Give Yourself Permission to Live Your Life w/ Priya Rana Kapoor
People everywhere are waking up to the fact that they deserve to live life on their own terms. Despite what some oppressive parent, government, teacher or religion may have imposed on them during their formative years, the time to break free as your authentic self is NOW.
In today’s interview, Dr. Andrea speaks with Priya Rana Kapoor, an executive life coach, speaker, author and founder of the Give YourSelf Permission® empowerment programs. Together they explore the 7 step journey you are invited to take to break free from conformity, people-pleasing and dis-ease.
Priya Rana Kapoor holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Southern California and a certificate in coaching from CoachU. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles area and London, England. She wants to see more of the world and longs to own a closet full of cowgirl boots.
In her book, Give Yourself Permission to Live Your Life, and in her coaching programs she helps people explore why they are not giving themselves permission to do what is best for them, how they can identify what they want to give themselves permission to do and how they can implement their plans. Her mission is to help people to find their personal freedom and authentic selves. She wants you to release your fears and live your life by simply giving yourself permission to put yourself first and let go of seeking other people’s approval.
Download and fill out a permission slip for yourself! (http://priyaranakapoor.com/give-yourself-permission/) or purchase the book “Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life“ (Balboa Press, 2014) available as a paperback, hardback, kindle and audiobook.
When you sign up for Priya’s free newsletter you can download a free MP3 guided imagery recording of the Letting Go Box which is an exercise to release past hurts or issues.
Music in this episode:
“Rewind” by Blue Wednesday
“Apple Pie & Butterflies” by Blue Wednesday
Liberate Your Authentic Self
The Prescription for Living Your Life Out Loud
Insight & inspiration for purposeful living, conscious relationships & soulful success.
This show is for Soul-conscious, heart-centered and open-minded people who want to optimize their performance, pleasure and profits.
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Many people are in careers and lives they feel they never completely chose for themselves. Suddenly they see that many of the decisions they made over the years were done in an effort to fit in or gain approval. Some made choices based upon what they believe their parents or society had told them were appropriate or worthy. But somewhere along the line, they stopped following their own hearts. One decision led to another and they lost track of the hopes and dreams they had in early adulthood. They thought that by putting themselves first, they were acting selfishly. They hoped that by confirming they were making the right decisions, maybe the easier ones. However somewhere deep down, they now battle with the insidious feeling that they’re not as happy or fulfilled as they could be. They are in a place where they no longer even allow themselves to think about what they might want to do or be.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s actually pretty familiar to me. This was actually kind of the way my early life shaped up. Conformity and misery. Well these are actually the words of Priya Rana Kapoor. She is the author of Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life. She’s an executive life coach, speaker, author and founder of the Give Yourself Permission Empowerment programs. She holds a Master’s Degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Southern California and a Certificate in Coaching from Coach You. She lives with her husband in L.A. and London and she wants to see more of the world and longs to own a closet full of cowgirl boots.
Welcome to Liberate Your Authentic Self with Dr. Andrea Pennington. The prescription for living your life out loud. Tune in daily to get fired up with insight and inspiration for purposeful living, conscious relationships and soulful success.
Andrea: Priya, thank you so much for being here.
Priya: Thank you for having me. So lovely to hear someone else read that passage.
Andrea: Oh, when I was reading it I’m like okay, this is me. I know this so well. Okay, I have to first start off. Why is it you long to own a closet full of cowgirl boots?
Priya: Well I just try and spice things up because buyers can be so boring sometimes and they don’t get a glimpse into the person. And I just love cowboy boots. I love a little bling. And this kind of goes to the Give YourSelf Permission thing because I never wore bling because it wasn’t right for a girl of my socio-economic background or whatever. And so now, I see all this blingy pink sparkles and I just want them and they’re comfortable.
Andrea: And then they add a little bit of fashion without having to be all high-heeled and what not.
Priya: Exactly because I wear them because I got a little bit of a back problem so wear them under evening gowns now.
Andrea: It’s perfect. Yes, one would think when they hear your beautiful accent and you’ve got such elegance about you. One would think, “Oh, what is she doing in those cowgirl boots?
Priya: Well it’s a little sassy, you know. I kind of want to be sassy sometimes but not too overtly sassy.
Andrea: I love it. I love it. I’m the same way. I love my little bit of sass. My daughter, you know, kind of rolls her eyes at me. She doesn’t think I’m quite as fashionable as I think I am but I digress.
Priya: No, you’re beautifully fashionable I think.
Andrea: Oh, thank you. So Priya, I love, love, love your mission. I love your book, your books – plural. As you know I have your anthology as well featuring a couple of people that have been on my show including Deri Llewellyn-Davies, who you also know and appreciate and love as much as I do. But I want to talk about the book, Give YourSelf, with a capital S, Permission to Live Your Life. Like I see you now and you are sassy and you’re still elegant and you glow. But I was really touched, just full of compassion as I read a little bit about your life story. And I think you shared enough material that we got a sense that, hey, life was not a bed or roses without going, you know, too deep into too much family drama as sometimes we are especially with the British upbringing. Some of us recognize we don’t want to be improper.
