Today, I interview Sandy Abell, who as a child felt starved for attention because her younger sibling received so much more attention. She started acting out, as many children do, which led to people rejecting her. All of the rejection put Sandy in the habit of being and behaving the way she thought people wanted her to.
Later, the REAL Sandy started to peek through, and she was excited to see that people seemed to really like her for who she truly was! As Sandy continued to come out of her shell, she developed a fascination with psychology and personal transformation. Her self-esteem grew as she started to acknowledge and learn about both the “good” and “bad” parts of herself, realizing how special she’d been all along.
Now, Sandy is a life and business coach who takes joy in helping others to find their own transformation. For a variety of free resources, visit Sandy’s website at https://insidejobscoach.com.
Sandy Abell is a best-selling author, life and business coach, and licensed therapist. Her passion is supporting people as they rediscover how amazing they are.
Find Sandy here:
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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 #41 Sandy Abell
“Your Inner Child Has a Voice’
(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m the host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. On the podcast, I invite guests who have had some kind of challenge in their life finding their voice, whether it was early in life where they feel like they have had some trauma or some kind of situation, perhaps in the family or any kind of opportunity that they didn’t have laid out in front of them, where they felt like they could not step up and speak out comfortably. So, that’s partly what we get to do here on this podcast, is explore what happened to people that they lost their voice or didn’t have one in the first place and then we get to hear about the journey, the journey that they took to find their voice. Because that’s what I think inspires the listeners is that people who have had a struggle speaking up and have anxiety might not realize that there are some early roots to that anxiety and they might not realize that there’s a path out. So, on this podcast, you get to hear people who share how they found their voice and you get to also be inspired by what they get to do nowadays, now that they have a voice and today, I get to introduce a friend of mine, her name is Sandy Abell, and she’s a best-selling author– yay, you’re going to have to tell us about that and she’s a life and business coach and a licensed therapist and her passion is supporting people as they rediscover how amazing they are. I want to say that again because that’s what I do– help people– so help people find and rediscover how amazing they are. Sandy and I share that passion, that excitement and we’re going to hear more from Sandy today. But I want to say one more thing. She is co-host of the podcast called Your Personal Power Pod. So, today, I want to welcome my friend Sandy. Hello.
(02:51) Sandy Abell
Doreen, it’s so fun to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
(02:56) Dr. Doreen Downing
For sure. And because you’re a therapist, and I know that my training as a therapist, I had to do a lot of those deep dives into my history and discover who am I and how did I get that way and I know that one of the discoveries I made was how I was pretty much intimidated and scared to step up into any kind of public speaking. I had to take that journey into my history to find out well, what happened that I lost my voice? When did I have it? And how did I lose it? So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Can you start with any memories of yourself as a young person? What do you know about you’re– having or not having a voice early on?
(03:50) Sandy Abell
Oh, well, Doreen it started way early, I was a happy little person until I was two and then my sister was born. And with any family where you have a two-year-old and an infant, the infant got most of the attention. So, I felt rejected right off the bat as soon as she came along. Then to top it off, she was cute, and fun and for Pete’s sake, she liked to nap and my parents, of course love that and I didn’t appreciate it at all. So, she got the attention, and I didn’t and I interpreted– started interpreting that to mean there was something wrong with me. As time went on, she got older and blonde and cuter and it was just ridiculous and so, my efforts to get attention, were misguided and what I thought I would do is just speak up and tell people what I thought and make sure they saw that I was in the room. Of course, that did not work. really well, people did not appreciate that. So, I got shot down a lot, or sent to my room when I was a kid, whatever. Then I went on to school and in elementary school, I thought, well, these are new people, maybe I can tell them what I think about stuff and I had never learned tact because I was in second grade. I think I offended a lot of people. I became one of those kids that was bullied and nobody ever chose for the team and I was always the last one chosen. When they called my name, the whole team went, like, oh, no, we have to have her? So, all of that just totally destroyed my self-image and I realized after a while, that maybe it was safer, emotionally, to just be quiet and just not say anything. So, I sort of shut down emotionally.
(06:07) Dr. Doreen Downing
An introduction to life as a young Sandy, I also had a young sister 11 months younger.
