Ep. 64 | Compassion, Curiosity, and Connection: The 3 C's For Creating Positive Change + Living A Fulfilling Life
Welcome to the "Life Boost with a Amelia" podcast, where we're changing the narrative around what true health and success look like. They should give you energy, not drain it. I'm your host, Dr. Amelia, a multi-passionate integrative health and life coach, entrepreneur, and recovered burnout veterinarian. Together, we'll explore the science behind how your brain and body work, including the unconscious mind, while also connecting with what your heart needs in order to stand up to the norm of feeling stuck on a hamster wheel—working hard yet feeling exhausted and not where you want to be—and instead live a life that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning and in love with who you see when you look in the mirror. The reality is, if you do what everyone else is doing, you're not going to feel good. Let's break the norm.
So recently, on a walk where I have most of my thoughts and ideas, I was reflecting on if I were to boil everything down that I teach or to summarize my coaching style in three words, what would it be? And there really are three Cs conveniently that I think summarize everything that I teach and that I also think are truly crucial if you are feeling stuck and wanting to be creating positive change in your life. If there's anything that's not feeling good, if you turn to these three Cs, I can just about guarantee that you will feel better.
So, the three Cs are compassion, curiosity, and connection. And I thought we could dive into each a little bit—why they're so important, what that looks like to really be embracing these so that you can start to maybe get curious about if they're showing up in your life, or maybe if there are new ways that you could be really leaning into these three Cs in order to move forward in a way that feels good.
So the first one is compassion. We really live in a society where so often we are motivated by wanting to achieve something in order to feel better about ourselves, having it really stemming from a place of self-judgment, and this belief that once I have this, whether that's a promotion in your job, an amount of money, a relationship, a change in your body, then I will feel better about myself, then I will feel worthy and... And yet really, that makes the entire journey so much more uncomfortable, like when you were constantly exhausting yourself, trying to do things in order to feel good about yourself, compared to what it looks like when you start a journey from a place of self-compassion and sense of self-worth, and having that commitment to wanting to support and take care of yourself. That is what leads to a journey that's enjoyable, so that you're not just living your life thinking, "Oh, as soon as this happens, then things will be better, then I can feel confident, then I can love myself," and instead exploring how can I, in this moment, start to reshape the relationship that I have with myself.
Because if you think about an external relationship, you want unconditional love, you don't want to be in a relationship where they're like, "Well, I only like you when you have all your makeup on and you're all dressed up, but I don't want to see you like when you first get up in the morning." Like you don't want to be in a relationship like that, right? Or a relationship where they're like, "Well, I only want to hang out with you when you have money or once you're successful." Of course that's not the kind of person that you want to hang out with. And yet, how often are we treating ourselves that way? You know, that's that relationship that there's no escaping from. We are with ourselves 24/7. And if you are treating yourself with conditional compassion and conditional self-love then it just makes life more uncomfortable and draining.
And I've talked a lot about how I think that our world really is suffering from a kindness deficiency. And really, when I think about it, all three of these C's—the norm in our society is to be deficient in all of these. When you think about the diet and fitness culture and hustle culture, we really are living in a world where we're rewarded for self-sacrifice and it's so normal to be ignoring basic necessities that your body needs to function, right? Like how often are we skipping meals or forgetting to drink water, not resting, never getting outside in fresh air, not having time to move our bodies in a way that feels good? That's just the norm in our society. And then when you, on top of that, you add on the diet and fitness industry and social media and everything being photoshopped and it always being about how can you improve or how can you know what is wrong with your body? That we are all just kind of unknowingly programmed and conditioned to be looking for the things that we don't approve in ourselves. And to be thinking that it is that no pain, no gain, like you have to work hard in order to be successful. You need to be depriving yourself or having willpower and discipline. Like all of those things we're taught lead us to success and even health. And yet, it really is doing the opposite, right? Because all of those are just so draining. And true success doesn't feel like you're on empty. It's not draining. When you think about any goal that you have, my guess is that when you envision what it'll be like when you have achieved it, you are getting an energy boost. Do you have positive energy? You don't feel totally drained.
