Amy Smith is the creator of Joy Junkie and it is her mission to empower women to help to find their voice. There are ways to express how you feel without being engulfed with guilt, fear or blame.
Amy’s mantra gets discussed in our conversation and I want you to take the time to see how hers relates to your life and what mantra you could create for yourself.
Amy Smith is a certified confidence coach, masterful speaker and personal empowerment expert. She is the founder of thejoyjunkie.com and helps individuals find personal empowerment and self-love.
MOM GUILT + DEALING WITH NEGATIVITY
Mom guilt is real but doesn’t have to be. Amy wants you to give yourself permission to take time to heal your body as a new mom. Change your perception of the word guilt as it is a word reserved for when you did something wrong according to you. It doesn’t need to be used when you are doing what’s best for your body + mind.
Bring the same ideals that we have discussed in this episode to your children too. They are told so often to not feel what they feel and what is that doing to them? That is teaching them to hold in all that emotion. Amy wants you to be able to raise emotionally intelligent children that know that they have the power to feel these emotions, but they also have the power to acknowledge what they are grateful for.
INNER CRITIC vs. INTUITION
Amy discloses that this is one of the hardest personal development skills to master. Why? Because we are taught to be rational with our decisions and not pay attention to how we are feeling. By shutting it down, we are failing to be able to listen to our gut, listen to our intuition and listen to ourselves.
This is why teaching kids to be emotionally intelligent is so important. When you teach them early on what these emotions are, they will be able to identify with them, feel them and embody them.
Fear is going to be present with intuition or inner critic and that is when being emotionally intelligent is beneficial because you can dig in and see what that fear is telling you. Listen to this episode as Amy helps you differentiate the two based on how it makes you feel.
EMBRACING YOUR BODY
Listen to your body… it is always trying to tell you something. Whether that is related to aches + pains, your weight or even acne. Your body will give you signs for what it needs BUT you can’t be hard on your body for doing so.
Amy reminds us that we are responsible for the way our body looks, feels and moves. Experiencing aches + pains? Your posture might be off. Struggling with your weight? That can be caused by the foods that you are eating. Have a blemish that seems to never go away? Maybe it is a response to gluten.
As frustrating as it is to not know the answer to what your body is feeling… it’s there. You have to get out of your head and into your body because your body isn’t against you, it is doing what it can with what it is given. Amy suggests changing the conversations that we have with our bodies.
These conversations need to come from a place of grace + gratitude. It’s not that the pain, weight or acne doesn’t exist, it’s changing the way you talk to it that makes you love yourself.
You have more control over your body than you believe. To learn how to take control of your health, check out my ‘Hereditary vs. Choice. You Have Control Over Your Health.' episode where we talk about healthier choices we can be made daily.
My favorite takeaway from our conversation came from how we view our bodies, health + well-being. She reminds us that we don’t lose our worth because of something we're not. Our value is defined not by comparison but by individualization. We are enough despite what we're not, and that is enough worth in itself. Check out more on this topic by watching the video below!
It is easy to approach your body with anger because it’s not doing what you want it to, it’s not looking the way it should or it’s not functioning optimally with your daily life. Give your body the chance to enjoy the journey as you show it love on the way to reach your goals.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Erica: I am excited to have Amy Smith on The Core Connections Podcast! She is a certified confident coach, masterful speaker and personal empowerment expert. She is the founder of thejoyjunkie.com and helps individuals find personal empowerment and self-love.
What inspired you on this path to empower women?
Amy: How much time do you have? Because this has been a huge piece of my journey. As for many of us, I went through this traumatic chapter in my life and I look at it as the breakdown creates the breakthrough.
I went to coaching school and have been involved in personal development for almost 15 years. I had a quarter-life crisis in my early 20’s that landed me in the field and profession of coaching. Originally, I was focusing on relationships and communication inside marriages in relation to what makes a relationship work for the long haul. I had gotten to a point where I was starting to get frustrated with working in that niche for a variety of reasons. Coincidentally around that same time when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to work with an individual vs a couple, I lost my father.
I grew up in an extremely conservative born-again Christian family. I now realize that my upbringing was very radical and cultish compared to others that identify as Christian these days. Prior to being involved with personal development, I was a makeup artist. When my father passed away, I knew I wanted to do the makeup on his body and I was going to speak at the service as well.
