The Identity Factor Podcast

How To Rise With Jessica Smarro

July 30, 2023 Robin Keesler
How To Rise With Jessica Smarro
The Identity Factor Podcast
More Info
The Identity Factor Podcast
How To Rise With Jessica Smarro
Jul 30, 2023
Robin Keesler

In this episode certified life coach Jessica Smarro reminds us of the importance of finding the courage to "earn our stripes," as it were, when it comes to taking that big breath and facing the things in our lives that no book will ever be able to teach us.

When you go through what Jessica refers to as the "experiential knowing" of growth and learning, you discover not only how to rise when life has got you down, but you also find the willingness to go after bigger dreams and capacity to feel greater joy.

Join us in this heart to heart episode about all things leadership, identity and mental health and discover what it can look like to embrace the fullness of the human experience and the kind of leadership that inspires others not by hiding your humanness but in sharing it.

You can find Jessica at her website https://jessicasmarro.com/ and you can also check out her gold mine of a podcast on any major podcasting platform: Unblocked.

Registration is open now for the Shadow Side Leadership Summit and you can register here for free: shadowsideleadershipsummit.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode certified life coach Jessica Smarro reminds us of the importance of finding the courage to "earn our stripes," as it were, when it comes to taking that big breath and facing the things in our lives that no book will ever be able to teach us.

When you go through what Jessica refers to as the "experiential knowing" of growth and learning, you discover not only how to rise when life has got you down, but you also find the willingness to go after bigger dreams and capacity to feel greater joy.

Join us in this heart to heart episode about all things leadership, identity and mental health and discover what it can look like to embrace the fullness of the human experience and the kind of leadership that inspires others not by hiding your humanness but in sharing it.

You can find Jessica at her website https://jessicasmarro.com/ and you can also check out her gold mine of a podcast on any major podcasting platform: Unblocked.

Registration is open now for the Shadow Side Leadership Summit and you can register here for free: shadowsideleadershipsummit.com

 Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Identity Factor Podcast. My name is Robin Keesler, and I will be your host. Let's go. Okay.  

Today I have Jessica Smarro with us. She is the host of the Unblocked Podcast. She spent about 15 years as a clinical social worker and she worked in the county and state levels, um, on jail version strategies, right Jessica?

And so, um, that's pretty cool. She can maybe tell you a little bit more about that. Um, but as a paramedic for many years, the last 10 greater. 10 years or so of my life. Um, I worked very closely with a lot of the social workers and I always just loved the heart that they had for, for the people that they serve.

And Jessica as now working as a life coach, um, helping people really with the, uh, manage that prison of the unmanaged mind, right? Um, still, still working with people on setting themselves free and having the best life that they possibly can, but just using life coaching tools instead of working in the system.

Um, I just, I think, you know, her heart for, for the people that she serves, is. So evident, and she's a very special person. Um, I'm super excited to have her here on the podcast talking about leadership, identity and mental health, and she brings just such a rich, rich perspective. And so I'm so grateful to have you, Jessica.

Um, please feel free to introduce yourself a little bit more if you want, add anything to what we've already said, and then I can't wait to jump into this conversation with you. Yes. Yes. And first of all, thank you for having me, Robin. I'm so excited to be here and talk about all the things, mental health and leadership and whatever else comes up.

Um, so yeah, so I spent much of my professional career as a licensed therapist. I sit in doing words. We use that term, alternatives to incarceration, which might not mean a lot to other people, but it was. Jail diversion strategies. It was ways to keep people with mental health and substance use disorders out of the criminal justice system.

Or if they do find themselves there, how can we support them while they're there and successfully transition them to the community. And part of that work was doing training with law enforcement and e M s first responders to help them be aware of signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance use so they could, and equip them with resources to direct.

To treatment rather than incarceration, if that was appropriate. And, and I love, I love, love, love that work. And I did it for over a decade. And, um, and I still love system work, but I found myself thinking it's like institutionalization is the term we use with CRI in the criminal justice world, right? Like, you stay, if you're in prison for a really long time, like even when you leave, you're not necessarily free.

You still want the confines of that. And so I would find like thinking about that from at the individual level. Like you could take the body out of the institution, but when our mind is still limited and when we don't learn how to use our mind as a tool can feel very imprisoned. Right. And a lot of times when.

I would talk with people on like kind of the clinical side of things. I would say things like, Hey, like your brain just isn't partnering well with you right now. Right? Like this idea that like, sometimes it feels like a battle when we're dealing with some of our mental health stuff. Um, and so I just thought like I would really like to spend a little bit more time in that level of really helping people.

Befriend their brain and learn how to, um, how, how it works. Like the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and how they show up in the world. So that's really kind of more of what I'm doing at this time, is doing, yeah. Work with people at the one-on-one level, in group level. Yeah. Yeah. I love that.

And as I, as I was listening to you talk about, um, you know, working with like the incarcerated mind, right? You can take the body out of the system, but the mind is still functioning, you know, within, in. Within that, that, those constructs, if you will. Mm-hmm. Um, and it's like, it kind of made me think about, um, addiction as well, right?

Yep. As someone has struggled with addiction, and I feel like that is a really interesting thing that I've never thought about. I mean, I have, but not in the way that you talked about it just now. Right. Yeah. And so many of the people, I mean, if you talk about people, I'm, I'm, I'm trying to go back to my old days and like think about the, the stats, but it's like 75, upwards of 75% of people in the criminal justice system also have a mental health diagnosis.

But if you layer in addiction diagnosis as well, that just, um, is, is. So much higher than that. Right. And so that's just something, it was the exception to the rule that if I was working with somebody who didn't also have addiction issues, who has found themselves in the criminal justice system. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. And I just like, for me, I think it's so, like that was the work that really changed my life with coaching. I mean, it's like I had done, you know, therapy and so much and I had been spent so much time trying to like work through this stuff on my own and mm-hmm. But when I found coaching, Having, having, you know, the Life Coach School, my work with the Life Coach School truly did show me and it, and it began even before that I started working with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and mm-hmm work, trying to work on my health cuz my body was really falling apart.