And so, while the typical mindset around success and achieving goals is this no pain, no gain mindset and self-sacrifice, we really need to pause and think, is that true success? Achieving something but feeling like you're empty.
And so when I say compassion, I really mean compassion for yourself and for your body. Always going back to remembering that your body's one and only mission in this life is to keep you safe, healthy, and loved. And if, at times, it feels like it's not cooperating, there's often a really understandable reason. And so often that can be rooted in the fact that your body or brain is perceiving your environment as unsafe or there are basic necessities like real food, water, rest, sunlight, fresh air, and movement that it hasn't been getting.
I recently shared on Instagram the way that I think about my body is a little bit like this super devoted dog. Which may sound weird, but you know, it's just like always there for me, always loving me, wanting to protect me. Even if I don't give it the attention it deserves, it's very forgiving. And it's like, I'm still gonna try. I'm still gonna be here no matter what, trying with whatever you give me. And that has really helped me because like at the end of a day, especially I've talked about this, one of my really early podcast episodes, when I was burnt out. At the end of the day I would get home and I would really feel like having several drinks, like enough drinks so that I couldn't feel anything anymore because I just was so full of uncomfortable emotions. I was so irritated and I didn't want to feel any of them. And the one thing that helped me to choose other things that were gentler for my body was having that in mind of my body was just trying so hard to help me get through this day that felt so tough. And I don't want to punish it with, by not being able to feel these feelings and by choosing something that I know is going to make me wake up in the morning feeling really crappy. And so that is what I mean with compassion. It is having empathy when you think about the way that you are treating your body. And that means noticing when you're getting really wrapped up and thinking that life is just too busy and things like sleep or making time for meals or water, thinking that those are dispensable, and just noticing how you respond to that. Like, are you kind of frustrated with your body?
Are you expecting it to keep up even though you're not really giving it any of those foundational basics that it needs in order to be able to do its job? Or are you recognizing, okay, if things are really crazy, how can I help my body keep up with this crazy day? And it also means compassion for yourself, right? Like when you make a mistake, how are you talking to yourself? When you look in the mirror, how are you talking to yourself? Life is so much more comfortable when you are your biggest cheerleader versus your worst critic. And that is a choice. And the reality is that we are living in a world where you have probably been conditioned to not be compassionate towards yourself. And while that's unfortunate, as soon as you become aware of that, you become empowered because as soon as you do start naming your inner critic, calling out that negative, judgmental inner voice and narrative that leads you to feel like you're not good enough, as long as you start calling that out, the more you start calling that out, the more you are just going to start experiencing life in a much more energizing way where you are always able to move forward, because even if you make a mistake, what are you making that mean about yourself? Are you totally beating yourself up about it, or are you having compassion for yourself, knowing that you are trying, and, you know, instead talking to yourself like, okay, that was a really hard day. I wish things went differently, but now I'm going to take this. I'm learning this; this is what growing feels like. These are growing pains, and I'm going to be okay because I'm going to take care of myself and I'm not going to blame myself. And as a coach, that's absolutely one of the things that I am always calling out for my clients, is helping them to see when their inner critic has started to run the show and also making sure that their goals are grounded in self-compassion rather than self-judgment.
And so that would look like not having the goal of, "I need to lose weight so that I don't hate my body and so I feel like I'm deserving of love". That is not a goal I am here to support you with. But one that would be is if you are coming in wanting to make changes because you want to learn how to treat yourself and your body with compassion, and if you want to be finding the weight and lifestyle that's helping you to feel strong and energized. That is a journey I am totally here to support you with. But anytime that you are wanting to make changes or feeling like you "should", that is always a word to watch out for. You really want to look at: Is that coming from a place of self-judgment or self-compassion?