My mother, I don’t know if you remember this. My mother grew up in British Guyana and she went to nursing school in London. So we had a very Victorian element in our household and this air of propriety. But tell me a little bit about your process because being a therapist, most of us want to look like we’ve all got it put together and then sharing so vulnerably about your childhood and what led you to where you are now, so passionate about helping people. Can you give us a little insight into that process?
Priya: Sure. Thank you for asking. I mean, thank you for saying what you did because the day that I launched the book, the day it went out, a friend of mine, my best friend said, “Oh, I bought the book. I’m going to read it.”
And I’m like, “Oh, my goodness! She’s going to know everything about me.” and I said, “Oh, well maybe you don’t want to.”
And she said, “I already know everything about you.” But it was hugely vulnerable making to put that out. but what I also found out… when I was writing the book, there were about 40 more thousand words in the word that I took out. And they were more of my story. And what I understood that I had to write my story for me to heal. But when it came time, because there’s a coaching element to the book and it very much is centered around the reader and that’s why I wrote this because I saw patterns of coming up, people not giving themselves permission and I realized that was where I had come from. So I need to write those 40 thousand more words and I needed to write that story but then I needed to cut it back. I needed to look at it long and hard and say, “What is relevant to the reader? What is going to help the reader?”
So for you saying what you just did, it’s a validation in a way and I’m pleased that you feel that way. And I think other people have and so that’s my mission is to empower other people. So I had to write that so there’s 40 more thousand words sitting in a little file that’s called the holding pen.
So you know, one day it might go out there. and a lot of that was in a way kind of better and kind of the whole personal responsibility thing that I talk about that we have to take responsibility for everything we thing, feel and do and we can’t be victims. There was victim talking there. And so but I needed to have someone, I needed to have my editor actually read it just to be seen. So there was a two pronged defensive there and so.
Andrea: I do find that it’s really helpful to either vent to a therapist or in a journal even if it’s never going to be seen or read by people in our family or the perpetrators of whatever happened in our lives simply because we are, most of us have grown up in a culture where one is not encouraged to play the victim. Oh, suck it up, you know. It’s over. That’s done. But I find that it is truly cathartic and also very healing to get all those feelings out including the ones that want to say, “Damn you for hurting me!” Or, “F you! It is your fault!” Because at least it honors that part of us, that tender gentle part of us that feels wronged and victimized. Not to stay in it, you know. My mentor says, “Okay, honey. I’m going to give you 10 minutes to have your pity party and it’s over.” But it’s good to just validate that tender part of us that deserves to be nurtured and comforted.
And then as you say, to take back that response ability. We can now choose to respond rather than reacting. So I’m glad that you mentioned that. I’m glad that you have some extra content in the holding pen.
Priya: But I think there’s also an element of self-parenting or re-parenting that comes with journaling or writing and not playing the victim but saying your truth and saying how you feel and having one person read it maybe or one person hear you. Because I think everybody wants to know they’re not alone. And so then once you’ve done that, you start restructuring the way you look at things but it is that holding the space for the pain for the child in you.
Andrea: Yes. Well in my case, the beginning of not giving myself permission to live my life was mainly my father’s influence. And I know for you, it was a little more the mom’s influence. My dad, because of the way he grew up in a very poor family from Tennessee, he heard early on that education and getting out of the dumps was your ticket to freedom. And he grew up in a generation where getting a job with a good pension and a healthcare plan, that is the way to go for security.
And so here I am, this little artist, this little performer and he told me that artists they’re a dime a dozen. Education is the thing. You need to always be asking why and getting to the bottom of things. And so I felt very early on that I did not have permission to express and be my true self otherwise I might get, you know, reprimanded which drove me to be overly achieving and perfectionist.
But the influence that your mom had where you felt like you also had to strive to do the best and be the best and also withhold some of your needs so that you could make sure she was taken care of. Do you mind sharing a little bit of that background?
Priya: No. and I was just listening to what you were saying about your dad. He did that for security and so now we understand. But you couldn’t be yourself. You had to do… I mean, I am just saying this because it is kind of how I thought things in my side. It wasn’t only that I couldn’t do anything but that I would be wrong or I might be punished. Not from someone but maybe God would punish me. So there’s the element that I talk about a little bit because I have faith. And so I thought well if I do the wrong thing but if we look at growing up, yes, my mother really wanted everything to be proper. Even though she was American but living in London, she married someone with status. Growing up, I guess that’s what she always wanted was status, and to be seen, and to be heard and to be respected. And so definitely we were incarnations of her.
And listen, my mother, let me say this. My mother loves me enormously. And I know she does these sometimes crazy things because she loves me so much. I never wasn’t loved. And she means well but… and then this is the other thing, I don’t necessarily… I think I put a lot of weight, more weight than she was actually giving out as it were. I took on…
And so when she said, “Really you should wear a different dress, Priya because that doesn’t suit you,” or whatever it was or, “It wasn’t right for the occasion.” I took it more personally because I was so sensitive. And you were just saying about being sensitive and I was super sensitive so I wanted to make everybody happy.
