Transcript: Self Empowerment For Women – Being in Control

This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Self Empowerment For Women – Being in Control and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.

Feelings and emotions such as anxiety, stress, overwhelm or burnout are no stranger to many of the mums I speak with and indeed, many an episode of First Time Mum’s Chat has provided tips and strategies to manage them.

This week’s guest Naomi Buffery, is a certified emotional health coach, mum and postnatal depression and anxiety survivor and I really like her approach to these topics. She’s very much into helping people identify and deal with the underlying associated subconscious thoughts that trigger their responses and reactions.

Helen Thompson: Hi Naomi, welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. It’s a pleasure to have you here.

Naomi Buffery: Thank you for having me. Yeah, I’m excited to be here.

Helen Thompson: When we were chatting, we were talking about how important it is for first time mums to be empowered. What is empowerment?

Naomi Buffery: Well, how I would describe it, is it’s self-empowerment. So you are in control of yourself. I find it easier to explain it by using examples. So what I find with a lot of people that I work with is they allow stuff outside of them that they don’t have control of, to affect their emotions. So that’s what I call external emotional control. So your emotions are controlled by things that are outside of you, that that you don’t have control of. Which is so easy as a parent, isn’t it?

You have a baby and you’re looking after them and you’re keeping them alive and you’re responsible for them, but you have no control over them. They are unpredictable.

Helen Thompson: They’re individuals as well.

Naomi Buffery: Exactly and you don’t want to control them, but your toddler might throw a tantrum in the supermarket, and then that brings on anxiety. That’s your emotions being controlled by something that you’re not in control of, because let’s face it toddlers are going to have tantrums. That’s their job, right!

Helen Thompson: And it’s their way of expressing their emotions or expressing something they don’t have control of themselves because they don’t know how to express it and that’s their way of doing it.

Naomi Buffery: Yes, exactly. So using that as an example, like a toddler tantrum in public. I used to be terrified of my son doing something in public. It wasn’t the tantrum that was the problem. It wasn’t my son, that was the problem. It was the associated thoughts and feelings that went with that because deep down, I didn’t feel like a good mum. That’s what I believed about myself. I’m not a good mom. I don’t deserve to be happy. I had all sorts of unhelpful thoughts about myself and I was very scared of judgment from other people because I didn’t want other people to think the same about me as I thought about myself. This is all subconscious.

I had no idea at the time, that was what was going on. So when he had a tantrum in public, it wasn’t because he had a tantrum because rationally, I can think, that’s what kids do, but subconsciously I was thinking, oh my God, everyone thinks I’m a bad parent.

Helen Thompson: And they’re watching you.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah, and watching me and judging me. I almost had a phobia I think of being judged. It was so intense. And that’s empowerment. Learning how to take back control in that situation. And it’s about bringing it back to you. Cause what you’ve got control of in that situation is how you think, how you feel, how you respond and what you think about yourself. So that is empowerment because if you dive in deep, my issue, the root of why I cared so much about what other people thought of me in public…

You know, Tina on the checkout at Sainsbury’s. I cared about what she thought about me, even though I didn’t know her, because I had a real underlying fear of judgment. And that’s the thing that needed working on and that’s empowerment because that’s bringing it back to yourself. Does that make sense?

Helen Thompson: Yeah, it does. It does make sense. It’s interesting that you say that because I work a lot with kids and I’ve got a lot of experience with lots of different kids. And I did some work today and it was really interesting in how I dealt with the situation because I was empowering myself.

This kid, he wasn’t being naughty. He just didn’t want to have anything to do with me. He just wanted his own space. Cause dad hadn’t been around for a while and he was just shouting and getting really cross and then dad went downstairs and I had him on my own and I just gently said to him, look, I understand that you don’t want me around right now. I’m going to be in the next room. I’ve got the craft box out. If you want to come and join me, please feel free to do that. I’m making something right now. And I used those empowering words, because I didn’t want to be negative toward him. So I used positive thought to try and after about 10 minutes, he came in and said, oh, what are you making?

I think what you’re saying is so valuable because if you have that empowerment, it releases stress. It releases that anxiety. And I think for mums that is so important to do because moms get stressed all the time.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah. That’s the thing, isn’t it. What he’s doing. You could make that about you couldn’t you! He’s making me feel this way. That’s what people say. My child or this child, or my husband or whoever it is, is making me feel like this and when you say that, that takes away your power, because you are saying that that person is in control of your emotions. So in that example, that’s triggered you, hasn’t it, for some reason, that’s triggered you, but the self-awareness to know that it’s triggered you and you know a lot about kids, so you were able to bring it back to you and keep yourself calm. Not everyone’s got that ability, you know.

Helen Thompson: I think it takes a lot of work to do that. So if you were coaching, what would you say to a mom who is going through that? What tips would you give?

Naomi Buffery: When they were getting triggered by their child’s behaviour?

Helen Thompson: Yes, or by their child’s temper tantrum or what I expressed.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah, I’m not about giving tips. Each person is an individual and this is my issue, actually, just going off track a little bit with, with the way that mental health or emotional health is treated. It’s like everyone’s exactly the same, so you treat them exactly the same.

Actually everyone’s different. So in that situation where your child is triggering you and for anyone listening, it’s really common for your child to trigger you. There would be probably lots of different reasons for that. What I would want to do is uncover why they’re triggering you, because what happens is, something triggers you and then you have a reaction.

You have a physical reaction or emotional reaction and you might lash out, you might shout at them or you might get cross with them or you might storm off, cry, whatever. That’s your emotional reaction. That’s why people say, he made me feel like that, but actually in between that trigger and that emotional reaction, are thoughts, and this is the step that people don’t realize there is.

