Listen To Your Body Podcast 294 How To Unf*ck Your Brain w/ Kara Loewentheil

How To Unf*ck Your Brain w/ Kara Loewentheil

Kara Loewentheil is a master certified coach and host of the badass podcast Unfuck Your Brain. The core of Kara’s mission is to help others retrain their brains and stop believing the harsh things we have heard from society and have internalized as our own thoughts. Filled with humor, wisdom, and no BS, Kara is here to teach you what unfucking your brain really means.

Listen To Your Body Podcast 294 How To Unf*ck Your Brain w/ Kara Loewentheil

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Retrain Your Brain and Start Being Kinder To Yourself

By taking neutral baby steps, it is possible to change the way you think about yourself and the world. Instead of focusing on the negative, Kara wants to help you identify your thought patterns and help you think differently about the negative things that you have been taught to believe.

By diving into the particulars, staying away from the immeasurable number of things you have been taught to believe, and discovering your own internal landscape, you can retrain your brain and start being kinder to yourself. Filled with simple and applicable strategies, Kara’s episode is one that you do not want to miss.

Are you ready to work your way up the thought ladder and stop being so hard on yourself? Share how you are working to unfuck your brain in the comments below.

On Today’s Episode

  • How to identify your thought patterns and learn to control the thoughts you believe (10:15)
  • Tips for working your way up the thought ladder through neutral baby steps (13:30)
  • What it looks like to step from negative overwhelm to acceptance and peace (17:27)
  • Why ‘fake it until you make it’ doesn’t work and what framework you should use instead (23:53)
  • How to distinguish emotions from body sensations and how they work together (29:50)

Resources Mentioned In This Show

Join the Listen To Your Body Insiders Newsletter

Unfuck Your Brain Website

Unfuck Your Brain Podcast

Join The Clutch Feminist Coaching Community


“What I teach is a method of actually unfucking your brain, which is that you have to go in there and identify the thoughts you have that sound like they are in your own voice. That’s the problem. We can identify these social messages, but in our heads, they don’t sound like the magazine that we read or the announcer voice on TV that we first heard it from, they sound like our own thoughts.” (9:45)

“We all want to fix the big problem right away, right? Like ‘I hate myself, I have low self-esteem, I just want to love myself’. And in my experience, you really cannot do effective coaching or self-coaching at that level of generality.” (18:37)

“Coaching is like building a building, you have to start from the ground up. So we can change huge things in our lives, but it starts a little bit by little bit.” (19:18)

“We want to see evidence in the world to justify the thought and have us believe it, but we have it backward. We have to believe it, at least a little bit, at first, that’s how we go out and create some evidence that something is possible.” (28:20)

How To Unf*ck Your Brain w/ Kara Loewentheil FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph Gaudreau
This is Episode 294 of the Listen To Your Body Podcast. Today on the show you’re going to learn how to unfuck your brain with Master certified coach Kara Lowentheil.

The next evolution of Harder To Kill Radio is here, welcome to the Listen To Your Body Podcast. On this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind and soul health and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively, hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply.

Steph Gaudreau, certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner and strength coach. On this podcast you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends. Loved ones. Now, onto the show.

Hello, hello, thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode of the podcast. I am so glad that you’re here. Today’s episode is amazing. And I’ll tell you more about that in our very special guest in a minute, but I haven’t checked in with you in a while I feel like I haven’t updated you about what’s new and happening outside of podcast land. So just gonna take a minute to do that. Let’s see I’m recording this July 29. And tomorrow, July 30 is the one year anniversary of The Core 4 coming out which is my book. It is now available in paperback. So all of you paperback lovers out there can go ahead and grab the book if you haven’t got your hands on it yet. And I do think also that the hardcovers, the last time I checked, were less expensive than the paperback which I think they’re trying to move those out so you haven’t yet had a chance to get the book go and get it. Also super excited because my brand new membership called the tune in membership is started. We welcomed some incredible people into the community and the doors are closed for now. So if you have gone to any of the links for that, you’re going to see that the doors are currently closed and registration is currently closed because I am off loving up on all of those incredible people who have joined the community. So if you want to get on the list for the next time, the doors will open then you can do that by going to StephGaudreau.com/LTYB get yourself on the newsletter, the insider’s newsletter and I will keep you in the loop. For when that happens.

