Today’s episode is a conversation I had with my new friend, psychologist Dr. Colleen Crowley. She’s been a therapist for almost 20 years and she is just incredible. This interview is all about empowering moms to trust their intuition and to be intuitively led because that is so powerful. This conversation is super empowering. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Let’s jump in!
In This Episode Allie and Dr. Colleen Discuss:
The lack of intuition in women and mothers
The mind/body disconnect
How to connect to your intuition
Being mindful in day-to-day life
Cultivating being “in” your body
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Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hi, beautiful friends! Welcome to another episode of The Purpose Show podcast. I’m Allie and I’m so happy to have you here. If it’s your first time, welcome. And if you’ve been listening for a long time, I just love you. Welcome back! Thank you for being here.
Today’s episode is a conversation that I had with my new friend, Dr. Colleen Crowley. She’s a psychologist. She’s incredible. I interviewed her because I wanted to have a conversation about empowering moms to trust their intuition and to be intuitively led.
I think so often we, as women, lose touch with our intuitive power and we really begin to doubt ourselves. We don’t believe we’re the girl for the job. We don’t think that we have what it takes to raise our kids well, to bring up incredible human beings that are going to be a good addition to society in the future, and to lead the next generation strongly and with good values. We just don’t believe in ourselves enough to think that we have what it takes.
And that’s really a shame. It shouldn’t be that way. It doesn’t need to be that way.
I had this conversation with Dr. Colleen. She’s just incredible. She’s been a therapist for almost 20 years and she loves what she does. You can tell.
She’s such a warm personality. I wanted to take her out for coffee after our interview and just sit with her for hours. She’s just one of those people.
She’s worked with all kinds of issues in her work. She’s worked extensively with couples, with individuals, with families in crisis, with struggling parents. She’s worked with people that have battled depression and anxiety. She’s worked with the terminally ill.
Her specific approach is just really incredible. It’s all from a place of love. She’s really an empowering person to hear from and be around. We really focus this conversation on empowering you as moms to go with your gut, to learn to reconnect with your intuition, and to really be intuitively led because that is so powerful.
I believe God gave us really strong intuitions and that when we tap into that and trust that we were chosen to be the mothers of our children and we lead with that (coupled with prayer, pausing, and really leaning into what decisions need to be made), my gosh girl, you can’t be stopped. You’re the girl for the job and that’s the facts. I want to empower you to not only know that in your head, but to really believe it in your heart.
This conversation is super empowering. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Please welcome Dr. Colleen Crowley.
ALLIE: Okay, ladies, I am sitting here with my new friend, Dr. Colleen Crowley. Welcome, and thank you so much for taking time to speak to everyone today.
COLLEEN: Thanks for having me, Allie. I’m happy to be here.
ALLIE: I have so much to talk to you about, but could you just explain who you are, what you do, who you do it for? All that good stuff?
COLLEEN: Yes, of course. I’d be happy to.
First and foremost, I’m a woman who lives in Southern California. I’m raising three busy kiddos in Santa Barbara. I have a teenager, an 11-year-old and a 6-year-old.
I have been a psychologist for close to 20 years. I work a ton with families. I work with women. I work with couples. I have worked with children in various settings all over the country.
I’m also an entrepreneur. I’ve invented children’s products and launched them all over the world. I work with startups and in corporate America as well. It’s been a long, wonderful, rich career.
But I will say out of all of it, my soft spot is for mamas. Because it’s from there that so much stems. It’s really incredible work that I get to do. And certainly having lived the reality, that’s enriched my experience as well.
ALLIE: You’ve just been a working mom the whole time. You’ve been doing so many things and raising kids at the same time. I love meeting women who are a few steps ahead of me and that have done that successfully.
COLLEEN: Yeah. It’s trial and error, right? In this moment it works, but next week not a chance. Let’s readjust. If I could imprint anything, it’s to be nimble as you move through it.