And there was just, I just was like, I can't do this on my own anymore. And having that, those coaches and those integrative healers and those people come in and just show me how it wasn't compartmentalized. Right. And how, how it's like you're a whole human and you've got your heart, your mind, your body, right?

The socialization, like the addiction, there's the chemicals, right? Like, and what's happening neurochemically in your brain, like, but there's all of it. And it gave me so much, it just, it felt like a complete release of pressure. Like it wasn't my fault. Oh, speaking of pressure, like one of the things I loved, um, cuz I also got trained at the Life Coach school and have worked there.

Uh, I think we both work there now, Robin, um, and the, or do some work there at least. Um, The, one of the concepts I love that were taught at the Life Coach school was this, using this idea of buffering, right? Like that use anything that we do to avoid a feeling. And I love that phrasing because when you talk about like taking the pressure off, I think when you talk about mental health, and I hope this changes someday when you talk about mental health, but especially addiction.

There's so much stigma. There's so much judgment around it. And when you think addiction is ju, I mean, it's just, I'm gonna use that in air quotes, but it's essentially, I mean, that's just a version of I, there's a feeling that I don't wanna feel. Yeah. And so I'm using a substance to numb that. Right. And other people we talk about at the life coach school buffering, it's like, that could be over scrolling, over tv, eating over sexing, overworking over relationship, over so many things over TV and Right.

Like just any of it. And I remember. Working with, because again, so many people I worked with, um, were dealing with addiction. And I remember this one time like, I mean, so many different versions of this, but at the point that they're in recovery Right. And they've been sober and we're working on feeling feelings.

Yep. Right? And again, if anyone knows the science on it, it's like the actual sensation, the vibration of an emotion in your body will last about 90 seconds. Right. And so when we would start doing that work and get into the body and do that, I would've clients weeping in tears like. I lost my whole family, my career, my civil liberties at times because of that.

Like that's what I was avoiding. Right. And it's like, yeah, that, but it's like we all do that sometimes. It's just in quote unquote more socially acceptable ways. Yes. Right? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I'm like, woo. Let me just, did I already get on my soapbox, Robin? I don't know who might've got, might've gotten on there second.

Yeah. Yeah. I love it. Well, it's powerful because it, because there are so many people, Jessica, that don't realize that. Right. I didn't realize that. Because when you're in, when you're feeling that feeling in your body, it feels like you can't handle it. Right. It feels like, it feels like an emergency. It feels like dangerous and scary and, and your, your, your brain.

I think in, in some, it's like it is telling you that it's sending you that signal, right? Like this is not safe. There's that primitive part of your brain that's wired to avoid pain, to seek mm-hmm. Pleasure, right? And to do what's easy and doesn't require energy. And so if your primitive brain is wired that way for survival, does it make sense?

Potentially, I'm just talking this out as I'm, as it's coming to me, but like, right. What if it makes sense that, yeah, that part of you really does feel like it's not okay. Yes. Right. Okay. Yes. Right. I love this. Just even if like for just the listeners hearing this, like here's a normalization that's happening behind this conversation right now.

Right? Where it's like part of you that's like, oh, is this maybe by design, right? Like, I'm gonna use this in analogies coming to mind, and I know nothing about ships. But I, and so this could be wrong, but something I'm like thinking of navy ships suddenly, but I feel like isn't there something that was like if water comes in, it will like close off to like save another part of it, right?

Yeah, yeah. Or like with, yeah, or like it plants, right? Like you deadhead, you cut off pieces to like preserve the other parts. So when you're saying that, you're basically saying like, oh, is there maybe some part of my actual, like this animal flesh suit that is my human existence? That it's like for self-preservation, I might have to close down those feelings.

And I think like when I was talking earlier about, you know, like figuring out how we partner well with our brains and our body, that's just exactly it. That there is this danger sign. And so part of recovery, part of this coaching work that we do or anything in the behavioral health community is about, I think about like creating safety.

And what I mean by that, I mean there's so many different levels. We can create mental and emotional safety and also safety like in our nervous system. Right, because to your exact point that like there is a sensation that happens when your in your body and when your autonomic nervous system disregulates, that's literally our fight, flight or freeze, right?

Like run and stay alive. But when you start doing this work, you start to B, build this relationship between your body and your brain where you communi. Your brain will start to see like, oh, I'm learning that actually when there's that sensation in my body, this, my human will sit with that and that.

Chemical cascade will flow through, it will arc, and it will go down, and nothing bad happens. So over time, you're starting to like recalibrate the relationship between your body and your brain and that primitive part where you're communicating to your brain, oh, this actually isn't an emergency. This isn't.

Don't call first responders. Right? Like, this is not the time. Right. But as you're starting to develop that relationship, that's another conversation about when you call, that's another conversation. Respond. Listen, first responders call emf. Right? But the, but, but a and there are times where we do it is an emergency.

Right? But that's part of this work is, is, is knowing those nuances and. I just wanna like set this framework really quick. Um, and I don't, I dunno if, let's take us off topic, but I think what we're talking about is like a spectrum a little bit, right? And this is how I think of mental health, right? I think a lot of times when people hear that word and I know, um, you know, May's Mental Health Awareness Month and I know that's like part of even what this whole thing is about.

And I think a lot of times the lay person, the general community will hear mental health and what they really hear is mental illness. Right. Exactly. Depression, anxiety. P T S D. Schizophrenia. Right. And I think of mental health is a spectrum. Like imagine like there's a continuum. There's a spectrum. This is mental health.

On one end of the spectrum is mental illness. At one end of the spectrum. At the other end is mental wellness. Yes. And as humans, at any given time, we are going to be somewhere on that spectrum. Okay. And like what we need at given given place on that spectrum is going to be different. And that's the process of like, that's like what we are in the business of doing is helping people, one, be aware, where am I at on this spectrum?

