Today's Guest: Chris Weals
Today, I interview Chris Weals who grew up with two older brothers who did very well academically. Chris, however, wasn’t as interested in studying; instead, he excelled at making friends and even took on a sort of leadership role in some groups. Things began to catch up to him when he felt left out and pressured because he didn’t show as much drive for academia as other people. He slowly began to distance himself from sports and team settings, focusing on more individualized interests. It was difficult to fight the habit of comparing himself to his brothers or peers (which so many of us relate to all too well!).
With a desire to find himself and figure out his path, he chose to study psychology which really interested him, but after not feeling much support or enthusiasm from anyone for his choice, he switched to accounting because he saw that his brother had found success in that field.
20 Years down the road, Chris had a successful career around numbers and finance, but he realized he didn’t fit the same mold as others to whom he had compared himself. He had accomplished a lot but didn’t feel fulfilled. Chris struggled for years with low self-esteem and a lack of purpose. He wanted to have a stronger sense of his own identity and calling, so it was time to make a change.
He left this line of work and began working with a therapist and a life coach, slowly peeling back the layers to find out what was missing, what was damaged, and how to feel fully alive each day. After taking a year off from work to travel around the world, doing a lot of deep diving and growing, Chris decided to create an intentional path forward and started coaching in early 2020.
Find Chris here: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #49 Chris Weals
“Comparison Is the Thief of Joy”
(00:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing, and I’m a psychologist, and I host this podcast, find your voice change your life. When I invite guests to come on to this show, I ask them to well, what you might call unzip and go back to where the struggle was in their life when they felt like they didn’t have a voice. What we get to learn is more about what happened. Was there some circumstance I mean, because we aren’t born without a voice or a sense of ourselves early on, is when our sense of who we are, what we can do and our confidence actually arise pretty early. When it doesn’t, sometimes that struggle to find your voice later in life continues. So, today, I would like to introduce Chris Weals. Is that how you say your last name, Chris?
(01:32) Chris Weals
(01:33) Dr. Doreen Downing
(01:34) Chris Weals
(01:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
Weals. After struggling for years with low self-esteem and a lack of purpose and after taking a year off from work to travel around the world. After doing a lot of deep diving and growing, Chris decided to create an intentional path forward and started coaching in early 2020. Well, that’s very recent and I support you getting out there for sure. You obviously had to feel like you found your voice to be able to make an intentional choice like that. But we like to start early on and that wasn’t always the case. So, Chris, welcome to the show.
(02:23) Chris Weals
Thank you so much Dr. Downing. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. Appreciate it.
(02:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
Great. Well, let’s go with some of the sense of when you look back what was it like and how did you experience not having a voice
(02:40) Chris Weals
I really think it goes back to a pretty young age. For me, my interests in school weren’t quite the same as my older brothers. I’m the youngest of three boys and my two older brothers were very interested in school, their schoolwork doing well and they were both excellent students throughout their educational careers. I came along and I was way more interested in socializing and making friends. I did okay in school, but I just didn’t have the same level of interest and my family didn’t know how to deal with that, I think. I think because I come from a long line of engineers, a lot of left brained people. So, math and science were the focus, and my family and I came along, and I was more of a people person and that just wasn’t as no one in my family celebrated. So, I felt like it wasn’t okay to be me I got in trouble a lot for talking in class for having conversations with other kids and because I wasn’t paying attention and all of that and so it seemed to be a negative thing, this interest of mine.
(03:51) Dr. Doreen Downing
I like the way you’re posing that actually and I think the listeners there probably be lots of people who can relate that their natural bubbly bright spirit is who you really are early on in life and yet the surrounding the environment says hey, you don’t fit in. That sounds like it was your case. But when you were at school, it also sounds like you got in trouble. Where did you feel like people really went yay, you know, let’s play or let’s have a good time together.
(04:33) Chris Weals
I think probably outside of the classroom and even on breaks recess when I was really young and then playing sports with people and my friends. I got away from team sports when I was a teenager and participated a lot in individual sports like skateboarding and snowboarding and I had a large group of friends, and we all were into the same stuff and became a bit of a leader in that circle and did quite well, socially. But my studies continued to deteriorate through K through 12 and into high school got really bad, and I kind of got dark, emotionally around that time also, I think because I felt so stifled, I was still trying to fit in this box and my brothers both graduated. They are top 10 in their class, and I came along and I’m like barely getting by, and I was bored with it. Also just feeling bad because I wasn’t doing well. But then outside of that I was thriving, I had a large group of friends and I was doing quite well, socially.
