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Aww Shift

Feb 13, 2024

In this episode, our guest is Katie Horwitch. She is the author of "Want Yourself, Shift Yourself," engaging in a captivating conversation. In this episode, we delve into self-discovery, personal development, and addressing negative self-talk. How did you develop the desire to be yourself and cultivate a sense of competence to progress in life? Explore the journey of turning dreams into reality as Katie walks you through tactical ways to make it happen. Without further ado, let's dive into the episode with Katie Horwitch

[2:34] Why should I listen to you? 

Being an introvert and a highly sensitive person, if I initiate a conversation with you, it's because I see the potential for meaningful interaction between us.

[3:25] What are the things that are deeply important to you?

That's a great question because, as someone with a contrasting personality – a gregarious introvert or what some might label an extroverted introvert – people often mistake me for an outgoing person. However, I tend to keep to myself not because I'm guarded but because I'm a professional observer, always absorbing data from people and the world. Meaningful conversations in this setting, not during a keynote or workshop, stem from something I've noticed in you and grown curious about. When it comes to making adult friendships, many find it daunting, assuming it involves constant small talk. I prefer to reverse-engineer the situation, considering the type of connection and feelings I want to cultivate. I'm genuinely invested in our conversation and our interaction, with a focus on the 'so what' – what happens afterward and beyond.

[7:00] What sparked your intense curiosity in professional settings like NFL teams, and have you ever been perceived as stuck up for being a listener rather than an immediate talker?

Both questions are intriguing, but the second one stands out. Regarding the first, people often talk about rediscovering their childhood free-spirited selves. However, I've been hypersensitive and a keen observer since birth, not just emotionally but to lights, noises, and people's moods. Thankfully, this trait wasn't discouraged overtly, though growing up in the '80s and '90s, societal expectations leaned toward being loud and confident, particularly for women.

While I absorbed the world around me, the societal push for confidence without appearing narcissistic created a dynamic where I became a social chameleon. I adapted to avoid being labeled as off-putting or arrogant, honing this skill through life's ups and downs. Regarding the second point about being perceived as unfriendly for not talking much, I rarely encountered that due to my heightened awareness. Growing up in a talkative family, meeting my introverted husband highlighted my tendency to fill silence. 

[13:02] How did you get to the point of finding that space between your husband where you could learn to be quiet?

I found myself filling space in certain situations, driven by a desire for something specific. Your example of a group of seemingly self-centered individuals resonates – perhaps they seek acknowledgment or lack opportunities to express themselves elsewhere. As an internal processor in a world of external processors, I sometimes need to process aloud, and my husband, lovingly, called me out on this. I realized my tendency to fill space comes from a desire for connection, born out of being a recovered people pleaser. 

[16:25] What was your journey to this point like? 

As mentioned, I grew up with hypersensitivity and heightened observance. Navigating life, I faced a constant tug-of-war between my self-confidence, the subtleness within me, and societal expectations, especially for women. There was an unwritten rule against being too loud or taking pride in accomplishments, which wasn't conducive to embracing one's strengths. Reflecting on the mental health conversations prevalent today, it's clear that such discussions weren't part of the narrative during my upbringing as a child of the '80s and '90s. By the time I reached college, the struggle with control intensified. As a musical theater major at the University of California, Irvine, the facade I had maintained for connection and belonging crumbled. This led to a complex mix of eating and body-related disorders, an issue compounded by the limited discourse around mental health in 2006-2007. In those times, the conversation about these disorders was binary, lacking nuance. My personal struggle compelled me to turn my hyper-observant nature inward for self-reflection. Recognizing that something wasn't right, especially as someone in tune with my body like you as an athlete, was a pivotal moment.

[21:30] How did you navigate that? 

I underwent a journey driven by the pursuit of perfection, particularly as a musical theater major relying heavily on my voice and body akin to an athlete. The impact was tangible, affecting my voice to the extent that I lacked the necessary muscle and breath strength for singing. Instead of being overly critical, I started providing constructive feedback by observing how I responded to conversations, feelings, and thoughts. This introspection revealed the prevalence of what I call "casual negativity" – the habitual use of negative language, both internally and externally. Recognizing this internalized language, I realized the need to delve into its origins. To shift my self-talk, I understood the importance of addressing the underlying beliefs rather than merely affirming positivity on the surface.

[24:15] How did that lead to this book? 

The book, "Wanting Yourself: Shift Your Self-Talk and Unearth the Strength in Who You Were All Along," posits that self-talk is neither inherently positive nor negative; it's the interpretation and subsequent actions that carry weight. The central idea is that self-talk serves as information, and the book advocates starting with the "self" aspect rather than solely focusing on talk. Comparable to addressing the root cause of a persistent cough, the book provides a practical blueprint for understanding and transforming self-talk.

With a foundation in 16 years of research, writing, and speaking on the subject, it dives into the reasons behind our self-conversations and emphasizes the crucial shift needed. It endeavors to empower readers with practical tools, enabling them to navigate the process independently and recognize the urgency and significance of this transformation in our society.

[29:14] How does somebody shift their self-talk?

I appreciate your emphasis on proof points, a crucial aspect. The initial step, as discussed in the book, involves redefining and reevaluating our self-talk practices. Often, people tend to categorize self-talk as either positive or negative, but I see it simply as self-talk, where our feelings about what we say to ourselves shape our self-perception and subsequent actions. Some claim they don't grapple with negative self-talk, similar to stating they never get tired. Acknowledging the inevitability of discomfort and negative self-talk is vital. Just as knowing how to respond when tired is essential, understanding the underlying message in uncomfortable feelings can guide meaningful actions. The process entails unraveling layers and discerning genuine events from emotional responses. Redefining positivity is another crucial aspect, focusing on sustained positivity rooted in proactive behavior rather than reactive responses. For instance, if someone frequently acts as a social chameleon, the feeling of inadequacy may be tied to a genuine desire for connection. Acknowledging and embracing one's true self in smaller, everyday moments serves as proof that authenticity is liberating, especially before significant moments that may feel high-stakes.

[40:34] What happens to your identity when you've done this habit?

There's a prevalent notion about thoughts becoming things, and in a podcast conversation, I explored the idea that thoughts, feelings, and beliefs define who we are. These elements are significant and often developed over time, as therapy sessions can reveal. Building a sense of self is an ongoing process, not a quick fix. Your focus on long-term self-building raises the question of the "so what" after forming good habits. I believe our self-talk is the narrative we tell ourselves and others, shaping how we engage with the world. In a complex world with ongoing challenges, our reactions are rooted in the self we've cultivated. When individuals lack a solid sense of self, harmful behaviors like othering or joining harmful movements can arise as a way to combat discomfort. In essence, building these habits goes beyond a mere desire; it's a necessity to be the positive change we want to see in the world. 

[50:28] What promise did God make to the world when he created you? 

She will be exactly who she needs to be 

Key Quotes 

[24:37-24:50] Self-talk isn't inherently good or bad; it is what we do with that information that informs what we do next and next. 

[37:50-37:55] Self-trust can be built in small and everyday moments 

How to connect with Katie Horwitch