Two, not make themselves wrong for being there, right? It's like the calibration, the star on the Disneyland map like you are here. Like, we just need to know like, where am I? Because then we start to learn like, ah, what do I need when I'm at this place on the spectrum? What do I need when I'm at the other end of the spectrum?

Y'all can't see. I'm like using my hands like Robin's getting a full breakdown of the spectrum I'm pointing out here. But I love it. I love the visuals. Uhhuh, oh wait, no, we are gonna be on video for some of this, so y'all will get to see some of that. Spotify also shows the video. Perfect. Y'all will get it.

I know. It'll, it'll be there. I love that cuz actually that was, yeah, that idea of when we talk about mental health, I, I think you're a hundred percent right, like so many people think about equate that to mental illness and that's such a shame because like, it's like you said, it's a spectrum and like joy is a part of mental health.

Yeah. A hundred percent is a part of mental health. Like all of it is. And I think a lot of this is changing, but what are the, the lies or the misunderstandings that we still have about mental health? And I think you just uncovered a really big one, right? Go ahead. Oh, keep going. No, either. I was gonna say and that something has gone wrong like that if I, yes, like that mental health, like, like you said, they equate it to mental illness and it, and which is limiting by itself cuz you're leaving out this entire category.

And this whole part of the spectrum that is included in it in your mental health. And also, not only are you leaving out so much of the beauty of it and the wholeness of it, but also you are inadvertently assuming that to be mentally healthy means you're never gonna have a breakdown. You're never gonna have a crisis.

You're never gonna, and that's the lie. I'm like, I like hashtag human experience. Like you're going to, mental health is not about not having a breakdown. It's about knowing how to handle it. Knowing like you said, yes, what do I need when I'm there? And part of what triggered this entire idea for me, Jessica, which I'm gonna be have by the time this airs.

I will have already talked about and shared my experience cause I'm gonna introduce this entire series with my story about this. But like, one of the things that triggered this for me was that I, as I started experiencing greater levels of like, you know, success and opportunity and connection and things started happening in my life and my business, things that I had been working towards Jessica, I even when I got hired with the life coach school, like something happened where there was an identity shift.

That began in a place in my life. Mm-hmm. That it was extremely triggering, which I did not expect. I started binge eating again after six years. I slept with a heating pad on my stomach for five weeks, like feeling like I was gonna burst, like absolutely out of control. Speaking about food like addiction.

And it's like, and as I was laying there in my bed, like just feeling like in so much pain and I'm just like, what the, it was really powerful. There were two things I realized. One was that I was like, wow, I didn't expect this. Mm-hmm. I didn't expect success in life going well to create this. Situation. So that was interesting.

I always thought this, that, that these mental health challenges were things that happened when life wasn't going well. Came from the hard, came from the hard, I didn't expect, like what? What's up with that? Interesting. And as I started having these conversations, turns out super common, right? Yeah. And so there was that piece.

And then also the victory in that for me. Mm-hmm. I, I coached so many women that are like, oh my gosh, I gained six pounds, or I started doing this again, or with drinking or whatever. And it's like, and they missed the, they missed the, the joy. They missed the win. And for me mm-hmm. Laying there, like, what was so powerful was that I was like, I literally just felt so in love with myself.

Every moment almost. I was just like, you are amazing. I love you so much. Like I just felt total compassion. There was none of the shaming and the judgment and the spirals. It's like, we don't go there anymore. My brain has been rewired. That was interesting. That's the magic. Oh my. Like there were like 48 things in there that I wanted to like pull a string, like pull on the string of, there's so much there.

But I think like one of the last things you were hitting on is, Yeah. When those things start coming up, things come up that you're like, I, this is not how I wanna be behaving, or This isn't how I wanna be showing up. It's like when we, when we focus on making that wrong, we miss so much. Right? Like you said, like you're not in those moments.

You're not looking at, well, what was all the winning that came before this? And then what's the learning in this? And I think, I mean, as an entrepreneur and a business owner, I think it's one of the most. Potent like spiritual and emotional and personal development practices that you can do. Like it exposes so much because there's so much vulnerability.

There's so much exposure. You're like tapping and exploration, and I wanna like highlight that because when you're doing these things, like you're tapping into places that maybe you. Haven't, and not necessarily like some of 'em, like some of the things maybe we like to try to hide away, but then also some of it, it's just like the unexplored parts of us.

And when you start doing that, and I think that's what you were like tapping into, is that you started experiencing success, right? And you're, I was like, we do not, we are unfamiliar char uh, uncharted territory, right? And then again, we go back to our brain that's like danger, scary. Go back to something familiar.

So it makes so much sense that it was like, oh, I wanna go back to this thing. That might be a whoopy, it might be a shield. It's something that feels protective and all familiar, and we can go back to those things and then we can make that a problem and then the downward spiral can start. Or like you said, you had the tools that you were like, oh, I can, I can look at this.

And see what's going on. Like I don't have to be defined by this. I can learn from this. Yeah. And I know, and it was totally like the, you are here map, like you said, with the spectrum. I just was like, oh, okay. Mm-hmm. This is where I am. Mm-hmm. And I was like, and I, and the underlying belief for me in that moment that was different than the old me was that I was like, I know what to do with this.

I know how to, mm-hmm. I know, I know this, I know this river of misery, I know this trench, I know this, I know this. And there's nothing wrong about it. Like, it's okay that I'm here. I'm not gonna, I know I'm not gonna stay here. And there's something here for me because one of the most beautiful things I ever learned and, and chose to believe about our bodies is that there is powerful wisdom in our bodies.

And even when we talk about addiction or any of the things, like I heard a, one of the, one of the, uh, physicians in integrative. Coaches that worked inside this program that I, that I went through. One of the things that she said that always stuck with me was she said, every choice you make, like no matter what it is, it's nurturing something, right?

Mm-hmm. And it's so easy for us to shame, right? The drugs, the alcohol, the overworking, the food, the whatever it might be. Whatever the behavior is, the worrying, the obsessing, like we have. So there's so many behaviors and things that we do, but it's like there's a reason that you're doing it right. Doesn't mean that you might, it doesn't mean that you wanna keep it forever, right?

