Getting Unstuck From Self-Sabatoge With MindFix

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Katie: Hello and welcome to “The Wellness Mama Podcast.” I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. And this episode is all about self-sabotage and imposter syndrome and self-confidence and removing mental roadblocks that are barriers to success or happiness or just to functioning the best that we can in daily life. Because I am here with Erin Pheil, who’s the founder of The MindFix Group, and she has a track record of helping people get permanent fast results from a lot of these things. Her work and her words have been featured all over and she has an unheard-of 95% success rate with the average time it takes her clients to see measurable results in areas where they have been stuck for years. Most people think it takes a lot of time and effort to remove these mental roadblocks or to alleviate self-sabotage and it needs therapy and action. And she explains why we cannot think ourselves out of these kinds of situations or even therapy ourselves out of these situations and how to really truly get unstuck.

So I’ve worked with Erin myself and it was fascinating to see the mental changes that happened, and she explains today how to start that process in your own life and also a magic question that we can ask to help make sure that we’re setting our kids up with a good mental state from a really early age. So I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I enjoyed recording it.

Erin, welcome and thanks for being here.

Erin: Hello. Thank you for having me.

Katie: Well, I am so excited to chat with you and I knew I had to have you on when I heard you present at a conference I was at recently. And in fact, the room, they’re like a lot of entrepreneurs and highly successful people and I watched you speak to them and I also watched the room as everybody just got quiet and was really tuned into what you were saying. And then I talked to a lot of people after who were like, “That was just worth the price of being here.” And so I knew I had to have you on and to share you. And I think for context, it would be really helpful if you could start with your own background and kind of your story and how you got to this place that you are today.

Erin: Sure. I have a bit of an odd story in that I never could have planned it out, even if I had a million years to plan and I’m the planning type. And it’s not really a story I would have asked on myself or anybody else. So I’ll share that. I actually got my graduate degree in digital media after a undergraduate degree in psychology and it was right around the dot-com boom. And I had, I was at a crossroads of what to do and I just was so in love with this idea of websites and being able to build and design and create that I ended up, straight out of graduate school, going off and building a web agency. And it was just me. And then I brought on one person and then we grew and we grew. And over the next 16 years or so, we grew into an award-winning nationally-ranked web agency.

And on the outside, everything looked really good. You know, we were increasing revenue and profit every year, we were making millions for ourselves and for our clients. We were winning awards. We had Fortune 500 companies as our clients. It looked good from the outside and it was for a while. After around a decade and a handful of years or so, though, I started to have this really weird nagging feeling like, “I don’t wanna do this the rest of my life. I don’t want it. This is not fulfilling anymore.” And yet I didn’t know what to do with that. Building websites and strategy and consulting is all I’d ever known.

And so this idea of “I’m supposed to be doing something different” was terrifying for me, and I had no clue what else I could possibly do in the world. So, while I was continuing to build the agency in the background, I started reading all these books and taking courses about what’s my unique ability in life and what else could I possibly do and what else am I interested in. And I didn’t find anything. And so this low-level terror kind of kept creeping up every, you know, a few times a month as I realized like, “Oh, my gosh, what am I gonna do with the rest of my life?”

And then one day, one day I woke up, I went on a bike ride as I do most days as I was training for this mountain bike race. And I stepped off my bike and there was this little twinge of electricity in my left ankle. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but within one week, suddenly I was this person who had chronic pain, chronic mystery pain, pain that had no real cause, no reason and no doctors could figure it out. So I started going to physical therapists and massage therapists. And then I started to go see chiropractors who then referred me to orthopedic surgeons. And this kept escalating. And every time I’d go to more and more doctors and they’d go, “There’s nothing wrong with you. The X-rays and the MRIs are showing nothing. But I’m really sorry the pain seems to be spreading, but we can’t find anything.”

So imagine me living this Groundhog’s Day of increasing pain that was spreading throughout my body, spending all this money every single day, literally five days a week going to more and more doctors and specialists, and everybody shrugging going, “I don’t know what to tell you. Go see this guy.” And over the course of the year, this escalated to the point where I found myself sitting in a brain surgeon’s office having, like, this panic attack going, “I thought I was this healthy, 30-something entrepreneur and now I’m having a panic attack in a brain surgeon’s office, not knowing what the rest of my life is gonna be. I can’t have fun. I can’t grow my business. No one can help me. I’m helpless. I’m hopeless. There’s nothing to look forward to.”

And my anxiety shot through the roof, my depression shot through the roof. I became fully suicidal because I was like, “There’s nothing to live for. There is no hope. No one can help me. I don’t wanna keep doing this the rest of my life. It’s been 500, 700 days. Every day I wake up and it’s the same thing. And I’m no closer to getting, being better,” and I almost wanna start crying just thinking about it, how horrible it was. Like every day, all day, go to sleep, wake up. And it was the same.