(05:49) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, what a dichotomy to have a sense of your bright spirit, and yet comparing and I hear that that’s one of the issues for you, but also for lots of people, they compare themselves to, well, other people in their family, but also what the standard is, in our educational system, the A is, what we’re all they say what we need and what we’re striving for.
(06:18) Chris Weals
Yeah, absolutely. Living that way comparison, I think that is something that’s taught to most of us when we’re young by our education systems, and our parents and all that, but that’s a real joy killer when we compare. What I used to do is compare my whole self to a part of someone else, and then felt like I fell short and I’m just not a good enough person in general, because I’m not as good at math as my brother or science or whatever thing I wound up comparing my entire being to one strong aspect of another human being and I see I’m no good. Because I’m not as good at that one thing.
(07:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, I hear a lot of that later on in life with the clients I work with exactly what you’re talking about the comparison of self, especially in let’s say, corporate environments, or even in entrepreneurship, the ability to get out there and to be more fully expressed is hard. But when you compare yourself to others who are, I’m going to quote these six air quotes, successful, hey, I don’t look like them. So, my business isn’t thriving, because I don’t look like them. But maybe you’re just trying to be like them, as opposed to learn to be more of yourself, which is what we’re talking about today, being yourself. I’m so glad you pointed that out that one aspect of yourself, I mean, the whole of you is being compared to one aspect of another human being.
(08:00) Chris Weals
That really can make you feel bad about yourself, make you feel less than and that’s what I did to myself for a long time, and it caused a lot of confusion and myself too, like, who am I? What do I want? Initially when I was starting college, so I did make it through high school. After that, when I was starting college, I really had an interest in psychology. But that was kind of unheard of in my family and I just– I didn’t get a lot of direct pressure to not pursue that path. But it just seemed like it wasn’t really celebrated or supported in my family. So, I actually wound up switching pretty early on from psychology to accounting and I picked accounting just because I was good enough with numbers and my older brother was doing it, I looked up to him. I just thought, well, I’ll just do that. Like that seems like a better path forward for me, given my family situation and my thoughts around money. I also have a lot of fear around money because I grew up not poor but lower middle class, and there was a lot of fear in my family around money. So, I’ve thought, well, what better way to make money than like focus on finances for a bit, I’ll just have this whole dedicated path toward finance and accounting. I had a very successful career for 20 plus years, but it was never a good fit. I never really enjoyed it. It never was– it never felt on purpose or fulfilling for me, aspects of it did but not overall
(09:41) Dr. Doreen Downing
Choices. Wow. You know, the choice is that not that you were forced, but that the circumstances led you to make a choice. I hear that a lot too. But before I go into the wakeup and how you really, after 20 years in accounting came to make a different choice or decision, I want to ask because you said it a couple of times. I like the phrase celebrate it, you said that about early on, who you are, the way you are being more celebrated– was not celebrated in your family. So, just say a little bit about, I can understand parents who want their children to be upwardly mobile, I guess is the idea. Is that what it was going on? Or was it something else?
(10:30) Chris Weals
I think it was really just what my family was used to, I think everyone just labeled themselves in my family as left brained where we’re science people were math people, that’s just who we are, we really value and celebrate IQ. Like intelligence was this really big focal point, instead of maybe EQ or just being a kind, compassionate, loving person, it was more about the intelligence being left brained and doing well with that stuff. I mean, I was loved and liked by my family and even adored by certain family members, but the thing that I focused on so much was what I saw has been so important and celebrated at the highest level in my family, and that was good grades, and it was having a good memory and being good at math and science really.
(11:29) Dr. Doreen Downing
Right. Guess what that reflects society.
(11:33) Chris Weals
(11:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, let’s move forward then you made it to schools and made this career choice and you’ve admitted that yeah, you plugged yourself in, but it really wasn’t who you are truly in your core and your spirit. So, what happened that you woke up or was that a series of episodes or what happened?
