Healing Sisterhood Wounds


Podcast Transcript:

Gail: Hello, everybody, Gail Kraft here from The Empowering Process podcast. So glad that you’re here to join us today. I’m with a dear friend of mine, Stephanie Maat. And what she does is she is a relationship coach. So, it’s all about your relationship with your significant other, your relationship with your children, your relationship with work, your relationship with yourself. And so, relationships is everything. And Stephanie actually deals with a lot of that. Thank you for joining me today, Stephanie.

Stephanie: Thank you, I’ve been so excited to do this.

Gail: Oh, it’s going to be great. And we’re going to talk about sisterhood wounds. It really is a subject matter that came to my awareness a few months ago, and I’ve put together a training course, which covers… and we’re going to talk about what some of that stuff is, the types of wounds that we carry as women. And in the course, it would be exercises to identify them, and to deal with them. So, Stephanie, tell us a little bit about yourself before we get started. 

Stephanie: Oh, wow. Well, I work full time outside of the home. But I also do my life coaching business, which I love doing. I’ve been doing that probably off and on now for about 10 years, raising my kids, single parent. So, it’s been kind of off and on with that. Oh, I do a lot of volunteer work. I speak with different women’s groups here in the area, different groups, different topics. And a mother of two, very proud of mother two. And yeah, so I’m just kind of like this next chapter of my life. 

I am in that over 50 group, but actually very excited, because it’s like we talk about sister wounds, all these things that happened to us. And now to be on this side, and be able to look back, you know what I mean? I feel really good about where I’m at. And being into this next chapter, I’ll be an empty nester in about a year and a half, and already trying to think ahead. 

Gail: Oh, enjoy the freedom. So, let’s get into the meat of the thing. So, I’ve got a few notes though and every once in a while, I’ll be flipping to the notes and be sure that we touch the types of wounds that we’re talking about. And so, the first one that I have down here is gossip. Girls love to gossip, and they love to tell the stories. So, tell me a little bit about what your experience has been or your thoughts around the harm gossip does.

Stephanie: Now again, looking back, and even probably early adulthood, gossip is toxic. It’s just like throwing poison out there or throwing acid on to someone, it’s so toxic. Because it’s kind of like the old, you know, you have a can up to your ear or you play that game where you whisper in someone’s ear and it goes around the circle, and it comes back something different. And that’s what gossip is, it’s like just twisting things and twisting things. I really believe when people gossip, it comes out of their own insecurity. They might be insecure about that person, so they find something to kind of trigger something about them or say something about them. 

Or talking about something that they may not know the person, but they think they heard something about them, and so they spread this gossip about them. And it doesn’t do anything but tear down, as far as I’m concerned. My son was talking to me about this the other day, and he’s 16. And a girl that he used to date is in with this friendship group. And they all talk about each other. And he’s telling me this, and they think they’re confiding in each other, but they’re not. They’re taking that and they’re sharing it and then it just spreads and spreads and spreads. So, for me, gossip goes so far back. I did get caught up in it, probably my early 20s, not realizing what…

Gail: Well, actually all of these stem from the teenage years. So, everything we’re going to talk about starts in in that age, when you’re starting to feel insecure to begin with, in your own body and in your environment. You’re trying to explore and figure out your boundaries. But for me, that gossip, I see it as a little bit different. Yes, it is a way to elevate how you feel but for many women in particular, it is the only conversation they understand. So, it’s like, if you pick up the phone, and you talk to someone you haven’t talked to, they’re going to say, “So, how you doing? Last time we talked; the s!!t was hitting the fan.” And you’re going to be like, “That was six months ago and that was like for five minutes.” And they’ve taken this story and they have created this archetype of you around the story. And for some people, thinking the rest of the world is dysfunctional, helps them justify their own dysfunctional. 

Stephanie: Exactly. I think it also can be a way to protect yourself. You’re insecure, you’re not really sure, you don’t feel pretty, you’re not skinny, you’re not this, you’re not that, you didn’t get the promotion, and it protects you by deflecting off on to somebody else. Let’s get the attention over there, right or wrong, truth or not, let’s put the attention somewhere else. I think it’s just like I said, I think it’s toxic because it spreads in so many different directions. And it comes from a place from within.

Gail: All of these come from definitely a place of within. And those walls that you’re talking about, Stephanie, for me, I know that I had so many walls and they were so thick. It has taken a good portion of my lifetime to take the bricks down. So, another, it kind of links in, I’ve tried to put these in an order where they kind of link and lean on each other as jealousy. Jealousy is a wound that is deep in the feminine collective, I think. And it’s jealous of someone else’s success, jealous of someone else’s mate, jealous of someone else’s life. 

