Think back to the last big decision you made. Were you contemplating other people’s opinions before you made your choice?
When life gets busy, it’s easy to focus on pleasing those around you and lose sight of who you are and what you want. Your dreams fall into second priority and before you know it, you stop living for yourself.
We all want people to like us and be approving of us and our decisions, but when that becomes the driving force of our lives, the anxiety of pleasing people is overwhelming.
That is exactly what happened to my podcast guest for this episode, Rachel Hollis.
Like myself, Rachel struggled with the fear of judgment. The opinions of others controlled her decisions and she lost sight of what she truly wanted. After writing several fiction books and working for over a decade on herself and her career, Rachel finally said enough is enough and took ownership of who she was.
Her life changed with one viral post that created the momentum for her bestselling book: An instagram post of her in a bikini – “stretch marks and all.” She was proud of her body, including the imperfections, because it was her body and she loved it. It was the first time Rachel saw the power of being yourself and showing all of it – not just the pretty, picture-perfect stuff.
As a result, her seventh book, Girl, Wash Your Face, became a hit. In her book, Rachel tells women everywhere that they should stop believing lies that try to define them and start living as who they actually are. The book has been a massive success and has sold over a million copies, continuing to grow every week.
Rachel Hollis is a mother of four and was named one of the “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” by Inc. Magazine. “I’m not special,” she says, “I have just worked really, really hard.” She also has a podcast out called RISE in which she talks with business owners and community leaders about how to improve your life and career. Rachel is an incredible example of following your dreams and not giving up.
Like Rachel says in this episode, “Why am I successful and other people aren’t? Because when they heard no, they listened.” Get ready to be inspired by this amazing woman.
Raising Children While Following Your Dreams
If you’re a mom, then you know that your kids are one of the most important things in your life. You love them, you take care of them, you guide them, and you want to see them grow into the best version of themselves that they can be.
But what if you’re a mom who also wants to start your own business? What if you want to run the New York City Marathon, but you feel bad asking someone to watch the kids? Does that mean you’re a bad mom?
Rachel says absolutely not.
She says that the first thing she wants moms to understand is that “you’re allowed to have a dream for yourself that doesn’t involve [those] babies.”
If you have a passion that has been tugging on your heartstrings, and you’re suppressing it because you have kids and don’t have time for personal goals anymore, then pay attention to that thing. It’s in your heart for a reason.
“You’re allowed to have a dream, you’re allowed to chase something, even if it doesn’t make sense to anybody else.” – Rachel Hollis
And secondly, if being a stay at home mom is your thing, if that’s your passion, then Rachel says you should want to be the “best version of a stay-at home mom that you can be.” Wake up every morning and ask yourself how you can be the best mom the world has ever seen.
The bottom line is, don’t listen to people who judge you for not watching your kids 24/7 and don’t compare yourself to other moms who have different passions than you. Find your own passion and pursue it.
Rachel said a lot of powerful things in this interview, but one quote in particular really stuck out to me:
“I feel like we sort of raise men to, like, ‘Be ambitious! Chase your dream! Do the thing! Be yourself!’ And we raise women to chase men.” – Rachel Hollis
Growing up, Rachel said that the most important duty impressed on her was to get married and have babies. That’s your goal as a woman. Forget about any dreams or passions you want to pursue that don’t line up with that, because that’s not your purpose. This is what society has taught women in many cultures for a long time.
Rachel says she refuses to teach her daughter this narrative because it might not be her narrative. Her daughter might not want to get married or have kids – she might want to pursue something else – and that should be allowed. It should be encouraged!
As kids, we’re often taught that our worth comes from what people think of us. Often, that begins with making our parents happy, and we realize that when we please other people, it makes our parents happy. Rachel explains how this becomes a never-ending cycle of people-pleasing that often leads to extreme anxiety and depression.
It did for Rachel.
In her early thirties, Rachel began to experience waves of panic attacks. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, then you know how bad it is. She said it felt like the room was spinning and she couldn’t function. She was running a business and trying to make everyone happy at once. Her solution to this was to do what she had always done: Work harder!
But when it comes to people-pleasing, “working harder” is the worst thing you can do. When she realized things weren’t getting better but worse, she went into therapy and soon learned how much of her anxiety was triggered by people-pleasing.
Whoever you are – whether you’re a mom, or a CEO, or a kindergarten teacher – someone is going to be upset with you at some point in your life, multiple times, probably every single day. We fear judgement about who we are, what we want, and who we want to be, and at the center of all this are the words, “I am not enough.” So to avoid this feeling, we try desperately to make people happy with who we are, what we want, and who we want to be. But we’re betraying ourselves.
It’s okay if people are upset with you. What’s worse is if you let their opinions stunt your dreams.
For a long time, Rachel feared judgement from her husband. She saw problems in their marriage and wanted to help, but she didn’t want to upset him. But she realized something:
“You can’t have one person, one part of a relationship, who’s growing and changing and being the best version of themselves, and someone else who’s stagnant. It’s not going to work. Because one of us, or both of us, is going to start to resent each other. And then it’s going to become something bigger than it is in this moment.” – Rachel Hollis
This was a hard conversation to have with her husband, but it turned out saving their marriage. They went to UPW (“Unleash the Power Within” with Tony Robbins) together, and everything changed. Not to say there’s still hard moments, but now there’s a healthy balance. He now acts as CEO of her company while she spends time doing what she loves the most: writing and creating. They even started a podcast together called The RISE Together Podcast, where they talk about how to be intentional with relationships.
Are you struggling in a relationship with your spouse, friend, or maybe a coworker? A lot of us like to avoid conflict, fearing that we’ll make things worse, but healthy relationships only survive if there’s honesty. We have to be honest with ourselves about what we want and what we feel.
As Rachel says, “Show up for people, but don’t be overwhelmed by them.”
Are you bending over backwards trying to make people happy? Are you swallowing your own dream in order to become who someone else wants you to be? If so, this episode is for you, whether you’re a stay at home mom, a football coach, an artist, or whoever! This message is for all of us.
When you start to follow your own dreams, who you were really meant to be, you will unlock your potential. And don’t apologize for it! Rachel Hollis’s most recent book, Girl, Stop Apologizing is all about how women can stop feeling shame for who they want to be.
As always, I end with my favorite question, “What’s your definition of greatness?” Rachel’s definition was “just being a little better each day.” A simple answer, but a profound one.
You have the power, my friends, to change your life, at any moment. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through right now. It doesn’t matter how bad you have it, or how much you feel stuck. You have the power, in any moment, to start changing the way you think. And when you change the way you think, you can structure your life to start changing the way you act.
And when you start changing the way you act, and the decisions you make, you can start building better habits, working towards goals, getting unstuck in the situation you’re in right now. You have the opportunity to do incredible, great things.
So join me in Episode 697 and learn how to pursue your purpose and go after what you want, no matter who you are, what your situation is, or who is telling you “No.”