It doesn't mean that it's not also coming with the other side, right? The 50 50, it's like, But there's some, there's a reason, there's some reason that your body is designed to find homeostasis. Your body is designed to heal itself. Your body is designed to find safety and security and all of those things.

And so what is, what is it that, that you're trying to nurture right now? And so when I ask myself that question like, what is this? How is this trying to serve me? Mm-hmm. I'm able to find. What the wound is there that this part of me is trying to heal. And once I'm able to identify it and understand it, then I can say, okay, you can step aside.

I actually know another way to do that.

Hey, if you're enjoying this episode, I wanna invite you to come join us on May 19th through the 21st for the Shadow Side Leadership Summit. It's gonna be an entire weekend where we're gonna dive into these conversations around identity and leadership, around mental and emotional health, around how to support ourselves so that we can truly lead others in a more impactful way, that we also get to experience connection, and joy along the journey.

Shadow side leadership summit.com. Go sign up and we'll see you inside. Right? Yeah. Like cuz it's just a communication, right? Like the be I think of it like a, I'm having all these wild analogy, it's like an Eminem peanut. Just came to, or peanut m and m just came to mind. Right. What you think about, but except for I'm gonna equate chocolate to a problem.

And I don't know that this is ALG lands, but like, you just think about like something that's buried inside of something else. Right. And it's like, I think about that with like, quote unquote problems, right? Like that will get us our, the atte attention. But inside of, there's the gift inside of, there's the miracle inside of there.

There's like the lesson, the learning. Yeah. And so if we don't get distracted, By the problem. Like that was just like the flag waving you like, Hey, there's something over here. I don't have to make it a problem. I just, when we can get curious and we can go in. Um, and also this again with a little bit of a pivot, but it's just coming to mind.

You said something a minute ago, um, that I thought you had. It was like, I know what to do with this now. Like when these things, these problematic things came up, it's like, The connection here is like you, you already knew the wisdom with it, like you already knew, and it made me think about courage that like when we know how to rise, Right.

We're so willing to do so much bigger things, right. When we know how to pick ourselves back up, like you said, you're like, I know what to do when I'm down on the ground. I'm, when I'm on the base of, when I'm like laying on the floor in the bathroom when I have a heating pad on my tummy, like I know how to stand back up and when we're willing to, when we know that and listen, but like te, that is an experiential knowing.

You cannot learn this between your two ears. You can't read this in a book. Yeah. Like this comes with, you had to get, you have to earn your stripes for this. Like it comes from the going through it. And that's why I think like don't, we don't have to be afraid of the problem. We don't have to be afraid of this scary thing because we will learn.

And then when we learn, I think about, I'm not a skier. I'm having all these, this is so fun. You guys like all these random things that are coming up. I am not a skier. I am from originally from Iowa. But I was skiing one time like in Iowa, Illinois, so it's not mountains, y'all. Um, and I remember I was like so tentative and scared to go downhill, like to go, like, I didn't wanna go fast.

Like I was scared. I'm like, gonna fall, I'm gonna break my head. But when the instructor taught me how to stop, I was like, oh, now I can go. Yeah. Right. So I think of the expansiveness when it's like, when I know how to like operate this thing that I was, this like vehicle that I was given. When I know the owner's manual, I know how I work.

I understand my mind, I know what works. I know what I need at the different parts on this spectrum of my mental wellness when I know that. Then that's like, that's when we become so expansive and unstoppable and we're willing to access all the parts of us and show up. And I just like really believe like the, that's what we're, I believe that like the world is like a puzzle.

And there is a puzzle piece. There's an opening that is like in the exact shape, size, isness likeness of us. Like, like, and we. Need like, like it's part of the collective. We need to show up in our full self to do that. But like you just heard all of the layers of skills and things that it takes to be able just to show up as ourselves.

Well, and I think that's one of the things that I, when you talk about, I was listening to one of your podcasts, um, recently, and, uh, I think it was taught with the, the love affair. The wild love affair or something that you Oh, yeah. Anyway, and it was, and I, and I loved, there's something that you said in there was like talking about that, right.

Like showing up as our full selves, which is really what this whole podcast series and leadership summit is all about. Mm-hmm. Right? Is, you know, when we talk about the shadow side, like, and it's like, And there was, there was a little bit of me where this question came up. I was like, am I inadvertently going to be, um, fueling that misconception about mental health as something shadowy?

Right. I was like, that's not my intention. But I was like, but for me, when I think about the shadow side, it feels like something beautiful to me because Yes. Of my experience, like you said with it. Because I've learned to love the shadow side. Like to me, it's not a negative thing. It's something that's so beautiful because when I think about my shadow side, it, it literally lights me up because it's what gives me power.

It's what gives me right fullness. It's what gives me, it's, it what, it's what allows me to be a leader for other people. And so it feels like, like something that I do wanna celebrate. A hundred percent. Like, okay, so as you're saying that, I'm thinking about again, in my past life when I was, um, in the behavioral health world and um, and I was often in like leadership positions.

I was in administrative positions and I was, I was at a new, um, I was a clinic director for an outpatient mental health clinic and I was in a new community. So y'all, I'm just like, I love to call myself out. I'm gonna tell y'all just, I did not know what I was doing. Like, I was like, this is a new community.

I have so many new policies, procedures, regulations, like all these different things that I was like, I might be a little, I got a lot to learn. The learning curve was high, but the staff loved me. Like they, I was like, you guys get, I did not know what I'm doing. Right? Y'all, they, they didn't care, right? Like, they were like, you are our leader.

We will follow you and. And, and supervision. One day, one of the therapists said to me, she was like, it's just so refreshing to have a leader who is a human and not a robot. Hmm. Right. And I was like, oh, like the fact that I, it is inspiring to people if you're like, yeah, we can be human, we can have feelings, we can be soft and gentle.