I spent hours doing makeup on my father’s corpse and spoke to hundreds of hundreds of people who were laying hands on me and expressing dogma that I don’t subscribe to. We get home to my mother’s house and she finds that the most opportune time to say, “It just feels like we failed as parents,” because the three of us, me and my two younger brothers, aren’t, “walking with the lord”.
I stood there in shock. My brothers never had a ton of drive and I was the kid working since I was 14. I was an honor student, put myself through college, got married and moved out. By all accounts, I was the good kid. But here I am being lumped in as being a disappointment to my mom simply because I didn’t ascribe to the same faith that she brought us up with.
At that moment, the only thing I could really mutter was, “I don’t think you should say that to a child.” She said, “That’s just how I feel.” I realized in that moment that this was an ultimatum moment. I don’t think that speaking up for yourself, or establishing boundaries, or saying “no” is always an ultimatum. But I do think there are moments when it really does come down to, I either choose you, or I choose me. If push comes to shove, I choose me. I’m not going to end up on my deathbed going,
“I’m so glad I lived a life for everybody else instead of what I wanted.”
That was the impetuous to switch the niche that I operated in, but what was so interesting is the trajectory that followed.
I became extremely combative. It was almost like I had this gust of, “What I have to say matters,” and it was led by a lot of anger and bitterness from my youth. After I got through that period, I realized, “Oh sh**, you can actually speak up for yourself, and be assertive, and do so with grace and kindness,” which has become a huge message behind what I do. It’s not that you speak up and leave a train of decimated people behind you, but you can do it all. You can ask adult children to move out of the house and do so with the utmost compassion. You can ask for a divorce. You can tell your parents that you don’t believe in the religion you were raised in. You can do all of that with incredible respect and compassion.
That is one of the things that I feel so strongly about. There are ways to do that without being engulfed by guilt, fear or blaming yourself for hurting somebody else.
Erica: I love how you talked about being able to do all of this with grace and kindness. Those words are so, so powerful. I have a question that you mentioned at the end, talking about fear driving your decisions. We can find ourselves being held back by fear. I feel like women can relate to that because we are either too scared to bring something up or too afraid to say no. Do you have any recommendations for tackling that fear that some of us tend to have more than others?
Amy: If you think about it, we have a lot of terms that we throw around in our society like “sweep it under the rug”, “opening up a can of worms”, or “rocking the boat”. These phrases that we throw around that essentially mean shut up and you better take care of everybody else’s feelings before you take care of yours.
Related to the fear, I think that it’s a two-fold. It’s fear and it’s also guilt. As it relates to fear, I see two prevalent pieces of awareness that people should check in with. The first piece of this is when you voice up about something, decline an invite or are unable to come through for a friend you view yourself as a b****. We equate not being able to come through for someone as malicious. The other piece is purposefully inflicting pain on someone. If I have this knowledge that breaking up with this person is going to destroy them, then I can’t be the inflicter of that pain. But taking responsibility for how someone else is feeling is such a false way of thinking.
I think we need to decipher what we are actually responsible for. One of the things that I would offer to people is to try on this idea that you are responsible for your intention, not your reception. We think this all the time, “This conversation will be successful as long as my mother-in-law sees it my way.” We are so tied to other people validating our thoughts, opinions or stances. But we can’t control that reception. We can only control how we are showing up.
I like to say, if your intention is to hurt somebody, then yes that doesn’t warrant guilt because you are being malicious. That does warrant feeling guilt. But if you are establishing a boundary or you are speaking up for yourself and it is coming from a place of self-care, honesty, authenticity or compassion, then your side of the road is clean. Women far more than men feel as though they need to be responsible for how other people feel. And that mantra of,
“I am responsible for my intention, not my reception,”
can be a game changer especially if you are going into a conversation that you are a little nervous about.
I do want to say something about guilt that might give a tangible element to people. I know you talk a lot about fitness and taking care of our physical body and for a lot of women they think, “It’s selfish to take time to workout after I had this new baby.” Mom guilt is so real and we take on this idea that we have something to be guilty for.
I want to encourage everyone to change the way you view guilt. Because guilt is truly reserved for when you have done something wrong according to you. Not according to your in-laws, not according to your boss, or not according to your spouse. But a lot of times you say, “I feel guilty,” when we’ve done nothing wrong. When you simply can’t make it to that party, when you can’t take on an additional client because you need a little downtime, or you can’t meet a friend for lunch because you need to go workout or else you are going to go crazy. You say, “I feel guilty,” when that’s not what’s happening.