Priya: From that everything else rippled. So not only did I want to make my mother happy but I also wanted to keep everything together because I had an ability to see three steps ahead. And that’s maybe why I am a good therapist or a coach.
Priya: Because I can see what could come down the line and not that I’m going to tell anybody what to do but I could see what could come down the line. If I did this, and then my mother did this, and then someone else did this, and then someone else did this and then someone else did that. And I did not want to blow up at the end.
Andrea: But I imagine that creates… I’ve talked to many people like that who have this kind of hyper vigilance. It’s like you can see, you know, the various timelines. If we go this way, that’s what’s going to happen and this way. I could imagine it growing up with that sense of hyper vigilance really could put a lot of stress and anxiety on you.
Priya: And self-worth issues but a lot of stress and anxiety because where there is stress and self-worth issues is it that you feel responsible. So everybody else matters more than you. And so that’s what happened. And it is really stressful because also you could see when things do blow up that you knew they were going to blow up that way and that you had no control on that situation. And then you’re like, “Damn! I knew that was going to happen and I was right.” And to be right was so disappointing. And I still get elements of that sometimes. I’m like, “Ooh.” But I know now what I can control and what I can’t.
And you were saying about having it all together as a therapist or a coach. I think I’ve got it more together than I used to but it’s always a learning process. And being honest about it was very wonderful making. But if it helps people, that’s all I want.
Andrea: Yes. You know, one of the things I remember growing up was, I was fascinated very early on by how my brother, and my sister and I each reacted differently to my parents’ divorce and to my father’s domineering parenting style. I, because I was the baby, because when then family broke up I was three and so I think… I don’t remember but I could imagine that I was probably missing him because I was always carried around by him while my mother was in medical school. So I imagine that I probably missed him a lot.
And so when he started to impose this, “Do good. You’re going to get good grades. Are you studying? What do you mean you’re going to be in the school play?” I just took on the achievement role so that I’d make sure I had that approval. But my brother, not so much. He just was like, “Okay, these standards are way too high. I’m feeling all this disapproval.” He unplugged.
But this idea that you just brought up about pleasing others and making sure everyone else was okay, I felt a little guilty sometimes that I was really good in school and then I could like buckle down and study and get good grades. And at first I thought it was a coping mechanism that I started to… downplaying my own achievements I know was coping but I also found myself like diving into others and saying, “No, you have this gift and this strength, let’s just play that up more.” I can now recognize that that’s just my nature. That my job now, you know, in helping people brand themselves and get their message out to the world. I’ve been doing that since childhood.
But talk to me about your experience with your clients and with yourself around this obsession that we almost get into with trying to make sure everyone else is okay, pleasing others where it ends up that we deny our own desire and our needs even.
Priya: Yes. There’s no doubt growing up I was that way until I hit a wall. I mean, and I talk about that in the book until I got sick and I was diagnosed with MS. And I don’t love talking about it so much. I don’t want to people to feel sorry for me – I’m doing just fine. And also some people think, “Oh, well. She’s sick. We don’t want to hurt her speak,” or whatever it is. And I’m like, “I’m fine.” And I’ve actually done a ton of work around MS and the mind, body, spirit. And I really believe in this is being emotional block somewhere where body manifest emotion.
Andrea: I agree. I agree.
Priya: And so I definitely think the MS is a crown chakra issue – your place in the world, your security in the world. And when I started to… Yes. You see, it goes hand in hand with what I did growing up. I didn’t trust anybody. I didn’t trust that everything would be okay. I didn’t understand why I was in this world, what my place was. It wasn’t about me. It was about everybody else. And so I really think that we have to deal with ourselves so we don’t sick and we aren’t able to help other people.
Andrea: When we come back from the break, I want to explore this a little more. I know we were about to start talking about pleasing others but what you brought up is so important. It’s something that I also noticed in my medical practice.
So when we get back from the break, I’d like to talk about this mind, body, spirit connection and how feeling worthy of having a place in the world is so incredibly important to our vitality and our health.
Priya: I love that world.
Andrea: All right. So we’ll pick it up from there when we get back.
You’re listening to Liberate Your Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington. Check out the live version of this show where I answer your questions in real time. Visit www.facebook.com/drandreapennington. You can also submit your questions via email. Send it to email@example.com. That’s D-R A-N-D-R-E-A @americaoutloud.com.
Andrea: Are you ready to give yourself permission to live your life? Well my guest helps people explore why they are not giving themselves permission to do what is best for them, how they can identify what they really want to give themselves permission to do and how they can implement their plans.
She wants people to find their personal freedom and their authentic self. And she hopes that being able to release your fears and live your life by simply giving yourself permission to put you first and let go of seeking other people’s approval. This is going to set you free.
So welcome back to the conversation with the beautiful Priya Rana Kapoor.