We can be a mess, we can be, we can have emotions, we can, we can talk about our perceived, um, weaknesses, our shortcomings. We can have all of that. And that doesn't negate our greatness, right? Like that is part of it. It's not in spite of it, it's because of it. Right. And I think that's what you're talking about.

And I think about like one of the, I mean I'm sure there are like many, but like one of the components of a leader is, is inspiration, right? And I think that part of that is like when we look at, when we look at people doing great things, if we're like, oh, that's totally unavailable to me because they're perfect and you have to be perfect to do things right?

You're like, that's like the opposite of inclusivity. Right, and I think like the mark of one of them, like when the marks a good leader is like being transparent and candid that like, yeah, I am, the reason I can do all this is because I'm available to the fullness of the human experience. Which means sometimes it's the stuff that like I don't always think is fit for human consumption and public consumption, but here we are.

Uhhuh. Yeah, a hundred percent. Like it's, yeah, I think the what, when the leaders that inspire me the most are the ones that. Make me feel like I can do it too. Yes. And and it's like, and it's like as long as I have to hide away parts of myself. Then I'm disqualifying myself from leadership. I'm disqualifying myself from greatness.

I'm disqualifying myself really from my own destiny because it's like, if, so, let's talk about that. So what are Jessica, what do, what are the, what would you say are like the shadow sides, if you will, or those parts of you that you have at times been tempted to like hide away or have thought like, this is something that would disqualify me from being able to step into that space?

Oh gosh. Just like mountains of insecurity. Like, I, like, I think that, um, it's interesting, like I have some different language around, um, shadows. Cause I think I've been, um, exploring human design. So I don't know if any of your listeners are familiar with that. Yeah, right. But I was learning, um, about, you know, like one of the gift is like integrity, but the shadow side of that is judgment.

And I'm like, what? I'm not really very judgy, but I was like, oh, I. All the right there is one person I judge real hard, uh, and that would be me. Um, and, and, and when I was learning about, there was something, it was talking about like the two sides of judgment, this inferiority and superiority. And I was like, oh, yeah, I will default to inferiority.

Like, oh, of course everybody else knows. Like I'll again, I'll ca I love calling myself out, but cuz even when Robin was. Planning this and she was like, um, well I'm also gonna do a summit, and like, is there something you wanna present on? I'm like, oh, no, no, that's not for me. I don't have that. I don't have something to offer.

Like that will be my default, like this inferiority side. And it's like, oh, okay, I'm getting pulled into that. The flip side is superiority. And I was like, I don't think I'm better than myself. But what I learned is I get super triggered if I think somebody else could possibly think that. I think I'm better than them.

Right. And so I wanna give you like a business example cuz this showed up not very long ago. I was speaking of nervous system dysregulation. I was boxing my coach like from the floor of my office. I'm like, I'll do this very often, but this is where we're at right now. I'm like literally laying on the floor to my office because I'm so dysregulated right now.

And I was like, this was cuz the meeting didn't make sense that I would be that. I was like, oh, this is what was getting triggered is we were having this conversation, um, about money and something got said, and I wasn't, it wasn't even my prices, but I said, Hey, for comparison, this is what I paid for a similar thing that you're asking me to do and let's just like look at the difference here.

And they were like, that is some cash cow money moning. I can't believe anyone would pay that. And like, we have a servant's heart and we do this. And I was like, Oh, right. Like they think I don't have a, I'm like, I'm a social worker. I lived off of $80 a month for a whole year. One time when I was avol.

Right. Do you care? Like all of that defensiveness, defending, yeah, defending myself, right. And it was because I was like, and I didn't know it in the moment, but that was that judgment of, oh, I think that they think I'm better than them. And that feels very uncomfortable for me. So when I, I'm like playing with these shadows, it's like, oh, I'm navigating, like, you can hear the conundrum here where it's like, I don't.

I don't wanna think, I don't wanna always think that everybody's better than me, but I don't wanna think that. I don't want anyone to think that I think I'm better than them. And it's like we, we get into these like all or nothing, zero sum game kinds of things. And that's something that I have to pretty regularly, like negotiate as in like life and in business.

Um, And then the other big one, like I said, it's just that in like really disbelief that comes from, again, like a lot of us have trauma experiences. It comes from early childhood stuff. This story that has stuck with me that um, like there just is something wrong with me. Mm-hmm. Right? Like there's something inherently wrong with me and I can come up in, in extreme ways.

And then in really subtle ways, like seemingly subtle, but like when anything we're doing, we're like, oh, how quickly can I get back to the story of like, I was wrong in this. You're like, yeah, this is just, that's the work. That's the work for me. And I just, like you said, the shadows I don't think are something that's problematic or something to like hide from people.

It's just, I think of our shadows as I. There's something in there. They're not inherently bad, but I think of it like a river. Like a river in its banks is like necessary for life. Yeah. A river that floods and it is outside. That's like when our shadow gets, the volume is turned up and we are like, we float outside the banks.

So yeah, that's my shadow stuff. Yeah. There's probably more Robin. I'm sure there's more. No, I love that because it's like, I think like I love like what Deepak Chopra said about this, where he's like, there are no spare parts in this universe of ours. It's not like, you know, God was just like accidentally, like, got drunk one day and like dropped shame into the, you know, earth or whatever.

Not ever, but you know, it's just an analogy, but it's like, it's not, it's like there's your parts. It's not, it's not on accident anger or being controlling or worrying about your image or how people see you, or, you know, those things are here again for a reason. Just like with my addiction or just like, and it's not about, Or, or the overworking or any, all the things that we do.

It's like, I think when we're shaming them and judging them, we're losing something. Yes, we're missing out. And it's like, and it doesn't mean that you have to paint rainbows and daisies on it. I do not love sharing that story. Like it's not something that I'm Right proud of necessarily, and I don't, I don't like the experience.

It's like, it doesn't feel good. But it's like, but I also don't have to fight it and resist it, and I can also allow myself to, to incorporate it, right? Because it's like, like I just, if there's no spare parts, then I can to ask myself, why is it here? Doesn't mean I have to live from it. It doesn't mean it has to be in the driver's seat.