I cannot wait we are diving into all sorts of stuff intuitive eating breaking up with diet, culture, body neutrality and so much more. Okay, today on the show, I’ve left you in suspense for long enough. Kara Lowentheil, a former lawyer turned master certified coach, and all-around badass, might I say, she’s joining me to talk all about and share all about how to unfuck your brain. Now when I first heard about Kara, it was through my Podcast Producer shout out to Counterweight Creative, love y’all. And I heard about her and her show and I just thought, yep, sign me up. unfuck your brain, we need to bring this to the podcast. And the more I dug into Kara’s work, she’s really helping you retrain your brain and especially to overcome negative self-talk and the myriad ways that negative self-talk can weasel its way into your life.

Get in the way of you going after the things you want to go after? Or even something like be more at peace with yourself and the body that you are currently in today’s show I know is going to resonate so much for you. I’m so glad that we are able to sit down and have this conversation. And make sure you stay tuned because at the end, I’ll tell you where you can get links to everything that Kara is up to in the world. Okay, let us dive into this episode, all about unfuck your brain with Kara Loewentheil.

Kara, welcome to the show.

Kara Loewentheil
Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here.

Steph Gaudreau
I’m really glad you’re here. I mean, when I was first introduced to your podcast and what you’re doing in the world, I thought, yep, Kara is my people because your podcast is called Unfuck Your Brain? Yes, there we go. And so I just thought, yes, this is absolutely gonna happen. And it’s really funny. My producer sort of made the connection, I don’t even know, it was like, I think you might like this person to be on your show. And normally, I mean, I trust him, but normally I’m like, okay, who are they going to do some? Looking around? And I just thought, book it, like, let’s be

Kara Loewentheil
You know, they say you want marketing that really like repels the people who aren’t for you and pulls in the people who are for you. And that’s the beautiful thing about a name like unfuck your brain. Nobody’s ever like, I don’t know, maybe they’re either like, horrible. I hate it or amazing. I love it.

Steph Gaudreau
How often do you get the folks who just say, you know, you’d get much further or no,

Kara Loewentheil
yeah, people want people. Here’s the thing about people out of the goodness, bless their hearts. They have a lot of free unsolicited advice to share with people, which I just find fascinating because like, I’m a trained life coach, and it still takes most of my energy just to manage my own life, much less to like go around advising people who haven’t asked for it. But um, yeah, I get a lot of like this isn’t professional. Hilariously, I once got one, a long one from somebody who whose whole thing was how it wasn’t professional. And then her signature was something like Angel finder and something or other and I was like, I’m sorry, what is that? super professional? You’re like an angel spirit guide. I’m not saying you’re not an angel spirit guide, I’m just saying in the realm of like, corporate professionalism, I don’t think that’s more professional than cursing.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, and you’re like, Okay, I mean, it’s it’s one of those things that especially women get I mean, all I’m the number of folks who have popped into my inbox over the years and been so mad and I just think I will live your own life.

Kara Loewentheil
So wild right. Like there have been things I’ve encountered in the world I haven’t liked but like to ask me the number of times I’ve gone home and written a strongly worded email. Like zero I mean, like yes for political injustice, but like no for somebody just, you know, having a brand I don’t like And I get people being like, could you do a version of this? My, my two favorites are Could you do a version of the podcast where you don’t curse? Absolutely not. Can you do I get women being like, I really think my boyfriend would benefit from your podcast? But can you do one that isn’t pink? So that he can listen? And I’m just like, you need to dump your boyfriend? The answer to that, like women, have been learning from materials created by men for thousands of years. Like if the person you’re dating, can’t listen to a podcast that might help them because it’s pink to them, you have bigger problems.

Steph Gaudreau
That is absolutely 100% true. One of the things I really love about what you do is yes, I mean, there is definitely a magnetism and sort of repelling with the branding that you use and things like that, but at the core of what you teach in the core of your message, really has to do with things like retraining your brain. And I’m wondering for folks that are wondering, they’re sort of trying to mentally draw a picture of what fucking your brain really means. How you know, what’s your elevator pitch for retraining your brain?