Before we went to the break, we were talking about the mind, body, spirit connection. And I mentioned to you that I saw this in my medical practice that at the time I was treating a lot of people who wanted to lose weight. And so when they came into the obesity treatment program, we noticed some people had binge eating disorder. And I also did an acupuncture protocol for addiction.
So we had people who were really struggling with impulse control stuff. And what I noticed was some of the patients just being in this beautiful holistic environment getting their brain rebalanced, their neurotransmitters are getting proper nutrition. They would just take off and soar. They go about their lives.
But then there was this other part of the population that they either switch addictions or they’d somehow sabotage their plans. And it just made me kind of frustrated at first and then I got curious. And as I dug into it, I realized they didn’t value themselves. They didn’t believe that they were worthy of love or happiness or vitality. And they didn’t even know how to deal with all that positivity. Like we would just shower them with love and chi and comfort and they just didn’t know how to deal with it.
So I recognize that some of the illnesses I was seeing were definitely tied to this mind, body, spirit continuum. And part of it was really about accepting that you are worthy of love, you are worthy of a place on this planet because you wouldn’t be here if the Divine didn’t have a plan for you. No matter what your parents may have told you, or some bully, or some older sibling, or the religion you were born into – you have a place on this planet.
So I’d love it if you could talk to me a little bit more about the insights that you learned about the diagnosis that you’ve soared past and the clients that you’ve helped. Like what are you seeing between this continuum along the mind, body, spirit?
Priya: Well this is fascinating to me because I used to work in a neurology clinic. That’s I first did my early work. So I was working with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, stroke, some MS and carers, caregivers of Alzheimer’s, which you have experience with.
Priya: And that to me was really interesting to see where the blocks were in their emotions. And it wasn’t their fault. It was just what happens in life. It’s defense mechanisms, coping mechanisms. It was just, what happens because we integrate with other human beings and because we have needs and because we want to keep the status quo a lot of the time.
And so I do feel that some, a lot of illness manifest. It’s not that it’s in your mind, the illness. It’s not that it’s not real. It is real. I mean, I have lesions on the brain. My left side was numb with the MS. But I also think that there’s a way that our body tells us to focus on ourselves or to change something or to recalibrate by showing this ease. So the body will say, “Hang on. You have got to change the way you’re doing things otherwise you will really fall apart. And we’re going to give you this illness,” in my case, “that stops you from walking. And you can’t feed yourself and you’re dizzy and you’ve got muscle weakness. And you can’t actually move anymore until you deal with what you have to deal with.”
Andrea: It’s like you always trying to take care of others it’s like, “You know what? I’m going to just smack you on your booty and sit your little self down until you learn how to receive and recognize that you’re worthy of receiving care and attention.”
Priya: And that you can work just as hard at taking care of yourself as you do taking care of others. I guess my disease was, I mean, I really do in the beginning days I did talk to it and say, “Thank you very much for teaching me this lesson.” And this may sound out there and I don’t actually talk about it in the book because Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life, I always see it as a primer. It’s the entry level to all the other great stuff that’s out there. It’s just that they didn’t have sort of a foundation. There are not a lot of foundations books out there. So I wrote that.
So the next book and I’m thinking is the Give YourSelf Permission to Be Spiritual. And I really, because I come from a health background as do you, I really see how with my clients, some of them with MS and not a lot with MS but different illnesses. Anxiety and depression, and even though if it’s clinical or it’s pathological, psycho pathology, I will definitely refer out. I’m very ethical in that way. But then there’s a little bit of depression that people have just because of life, it’s reactive depression which is different from clinical depression.
And so it’s working on that. What are you denying yourself? And how is it manifesting in your body? So what is your body trying to tell you?
Andrea: You mentioned that crown chakra and feeling like you have a place in the world. And somehow that mirror to you a signal that maybe the MS was related to that. Are there other neurologic conditions or other conditions that you feel…? God, I have so many questions. And do you think the crown chakra is just that that’s what governs brain and circulatory, I mean, the nervous system? Or is that tied to feeling that you deserve to be in the world?
Priya: I think both. I think the crown chakra does govern a lot of autoimmune. I’ve done some reading on it. I’m the person that really explains where I sort of started looking at this was Christiane Northrup. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, which is that great bible I think for women’s health. I mean, I’m sure you know. I don’t know how you feel about her.
Andrea: Wonderful. Yes, she endorsed my first book and I loved her even before I became a physician.
Priya: Really? She came and did that for me and so there’s only a little bit in her book about… She doesn’t actually name a lot of illnesses but really she names MS specifically within the crown chakra. And that’s really all she mentioned. And I thought, “I need to know about this,” and it just started to make sense. But there’s also a neurological illness so looking at Parkinson’s and lupus, which is an autoimmune disease. So that all comes under this place in the world, you know, your security. Well from my reading, and from what I believe and from what I’ve seen working with some clients with different neurological or autoimmune illness.
So it’s having security. And so I don’t know if you know about the angiogram.
