This week’s topic is: How to Be Sovereign Over Yourself with Dr. Shefali Tsabary
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who is a New York best-selling author, an international speaker and clinical psychologist. Listen in as Dr. Shefali shares how to bring consciousness into all areas of life, Radical Awakening in the day of the modern woman, and how to really take care of yourself in a new and profound way.
- Bringing consciousness into all areas of life, including motherhood…
- Healing our ‘not so perfect’ childhood…
- Children’s development and meeting them where they’re at…
- Being awakened despite your upbringing…
- Where shame and guilt stems from…
- Empowered sexuality as a woman…
- What self-care means in the emotional and spiritual self…
- Radical Awakening in the day of the modern woman…
- Shefali’s upbringing and how she merged into the work she’s doing today…
- How the divine feminine merges with the masculine…
About Dr. Shefali
Dr. Shefali received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University. Specializing in the integration of Western psychology and Eastern philosophy, she brings together the best of both worlds for her clients. She is an expert in family dynamics and personal development, teaching courses around the globe. She has written four books, three of which are New York Times best-sellers, including her two landmark books The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family.Oprah has endorsed her work as revolutionary and life-changing.
Dr. Shefali’s ground-breaking approach to mindful living and parenting has taken her books to the top of the NY Times best-sellers list. Her blend of clinical psychology and eastern mindfulness sets her apart as a leader in the field of mindfulness psychology.As an international speaker, she speaks at events around the globe, spreading her message of conscious parenting and mindful living. She also has a private practice where she consults with families and couples.
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Dr. Shefali’s Interview
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Kimberly: 00:01 Hey Beauties, and welcome back to our Monday interview podcast. I’m so excited for our interview today. We got a good one. I am interviewing Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who is a New York Times best-selling author, an international speaker and a clinical psychologist.
Kimberly: 00:17 What I like about her work is she integrates Western psychology and Eastern philosophy. I was first introduced to her work through her parenting focus, and she has a really interesting way of kind of turning parenting on its head by really making it be about the growth, the inner growth of the parent. I’m really excited about our interview today. She is continuing to expand, and she has a new book that comes out tomorrow, actually, so you can get it today. It’s called A Radical Awakening. In today’s interview, we talk about really how to be sovereign over yourself and how to really check in with yourself and to really take care of yourself in a new and a profound way. So I think you’re really going to enjoy our interview today.
Fan of the Week
Kimberly: 01:10 Before we get into it, though, I want to give a quick shout-out to our fan of the week. Her name is KateSpasic, and she writes, “I’ve been following Kimberly’s work for years. She’s one of the few voices out there changing the beauty paradigm through the lens of spirituality. I learned so much from her, from drinking GGS to processing hard emotions. Thank you for everything. You inspire us all to lead a more purposeful life.”
Kimberly: 01:36 Wow. Kate Spasic, thank you so much, my love. That went right into my heart. I appreciate you so much and your kind words, and I send you a big virtual hug wherever you are, just connecting to your energy and sending you lots of love and so much gratitude, sister. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Leave a Review on iTunes
Kimberly: 01:57 My other loves, for your chance to be shouted out on our podcast as the fan of the week, please be sure to leave us a review over on iTunes. So easy. It’s a moment or two, literally, it could be one sentence, and it really does support the show. It helps other beauties like yourself find the show. It means a lot. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, especially if you’ve benefited from this show in any way. I just appreciate it so much, and so thank you, thank you for leaving us a review.
Kimberly: 02:30 It’s also a great idea to subscribe to the show, so I encourage you to hit that Subscribe button. That way, in the busy flow of life, things come up and things go off, but you don’t get caught in the swirl where you forget your lifelines and your streams, certain streams that are, hopefully, motivating and inspiring, and I hope this podcast is for you. That’s my core intention is to help support you on your path, so I’d encourage you to also subscribe as well.
Kimberly: 03:01 All right, my loves. All that being said, let’s get into our interview today with Shefali. Let’s go.
Interview with Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Kimberly: 02:11 Shefali, I’m so excited to have you on today. I actually was introduced to your work from one of your previous books, The Awakened Family, which was sent to me by a friend or by your publisher. I can’t remember, but it kind of is one of those things where you get a pile of books and then you kind of put it off. But then when I did read your book, whew! It really resonated with my heart and with my philosophy. I have two sons, Shefali. One’s five. One is 10 months. And I really resonate with your idea of bringing consciousness into all areas of life, including motherhood. If we could start there and then we’ll go into your new book, which expands even more. But I just wanted to share with you, that book really resonated so much about this idea of focusing on the essence of each person and each child, which is so not what we hear about today, whether we’re talking about ourselves or we’re talking about our children.
The idea of bringing consciousness into all areas of life, including motherhood
Dr. Shefali: 03:07 Yeah, yeah. Most of what we’ve learned as parents is to raise that perfect child and to create this perfectly curated product. So that puts so much pressure on us as parents, mothers especially, to achieve at this thing called parenthood. We have to make this perfect person. And that just creates intense sense of lack, guilt, shame, and we actually end up not only not accepting ourselves, but we certainly miss the unconditional, unequivocal acceptance of our children. And that’s why our children kind of grow up feeling lost. I mean, I did this in my own parenthood, even though I knew better, because of our conditioning. Our conditioning as traditional parents is so strong. So my work is always about breaking those paradigms and breaking those traditional conventions.
Kimberly: 04:07 Well, Shefali, today, we get so many questions in our community. We have something called the Solluna Circle, which is a gathering place for women. And I feel like it goes back to this one core root of not feeling enough, right, and not enough here, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not this, this, and this. And what do we do if have been raised in a way where we didn’t have conscious parents, which I think is probably most all of us, and so we’re trying to heal that maybe not perfect childhood, that sense of deep, deep not-enoughness because we weren’t raised in that way?