I used to run to the office to treat patients while my infants were sleeping, and then I’d run back to nurse. Then as time goes on and they start school you’ve got these bigger stretches of time. Now, I’m doing carpool, and I’ll leave the office to go drive kids to practice.
This is a rich plug for mamas—we get sort of led down this path that it’s supposed to be these exceedingly high expectations and this rigid idea of what works. And it’s never consistent. Our kids aren’t consistent. Their development and our process through all of it isn’t consistent. So yes, I have worked to be more and more nimble through all of it and flexible.
ALLIE: That’s so good to hear. I think people want a formula for how it works. They want to know the routine that took me from here to here with raising kids. And it just doesn’t work that way.
This leads perfectly into why I invited you here. For me, business and motherhood are just fused together so much. They are fluid, because my day-to-day life is being a mom and running a business.
I think that part of the need for a formula comes from a lack of trusting in your own intuition and your own gut that you are the best one to know what to do for your life and for your children. I really want to dive into that with you today—that lack of intuition with women and mothers. I want to discuss how that’s your power as a mom and that’s what you need to make these decisions for your baby or your teenager or whatever season you’re in.
COLLEEN: I think that women are looking for a formula. I think all humans are, regardless if it’s in business or motherhood, because we’re trying to mitigate suffering, discomfort, or pain. And nothing ups the ante more than our children. I see women really work to find structure or a formula because they’re trying to either minimize their suffering or their children’s suffering. So, the intentions are really good.
We’re also in a culture where I think the expectations are relentless for families and for moms. So, it can often be really difficult. You’re trying to not suffer or be stressed, but then there are these really unreasonable expectations. It creates, quite frankly, the opposite—a lot of suffering.
When moms come in to talk about something they’re struggling with with their child, whether it’s an infant or their adult child, they’re seeking an expert’s opinion or thought. The first thing I always start with is asking them, “What do you feel?. Let’s get really quiet about what you think is going on. What do you think he or she is going through? What do you think if you get really connected to your intuition on the relationship with your child or their journey? What’s happening?”
It’s amazing to watch this transition in my office because they undoubtedly have been frantically searching for the answer to the question, “What do I do?” Whether it’s in books, friends, in-laws, or parents. Everything that’s distracting them from what they need to do, which is get centered and find some clarity about what they believe is going on.
With certainty, 99% of the time, there will be a wicked intuition, an insight, and a relaxing that comes up in them when they just allow themselves to get quiet with what their concerns are. This begins the process that I do with working with them to really cultivate this connection to themselves. It is arguably where everything starts and ends.
ALLIE: I feel like you’re bringing so much clarity to something that we know, but it’s so messy that we’re not realizing it. If everything is stemming from how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking and you’re just reacting to the external results of that, but you’re never actually pausing and thinking, “How do I feel about this?” When you do that and you do pause, that’s where the answer is.
Not to sound super cheesy or “woo-woo” or anything, but it will come up if you ask yourself how you are really feeling about something. If you ask yourself that and you think, “I don’t like what this doctor told me to do with my child. Or I don’t like this idea.” Well, there you go. That’s your answer. You don’t like it. It’s not feeling good to you.
COLLEEN: From an early age we are never encouraged to connect to our intuition. What is radically disconnected for so many people in our culture is the mind/body connection. We spend so much time in our heads—in the future being anxious about what’s going to happen, or living in the past—which robs us of being embodied and really connected to the present moment. The present moment is really the most important place from which we always need to function.
I tell people all the time, “I don’t care what you’re walking in my office to address, it’s not going to be how we fix the problem. It’s always how you relate to the problem, and really cultivating the connection to your body.” That’s what I mean by intuition.
Especially as moms, there’s probably been no greater risk for us in life than loving something. But we, as moms and dads, are projecting our old fears onto our kiddos, which blinds them from us. Instead of seeing where they’re at or what they need, a whole thing starts running in our heads about, “Well, what is this? If they don’t get this then this won’t happen, and then all hell will break loose.”
I always say the greatest thing that you can do to parent your children is to get yourself right. Period. People bring in their kids thinking I want to see the kids. But we are the environment from which they unfold.