So what ended up happening and where everything took a turn and my life path veered off in a different direction is because my mental health got so bad, I started to go see kind of this therapist or counselor, kind of adviser woman. And one day I was sitting in her office and she looked at me and she said, “Erin, do you know why you are so miserable and in so much pain?” And I wanted to, like, smack her. I’m like, “It’s because I’m in chronic pain. That’s why everything is awful. It’s horrible.” And she said, “‘No. No, no, no, no.” She goes, “The lens through which you see your life is so dirty, it’s so clouded. Everything you’re experiencing as you go through your day today is just skewed. You have these bizarre, weird, unhealthy beliefs that you’re clinging on to that are literally changing everything that you see. Everything you’re perceiving that’s happening to you is really, really distorted.” And I said, “Give me an example, give me two examples. I don’t know what you mean.”

And she said, “Well, for example, you are so strongly attached to the belief that if you slow down with work or life, it means you’re lazy and not valuable.” And she’s like that belief by itself is keeping you from being able to slow down and take rests and allow your body to heal. You’re go, go, go, go, go, go, go every day and your body’s asking for rest. But you are clinging to that belief and it’s crushing you.”

She also said another example is you truly believe that your entire self-worth is based on what you achieve. And right now you can’t achieve a lot because you need to take a break. And so your whole self, like everything that you feel about yourself and who you are and your value as a person, has drastically just plummeted because you can’t achieve. And she’s like, you have a bunch of these things going on in your head with the way that you think and what you believe to be true. And it’s that, that’s what’s crushing you. The things that you believe and how you see your life, those are what’s crushing you, not what’s actually happening and it’s creating this spiral.

So, turns out she had this brilliant insight, but when I asked her how we could fix it, she actually didn’t know. She gave me some answer like you’re gonna have to increase your visits and come in three times a week and we’ll explore it over the upcoming years with love and faith and stuff like that. There was no answer. So, I got super motivated to go out on a journey and explore how the heck I could actually change what I deeply, deeply believe to be true. Not just on an intellectual level like when you read a book, but what I could really, like, I’m pointing at my heart right now, at my chest. Like what I could change in here, like what I could really, really change and how I could convince myself that what I’ve been clinging to all these years maybe wasn’t the truth.

So, I took the next year and I traveled and I studied and I researched and I became my own science experiment. And along the way, combined a number of different methodologies into my own method that not only worked on me, but rapidly started to help colleagues and friends and people who saw the change in me and were asking for help. And before I knew it, as my agency was still growing, I had a line out the door, a wait list of people who wanted help from me to change the direction of their lives and change what they believe to be true and get unstuck from things that had been holding them back. And that is how I ended up with this new business. You know, new for me, at least back then, called “The MindFix Group” that I never ever would have planned or could’ve planned out even if I tried.

Katie: That’s amazing. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from, I have a lot of favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius, but one of them being, “It’s not events that disturb people, it’s their judgments concerning them.” And, like, he talks a lot about how we have complete control over our attitude and our reactions and our internal reality even if we can’t control the external. And I feel like that was something that, you know, was really pivotal in your journey that you found out. And I hear so much in my own story of what you said about, like, kind of growing up with that idea that you aren’t good enough or internalizing that or that you are the sum of your accomplishments. Those were things that I internalized early as well. And I love that you started with also the mind-body connection and talking about how you were in physical, chronic pain, but that the answer wasn’t necessarily just a physical answer. And I think that’s something that’s more well known right now and so important, which is that, how our brain and our emotions and our heart can affect our biology in a very physical way. So, can you talk a little bit about that? Like how there is actually such a connection there?

Erin: Absolutely. And it’s interesting because for the first, I don’t know, a year, year and a half, that mind-body connection, it never crossed my mind. I had physical pain. So, of course, all I invested my time and energy into was going to doctors. That was it. And the reason is, when I reflected upon this, I went back and thought about my upbringing and my dad owned his own business. And back in the ’80s, we had, you know, this PPO insurance plan, which they would brag about and say it was so much better than everybody else’s health plans. And it was fantastic. So whenever my brother or I or my mom had any physical pain, the first thing we did is we went straight to the doctor. The doctor, the medical doctor would always know what was best. You know, allergies or sniffling, straight to the allergy doctor. You know, we had a pain in our arm, we went straight to the doctor. That was the old way of thinking.

And because I had been raised in that environment, of course, I had this belief that if you feel physical pain, the thing that you do is you just go straight to a doctor and the doctor will know the right answer. I had absorbed that and that’d become a belief. And so, not shockingly, when this happened to me, it didn’t cross my mind that there could be anything mental or emotional going on. And then with all of the research and all of the books and all of the incredible information that’s come out in the past decade, there’s so much now that shows that physical pain can be a byproduct of emotional and mental issues that go unaddressed. That’s why so many people, I think, myself included, experience these bizarre physical pains and can’t find answers as we keep looking for a purely physical solution.