Healing our ‘not so perfect’ childhood
Dr. Shefali: 04:45 Yeah. I mean, this is the core. You hit the nail on the head. This is the core, and this is what I speak [inaudible 00:04:52] in all my work, is how do we evolve ourselves into wholeness? I mean, that is the goal of life and parenthood especially. Our children mirror to us how we’re not yet whole. And if we don’t pay attention and understand that the arrow is pointing to our own evolution, then what we end up doing is we project that brokenness or that lack or that incompletion onto the kid. We make them make us feel better, and that’s when we use our children. Instead of us following them and allowing them to lead the way, we’re now sucking them to use them to feel good.
Kimberly: 05:32 Oh. Well, I know with… My five-year-old is going through this moment where he’s so challenging. And he’s an angel. I love him so much, but sometimes if we try to be present, there’s still those sorts of behaviors, kids being kids, where he’ll say, “No,” and just like the behaviors where he’ll kind of like take things out of his baby brother’s hand. So when we’re holding space for our children and we’re being truly present and we’re working on ourself, what do we do? I mean, isn’t some of that normal for kids? Or in your work, Doctor, do you think it’s all of that gets smoothed out with your conscious parent, or is it just meeting the child where they are when it’s time to discipline? You know? Sometimes I get [crosstalk 00:06:16].
Our children’s development and meeting them where they’re at
Dr. Shefali: 06:16 Yeah.
Kimberly: 06:17 It gets a little confusing.
Dr. Shefali: 06:18 Yeah, yeah. Well, let me make it as clear as I can. It really has nothing to do with you as the parent until it does. What does that mean? Our children are undeveloped in terms of their organizational capacity, forward thinking, preemption planning, discrimination, discernment. Our children don’t have the cerebral cortex developed till they’re 28. So whatever we’re seeing is not always because you’re unconscious. What you’re seeing is that they are developing beings, and it’s not all our fault.
Kimberly: 06:55 Okay. That makes me feel better.
Dr. Shefali: 06:58 So what I said is it has nothing to do with you. So that’s the part that has nothing to do with you. It’s their own brain developing, and then it has everything to do with you only when you begin to botch it up. So when you begin to take that personally, when you begin to act like you’re the messiah or the god and you can control that, and when you’re upset with them because they are not fulfilling your idea of a good kid, now you’re botching it up. So the first part is they come who they are. They have a temperament, and of course, you have to guide them and not have 10,000 cookies allowed to them. Of course, you have to use common sense, but when we make it about our ego, when we get involved in them emotionally and use them co-dependently in an enmeshed, chaotic way, now we are projecting our bullshit onto them, and now we’re botching it up.
Kimberly: 07:53 I see, I see. So our work is to hold the space, and they’re trying to figure things out. Like you said, their brains aren’t fully developed. I feel like, too, Shefali, and I’m sure other women have said this to you, I feel like that becoming a mother has helped heal parts of my childhood.
Dr. Shefali: 08:09 Ah, that’s so sweet. In what way, do you think?
Kimberly: 08:12 Well, because I feel like I parent the way I wished I was parented too, and I say all the time, “I love you for you, not for anything you do. You never have to earn my love.” And I came from a place of equating love with achievement and love with doing. So as an adult, it’s been years and decades really of unwinding that. And for me, the parenting experience has felt really healing.
Dr. Shefali: 08:41 Oh, it’s so sweet that you said that, and I wish this experience for everybody because it is that avenue. You get to say things to your children that you never said. But in saying it to your children, you’re also reminding yourself. You’re re-mothering yourself, and that’s so beautiful. You’re soothing yourself. Maybe one day your kid will be like, “Okay, okay, I got it.” And you’ll be like, “No, no, I have to tell you again that I love you for you,” but you’re reminding yourself, and you’re giving yourself the worth that you didn’t get. I think that’s so special. Yeah, that’s really touching.
Kimberly: 09:18 Shefali, you’ve been… The books that I have are… I was initially introduced to your work really focusing on parenting, and now you have a new book out that’s really focusing on… It feels really expanded. Can you tell us… It’s so exciting. It’s coming out tomorrow actually.
Dr. Shefali: 09:37 Yes.
Kimberly: 09:37 Can you tell us the full title including the subtitle, because I love the flow of it all.
Dr. Shefali shares her book on A Radical Awakening and why this title
Dr. Shefali: 09:43 Right. I’m holding it up right now, but I know many people can’t see it. It’s called A Radical Awakening, and it has a lotus flower on it. It has a really deep red lotus, and everything has a symbolism to it. And the subtitle is Turn Pain into Power, Embrace Your Truth, Live Free. And yes, it’s coming out tomorrow.
Kimberly: 10:04 Yay!
Dr. Shefali: 10:04 So as soon as people order it, it’ll be on their way. I chose this title, A Radical Awakening, because it really is the necessary ingredient that you need in your life if you want to live free. We all need a radical awakening. I had one. I’ve had a few in my life. And each time I went through the tunnel of transformation that these awakenings bring about, I came out more evolved. So this book is really for every human, but especially women sitting on their couch or just feeling lost as mothers or wives or just lost in their lives, endlessly critical of themselves. This book is for them to break free of their own inner fears, of their own inner dysfunctional patterns from childhood, and I kind of lay out a path.
Dr. Shefali: 11:03 As a clinical psychologist, I’ve taken many women down this journey. So I’ve laid out a path, chapter by chapter, step by step. So the book is therapeutic. It’s transformational. Just the reading of the book will unfold the petals of our inner lotus, and that’s why I put the lotus on the cover.
Kimberly: 11:23 I love that. Shefali, tell us a little bit… I noticed in the chapters and also in your previous books, there’s a lot of discussion around fear, and pain is in your subtitle. Can you talk a little bit about fear and pain. And a lot of us listening to this right now know that we’re in pain. Sometimes we don’t know exactly where it came from. So it was there, and we have all these Band-Aids, whether it’s getting plastic surgery or getting more purses or going on Netflix or eating a bunch of chips, which is something I used to do. I liked crunchy, hard things to kind of… It felt cathartic to me. So can you talk a little bit about fear and pain and, as you mentioned, transcending them, using them to strengthen ourselves? How do we even begin that process? How do we even know all our fears and pain? This is like a million questions in one. So I’ll stop there, but it’s a big, big, big, big topic that you’re getting into here.