It doesn't mean it has to define me. But what if there's, what if there is a reason? Right. That this thing is here. Mm-hmm. And so my, my ne my question for you, Jessica, what I'm curious to hear about is when you consider some of these, you know, these shadow sides, if you will, that you have experienced in your life, how have those things created growth for you?

And like, how has it contributed to your success and your growth as, as a leader, as an entrepreneur? Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, and as you were asking that question, I was thinking like, again, I think of things always on a spectrum, and it's like, because of those shadow sides, what that would historically, what that would show up as on the outside be a lot of perfectionism, right?

Like you can imagine, right? If it's like, oh, I'm inferior. Like I'm gonna try to do all of these. Right. Like things to try to control, a lot of things to try to perform people please be perfect. Right. So that I can, I can, I can try to prove to myself that this story is not true. Um, so to your question about like, so what's, what did you ask exactly?

Like what is the growth that came from, like Yeah. What was the gift in that? Like how has its presence in your life and your experience going through that? Yeah. How has it contributed? Yeah, so I think of, um, like a specific example, and I'm gonna see if I can tie all this together concisely, but like one of the ways it definitely manifested was in a career transition.

Like I moved 1100 miles from my career. Um, and that transition was like in a career where I had a lot of success. Right, and, and again, part of that was because of shadow stuff, right? Like this perfectionism. No, I loved my job, so it made it really easy to over effort and, you know, get, be passionate about it and do a lot of things.

But when I moved. And I can, like, I think I had like three jobs in three years when I moved to Texas and I was like, uh, all of that shadow stuff got triggered. Like, oh, okay. Yes. See, these aren't transferrable skills. It was a fluke. There really is something wrong with you. There is, right. Like all of that came up and I was like, okay, this is the work.

Now, like you said that if, if. If there are no extra parts, like what is this, what is this bringing up for me? And or what's the opportunity here? And what I found was like, I think sometimes it's like despair and like all these like hopeless feelings that I can get a bad rap. But sometimes it's also like, well, we can only go up from here.

Right? And so what, what I, what, what it brought up for me is like all that stuff was getting triggered. So I was like, Well, I already feel terrible, so maybe now I could do something that I've always kind of wanted to do, but I've been scared to do it because I was so busy proving all of the things, right?

So the growth came in. I started going for things like I started a podcast. I started my own business. Right. And then there were some, like, tangible, you know, those specific things. Like I had outward results. I could show like I actually like, not just replaced my salary my first year of full-time business, but like even a little bit more than what my nine to five was doing.

Yeah. And I, and, and sometimes that growth comes in, I. Like, I think, yeah, I think the universe is conspiring in our favor. So it was showing me some external things that's like, oh, like I'm gonna give you a little bit of a nugget that this isn't a fluke. Like you have something, you have gifts, you have talents, you have something you were here to do.

So the growth that was like, okay, so I'm gonna just show up for all of the hard, I'm gonna be willing to feel the feelings that I'm gonna be willing to look head on at some of these, the, not some of them, all of 'em. Like I said, I think being in business especially like that will just be a great way to highlight every insecurity that you have and deal with any of the guilt and the doubt and the questioning, and.

Go into it. Like I, I don't think you can out action a belief, but I definitely think that taking action is a fast track because it will bring up all of your beliefs for healing. Yeah. So I think it was like a, it was a, an interesting way of like my shadow side got triggered, but I was like, well, okay. May as well just go all the way into it and then it's like, mess around, find out.

Right. It was like, oh, I got to explore parts of me that I was keeping dormant because I was trying so hard to control and Perfect. Yeah. But then it was like, well now the boundaries are off. Let's just let it all out and see what we do. Yeah. It turns out we've done some pretty cool things. That's amazing.

Yeah. So it's like what I hear you saying and is like that you're, so, you experience these, these kind of, these sha, these shadow beliefs, if you will, about, you know mm-hmm. About yourself and what maybe it's just a fluke or maybe I'm not good enough, and so the. The, the, the shadow side of your own belief and identity and who you were believing about yourself created a persona of perfectionism and Yes.

And working. And so it, so it served you in a sense of like, it really did create a lot of career success for you, but then you got to a point where you're like, okay, now it's time to really go in and look at this and heal it. And it, and, and what I'm hearing you dis. Kind of talk about is like taking that shadow work then to the next level where you were able to find freedom from the belief and so now you were able to really incorporate all of that in, in a way that that served you at a higher level.

Does that sound right? Yeah. As you say that, I'm thinking about like I don't, I didn't even necessarily think about this before, but it's a little bit like, cuz you're right, it's our shadow stuff when it's still in the shadows. It can fuel something like, to your point, like it was perf, it was fueling perfection.

And this is where like perfectionism is so tricky because it gets so much external validation. It can be hard to let go of that, but I think like the, the real, so like it can do, but it's like then, I mean if you've worked with any high performing high achiever person, you're like, It ain't it? It ain't it.

Like I thought it w I did all of these things to think that if I just achieved these things, then I would no longer think there's something wrong with me. Right? So yes, that was like level one of like, I thought I was doing shadow work, right? I think I'm overcoming the story of where I came from and all of this, and then.

I realized like, oh, that ain't it. And so like the real work was okay when I can no longer, and maybe this is the part I didn't maybe say out loud, but it's like when I can no longer try to wrap my identity around career success, right? Performance and achievement, then what? And it showed up on the level it showed up was like, well, K I'm gonna jump into like this business thing.

And like, it seems like it's like another career path, but it was like, oh. And in that, that's where it's really, now I'm gonna go explore like, who am I really? Like where do I, where do I go for myself concept. And that's the, that's the, like, that's the miracle magic. That's the peanut inside the Eminem that we're talking about.

I think that's where I see, like, that's where I really do look at these, these, these shadow parts of us. Like. Since we're using that word. Right. And like you said, that, that can mean so many different things, but it's like my shadows have really been my guides Yes. Step of my journey. And it's like early on in my life, they, they brought me survival.