What I found, though, as I continued to do research was this remarkable connection between our emotional and mental health in the state of our emotions and how our bodies feel. I came across these really interesting studies, like they took two groups of people and they scratched them like, so that there were bloody scratches, I think, on their arms. And one group of people, they kind of set off, had them go on their own way. And the other group of people, they subjected them to a tremendous amount of stress and made sure that their stress hormones kind of went through the roof. And what they found was after, I forget, it was like a week or something like that, a short period of time, the people who had gone on in their normal lives, their cuts, not shockingly, were healing and they were healing beautifully. But then they looked at the people that they had subjected to tons of stress and what they noticed was fascinating in that their cuts were not healing. Like stress, the stress hormone actually starts to shut down your immune system and your capability to heal your body. So when people are like, “It doesn’t matter, I just live a stressed lifestyle,” it’s actually impacting your ability to care for your body in a massive way.

Katie: Yeah, that makes so much sense. I read a book a while back called “The Body Keeps the Score,” and it was fascinating to me to, like, really have that explained on a scientific level as well, just how important that connection is because I was one of those that for so many years just thought like, “I’ll deal with the emotions later,” “I’ll sleep when I die,” “I can push through anything.” It turns out that’s not actually the case. And that you tend to get, like, really stuck when you don’t deal with emotions. And that was something in your presentation at the conference that really stood out to me because you explained kind of this model of the brain and how a lot of the stuff we do, even when we’re trying to work through mental stuff, it’s like we’re working on this little tiny part of the conscious, but that there’s so much more to it. So can you kind of walk through the explanation you gave for that?

Erin: Sure. So what happens is between the, from when we’re born up until the age of about seven or so, we are walking around in this kind of theta brainwave state, which is similar to what people experience when they get hypnotized. So this means that as children, we are highly, highly suggestible. We’re like little sponges running around. And it’s almost as if we’re carrying around these tape recorders and microphones and we’re absorbing and we’re on auto record for everything that our parents and adults are saying. And we’re just recording. We’re recording, we’re recording. So the things that we hear, whether it’s, “I’m a good girl,” or, “Cats are nice,” or, “I’m not good enough,” or, “I don’t deserve things,” or, “Money is very hard to make,” or, “Work must be stressful,” whatever it is, whatever we hear, we don’t really have the capacity to empathize. We don’t have the capacity to analyze or reason what we hear. We just record it and it gets stored kind of like in these little auto-loops that play in the background. And those get locked into our subconscious mind.

So, people walk around thinking that they’re fully aware of all of their thoughts and all of the reasons why they take the actions they do during the day, why they’re feeling the way they feel and why they think the thoughts that they think. But really, what we’re aware of is our conscious mind. You know, the stuff that’s going on in our prefrontal cortex. And that’s like, depending on who you talk to, somewhere around 5% of our decisions and our choices as we go throughout our day. Ninety-five percent of what we do and feel and think during the day is actually powered by our subconscious mind. And people like to scoff at that and go, “Absolutely not.”

And it’s easy because you’re not aware of it. It really is the stuff underneath the iceberg. And the subconscious mind does not learn the way that our conscious mind does. So, you can read a book and you can read all about emotions and you can read about meditation and you can read about how to be a better spouse or how to be a more effective entrepreneur or how to be a better mom or how to be a better friend. And that information can be learned by your conscious mind. It’s not being learned by your subconscious mind, though. That is just worrying in the background with these tapes of what was learned in that theta state from zero to age seven. So you might read a book about being a great friend, but you might have learned during elementary school that friends will leave you and that you aren’t likable.

And if those tapes are playing in the background and yet you learn things and put those into your conscious mind, it’s really hard for that 5% to override those deep tapes that keep playing over and over and over again in that 95% that is your subconscious mind. So oftentimes, we’ll be trying to achieve something or work towards a goal or improve relationships. And yet in the background, we have all these things in the subconscious that are literally pulling us in the opposite direction, creating tension and creating a lack of alignment between what we believe at a deep, deep, subconscious level and then what our conscious mind says that we want.

Katie: That is so fascinating to me. And in like another analogy you used, you talked about like if, you know, if you have this story that you’re not likable, you’re gonna see proof of that kind of everywhere. Just like I compared it to like, if you’re going to buy a new car, you see that car everywhere because you’re paying attention to it. And so, like, that really struck with me and I would love if you could also explain it through the Santa Claus example. And I will say if anyone’s listening with children and Santa is an important thing in your family, this might be a part not to listen to but would you explain the concept there because I think that, like, really hit home, I know, for me and for a lot of people in the room who were like, “Oh, wow.”

Erin: Absolutely. So I’ll explain kind of two things in a row. I’ll explain how, what our subconscious beliefs, how they work as lenses, which is what you just alluded to, which I think is so beautiful. And I just wanna provide an example so that people can really get that because if they can walk away with it, with this understanding, they can start to see it everywhere in their lives and when they’re talking with other people. And then I can dive into the Santa Claus explanation. Does that work?

Katie: That sounds great.