Fear and pain and the process to strengthen ourselves
Dr. Shefali: 12:22 Right. So fear on one level is biologically primed into us. So let’s leave that fear out because we’re not being chased by lions and tigers. The fear that I talk about is the conditioned fear that is entirely avoidable. You can’t avoid the lions and tigers and the tornadoes. But this fear that I talk about is something that has come from the environment, from the cultural matrix, and I call these fears lies. We have been lied to and kept in fear so that we stay small, so that we buy things and we keep the economy going. It’s all a game. And therefore, we have pain because we’ve bought into these false belief systems that culture has said you need to believe in.
Dr. Shefali: 13:09 So I have a whole chapter called Cracking the Matrix, because these fears come from the matrix, the culture we live in. And so there’s a whole section called Cracking the Matrix, where I deconstruct and debunk and discard lie by lie all the things we have indoctrinated from culture that are not true, the lies around love, around marriage, divorce, relationships, beauty, youth, niceness. These are all lies that we women especially get so oppressed by. And once I give women the permission to see but these are lies, but these are lies, then there is liberation.
Kimberly: 13:48 So would you say, Shefali, that all pain stems from fear?
Dr. Shefali: 13:54 Fear of some sort. And if you want to go to the bottom of the bottom of the bottom, the deepest pain is of our impermanence, of our death. That is the subconscious deepest pain. The pain on top of that would be the pain of not being significant, not being worthy-
Kimberly: 14:13 Not being seen. Yeah.
Dr. Shefali: 14:15 … not being seen. So that is the am I, I, the I, even good enough? And the fear at the bottom, the fear of death, is will I even survive, right? So these two fears together keep us injecting the botox and eating late at night because we’re terrified and not accepting all the is-ness of our existence. We are going to die, and we are always, always good enough, but we don’t realize these truths. So we have been told in some weird way that there’s a way to avoid death and that we are not good enough. So these two lies keep us in eternal fear, right? They keep us going in lack. And because we have lack, we buy things to fill us up, and we keep trying to feel better after the 10th cookie or after the 10th steroid injection or whatever, surgery, and it doesn’t work. And it doesn’t work because they are lies.
Dr. Shefali: 15:18 So this book really helps unravel the lies, and through personal examples of my own story and my clients’ examples, I show women step by step how they can move from fear and petrification, paralysis, invalidation, to this real wholesome wholeness.
Kimberly: 15:37 Well, Shefali, as I’m listening to this, I want to say, “Yes, yes, yes. All the truth, that feels so good.” What would you say to someone listening to this that’s like, “Okay, I get that, but… I get it on a cognitive level, but it’s really hard for me to embody this worth that Dr. Shefali is talking about”? Do you think, first of all, it’s possible for someone that’s raised in a way, going back to the parenting books all the way through… I read them, and I’m like, “Whoa! I was not raised that way, but I can parent my children that way.” And as someone who is a recovering perfectionist… I talk about this all the time, over-achiever, all that stuff, and I’ve been working on this for many years. I’m very honest about this. I’ve come very far in my journey.
Kimberly: 16:24 So for me and all the other women saying, “Can you really…” You talk about this awakening. Is it one moment where you’re like, “Okay, I embody this”? Or do you fall in and out of it? First of all, is it possible if you’ve been raised in the most unconscious way?
Can you be awakened if you’ve been raised in the most unconscious way?
Dr. Shefali: 16:41 Right. So here is the easiest way to look at it, is that it is possible, but it takes an impossible amount of work. So just like anything in life, it takes that inner focus. It takes the help of a coach or a therapist. It takes undoing the old patterns. You do this around eating healthy and having healthy habits. It doesn’t happen cognitively. It has to be put into practice. So I meditate every day. I help people every day. I’m in the milieu every single day, and that’s why I can stay on the track of evolution.
Dr. Shefali: 17:22 But if we are consuming junk in our minds and if we are consuming the negative toxicity of negative people around us, and if we’re surrounded by our own inner critic, then how are we going to find worth? There are ingredients that go into a healthy diet, for example. In the same way, there are specific things you need to do to plant worth, and I teach that. I do coaching and therapy around that. There are millions of us who do this work around the world. People need to hire help to create the pathway. And this book is a pathway. It’s one of those things you can do for yourself sitting at home, and open your eyes and your soul.
Kimberly: 18:04 Yes, yes. I love that. My first two books were very food focused because, for me, that felt like the answer. It was the beginning of the wellness journey. And then I cleaned up my diet, and I said, “Wait. I still have anxiety. I still have insomnia. I have all these different aspects of my life which didn’t feel balanced.” So then with my third book, I started going into the chakras and the energy. I was going to keep seeking, keep going deeper. And then the next book that I wrote with Deepak Chopra also has radical in the title, Radical Beauty, because I was like, “Literally, what is beauty?”
Kimberly: 18:34 Then it keeps going. Then the fifth book was about overcoming perfectionism. And then the sixth book that I just wrote, which is a spiritual book as well. So I feel like we all keep going and going, and like you said, the work. I feel like my work just keeps getting deeper and deeper, right? It starts physical, food, but then it goes down into your emotions and your feelings and your connections. So it’s like… Sometimes I think, Doctor, is there… I know the answer to this. Is there an end to this consciousness growing? And I don’t think there is. I think we just keep going and going.
Dr. Shefali: 19:10 Right, with always information. But I will tell you, and I’m sure this is true for you, you and I can say after years and decades of doing this work that we are certainly in a much more wholesome place today than we were yesterday. It is an evolution. Now, it could be tiny steps. It could be monumental mountains. It doesn’t matter. For each person, it’s different. But there is a palpable shift in my energy, your energy, and, of course, within people who do this work. So it is not fruitless. There’s a lot of yummy fruit that you bear if you give yourself the attention.
