I am very excited about today’s post. I have a very special guest to introduce to you all: a former student of mine in Self-Love Over Codependency (which is actually now called Self Trust Alchemy), Natalie Ashton!
There is so very much I could say about Natalie. She’s evolved so much since she first joined the program; she’s come leaps and bounds in terms of boundary setting, self-image, self-trust, and so much more. But today isn’t about me sharing my thoughts about Natalie; today is about Natalie getting to share about her experience within the program!
Beatrice: So Natalie, I want to hear about this from your perspective: what was it like before you started Self-Love Over Codependency, compared to where you are now?
Natalie: Before SLOC, I was in such a different space than I’m in now, and it’s so interesting to look back on. I have gone from Point A to Point Z in such a small amount of time, it’s almost impossible to comprehend.
First of all, I’m not a stranger to self-help work. Before I took the plunge and joined the program, I’ve always been geared toward working on myself. I read my first self-help book when I was fourteen years old, and I just completely fell in love with the concept of the whole thing. I loved the idea that I didn’t have to sit and deal with all the things I’m uncomfortable with—I could actually take an active role in evolving past that.
However, I think I ended up going in the wrong direction when I was doing it on my own. I fell into the common trap of putting so much pressure on myself that I always needed to be growing. I needed to constantly be working on myself in order to be worthy.
It got to the point where I actually had a bit of a breakthrough while I was in the program; I realized that I wasn’t actually accepting myself as I am now. I was only accepting myself with the caveat that I was getting better. I had to always be getting better. And throughout SLOC, I got to see that mindset change.
Natalie: Throughout the process of those four months, I was finally able to relax. And when I did relax, so many more things naturally came up that I was able to work on instead of forcing myself to dredge up more things on my own.
It was also really helpful to have that group of people there to support you, people who all have a similar goal in terms of working on themselves and healing those little parts of you that you don’t normally notice. It was really great to have that element of community, accountability, and guidance from you. I am so, so, so grateful that I took part in it.
Beatrice: When you first started, I remember the big thing for you was learning to start setting a boundary with your family. I remember you said that you were feeling like you had to be saying yes to everything they asked you to do. What was it like for you to shift out of that mindset?
Natalie: Learning about setting a boundary was sort of like retraining a muscle. Because originally, it really was like a reflex, just saying yes whenever they asked. Coming into the program, I really needed that permission to try setting a boundary, that assurance that I was allowed to check in with myself first and see if I actually had the capacity to do what they were asking me to do.
It was scary to start setting a boundary. It was terrifying, honestly. It felt so uncomfortable—and kind of exciting at the same time. Setting a boundary definitely required me to have a couple uncomfortable conversations—when you’ve filled that role for so long, people come to expect it of you—but I’m glad I had them. And now, when I do things for my family, I actually enjoy them. It comes from a place of love now rather than pressure and expectation.
I’m so happy that I made that change, because I now have so much more energy for so many more things. I don’t think that I could have ever started my own website or started working on my own career in the way that I am right now if I didn’t make the space energetically and physically that I did during those four months.
Beatrice: I love how you connected setting a boundary to the fact that it freed up space for you in terms of mental and physical energy. There’s so much more going on there than just setting a boundary. It’s what you get to do and get to be after the boundary is set.
Now, you mentioned something that I thought was really interesting, and I think a lot of readers will connect to it. You were really honest about how setting a boundary was a scary process, especially the first time.
Sometimes we think setting a boundary is going to be a smooth process the first time we do it, but it’s usually not true. Similarly to you, my first time setting a boundary with my family, I was shaking in my boots. I could not even form a sentence. So what would you say to people who are feeling like they want to use their voice even when it comes to their family, but they’re feeling that shakiness? How did you learn to make setting a boundary a lifestyle in spite of that fear?
Natalie: I think I would say…just do the scary thing. You’ve already been fulfilling this role that isn’t serving you at all for this long, and setting a boundary—though scary in the moment—is only going to create a future that you’re more comfortable in.
In terms of having to commit to setting a boundary over and over again, let’s go back to the muscle metaphor. It’s literally a muscle that you build. I know setting a boundary the first time can feel exhausting, but it really does get easier.
Slowly but surely, you keep working that muscle until setting a boundary is your new muscle memory. It becomes your knee-jerk reaction. Instead of automatically agreeing, you can check in with yourself and say, “I’m really not feeling up to it today, but I would love to connect with you another time.” The wording might be different with your family rather than friends or acquaintances, but regardless of how you say it, holding space for yourself will become automatic when you slowly, continually do it. So it’s not an all-or-nothing, all-at-once thing. It will happen progressively.
That’s how it was for me. It was small things. It was me setting a boundary, taking that little inch of space, and then getting pushed back, but then continuing to take the inch until I could finally say to myself, “I have the right to not feel like doing this.” And even then it was hard, especially when they were asking me to do something smaller. It felt harder to justify setting a boundary when it was a small thing. Like, how dare I not be willing to do a small thing? But even when the small things are coming up and you don’t feel like it, don’t do it. If you don’t have the capacity to take on anything else, it doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small. Your lack of desire or lack of capacity or what have you is just as valid regardless.
Beatrice: You mentioned that setting a boundary gave you the ability to start your own website and take steps to furthering your career. Talk to me about that.
Natalie: Yes! I’m so excited to talk about this, actually, because it’s very recent.
I work freelance. I’m a freelance writer for blogs and things. I can crank out about fifteen articles a week about things that I’m not necessarily passionate about, so it got me thinking, why don’t I make my own blog? I’m already doing this, I’m already writing fifteen articles a week, so why don’t I write a little on the side for myself about something that does absolutely feed me and stokes my passion? That’s where the idea of my own website came into play.
SLOC happened at such a great time for me in my career, because it made me think about what I wanted to do with my talents. I didn’t want to get too comfortable writing about things that I wasn’t passionate about, and having the space to know that I can create whatever reality I want made me realize that I really want to write my own books. I want to be an author. But I also realized that was something that I wanted to take my time with; I want to continually learn my craft. I don’t want to crank it out just so I can say I did it, but I do want to keep writing things that I am passionate about on the back end. That’s why I started my own little website.
I have about three articles up on it so far, and it’s basically about me finding new ways that I can use the moon cycles, herbs, crystals, anything on the more mystic side to enhance my self-care for myself and enhance my life.
I wanted to do that for people like me, because sometimes it feels unreachable when you’re first doing the research. All these people you find online are masters at what they do, and you’re trying to learn, and it’s easy to start feeling like an imposter. They have all these rituals and things that are really scary for me, and I would like to dip my toe in, but I don’t know how to necessarily go about that. I wanted to create a space for people that did feel a little overwhelmed at first so I could take people along with me as I learned. I wanted to show that side of learning self-care. It’s very fluid right now, but I’m hoping to do at least one to two articles per week for that. I also have an Instagram for it, @witchy.self.care. So that’s what it is, and I’m very, very, very excited to be embarking on this path.
Thank you Natalie, for joining me today! Readers, you can find all the links to Natalie’s website and socials below—and trust me, you want to, she’s amazing! Her website is where you can find her and her continual growth journey as she learns new, fun ways to care for herself.
Join Self Trust Alchemy, a program designed to help you alchemize self-doubt, overwhelm, and overthinking to next-level self-trust in your ability to set boundaries, achieve your goals, and use your voice: https://beatricekamau.thrivecart.com/self-trust-alchemy/
Be sure to connect with me more on Instagram @theselflovefix. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were.
Head over to my website to learn more about how we can work together to shift your energy & transform your life.