Erin: Okay, cool. So what you just mentioned is how, what people believe to be true in their subconscious impacts how they perceive literally everything that they see during their daily lives. So let’s take an example of a kid who goes off to elementary school. And for some reason, they’re, you know, they’re very smart and maybe they’re not super cute yet, or they don’t wear the coolest clothes and they’re not popular. Maybe they get bullied, maybe they get teased, maybe they don’t get picked for the sports teams out at recess. And over the course of time, you know, age five, age six, age seven, the child reaches this conclusion just based on their experience at school that they aren’t likable, right? And so that gets locked into their subconscious. They’re in this theta state. It’s a conclusion they come to. And then that becomes one of those tapes, worrying in the background over and over and over and over and over again in their subconscious, kind of like locked in there for eternity. Unless there’s, one of the few ways that you can unlock subconscious beliefs is dealt with or comes along later in their life. But that just keeps going over and over and over. “I’m not likable.” And that gets locked into the subconscious.

That person goes off into high school, becomes popular, becomes a successful employee at their job later in life. So you’d think they would learn that they are in fact very likable and they end up having a bunch of friends. So it seems like no big deal. But here’s the thing, that belief becomes this tape, right, that’s playing in the background. They’ve got, “I’m not likable.” That’s sitting in their subconscious. So even if their conscious mind is like, “No, I’m very likable,” it’s still there causing challenges in the background and the subconscious.

So what happens when you have a belief that’s sitting in your subconscious? We can talk about, later, how to test if you have a belief. There’s some really simple things people can do to see if they have a subconscious belief or not. But let’s say you have that, what happens is it acts like a lens, almost like a pair of glasses through which all of the experiences that you, all the events that you experience in your day-to-day life get filtered.

So Katie, if you and I are having a conversation in a hallway and Susie walks by us and we both look at her, and Susie glances at us and then glances away and keeps walking and she doesn’t say anything, if I was that little kid who had created that belief and come to that conclusion, “I’m not likable,” that’s going to filter that experience for me. I’m going to see Susie walk by, look at us, and because I have the belief deep down that I’m not likable, the possibility, the thought, “Oh, Susie doesn’t like me. Susie is angry at me. I did something wrong. Susie is not a fan of me. Oh, shoot,” those are the kinds of thoughts that may trickle up. They may not be at the forefront of my mind, but they may cross my mind and literally make me pause, even just for a millisecond as I’m talking to you. It will cross my mind that Susie is angry at me or she doesn’t like me or that I’ve done something wrong.

Meanwhile, if you don’t have that belief anywhere in your subconscious and you see Susie look at us and she keeps walking, it won’t even occur to you that Susie is angry at you. And if it does, it’ll just be out of curiosity. The types of thoughts you may have are, “Oh, wonder if Susie’s having a bad day? Huh. I wonder what’s going on with Susie. I wonder if she even noticed us. She looks like she’s in her own little world.” So the way we both perceive this exact same event, the way our, you know, I might have feelings of anxiety, you might have feelings of curiosity, what we think and what we feel are going to be impacted by the subconscious beliefs that we do or do not have.

So that’s how our beliefs can act as these lenses that literally impact how we perceive what’s going on. So these events that occur that are actually neutral, we can take them as negative or scary just because of the beliefs that are in our subconscious that were picked up at a young age. Does that make sense?

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense.

Erin: Cool. So then you had asked me to talk about kind of the Santa Claus revelation. One thing that we do at MindFix is we have found that there are a number of, for every pattern that someone has, whether it’s getting triggered by a spouse, getting upset when kids do something specific, dealing with really bad perfectionism, having fear of rejection, whatever somebody’s pattern is that they experience regularly and that frustrates them, there’s usually a cluster of subconscious beliefs kind of worrying in the background that are causing people to act in that way. And they sit there and they go, “I’m broken. Everything I’ve tried, it won’t work. Like, nothing can change. I’ve been trying to change for so long, I don’t get it.” And it’s not, people don’t need more information added to their conscious mind. They don’t need more girlfriends sitting there going, “You go, girl, you’re powerful, you’re amazing. You can do this.” Because that just gets added to the conscious mind.

What people need is to go in and investigate what those old tapes and beliefs are that are pulling in the opposite direction and that are causing people to act in a certain way. So once you can identify, say, what the beliefs are that are causing the problems, it’s actually possible to eliminate them. And once you eliminate a really old, outdated subconscious belief, it’s really magical because what happens is your thoughts change, your emotions change, and your actions change immediately, effortlessly, without practice. And the most beautiful, easiest, elegant example I can give is when a belief in Santa Claus goes away for a child.

So up until a certain age, different for every kid, they sit there and they believe with all of their might and all of their heart that Santa Claus is real, that Santa Claus loves them and that Santa Claus is going to show up and bring them gifts on December 25th each year. And if you talk with them and you go, “I don’t know if Santa Claus is real,” they’ll go, “He absolutely is. I’ve got books with pictures, we sing songs about him. I have so much proof. I have so much evidence. He is so real. This is not up for discussion. He is real.”

