Not Feeling Our Feelings Is Holding Us Back

I'm Michelle!

Master Life Coach, Wife & Mom, Certified Nervous System Fitness Expert, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Podcaster, Attorney, and Deep Believer in Curiosity and Self-Compassion

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Are you in your feelings?! Organizational Psychologist, Self-Awareness Coach, and founder of The BRAVE Method, Dr. Stephanie Lopez, shares with us how avoiding our feelings is the number one thing holding women back.

In today’s interview, Dr. Lopez talks about her journey in transitioning from a thriving career at NASA to now helping high-achieving women be the best version of themselves. 

As a mindset and emotions coach, she guides women to grow from being hard on themselves, to conquering their negative thoughts, feeling confident, and living a life they love.

“That’s a paradox.  You can actually accept yourself.  You can accept the mistakes that you’ve made. You can accept the moment that you’re in, and simultaneously improve.” – Dr. Stephanie Lopez

You can connect with Stephanie here:

As a psychologist and coach, you’ve helped guide so many women to breakthrough in their personal and professional lives. What limiting beliefs and patterns of thinking do you most often see holding women back? And if we resonate, what can we do about it?

The people I come across are not feeling their feelings. It’s creating almost all of the issues they’re experiencing in their life, and they don’t realize it. The most common sign that someone is not feeling their emotions is defensiveness.

Most people have a very limited view of defensiveness – they think it just means protecting themselves from others. But that’s not what it is. Defensiveness is actually protecting ourselves from feeling our own feelings.

The goal is that our mind is trying to protect us from being inadequate in some way. When we put effort into not feeling something, it gives that thing power. So, if we want to choose how we show up in the world behaviorally, the key is to depend on our self-awareness of these defenses and feel our emotions.

If you’re wondering if this might be you, the first step to healing is to start doing the deeper inner work to heal our insecurities. The work is guiding women to the point where we accept and know that our insecurities aren’t true. We can cope with all of it!

The goal is not to never be defensive again. The goal is to recover more quickly and have these defensive moments less frequently.

Then we can come up with a recovery action plan so when you become aware of your signs of defensiveness, you can address it effectively.

Most women I come across in our community and audience feel overextended.  I don’t think we can say it enough – setting boundaries isn’t selfish.  Share with us how we can get better at setting and enforcing boundaries and why getting comfortable doing so is vital for us women.

The work is questioning and discovering what we’re afraid of that’s preventing us from setting the boundaries we know we need to establish. When we say no, when we back out, when we express our opinions, when we change our minds, what insecurity pops up? The greatest way to break through an insecurity, is to do the thing we don’t want to do!

Many of our listeners express levels of guilt or this sense that they’re failing, even when they’re doing all the things.  Why do moms tend to have this harsh inner critic, and what should we do when that inner critic starts chiming in?

A powerful question to ask ourselves, is whether we’re subconsciously choosing to feel guilty. If we’re feeling a way we don’t want to feel – or if we’re doing a thing we don’t want to do – the reason we usually feel and do these things is because there’s a hidden reward for doing so.

Maybe we choose to feel guilty because it makes us feel like a good person. Maybe it’s because I feel responsible. Or all these other things wrapped up in my identity. But can’t we still feel all these things and not feel guilty?!

And when it comes to our inner critic, what we resist persists. Resisting our inner critic is the problem! Think of your inner critic as a separate person – mine is Bianca. So, if I try to ignore her, she isn’t going to respond well.

What if I treated her as a friend instead, and actually listened to her? What if I acknowledged what she’s trying to do in helping me be the best version of myself? And we can say, is there anything else you need me to know? And then listen and journal about it – unfiltered! It’s giving our inner critic an opportunity to be seen and heard so she doesn’t need to keep popping up!

As a mindset and emotion coach, I’d love for you to speak to all the worriers and overthinkers who are listening.  How might this pattern be holding them back and how could they make some adjustments to their mindset that might serve them better?

It takes the same amount of trust, effort, and energy to worry as it does to trust. Both options refer to something we don’t know yet. We are never responding to the world. We’re always responding to our interpretation to it. We choose the meaning that we put on every single situation. So, we can experience hardships and put negative meaning on it that causes us to worry. Or we can change how we choose to perceive it. That is a choice.

A very powerful exercise to change the way you think is to separate the story you are telling yourself from the facts. What I’m saying is that you never really respond to the world, you always respond to your own interpretations of the world. You yourself give meaning to life, and to every situation that comes your way. Also, you have the power to change it.

Wanting to control and resist our feelings isn’t effective. It’s kind of like a Chinese finger trap. It is a fight without exit. The best thing we can do with our feelings, is to feel them and then let them go. Observe them, be aware of them, feel them, and let them go.

We don’t have to be hard on ourselves or put ourselves down to get better. It’s a paradox! We can actually accept ourselves.  We can accept the mistakes that we’ve made. We can accept the moment that we’re in, and simultaneously improve.

Motherhood sometimes feels like a tug-of-war between being real, but also being positive.  So how do we stay positive and optimistic, while also acknowledging that motherhood is hard and not glossing over the struggle?

Separating the facts from the story can be really powerful here. How can we make an observation about what’s happening, without judgment? And do we have an underlying belief that something shouldn’t be happening? This tension is also in line with surrender. Because what we resist, persists.

I want to talk to all the mompreneurs, side hustlers, and working moms out there – when it comes to work/life balance, is that really the goal, or is there some other focus we should have to ensure our priorities are in order, but that we’re also being productive and able to work?

I’ve been hearing a lot about work-life integration lately. Because life and work will likely never be perfectly balanced. There will inevitably be times when we need to focus more on one thing or the other.

The brain tends to categorize things – good and bad, black and white – to be able to process them in the simplest way. So, when it comes to work-life balance, we can tend to think that one way or another is good or bad, when in reality it’s actually much more nuanced.

I also want to mention something important – we must redefine productivity! Rest is productive. If we burn the candle at both ends, we’re going to burn out.

Life is the plan from which we deviate. So, when I keep that in the forefront of my mind, it helps me to remember that things are fine – it’s going to work out.

How good was this conversation with Dr. Lopez?! Let us know your greatest takeaway in the comments below!

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You my friend, are called to a life of fullness and abundance - no matter how wild this motherhood journey is. It's time to trade the exhaustion and overwhelm for peace and joy.  No more hot-mess express.  I've got you. 

Learn more

Let's redefine what's possible in motherhood.

cool as a cucumber, ENNEAGRAM 3, book hoarder, MATCHA LATTE LOVER, growth seeker, accountability partner, and your biggest cheerleader

I'm Michelle.
Your Master Coach.

You my friend, are called to a life of fullness and abundance - no matter how wild this motherhood journey is. It's time to trade the exhaustion and overwhelm for peace and joy.  No more hot-mess express.  I've got you. 

Learn more

Let's redefine what's possible in motherhood.


Cheers to starting your day right!  Make yourself comfortable and get ready to dig in, learn, and most importantly, take action!

You got it, Mama!

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