Zoe Blaskey of Motherkind joins me on the Calmer You podcast. Her message: knowing you’re enough.
We chat about:
- Not feeling good enough – why it happens and how we can overcome it
- Zoe’s experience of perfectionism and how she’s not letting it hold her back anymore
- Healing intergenerational trauma – healing the past for ourselves and our kids
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Chloe Brotheridge 0:01
Hello and welcome to the Calmer You podcast.
This is your host, Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a coach, a hypnotherapist, and I’m the author of the Anxiety Solution and Brave New Girl. And this podcast is all about helping you to become your calmest, happies and most confident self.
Have a load of free resources on my website to help you to become your Calmest self. Head on over to Calmer-you.com/free to grab those freebies
Now, today’s guest is the wonderful Zoe Blaskey who is the founder of Motherkind. She is a host of the Motherkind Podcast. It’s for coaches and mothers of all backgrounds, from global CEOs to full-time moms on how to navigate the huge challenges of modern motherhood.
Who’s this episode for – everyone
This episode is for you if you are a parent and 100% applies to anyone else who doesn’t have kids yet or doesn’t want kids.
Her work has helped me a lot. These themes are so universal. We get into all sorts of topics. We talk about not feeling good enough. I can relate personally to so much of what Zoe shares in her story and her experiences. I feel like we’ve been on quite a similar path in many ways.
We talk about perfectionism, and Zoe shares about how she’s not letting that hold her back anymore.
I asked her this question, how are you really and she’s really open and honest about that. We even get into the incredibly juicy topic of healing intergenerational trauma, which I am just fascinated by this whole topic.
We learn about how not to pass on our stuff to our kids, but also ensuring that we can be the happiest and best versions of ourselves. I hope you love this episode.
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I think you’re gonna love it. Welcome, Zoe,
How are you doing?
I’m okay. Thanks for having me.
It feels really good to get to speak again, and learn how things have changed for you since we last spoke. One thing I quite often like to start my interviews off with is asking: How are you really?
In this moment, I feel really tired. I’ve got a three-month-old at home. I decided that I would carry on with just my podcast and being a guest on other’s. It feels manageable. Some days, it’s totally fine with the lack of sleep. I feel actually really good and energised on other days. It’s one of those days today where it isn’t enough and and I feel quite tired.
I tried to meditate in the taxi on the way here to help revive me. I feel slightly concerned that my brain isn’t going to be able to pull out and articulate what I’m trying to say. It can’t get the words I need.
How sleep impacts our well-being
Before having kids I could catch up the next night if I had an off-night of sleep. You don’t get to catch up on sleep. I think it’s the relentless nature of it like night after night, having broken sleep.
If my husband used to wake me up before we had kids, I’d just go into the spare room. My sleep is totally dependent on someone else. It’s hard. I was sharing it on Instagram the other day. I needed to remind myself how the lack of sleep really affects my emotions.
As a result of being tired, it makes me feel really overwhelmed a lot more quickly than I would do normally. I just have to keep reminding myself of that in the moment and anyone else I’m with. I noticed that my anxiety kicks in a lot quicker and louder. My inner critic is harder to respond to in a kind way. Everything just feels a bit harder on the inside.
The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for our emotional control centre. Basically, we’re loads more emotional when we are tired. So if I cry during this podcast, you’ll know why.
How do you manage those feelings? How do you take care of yourself on those days and when you haven’t slept well?
Tips for managing sleep deprivation
Yes, a good question. The first thing I do is to remember the science as to why. I try to remember that because that makes me much, much kinder to myself.
When I feel out of sorts, I just think it’s okay, it’s because I’m tired. It’s not because I’m a bad mom or because I can’t control my anxiety or my critic is right that I am rubbish. There’s a reason as to why I feel so tired.
It’s important to stay hydrated, because hydration really helps me and there’s some science behind that as well. Also slowing down. So before recording this today, I haven’t done anything else. I actually went back to bed when my little girl took a nap at about 9am. Keeping it really simple helps.
When I’m tired I try to take things out of the diary that doesn’t need to be there. With email sometimes it doesn’t matter if I reply in a few days. I just try to be kinder to myself. When I’m tired, I find that really helps.