(12:01) Chris Weals
Yes, definitely. There’s a long story to that. But ultimately what happened was I watched this video it was a Jack Canfield masterclass on Gaia, on creating your life purpose statement. Here I was kind of going through life feeling that and I was aware that I was missing for myself, but I had no idea how to– I thought I had to find it. Like it was something that was already out there for me, and I had to search and find it and he came along with this exercise you can do to basically create it. I went through the steps, and it was an epiphany for me, I had this aha moment. Oh, wow, this actually feels really good there’s something to this. So, that was right around the same time I left to go on this year long trip of traveling all around the world with my girlfriend. We met people from all walks of life, different religions and socio-economic status and it was this hugely eye-opening experience to travel around the world. I’ve always been a spiritual person I have felt a connection with God, I was Christian going into that trip and coming out of it not so much Christian anymore, but more just felt a deeper connection to God a deeper personal connection and just felt like I didn’t need religion anymore. So, I changed in that way and just started– what actually went like coming back from that trip, actually went and got another job doing consulting work in accounting and finance and then worked for this startup, running their accounting and finance for a while, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. Working in an office environment like that doing work that was just okay, because I knew how to do it and I was decent at it but didn’t love it. I just couldn’t keep showing up for that anymore. So, I really started– I had written down my whole life purpose and kept coming back to that, coming back to my experiences traveling, and just that I have to do something different, or what can I do and just based on all of my life experiences that I had. In high school, I had to experience a lot of trauma, a lot of deaths of close friends, a lot of grief and guilt and shame that came along with all of that and suffered from depression and anxiety for a long time and worked with my own therapist and a life coach and all of these things to help me develop the tools that I needed to manage these things and overcome them and just become healthier and happier and living more fully and because of all of these experiences I thought Life Coaching, I just decided I want to do something where I can help people believe better thoughts about who they are and what they want in life and why they’re here and help them gain their own sense of purpose and turn that into a more meaningful, fulfilling enjoyable life, help people have more adventure and more play and love more fully. I started learning about life coaching and learned that through the coaching techniques, you can help people with all these different aspects of life, and I thought, wow, this is amazing. This is something for me, for sure.
(15:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, if somebody could– those who are listening, I just want to say, your face lights up when you talk about possibility and life coaching. When you talked about the travel with your girlfriend, and how you it such an eye opener, and you came back and you realized, well, you weren’t– you didn’t have so much religion, but I really got that you were more spiritual, connected to a deeper meaning for yourself. The whole idea of you returning and trying to plug yourself in just seems like oh, no, no wonder it couldn’t work. It’s like a plant that got nourished and grew out there in the world came back and tried to fit himself in the same small pot. You just, you couldn’t do it. It couldn’t be.
(16:32) Chris Weals
A great analogy. That’s what it felt like, I just didn’t fit anymore. I didn’t fit in that box anymore.
(16:41) Dr. Doreen Downing
I also got that you had hints, some whispers you might say that, that something wasn’t quite lined up for you around yourself, your work, what you’re doing and meaning and so before he took that trip, was that part it, did you do the Jack Canfield exercises before you took off for or?
(17:12) Chris Weals
I think it was actually during. I think it was during that trip.
(17:18) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, your soul was already stirring? Wasn’t it? Not only the adventure externally, but the adventure internally, what goes on inside of ourselves. Yeah, people get stuck in depression and patterns and anxiety. But the willingness to say worse, there’s got to be more, where is it? The search for meaning is a good book. So, I think that’s– Yeah. So, search for meaning, and it feels like you found it. So, let’s talk a little bit about what about you and being a coach nowadays.
(18:11) Chris Weals
Right. So, it’s something that energizes me when I do the work, when I work with my clients and help them have breakthrough moments in their lives. It just fires me up, I come alive, you mentioned you could see it in my face, just talking about it and like that’s what I get from it, versus the work I used to do, which drained me. Instead of energizing, it just zapped me. So, there’s that and then just the realization that I’ve had myself, when it comes to coaching and the models that I use, and the tools that I use in my coaching practice with people and how much they have helped me, personally, I mentioned, having an anxiety disorder in the past. I used to take Xanax, too, because I would have panic attacks. Then this like lower level, just general anxiety disorder where I felt anxious all the time. So, I took Xanax, and this was years ago, in the early 2000s. I was on when I was in my early 20s. I learned how to manage it to the point where I didn’t need it. 2007 was the last time I took Xanax for my anxiety. It was because I was working with a therapist at the time, and I had a friend who challenged me to get off the drugs and so I did. I did a lot of work on that and was able to do it. So, I know from firsthand experience that there are things that you can do to help yourself overcome these situations that can be very limiting. So, yeah, I just feel just so compelled to help others, and not necessarily with things like anxiety and depression, but that can be a side result, benefit from doing the work that we do, it should make more around helping people with confidence and decision making and getting better results for themselves in life. That ultimately leads to people becoming a different person, which includes feeling better about themselves and about life.
(20:27) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, the idea about becoming a different person to me, says something about voice. That the sense of where your voice comes from, if you’re different, it sure seems like the voice comes from a different place. Do you have any comments about that?