(06:17) Sandy Abell
Oh, so you were there.
(06:19) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, I definitely got that part about feeling like she– in fact through her life her name is Ginny, you know her, I think. So, people were, Ginny is easy to say, Doreen is not so easy to say, believe it or not, though, and people can always say, “Hi Ginny, but what’s the other one’s name?” So that initial awareness of yourself relative to somebody else, and it sounds like your coping strategy, or your adaptive strategy was to say, let me find a way I could speak up. But then when you took the platform and tried to express yourself, you’re shut down. Right?
(07:08) Sandy Abell
Exactly. Yeah. So, I felt a lot of rejection and learned that it was better to just go along and be cooperative, and be who I thought people wanted me to be and I did that for a long time– long time. I had a couple really good friends in high school, and managed to have a boyfriend, who was a good guy, but from another school and then went on to get married to a really nice guy. But he knew me as this quiet, passive, cooperative, easy to control person and that lasted for 12 years. But in the process, I started noticing that people were liking me for who I am and I started coming out of my shell and that didn’t go so well with him because I became not the person he married. So–
(08:25) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, so what a transition to be, have– I don’t know, found a way to be growing up early on, and then took that form as a quieter person, a people pleaser, it sounds like and more perhaps in the shadows and marrying this person who said, oh, I like her. I like the way she is.
(08:50) Sandy Abell
(08:51) Dr. Doreen Downing
But then you said you started to find yourself in these other environments. Do you have any examples of those?
(09:01) Sandy Abell
Well, I, I went to college and started studying psychology because I wanted to understand myself and other people and why my life was what it was and I was fascinated by it. I realized that what I just shared with you had happened, that I was being the person I thought other people wanted me to be. So, I started figuring out okay, who is Sandy? I realized that I’m actually a pretty cool person and I have good opinions and I just need to learn to be tactful. If I’m going to express them– I never understood tact when I was a kid. So, it made sense people didn’t want me around and I started to learn that I liked myself and that’s when I started to develop some self-esteem.
(10:00) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I think that that self-exploration and the work comes out of that is self-discovery. But you first have to be willing to face the parts you don’t like about yourself or that you don’t understand about yourself and then by staying on that track, it feels like you can find the best parts and discover that they’ve been there all along, perhaps.
(10:26) Sandy Abell
Exactly, exactly. Well, and what you just touched on is, in psychology is the shadow and the shadow– for folks who aren’t aware is a concept Carl Jung, psychologist long, long time ago, came up with about– your shadow is everything you’d like to think you’re not. Because, I like to think I’m warm and fun, and compassionate and caring, and all that which I am. But I’m also– sometimes I get angry and sometimes I get jealous, or all those things that I like to ignore, and pretend I’m not that. So, I spent a lot of time running from my shadow and that wasn’t good at all. Once I came to terms with– just like nature, you’ve got fall and spring and you lose the leaves, and the plants grow, and everything is in balance and we’re in balance, too. We have really good sides that are wonderful and we also have the shadow and if we just accept that, and don’t act on it, but acknowledge it and then say yes, but then over here is all this wonderfulness– that’s my word, I love that word it’s one I made up –once you acknowledge your wonderfulness, then you can love the whole you all of who you are not just trying to be the good parts. I love what you just said about the embracing all of you, which to me feels– I mean, they talk about holistic psychology, right? So, the wholeness of who we are, but like moving towards the unacceptable parts, the shadow parts and to be able to say, hello, in there I’m not afraid of you. I’m also not going to let you run my life. Not let the shadow run my life. But I’m also not going to run away from it.
(12:45) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. Then the deeper part, you talked about self-esteem, and I think I go towards calling it the essence or the soul of us or the spirit or the being of us. Then you said something about those other– the deepest part of you. So, tell me a little bit about self-esteem and how you frame that?
(13:08) Sandy Abell
Oh, well. I actually wrote a book about it. It’s called Feeling Good About You. And–
(13:16) Dr. Doreen Downing
I knew we’d get there soon.