And then, there comes the day, you know, like cookies get left out, milk gets left out, songs get sung. And then there comes the day when, whether it’s with a friend or a parent, there’s “the discussion,” “the conversation” where this child suddenly realizes, like all the dominoes fall. And he realizes he never actually saw Santa Claus ever. Those boots were dad’s boots. That Santa Claus was the mall Santa Claus, that’s why his beard fell off. Timmy was talking about Santa Claus doesn’t fit. Oh, my God. And everything kind of comes together. And the realization happens that Santa Claus isn’t real.

And in an instant, that belief is completely dissolved. It is completely eliminated. It goes away in the blink of an eye. And what’s interesting to notice is it doesn’t come back. You know, people go, “Oh, if you get rid of a belief, it’ll come back.” Well, the belief in Santa Claus never comes back. I’ve never heard of somebody turning 47 and suddenly they’re like, “You know, I kind of think, I’m starting to wonder if Santa Claus might actually be real. You know, I’m really questioning that.” Like, it doesn’t come back. And not only that, if you think about the thoughts that a child has, they stop thinking about writing letters to the North Pole. They stop thinking about asking questions about Santa. If you think about their emotions, if you ask them, “Do you love Santa Claus?” They’re gonna laugh. They’re like, “Love him? He’s not real. Why would I experience love for someone’s that’s not real?”

And then if you look, their actions instantly change. The moment the belief goes away, there’s no reason to leave out milk. There’s no reason to leave out cookies every single December 24th. The kids will just stop doing that. So thoughts change, emotions change, actions change instantly the moment a belief is eliminated. And the same is true for different beliefs, whether it’s self-beliefs, beliefs about how the world work, beliefs about how others interact with us. When we are stuck, oftentimes, we go about and we try to collect more information or we try to change our actions or our behaviors or our habits. But that’s the wrong way.

Imagine trying to get a kid to stop leaving milk and cookies out. “Hey, just stop it. Just don’t do it anymore.” And they’re sitting there and if they still have the belief that Santa Claus is real, they’re gonna push against you and go, “No, but I got to leave the milk and cookies out. I’ve got to.” And if you’re trying to change their behavior and just asking them to change their actions, that’s gonna be extremely stressful for them. Can they do it? Sure. You know, gun to our head, we can do anything. Forced, you know, if we’re forced, we can do anything, but that’s gonna be really stressful for a kid if you tell them to stop acting in a certain way and tell them to stop leaving out milk and leaving out cookies if they still have the belief that Santa Claus is real.

If you really want them to change their actions and you’re like, “Okay, this is enough with having to make all these cookies on Christmas Eve and this is enough, like we don’t drink milk in this household. I don’t wanna have to get the milk anymore,” the way to change their actions is to go in, pluck out the belief in Santa Claus and then suddenly, the thoughts, the emotions and the actions all cascade and change automatically.

Katie: I love that explanation. And it makes so much sense. I think… Well, I’ve gotten to work with you a little bit and I’ve seen it firsthand in my own life, and I also relate it to, I experienced sexual trauma when I was younger and not in the zero to seven age. I was in high school. But on that, I think I had internalized a belief that I was not safe in my body. And so as a way to protect against that, I think I like, because in the time after that, I gained quite a bit of weight and I think that was a physical shield. It was a protection that my brain was using to make me feel safer in my body. And part of, maybe the story was, you know, “If I looked like this, that will never happen again,” or whatever it may be.

And I tried for years to change the actions and to just eat less and less and less and less and less, which I did and still didn’t lose the weight or exercise more or just be so stressed about it. And it wasn’t until I changed that belief and realized I am safe in my body that all of the rest of it changed effortlessly. Now, if I tried to eat more than I was hungry for, my body just won’t let me. It’s like, “I’m full, stop eating.” But I tried for years. It just changed, like you said, change the action, change all the external expressions and it wasn’t until I got to that core subconscious that I didn’t realize was even running that I was able to just kind of, like, it was overnight, like a switch. My brain just changed. So you mentioned before, like, there’s ways to know if you have a subconscious belief and I think that’s a great starting point. So can you walk us through some examples of how you can know?

Erin: Absolutely. And before I do, I just wanna touch upon what you just said because it was so, so brilliant. First, I wanna clarify, not all beliefs or subconscious beliefs are stored or locked in by the age of seven. There’s just a large number that are, and during that time period, we literally are just sponges. So beliefs can be formed with repetition as we get older, they can be formed from like what you experienced with traumas. Like, one trauma can lead to a whole host of beliefs that get formed. And then as we go through life just repeating experiences over and over and over, if we, you know, get out of high school and our first four jobs, our bosses are terr-, you know, super mean, we might come to the conclusion that, you know, work is a frustrating place and bosses are bad people.

