Caira Lee shares some powerful tools for handling strong anxiety and self-doubt.
I’m really proud of this interview.
Yes, it’s packed with practical tools and inspiration for tackling deep self-doubt, but that’s not why I’m proud of it.
After watching Caira’s TEDx talk on the power of self-love, I felt compelled to contact her and invite her for a talk.
There was only one problem.
I highly doubted that she’d want to talk with me.
My podcast isn’t professional enough, I thought. It needs to be more exciting and better produced for her to be interested. With a TED talk like that, her life must be overflowing with interviews and speaking gigs. Why would she want to talk with me?
But there was something in me, telling me to write to her anyway.
So I began writing the email and felt really daring for doing so. It took me over 2 hours to write that thing; checking it and rewording it and checking it again.
But then I asked myself, what’s the worst that could happen? What’s the worst thing that will happen if I send this email to her?
She probably won’t reply, I thought.
Well, if that’s the worst that can happen I’m sending this email!
Then, with a sense of brazenness, I hovered over the ’SEND’ button. I could still feel a lingering sense of doubt inside me but I just clicked the button. The email was sent and I gave myself a giant high-five.
As it turned out, Caira replied the very next day and said she’d love to have a talk. I remember not being able to control the muscles in my face as they formed, what felt like, a permanent smile.
Caira Lee is a national award winning performance poet and author, originally from Maryland, USA, now living in Ghana, Africa.
She has worked her way through deep depression and anxiety and has a strong understanding of what it means to love yourself.
You don’t want to miss this episode.
Join us as we share the strongest fears and doubts that have prevented us from taking compassionate action for ourselves, and the things we did to come through them.
Click a time marker to jump to any section of the podcast.
What Has Stopped You From Taking Loving Action for Yourself? 02:39
- Caira: Doubt. The fear that I’ll try 100% and it won’t change anything, or that I’ll destroy myself trying. 02:58
- Ben: How do you feel doubt? 04:29
- Caira: Doubts always have fear behind them. We’re usually doubting that things will be good, which is a fear that things will be bad. 05:15
- I ask myself, would I ever do the things which would make these disastrous things come true? 08:42
- Ben: I come out of fear-based thinking by paying attention to what’s going on around me. 09:53
- Caira: It’s crazy, you can do something positive for yourself and then trick yourself into thinking it’s still negative. 11:15
- When I’m having thoughts that are causing me anxiety, I remind myself that the only reason this bad thing will happen is because I’m thinking it will happen. 12:45
What if That’s All Just Positive Thinking?
- Ben: What if the bad thing I’m thinking about is actually going to happen and I’m just pretending it won’t? Sometimes positive thinking feels phoney to me. 14:40
- Caira: This is a process. A house begins with the first brick. If I pretend that brick is an entire house then I’m going to feel phoney. 17:44
- Something that helps me when I’m freaking out about something bad happening: If you start counting the times you predicted something bad was going to happen in the future and then it turned out you were completely wrong, you’ll realise you are usually wrong about predicting the future. 19:27
Caira: Listening to your intuition is the fastest way to discover exactly what you need, and experience positive effects for yourself in less time.
- Caira: When you’re listening to your intuition you are being authentic to yourself, you won’t feel phoney. 24:35
- We know the answers to our questions but we might not be ready to accept the answers because it feels too easy. 27:22
- Stop thinking you’re crazy. You know what you need. Your intuition is your compass through life. 29:12
What Has Been the Hardest Thing for You to Overcome on This Journey of Self-Knowledge and Understanding?
- Caira: I’ve struggled with not being patient with other people’s progress, expecting them to already be at a higher level than they are. 35:44
Is Spirituality a Vital Part of Self-Understanding and Self-Knowledge?
- Caira: I think everything is spiritual. We are more than just our physical bodies. 38:36
Are There Unique Obstacles That People of African-American Descent Face in the Arena of Self-Love?
- Caira: I feel people of colour have the highest capacity to experience self-love. We are all facing the same force which is telling us, ’you are not okay as you are.’ 46:07
- Emotions are energy in motion. We need to understand how they move in order to come out of anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, etc. 52:19
How Do You Practice Self-Awareness So You Can See the Truth Behind Your Doubts and Fears?
- Caira: You have to spend time with yourself to practice self-awareness. Your fears are not your life. 56:48
- Ben: I feel introverts have an easier task spending time with themselves than extroverts. 57:56
- Caira: No, that’s wrong. You can be in a room full of people and still be with yourself.
Which Frontier of Self-Love or Acceptance Are You Currently Working On?
- Caira: Being self-sustained. I have a goal of never having a boss again by the age of 25. Working for someone else is not in alignment with who I am. 1:02:46
- If you aren’t excited about your work then you might be ignoring the voice telling you to stop doing that job. 1:08:08
What Would You Say to Those Deeply Doubting Themselves, Feeling Truly Worthless, Irreparably Broken or Easily Forgettable?
- Caira: I have a very strong message to send to those people. When you are ready to stop feeling this way you will stop. 1:10:02
- Ben: True self-acceptance is a real-time practice. 1:17:13
- Caira: Accept yourself today. Ask yourself what you want to do tomorrow. Take small steps, one at a time. 1:17:53
- Ben: Listen to the answer you get when you ask yourself what you need. 1:19:38
Do You Have Any Poetry You’d Like to Share?
- Caira: I have a poem related to depression. I wrote it during a poetry workshop I took with Ariana Brown. 1:21:32
- Poem: Fighting Demons with Daisy Pollen 1:22:52
Connect With Caira
Mentioned in This Episode
- I search 4 it blinded: the power of self-love and self-esteem – Caira’s 2015 TEDx Talk
- Come Off It – Alan Watts Part 1, Part 2 (video)
- Ariana Brown’s Poetry Workshop (connect with Ariana for more info)
- Episode 10: Knowing When to Jump Ship