They brought me success. Yes. They brought me right. They, they did serve me a hundred percent like my anxiety. I c it was my, my hammerman. And it was like in relationship and anything as a kid, it's like, that was what if I needed love, if I needed, it's like it would just, it, it came with destruction, but it got the job done.

Let me tell you that. Listen. Okay, so let's bring our justice involvement here. Like the number of times I would have this conversation with people coming out, especially those who've been in prison for a long time. Mm-hmm. Right? They're coming out and it's the idea of like, yes, this thing served you.

You're hypervigilance and fighting that kept you alive on the yard in prison. But that same skillset isn't gonna serve you in this environment. Exactly. And so how do we re Again, it's not getting rid of like, this is, again, I think of the shadow. It's the actual essence on the inside, which is, yeah, that thing that's like wanting to keep you alive and keep you safe, right?

How that shows up in this setting is gonna look very different than here, but we can get confused and we just focus on the like, oh, the way that I keep myself safe and alive is aggression. The way that I get things done is anxiety. It's like, well, no, that was just, The volume was turned up over here.

Right. But like, yes. How do we navigate and negotiate that, the essence of it, which was, I'm trying to keep me safe, or for you, the anxiety like this is, I wanna get things done. Yeah. Okay. And how can we like, hear the, the positive intention underneath that? And use alternative strategies that are better situated for like the situ, situ what, or it's that better serve you in these other situations that you're in that don't have the net negative consequences that you might have.

Yes. And the only way that you can do that, the only way that you can really do that and discover that core essence, like you said, is to embrace that and to look at it as love. Yeah. And as long as we're shaming it and judging it and hiding it, then that survival thing is still gonna be happening. And it's, and it's like my, my stepdad always says, he's like, it's really hard to let go of something that almost works.

Right. Like, hello, perfectionist. Like, ooh, it does, but this kinda works. It's like mostly works except for the part where it hurts. And so it's like, but I think it's in the embracing of that, that we can really realize like, wow, this served me, I picked it up for a reason and like, what is it? How is it trying to serve me?

And we can find, like you said, the essence. And that's where, so it's like this shadow served me and then now I'm gonna go to the next level and I'm gonna incorporate the essence of that into. A more beautiful way to live that feels aligned, right? Yeah. And I just wanna say as you're saying that if like for anyone who's listening, cuz my heart, I just had a client yesterday that might just breaks my heart.

Like because self, you mentioned like, yeah, it works for the parts where, except for the part where it hurts and I think self denial, I. Is one of the most painful places to be in, and we don't always know that that's what we're doing, right? It's like, oh, we think we're making this behavior wrong, or we think we're making anxiety wrong, or we're making whatever wrong.

But like you said, when we're in that jam, shame and judgment, it's like what? Getting that message, like my old message back there that will be is I am wrong. Something is wrong with me. And that is like such a painful place to be and such a slippery slope down where like it just begets, you know, like even more shame and negativity and self-judgment and it gets so hard.

So I just, for anyone listening, like if you're in that place, like I have so much compassion for you and like that's a hard place to be and that's why we have things like coaching and mental health professionals and whatever level of care that you need. But yeah. Um, I love that there's way out. Yeah.

Yeah. And so as we think about this, like this idea of mental health and how it all works and, and leadership, leadership in any way, I think that can apply it if, whether you're a parent or a partner or a teacher. Like there's, we, like leadership is not, you don't have to have this big following. It's not those external things.

Right. That's not like leadership, I think really is just being willing to show up, you know? Mm-hmm. And, and be a mirror to the world. Right in, in beer. So something as we're like when you, I love that you like brought in like leadership is so much more than just like what we, you know, like a corporate structure or somebody who has a following and I, what's coming to mind, and I'm gonna botch the quote, but um, it's something I heard Tracy Ellis Roth say, I love her.

I first saw her with Oprah. So we're all practically BFFs. They just dunno who I am. Um, but she said something once that was something like, I hope was like somebody was asking her like, why do you think people love you so much? And she's like, do they? And she's like, here's what I would say. She's like, I hope that people feel like themselves when they're around me and they feel safe to be themselves when they're around me.

And then she went on to say something like, and maybe that makes people think that they love me, but it's really themselves that they love. Like it's the version of themselves that they get to experience when they're in my presence. I mean, again, I'm, she didn't say those exact things, but I think about that in leadership too.

Like it's not the person necessarily, it's just that what they do and how they are, it like knocks on the door of something inside of us. Yes. And that feeling, right, like that feeling of inspiration or empowerment or excitement or whatever that is, or even just validation, like normalization, whatever you feel.

I think like that's the hallmark of a good leader. I mean, people we use, there's like a trite saying for a reason. It's like people remember how you made them feel. And that's really, it's like, right. It's like when we're this, um, in, in the leadership position when we just have, when we're doing something that just.

Turns a light on of something in somebody else. Like that's what they're excited about. It's not really the person, I think it's about what it lights up in you when you're in their presence or in their orbit of any kind. Yeah, yeah, totally. You're resonating with their message. You're resonating with their, their.

They're being who they're being. And because there's something, there's like a element of like permission. There's a cosigning that happens and there's, it's it at the very heart of it, it, there's a connection that's happening there. Right? Right. Mm-hmm. And it's part of you. And that's something I wanna like keep hitting.

It's like that's something in you. It's not them. It's not bad. Something you gets turned on. Yeah. Yeah. It's like when I listen to, when I listen to like, just like when I was listening to your podcast and you were talking about, one of the things that you talked about was building that self-trust. It's something I've heard a million times, but like I was like, Ooh, that was for me today, and I felt it.

Right. So it was something that you said. Mm-hmm. But it, mm-hmm. But it connected, it turned on something inside of me, a truth that I knew I needed to be listening to, that I wanted to be listening to, and so it brought me closer to myself. Yes, that's it. That's exactly it. Like, and I think about that with leadership.

It's like, it really helps, I think a, a leadership is about like helping people access more of who they are. Yes. And inspiring them, creating the safety, creating the permission to be like, yeah. And that means sometimes, maybe even the stinky, fleshy part that you want to hide from public consumption. That like even that part of you, like, I see you, I celebrate you, and you have a place at the table too.