So, I want just wanted to make that clarification. It’s not like, zero to seven, everything’s locked in and done by that age. It’s just a lot happens during that time period. And it’s also, you gave such a perfect, beautiful example of what happens where you can have a belief that gets stored. You know, “It’s not safe to be in my body.” “Perhaps if I look a certain way, I’ll be creating safety.” If that gets locked in, but then your conscious mind is like, “I wanna lose weight,” you’re gonna experience an internal tug-of-war where part of you is like, “Let’s lose weight,” and part of you is like, “Hell no, that is not safe. I’m going to do everything against you possible.” And people experience things like that when they want to maybe get a raise or start a new business.

And yet part of them grew up and they were raised in, you know, believing that if you make a lot of money, you can’t possibly have a happy family or you will have absolutely no free time to enjoy your life. So we can have these conflicting, conscious desires that go against what we subconsciously believe. And that’s where we begin to really deep self-sabotage, where we feel stuck, where we feel like we’re holding ourselves back. Where we keep saying like, “I keep trying to change. I keep trying to do this over and over and over and yet it’s not working.”

So I can almost guarantee that anytime someone feels like they’re holding themselves back, they’re stuck or they’re just going in loops or, like, there’s an invisible tug-of-war that they consciously want something, but there are loops in their subconscious that are saying, “Go the other way. I am going to sabotage this because it’s not safe. It’s not gonna be good. I don’t actually want what’s gonna come. The consequences are gonna be really bad.” So I just wanted to kind of clarify those two things. Does that make sense?

Katie: Yeah, it does. Thanks for clarifying that.

Erin: Okay, cool. So you had asked how can someone know if they have a belief? Like, if it’s in the subconscious, how can you possibly know if you believe something to be true? And there’s a handful of really interesting filters, very simple, that absolutely anybody can use. They can run any statement through these filters. And if any of them come out positive, it’s very, very, very, very, very likely that their subconscious or even conscious mind believes them to be true. So beliefs are a bit like being pregnant. You’re not, like, kinda sorta pregnant. You just are or you aren’t. You have a belief or you don’t. So even if it’s a kind of, “It’s kind of there,” you have the belief. It may not be as strong, but it’s either there or it isn’t.

So, what we can do is we can take any statement at all, you know. “Men are evil,” or, “I’m not good enough.” “Making money is stressful.” Anything that is a statement and what we can do is run it through three filters. So the first thing I do to see if someone believes something to be true is I ask them, “Does it feel real? Does it feel like the truth?” This is really, really simple. Like, “Does it feel like saying, ‘I am a woman’?” “Does it feel like saying, ‘Two plus two equals four’?” Oftentimes when I’m working with someone and they have a belief, I say something, they’ll say it out loud and they literally physically start nodding their head up and down because it just feels so real. It feels like the truth. It feels like saying the sky is blue. And that is the first easiest way is just when you’re sitting there and you’re like, “Yeah, it feels like the truth. It just is the truth. It feels like saying, ‘I am a female.’” So that’s the first filter.

The thing is, as you can imagine, our mind is pretty darn effective. And so if we took all of these beliefs that are sitting on our subconscious and we really connected to them and we really fully felt into, “I am stupid,” “I am not good enough,” “I am not important,” “Making money is hard,” and we really connected to that, we’d probably have a hard time getting out of bed every day. So, our mind, being this really effective machine, kind of disconnects us from some of these beliefs. Kind of pushes them down, like a beach ball underneath the water, kind of suppresses some of these things and goes, “Nope, nope. Consciously, you don’t believe that at all. You know, you’re a smart, successful, powerful woman. You’re fantastic. You’re an incredible mother. You’re amazing. You’re a kind friend. You’re a fantastic spouse. You’ve got this, girl,” you know, and we pump ourselves up with these positive things and we wanna disconnect from some of these uncomfortable beliefs and loops that are sitting in our subconscious.

So I’ve had people where I’ll ask them to say something like, you know, I was at an event recently and someone was walking around and not connecting with people. And she came over to me and I said, “Just out of curiosity, say out loud, ‘I am a burden.’” Because she was saying like, “I just, I can’t ask people for their time. I feel weird and guilty if I interrupt a conversation or if I ask people to talk about myself,” I said, “Say out loud, ‘I am a burden.’” And she said it and her eyes were kind of glazed and she was disconnected and she’s like, “No, no, that doesn’t feel like the truth. Sorry, I don’t think I believe that.” And I was like, “Okay, cool. So, that didn’t work with the first filter. Let’s try something different.”

So we tried the second filter on her and the second filter is when you say something out loud, even if it doesn’t feel like the truth, filter number two is, do you feel an emotion with it? So some people I’ve worked with will say a statement, they’ll sit with it and they’ll go, “Oh. Ooh, that was uncomfortable.” Or they’ll say, “Oh, my God, that makes me sad to say it.” Or, “Ooh, I don’t want… Oh, gosh, that makes me kind of angry. I don’t…” Like, there’s some emotion that comes out.