That’s such an important thing to remember too. It can seem as if everything else is so important, but actually your mental state effects everything. Tools for keeping calm are really helpful. Taking the nap or a night off or going to bed early or whatever it is you need to do. I think that has to come first naturally.
Even after all of these years of recovery and healing I still find it really hard. I don’t know about you, but I still find it really hard to actually prioritise sleep and rest. Sometimes I’ll need to cancel something and risk upsetting someone. It’s still a muscle that I have to keep working on.
I know enough now to override that feeling and take the right action. We don’t have to listen to that first thought and can replace it with a more helpful second thought and then take a positive first action. That’s a little practice I do.
Can you share a bit more about your journey and how you got to where you are today? This wasn’t always the case for you, that you’re able to look after yourself and to make that positive choice.
Feeling good enough
It was typical for me to be deeply unkind to myself and always feel like I wasn’t good enough.
Being bullied at school, I internalised a lot of those messages and made them my truth. My family has lots of unresolved trauma, which I didn’t know anything about. It’s only through years of therapy that I started to unpick all of that and work out its impact on me.
That meant along the way I picked up some interesting life tools, which actually were quite helpful when I was younger and trying to get through and muddle things out into adulthood. It was unhelpful to not feel my feelings. I would put how things looked over how things felt for me. I’d get all my validation from outside of myself. I was really bad at saying no. I didn’t know who I was and was quite a mess.
How do you numb your problems?
In order to cope with my internal life and how miserable that was, I would use things like alcohol to numb and partying and dating a lot. Working really hard in academia was another way to numb.
Though I didn’t feel lucky at the time, I was lucky because I had a big breakdown when I was 22 though I didn’t feel lucky at the time. What was lucky about it is that I used that experience to get the help that I’m so grateful.
From that point I radically changed. Learning about trauma and what it is and how to look after myself. I basically turned myself inside out and upside down and started living from a completely different roadmap. I started doing some trainings in coaching and meditation and goingto workshops.
Working in the city, I never told anyone what I was doing as if I was living a double life. I’d go on meditation or a Kundalini yoga retreats and not tell anyone what I did over the weekend.
Transitioning to motherhood
When I had my daughter four years ago, a couple of things happened. I found myself on a Kundalini teacher training and that changed my life. Then I had my daughter, and I couldn’t believe how hard it was being a mom. All of the tools, techniques and practices I’d been using until that point, went out the window because they didn’t fit.
I looked for conversations about parenting online. I looked for a podcast, I looked for forums, I look for meetups and there was nothing about the transition into motherhood, and what that can do for how we feel about ourselves.
A lot of past stuff was coming up for me that I hadn’t come up before. One of our mutual friends Lucy Sheridan, who’s known as the comparison coach, she said to me, I think you need to create this thing that you need. I said no way like, I don’t want to do that, that’s not me. She said if you need it there’s going to be other people that need it. That became Motherkind. I just did it for me. It turns out other people did feel the same.
I was stalking you on Instagram, as I said earlier, and just the comments from people and the massive response that you receive on Motherkind are so positive
Integrating positive messages
Every day I get messages from people saying that it’s changed their life.
Sometimes I don’t take enough time to really integrate that message into my reality because I’m quite an achiever. I’m a recovering achiever and a recovering workaholic. So for me, it’s really hard to not think about how to reach more people.
How do I make it bigger? I’m so grateful. I get a lot of those really amazing things, I actually want to start getting much better at sitting with it and almost taking that message into my heart and slowing down. I am really ambitious. And that’s a good thing. I think I’ve got an important message to share. But equally, I need to get better at integrating the impact that it’s having on my life.
What is enough?
The need to do more seems to be a common theme of modern life. It’s never enough and the need to keep wanting more. More money, more success, more fame, more belongings, you know, whatever.
If someone would have said to me, you’d have this podcast and working with all of these amazing brands and impacting all of these people, I would have thought that was an absolute dream. Yet here I am living that dream. And I’m incredibly grateful for it. But as you say, we live in a society which perpetually tells us we need something more than we’ve got to be okay. I call it the When-Then Game, like when I get this, then I’ll feel happy.