Kara Loewentheil
Totally. So here’s what I mean when I say there’s like, yeah, you could mean a lot of different things with unfuck your brain, obviously, people’s brains are all fucked in different ways. Every brain is a special snowflake. But what I really mean is that everybody, but I focus on coaching people who identify women are socialized as women. So women in particular, are people raised or socialized, as women are, are taught hundreds of thousands of millions of messages subliminally explicitly implicitly, just by living in the world about what a woman is supposed to be like what your role is, as a woman what is valuable about you or not valuable about you what matters, right and so women are generally taught things like their looks matter more than anything else about them. Their job is to make everyone else happy, right? what other people think of them matters more than what they think of them all of these things. And so, and a lot of us, especially people who maybe identify as feminists or have thought about these issues are aware of that, but we don’t know how to change it. And so what I teach is a method of actually unfuck your brain, which is that you have to sort of go in there and identify the thoughts you have that sound like they’re in your own voice, right? That’s the problem is we can identify these social messages. But in our heads, they don’t sound like the magazine that we read, or like the announcer voice on TV that we first heard it from. They sound like our own thoughts, just saying, you know, you could stand to lose 10 pounds or like you, you know, your eating has been bad today or, you know, that person doesn’t like you and now you need to feel anxious about that. Like, we hear it as our own voices. And that’s what makes it so insidious.

The oppression gets inside our heads. And so what I teach people how to do is identify those thought patterns, most of us are conscious of only a very small fraction of the thoughts that we have at any given time. So how to unearth them and then how to literally change them, you can actually learn to think differently. We all have in our lives, we learned how to, you know, use language and that Santa Claus wasn’t real. And whenever else like we have learned to change our opinions about things change our thoughts, but most of the time, it just either happens or doesn’t we don’t control the process. And I teach people how to control that process so that they can actually literally change the thoughts in their mind from thoughts that are creating anxiety or insecurity, you’re holding them back to thoughts that are creating confidence and empowering them and helping them go out and take the actions and have the lives that they want to have.

Steph Gaudreau
Thanks for explaining all that and I think there’s definitely going to be folks who were like, okay, Kara. That said, it sounds good. But I tried to do some affirmations and look at myself in the mirror and it didn’t work or, you know, I tried to I don’t even I’m not even aware of what I’m thinking. It’s right. I realized that three hours later I’m sitting on the couch crying and watching old reruns of friends and I hate myself and my life the worst ever.

So, can you give us an example of one of the things maybe that you teach people to do so that they can start to retrain their brain?

Kara Loewentheil
Totally. And I think so you’ve identified two important issues. So one is that a lot of people have tried affirmations or positive thinking, and that shit doesn’t work, and here’s why. I mean, I shouldn’t say that. It may work for some people, some people. Here’s the thing when you try to believe something you don’t believe yet, your brain will put up a lot of resistance. Human brains like to be right,  it’s not a character flaw, it’s just how your brain evolved. If you think about it, your brain has to basically process all the things that see, hear, smells, taste like everything all day long.

And so if you ever if every time your brain encountered a new thing, it had to figure out what it was all over again every morning. Like, you’d have to figure out what the table was all over again, every morning, every time you come into your room, your brain would be like, Oh my god, there’s stuff in the room. What is it? What’s that animal? Is that okay? Right? It would be exhausting, and you would die. So your brain really likes to just decide what something is and be right about it. And that’s true for your own thoughts like about yourself so that, you know, my stomach is disgusting, or nobody’s ever loved me or I’m too weird and anxious, or whatever your thought is, your brain is just as like, good, done, settled, we’ve decided like now we know. And so what happens for a lot of people is when you try to practice a positive thought, or an affirmation, they’re often very, very positive. And there’s too much cognitive dissonance between what you currently believe and that thought. cognitive dissonance is the name for basically how very uncomfortable it makes your brain to encounter an idea that is contrary to something you already believe. And so most the time your brain will just convince you to just say fuck it and give up on it.