The grass is greener on the other side. And that really comes from my perspective, from a root… and again, guys, this is our perspective. So, you might have another one, it’d be awesome if you share it with us. But these come from fear, fear of scarcity. Jealousy comes from a fear of scarcity, “You have something I don’t have.” So, talk a little bit about…

Stephanie: I heard someone say when they talk about jealousy, and whatever it looks like, “You’ve got a better-looking mate than I do, a better job, money,” water, your own grass. If you’re looking across the fence and that grass looks better, then water your own. And I think you really have to… I’m one person that asks myself, “Why do I think this way? Why do I feel this way?” And I started that probably in my 20s because I remember I had a real problem with anger. And I remember one time, I just could feel it inside me, and I remember saying, “Where’s that coming from? Why am I feeling this way?” 

And I think with jealousy, or any of these emotions that we’re talking about, is that you really have to kind of like, “Why am I coveting what someone else has? Why do I covet their money, their spouse, their fame,” their whatever? And really, that’s what you’re doing is you’re coveting it and that just sets you up for failure. And that’s what’s so sad, is that people don’t realize they’re walking this plank that’s going to fall off. 

Gail: Well, there’s always something more, someone better, something, right? There always, always is. I mean, I could get into my first marriage, I can remember my husband being jealous that his middle brother bought this gorgeous home. And now, his middle brother and his wife went through some horrific tragedies. They had a stillborn, nine months, she carried that baby, and it was stillborn. They had financial issues. They lost, seriously, a boat sunk on them. I mean, it was a calamity of horrific things. And I remember looking at him and saying, “I don’t want to go through anything that they went through, if that’s what it takes to get the house.”

Stephanie: Well, that’s just it. We don’t know the story behind what we’re jealous of or what we’re gossiping about. We don’t know the story. And I’m always amazed at when I find myself even going down that path, just a thought, but the thought comes through. And then I find out months later that that person just fought cancer, or they lost a child or a marriage and you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, and that thought came through. Thank God I didn’t entertain the thought.” That’s the other thing is you don’t entertain those things. But that’s just it, is that we don’t know the story behind what the person got and then we’re jealous of what they got but we don’t know the story. We don’t know the pain; we don’t know the suffering; we don’t know the sacrifices that it took for them to legitimately have that. 

Gail: So, one of the things I do want to make a point on is, all of these things, these feelings, these emotions, these thoughts, happen to everyone, male, or female. We’re talking that these are sisterhood wounds because we hung on to this in our teenage and early 20s and it ruined our ability to connect with women. Some of us have been able to transcend that, and others happen, but our brain’s job, our subconscious job is to keep us safe and make sure that we’re all okay. That means we’ve got to be right all the time, even when we’re not. So, these are all just our reactions. And it’s up to us as conscious beings who can make choices, to take a look at that. And that’s what you’re talking about. 

Stephanie: I do, and this has been a lifelong… that’s why I said, being over 50 and looking back and going, “Wow,” like the things I’ve learned. And unfortunately, I’ve probably hurt people on the way, I’ve hurt myself along the way. But to be able to look back and say, “Wow, I have a long way to go but I’ve come so far.” And now I want to help others with that because I want to short circuit this. Break off those generational things that have been happening and families, of being around dinner tables and gossiping and whatever. Breaking that because it doesn’t do you any good. And stopping that connection to your soul. 

And speaking of your brain, you’re right, it’s wanting to protect us, so it goes into old habits. I love what Mel Robbins says, it’s like that tape player that just keeps playing over and over. Jealousy, gossip, hurts. And you have to find a way to short circuit it and rewire that because again, it just keeps setting you up. It’s going to destroy relationships. It destroys family relationships, and it spreads. It’s toxic. It’s contagious. I think it is. 

Gail: Another wound that happens, especially in high school is exclusion. 

Stephanie: I don’t even want to talk about high school.

Gail: Oh no, we have to talk about it. We have to talk about it all, is exclusion. These little cliques. And I’ll tell you, I’ll give you a couple of little quick examples through the high school years for myself. Because I started off, I was in Boston, I was a gang kid. So, I felt no exclusion whatsoever. But yet in school, I hung around with the eggheads. Well, I left Boston where I was living, at the age of 16, and moved into the suburbs. A long story around that, that’s a whole other podcast. 

But here I am now in the suburbs, and I have these different groups inviting me in. And I’m looking at these different groups in the suburbs, thinking, “These people are stupid. They have no street smarts. I am not getting involved with anyone who does not have street smarts.” So, I ended up hanging around with the people who wrote the newspaper, the valedictorians, which is totally not the same. But when I made that choice that excluded everybody else. And for me, I didn’t feel the stab of the exclusion. Most girls do. So, talk a little bit about that stab of exclusion.