Nothing is wasted or whatever. The God didn't get drunk and make that part of you, or whatever you said, which I, I don't think he said it that way, but I did. I that with our, oh, I guess image that I got. Like, that's not what happened here. It was like, shit, this is my takeaway. Uhhuh. I love it. God, God wasn't drunk when he made you, I promise.

Turns out so funny. Okay, so what advice would you give to the person that's listening that's secretly hiding a part of themselves that they feel ashamed of or that they, they don't know how to handle? Oh, like, Uh, the title, the Obstacles, the Way it just popped in my mind, like Ryan Holiday, if you ever read it, like go towards it, not away from it.

Right. Like go towards it. Like that, that, here's the thing. And listen, I think I did, I, I think I recorded a podcast episode on this recently and I was like mad at myself even saying it out loud. I'm like, I don't like this either, guys, like, I'm with you. I don't like what I'm about to say here. But I think it's that whole like I.

Jump in the net will appear. I don't like that concept. I don't like anything about it. I like certainty and I like trust. But when it comes to this kind of thing, like when it comes to really, um, partnering, like jumping into a relationship with yourself where you're un shaming, like that means witnessing.

And like, and that's the whole like, it's like you gotta, it's like what you want so desperately is acceptance and connection. And it's like the witnessing part has to come first. And now I will say this, this might feel, this might be a, this might be the silver lining. You can be that witness, but sometimes even for ourselves, right?

Like we don't even, we don't even want to look at it, right? So we certainly don't want anyone else to, but that's what I would say is like when you're working through that un shaming part process, It is just like a mandatory part of that is witnessing it, being willing to see it, being willing to look at it, and I'm not even saying accepting it at first, but just looking at it, letting it be seen and heard, and then you can work your way towards liking it maybe, and then even loving it and trusting it and all of that.

Mm-hmm. To spectrum again. It's, it's all on a spectrum, but it starts with being witness and that's the like hard news. It's like, well, can't I just get self loves and then I'll open up and it's like, Ooh, I wish there's no, like, I promise you I wish that's how it worked. I wish they could be like, yeah, you can love me.

Turns out you have to like know something before you can love it. Yeah. And to realize, like you said, like maybe it's gonna suck in the beginning and that's okay. But like just to know like you don't have to do this. Like you're fine the way you are. Yeah. Like there's no requirement. Right. But just if you want to, you can.

And that there truly is like such a joy on the other side. There's such a joy and a fullness. Like you said, you can go after life so much bigger. Yeah. And you can't no. Until experiencing and listen, you cry. I'm like, I'm mad about it too. I'm like, what? No. Teach it to me. Let me, you guys do it. Tell me about it and then I'll experience it.

I'm like, yes, you can a little bit. But like the feeling you get, like you said, you know, it's like that experiential knowing. It's a whole different thing. And to your point, you don't ever have to do it. You are, you are absolutely incredible the way you are. You never have to change anything and you don't have to do it alone.

Right. That's why like so many of us are doing what we're doing is because like we want to be able to be that un shaming witness. I wanna hold space, I wanna be that safe co-regulation space where you can come. Yeah. Right. And this is also what I love about groups and doing groups is because then you also can come into a space and that a container with other people who are, you're like, you sit in there and you're like, oh my gosh, we, I am not the only one.

And sometimes that's like the first time you get to have that experience is when you're around other people who are human. And are fleshy and stinky and doing incredible things, and you're like, oh, yeah. So I guess the, the message is you don't have to do it alone. One, you don't have to do it. And two, you don't have to do it alone.

Yeah. Find your people. Yeah. Their outfits. And if you do decide to do it, and like, it's like, to me it just feels like skydiving. It's like when I, first time I went to jump outta that airplane, definitely the guy had to push me, but like once I did it, I was like, oh my gosh. It was the thrill of a lifetime.

I love one of my colleagues calls it gag and go like, you just are like, okay, here, go Uhhuh. You know? That's why somebody like, oh, if it feels a little nauseating, you're like, oh, this is gonna. Be good for sure. And there's no off-ramp the human experience. Right? It never ends. Like it's just like even still, here I am, years and years later and it's like, wow.

Like this again. Like, okay, let's go. Yeah, it's all good. And this again, and it's not a problem. Problem. Can I just. For highlight guys, it's not a problem. All good. It's cyclical. It, it's, it's episodic sometimes. Mm-hmm. It sucks sometimes. I'm never lie. People are like, the human experience is terrible. Why is that?

But it's also amazing, like, how neat to be able to notice like, wow, like if I'm gonna go through this like it shitty part, like it's kind of neat to go through it loving myself. Yeah. Like why not? Yep. And remembering. Um, you know, again, I think this, I think I heard it from Mel Robbins, but this, so I don't know if it's scientifically true guys, but, um, I haven't looked this up, but this idea that we are, like, the chances of us being born was one in 400 trillion, like with a t.

Like our chances of like being here in this experience, one in 400 trillion, like you were talking about, like this is not an accident. Like this is by design. Like that is totally one in 400 trillion. You guys, you are a magical miracle unicorn of a, of an existence. Right? And like, let us just remember it at least a once.

Like can we remember? And then, and then imagine, yeah. Exploring it and going after it and expressing it and being that like, come on. Yes. No more hiding. No, we're hiding. That's the more of the story story. Beautiful. Jessica, how can people find you? Oh, all the places on social. Um, Facebook at Jessica Smo Instagram.

Same thing at Jessica Smo. Um, my podcast is called Unblocked with Jessica Smro, and I also have website, www dot jessica Smro. That's my name everywhere. I'm everywhere. Yeah. I love it. Thank you so much for being here today. This was such a joy.

If you enjoyed this episode, Take a screenshot of it for me and share it on your favorite social media platform. And in the meantime, I just wanna invite you to remember that you are beautiful, that you are worthy, that you belong. See you next time.