If you make a statement that you just don’t believe to be true, something like, “I am a vampire,” you don’t get a big surge of emotion. You don’t get a sad feeling when you say that. There’s just no emotional reaction. So if you say something and your subconscious believes it to be true, it’s quite possible you might feel an emotional reaction. Now, this woman at the party, she’s like, “Nope, no emotion there. I really don’t believe I think this is true. I’m sorry. I think you’re off-topic.” And I said, “Let’s try one last thing. I want you to say it out loud one more time and I want you to feel into your body. I want you to tell me if you feel any physical sensations.” And she’s like, “Okay.” So she said, “I am a burden.” And she paused and then she looked at me with, her eyes just went huge and she went, “Oh, my gosh.” She’s like, “I have a little pain in my stomach and it feels like my throat is tightening up.”

So the third filter you can use to see if you have a belief is do you feel it physically somewhere in your body? And again, this is your subconscious going, “Okay, I’m not gonna have your conscious mind actually believe this, but I’m storing it down here and this is my way of telling you that, yes, you believe it.” Because, again, try saying “I am a giraffe.” Try saying, “I wear a size 36 shoe,” something that you just don’t believe. Your body’s not gonna send you any physical sensations. It doesn’t have to be pain. I’ve had people go, “Oh, there’s this weird energy over the bridge of my nose,” or, “My toe wants to start tapping.” But that’s only the case if some part of you believes it to be true.

So the first filter is, does it feel real? Does it feel like the truth? The second filter is, do you experience an emotion when you sit with the statement? And the third filter is, do you feel it physically in your body? There’s is a fourth one sometimes that I see on rare occasions and that’s when you ask somebody something and it’s almost like it’s so uncomfortable for them, they zone out and they literally forget the question. They forget what they were asking themselves. They’re like, “Wait, what’s going on?” And the brain is kind of, the mind is making them seem confused. “I’m not clear on what you’re asking.” And it’s almost like it’s trying to throw up hurdles. Like, “Don’t come near here. We don’t wanna look at this.” So, but the first three, for 99% of people, you can use to determine, do you feel, do you believe something to be true?

And I’ve had, you know, professors, professional athletes, businessmen making, you know, over $100 million. I’ve had people of all walks of life, incredible successes, use these filters on basic statements like, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not important,” “I’m stupid.” And they’re shocked to find that when they peel away, you know, and look underneath the surface and look underneath the carpet, “Holy cow, look at this little bit of dust that’s been accumulating that I’ve been fighting against and trying to convince myself my whole life that those things didn’t exist.”

Katie: That’s amazing. And I know, like I’ll share my own experience which was that I had one that was deeply internalized, which was that I was not good enough despite, like, there was evidence that obviously would’ve shown I was at least good at some things. And I had internalized that a lot. And after, so before working with you and I said that out loud, it felt like there was like a lead vest on my chest. Like when you get an x-ray and they put a lead vest on you. And by the time I had let go of that, it felt like just saying, “I am a giraffe.” Like, it’s just words. So I know the next logical question that people are gonna have if they’re listening is like, “Okay, great, cool. How do we change a belief?” And I know you have a system for this, but walk us through at a high level, like, what happens when we’re able to change the belief and how that works.

Erin: Yeah. So, it is one of my life goals to be able to teach this to people so that someday, people can do it on themselves. But I have yet to figure that out. I still can’t do it on… You know, I do this thousands of times a year over and over and over and I still can’t do it on myself. I need someone else to do it with me. So we have a really simple process that is a series of questions and it kind of simulates what happens when a parent has a conversation with a child and the child goes through this process of rearranging what’s in their mind and understands that everything they ever saw didn’t actually mean that Santa Claus was real. It actually meant the opposite. So it’s helping people understand and really get that what they’re convinced they saw, they didn’t actually see. And it allows the mind to let go of its death grip on, “This is the truth. This is absolutely how it is. I’ve seen evidence of it,” and it allows the mind to let go of it. And when it lets go of it, it’s a permanent opening. It doesn’t come back.

Katie: I got it. Okay. Yeah. And having an experience that I know, like it makes so much sense now.

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Katie: I know a lot of people listening are parents, most of the people listening, in fact. And that was a question I had for you personally was if so much of this is formative in those first seven years, obviously, we’re all as parents going to do things that affect our kids in a way that we don’t want. But are there things we can do to help our kids in that zero to seven, kind of theta state to develop good beliefs?

Erin: Yes. Oh, my God, this is my favorite question. There is one, literally one magical question that if all parents left hospitals with this one question, our entire world would be so different. It would be so different. There’s one question you can use as a parent to totally change, like, how your child feels about himself or herself. And I’ll share that question with you. So the question that you want to be asking yourself every day as you have interactions with your kids, as you teach your kids lessons, as you have conversations with your kids, is this, “What is my child concluding about this interaction?” That’s literally it.