Stephanie: Oh yeah, it’s vicious. I can go, even back to really junior high and you think about junior high, you’re growing, you’re developing, your skin is either clear or it’s not. Either you get the hairstyle right, the makeup right, and I wasn’t raised to actually be taught how to do my hair and my makeup and those are little things, but they do set you apart. Girls judge that way, they judge clothes. I can still remember to tell the story. My mom made me this outfit; this was in elementary school. And I was so proud, I couldn’t wait to wear it, it was these corduroy pants and everything. And I remember immediately, this girl making fun of the pants because when my mom did the corduroy, she didn’t do it the long way, she did it across. I didn’t know that. 

But that memory still sticks because I remember being excited about it and all of a sudden, being judged by it, by someone else that I wanted to impress. And I know boys can be tough, and I have seen a difference with my son’s relationships than my daughter’s relationships. And I probably have more conversations about this or did with my daughter than I do with my son, even though he’s got different elements in his, and girls do exclude. And what’s so sad is that they do, like I was talking about my son’s former girlfriend and the girls, they are excluding, and they are pushing aside and not realizing the damage that they’re doing. And I know they don’t know that at the moment. 

Gail: Oh, sure they do. 

Stephanie: Well, they do but… 

Gail: I will tell you… it’s started, let’s get into it, let’s get into it. It was my 10th year reunion and it’s the only reunion that I went to because I was only in that school for two years. But the girls that I hung around with went without our significant others. It was just the girls. And we’re in the line, and I’m like, “These guys are bald, they’re fat. We must be at the wrong reunion,” but it’s only been 10 years. No, we were not. And we were so catty, and that’s the last subject that we’ll talk about, we sat there and went, “Look at those cheerleaders, the fat legs, let them do a split now.” But there was definite exclusion still going on at that reunion. 

Stephanie: Yeah. And what I want to say is, yes, they know they’re hurting, but they don’t know the long-term effects. Because if they haven’t identified that pain within them as far as where the source is and we don’t usually at that young age, you are planting those seeds in that person. And they want to hurt in the moment, but they don’t realize the long-term effects it has until they are walking it out themselves. And I worked on my 30th reunion a number of years ago as a way to reconnect and rebuild my life. I’d just been divorced. And gossip was there, the cattiness was there with some of them. And I thought, “Wow, here we are, at that time, we’re all in our 40s. Really? We’re still acting this way?”

Gail: Well, most people don’t grow out of the patterns that they’ve created for themselves as teenagers. They’re not conscious enough to do the work because it’s a lot of work to break those patterns. And that’s what we’re here for, that’s what we do for a living is we help you. The next, this is perfect, is about feelings getting hurt. As women, we are naturally… and guys, I’m not excluding men, because I have amazing men that I coach, and the issues are the same. This is just prevalent in the sisterhood, it is exponential. Feelings get hurt because women are naturally empathic, they’re naturally sensitive, they are more emotional. 

And in our brain, our brain again, we’re talking about our mind, needs a full, complete story. And we never get a full, complete story, we only get bits and pieces. So, our brain makes stuff up. So as girls, especially when your hormones are going crazy, I mean, I think I spent my teenage years keeping Kleenex tissues in business, everything is personal, everything is an attack, and everything hurts your feelings. And then you make choices from a position of pain. 

Stephanie: Exactly. Well, your brain, it’s a database. It says, “This reminds me of…” And so, again, I’m learning this as I mature, it’s just going by memory, it’s going by what the history is. The feelings come back and it’s protecting at the same time, because all this is happening, your brain, your feelings come back. Just talking about junior high, I can remember some of the feelings, not to the extent but it’s still kind of, “Oh,” you know, but I don’t go there like I used to. But until I understood what was happening inside me and how it was firing, the sparks that were going off, until we know that we can’t it. And so again, younger and getting into older, those hurt feelings are being triggered. They’re going back into your memory bank. And that’s why it’s important to know, “Okay, how far back does this go?”

Gail: Well, that and my experience has been that the hurt feelings… again, you create wealth, in order to, like I said… you make a decision, you make choices in your life, you make choices and decisions. And then you navigate through life based on those. In order to protect yourself from being hurt, you’re protecting yourself from being hurt. And as a result, you might choose to use something that you might normally not do if you didn’t think you were going to get hurt in that situation. “I’m going to break off this relationship before he breaks it off.”

Stephanie: Oh, yeah. 

