"Several years ago, I was 30,000 feet in the air with tears running down my cheeks. On the surface, I had everything most people would associate with success: I’d built a multi-million dollar business and sold it to a Fortune 500 company; I had a loving partner and a beautiful three-year-old; I was even teaching yoga classes on the side.
All the boxes were checked…but underneath, something still wasn’t right......"
This is how Laura Coe found herself on the path to dive back into her authentic self.
"Why was I unfulfilled even if I had achieved the things we equate with success?", she asked herself. "Because my pursuit of success wasn’t based on an inner sense of purpose or fulfillment but on others’ definitions of success. All the justifications to remain in a life that I hadn’t chosen from my authentic voice had piled on in layers over the years until I had lost my true self somewhere deep inside. I had become emotionally obese".
So Laura committed herself to find something more authentic. She dove back into the philosophy, took the useful ideas and used her life as a science experiment to see what worked and what didn’t. "Over time, I found success".
Laura currently devotes her energy toward writing, coaching, helping others implement spiritual teachings in their everyday lives. She wrote her first book, Emotional Obesity and she is the host of the popular podcast, The Art of Authenticity.
I talked to Laura to understand how we become emotionally obese, how could we get emotionally fit, what hold us back in life and how could we master the art of authenticity.
Laura, what is an "emotional obesity"? How do we become "emotionally obese"?
Have you justified an unfulfilling job or stayed in a relationship you wanted to leave?
We've all been there. We may have justified it by telling ourselves it's what we have to do, others will approve, or guilt sways us. These justifications pile up to create a life we didn't choose.
Without our awareness, these ideas pile up on top of our true desires--we become weighed down. We become emotionally obese.
Our lives are the outcome of a steady diet of thoughts that are not aligned with our authentic desires and goals.
How does the analogy help us?
Most of us understand what it means to have gained a few unwanted pounds and their impact on our health. But we have not questioned the unwanted thoughts and beliefs that dictate our life decisions.
The analogy gives us something we are used to thinking about--physical weight--to anchor the abstract concept of the thoughts that weigh you down. If you can start to think of some thoughts as unwanted "fat" that needs to be shed and "work them out," life can stop being heavy and start to feel lighter and more free.
How can we tell if we’re “emotionally obese”?
Life takes on a quality where we feel weighed down. We look around and the life around us doesn’t reflect on inner sense of who we are. Stress, dread, overwhelm, seeking approvals become the mainstay of our lives.
What are the junk food thoughts that we consume mostly?
The most common are fear, approval seeking, self-criticism, but there are many. I created a scale for anyone who wants to pinpoint exactly what stands in their way. http://emotionalobesity.com/scale_quiz/emotional-obesity/
How could we replace junk food thoughts with nutritional thoughts?
Note what your junk food thought is. What do you say to yourself that disempowers you? From there, decide if this thought is true. Is there any other way I'm seeing the same moment. Can you insert compassion, gratitude, create space, let go, surrender.. it is situation dependent? But the goal is accept the moment as it is and then decide how to interpret it in a way that empowers you, rather than disempower.
How could we keep ourselves in emotional shape every day? Is there something like mind fitness that we could practice each day?
Yes. Every day we need to cultivate awareness. Check in to see how you feel on a daily basis. Then, take responsibility for the state of mind you are in. If you are stressed, own it. If you are angry or resentful, own it. From there, you can start to allow the emotional state to exist without trying to change it while questioning, getting curious why you are in the state you are in. Ask yourself, “Why am I angry? Why am I resentful?” Perhaps you need to exercise or you did not get enough sleep. Maybe you have a conflict in your life that needs attention. Maybe you need to change jobs. Your emotional life leaves clues for you to follow. To begin the process, try to live in your truth for one day. Just attempt to be honest with yourself, maybe not even others, for one day. Notice how often you want to justify, seek approvals, feel guilty. These are all signs that you have neglected your authentic voice for the voice of others.
How could we discover what hold us back in life?
Ask yourself what you want. This question is really effective in bringing up our junk food thoughts. See if you can answer that question. If you struggle, the voice that you hear, the thoughts in your mind are what holds you back. Take note of them and see if you can reframe them in way that is more supportive of your goals.
I think most people have problem with this thought: „I trust that my path will become clear, even if it is not obvious now“. How can we be sure that it will become clear?
That is the question of all questions. We cannot be sure which is why we don’t attempt to trust our inner wisdom. In part, we lack the faith in ourselves that we know what we want. In part, this idea has been explained in way that mistakes passion with action. Every day we are in motion. We are on a path. Some of us are not on our paths; we are on the path of others. We know because something feels off. Something doesn’t match what we think life looks like and the life we have built. Every day, every choices must feel like the right choice. When you do that you are on your path. Now, we all want the outcome right away. The job we crave to manifest; the relationship we desire; the financial success. Those things may take time. So don’t mistake the path with the outcome. Be patient.
You mention in your bio that at some point you checked all the boxes but deep down you felt something was not quite right. How did you manage to become emotional fit again?
My emotional fitness came the hard way. I dove back into the philosophy that I loved in college and graduate school. I read and re-read the best self- help, spirituality, and philosophy. I took those ideas and I used my life as a science experiment to see what worked and what didn’t. Over time, I found success. Now, I teach those lessons to others in my coaching practice.
In which cases, do you think, we lose our authentic voice mostly?
Mostly, we lose our voice within our family of origin. Our parents don’t mean harm, but they impose their values so intensely that we lose our selves. Once that occurs, we just add on more layers around our voice from there until we can no longer communicate with our truth.
How can we master the art of authenticity?
Great question. Mastery comes through daily practice. Learn to lose the guilt, resentments, anger, judgment, etc. From there, daily awareness about the origins of your thoughts are necessary. Are they coming from your truth or are you out of alignment with your values? Simple in theory. Difficult in practice only because we are making choices all day. The ability to pause and find your truth takes time. But once you do, you are truly free. You find life takes on a different texture. Life becomes calmer, easier, and you feel grounded despite the external world.