As veterinarians and with burnout in general, it's easy to play out worst-case scenarios or to be afraid of making a mistake. And so one thing that was a really important mindset shift for me, especially when my mind was making up these worst-case scenarios that were just hypothetical, hadn't even happened, was reminding myself like, no matter what happens, I am going to be okay because I'm going to be gentle with myself. And I know that no matter what happens, I can move through it and I will learn from it and I will be stronger because I promised to be there for myself. Because we get into a really dark hole if we start to, I mean, we can say awful things to ourselves, especially if a mistake happens. It's so easy to beat ourselves up. And yet, you know, that you're only worrying about it if you care, you know, and for example, with patients, you know, if you're playing out the worst-case scenarios, it's because you really are coming from a good place. You're trying to do your best. And so that kind of self-compassion can really help with letting that go, recognizing, okay, I'm making up stories anyways that aren't really helpful. And also I have my back. I promise to be there for myself, no matter what happens.
If you are struggling with making food choices that make you feel good, and instead of just ending the day being like, "oh, I can't believe I just keep eating these things that make me feel like crap" it can look like just acknowledging, like "I'm disappointed that I made these decisions to eat this food that isn't making me feel really good. And I want to better understand and what made me choose these because I know that I want to feel better in my body and I know that I don't like the way that this is feeling." And just, you know, thinking like, why is it understandable that I am choosing these? Then that could look like recognizing that if you're eating ultra-processed food that food was designed to make it so that you can't stop eating. And so maybe it's really understandable that you are getting caught in that cycle. Or maybe you're having a hard time sticking with healthy habits because you're trying to follow food rules that don't make sense. And your body is lovingly trying to say, "Hey, we're starving or we need more carbs or we're tired of these good and bad labels on everything that we put into our mouth." You can't come to that realization without self-compassion.
It may look like when you look in the mirror, if you tend to instantly point out, like check, check, check, these are all the things that I don't like about my body and that I wish were different. Instead, if you started looking in the mirror and just saying, "I'm sorry, that the first thing that I see when I look in the mirror are my flaws and I don't deserve that. And I want to stop talking to myself that way and to start noticing what I love. And it's understandable that I've been talking to myself like this because I've been conditioned from social media and the diet and fitness industry history and our patriarchal society. But I don't want to let that decrease my sense of self-worth anymore because I know that I deserve better. And I am willing to start looking at the things that I love." Start making sure that the compassionate version of you gets the last say.
Because those judgmental thoughts are just automatically going to pop up because you've been conditioned to see yourself in that way. But you do have control over how you respond to those thoughts. And it feels really empowering when you stand up to those thoughts and you replace them with kinder ones. And that might look like just acknowledging that like, "Hey, that was a really hurtful thing that I just thought about myself. And I don't want to think like that anymore." And just replacing it with, even that willingness to start trying.
That alone is the place to start when anything is feeling hard, just making sure that you're being kind to yourself. And when we do this, when we are creating a norm where we are putting our oxygen mask on first, then you will show up as the best version of you. Then you start to have energy and patience and resilience, and that enables you to do all of those things that you want to do in the best of your ability, whether that is your near career, whether that's how you're showing up in your relationships, whether that's how you're treating your body. It will always be better if you are treating yourself with kindness and putting your oxygen mask on first.
So the second C is curiosity. And really once you start to embrace compassion, that involves ditching judgment. And when you ditch judgment, then you can start to get curious, and judgment really just stalls progress and smothers joy. But when you lean into curiosity, doors open that lead you to a path of problem-solving and moving forward and having greater clarity on why something was feeling hard and what is going to feel better.