Gail: Okay. Oh, yeah, right? Or “I’m going to walk out of this room before you walk out of this room,” because you are seeing a pattern that you believe is going to be repeated. And it will be because you’re making it repeat. As a result, this is how these grooves in our brain get deeper and deeper, because we make the same choices. And especially here, you start to lose your sense of worthiness. I will say that every client I work with has a belief that they don’t deserve something. Again, men and women. But that belief that you don’t deserve… I had a client today who has never, ever done something for herself, purely for herself. I mean, we’re practicing different routines, different beliefs, different processes to make positive connections in her brain, because she doesn’t believe she deserves it. 

Stephanie: Well, that’s our self-limiting beliefs that come in. And to be honest with you, Gail, I didn’t even know about self-limiting beliefs until maybe five years ago. And once I got the revelation, went, “Oh, that’s why I do what I do. That’s why I think, “Oh, Gail must not like me because…” because I had that self-limiting belief. I had that grounded, I could recite it back to you. I knew it inside out. But I never knew that. And that’s why I’m saying that’s why I want to reach out to the younger generation. 

Because once you have an understanding of that you can start going undoing some of those things and replacing those limited beliefs because, yes, again, it’s part of the brain protecting us. And so, we don’t know any different and we just buy into it. Well, now we buy into the feelings that come with it. Now we buy into the emotions that come with it. Now we’ve got a full package. You know what I mean? That we have to undo. And so, with those hurt feelings, oh my gosh, and you’re right, I think women are more… there’s men that are very empathetic, don’t get me wrong, but we are wired differently for the most part. 

And so, because we tend to be more on the emotional side, and people put us down for that, it’s not really a bad thing to be the emotional side or the strong side. It’s just the balancing of the two, keeping those things in balance. And then you have this history that you bring with yourself into those things and trying to undo that. And so, I think that’s why it’s so… they say knowledge is power, knowledge is power even for yourself. 

Gail: Well, that self-awareness is knowledge. The next one will be a fun one to talk about. Competition. Competition over a man or a competition over girlfriends. Competition over… again, “I want to get back to cheerleading,” a position, over a job competition. Let me give you a story on competition as an adult. Okay, I had been pretty high up there in corporate America and I didn’t like it. So, I literally chose to step away. And when I went back into corporate America it was for a certain position so that I knew I would get the things that I loved as a leader, but I didn’t have to climb the ladder to get it. 

And so, as a project manager, I’m working this huge project with another woman in a matriarchal organization. I had never worked in a matriarchal organization. And her and I were clashing heads. We were not moving that project along because her and I were competing. And so finally I called her, and I said, “Listen, after our next meeting, project meeting, I want to meet you in your office, we need to talk.” It was so bad. So, I went to her office first. As she was walking to her office, her boss came out and went, “Gail’s in there.” So, the whole company knew we were clashing. So, she came in and closed the door. And this would not happen in a patriarchal organization. And by the way, her name was also Stephanie. 

Stephanie: Oh, what a wonderful name. 

Gail: Yeah. I said, “Listen, you are climbing the ladder. You want to get up there. Honey, believe me when I say I don’t want it. But if you stop stepping on me, and work with me, I can get you there.” And she stopped, and she said, “Am I climbing the corporate ladder?” And I gave her evidence of her choices, and I said, “I think that’s where you belong.” And she says, “I think you’re right.” We cried, we hugged, and we were the best team ever after that. I would never be able to do that in a patriarchal organization. Can you see me having that conversation with a man? So that’s healing a sisterhood wound. 

Stephanie: Yeah. And to me, that’s what it’s all about, is saying, “Hey, I recognize your gifts and your talents, and I want to help you get to where you need to go.” And someone’s going to say, “I see your gifts and your talents, I want to help you to get to where you need to go.” Competition starts, I mean, gosh, how young? And you figure, we all get into some kind of sports, you talk about the street life, I’m sure there was competition of who was tougher and stronger, and who could swear more or whatever. 

Gail: What the f*** are you talking about?

Stephanie: [Laughs], yeah, Gail doesn’t swear. So, when you think about it, it’s all around us. I mean, my son’s in sports, I know very well, he’s in a very competitive environment. For girls, it can be sports, it could be anything. That competition is there, and we breathe it.

Gail: I was very fortunate to have amazing mentors, as I was climbing the ladder, and I want to give you this this particular example. And it’s the company that I ended up on the board of directors, but as I was moving up, I was working in the controller’s department and someone on my staff blew it big time. And the CFO comes out, and he’s ready to like, kill whoever it was. And I’m like, “My fault,” and he’s like, “You bet. You fix it.” My boss came up to me and he said, “You fucked up,” and by the way, that’s the language he used. And I said, “You’re right, I did,” because I didn’t train the person. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have made that mistake. 