Dr. Shefali: 19:46 This book, A Radical Awakening, gives women the permission to put themselves front and center and take their evolution very seriously because only when we heal as women can our children heal. I mean, this is just the bottom line of it. We are the bearers of all the care and nurturing, so if we’re broken and don’t work on ourselves, how are we going to feed, I mean emotionally and spiritually feed, our families and those around us? So this book is that food for people to do that inner audit and to take the time and give themselves the permission to enter freedom, empowerment, and wholesomeness.
Kimberly: 20:29 Hmm, hmm. It’s so beautiful. I want to talk about two big topics for women especially. I’ll start with shame. When we talk about this awakening and this way of parenting and this way of living and being an awakened woman, there’s all the people around as well, as well as ourselves, that we shame ourselves. The shoulds: I should have done this, I should have done this. I feel like women especially hold onto so much guilt, which can translate into shame. And then other people shame us as we start to rise in consciousness and it may feel uncomfortable to them or, “Oh, she’s different, and I don’t like that.” What do you say about the whole shame topic?
We discuss the shame and guilt and where it stems from
Dr. Shefali: 21:07 Yeah. I mean, shame is really deep. It’s been defined as an abnegation of who it is you are. Guilt is for what you do, but shame is who you are. So when we are ashamed for being who we are, we’re really communicating to ourselves and those around us that we are not even worthy to be here, and that is a deadly, oppressive message. So the reason we have that shame is because it was put in our minds. It wasn’t ours, and we need to kind of expel it out of our body now. We have to vomit it all out because somebody unconscious, and it doesn’t take more than one person, put that in our minds as children.
Dr. Shefali: 21:49 So when I do this work with women, I really push women to… I mean encourage women to identify where that shameful voice came from, not because we have to go to that country and find that person and sit them down and talk to them. They could be dead. It doesn’t matter. But I want them to identify that it was a conditioned voice, and it is not who they essentially are. It’s a voice inside them that they think is real. And usually that’s a huge epiphany for people. “Oh, my God, it’s a voice.” And typically, it’s a voice of the teacher who shamed them or the mother who shamed them or the uncle. And once you identify that, you realize, “Oh, my goodness, I’ve been oppressed by this voice, thinking it’s real, thinking it’s me. And you have now shown me or I now see that it was something that I took on, and it’s not part of my life.”
Dr. Shefali: 22:47 It’s like reading books in one language your whole life and then realizing that’s not the only language in the world. And then you learn a whole new language, and you’re like, “Damn it. I thought there were only 16 words in the whole…” You’re like, “What? There’s so many words?” Right? It’s now you’re learning a new language. So most of us grew up with a shame-based, fear-based, guilt-based, unworthiness language. And well, we have to kind of forget that language, hang out with people who don’t speak that language, and learn a new language, and that takes effort, right? You have to break your teeth. You’re like, “What is this word?” And yeah, it is scary, but let go of that whole entire world. That’s what this book is about, giving people the courage to let go of that old self and rebirth into a new self.
Kimberly: 23:36 And to get really grounded in that new self, because sometimes we still have to intermingle with those people that… First of all, they were probably shamed themselves because that’s why they passed it on. But we still then have to interact with parents, in-laws, people that are challenging sometimes, and to [inaudible 00:23:55] people like that. I imagine over time, you start to ground more and more into yourself and you become less reactive to what people are saying.
Dr. Shefali: 24:05 Yes. You become less reactive because you are not so hungry for their approval anymore. And another thing happens, and I call it the continuum of consciousness. I begin to teach people, women especially, to recognize their own point on the continuum of consciousness and other people’s points on the continuum of consciousness. So when they come to me complaining and complaining about their mother-in-law or about their boss, about their partner, I tell them that they are in resistance to that person’s level of consciousness. They want the stone to be water, and the stone can only be the stone. The stone’s consciousness is to be the stone.
Dr. Shefali: 24:45 So once we can… There was one session that I spent the whole session with a woman, and I kept asking her… She was sitting on a blue couch, and I kept saying, “What color is the couch?” And she said, “It’s blue.” And I kept saying, “But I want it to be red,” and she’s like, “But it’s blue, Dr. Shefali.” And I kept saying, “I want it to be red,” and she got so annoyed. I was teaching her through that example. When I was doing that, I was fighting the blue color of the couch by saying, “I want red.” Well, most of our suffering comes from this disconnect. We want the “should” that we have in our fantasy, and we do this with our children, and we don’t accept that this person is at this level of consciousness. Once you can accept that, you can release them. You don’t take it personally. You go, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize. I didn’t realize that I’m fighting you and I’m feeling so bad about myself, but you can’t help being an asshole or whatever. You can’t help it.”
Kimberly: 25:40 Oh, it’s so challenging, Shefali. Yeah, I hear this, and I’m like, oh my God, it reminds me of my in-laws, right? They really don’t understand the work that I do. And I had that deep trigger of being seen. And so when they say to me, “Oh.” They kind of latch onto some of the celebrity stuff, which is one little aspect of what I did. It triggers still that not-seen-ness. I’m working on it, but I guess it’s my work. It’s my responsibility to get to that point where, like you said, I don’t need them to see me, so then it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s really not about them. It’s about me.
Dr. Shefali: 26:17 Correct, because… Can I challenge you?
Kimberly: 26:20 Please.
Dr. Shefali: 26:20 You and we, when we do that resistance, we don’t see them. You see, you are expecting them to be something different. You’re not recognizing your in-laws for who they are. You’re not seeing that they are actually completely boxed and caged in their conditioning, and therefore, they’re being exactly the way they’re supposed to be. It’s you who wants them to be differently. So they don’t see Kimberly’s essence, but Kimberly doesn’t see their essence either.
Kimberly: 26:49 Oh, wow! Beautiful.
Dr. Shefali: 26:51 Right? So you’re also doing exactly what they’re doing. Yours is just a better way of doing it.