The moment that my life changed was the moment I really did start getting curious about things, and I stopped judging myself. Because at that point I had compassion; you know, I was feeling bad that I was feeling stuck but that wasn't really helping me to move forward. I needed that curiosity. And that was that moment of allowing myself to not just think like these are all the reasons why things can never change and why I'm stuck. And instead to ask myself, well, okay. If all those reasons why I think that I'm stuck, if they weren't actually problems, then what would I do? And that just led me down such an exciting path where I haven't stopped being curious, because as soon as you start replacing anything that you're judging yourself for. If you replaced that with curiosity, then the questions are endless.
So if I think about myself and feeling burnout, instead of, "I don't know why I have this low energy" instead, " I wonder what's contributing to my low energy? I wonder what parts of my job are really draining my energy the most? Are there parts of my job that are giving me energy? I wonder why my body is feeling exhausted, even though I think that I'm being healthy. I wonder why I'm having these crippling stomach aches."That led me down a whole amazing world of gut health and becoming a health and life coach and just always getting curious, even, you know, at the end of the day.
Recently, like yesterday, I just was feeling kind of bummed and starting to even judge myself of like, oh, you've had like a pretty open day. You shouldn't be feeling this way. And instead, just catching that and getting curious instead of like, Hmm. Why might I be feeling this way? And that led to so much clarity on a really huge mindset shift for me. And if I had been judging myself, I never would have had that awareness, which is going to be so valuable moving forward.
And so with all of my coaching, one thing I emphasize so much as to embrace your inner researcher. Because with researchers, they are collecting data. They aren't determining if something's good or bad, they're just gathering information. And if you do that, if you embrace your inner researcher in life, then that could mean like, "Hmm, what foods are working for me?"Just collecting data about, okay. When I have a bagel for breakfast, this is how my energy is, my cravings look like this. And, these are the other food choices that I make. And then, you know, getting curious like, well, I wonder if I had this breakfast bowl of goodness instead packed with protein and like avocado and maybe some greens, then I wonder what would my energy be like and how would my gut feel and how would my focus be? And I wonder when I skip meals, then how does that impact my cravings and my energy?
And when you do that, you just get so much information about yourself, and that helps to provide clarity on what you need versus like, "oh, I hate that I just keep getting stuck and I don't know why I can't just stop eating all these sweets." You know, that really doesn't give you any opportunity aside from like, "oh, I just need more discipline and willpower to not be choosing those." That's really not helpful. That's just making your life harder than it has to be. Instead if you're like, Hmm. I wonder why I keep having these cravings when I know that I want to be making different choices and yet I can't. I wonder why.
Or, and if you're experiencing low energy, "I wonder what are the things that could be contributing to this? Why could it be really understandable that I'm having low energy?" instead of being like, "oh, I shouldn't have low energy. Like, I don't know why I'm not even really doing anything". Curiosity is truly a game-changer.
So right now, if there is something that's just not feeling the way that you want it to feel, whether that's in your body, a relationship, your mood and your career, just take a moment and notice what thoughts you're having about it right now. And how could you switch that over to getting curious? What questions can you start asking in order to maybe just start collecting some data about what you do need or why it could be really understandable that you're feeling that way.
And then the last C is connection and there's a lot that I'm talking about when I talk about connection. One big piece is seeing how everything is connected. Because there's a tendency when we're frustrated, we're just focusing on one problem. And that could either be like that you have a headache or maybe it's that you keep maybe yo-yo dieting or that you feel stuck in your career. And it's easy to think like, okay, in order to fix these, like I just need to pop an Advil for my headache, or I just need to be more consistent and have more willpower for the yo-yo dieting, or I just need to maybe change jobs in order to not be feeling miserable. But if you are just looking at that one problem then you're missing seeing how it's connected to everything else in your life.