When I get that promotion, then I’ll feel happy. When I get that bigger house, then I’ll feel happy. For me, it’s a daily thing I just keep having to remind myself. You could have a million followers on Instagram and a number one podcast and I don’t think I’d actually feel any different. You know, if I can’t appreciate it as I’ve got it, I’m not gonna appreciate it then. I have to keep reminding myself this.
A lot of what you are saying is not feeling good enough. This is really at the root of so many of our issues. I have found it from my own life, and from the majority of my clients, I would say, if not every client. Every person I meet will have this sense of not feeling good enough in some area of their lives. It causes so much damage and yet it seems to be universal.
The adapted child idea
It’s like an epidemic, isn’t it? It’s the same with the people I work with. After a few sessions I peel it back, and they always get to that felling of not being good enough. That was my experience. I didn’t feel safe. I just didn’t feel enough being me.
That’s when we have this adapted child idea. It’s a therapeutic idea, but I use it in coaching, which is when we don’t feel good enough, we then adapt in some way in order to get that feeling of being good enough. For me, it really played out in workaholism and achievement. There’s a myriad of ways that we can adapt in order to get that love. Like people-pleasing.
I was just thinking about my own life. I was thinking, being good and being nice and not being too much trouble. We all have different adaptations.
I really abandoned myself because I didn’t feel good enough. I would have friendships that people basically bullied me and I’d stay friends with them. It’s really sad.
Going back into my childhood, I really have to speak to that small girl who was eight or nine, who kept going back to the people that were bullying me because I was just so desperate for that love and validation. I didn’t feel enough on my own. I really see this everywhere I go. Most people are running some sort of adaptation. That’s what my journey has been about. Peeling back the layers of those coping tools and those adaptations to who I am really.
I’m ok with that. Just as I am, without having to say yes all the time. I don’t need to be afraid that there’s not going to be anymore work if I don’t take that job or call.
We have to ask ourselves where does it all come from.
Epidemic of modern society? Feeling good enough
Is it the human condition? Is it a spiritual reason that we don’t feel good enough or is it modern society that is creating this?
I’ve come to be incredibly interested and passionate about how unconscious parenting, not bad parenting, unconscious parenting. The impact that has on the child who then if they don’t grow conscious, they then unconsciously parent and you get this cycle. I’ve tracked it back in my family about seven generations. Having no awareness of this, the behaviour that we’re doing in order to get the love that we need.
My family has lots of addiction because there’s lots of trauma. It leads to not feeling good enough. Not that it all comes from parents, but I think a big part of it comes from how we’re parented. I know it’s totally unconscious. I had amazing parents, but they really valued achievement. I’d be really praised when I did well, so I got the message, subconsciously that I’m loved when I’m doing well. I can’t do well all the time because I’m human. I must not be okay. The other thing that’s really fascinating about children is that up to the age of about seven, they operate on a different brainwave. Do you know this?
Yeah, through hypnotherapy you kind of try and get back into that brainwave state, it’s almost like a dance.
Children operate in the same brainwave that you’re getting people into when you work with them until they’re seven. Those beliefs basically get locked into our brains. The great news is, we have neuroplastic brains, we can change them. If we’re not aware, that we’re running those unconscious beliefs we can never challenge our own behavior or realise that we are good enough. I think is fascinating and I’m sure it has an impact on this and knowing you’re enough.
Intergenerational healing has become a big focus of my own work on myself and my clients as well. Not feeling good enough get handed down. I can see my granny gave it to my mom, my mom gave it to me, my great grandma gave it to my grandma.
Basically a fancy name for a family tree, but instead of mapping, it’s from family therapy.
I’ve got it on one sheet of paper. I can see all the trauma and pain and dysfunction that’s been running across my family from my dad’s side and my mom’s side for generations. It’s very powerful because really what that gives me is a huge sense of compassion for myself. That’s where it started for me. I thought, why am I this way?