Instead of saying “guilt,” say, “I feel concern for that other person. I feel compassion. I feel empathy,” or in many situations,
“I straight up feel uncomfortable because somebody else wants something from me and I want something different.”
Everyone has a different barometer of what is right and wrong and that is important to keep in mind as well.
For instance, my mom has repeatedly invited me to specific church functions that I find offensive. I have totally respected that that’s her avenue and that is what she believes in. But I would also like reciprocal respect. I don’t invite you to new moon ceremonies and I don’t talk to you about astrology so I would appreciate that in return. In that situation, I have spoken up and said,
“I know that’s not your intention at all to offend, but please know it’s something I’m not interested in. I will come to you if I am ever interested. My humble request is that you stop inviting me and I truly hope you can understand and respect that.”
That’s the delivery that I foster and teach people.
This applies to smaller situations too like declining an invite or not baking 400 cupcakes for your kid’s school. Look at it as have you done something wrong according to you. If not, stop saying “guilty” or “I feel bad,” because you reinforce that. You reinforce that you are responsible for that other person.
Erica: Life is so much about perception. I have three kids and they could all go through the exact situations in life and each one could see it as a completely different situation. I think that applies to everything. Everything is about how somebody perceives it.
If somebody has a problem with something that you do and you know that for you it was the right decision, it’s more on them in a sense. This is a big topic I want to talk about which is how do we stay positive around negative people? Sometimes it’s inevitable whether it is with family, friends, kid’s friends’ parents. You end up in situations where it’s not your cup of tea but you have to be there. Do you have any good recommendations on how to approach this?
Amy: I have tons of things you could do for this. The first is, I would really take a solid look at if there are many ways that you can eliminate or scale down any type of toxic relationship. A lot of times it’s not necessarily that you can’t speak up, it’s that you won’t. What is an important governing rule to operate under is to not allow your silence to make you a liar.
I do community theatre in my spare time and I had an experience where one of the people I was performing with showed me a meme on his phone that he thought was hilarious, but to me, it was poking fun at a mentally and physically disabled child that I found wildly offensive. So, he was showing me and doing that, “Ha-ha, isn’t this hilarious?” I looked at it and said, “You know what, I actually find that really offensive. I’d appreciate it if you don’t show that to me,” and I walked away. It wasn’t about getting into this heated debate about if I’m being overly sensitive. It was I can’t stand here in integrity and pretend that I’m complicit with this conversation.
The important thing to remember is that you can say something and walk away. Or you can say,
“I don’t share that opinion, anybody up for changing the subject?”
For me, my integrity is too prized that I will not allow myself to be in an environment where I’m not at least voicing that I’m uncomfortable.
I also don’t think that is easy for people by any stretch.
One of my favorite tactics to use is starting off with something that’s a little bit of a joke. What I mean by that is let’s say you are around a bunch of soccer moms. They are all starting to complain about their husbands and you notice that it is extremely negative. You might say something like,
“Alright, let’s talk about all the stuff that is going wrong. Ha-ha, just kidding guys. But on a serious note, what’s going awesome? What are you thankful for? I saw that Jimmy is doing so much better with his ankle.”
You can switch up the subject and you can be the thesis statement for the new content that you want to talk about.
I find that being passive-aggressive, or joking about it, is usually more accessible for people than straight up vulnerability and saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s really offensive to me.”
Erica: I like that transition because I feel like moms get stuck with a certain group of parents due to kids’ activities and whatnot and sometimes don’t know what to do or what to say. There is so much negativity out there and you see it in a lot of people and it gets to a point where you don’t want to be a part of that.
When I hear my children start to complain about school, I try to flip the switch for them and ask them to tell me something that they are grateful for. Being able to do this with the people closest around you can end up being more powerful because of that ripple effect.
Amy: I am a huge advocator of creating emotionally intelligent children. I feel as though many children are told that what they are feeling is not right,
“Don’t be scared. Don’t be a baby. Don’t be crying. Don’t be upset.”