So, I did not train them completely. It’s my fault. And I obviously don’t have good audit processes in place that it slipped by anyway. So, he’s like, “Just fix it, and I’m fine.” Then everything was fine the next day, as though nothing had happened. Women, on the other hand, hold a grudge against that. That’s the difference in the competition. Boys learn how to compete and then at the end of the game, the team they just competed against and just lost against, they go out and they hang out together. And as adults, they go to a bar together, girls do not. 

Stephanie: I remember Barbra Streisand was talking one time and she was saying, because people talk about her and, “Oh, you’re so bold and you’re strong, and you’re kind of like… you don’t give up. You’re kind of in the face.” And she said, “Yeah, and so I’m called a b****. But a guy does it, he’s Strong, he’s competitive, he’s a go getter.” And so, we have these labels that have already been put in place. So, when you are doing that, and competing in a healthy way, promotion or whatever, a woman sometimes, if she’s very firm, and what we might call aggressive in the world, she’s just saying, “Hey, I think I deserve this. I think I’ve got the education, the experience,” and she’s got a completely different label than the person on the other side. Asking for a raise, the whole thing. 

It’s interesting, because when I was in banking, the CEO is still like, one of five men that has impacted my life. And if you came to the table with solutions, he liked education, things like that, you were promoted. So, I was promoted. But my female counterpart, who was mentoring me to a certain point, once I got to her level, game over, he shut that relationship down. And I was shocked because here, he’s going, “Hey, I’m rewarding you because I see your worth. You’re here, you’re working hard,” but the opposite happened with my counterpart. And I know that was that competition. Whatever was triggering her, I don’t know. 

And I’ll never forget that because that made such an impact on me, it was very hurtful. But it made an impact on me. But you know what, I will share this quick story that I remember I was in a room of some people. It was just before the recession, so we had to make some cuts. And so, my boss said, “You’re gonna come into this meeting with the CEO,” who I admire, my boss, the CEOs daughter, who was high up in the company, who would be my boss at different points. And I remember the CEOs just saying, “Hey, Stephanie, you got your master’s degree through us, didn’t you? We helped you get it.” And I said, “Yeah, you did.” Do you know that not one person on that table looked up as he was acknowledging me? I’ll never forgot that. Never.

Gail: No. So, I’ll give you another story where, as a female leader, I was treated differently from my own staff. So, it’s the first job as leader, the manager I had was let go, and I was called to take his place. I know, we’re in trouble, they were in trouble. “I know, you can turn this around. I’ve seen your work. We’re going to go under if you don’t pull us out.” And by the way, here’s a belief, I didn’t think I could fail. They were in such a mess that I thought this was the best opportunity ever. So, I didn’t, I was very, very successful. It was so much fun. 

But I can remember holding a staff meeting and someone in my staff saying, “We didn’t get to vote on that,” and I know they would never have said that to a man. I never heard them say that to the guy who was running the place. And so, my response was, is I leaned back, and I was laughing, and I said, “I don’t know what I said, that really misled you to believe that this all of a sudden, is a democracy, because it’s not. You don’t get a vote. You can tell me what your thoughts are. Ultimately, it’s my decision.” And that stopped it right there. 

Stephanie: And I’m sure as they walked out, he went, “Bitch.”

Gail: Right? I know they did. I know they did. 

Stephanie: The other thing is, is because of these wounds that some of us carry for a while because of these hurts, gossip, jealousy, we do come across sometimes as forceful. And not that I think there’s anything wrong with it but it’s like all this baggage comes with us. And so, we might kind of overstep sometimes. And even though there’s nothing wrong with being, “Hey, I believe in what you just said. Hey, this isn’t a democracy, I’m the leader here.” But at times, I think that’s the struggle that women have, is how do we come up to the table and be our true, authentic self? And you know inside you’re carrying every insecurity you’ve had since junior high and this mental game that’s going on inside your head, as you show up to the table. And again, I have some wonderful men friends, so this isn’t bashing men, but I think they approach the table differently because they can shut that out. They compartmentalize, right? They can, “Boop,” pass this over here. 

Gail: Well, that meeting would never have happened with a man sitting at the table. That’s the point. And that’s the type of difference that women have to deal with. I will say, and then we’re going to go to the last category, when I worked in the matriarchal organization, the opposite was going on and it was kind of funny. I had a meeting one time, and I was the project manager. So, we’ve got about eight to 12 people. But there were only two in the room. And one of the directors came in, and she looked around the table, and she said, right in front of those men, “Too much testosterone in this room, Gail.” And I looked at her and I said, “The ladies are on their way,” and she said, “Okay,” and sat down. Because they knew the balance, and things were done so differently. 

