal, right?
I was like, no everybody hears that. And she was like, no, not everybody hears that. But it was such a good example because if somebody had said to me you’re the best singer I’ve ever met, I’d be like, that’s crazy. The things that come easily to us and people constantly compliment us for, we just don’t even think about and we fixate on the things that we don’t.
So thank you, I will accept that compliment. I am in fact learning that I am brilliant and everybody else is too, or at least many other people are because it is not a competitive industry. Alright, thank you so much for coming on Andrea.
Andrea: Thanks for having me. Bye everyone.
Alright chickens, so if you want to be entered to win a copy of Andrea’s amazing new book, Make Some Noise, here’s how you do it. We are giving away a free copy of the book.
You can text your email address to +1-347-997-1784, that’s +1-347-997-1784. And you can use the codeword MAKENOISE, all one word, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the book. Or you can go to unfuckyourbrain.com/makesomenoise.
So if you’re going to the URL, it’s unfuckyourbrain.com/makesomenoise, if you are texting us, you text your email to +1-347-997-1784 and the codeword is MAKENOISE, just one word. Please make sure you enter by September 9th to be considered.
We will be drawing the winner shortly thereafter and we will get in touch with you if you are the winner. Go enter. The book is amazing and of course, if you don’t win the raffle, go buy a copy of the book yourself. Or give one to a friend, or both.
If you’re loving what you’re learning in the podcast, you have got to come check out The Clutch. The Clutch is the podcast community for all things Unfuck Your Brain. It’s where you can get individual help applying the concepts to your own life.
It’s where you can learn new coaching tools not shared on the podcast that will blow your mind even more. And it’s where you can hang out and connect over all things thought work with other podcast chickens just like you and me. It’s my favorite place on earth and it will change your life, I guarantee it. Come join us at www.unfuckyourbrain.com/theclutch. That’s unfuckyourbrain.com/theclutch. I can’t wait to see you there.
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