(20:46) Chris Weals
Yeah, I think you’re right, the difference is just getting more in touch with who you actually are and allowing that. I think the voice comes from your truth about who you are, and what matters to you. So, like developing your values, or at least becoming like– getting to understand your values, what really matters and developing that sense of purpose. From that, I think that’s something that you could be really passionate about and bold about and just share that with the world because it feels so good to do that. So, now I just feel like I’m just sharing a truth and I think it’s a beneficial truth. So, I feel at ease sharing that with the world.
(21:35) Dr. Doreen Downing
I really like and I hope people hear this, that the voice, your voice is more of a sense of, I’m sharing my voice rather than I’m trying to get my message out there. You know, let me stand up and shout, it’s more just I have something to share. I’ve learned something and I know it has value I have value. My voice comes from what I know and my truth, it just feels so natural.
(22:02) Chris Weals
Right. Yeah, it comes more from a place of excitement and just like wanting to give that gift away, because it’s done so much for me.
(22:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, I see that. We’re coming to an end, and I want to be able to give you some room to share with people how they can get in touch with you and if there’s any kind of tip around, because you mentioned anxiety and your belief that people can move through it. Since anxiety is a lot of what stops people from speaking up, any tips you can give around anxiety.
(22:42) Chris Weals
Sure, I have a tool that I’ve been using for myself and now with my clients, it’s been really helpful. It’s called the rain technique and it’s an acronym. So, RAIN stands for, R is the recognition to recognize what it is you’re feeling. So, if it’s anxiety, you can recognize it, okay, I’m feeling anxious, and the A is to allow it. So, let it be there and I really think this is the critical part. Because when we don’t allow things, when we resist what is they grow stronger, and that’s when they really get a hold of us and become a disorder and lead to addictions and other unhealthy things because we’re avoiding feeling something that’s uncomfortable or painful. So, allow the discomfort or the pain of the anxiety to be there. That’s the A and then I investigate it. So, what might be causing this feeling of anxiety and also what can I do to help myself feel better and that leads to the N, which is nurture. So, nurture yourself, actually give yourself whatever it is, you need to feel better. But don’t avoid it. Don’t do something that’s ultimately going to make you feel worse, like drinking or doing drugs or just binge-watching TV to escape and not deal with it. But actually, allow yourself to feel it. But then maybe all you need to do is meditate or breathe deeply and slowly. So, that you can calm your body down physically, which will lead to your mind calming down as well, which is usually all I need. Because those moments still come on. I’m not a huge fan of flying and I’ve done a lot of flying now and I can feel that little bit of panic come on a plane and so I’ll go through this RAIN process with myself and really what I need is just to remember that I’m fine. There’s plenty of air to breathe. I’m not going to be trapped on this plane forever. Just breathe, and then it’ll just go away pretty quickly.
(24:52) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, I hear that– we talk about “voice”, and I hear that you also have a voice within you which you just demonstrated is that self-talk? So, I just want to summarize again, that was RAIN, recognize A is allow I is investigate and N is nurture, or nourish I wasn’t quite sure, but it seems like that last one I like that it that you point to what we need, what our body what our mind what our heart needs is nourishment, rather than just go out and act, find a strategy. So, it seems like it’s really compassionated your approach.
(25:35) Chris Weals
Absolutely. That’s what I was going to say, well, what we really mostly need is self-compassion. When we’re feeling a certain way that we don’t like or don’t get the results we want. A lot of times we beat ourselves up, we’re really hard and judgment– hard on ourselves, and overly judgmental and that just makes everything worse. So, what we need is to pause and just understand that we’re all just children learning how to walk, you know, and that you wouldn’t yell at your toddler learning how to walk right? That’s all you are in this life. That’s all we all are. So, allow yourself to figure things out as you go and know that you’re not going to get everything right 100% all the time, and it’s okay.
(26:22) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, self-acceptance. Well, thank you so much. Just last words, please. Oh, yeah, Yeah, you’re generous. Thank you very much, Chris, for being here today.
(26:29) Chris Weals
Oh, yeah. You asked how to get ahold of me or in touch. I’m on LinkedIn. So, it’s just under my name, Chris Weals, W-E-A-L-S. Also, I do a lot of free talks through the life coach University, which is founded by a friend of mine, and it’s a wonderful platform. There’s a lot of other coaches on there that just go on and we call them PIF talks, PIF stands for pay it forward. So, we do a lot of free, basically like webinars, but it’s just us sharing, it’s sharing our voice our message and it’s absolutely free to attend these online sessions through lifecoachuniversity.com and all we ask is that you pay the kindness forward. So, go out in the world and spread the love. So, that’s one way you can listen to me and then find other coaches doing the same thing. I really enjoy being part of that platform. Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Podcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.