It was a beautiful experience for me, working there, it really, really was. And when I left, it was purely by accident and I can remember, because I always, when I was working, you’d go out to see what is going on in the industry. “Are my skills still there? The type of work I’m doing, is it called for? Do I need to make a change?” So, I’m out there, and I see this job, it was like me screaming me. I’m like, “Eh, I’ll send my resume.” Boom, I got an interview. I go to the interview, five people. It was brutal. Individuals. I was there for about five hours. Like, “Oh, they’re not going to call me back,” Came back for a meeting with corporate and my team. Thought I blew it. And then they offered me the job. 

And I remember going to a coworker, going, “Do I take it?” and their response was, “More money? I went, “Yeah.” “More opportunity?” and I went, “Yeah.” So, they said, “Take it,” and it was really an amazing move, quite frankly. So, we had lots of competition, we can go on and on about competition, unhealthy competition. I think that’s the difference. With men, it’s a healthy competition. With women, it’s peppered with cattiness and jealousy and scarcity, and gossip, it’s peppered. But cattiness is the next one. Being a girl syndrome. Gossipers, b****iness, cattiness. 

And I have a story for you. Okay, I was 19, working in this company, and the ladies during lunch would go to the cafeteria. We would play cards and whoever was not in that day, there would be gossip, “She’s too fat. She’s too skinny, skirt’s too short, boob job was bad,” whatever. There’s always something wrong. And again, I was a street kid. I’m like, “What the hell’s going on here?” And one day, I had had it with it with the cattiness and I knew this was my last time sitting at the table with them. I looked around the table and I said, “I could only imagine what you have to say about me when I’m not here. And I must say, not one of you sitting with me today is perfect and has no right to say anything about anybody.” And I picked up my lunch and I walked away. Again, probably got labeled a bi***. 

Stephanie: Well, and that’s just it, when you don’t go with the crowd of gossip and cattiness, it’s a choice. When I decided not to follow the gossip, in my early 20s and realizing what this was doing, yeah, you lose friends over it because there’s nothing in common anymore. When you said that story, it reminded me back in elementary school. Same thing. And I remember, same thing, if someone’s not at school for a couple of days, “chatter, chatter, chatter.” And I remember we were going up to our cottage for a few days ahead of the break time. And I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, when I come back on Monday, I’m going to be the outsider.” 

Gail: Because they’ll have been catty. 

Stephanie: And I remember trying to like, “Hey guys,” but it was like… and I still remember that the playground exactly where I was at, the thoughts going through my head, knowing it was going to happen, because that was how people were at that age. That cattiness, “You’re not here. We’re going to talk about you.” “You’re not here, we’re going to exclude you; we’re going to push you out. You’ve got to make your way back in.” I’m telling you; I don’t know who came up with that, but it is. And when you decide to walk away from it you do lose that interaction with those people because again, you are making yourself better by not playing that game. They’re convicted by it, but they don’t know it or want to recognize it. And now you’re outside of that group.

Stephanie: And I actually said, “Go ahead and talk about me because you’re giving someone else a break.” Now, you and I’ve talked about a special friend of mine. It was at that time that her and I started bonding because I was training her in that company. Here I am, 19 years old and training someone that she was what, she was 24, 25 at the time.

Stephanie: Wow.

Gail: Yeah. Like I said, I rose quickly. I always did. The belief that cattiness was not good was our common bond at that point to start off with and it grew. And again, that is a way to heal a sisterhood wound, because you’re not subjecting a sister to it. And that’s part of this training that I’m putting together, first of all, recognize that we’ve all done it. And that we all have a propensity to it because it’s how our brain works. But then how do you respond? So, my favorite thing is you either react or respond. The difference is, you’re unconscious if you’re reacting. Just, you’re having a knee jerk, and you’re reacting. You are consciously making choices when you respond. And so, many don’t even realize what they’re involved in and what they do. 

And what’s interesting, another recent conversation was about fear of success. I have a piece I did on the fear of success, and leaving people behind, for me was a fear of success. “I’m gonna lose my friends. I’m gonna lose them,” and it did happen. I have gone back and connected with those people, and I have nothing in common with them anymore. I almost can’t believe that I participated in these kinds of conversations, these kind of self-destructive belief systems. The destruction that we cause to ourselves, shows up emotionally, shows up physically, shows up psychologically, it shows up in your relationships. 

And money is not a gauge of having your sh!! together. Money is a gauge of knowing how to have a relationship with money. That doesn’t mean that you can transcend that elsewhere. So many people think, “Well, they’re doing great. Look at where they live,” and I’ll tell you, my clients mostly are doing well. They’re not struggling at all. And they have the same problems as the rest of us. 