I think there is a way to foster all the emotions that they feel. What I would advocate is putting a container around it and starting to teach them language to identify the emotions that they’re feeling so they are not always pissed. Because anger is a surface emotion, and usually underneath that, there is something that they’re afraid or embarrassed by.
If we just say, “Tell me what’s positive,” then we negate that piece, we don’t allow them their actual expanse as a human. My best friend and I will always go, “I need to tell you the things I’m mad at really quick, and then I’m going to get over it, and then I’m going to tell you what I’m going to do about it.”
With kids, I think it is important to say,
“You are allowed to feel what you feel. Here are some healthy ways to process it. If you are angry you can beat the hell out of your bed. You can scribble furiously. You can take some time and just cry. But know that that’ll be limited, just so you can get that out and acknowledge how you are feeling, and then let’s shift to the things we want to create.”
My answer is to create a time limit and maybe come up with a name for venting in the house, “Alright, you have five minutes to tell me what you don’t like and then we are going to shift into what everybody is happy about.”
Erica: That’s a good visual way to put it, I’ve never thought of that before, thank you for sharing that. I want to talk about the difference between our inner critic and our intuition because we all have our own intuition.
Amy: I am going to prompt this by saying that this is probably one of the most challenging personal development skills to master. I still struggle with it all the time because we are taught to be cognitive. We are taught to rationale everything and to be logical. We are not taught to feel into our decisions, but we have been given it and we have been told to shut it down. A lot of it comes down to emotional intelligence and starting to listen to what you feel. That is your first step.
My dad used to play this game with me when I was a kid where he would go, “Show me excited,” and then I’d be like, “Aah.” Or, “Show me scared,” and I’d be like, “Ugh.” I had to show him these faces based on the emotions he gave me and through this, I learned what these emotions were, what they felt like and how to embody them. I think it was more as entertainment for him, more so than it was to teach me emotional intelligence.
But so many people have turned this off and one of the things you can start doing is constantly asking yourself, “What am I feeling? What do I speculate the name of this is? Shame? Embarrassment? Guilt? Excitement?” Because we don’t have that vocabulary a lot of the times so that is a good baby step.
When we start talking about nurturing intuition versus inner critic, I think the biggest piece to understand is that physical response of fear is going to be present whether you are onto something positive in your life, or whether it is an abort mission, red flag situation.
Fear is going to be present with intuition or inner critic.
That is why you have to dig into that emotion of what you are really afraid of. Are you afraid of success? Are you afraid of putting yourself out there? Of vulnerability? Then that is probably your intuition saying, “Yeah, I got to get into action here.”
If it is the inner critic, it is probably going to give you fear that is like,
“What if I fail? You’re not good enough. What if you can’t provide for your family?”
It is usually more on a loop and you are much more in your head as intuition is visceral, it’s in your body and it’s something you can’t explain. That feeling you get where you say, “That person rubs me the wrong way.” Everyone has done this with dating. You go,
”But she looks good on paper, but he has such a great job, or it makes sense for me to like him.”
We rationalize. I call it the cognitive override instead of leaning into that intuition.
The secret is to listen to that visceral knowing more and more often. The easy way in is to start playing with your emotional intelligence and look at what you are feeling and start giving names to that. That starts to create a more heightened awareness around intuition.
Erica: If you just start to go in a little bit deeper, and a little bit deeper, and before you know it we start to get less heady in our choices and lets you get more into your body. I can tell you over the years I have had these shifts and that is where my best stuff comes from. You get these magical moments and figure things out.
Amy: Another little tactile tool you can use is if you are trying to make a decision, visualize holding one choice in your right hand and another choice in your left hand and start to weigh what feels more beneficial. It is like you are trying on these different outfits to see which one fits better. The answer is in your gut. The answer is not whatever happens in the future, whether you made the right decision or not, that’s up to you.
Erica: Because a lot of my audience is women, and many of them moms, I want to talk about embracing your body by showing grace, compassion and love for yourself. What advice do you have for our listeners to help them build their self-confidence and self-esteem?
Amy: I look at my body as my friend. I’ll give you a little anecdote about my own life. I used to get really upset with my knees as I started developing patellar tendinitis. I would have trouble with my workouts where I used to be incredibly agile. I became mad at my body. I was yelling at my body like, “Why can’t you perform? You suck. You’re awful. I hate you.” We do the same thing with our weight, stretch marks, acne, or wrinkles. We hate our body for allowing this to happen instead of understanding that we did that. We did that. Whether it’s the choices that we’ve made or what you have consumed, being a sun bunny or whatever it is, we are not observing.