It won’t change its mind. It’s too far you’re trying to go to positive, you’re trying to contradict yourself in a way that’s too uncomfortable. And so some people are, I think able to just like, with brute force, just keep repeating that positive thing over and over until they believe it. But I am not that disciplined and most of my clients are not. So and discipline is probably the wrong word. So what I really focus on a lot is how you can learn to take a very neutral baby step thoughts to change your thought patterns. So for example, if you’re looking in the mirror, and you know, like read something and self magazine that told you to tell yourself, you’re a beautiful goddess, but actually what you really believe is that you’re a disgusting cow. That’s too far, right? You’re never you’re not going to get any emotional payoff, it’s not going to feel good. In fact, it’s gonna feel worse because it’s so it’s confusing and your brain doesn’t like it and then you tell yourself, you failed at affirmations and you’re even more useless. So instead, I recommend practicing a very neutral thought you could depend on what you know what you’re trying to believe about your body.

But let’s say if you have a thought that your stomach is disgusting, which was one of my favorite repeat thoughts for much of my life. I didn’t start by going to like, my stomach is a beautiful fertility symbol. I started by practicing the thought over and over again, that’s a human stomach. I have a human stomach. Many people have stomachs that looked like this. It’s possible that my stomach does not determine my worth in the world, right? Like these thoughts that are like, they’re pretty factual and hard to argue with like that is a human stomach. You can’t argue with that, really. And it distracts your brain from the negative thought and if you practice it enough, that becomes your default thought. It doesn’t feel amazing yet but doesn’t feel as bad as the original thought. And then you can continue working your way up what I call the thought ladder, a podcast episode all about the thought ladder. It’s like you can work your way up the rungs so that you do eventually get to my stomach is amazing and sexy but you’re not trying to jump straight there.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, typically if you were going to try to jump from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest one something you’re gonna end up with a broken bone and land on.

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah, you’re gonna fall off. It’s like when your cat tries to jump too high, and then they just like don’t make it and scramble down that.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely, yeah, I love how you bring up that idea of moving up the rungs in such a way that your brain isn’t completely going to just blow up. And that’s really central to one of the things that I teach and advocate for, which is body neutrality. And I think sometimes when people hear that term, they’re just like, I thought the only option was the only two options right? Or that opposite side of the coin, which is, I hate myself and literally everything about my existence, and how I look and write, my body is wrong. And I just wish I could do it, get it do-over from the genetic lottery. And then on the other side, what we’re taught a lot, at least kind of out in the ether, right is self-love. You have to love yourself like you should love every piece of you and I think what I hear you saying is that that leap it’s just your there’s so much dissonance that your brain can’t even handle it.

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah, and I think that’s true not just for your body, but you know, I, I definitely like didn’t go for it. It’s true for anything you think about yourself like I didn’t go from, I kind of hate everything about myself to I will, like everything about me is amazing. And I’m still not at 100% everything about me is amazing, and that’s fine. But I definitely went through like just getting to neutral first, then getting a positive. I think part of the disconnect that happens is when you have been practicing, it’s just like, it’s like if you were trying to practice yoga for the first time, but the way people taught it was the way they practiced it 10 years in, right and they like didn’t teach you any of the foundations poses. You just like went to class and they were like, Great. Now here’s how we like jump from headstand and Lotus to the other side of the room where you know, whatever like they just were doing the fanciest things and you were like, I literally can’t touch my toes what’s happening here. I think that’s part of what happens is like the people who are cheap, you know, sometimes it’s just kind of flippin people haven’t done the work.

Sometimes I think some of the people teaching this stuff have actually done the work and but they’re at a level with their thought work where they can change thoughts pretty quickly, I now can often change thoughts pretty quickly. I’ve been doing this a long time. And I like built that ability to build up to it. And so to try to go Yeah, to you know, there’s no it’s like we turn loving our body or loving ourselves into just like another thing to do badly and fail at and criticize ourselves about.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely. So how does, you know how does it look for the folks that you work with? Right when they’re coming in and they’re saying, you know, I hate I just hate everything about my weather, whether it’s their I don’t know, their work progress or their body or their ability to stick with a new change that they want to make. How do they in like concrete terms, how are they able to step from that overwhelm of everything is negative, right? That brain garbage the mind got the mind trash. How do they work their way from that place to one where maybe they like themselves? A little bit?