Andrea: A little bit.
Priya: A little bit. I’m a six on the angiogram and six is all about security and trust. I think you just choose what speaks to you when it comes to these things with disease. And I’m certainly not one to say, don’t use Western medicine. There is a place for everything. It’s a balance. This is why I started this whole journey was because I wanted to create a holistic wellness center for people with chronic illness.
And you know, in the early days there wasn’t even the internet when I wanted to start. So anyhow, I do think that the crown chakra which is your place in the world and your connection to spirit and faith that you choose. It doesn’t have to be religion. Really can help quiet the mind which really helps with neurological illness and autoimmune illness because it’s being present, being scented and quiet and trusting. And knowing your worth being here and knowing what your purpose is.
Andrea: And so how did you make that transition from seeking approval and wanting to take care of everyone else in the family to recognizing that, “Okay, I matter. I have a place. I have a purpose and I’m going to focus on me.” was health the thing that just did it for you? It’s like, okay no other choice.
Priya: Yes, health, divorce and I moved countries.
Andrea: Which is like the three number one causes of depression for most humans on the planet. You know, all at one.
Priya: Well I see it as lucky, in a way. I was able to get away. I was able to break free of all the patterns, literally break free. I didn’t have children so I was able to make a clean break. I knew that the divorce happened and the illness happened and I struggled and I struggled. And oh, my gosh! And all of a sudden I’m like, someone knows me. They saw a picture. Because after you get divorced, I’d say this in the book. After you get divorced, you have 15 years of pictures which you were with someone else. And it was amicable and it was fine but all of a sudden you’ve got to find pictures again that don’t have you with someone else in them or have memories of them.
So all of a sudden I had pictures of me when I was 15. And so someone said to me, “What would you tell about a 15 year old girl knowing what you knew now?”
And I said, “I’d tell never to leave England, not to leave…” Wait a moment, I can go back to England.
So I was able to take a clean break and I think that was really helpful where I could just get away from everybody and start living my own life, working with amazing clients, knowing that I was actually decent at something, pretty good at something and I was making a difference. And then I worked really hard on my spiritual growth and my personal development growth by reading, by going to conferences, by having a therapist and having a coach.
Andrea: I love it. I love it. So building this, as you call it in the book, this firm foundation of confidence and self-worth is what really allows us to take the reins of personal responsibility and just to get started at looking at what you want in your life.
I love that… I’ve shared with you that many of my clients and patients told me that they felt relieved that I could almost give them a doctor’s prescription to go out and explore, just explore the things that light you up, that make you feel alive, that help you get back into that state of flow, or curiosity, or wonder or awe. All of these positive emotions that we now know with research can actually help us replenish our brain chemicals and rewire the brain and make us feel better. But this idea of having a doctor’s prescription gave them the freedom to explore.
So I love that you’re basically giving people a permission slip, just like we needed at school and the idea of a passport to start looking at going through each of these stages as a journey. So talk to me about that part.
Priya: As you said, it’s really hard for people to give themselves permission. They don’t even know what they want to give themselves permission to do. And it actually physically hurts me to see that and not in a condescending way. But I remember being there and I didn’t even understand it. so that’s why I’m so happy to be in this position where I can say, “Okay, what are you going to give yourself permission to do?” and everybody looks at me like, I have no idea. And so we talk about it and then okay. Then this is literally what I say to people. I’ll say, “Okay, I’m giving you permission for one week and one week only because I want you next week to give yourself the permission.” This is not going to go on forever.
Andrea: Right. Yes.
Priya: I am not the boss of you. But so it’s the same with the prescription. They get their fills. And then they have to decide whether they keep taking it or not. So the permission slip is the same thing. You’re going to have to write it next week that’s why I print it out.
And then the passport. With the passport are the permission journey. So I have a seven step journey that I’ve seen people go through. This all comes from my plans.
Andrea: Will you take us through the seven steps on this journey please?
Priya: Sure. I just didn’t know if I was going to… I have to look at it not because I don’t know it. I really do but I want to get it in the right order.
Andrea: Yes, please.
Priya: Sometimes I can get out of order but it’s this little, I don’t know if you can see but it’s a little map of the world.
Priya: And I chose that because I love travel. But I also chose these little islands that people would go to. And I had to choose islands that were from different countries and they all weren’t owned by the British.
Andrea: Thank you.
Priya: Because there’s a lot of islands owned by the British. And then they’re in the Seven Seas and Seven oceans. There’s a journey.
Andrea: Yes, I love it.
Priya: And I think this is so special. And there people can choose their own location.
So the first one would be, give yourself permission to know you matter, which is the foundation. Self-worth, self-confidence. And a lot of people just don’t even know what that looks like and they won’t know at this stage. They probably won’t know until the end of the seven stages. But to put that in people’s mind, they actually matter as much as everybody else. No more and no less. We all matter the same. So that’s the first one. And just to get that sort of thing going with trust and things like that.