Stephanie: Absolutely. And you hear about sometimes, CEOs, it’s lonely at the top. It’s true. They’ve worked hard, sacrificed hard, and now they don’t even know who they can trust. And maybe it’s because of just their own baggage or whatever. But even at the very top, whatever that is to you, they still have the same. There’s still insecurities there, they just may not show it as much or talk about it.

Gail: Well, they have the imposter syndrome. 

Stephanie: Yes, we all have those things. I think it’s just a matter of really making you aware of yourself and that you don’t know the shoes or the path that they’ve walked. I work right now with employee relations, and we get some humdinger investigations that we have to do. And people that perform, you’re thinking, “Wow, like how would you show up on the job like that?” But then I think in my head, “I don’t know what kind of day they’ve had, life they’ve had.” It’s like, I heard a guy that spoke at our work years ago, he says, “Some people have a bad day, a bad year, and a bad decade,” you know. And it’s true, you don’t know what someone has gone through, and they bring it with them at the workplace, in their relationships. People are getting fired. Because why? Because sometimes it’s the stuff from the past they haven’t dealt with that keeps showing up, over and over and over again. They wonder why they can’t keep a job or keep relationships. 

And I just want to encourage people to really look within and ask yourself, “Why do I think this way? Why do I feel this way? Why do I act this way?” And start asking yourself those questions, because you might be pleasantly surprised that there’s something there that you can now undo it and be a better person for it. 

Gail: My favorite line with especially the clients that come in and say it’s their fault. It’s because of them, it’s because of the… believe me, I’ve been there. There’s only one thing you have control of in this life and that is you. And if you allow, first of all, to stay in a toxic situation, then you deserve the poisoning that you get because you’re choosing to stay. I chose to stay quite a few times in my life, and paid the ultimate price for it, other than death. But I will tell you, I paid big time. Those were my lessons so that the clients that I have that come with those issues, I’m like, “I know you. When I say I see and I know you and I’ve been there, I can honestly say that. So, I’m thankful for those experiences in my life.”

Back to when it comes to the sisterhood, so let’s talk a little bit about a positive and then we can cut this short. One of the best things that happened to me is when I decided to be a sole entrepreneur. I was doing consulting work, I was working with someone on a business, but decided to go out on my own. I had no clue, I came from corporate, there’s a safety net there. You’re not going to fail and then have no food on the table, you’re still going to get your check. And I didn’t know anything about the internet, about network marketing, about marketing, I knew zippo. And I joined two groups. One was a BNI group, Business Network International, which is not a really good group to be in as a life coach but it’s an excellent group to be in to learn how to network. 

Okay. And then I joined a group in San Diego, and I do plan to reach out to Felena, the owner of this co work for women called Hera Hub. And she was just starting the Hera Hub and it’s for women. And yes, men cannot be excluded legally. So, there are a few men, but it was built for women. It’s a spa type of environment. And you show up with your computer and you can do some work. And there are offices there, there’s training there. And I had access to women who’ve been there, done that, and can give me some information. And the support group was amazing. And that’s where I learned about sisterhood. And some of the people I’m interviewing on this podcast come from those days because we grew, we bonded so much over a common goal, and a common understanding of the fact that we’re there to support each other. 

One thing that I was told at the very beginning was, “Oh well, so and so’s a coach. They’re going after the same client as me and they’re going after the same client.” And the person that I was talking to was an accountant, and said, “You know how many accountants there are in this city? We’re all doing fine. There’s plenty people out there for you, don’t worry about it.” And I’m like, “You know, you’re right,” and when I stopped competing… there’s a difference between competition and a worthy adversary because as a worthy adversary, you could co-create. I have co-created with some amazing people because I dropped that fear. And it’s the sisterhood bond that moved me forward. It’s so powerful. 

Stephanie: It’s powerful. And I think of, and I go back to this, I just did a whole blog about friendships and the one that I really…

Gail: I read it, by the way, good blog. Go ahead. 

Stephanie: Thank you. I have a real couple of good friends in my life now and one goes back to we were college roommates. But I love Oprah and Gayle, because the key thing you said about the competition is that they supported each other. Now, here’s one making a gazillion and one making millions, right? But they said, they didn’t compete. And what everyone was saying no to Oprah, I think it was to go to Chicago, “Gayle was like, “No, that’s what you’ve been dreaming for. That’s what you’ve been dreaming about.” And so, I look at that relationship, and I’ve read about it, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about it. 