Being more forgiving of our parents
When I look at it, I couldn’t have been any other way really. So I don’t need to beat myself up. It gives me huge compassion for my parents. They were doing such an amazing job given they were carrying all that trauma and they didn’t have the opportunity to do the healing work that I have.
My mom did amazingly knowing how she felt on the inside. Now I know a bit more about how she felt on the inside. You know, it was a miracle. It’s an instant way to remove that blame and that resentment and that anger. It really worked for me. Bathing in all that compassion and realising this isn’t really anyone’s fault. It helps knowing you’re enough
There’s a lot of pain here. I’ve been into it personally for a few years now. People started asking me about it more professionally. I think it’s going to be something that I’m going to do a lot more on.
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Responsibility without blame
Chloe e 26:52
It’s not about blaming people. It can be about recognising there’s responsibility without blame. There can be so much compassion that can arise from realising that the way your are is not your fault.
I always say it’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility. It’s not my fault that I got given a set circumstances which meant that I had some pain to deal with. I created a lot of that pain myself and it’s my responsibility to look at it. It’s really easy way to avoid taking responsibility by blaming others. The easiest way that we get to not work on ourselves is to point the finger outwards.
For example, not blaming our parents for how we are.
You are not taking any responsibility. So it’s not your fault that you might be anxious, but it’s really important that we think, Okay, what am I going to do about it now that I’ve got a choice. I believe it is really brave to take that first step rather than carry on blaming others.
I love the idea of remembering that we have a choice because it’s so much more empowering.
Blaming our partners
I always remember that for myself. You know, sometimes I sort of really enjoy it. Enjoy the resentment and a bit of blame. I’ll say okay, you go there, that’s cool. But know that nothing good can come of this and then it doesn’t feel as good anymore. The alternative is knowing how to get out of it.
Often we blame our partners. You know, they don’t do this. They don’t do that. Alternatively, we need to think about what that that person is triggering in me. It’s hard to do. But, as you say, it’s the most empowering thing. Then we’re not a victim of our circumstances, not a victim of what someone else is doing to me. We actually get to say, Okay, well, that really triggered me. What is it in me that’s triggered and that’s how we start doing this sort of the healing work. A lot of those triggers will come from our experience of childhood.
That makes much sense to me . My partner just trained in NLP neuro linguistic programming. He’ll ask me, why are you choosing to be angry?
We can learn so much from being triggered and what is causing it.
I’ve got fears about passing my bullshit onto my kids. And actually, your work gives me a lot of hope. I do feel very encouraged by the message and knowing you’re enough
So well, I nearly didn’t have kids because of that. We went to see this amazing couples therapist because my husband was desperate for children. He’s been broody since he was 12. He is the best dad. I have to say he is incredible. When we got married he said let’s have children. I honestly wasn’t expecting this of myself and the freakout was monumental.
We went into couples therapy to talk about it and I said to this therapist I’m not healed enough. I’m still so codependent. There is still so much trauma that I still haven’t addressed and she said to me: if you wait until you feel perfectly healed to have children, you’ll never have them. We all area work in progress.
Being open with our kids
I teach my child that all the time: Mommy’s going to Al-anon which is a 12 step group that I go to. Mommy’s going to therapy, Mommy’s going to yoga, it’s good for her mind. Mommy’s doing this mommy’s doing that. I talk about imposter syndrome and my inner critic. I talk openly to her about all this stuff. So that when inevitably, you know, she has hardships or she develops a tricky relationship with herself, hopefully, she will be able to put some words to the experience.
I’d never heard the word anxiety before. My parents just didn’t talk about anything to do with mental health. So I had no idea of what these thoughts and feelings were that I was having. I’ll talk about the trauma in our family at an age-appropriate time. When we get there, whereas for me it was all hidden under the carpet.
I definitely relate to a lot of what you’re saying there. If I’d been able to have more open conversations with my parents growing up instead of things getting swept under the carpet, I think things would have been different. Having that conversation with your kids from an early age must be so helpful.
Sweeping it under the carpet
I have so much compassion for you now, because I hear that things were just swept under the carpet a lot. I totally get why my parents just swept it under the rug. They didn’t have the language and had not done the work on themselves.