So let me give an example. Let’s say you have a mom who just got a really shocking phone call from the hospital. So she needs to be on this phone call. Somebody in the family is in the hospital. It’s an emergency. She’s on the phone, she’s getting the news, and then suddenly, you know, her child comes walking in and says, “Mommy, mommy, look at my picture. Look at my drawing. I want you to look at my drawing,” because all children want three things, attention, affection, and acknowledgement, right? So the child comes in, “Look at me, look at my picture. Mom, look.” So a, you know, “normal” parent or someone who’s not asking themselves this important question all the time might go, “Shhhhh, Honey,” and then kind of, you know, wave the child off. “Go in the other room. Don’t… Mommy’s busy. Just go, go, go, go. This is very important. Go away.” Right? Something like that. “Shh,” shush our kid away.

And most people would say, “Well, that’s understandable. She’s on an emergency call. That’s fine.” But children during this stage of development can only come to conclusions about themselves. “This is happening because of me.” They’re in the egocentric stage of development. So, when they experience mom doing that, they don’t have empathy. They can’t put themselves in mom’s shoes like an adult can. The only conclusion they can come to is about themselves. And so the conclusion they’re gonna reach in that interaction is going to be about them. It’s gonna be, “I’m not important. I’m not lovable.” And they’re gonna walk away. And those are the only conclusions they’re gonna reach.

Now, if a parent, if you’re on the phone and you’re having this conversation with the hospital and the child comes in, even though you’re under stress and that one question rolls through your mind, “What is my child going to conclude from this interaction?” You might just take an extra four seconds and act differently. And you might go, “Honey, mom is on the phone with the hospital. This is a very urgent, very important conversation. I love you deeply. I care about you so much and I cannot wait to see your picture. Can you please give mommy 10 minutes and then I am gonna spend lots of time with you later looking at your picture and giving you lots of hugs. Can you please go to the other room? I love you so much.”

You add in a few additional statements and you can still be stressed. You can still send your child away. You can still do what you need to do. You can still have the time to yourself, but with the, and the child may still be cranky. They may still want your attention. They may still pout and leave the room and go Wah! and whine, but they will not conclude that they are not loved. They will not conclude that they are not important. That is what changes everything because children cannot come to adult-level conclusions. They cannot empathize. They cannot put themselves in your shoes. They cannot understand what they’re going through. All of their conclusions are, “I caused this. This is happening to me because I am “blank’.”

So if you can always ask yourself, “What is my child concluding?” especially about himself or herself from this interaction, you’ll be providing a lot more statements like, “I love you,” and, “You’re very important to me and”, “You’re very special. You’re very smart,” and so that children don’t come to false conclusions about themselves because they’re not able to come to these logical interpretations of your actions that makes sense for an adult but not to them. That can literally change the entire, your entire future for your child, their sense of self and their sense of self-esteem.

Katie: So as a, like a short follow-up to that plea, is it, I mean, because as you said that to me when, when you said it in person, I was thinking, “Oh, I wish I could go back and kind of redo so many things in the past with my kids.” And I’ve got kids who are past seven years old. Is there still a way we can start, like, using that language even when they’re older and hopefully help, like, rebuild that even though that, we weren’t using it when they were really young?

Erin: Absolutely. And I think these are the kinds of conversations where we can say like, you know, “I made a mistake,” or, “I got angry, I’d like to apologize and show them that this is what happens when we make mistakes. This is what happens when, you know, apologies are things that we do when we mess up.” It’s never too late and even though it’s harder to override things that were kind of locked in at a young age, we definitely don’t wanna go around going, “Well, past seven. Nothing we can do here,” and kind of like, “There we go.” We do wanna continue to set examples and we can’t override things as kids age.

Katie: Got it. And I know I wanna respect your time because you have another interview today. I will make sure that, you’ve mentioned a few things and you’ve written about them on your website. I’ll make sure I link to those in the show notes at wellnessmama.fm. And I know that you also have a blog on your site as well as a free training and people can find you there. But really quickly, where can people find you online and any parting advice for someone who’s like, “Oh, my gosh, how do I take part?”

Erin: Sure. So people can find me at my website, which is mindfixgroup.com. I’m also pretty active still on Facebook on just my personal profile. You can look me up, Erin Pheil, I’m literally the only Erin Pheil on Facebook. Pretty easy to find. If someone’s curious and wants to learn more, I’d invite them to take a look through the blog on our website. There’s plenty of articles there. And then, like you mentioned, we also have a training that’s still being offered for free. It’s one full hour, it’s in video, it’s a video and anybody can watch it and that’s… It goes a level deeper than what we talked about today in the interview and would be a really great addition to anybody who’s curious and wants to learn more.

Katie: Perfect. Erin, I know how busy you are. Thank you so much for sharing today and for the time. Like I said, it made a big difference for me personally and I think, hopefully, you’ve helped a lot of our listeners today as well.

Erin: Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun.

Katie: And as always, thanks to all of you for listening and sharing one of your most valuable assets, your time, with us today. We’re so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of “The Wellness Mama Podcast.”

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.



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