Kimberly: 26:57 I love that challenge. Thank you, Doctor. I needed that.
Dr. Shefali: 26:59 Okay.
Kimberly: 27:00 So let’s talk about a really challenging topic, especially for women. There is a chapter in your new book on sexuality, and I know you have… How old is your daughter, Shefali?
Dr. Shefali: 27:11 18.
Kimberly: 27:12 Okay. So you’re in it. And I think this is one of the biggest discussion points. I get asked about this a lot. There’s a whole new breed of what’s called empowered sexuality on social media. A lot of women, a lot of them tend to be the classic, quote, hot body, being very naked, revealing themselves on social media and saying, “I’m an empowered woman. This is my sexual… I’m allowed to be sexual, so I’m empowered.” And I have a friend who has a 16-year-old daughter, and she wears like, I mean, nothing. She just wears very revealing clothes. And I said to the parents, “Do you worry about her?” She Ubers around LA. I don’t know. I have two sons, so I’m like, “Oh my God, I don’t know what I would do if I had a daughter.” But then I think about myself and the ways I was shamed. It’s such a confusing topic, sexuality for women, because then there’s the patriarch, and there’s other expectations in the male and all this stuff. Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy of empowered sexuality as a woman?
Empowered sexuality as a woman
Dr. Shefali: 28:20 Yeah.
Kimberly: 28:20 And how would you tell your daughter, because I’m sure many listening to this have teenage daughters as well?
Dr. Shefali: 28:26 Yeah. It’s a multi-layered answer, so just bear with me. Number one, we’re living in slightly confusing times. Because we have been so repressed and oppressed as women, we are now boomeranging and reactive. We are boomeranging and reactive and going the other way, and we’re like, “We will show our body.” So there is power in that. There is an empowerment in that. What we don’t realize is that that’s exactly what the toxic patriarchy wants. They’re like, “Yeah, show your body. We love it. We love you feminists,” right?
Kimberly: 29:00 Yeah, yeah, yeah. “Carry on.”
Dr. Shefali: 29:03 Right. Like, “Come on. Be more bold. Why are you even wearing that little triangle. Take it all off,” right? We’re playing right into the hands of what men want. And then they whistle. Then they catcall. Then they harass us. Then we’re upset. At some level, we need to see what we are doing. But here’s the thing. You said it right on. There was so much shaming that we have to understand that this is the reaction to all that oppression. So when my daughter, who also kind of sometimes will wear some things that make me go gulp or like, “What? Are you wearing that? That’s nothing. Where are your clothes, woman?” And she’ll tell me with boldness, “I love my body, and I am who I am, and this is how I look.” And she’s got all this energy to her power that I never had.
Dr. Shefali: 29:53 So now I’m at a crossroads too. I’m like how do I teach her that there is a large swath of unconscious men out there who have not harnessed their sexuality, who are also oppressed and want to kind of… and are not in conscious alignment with their sexuality. Now I’m not putting men down, but we all can admit that men can get caught up by their own sexual needs and forget all decorum, because they are on a 24-hour hormonal cycle themselves.
Dr. Shefali: 30:28 So I tell my daughter, “Good for you. Wear what you want. Go ahead, but I am telling you there are unconscious boys and men more than there are conscious boys and men in terms of sexuality. So tomorrow because your cleavage is literally dangling in front of them, one of them is going to think they can take it, touch it, grab it, eat it. And then you’re going to be feeling really violated. And I’m not saying it’s your fault. I’m saying you are part of a dynamic now, and we have to own how tantalizing we are.” We are amazingly delicious beings who are so, I mean, attractive. Women are so attractive. Sorry, we are. So I’m not condoning men for finding us attractive and losing control. I’m just saying we have to own how attractive we are, and then when somebody goes across, crosses the line, we have to immediately surround yourself with your sisters.
Dr. Shefali: 31:30 I tell my daughter, “Okay, if you want to dress like that, you’d better know the boys you’re with. You’d better call me and make me pick you up. You’d better surround yourself with your sisters because I do not trust the unconscious sexuality of most men out there, and they cannot control themselves.” I’m not condoning men. I’m empowering my girl. So whenever I say this, people think I’m condoning men. I’m not condoning men. I’m realistic about that men… I’m not going to expect the men to control themselves. Am I going to report them if they don’t? Yes. But I’m not going to live in an illusion that men can control themselves or all men can control themselves. I’m going to empower myself and my daughter herself with enough security so she’s not put in any unconscious way, in anyone’s unconsciousness’s way.
Kimberly: 32:24 Right, right. Whew! That’s a complicated one.
Dr. Shefali: 32:28 Very complicated.
Kimberly: 32:29 There’s the men and the women with the women’s sexuality. But then there’s the women with the women because, like you said, there’s so much confusion today. There’s a lot of slut-shaming, if we will. And then the other side’s like, “I can be whoever I want.” This is going to sound funny, but I recently saw the reruns of Sex and the City. I missed it when it was… I just don’t watch that much TV. So I happened to see some, and then there’s Samantha, who’s the one that sleeps with everybody, right? So it’s like there’s so many different aspects of it in the way that women… I don’t know. It’s confusing. So what would you say ideally would you… How would you paint the picture of truly empowered sexuality? Take the men out of it. From the woman’s standpoint?
The picture of truly empowered sexuality from the woman’s standpoint
Dr. Shefali: 33:15 Yeah. Yeah, I think truly empowered sexuality is not seeking validation from the other, but truly engaging in conscious intimacy, where it comes from a real alignment with our connection, connected sexuality. Now, it doesn’t mean you go marry the person, but it means that you are fully present, an equal partner, equally consenting. Don’t do it to please anyone or to get a reward or to get a marriage out of the deal. Do it because you’re connected. You feel like this is a worthy person to express our sexual energies with, and then give yourself permission.