And then give yourself permission to know what you care about, which is values. And a lot of people think, they go values, that’s a business thing. And I’m actually, I think there are personal values and then there are business values but I think your personal values go into your work anyhow. So I work with clients on this a lot. It’s one of my favorite things to do. And actually, Deri is a big proponent of the values. And so he got me to understand that. Now since I’ve been working with clients, I’m like, “This is great!” And it’s really one of the big things that switch people.
Andrea: I agree. And I find that our values are enduring parts of our character and our personality despite culture, despite background, despite the challenges we faced. So like you, I ask my clients to take an actual values and action survey to see kind of in black and white these character strengths or these values that when you see yourself reflected in this way and you realize, “Okay, I’m not faking it. I’m not trying to please anyone because the VIA assessment happens to be really well developed by the good people in the world of positive psychology. But I find that it’s really wonderful. And I also find that when you… this idea of giving yourself permission to know what you care about is about finally saying, “Okay, I’m not going to be people pleasing. What do I really value? What do I really care about?” And it helps us kind of set up these boundaries. In the words of Deri, you know, “A violation of values is a sackable offense.” And in America we say, you get fired. In the UK, it’s you get sacked.
So if someone violates the values of a company or of me, then yes, they deserve to be kicked out. And I find that incredibly empowering for people who have been in this game of serving others and people pleasing and trying to always look for validation from the outside.
So I love that you have that right in Stage Two of this permission journey. And when we get back, I’d love it if you take us through stages three to seven as we take this permission journey to really live our life as our authentic self. We’ll be right back.
You’re listening to Liberate Your Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington. Check me out on Instagram, @drandreapennington. And now, back to the show.
Andrea: So my guest and I are taking you on a permission journey. That’s right. You get to go on a journey of your own choosing and it’s all about self-discovery and self-empowerment.
So Priya Rana Kapoor, thank you so much for allowing us to really dig into your book, Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life. Can you take us from Stage Three onward?
Priya: Sure, I can.
And we go into give yourself permission to take back your life. Now this is the big one and this is kind of why I wrote the book. It’s all about personal responsibility. I call it your best PR. It’s taking personal responsibility. As I’ve said, no one wants to be told to take personal responsibility. And they actually don’t even know that they’re not doing that because the pain is so great so often. People find anything – people to blame. And they don’t do it in a mean way. They do it because they just are in such pain they don’t know where else to turn. And so I talk about the blame game and it’s taking it back. We are personally, we are responsible for everything we think, feel and do. And when we understand that and we start implementing it… And that’s not easy. That’s hard. Then we start to free ourselves. So I go a lot into control there and there are some fun exercises that I see give people a little light bolt. I’d use the circles of control or the spheres of control that’s pervasive through all coaching and therapy and everything.
So it’s just giving people permission again to do it. Giving them the space to do it saying, “Okay, I can put this here. Oh, this is what I can’t control. This is what I can.” So anyhow, that’s personal responsibility, taking back your life.
Andrea: Let’s not downplay that exercise just because it’s so prevalent. I think it’s really important because we hear these ideas but actually putting it into practice like doing this exercise, I find that that gives us feedback. That feeds back to us that, “Yes, I can do this. Yes, I can exert my will and my sense of control.
So I think that exercise you’ve included is hugely valuable.
Priya: And I love that one. And that one I’ll even do when I’m speaking with a 150 people. Everyone’s like, “Really?” But yes, because if they have the sheet in front of them and then really work through it because other people think they have more control than they do. I can control what she’s going to think. I can control that it’s not going to rain on my wedding day. They worry about it. They worry that it’s going to rain on their wedding day. Well you can’t control that. But what can you influence and what can you control? A tent. I mean, that’s a basic example. But as soon as people understand that they can go into that, “I can’t actually control it so I’m not going to worry about it.” A bunch of anxiety goes. And that’s take responsibility for they are anxious in their own mind.
And then we move on to give yourself permission to be brave, which is all the fear which I think is the main reason people don’t give themselves permission. They’re afraid of what people will think. They’re afraid of upsetting anybody, afraid of looking selfish, afraid of making a mistake, afraid of doing something wrong. So it’s all the fear factor. So we could look into being brave and making calculated risk.
Andrea: Do you find that there’s even still resistance in just the calculated risk taking?
Priya: Yes, there is. A lot of clients are quite strategic about things. They’re people in business. So there’s entrepreneurs or MDs in banks and things like that. So they understand strategy and risk. Yes, they still have the fear but they see it in business but maybe not to themselves so much. So there is the resistance especially what will people think. And that’s the big one. So that’s why we work on the self-worth stuff and the values stuff, values issues. It’s a stepping stone so there’s a little less resistance and then we can come back to it.