And one thing that they said in that is, “Now, that you can just speak the truth to each other,” and I think you can speak the truth in love, you don’t have to cut them off at the knees, but they said, “Be the truth.” And I think when you are the truth, when you show up as a person of integrity and honesty, with faults, you’re not perfect, but you show up as the truth, that’s a game changer in relationships. Because then you can be successful at what you do, Gail, and make a million dollars, I might make 50,000 but yet, we’ve got each other’s back, we support each other. Because there’s not that competition. I’m not afraid of what you’re going to succeed at and I’m failing at, but it’s a matter of we each have our own gifts and talents. 

Gail: And part of that, the truth, so I’m all about truth, I am going to tell you the truth, or I won’t say anything at all because one thing I was taught, if you can’t say anything good… right? But along with the truth for me, and I have again, another that I did on integrity with a friend, its truth and integrity. When I work with clients, and I talk about being true to yourself and doing what is important to you, there are some criteria. So no, you can’t go out if you get the thirst to wreak havoc. No, no, no. It has to be ergonomic, to you, to others, and to the world. So, if it resonates with you, and you’re causing no harm, then you’ve got to do it. 

Now, if it’s causing harm, then we need to talk about motivation. Why do you have this need? And again, that all boils down to we’re all looking for the belonging. We’re all looking not to be excluded. We’re all looking to be seen. It all comes from those roots. And those wounds are deep. 

Stephanie: Yeah. And I think some people don’t even know they have them because maybe they’re brought up in a family environment, it’s just, “This is the way it was.” And you don’t realize this isn’t healthy. And some people, they do get that revelation later but in the moment you don’t. You know what I mean? So, yeah, it’s like, but when you get that revelation, when you get that aha moment, like, “Wait a minute,” I think that is such a great moment to pause and reflect because again, maybe you were raised a certain way and it’s not like they were trying to raise you to be hurt and feeling horrible about yourself. It’s just, that’s all they had, and that’s what they brought into the relationship. But when you get that revelation of, “This isn’t right. This doesn’t feel right,” that is your moment to start changing and undoing. And it can be quick, it might not be quick, it just depends on the individual. 

Gail: And whether or not you are someone who is not self-destructive. I mean, it’s not that simple, guys. It is not that simple. That’s why there are coaches in this world that you turn to, our job is to hold your hand, to guide you, to listen to you. And to help you on your journey. Not on our journey. To be there for you and to support you without judgment. It’s definitely without judgment. I’ve had many clients that when I will tell a client story and change the name, they recognize themselves. I will get an email, “That was me, wasn’t it?” But there have been clients where I’ve told the story, and I’ve gotten feedback, “Because I can’t believe that you coach that person.” I’m like, “Why? This is their truth.” 

Who am I to judge their truth? I have to leave my ego and me at the door. To a point. I mean, there have been clients I’ve gotten rid of; that I’ve fired. And I’ve learned how to screen them out at the beginning. It’s hard to say no when there’s money on the table but it’s destructive if you don’t have the right person. But anyone who is experiencing sisterhood wounds, anyone who is still feeling the pain or find themselves, “Oh, my God, I just found myself gossiping. Oh, my God, I am like judgmental about everything,” give us a call. We’d be happy to talk you through it. 

Stephanie: Exactly, exactly. It’s that revelation that you get, a personal revelation. And a lot of times these wounds are not even about you. We think it was, so we absorbed it. When half these stories weren’t even about us, right? It had nothing to do with us. 

Gail: All because we made sh!! up. We had to make it up.

Stephanie: It’s that person’s insecurity that reflected on to you and you took it as, “Oh my gosh, it’s about me.” So, a lot of times, it’s just not even… I mean, that was a revelation to me that half the stuff in my life wasn’t even about me. 

Gail: Oh, absolutely. So, Stephanie, if people did want to get in touch with you, how would they do this? This is Courageous Living Today. 

Stephanie: Yes, courageouslivingtoday.com. And you can go to the website there, there’s a “Let’s Connect” button. So, you can click that button, you can get on the email list, I do a newsletter every Monday, I do a blog. And then I do a video about the blog, and I upload it to… I’m on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook. So, I’ve tried to get on as many platforms as I can. But courageouslivingtoday.com is the best place to reach out to me and just go ahead. And you can put also in comments, and I’ll reach back out to you. 

Gail: Okay, thank you so much for your time today. And again, everybody, thank you for listening to us. This is Gail Kraft from The Empowering Process podcast. Now, if you listened to us today, and this brought something up, by all means comment on it, and maybe I’ll do an ‘Ask me anything’. Or reach out to Stephanie or to me if you want to have a conversation. If you loved this, absolutely, please do like it, share it out if you know someone that this could help, let them know about it. Again, Gail Kraft. Thank you very much for your time. Bye-bye.

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