Dr. Shefali: 34:01 So I tell my daughter all the time she’s allowed to do anything as long as it comes from a place of empowerment, worth, connection, and a true relationship with herself. I always tell her, “Don’t just give it away. Don’t give anything away, any kind of power, your sexual power, your emotional power, because you hold the key to that house within you. The emotional powerhouse lies within you. Your sexual powerhouse lies within you. But also don’t be shy.” Sexuality is not something we need to be shy about either, especially after a certain developmental age. So there’s no need to slut-shame, and there’s no need to be puritanical either, and there’s no need to go all out and sleep with everyone either. It needs to be connected and grounded to our authentic self.
Kimberly: 34:50 Well, I think it’s different for every woman as well. Two women can dress the same way, let’s say, in a very revealing way, and someone may just feel really good about herself, and she’s like, “I just feel good dressing this way.” And another woman could be trying to seek and get that validation.
Dr. Shefali: 35:06 Exactly.
Kimberly: 35:06 So it’s really the [crosstalk 00:35:08].
Dr. Shefali: 35:08 I agree with you. It’s that intention. She should know where she’s coming from. And you and I have done this too. There are days that we feel totally confident, and then there are other days that we’re insecure. We’re allowed to be insecure, but we should know that we’re dressing like that because we’re feeling insecure and have compassion for ourselves.
Kimberly: 35:29 Oh, that’s so beautiful. So now you have another chapter in the book that really caught my eye about emptiness. Let’s talk about that for a moment. A couple of years ago… Now 10… Oh, my gosh, 10 years ago, Shefali, my first book came out, and it was sort of this period where I decided to shed numbers from my life. I was so obsessed with calories, and I had eating disorders. I stopped weighing myself. I stopped focusing on age. You know, I should be achieving this by a certain age. So I just kind of shed all the labels of numbers. And whew! The peace and the joy in my life went up so much. And it just was like these labels were not serving me. So I felt really drawn to this chapter about emptiness and all the stuff we put on ourselves. Can you speak to that beautiful chapter?
Emptiness and what our true nature is
Dr. Shefali: 36:19 Well, bravo to you. I mean, that is so great when we do that. Shedding whatever identification or burden has been oppressing us. Yeah, the days that I tell myself, “Do not get on the weighing machine. It has nothing important to tell you today. Nothing important.” But yet, we are so numbers driven. The ranking, the following, the number of friends. Ay yi yi yi yi.
Dr. Shefali: 36:45 Okay, so emptiness is exactly that, is to understand that our true quality, our truest essence is limitless, has no definition, has no container, is unquantifiable, and that is our true nature. Our nature is not the number, the age, the PhD, the number of books, the number of children, or the number of cars. It is something beyond that, and we all deserve to touch upon that spaciousness. But only meditation and a spiritual practice will allow us to do that. I mean, let me just say that right now. There is no way to touch upon that essence-
Kimberly: 37:27 Totally.
Dr. Shefali: 37:27 … without getting really quiet, really still, and practicing the unlayering process of saying, “I am not my role as wife. I am not my role as partner. I’m not my role as mother. I’m not my role as a physical being. I’m not my role as an author or whatever you may be, a gardener, a cook, a chef, a surgeon. I am something else.” And to really get connected with that through meditation or spiritual practices allows you to see, “Wow! I’m empty of those roles,” and through this emptiness, we actually touch upon our fullness.
Kimberly: 38:05 Oh, I love that. It’s that deeper, deeper, deeper, that… Ramana Maharshi, I think, first started saying, “Who am I? Who am I?” underneath and underneath, beyond gender and certainly weight and certainly Chanel purses.
Dr. Shefali: 38:19 Yes.
Kimberly: 38:19 There is a part of us that’s deeper, and most… Right now in society, a lot of people don’t take the time to go to that space. They identify on the surface, but underneath there is that spaciousness, that essence that you write about so much in your books.
Dr. Shefali: 38:34 Absolutely, and not getting caught up in the seduction of those trappings even if every human around you has gotten caught up. You have to look at them with great compassion and go, “Go ahead. You can care about your ratings. I’m not going to play that game.” And we need each other to release that pressure on each other. We need to give each other the permission to go, “Don’t play that game. It doesn’t matter.” So the more conscious each woman becomes and radically awakens to her own liberation, she liberates her sisters.
Kimberly: 39:10 I love that. Now what does self-care mean to you, Shefali, from this emotional, spiritual self? I’m not talking about manicures here. But what are some of the self-care or the practices besides meditation obviously? Ideally, you meditate at least twice a day. But through the day or in between or besides that, how do we keep tuning in? How do we take care of ourselves in the deepest way?
What self-care means to Shefali in the emotional and spiritual self
Dr. Shefali: 39:36 So the deepest self-care for me is really maintaining a deep intimacy with me. So I check in all the time, not just through meditation, but I’ll ask myself, “Do I want to do this? Do I want to talk to this person? Do I need this on my schedule?” I’m always having a talk with myself because I am my best friend. I am the most important person in my life. I am my best lover. I am married to me first. And I really learn to occupy this place that many people will think is selfish, because when I put myself first, I cut out all the nonsense in my life, and then I have room for the people I care about. But if I act like I’m not important, which I did for the first 40 years of my life, I lived in-authentically, I was drained. I was tired. I was burnt out. I was resentful. I was crabby, irritable, and not very fun to be around.
Dr. Shefali: 40:30 And that’s what this radical awakening was for me, is true sovereignty of the self, true empowerment of the inner being, true marriage with our own essence. And when we get there, as I am now beginning to touch upon in my own life, there’s an unshakable, unwavering quality, undeterred quality, undistracted quality of my connection with the cosmic nature itself and my cosmic nature within me. And people are really just in and out and almost they’re just distractions, but they are not the anchor of my life anymore. Other people are not the anchor of my life anymore, including my key relationships. I mean, I’m just sorry to talk like that, but… And I say that because I know that when you make key relationships the anchor in your life, it’s not a really connected relationship. It’s a predatorial, parasitic relationship. So when I release people from being the key anchors of my life, I actually engage in the greatest love toward them because I’m not dependent on them anymore.