Andrea: Yes. Going back to values, one of my highest values on this particular survey was courage and bravery. And so this idea of, you know, in positive psychology we always talk about find out what your strengths are and then use them. And so this idea of giving yourself permission to be brave, I definitely took that on. And I said, “You know what? I have to do this for my own well-being.” And this idea of what will people think? Even though it came up, I realized, “You know what? These people don’t wake up in my skin the morning. They don’t feel what I feel. They don’t feel that intense anxiety with that doom. So I don’t give a rat’s butt what they think. I’m just going to step up and do this for me.” And again like so many people, I had pain as my motivator. Like I couldn’t tolerate the pain of it anymore and that was enough for me to say, “Damn it! I’m just going to do it. I’m going to do this for me.” and little by little, I became more brave. And again, I think it’s this idea of feedback. You put it into action and then you realize, there weren’t as many critics as I invented in my brain. And even their little criticism, I could kind of dismiss it anyway.
Priya: And this experience, building on experience. Looking at when you did do something, were there the people that were your critics? Not as many as I thought. And so it’s more confidence you get in yourself and the more you understand the people around you and the world.
Sorry I keep looking off but that’s only because I’m thinking not to come looking at anything else. That’s what happens.
Andrea: I’m the same way. Don’t worry.
Priya: I’m sorry. I’m like, she must think I’m looking out the window at the cranes. No, I’m just getting the message. Yes, it’s just building on things and trusting yourself more and also assessing what has actually happened in the past. I call that like reality checking and that’s in that chapter as well. What really did happen? What’s the truth? Something was the truth when you were six. When your teacher told you you were useless at Math. But what is the truth now? You went to Oxford. You’ve got a medical degree, whatever it was. Let’s reassess this.
Andrea: So talk to me about Stage Five. Give yourself permission to be happy.
Priya: I have so many clients that just wouldn’t… I said, “What makes you happy?”
And they’re like, “Cricket.”
Crickets, right? Silence. And stuff like, okay let’s delve further into that. What makes you happy? And it was like getting little flowers for themselves. It was so little. Little things. Again building on it.
And then I love this one because I have a little bit of a soft spot for happiness because I worked with Shawn Achor with The Happiness Advantage. I brought The Happiness Advantage to the UK and I just think he is lovely and I love his book because it’s so kind and gentle with a lot of science backing it up. And he’s just a super-super lovely person. And so to me, the happiness makes sense. When I listen to something else, Excess Magazine. He was interviewed way before it was even released, the book. And he was talking about that and I’m like, that totally makes sense. It’s all about attitude. And you have choice. And that’s the thing. It’s empowering as well. You have a choice to be happy. And I know a lot of people would challenge me on that and people do challenge me on that in the beginning and that’s why this chapter is so important.
Yes, there are some people that have had horrible things happen to them, just horrible. And you don’t understand how they’re going to recover but they do. They do. People in concentration camps and torture, I mean, they do. Not all but some do. So we have to tap into what they were able to bring up which is resilience and that is also a choice. So that is a choice to be happy. So what are you going to choose?
Andrea: I love that. Yes, it does sound so simplistic. And you’re right. People will resist it in the beginning but I think reiterating this, for me is like a mantra and eventually when someone is face d with a decision, they may remember, “Oh, I have a choice here. Rather than falling back on my angry reactionary pattern, I have a choice.” And it is empowering and it’s also a matter of allowing us to just recognize that I am the creator or my life and my moods and I’m going to choose life. Enjoy.
Priya: Yes, because what choice do we really have?
Andrea: Well you can keep playing the victim and keep being miserable. But having lived that way for a long time, I don’t recommend it.
Priya: We’ll get sick. It will make our life sick shorter. We won’t be able to do what we were supposed to do.
Andrea: And that’s the big thing. I think, you know, that’s why I love it when you get to… We have two more stages but we can get to the homework stage. It’s about giving yourself permission to dream big and live your life. I always tell people, you know what, once we take care of these little pesky symptoms, like we thing this diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder or depression or whatever, we think that it is going to mark the rest of our lives. And I really do see them as just symptoms. This disease that we experience in the body and in the mind or the emotions is really just a symptom of something else going on underneath. And if part of that underneath stuff is not recognizing your place or value in the world and not loving yourself, when we fix that and the symptoms go away? Guess what you all. You now have the opportunity to dream big and live your life on your terms.
Andrea: Exactly! At America Out Loud, we call it live your life out loud. No longer in your head or in your dreams. It’s like, do it.
So let’s get to Stage Six because this is a big one. Giving yourself permission to have healthy relationships. I see so many people who get stuck in these relationship patterns either they’re reproducing what was at home, you know, trying to finish that unfinished business or because they don’t feel worthy they find themselves always attracting or being attracted to the bad boy or the abuser or the emotionally distant blah, blah, blah.
So let’s talk about giving ourselves permission to once and for all having healthy relationships.
Priya: Yes. And I think you’re absolutely right. We go into relationships to heal the past. Because if we think we can fix the alcoholic, for instance, that we’re going out with now we would have fixed our father’s or whatever it is.
Andrea: Yes, exactly.
Priya: So we do think we can fix it. And we would have won if we can change the present because then the past would have been worthwhile. Past is always worthwhile. It just depends on how we look at it.