And so, our work, which is a lot harder than looking at our kiddos and saying, “They’ve got a problem,” is asking ourselves, “What am I doing to cultivate this? Do I cultivate an anxious household? Do I have more unreal expectations because I’m fearful of my relationship with my mom or what happened in my past?” The intuition is getting quiet and settled in, making sure that you’re paying attention to the fear that you have that could be clouding your intuition around your child.
Another huge thing that I like to impart is that the vast majority of stuff just requires some time. Not overreacting, not labeling, not panicking, but just sort of trying. Kids have their own complex journeys themselves, and allowing them to work through some of them without us seeking answers, directing it, panicking.
ALLIE: Or trying to keep them from any discomfort whatsoever when they have to go through life. That comes up for me now that my oldest is 11 with her friends and other girls. I don’t want her to relive the heartache that I experienced. Not to sound morbid or sad, but it is inevitable that they will go through life and that they will experience these things.
I think that finding the balance between not being stupid and not being disconnected, but also letting her experience life and not immediately swooping in and thinking, “How can I stop this discomfort? How can I stop this pain?” and just being in it with her is so hard.
COLLEEN: I can’t tell you how passionately I feel about that idea of keeping children in a bubble because they want to protect them. And I want to be clear—it’s understandable. It’s in our DNA to protect our children.
And yet, I espouse the exact opposite which is let them bump up against life and be near them to support them through that and let them know that they’re loved. I would ask you, Allie, what did you learn from those dynamics? Those painful dynamics with girls?
ALLIE: Oh, so much. Yeah. So much.
COLLEEN: Who do you trust? What’s a real friend? Did I stay true to myself?
I think it is excruciating. I watch with my kiddos as they suffer and the hardest thing is to not problem solve or just to let them cry. One of the most common phrases mamas say is, “Oh no, don’t cry.” Because again, that’s about your own feelings: “I can’t tolerate this.”
But what about just hugging them and saying, “Let’s cry it out. That stinks what happened to you. That was hurtful.” What that does is build little empathetic, compassionate, layered, human beings that have tools to deal with the world. It’s just if we can get out of their way. But it’s really hard.
ALLIE: Yeah, for sure.
Going back to intuition, it feels like it’s such a big thing. Especially if it’s foreign to you, or like my past and my story is the story of disconnect from that and you’ve lived that way. What are some (for lack of a super practical, logical word) action steps for how to connect with that?
What does it look like? I think my people listening to this will think, “Well, is this something that I could do every day? What does it look like to learn to feel?” Which is sad, but what a lot of us are dealing with is the need to learn how to feel.
COLLEEN: It absolutely is. It’s a great question actually. In the course of my career I have seen this buzz word “mindfulness” get more trendy and more pronounced, which is great because it started the conversation. But what’s really interesting about mindfulness is you can’t read about it or think about it.
You can begin by intellectually understanding it, which is sort of what I explained. The practice of mindfulness is getting in your body, in the present moment, in the now. And I always like to explain to people that the reason why is because it is only from that place that we mitigate either depression or anxiety. Anxiety is projecting into the future—What if this happens? What if this goes this way? It robs you of the moment at hand.
So, in this moment I am vigilant about my breath. Even though I’m talking to you and intellectually processing information, over the course of 20 years I have developed this mind/body connection where I am vigilant about my breath and in my body.
What’s really interesting is that when I start to get crooked or something’s bothering me, my body starts to inform me. The body doesn’t lie. I’ve got some stress. Okay, let me recenter myself. Let me reconnect.
To answer your question, it is a practice. It is a muscle that you have to build. In western culture there are a lot of people doing yoga, which is fantastic. But I crack up because people go to yoga for 45 minutes and try to get in their bodies, and then come out and are chaotic.
And so, what I like to tell people, especially moms, is that being mindful is a breath at a time. You can become extremely mindful without sitting and meditating. The real work is to begin to just live a mindful existence. It’s not, “Oh, I meditate twice a day.”