Kimberly: 41:38 Whoa! That’s a game-changer for a lot of us. The anchor is us.
Dr. Shefali: 41:45 Yes, yes.
Kimberly: 41:45 We are the safety and security.
Dr. Shefali: 41:47 Yes. Then people want to be around us. Then we have bountiful energy to give out. Otherwise, people are just using each other. I used people all the time before I awoke, and now I don’t need them anymore.
Kimberly: 41:59 I love that.
Kimberly: 42:15 When you say you check in with yourself, is that happening on a moment-to-moment basis? If anyone’s listening to this and they say, “How do I put this into practice?” do you think there’s juncture points or times to journal. Or let’s say you’re just starting and interested in this radical awakening. Of course, they’re going to read your book hopefully. But just to paint that picture of what it looks like in the day of the modern woman.
What radical awakening looks like in the day of the modern woman
Dr. Shefali: 42:39 Yeah. But before I answer, it’s not about how much time we have or how much help we have or how much money we have. This is really an internal, conscious decision to take ourself very seriously in terms of our happiness. Claiming our joy is the number-one priority. So I don’t want people to think that, oh, only the rich people do it or only the ones with nannies do it or only those who are 48, like I am, like Dr. Shefali is doing. No, it comes from an internal decision to claim joy as the central feature of our lives.
Dr. Shefali: 43:17 So having said that, you check in… If it’s not your standard practice to check in, I teach people to put a timer every two hours to remind yourself to go and do something loving for yourself. Walk outside. Connect with yourself. Write a letter to yourself. So the first few weeks or months of doing this feels very strange. But then you make it a muscle, and then you begin to know that before you say yes to anything, you’d better check in with yourself. Before you say no to anything, check in with yourself. So now it becomes a constant attunement, and it becomes part of your day-to-day.
Kimberly: 43:57 I think the practical aspect is really important because sometimes it can feel theoretical. And people say, “Okay, I put all my energy into meditating in the morning,” but to maintain that level of self-awareness does take training for most people.
Dr. Shefali: 44:10 Yes, it does, it does, just like changing our diet, just like going to the gym. Nothing comes without a radical reconditioning of our past pattern. So it is with emotional and spiritual [wholeness 00:44:25] on a daily basis. It becomes easier and easier as you begin to clean up your life and you just don’t have as many toxic people around you anymore, so you can more and more occupy your wholeness.
Kimberly: 44:41 So what would you say to someone, Shefali, that says, “I don’t know if I’m listening to myself or I’m just hearing all the fear and the static around”? Sometimes people again when they start, it’s a little bit difficult sometimes to distinguish the true voice, the true self from the fear.
Dr. Shefali: 44:57 Absolutely. Great question. It is hard to discern because we don’t even know ourselves. The initial processes involves a lot of talking to a coach or writing in a journal and then asking, “Whose voice is this? Is this my voice in the present, or is this somebody else’s voice?” And typically, it’s so identical to your mom, your dad, or somebody in your early life that you’ll be able to identify it.
Dr. Shefali: 45:24 And then the second way I typically know I’m in trouble, meaning I’m in my conditioned false self, is because I feel the fear in my body. And [inaudible 00:45:34] we are never feels fear. Not never, but it rarely… It feels mainly expansion. So every time I constrict, I immediately stop. I feel it in my body, and I go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. What was I thinking or believing that has made me feel this?” And typically, it’s comparison, competitiveness, not-good-enoughness, and also a lot of future-based thinking. I’m worried about something five years from now, and it’s making me panic right now.
Dr. Shefali: 46:04 So I have learned to come back into the present, to do breathing exercises, to read positive, affirmative books and realign me to the spaciousness of my essence. So fear and constriction are the signs that it is somebody else’s voice, not the voice of your essence.
Kimberly: 46:23 Oh, so true, and I think that is such a clear way to discern if… We know what fear feels like when we tune into it. And it does feel that tightening in the shoulders. For me, it’s a lot in my gut too. And when we start to recognize those signals, then I think we move forward from that place.
Dr. Shefali: 46:45 [inaudible 00:46:45] what’s coming up and stop and pause and pay attention, just like we would our boss. We women are trained to pay attention. The only sad thing is we’re trained to pay attention to outside authority figures typically, not ourselves. So we need to retrain ourselves to go back within to our own deepest, inner knowing.
Kimberly: 47:11 Hmm. So one of the things you just said, Shefali, was about cutting toxic people out of our life. And I think it’s been tough for me, although I’ve done what I call a friend detox. Even if you grew up with them, you may choose to spend less time with them if they’re really draining or really selfish or just on a different consciousness level. But I think that’s really hard for a lot of women to move away from certain people. There’s that guilt that comes in, or saying no. You said, “Do I want to do this?” Sometimes I’ve done it in the past where I say no to events because I feel bad saying no. What would you say about this?
Dr. Shefali: 47:49 Absolutely. We are so guilty to put ourselves first or to release people in our lives because we want to be seen as the nice one. And that’s a big shedding we have to do as women, like let go of our need to be seen as Miss Goody Two-Shoes and allow ourselves to disappoint people, because that’s their choice. You see, we treat people in a way, in this infantile way because we are scared, like we are infants. So because we are still fragile, [inaudible 00:48:23] around us is fragile.
Kimberly: 48:24 Ah!
Dr. Shefali: 48:25 But when we become whole, we’re like, “Okay, they can handle it.” And we tell them, “It’s not personal.” They can handle it. It’s this weird sense of narcissism also that we have, that we must rescue everybody, that we are here to save everybody. It’s some delusion also, and we need to pay attention to how deluded we are. I had to do that in my 20s because, as a psychologist, 100% I had this delusion that I was going to fix and save and solve everybody’s problems. But thankfully, I was not good at that, and so I had to come to terms with my delusion of being Superwoman and realize I’m quite ordinary and so is everyone else, and everyone is on a path, and they will do just fine at the end of the day.