(13:23) Sandy Abell
I think the subtitle is rediscovering the special person you’ve always been, because we’re all born wonderful and then for various reasons, sometimes we forget that. I forgot it in the shadow of my sister and I had to rediscover that, and realize that I’m a dynamite person, and I’m the best me I can be and I’m the only one that’s like me out there and that’s a good thing. That self-esteem is, at least in my world, that self-esteem is loving yourself in spite of your shadow, and appreciating who you are. Still, that’s not saying there’s no room for growth, and that you don’t have to be sensitive to others, you definitely do have to be sensitive to others. But I’m just as good as they are and I used to feel that. So, that’s what self-esteem means to me.
(14:33) Dr. Doreen Downing
It should make sense what you talked about with your early life, you’re– the kind of early pattern with your sister, right and having a comparative and then you talked about moving on into the different elementary and high schools and where you felt like there’s still that separation you versus the other and you aren’t as– I don’t know –as desired like you talked about the team. But so then, finding yourself in this marriage, did that marriage last or did it change? What happened?
15:10) Sandy Abell
No, after 12 years of I had become much stronger and being who I am, and wasn’t always the easily manipulated person that I used to be. At one point, he said, you’re just not the girl I married. I thought I didn’t say it. But I thought, thank goodness, that I’ve grown up into an adult woman. I am not the girl you married and it wasn’t possible for us we tried to work it out and it didn’t. So, we did get divorced and then a couple of years later, I met a wonderful man, and we’ve been married 40 years and he loves me just the way I am.
(16:01) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah, sounds like a song, amazing just the way you are, that’s Bruno Mars who sings that song. Well, that’s good to hear that you got out of something that did not allow you to be more of who you can be. But what a title for a book. You’re not the girl I married?
(16:23) Sandy Abell
Yes, that is a great title. Write it Doreen. There you go.
(16:29) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, it’s not my life experience so– wow, oh, Sandy feels like I can go on and on. I want to talk more about self-esteem. Because that’s something you know a lot about, you’ve written a book about, do you have a particular– because it seems like finding your voice has something to do with finding where your most powerful asset is and that to me feels like when we know that then we’ve got self-esteem. But what do you think about what I just said, then?
(17:01) Sandy Abell
Yes, I agree with that and I also think self-esteem is just loving yourself as you are, regardless of feedback or input from other people. It’s you with you.
(17:16) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, the self that now has esteem– I think that’s what I’m working on here is the self that has esteem can finally speak.
(17:27) Sandy Abell
(17:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
It’s what I’m thinking.
(17:29) Sandy Abell
One thing I want to mention is my inner child, because I know you teach people to do public speaking. I work– we all have an inner child, we all have that little person, we used to be like from the ages three to six or seven in there, whatever you identify with. But for me, that little girl’s about four and she was at that point picked on and told to sit down and be quiet and laughed at and punished if she wasn’t, and all that. So, I like to picture her and it sounds a little weird, but it’s just an image of she’s sitting on a stool in my gut, she’s right here and she just sits there swinging her legs, watching Sandy the adult, run her life. Most of the time, I do it fine and she’s pretty quiet, because she’s figured out, I know how to do it. But whenever I do something new or like public speaking, where I’m going to put myself out there in front of people. She was the one that was rejected, and laughed at and told, go away, and sit down and be quiet and all that. So, when nowadays I do public speaking and I run meetings, and I speak to rooms of 300 people, and when we’re going to go on stage and I say we because she and I are going on stage and she will jump off her imaginary stool and get 40 feet high and really loud and yell don’t go out there, they’re going to laugh at you, you’re going to make a fool of yourself. They’re going to reject you, don’t do that. It’s all happening in my head, of course. But I feel it in my gut and I have to work with her. Just like I would work with a four-year-old that I was working with holding her hand and I say, that’s okay. I understand where you’re coming from. But you’re a kid and at that point in life, you didn’t know how to deal with this and it was scary and it was hurtful and it was painful. But now I’m a grown up and I can do this and I have control over it so you sit back on your stool, get small, sit down, and just watch and be amazed. I have to walk myself through it, I walk her through it, and help my inner child, be calm, and learn that I’ve got it now. Because I’m not four.