That’s great! Meditating is the weightlifting for being mindful and cultivating that relationship. For everyone who’s listening, get your feet on the floor or feel your legs wherever you’re sitting. Take a deep breath. Get in your body. That simple practice is all it takes, and stringing together as much as you possibly can of that.
If you want to do a meditation throughout the day, that’s great! I remember when I had infants and toddlers, I would do many meditations of two minutes at a time throughout the day wherever I was because that’s a really intense stage. Now that my kids are older, I can string together longer meditations.
It’s just being vigilant about my breath at all times. It’s very simple. And it radically changes how you move through the world.
The reality is that there’s nothing more stimulating than being a mom. It never stops. And so our work is to get right, grounded, and centered ourselves, because what we’re doing so much of the time is spinning and spinning and spinning. I always say that what children need more than anything is a very present mom, which comes through connecting to your intuition, being mindful, and in your body. I just like to keep it really simple, which is the practice of stringing together as many mindful breaths as you can.
ALLIE: Can I give a life example and you walk us through if that’s what you mean? I want to get super practical. One thing that I’ve been doing recently is trying to move my mindfulness practice into my day-to-day.
Recently, I was standing in the kitchen cooking and I saw my phone and I was tempted by the thought of, “Oh my gosh, I haven’t looked at that in a while. I bet it’s loaded with stuff.” I went to go and grab it and I thought, “No. Leave it there.”
I stood at the stove; I had a little glass of wine in my hand and I had multiple things on the stove sizzling. I tasted the wine, tasted it going down. I felt my feet grounding into the floor. I smelled the smells of all the vegetables sauteing.
I heard the sound of my kids on the trampoline out the window. I was just in that moment. It felt like 20 minutes, but it was only one. I was fully present.
Is that kind of what you mean by mindfulness really being where you are and resisting? Sometimes there’s a need to do multiple things at once and that’s fine, but I made a choice. I could have grabbed the phone and responded to voice messages from my team while I cooked and the kids played. My cortisol must’ve just tanked because I felt so peaceful.
COLLEEN: How good does that feel? It’s a drug, right? For mamas, especially with kids running everywhere, the responsibilities and the expectations are just relentless. I think it’s a radical act to begin to not allow those cultural expectations to rob us of our quality of life.
The suffering I see in moms is profound. The first thing that I say to many moms is that you don’t need to do more. I’m not going to help you strategize. You need to do less.
What you just walked through was an example of that. You allowed yourself to get into your body, to feel your body, to slow way down. I want to be clear: we can multitask. We have to. I have all morning. But you can multitask from a grounded place.
You could have been cooking and drinking your wine and chances are we work to move against a lot. We’re distracted and we’re grabbing our phone because what we’re constantly doing is overstimulating ourselves. I think one of the greatest side effects that has come out of the quarantine is that it’s caused us to slow down, which can be scary, but totally life changing.
Notice how the world is trying to get you to distract yourself constantly. From yourself, from your body, from the present moment. But you didn’t let it. You stopped, got centered and that moment was transformative for you.
It mitigates stress. That’s the thing that I’m so passionate about. For these mamas who are in that hyper state all the time, it shifts your quality of life.
I also want to say that you could have grabbed the phone, so long as you are in your body, taking breaths, stirring your dinner, and being vigilant about your breath. I really want it to be doable for people. We can be really busy and even multitask, but if you’re in your body and you begin to build that muscle, which is just literally feeling your body and your breath, that’s all you have to keep doing.
ALLIE: That cooking moment stuck with me because it felt so good and it mattered.
I think also what I hear a lot from people in my audience are things like, “Well, I don’t have moments like that. I don’t have quiet.” And I feel the same, but we all have these tiny little snippets where for one second the baby’s busy, the kids are playing, even if we’re going to the bathroom for those two seconds before our kids are like, “Mom!”
That’s all it was for me. It could not have been more than a minute. It was probably more like 20 or 30 seconds but it felt like an eternity.