For instance, now when my knees start to act up, I’m like, “Oh, pain. Pain is just messaging.” Whether it’s emotional pain or physical pain. It is just my body’s way of trying to get my attention that something is awry. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have the pain, but it is how I converse with my body that is different.
It is changing your relationship from one of acrimony to one of we are in this together.
Even if I have a bad break out or I am a little heavier than I normally am, I tell my body,
“Thank you so much for still getting up out of bed. I know you have been having a hard time sleeping with this little extra weight.”
Or if I have a breakout, instead of talking s*** to myself in the mirror I’ll go,
“Oh, I know what I did. I had a little too much gluten. I’m so, so sorry. That is my fault, I am going to try to eliminate that. I’m working on it, thank you for trying to kill that blemish as much as possible."
It’s not that the blemish doesn’t exist, or that the pain doesn’t exist, or that the extra pounds don’t exist, it’s how you are talking to yourself that feels a s*** ton better. That’s the whole point. If you are going to have a little extra weight in your midsection, let’s at least have a conversation with our body that acknowledges what’s happening, but from a more powerful collaborative place. I will never say something to my body that I wouldn’t say to a child because I am responsible for this body.
We need to acknowledge that it is not against us, it is doing everything that it can to keep us afloat given what we are putting into it.
Erica: Looking at our ailments as a message to us to improve upon some of the choices that we’re making and to get healthier. That is so good to think of in this world where we are trying to compare our bodies to someone else’s when you are your own body.
Amy: Even talking to kids about this and explaining that there is room for us to not like our situation, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t like our bodies. We collapse those two all the time. I’m not saying, “Love that you’re 100 pounds’ overweight.” Or, “Love the texture of your skin.” It’s, “I love me even though I haven’t attained a goal,” or, “even though I haven’t reached optimum health.” It’s two totally different things.
That is a hard thing for adults to grasp but I think there is a way to start those seeds young. Communicate to your children that there are ways to be a really strong athlete or to achieve a certain level in soccer, but have them understand that they don’t have to do those things to be a valuable human. They are already valuable, and they are already worthy. Then you get to have any type of goal outside of that. But let them know that they don’t lose their value or their worth depending on how heavy they are, or how skinny they are, or how pretty they are or how acneic they are. That is just part of the human experience. You can work with those things, but that doesn’t mean that you are not valuable. Work on loving yourself as you improve your situation.
Erica: One thing that I wanted to put out there with the body + weight is that if there is something that you feel is standing in the way of you loving your body the way it is, that could be the missing piece from you getting from where you are now to your goal. Sometimes it is the emotional stuff that can hold us back from reaching our goals.
Instead of thinking, “Once I lose 20 pounds, I am going to love my body better,” do it the other way around. It is not going to change overnight, but the stuff that Amy and I have brought up today is enough tools to help you feel that much more connected, love your body and accept who you are today.
Amy: Absolutely. I hear a lot of times people say, “If I’m all happy and love myself now, I’m going to be complacent. I’m never going to want to get off the couch.” I’m like,
“No, you will be surprised how much more motivated you are and that you will actually enjoy the journey because you are being nice to yourself along the way.”
Fear and being mean to yourself can motivate you, but it makes for a s***ty existence if you are not happy throughout.
Start speaking kindly to yourself. And I know what you are saying, “Great, Amy and Erica. That sounds fantastic. I can’t wait. I’m just going to start loving my body, I will turn that right on.” One of the things that I teach people to use is a term that I’ve coined progressive language. Instead of saying, “I love my body,” or, “I love who I am,” say something like,
“I’m exploring what positive body image looks like. I’m open to creating a new relationship with my body. I’m discovering what it looks like to let go of old weight paradigms.”
Something that will acknowledge where you are as an A to B, instead of an A to Z.
Erica: Thank you for sharing that, Amy. Can you share with everyone where they can find more about you?
Amy: My little corner of the internet is thejoyjunkie.com. I have free trainings, free workbooks to specifically help catapult self-love and self-confidence. I do a weekly podcast with my lovely husband on tons of these topics. I’d be honored for you to come hang out.
The material contained within is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before beginning a new regiment or purchasing any product(s).