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah. I mean, I think that you know, part of a coaching relationship like anything else is a little bit of a leap of faith, but by the time people come to me, they’ve usually listened to the podcast they’ve like bought in because what happens is we all want to fix the big problem right away, right? Like, I hate myself, I have low self-esteem, I just want to love myself. And in my experience, you really cannot do effective coaching or self-coaching at that level of generality. And so what I encourage people to do is really dive into like the very particular So okay, you don’t like yourself? What does that mean? What’s the last time today that you had a negative thought about yourself? Okay, you had a specific negative thought about how it’s Sunday night and you didn’t clean the house and you should have and that means that you are sloppy and undisciplined.

Then whatever. And then we work on just that thought. And even that was probably three thoughts together, right. And we just so we really drill down into the specifics coaching is like building a building, you have to start from the ground up. So we can change huge things in our lives. But it starts a little bit by a little bit and most incredibly self-critical. Women tend to have very perfectionistic, black or white, all or nothing thinking. And that is one of the thought patterns that you really have to learn to change. And that’s something I work with my students on it constantly. Because it shows up even in it’s like you do one thing the way you do everything, right. So it shows up even in their approach to their thought work, which is like, oh, I’m not doing it perfectly. I haven’t changed everything yet. I don’t feel all different yet. And I’m like, you learn this like yesterday, right? Calm down.

Just always say like, imagine when a baby tries to learn to walk like, if all of us had these thought patterns when we were babies, we would all still be crawling or just lying on the floor. Right? It’s like takes a while. Learn you fall down all the time, but a baby is never like, Well, I didn’t get it right away and Jamie down the street did so fuck it. Like no, I’m never gonna learn just bit by bit and practicing.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely, yeah, the perfectionist stuff. I’m sitting here nodding. I mean, I’ve done lots of my own work around this. And a lot of the folks that are, are in this community are as well. And it’s, it’s that interesting kind of metacognition right there. They’re saying things that are really, like you said, black and white, there’s no right or wrong, there’s yes or no, there’s, it’s very inflexible, and then to be able to have that, that thinking about your own thinking. Is that piece that I mean, I found a lot of people are like, Can you just tell me, like, Can you just give me the formula or tell me the punch line?

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah. Get that part, right. Yeah. Which you know, so well, because what happens is like people do this all the time, if somebody’s stuck in their thought work like they can’t make progress on something, it is almost always because they are in a rush to change it. Because they think that they’re like, Okay, I have this negative thought pattern that I’ve identified, like black and white thinking, now I just need to change the thought pattern so I can finally feel good about myself. Right? They’re like using their thought work, just like they use their diet, just like they use their exercise routine, just like they use their work, whatever it is, as an arena in which to try to do it perfectly to fix it so that they don’t be mean to themselves anymore. And that just never works. Right. So it’s like that, you know, I teach at a pretty high level in some ways, but it’s because in my experience for smart women, especially like if you don’t get that metacognition level that we’re talking about, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t learn how to identify when you’re trying to change your thought pattern out of shame, right? Just to try to stop feeling bad about yourself. You’ll always be spinning your wheels.

Steph Gaudreau
Definitely. You know, that brings up another interesting point, right? So folks might say, Okay, alright, Kara, I’m gonna try to rush it. So if there is this discomfort that I’m sitting in should then I just fake it until I make it or you know pretend or act like it and you don’t necessarily agree with that.

Kara Loewentheil
No, I’m big on… what’s the opposite of a fan? I’m a big un-fan. Here’s the thing, if fake it till you make it work, then it wouldn’t be the case that every successful woman that I coach has imposter syndrome. Right like, but America’s boardrooms and universities and you know, Emmy winners are full of people who have accomplished extremely successful external things and still feel terrible about themselves and don’t believe in their own abilities. And I was well I was that person. I didn’t win an Emmy.