I made it work for me. I made it what it needed to be and it carried me through the rest of the evening, which is normally a really stressful time of the day. I felt so peaceful for just a few moments.
COLLEEN: I want to be clear. This is not to, in any way, discredit those moms who say, “I don’t have moments like that.” I have been on the floor with toddlers and babies crawling on me, but present even with the house in disarray.
Oftentimes, that’s faulty thinking that we as moms understandably have that says “I don’t have time to get mindful.” No. That’s the only thing you should have time for. In the chaos you can be mindful. Does that make sense?
ALLIE: It’s not the absence of things going on. It’s what you’re doing internally while all of it is going on.
COLLEEN: 100%. That’s correct.
Everyone thinks that it’s all about getting this formula in place, and that’s exactly wrong. It’s how we begin to move through the world.
ALLIE: I want to wrap this up with what I’m imagining might be the next step for women listening. You learn to feel, you learn to connect. But you keep mentioning breathing and being very vigilant and aware of your breath. Do you just focus on how you’re already breathing or do you have breath work that you recommend for grounding and being present? What does that specifically look like?
COLLEEN: Learning to cultivate getting in your body is very personal. There are a million apps on how to meditate and YouTube channels on breath work. I’m cautious to tell people what to do because it’s personal. What I will say is be careful, because oftentimes those things still keep you in your head thinking about mindfulness, but not actually getting in your body.
You will feel it when you get in your body. This sounds really corny. But most people don’t know how to breathe anymore. They take these really short, shallow breaths.
There’s some good stuff you can listen to. I encourage people to look for it themselves. There are voices that bug people, there are ones that they love. Find something that works for you and begin reminding your body how to meditate or how to be mindful and in your breath.
If you can catch yourself a couple of times throughout the day doing this, that’s all it takes. For me, this practice started 20 years ago and it was like stringing together a couple times a day of, “Oh God, there I am.”
Like what happened to you when you were cooking. And then you get to a point where you’re like, “Oh wow. I feel weird if I’m not in my body now.” Does that make sense?
If you feel twisted or you feel tension in your neck or like something’s bothering you and you’re not present, then breathe in and go, “Okay, there I am.” So sure, listen to things to help you remember how to breathe, but then just start doing it yourself a breath at a time.
ALLIE: The way that you explain this really takes a lot of the over-complication out of it with the questions that we ask like, “But how do I do that? What are the five steps? What about me? I have a baby. Or what about me?”
It gets to be yours with where you are in life right now. If you’re up in the middle of the night breastfeeding, be mindful. If you’re cooking, be mindful. If you need to do multiple things at once and you’re working a really long day, be mindful as you’re in that day. I haven’t heard a lot of people describe it that way and that’s really easy and empowering.
COLLEEN: Yes, and this is what excites me. Because if you want something done, give it to moms, right? They’re like, “Tell me how to do it and I’ll do it.”
And they come in here determined to get it right. And I say, “No, you’re approaching it all wrong. You need to do less. Literally. I want you to feel like there is less on your shoulders now.”
It’s just a process of setting down these relentless voices and expectations in our head. So, I’m really happy to hear you say that because that’s exactly what I’m going for. It’s not like I’m sending you away with this homework and 8 point plan of how to get enlightened.
Mamas need to do less. That is what our children need from us. They need that calm, grounded presence, and from that everything flows.
ALLIE: This was so amazing. I feel like we just got to borrow so much wisdom from you. Like you gave us a shortcut of how to figure out something that would otherwise take so long, especially in the chaos of mom life.
COLLEEN: It is a shortcut. I’m so passionate about it because it’s from these mamas that all these families’ wellbeings flow. It’s critical. I’m humbled and happy to be a part of this.
ALLIE: Thank you so much. Where can we send people to connect more with your work?
COLLEEN: I have a website, drcolleencrowley.com, and there’s all sorts of contacts there.
ALLIE: Okay. Amazing. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you, your time, and your wisdom.
COLLEEN: Thank you. Be well, take care of yourself, and do a lot less.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup.
Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
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