They were a bit disconnected from that feeling. It would have been a big stretch for them to be able to hold space for me for their issues. We can’t give what we don’t have. I think the best thing parents and nonparents can do is to look after ourselves. Do this inquiry work to break the chain.
I’ve seen perfectionism be such a massive part of people’s anxiety. What’s been your experience of that in your own life and also with people that you
I was a massive perfectionist. That was one of my coping tools for masking the fact that I wasn’t feeling enough. Because when we don’t feel enough, we have to compensate in some way.
Some people go the other way, actually and become totally under responsible and rebellious. I went the other way and decided I’m just gonna try and be perfect. I’m just going to try and wear a mask and smile all the time and not let anyone know my true feelings. I’m going to just be a good girl.
Good girl adaptation
Good good girl adaptation is very, very, very prevalent amongst our generation of women. I just didn’t feel good enough. So I felt this need to seem perfect. I was incredibly hard on myself. I would beat myself up I made a mistake.
The volume has really turned down since I’ve been doing this work. I’ve got a really kind voice that comes in first now. Before nothing I did was good enough. And the problem of living like that is it’s sort of like living on a hamster wheel and there’s no break. I never let myself celebrate any achievements ever. It was always on to the next and then the next.
This doesn’t work
One of the one key ideas that I got from my childhood was that if you can get things on the outside, like a good degree and a good job, a nice husband and a good house, then that’s gonna make you feel good on the inside.
So it’s so interesting to have that realisation to, to achieve a goal and actually think, oh, it’s not how I expected it to be. It’s not delivering on the promise.
I often wonder why so many famous people, when they reach the height of fame, they seem to unravel. I can only equate that to the desire of feeling good enough. But I got it and it did not make me feel okay.
I was listening to a podcast with Russell Brand talking about how famous people depend on the praise of others people. The flip side of that is that when you get criticism, your self esteem is hung on the praise and criticism of other people and you kind of let that get to you too much. Talk about knowing you’re enough
If you’re at peace with yourself inside it doesn’t matter what’s going on outside you’ll still be peaceful.
Depression and feeling good enough
There is so much depression that is present in our society. For so many people, the depression comes from not feeling good enough or feeling like a failure. Is it the way our society is structured? I don’t mean to blame society. Advertising, for example, about how we need to buy stuff or have stuff to be okay. That is so damaging to our mental. Maybe thousands of years ago when we all had nothing we were probably a lot happier. It’s just interesting to think about the pressures that were we are under.
I believe every individual is totally different. Some children might hit that speaking milestone way earlier or way later, but we are already in the system of comparison. I was constantly comparing myself because my esteem was so low. When I had Jessie, one of the first things they did was map her weight and height on this chart. A form of comparing her against all other babies. I just thought wow, this stuff starts it’s really insidiously.
Then we go to school and we are all expected to learn the same stuff in the same way even though we know people learn differently and have different talents. we measure everyone on this academic performance through our school system. Then we wonder why people have to go into therapy and coaching and see people like you and I peeling back all this stuff to work out who we really are and knowing you’re enough
Can you Offer any other any kind of practical tools that people can be doing, or practising at home?
Tools for feeling good enough
The first thing is always awareness because we can’t change what we’re not aware of. Notice when you are doing something that feels out of alignment with what you really want to do. When you notice it, jot it down in a journal and write about it because I think that’s super felt powerful because you’re starting to create some distance.
The second thing is to become aware of your inner critic. Think about what you’d say to a good friend in the same situation.
And then my third tip would probably be about journaling which I know you’re a huge fan of as well. I think it’s just so powerful. It’s liberating.
This has been such a cool conversation and thank you so much for everything you’ve clearly brought you’ve shared. Can you tell us a little bit about where people can find out more about you and what you do
Where you can find Zoe
If you are a non mom check it out anyway. And then if you don’t like it, that’s fine. But check it out. My website is motherkind.com and everything is on there about me and yeah, Instagram. I love Instagram. @motherkind_zoe
Amazing, and yeah, definitely check out these podcasts. I am not a mom, but I find it really helpful. Thank you so much for all the work you’re doing and keep going.
Thanks very much, guys.