Yet, maybe my Spoken Word Album without thought work will win an Emmy. Yeah, but I had before. I was a coach. I had a very successful career. I mean, you know, even there I just want to be like to toot my own horn but I, you know, I had a successful career as a, I was a women’s rights lawyer and I like went to the fancy schools. I went to Yale, I went to Harvard Law School, I clerked for a federal judge, which is a difficult job to get I got the one fellowship in reproductive rights that was available in the country the year that I was on the market. And then I had academic fellowships at Yale and Columbia and my last legal job before I became a coach was running a think tank. So like, Dan, why are you faking it till you make it? I did not. I did not feel confident at any point along that process. Right?

So if fake until you make it doesn’t work, because in my belief in what I teach, and not just me also the entire field of cognitive psychology, you’re right your thoughts cause your feelings which cause your actions. So you may hear it in CBT as thought, emotion behavior, but it’s the same concept. It’s like you have a thought it creates a feeling sensation in your body. And because we’re just animals, we take actions based on those sensations. That’s how the cycle works. And so when you try to fake it till you make it, you’re trying to run it backward, you’re trying to take an action hoping that at some point if you take enough action, your mind will magically change. That’s not how it works the other way around.

Steph Gaudreau
So what you’re saying is to go back to the thought work,

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah, I’m not saying like, we should just sit in our homes until we’re perfectly confident. Like, it’s a dialectic. I think it’s like you have to change and if this is true, anyway, even someone who’s faking it till they make it, they’ve changed they, like, believe enough to take an action. Right? If you truly believe something’s impossible, you just don’t take any action on it. We see that all the time. Right? So it’s like it’s a back and forth. It’s like you believe a little you have to believe a little just to try to take the action. Right? And then you take the action and you have to like believe a little bit more for the next thing, but I think Yeah, more attention to the thought line more attention to like, what thoughts are you thinking every day on purpose, that’s what’s going to create those, those actions you want.

And those results for you. I was just talking about this with my, actually my trainer, my like fitness trainer who was a former client of mine, but and she’s also a writer and she was saying that she had read this interview in this very successful novelist to you know, it’s not like a thought work practitioner as far as we know. But that that woman, that woman had been an acquaintance so by trainers way back in the day and that she remembered from like, 10 years ago before my trainer ever met me or learned about thought work. These novelists seem to her like, you know, every day before I sit down and write, I like practice these thoughts about believing that I’m already a successful novelist and like, that’s totally come true for her now. So I think it’s always like, you have to go back to those thoughts. Everything is so mind-blowing when you stop and think about it. Everything in the world that exists outside of us, like started with human thought, anything man-made, right, anything we’ve invented or developed or built or created it like started with a thought in our minds. And so yeah, like fake it till you make it. It’s just a way to keep. it’s like being like a robot or a puppet.

Like, you’ll just keep doing the thing. You’re never gonna feel any differently. And then what’s the point like, you’re not going to achieve the confidence that you want, you’re not going to achieve the happiness or satisfaction you want.

Steph Gaudreau
I love how you brought up the idea of gives almost shades of there’s always nuance to it right? And I’ve heard it explained a little bit before where there’s kind of this kind of steps away from your I guess what you’d call something like a comfort zone or a safety zone, right? Which is kind of like stretch is something like maybe that’s the thing. You’re like, okay, maybe I’m not 100% believing in myself, but like there’s an inkling there and I know if I stretch myself, it’s probably something I can do. And then there’s the kind of risk zone and then outside of that is die.

Great to hear you say right is Oh, go ahead.

Kara Loewentheil
No, no, go ahead.

Steph Gaudreau
I was gonna say what I hear you saying I think is that if it’s a die, is when you’re just gonna sit in your house.

Like you said, and you’re like, you’re just gonna do it. Right?