Because all aspects of your life influence all aspects of your health and wellbeing, and all aspects of your health and wellbeing influence all aspects of your life. Every decision that you make has a ripple effect. And it's really important to be aware of that. Because if you have a headache, instead, can you expand your awareness to start to notice how that's connected to so much more, you know, than just the Advil, if you're wanting to create real positive, sustainable change in your life. And if you are having that compassion and getting curious, you start to notice, well, okay, when I have a headache and maybe even taking the Advil, oh that maybe is contributing to poor gut health. And maybe that headache could be tied to having poor gut health. And maybe that's because your body is aching because it's reacting to a lot of different foods because you've been really stressed and maybe you are feeling stressed and not drinking a lot of water. And maybe that's one thing that could really help, but you're feeling like when you have a headache, it's making it harder for you to focus and you're just wanting to get through your day and then that's making your head hurt even more. And then you're more likely to have alcohol at the end of the day, but maybe you're not remembering to hydrate a lot. And so in the morning you wake up. And you pop an Advil and you know, maybe it's creating this vicious cycle.
Same for yo-yo dieting: if you are instead looking at how all of this is connected and again, embracing that compassion and curiosity and noticing, oh, okay, if you're looking at one of these times when I have felt like I was really on track and then I wasn't on track and noticing, oh, the times that I tend to go off track, those are the days when I have been trying to be good all day long. I have been following the rules and I am trying to keep everybody else around me happy. And that is my body just finally wanting to rebel against something and have something pleasurable and maybe that's really understandable that then you're breaking these rules that you've created for yourself.
Or maybe noticing that those times when you are choosing that food, it's because your idea of what you need to be doing in order to achieve your goal weight is not giving your body enough fuel. Maybe your body is just doing an overriding of what you're trying to do because it feels like it's not getting any of the nutrients that it needs. So, it's trying to get pretty persistent with its cravings. Notice how maybe when you are yo-yo dieting, maybe then you're feeling restricted, and that's making you kind of irritable and hangry. Maybe that tends to make it so that you're not really nice to your partner. Maybe they ask a simple question, like, "What do you want to do for dinner?" and maybe you're snapping. So, that's leading to more stress in your life and less pleasure. And that's making it so that the only thing that can give you that pleasure and help to alleviate stress is this food that you've determined is bad. As you see, if you're looking at just how the ripple effects that everything has, then it helps you to see and have so much more clarity on what you need in order to feel better.
And then with your job, if you are feeling like you're burnt out and you're just wanting to change jobs, thinking that that will fix things, if you are allowing yourself to get curious and looking at how everything is connected maybe one of the reasons that you are really hating your job is because you are just taking on extra shifts or you're having to stay late, always. Maybe that is connected with people-pleasing tendencies and feeling like you "should" and not really being able to say no. Maybe that is also connected to other aspects. Maybe you're also not having time to recover on the weekends because you're also having a hard time saying no to invites or you're filling your schedule even when you do have a day off. Maybe that also is leading to making food choices that don't feel great because you tend to just kind of go with the flow, even if everybody's drinking or having pizza. If you had plans of eating something that you know is going to make you feel better, but you don't want to be an inconvenience or you just want to go with the flow. Then maybe you're doing that. So maybe it's not just your job; maybe there is something that is influencing all aspects of your life. That if you started to get curious about how that could change, maybe that would have such a big impact. And of course, also just noting how work stress just ripples out and influences all aspects of your life, how you're feeling in your body, your energy, how you're showing up in your relationships. Everything.
So that's why with my coaching and programs, they are very holistic because we really want to look at how everything is connected in order to be able to get to the root of what isn't working and how to create change that is going to have a positive impact in all aspects of life. And that really is one of the biggest root issues with our current healthcare system and approach is how everything has become so siloed. We aren't looking at how everything is connected, and yet, our body, our organs, everything is not individual. They all are working together. And so it is such a disservice and so unfortunate that someone may be coming in with a headache and they may also be experiencing gut issues. And they may also be feeling depressed or anxious, and they're going to be going to three different people instead of someone looking at their whole body, their whole person. And asking, what is the root of this?