I think the relationships again come from, as you said, building the blocks of self-worth, self-esteem, knowing your values, knowing what you will and won’t accept, taking back your life. So it’s all blocks but I also think this is one component where people don’t actually know what a healthy relationship looks like for them. And so it’s back to intention. You know, what kind of relationship do you want? And I’m big on intention. And so what does it look like to you? What does it feel like to you? Oh, I just want someone to love me. Well yes, except that you’re relying on someone else to do something to make you happy. So what kind of person are you going to go into for this relationship where you will attract that kind of person?
So yes, you want a loving relationship but you’re in that relationship too. It’s two to tango. And mutual respect, unconditional love. But what does it look like? Does it look like you’re both doing things all the time together? You both play golf. You both want to go on the same holidays. Or are you okay with it being different holidays? So it’s sort of that, it’s very coachy way of looking at things. But I think if you don’t know what you want, you won’t recognize it.
Priya: It sounds sort of basic but, you know, like people write lists. This is what I want in someone. And I think that’s okay. It’s intention.
Andrea: Exactly. I think it’s a great starting point. And it allows you to recognize again you have the power to choose. You get to choose. And Stage Seven?
Priya: Stage Seven, know your dream team. I love this one. And funnily enough, this is an exercise I do often in the first stage that we’ve revisited. The dream team, these are the people that have believed in you in the past. Because people think, no one’s believed in me. No one sees me. No one cares about me. I’m on my own. And I’m like, I’m not entirely sure. I’m not worthy. And I said, “Well, okay. Make this list.”
And I’ve done this. I did this list and this is what started a lot of this work for me. I’m like, “My goodness! There’s a lot of people that cared about me in my past that actually wanted to see me succeed.” And I don’t have to succeed to prove it to them but I kind of owe them to try. And so I think making that list is a really comforting thing. Oh, wow. There were people that cared about me. And so, dream team. There’s different kinds of dream teams as your foundational dream team. Those are the people in the past. People that are around you now and people that you think have done a really good job in life and so you look at them as people that you can emulate. Not copy, not strive to be exactly like but to say, “Okay, that was a good trait. How can I bring that into my life?” And then how you can be on other people’s dream team. That’s the other component, being of service, helping people out in a way that’s true to you. Not losing yourself but being authentic and true and helping people in that way. Not losing yourself, not people pleasing, not seeking approval.
So that to me is a big one even though it’s… I love that one. And I can work with people on that and it’s just lovely and gentle.
Andrea: I love the idea of the dream team and writing it down. That’s a lot of what our mission is at America Out Loud. And Malcolm Out Loud, who like me, has a very long career in media.
Some people bash the media and they say, “Oh, it’s all negative.” Well America Out Loud was created to let the silent voices be heard and to create a place of community so that you can have a virtual or talk radio dream team to remind you and to reflect back to you that you matter, your voice matters, your presence in the world matters and we’re here for you. I love that you want people to know that they are not alone. I think a lot of us suffer in silence. So I love that you just remind us, “Hey, guys. You’re not alone. Been there. Been seeing people in my professional career as you have.
So we got to wrap up but I just want to thank you and honor you for what you’re doing for all of us in the world who are on this journey to really giving ourselves permission to have a kickass life, as I call it.
You can visit www.priyaranakapoor.com. So talk to us about this lovely permission slip
Priya: Well there’s a section and on that page that says Downloadable materials from the book. And so there’ll be the circles of control in there. There’ll be someone that charts all the exercises but the permission slip is simply, what am I going to give myself permission to do? And you can even print it out. And every week you can start a new one. Or if it’s a project or if it’s something you’re struggling with. There are so many things. Because that’s what the last chapter is all about. It’s the springboard to everything else. There’s so much out there that’s so great so you get to choose. Back to that. You got the foundations. You’ve got your self-worth. Now what are you going to give yourself permission to do?
Andrea: Let us all embrace a life that is fund and meaningful and fulfilling to us, living on our own terms.
Thank you again, Priya. It’s always a pleasure for me to connect with you. I just love your light and your energy.
And for anyone out there who might be struggling because you’ve really had some dramatic or traumatic issues in your past. Priya has also got a free MP3. It’s a guided imagery recording of the Letting Go box. And she’s going to hide you through this exercise to release the past hurt s and these past issues.
So just visit the website and you’ll see that when you sign up for a newsletter. There are some little freebies in there for you.
Priya, thank you for what you’re doing. I can’t wait for the next book.
Priya: When it’s time. No pressure.
Andrea: But promise me you will come back and share more with us.
Priya: I will. And thank you for everything you are doing, Andrea. Thank you for all the support you’ve shown me and so many other people. That’s why people aren’t alone because of people like you.
Andrea: Thank you for that. It is my gift and my pleasure.
Well there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life. Live that life out loud and until next time. May you be truly well in body, mind and heart. Much love. Bye.
Thanks for tuning in. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @drandrea. And did you know? I’m on the radio daily. Visit www.americaoutloud.com to download the talk radio app.