Kara Loewentheil
Exactly. So people say like, well, I don’t believe I can do it. But if you’re taking a little action, there is a little seed. Part of what’s going on and I think is that people think of believing as no shocker, like black and white or on and off, right? It’s like to say, I believe in myself means I believe in myself 100% and if I like to have any doubts, it means I don’t believe in myself. And I’m always encouraging my students and my clients to like not to stop describing things in that general way. What’s really going on is we give them a million thoughts in your brain. And most of them are negative and a few of them are positive because you’re not picking them on purpose. Like you just have your both sets of thoughts, right. It’s and not or, and so it doesn’t have to become this like big dramatic thing. It’s just okay, I want to get that promotion. I want to ask for this promotion. And I’m scared to like both things are true now. What thoughts do I need to practice to help me feel able to at least do it like you’re saying not I don’t have to feel 100% confident and perfect, right?

But what, what happens is that we want evidence to, we want to see evidence in the world to like to justify the thought and help us believe it. But we have it backward, we have to believe it at least a little bit. At first, that’s how we go out and create some evidence that something’s possible. And then we can create more evidence, we believe it a little bit harder, we create even more evidence, and then you keep doing that and you end up with the promotion, or the million-dollar business or, you know, the love for your body and that or the like, nondramatic relationship with food or whatever it is you’re trying to create.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. That’s sort of that sort of, once you get the cycle going, and you feed in right a little bit here and there and you come back to that thought work, then it’s gonna keep…

Kara Loewentheil
and then you level up like, and then you’ll feel terrible again, that’s normal.

Steph Gaudreau
I know. I think that’s the funny part. Right? I have this podcast episode called the false promise of arrival. We’re awesome. I’m done and…

Kara Loewentheil
Then you’re just bored. Then in 10 minutes, you’re like, and that’s like a human thing. You know, I think yes, there are ways that we sometimes that’s unhelpful. If we are like chasing it, you know, happiness, then it’s not helpful. But even I think even those of us who like are doing our work to enjoy the present moment, there’s just something in humans that like, a lot of us makes us hunger for, like, what’s the next experience? What’s the next thing I can learn? How can I challenge myself? How can I grow so it’s always like, feel terrible, feels like you’re gonna die? accomplish something, it feels amazing. And then you start then if you want to do the next thing, then you’re gonna feel terrible all over again. That’s just how it’s supposed to work.

Steph Gaudreau
Yes, the dopamine starts to kick off again.

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah, I mean, you just hit on your dad, or else people think something’s gone wrong, right? They’re like, Oh, no, I got to this level, but I must not want the next level because it freaks me out. It’s like, No, it’s just that’s it supposed to be like?

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely. I know. One of the things I wanted to ask you about it is, you talk a little bit about how to distinguish emotions from body sensations and I would love to have you expand on that.

Kara Loewentheil
Yeah, it’s such a fascinating question. I think like, we’re always still learning more about the body and the brain and how they work together. But in general, I think there’s a little simplistic because obviously you know your brain. Let me give you the how I talk about it, then I’ll explain where it’s somewhat simplistic. So, generally, what I would say is that a feeling is something you experience physically in your body. It is caused by a thought so you think a sentence in your mind sometimes unconsciously like you might not know you’re thinking it yet. And then you have a physical sensation in your body. And that sensation can usually be described or kind of corresponds with a well known human emotion, right? There’s different theories about how many emotions humans have like the basics 5-7-9, but, like, you can generally it generally will correspond with like, anger, anxiety, or fear, sadness, happiness love, right?

So you can kind of line it up, then there are sensations in your body like if you stub your toe, right, that hurts, that’s pain. It’s not usually the initial sensations not usually caused by a thought. So this simplistic way of thinking about it would be like, sensations travel from like the body part, or the organ or whatever they’re going, like from the physical body to the brain, whereas emotions are going from the brain from the thought to the body. In reality, of course, the whole nervous system is mediated by the brain, like the brain regulates things in conjunction with the gut regulates things like your hunger hormones, which can cause sensations of hunger. So it’s a lot more complicated in that way. But it’s still useful, I think, is one thing it’s actually really useful in is distinguishing between what’s an underlying mostly just physical sensation like I stubbed my toe or I’m hungry or whatever. And what are all the thoughts and feelings in my brain immediately manufacturers about that experience?