Kimberly: 49:10 What I love about you, Doctor, and your work is this… The language I have for this is almost like tough love because these words have a way of awakening. And when you said that, I literally got goosebumps when you said, “We are like infants, so we treat other people like infants.” Like, oh my gosh, it keeps turning back to ourselves. We’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to disappoint them, or she’ll feel like I’m not a good person,” but-
Dr. Shefali: 49:38 Yes.
Kimberly: 49:38 But it’s our power. It’s our awakening that allows it. And by the way, if we don’t really want to hang out with someone energetically, it’s not good for us or them.
Dr. Shefali: 49:49 Exactly. So it’s not even tough love. It’s beautiful, authentic love because when we’re being inauthentic, how is that love?
Kimberly: 49:58 You’re right.
Dr. Shefali: 49:59 So that’s not loving. We’re lying love. It’s a lie. So the best gift is our authenticity and to be real with each other.
Kimberly: 50:09 Well, yeah, tough love is this colloquial term that doesn’t really sum up [inaudible 00:50:14]. It’s sort of like when I went to India the first time, Shefali, I was… One of my favorite places I went to was the Durga temple, and I learned about all her arms of resourcefulness and weapons, and she had this sword that cuts through bullshit.
Dr. Shefali: 50:26 Right, right.
Kimberly: 50:28 And that was when I started realizing it doesn’t always have to be soft and nice. We can maintain that connection and compassion, but sometimes you really need to make a move or speak up or just act.
Dr. Shefali: 50:44 Absolutely. And that’s why Durga, that goddess you talk about, is such a wonderful symbol because she’s in her feminine, but she’s not afraid to cut the lies off, in-authenticity, in-genuineness, fakeness, guile. She’s not afraid to use her masculine energy as well.
Kimberly: 51:05 So last question here, Shefali. Obviously, there’s such a mix in your work, which I love so much, which I’m really attracted to, between Eastern philosophy and, of course, Western research and being a doctor in psychology. Were you raised consciously? Were these ideas you pulled, or did you have to heal yourself and then create this merging in yourself and merging in your work?
Shefali’s upbringing how she merged into the work she’s doing today
Dr. Shefali: 51:34 I was raised pretty beautifully given how unconscious parents can be, so I’m extremely grateful. But it was stunning, and I had a lot of worth. However, I didn’t escape entirely, and I don’t think anyone can, the clutches of an oppressive, patriarchal, toxic culture. So growing up in India, I did not escape culture giving me a beating. So my parents did their best, and I can’t deny or minimize how amazing that connection was, which is why I teach this to parents, why I’ve taken this on as a mission because I do see how abundantly I was raised. But that’s one piece of the puzzle. The next piece is the cultural piece, and that I don’t think anyone can escape because it’s insidious. You know?
Kimberly: 52:24 Totally. Okay, last, last one. You just mentioned the masculine, divine masculine.
Dr. Shefali: 52:29 Yes.
Kimberly: 52:30 So you talk about… So much of your book… I know it’s gender neutral, but as a woman, I think a lot really appeals to me. So we’re stepping into empowered, the divine feminine and power femininity. Can you talk a little bit how it merges with… The masculine and the feminine is in all of us. So how do we integrate both, and how do we… Yeah, I’ll leave it there. How do we integrate both in the most empowered way?
How the divine feminine and power femininity merges with the masculine and feminine is in all of us
Dr. Shefali: 52:57 Yeah. So we have to first know who we are. Some of us veer more to the feminine, and then we become also too far into feminine that we become toxic also. And then there are those who are more masculine or go to the end of that spectrum, and they become toxically masculine. So you have to kind of know where you are, and I explain this in depth in my book, A Radical Awakening. What are the qualities of the feminine? What are the qualities of the masculine? And how you can decide where you fall on that spectrum, and then how do you develop the boundaries? If you are more on the feminine side, boundaries are the key masculine energy we need. And if you’re on the ultra-masculine side, you need empathy, attunement, and compassion, and how to enter your heart if you’re too much on the masculine side. So in the book I kind of give examples of both and how you can dance toward greater integration.
Kimberly: 53:56 Beautiful, Dr. Shefali. Well, congratulations. Your new book is out tomorrow, A Radical Awakening. Can you share with us where we can find the book, how we can find out more information about you?
Dr. Shefali: 54:08 Absolutely. So thank you for sharing the book. It is coming out tomorrow. I’m so excited. They can go to aradicalawakening.com and either buy the book there or buy the course. I’m doing a 10-day course in a week. And if they buy the course, they get three books included in the course.
Kimberly: 54:28 Wow!
Dr. Shefali: 54:29 It’s a 10-day deep dive into what we’ve talked about today, but with hundreds of other women in a community together. It’s my only course for 2021, so aradicalawakening.com.
Kimberly: 54:40 Amazing. Well, congratulations again, Dr. Shefali. And all you beauties listening to this, please also head over to the show notes. We’re going to have direct links to the book and Dr. Shefali’s site and her course that you can check out as well. So thank you again so much, Dr. Shefali. This has been an amazing conversation.
Dr. Shefali: 55:00 Absolutely, Kimberly. Thank you for what you do and what a shining star you are to all of us women out there. And thank you to your beautiful listeners for absorbing this information.
Kimberly: 03:11 All right, my loves. Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s interview, as much as I enjoyed conducting it. We will have more notes over in our show notes over at mysolluna.com. You can get information on Dr. Shefali on other podcasts. We recommend other resources, so I definitely encourage you to check it out.
Kimberly: 03:31 Please also check out our new free app. It’s Solluna by Kimberly Snyder app. Very easy to find in the app store so it makes it easy to access our meditations, information. There’s a wonderful chat room in there and recipes. And there’s a section, the membership section where you can also learn more about our Solluna Circle.
Kimberly: 03:54 Okay, my loves. Well, thank you so much for being part of our community. I send you so much love, and I will be back here on Thursday for our next Q&A podcast. So till then, take care and, again, so much love.