(20:29) Dr. Doreen Downing
What I heard is empathy for the little one, and but also space for the little one and there’s some kind of compassion, and also what you said a few minutes ago, you’re not going to let whatever is in your shadow or whatever the parts of you control you, you’re going to trust. That’s the other thing I heard you say is that, you can trust or you could communicate to that little part, that little one, trust me, I got this girl.
(20:59) Sandy Abell
Exactly. I actually say that. It’s like, if we go to a cocktail party, she there again, gets really big and says don’t go in there. You know, you don’t fit, you don’t belong, they don’t want you. Because that’s the old pattern. That’s the old voice and I have to walk with her. I say, “okay, what we’re going to do is we’re going to go in and smile and look like we’re happy and we’re going to find where they’re handing out beverages and we’ll go and get a coke or something.” So that gives us something to do and then we walk over and we get a beverage. Then we turn around and look at the room and then I say, now what we’re going to do is find somebody who’s sitting alone. We’re going to go talk to that person, because they’re probably as lonely as we could be. We’re going to reach out and find out who they are. So, we go find somebody and then after doing that– and people are always very happy that somebody approached them and then after a while, I say, okay, thank you and we’ll go sit down for a little bit and watch what’s going on. Then we’ll go find another group, and become part of the group that’s talking. I have to walk through that, which is obviously me walking me through it. But it’s a process and I can do that, because I now know that I am a lovable, valuable, capable, competent human being and I have a right to be in that room with those people. They may even like me, so I didn’t used to know that.
(22:55) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, what I like hearing about this in terms of using the little one and having her be she’s got a companion she’s not alone, she has you that is guiding her and making decisions. She doesn’t have to, all she has to do is trust you and it feels like if we say she’s representing the fear or the anxiety, then I think what you’re teaching people today is that there’s a way to speak to your fear, empathize with it, not make it wrong, but also have some strategies that will move you forward into the places where you need to be braver. Yes, I like the way you said “we” we are going to go on stage, we’re going to be on a camera, and it’s a together thing, your fear and you together are going forward. That’s courageous.
(23:58) Sandy Abell
Yeah. Well, and that’s what we have to do. We’re like doing the podcast. That’s a brand-new thing for me. You’re doing it. I mean, you’re good at it. But it’s a new thing for me and whenever we do anything new, it’s scary. Because we don’t know– we’re not confident is the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence. My self-esteem is fine but my confidence, which is about my ability to actually do what I’m setting out to do, is shaky because I’ve never done it before. So, I have to work with the confidence and just push through. Then the more I do it, the less scary it is and the more comfortable whatever the new thing is, becomes because it’s not new anymore.
(24:50) Dr. Doreen Downing
Right. You’ve got the skill. Well, we’re near the end and I want to make sure– and two things one, is there way that people find you.
(25:02) Sandy Abell
Absolutely, my website is insidejobscoach.com because self-esteem is an inside job. You can go there and get lots of free resources. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also offer a complimentary coaching session. I’m a life and business coach these days and offer a complimentary coaching session if anybody is interested in seeing what coaching with me is like, so just send me an email at email@example.com and put complimentary session in the subject line and I’ll get right back to you.
(25:50) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wonderful. Well, it seems like you showed us your own journey but it feels like it’s a journey that others have taken and found themselves trapped in situations where they feel like they can’t get out of but your journey as self-exploration. I think that’s one of the messages I want to leave with people, is that looking– and well that’s what you’re saying Sandy, it’s an inside job. Looking inside of yourself is where hello folks your power is.
(26:25) Sandy Abell
(26:26) Dr. Doreen Downing
So, Sandy. Then the last thing– one last thing what would you like to leave the listeners with some final words?
(26:58) Sandy Abell
Oh, you are all amazing and if for some reason you have lost that along the way, do whatever you can to reclaim it. Because you are unique. You are the only one like you in the world and you need to learn to value and love and appreciate that.
(26:58) Dr. Doreen Downing
Wonderful, appreciation and let that word appreciation ring out to everyone. Thank you, Sandy.
(27.11) Sandy Abell
Thank you so much, Doreen.
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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.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.