So even though it’s a little simplistic, it’s still, I think, very helpful to separate them. Because what if we don’t separate them? And we just think that our emotions just happened to us because we feel them in the body and that therefore we can’t do anything about them. That feels super disempowering.

Steph Gaudreau
Mm-hmm. Absolutely, yeah. And it’s interesting when folks are making them, I find at least that when folks are starting to go through some of that thought work, then their awareness is expanding in multiple different ways. And they start to notice things right? And then they’re like, Oh, my gosh, this is bad. You know, so it takes some of that discernment to, to calm down a little bit and just say, Well, okay, let’s separate that out. And I think that’s a really valuable distinction.

Kara Loewentheil
And it helps you understand what’s actually a feeling right. So for instance, women are kind of socialized. And I think in our like, diet culture we’re taught to basically put any, like any kind of insecurity anxiety or self, not awareness, what’s the word when you’re overly self-conscious?

It’s like we’ll say like, oh, I feel fat or I feel gross, right or something like that. And we don’t actually know what that means. It’s usually a stand-in for, I feel shame. I’m having thoughts about my body, I feel exposed, I feel vulnerable, I feel whatever, right? And so, really distinguishing, like what actually is thought what actually is a feeling what actually is a fact? What is a physical sensation caused by a thought like it really helps you get to know your internal landscape better rather than sort of just collapsing everything?

Steph Gaudreau
Hmm. so powerful. Well, I can’t believe are already. I know I’ve done this for like 10 hours but we could really could have. And that just means that if you would like to come back, we’d love to have you back in, dig in even more. Anytime. I’m sure folks are going to want to know more about all of this because that always happens. Really can you ask about this? So we’ll keep it an open invitation on the table. Will, you let everybody know what can they if they’re listening to this and they’re thinking okay, I am it’s like that massive magnet that’s in cartoons, right? Like the magnet was there. For me, I encourage people, how will they? How can they get to know you a little bit better and follow along?

Kara Loewentheil
Yes, you should just magnetize to your podcast app. Wherever you listen to your podcasts, you can find my podcast, which is called Unfuck Your Brain. And then I also have a feminist coaching community called The Clutch which is my favorite place on Earth, I invented it to be and we do a ton of kind of workaround all these things, of course, body image, people-pleasing insecurity, confidence, all the issues that impact women, it’s really focused on just the kind of evolutionary biology that impact everybody’s brains, like, you know, flight or fright or anxiety and fear, but also, all the specific insecurities that women are socialized to have and how to literally rewire your brain to get rid of them. So you can find that at UnfuckYourBrain.com/theclutch.

Steph Gaudreau
Wonderful. We’re gonna put all of that in the show notes so if you’re driving or doing whatever you’re doing, you can head there to if you can catch those URLs, then it will be all there for you. This has been so very wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us, Kara Loewentheil. I really, really appreciate you being on the podcast.

Kara Loewentheil
I had a great time. Thank you so much for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
Thanks. All right, there we go. That’s a wrap on this episode with Kara Loewentheil All about unfucking your brain. I hope you learned something from this show. I really appreciate the way that Kara is teaching this and is bringing it to the world in a way that’s just really accessible and fun and really powerful. So a couple of things first, if you loved this episode, I want to hear about it. So tagging me on Instagram, share it on Instagram stories, or DM me, but when you do share it on stories make sure you tag Kara she’s at Kara Loewentheil and myself Steph_Gaudreau tag us both. And I would love to reshare what you post number two, hit subscribe on your podcast app that tells the app not only that you like the show,

but that it should download the newest episode every Tuesday when it comes out into your device. And then thirdly, if you want the Show Notes for this episode, you can head over to my website, StephGaudreau.com. There you’ll find the show notes, the summary Quotables links to everything Kara is up to if you want to get to know her more, which I highly suggest. And it will also have a full transcript of the episode. So if you prefer to read, then you can also have that available to you and the other 293 podcast episodes that are there which is blowing my mind. We are inching up toward 300 if you hadn’t noticed, which is just bananas. And I’m so grateful that I continue to get to do this and share these incredible guests and messages with you out in the world. All right, next week. I’ll be back with another guest so stay tuned for that and until then, be well!

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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