I really encourage you to get curious about starting to make all of those connections. At the root, when I say connection, that's also about reconnecting with yourself and your body and understanding it more. And as you do lean into the compassion and the curiosity, that is when you start to reconnect with yourself. Because it's so easy for us to just go throughout the day, kind of on autopilot, not even really giving us time to just be with our thoughts, to really be noticing and feeling our emotions or to just acknowledge all that our body is doing. So, if you, regardless of what you are wanting to be working towards, when you are feeling more connected with your body, mind, and heart, as one, as you, if you are listening to all of those and honoring all of those together, then you are going to absolutely be moving towards the most fulfilling life that you can live.
And as you do this, you're also going to be finding like maybe you are more connected, feeling more connected with nature. And as you are getting compassionate towards yourself and getting curious and looking at all these connections, noticing how that influences the connections you have with others. As you are starting to really protect your energy, you're going to notice that some relationships strengthen. As you are acknowledging, getting curious about if there are any things that aren't working and what you could do to strengthen those connections. But it may mean cutting off connections with people that are draining your energy and not worth your time and attention. And so that just means overall growing connections in your life that are helping you to feel alive and fulfilled and energized. And that is such an important part of moving forward and creating the change that you want.
And finally, if you're wanting to really be creating positive change, you have to be connected with your why, you know, connected with a sense of purpose and meaning and making sure that your actions aren't motivated by should that really don't matter or are coming from a place of self-judgment. But really getting connected with what motivates you, why do you want changes when you have a goal or something in your life that you want to be different? That is so important, connecting with your why. When you are connected with your why and a sense of purpose, that is what will give you motivation and resilience and even comfort when things feel hard or you are encountering challenges.
And as you lean into and explore all three of these C's: compassion, curiosity, and connection. The best part is that you really connect more and more with who you are. Because that's just a lifelong journey, isn't it? And discovering that, but as you are leaning into how to love yourself, getting curious about the way that you work, and how, what feels best for you when reconnecting with all parts of you when your body and your heart and your mind. That is when you just continue to connect with the real you.
So with all this in mind, thinking about something that you are maybe wanting to change or something that's feeling hard, take a moment right now and ask yourself if you are really leaning into all three of these C's. Have you been treating yourself in a loving and compassionate way? Getting curious about why is it feeling hard? What could feel different? What kind of questions can you ask to be problem-solving? And connection, maybe zoom out a little bit and start to look at how this could be connected with other aspects of your life. Or are you not feeling as connected to your body, mind, or heart, and getting curious about how you can strengthen that connection?
If you really want to lean into and explore these more with support, then this truly does summarize the root of what I teach and the way that I coach. And so my programs, whether that's the game changer, which is a one to two-month self-paced program, my six-month life boost mentorship, which has self-paced courses along with weekly group coaching calls and community support, or my six-month one-on-one program where we have 16 one-on-one sessions in addition to everything that's included in the mentorship program. All of those are available to you. So you can learn more about my programs on my website, but the most fun way would just be to send me a message or firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can start a conversation because going back full circle, remember, I always want to make sure that you're choosing your journey rooted from a place of self-compassion.
And so if right now you feel like you're motivated by self judgment, then send me a message because we can just have a conversation exploring that so that we can connect with what next step feels most loving towards yourself. And what's going to feel like a breath of fresh air moving forward.
Okay. If you enjoyed today's episode, please share it with someone who you think could benefit. And if you're enjoying this podcast, it would mean so much to me if you would take the time to leave a review so that others can find me. And as I thank you if you leave a review, send me an email, letting me know, and I'll send you a free guided meditation for mental rehearsal. So that is exactly what elite athletes, executives, incredible surgeons all use it’s a scientifically proven way to improve performance. And the reason this works so well is because when you are mentally rehearsing, the same area of your brain is lighting up as if you were actually doing it. And so it's a safe and effective way to be preparing and practicing and improving your skills for when you're actually living it in the moment. So send me an email at email@example.com if you leave a review and I can't wait to share that with you. Cheers to your inevitable health happiness and success!