So, cause it happens really quickly and it won’t be the trigger or the bad behavior, bad behavior in inverted commas that has made you react in that emotional way. It is the thoughts in between that create that emotional response. Cause this happens so quickly.

So your child has, I dunno, pushed another child and then you shout at them, don’t do that. And it’s not that your child’s pushed another child, it’s the thoughts in between that are the problem. Thoughts, like, oh my God, what would that other mum think of me? I’m a bad mom. It’s my fault. Our children are extensions of ourselves. What they do, we take personally. And it’s those thoughts in between. So what I would say to someone, at the very beginning of working with me, we talk about triggers, because your triggers are clues.

We hate being triggered, but actually we need to see triggers as something that are really useful because they are clues to why we are the way we are.

Yeah. So a trigger is when something happens, it creates a big emotional response in you. So when you are triggered, rather than allowing that trigger to play out, which is exactly what you did in your situation, you didn’t let it play out. I would ask myself five times, why am I feeling like this? Why am I feeling like this? And each time you ask yourself that question, you go a layer deeper.

That is the clue to understanding why that thing triggered you. And it always comes down to three things. How much you care about what other people think. So your fear of judgment. What you think about yourself. So your self-esteem, how much you value yourself and whether you’re trying to control something that’s outside of your control. So your emotional control. Always comes back to one of those three things, and usually it comes from some sort of unhelpful belief that we have about ourselves, but everyone’s going to be different when they have that trigger and they ask themselves that question, five times. 20 people in a room, all doing it will all have different answers, different root problems, different beliefs. So if you want to call it a tip, that’s what that would be. That’s understanding yourself. Self-awareness is massive and that’s how you start to get self-awareness by asking yourself that question five times.

Yeah, when someone first starts working with me, they won’t find it easy to calm themselves down in that moment because it takes practice, it takes effort and it’s not something that you can just click your fingers and stop doing. And if I said, okay, well, here’s an exercise to calm you down in the moment. That’s only addressing the symptoms. That’s only addressing that thing in the moment, but if you do the inner work to fix what’s going on underneath the surface, eventually that trigger and emotional response goes away. Cause you have to do the inner work. So I could say, oh, well in that situation, like count to 10, breathe deeply and tell yourself I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. That will calm you down in that instance, but it’s not going to help you in the long run because that behavior is going to keep happening over and over again. It’s the inner work that you need to address.

If you have anxiety regularly that you just live with and whenever you feel anxious, you apply some sort of coping strategy, like, deep breathing, count to 10, which are absolutely great for calming you down in the moment. But they’re not a long term strategy. They just put a plaster on it. When you’re in that situation again, that anxiety is going to come back. So what I’m about, and this is the empowerment part of it, is understanding why you feel that anxiety in the first place and changing it, so that the anxiety doesn’t come back and you don’t need to apply some sort of coping strategy.

You see what I mean?

Helen Thompson: Yes, I do see what you mean.

Naomi Buffery: So that’s why I find it really difficult to give tips because everyone’s going to be different. And it’s usually based on some unhelpful stories about yourself or the world around you or other people that you’ve been carrying around with you that are creating anxiety.

Helen Thompson: I think that’s my case is what’s been going on for me. Outside influences that have come in and I’ve just picked that negativity up.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah, because you can get it off somebody else. Cause basically what happens is when we’re born, we’re like an absolute clean slate, you know, we think the world revolves around us, we’ve got excellent confidence, but then stuff happens to us throughout our lives and it creates stories that we store in our mind. We create stories about ourselves and like your example, other people, our parents create stories for us.

I worked with someone not long ago whose mom drummed in stranger danger to her, my client when she was a kid. So as an adult, she was scared to go outside because her mom had been like stranger danger, stranger, danger, the world is a dangerous place and that was her belief. When you go outside, horrible things are gonna happen. And her mum put that on her when she was a kid.

Helen Thompson: And I guess if a child is pushing those buttons for you and they’re reacting, those triggers are coming back for you.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah, because they’re embedded in your subconscious. So whenever you have a similar situation, that belief will come up to the surface and your mind will go, oh, this is the same thing happening again and then you go through that cycle again and then that embeds that behavior even more.

Helen Thompson: And it’s finding out what that behavior is to let it go.

Naomi Buffery: We were talking about this earlier, it is literally most of the time our anxiety comes from unhelpful habits and it’s about changing those habits. It’s a process of rewiring your brain, basically.

Helen Thompson: Finding the bottom line to what it is like those five things that you said, whether it’s fear, whether it’s self-esteem, whether it’s an outside influence and if it is an outside influence, accepting that’s what it is and letting it go, and then just being positive in the moment. So then you can take the step to deregulate yourself and take the opportunity to give yourself self care so that you can deal with it.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah, well, that’s a biggie, isn’t it because I think self care can be miscontstrued sometimes, and we think it’s like having a bubble bath and reading a book and relaxing, but actually self care is making the decision to speak to yourself in a kind way. It’s a decision to be realistic with yourself. Stop putting pressure on yourself. The amount of times we criticize ourselves on it without even realizing it. That’s a form of self abuse.

Helen Thompson: And mothers do that too, don’t they! As you said, moms do that all the time. They’re saying they’re a bad mom or they’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, and they’re just saying, oh, I’m exhausted, I can’t cope, I can’t do this. And they’re putting those thoughts into their body.

Yes. So that’s what they’re doing. I came up with an affirmation today, I release thoughts that no longer serve me well.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah. I love that. I love that.

Helen Thompson: It is really empowering because as you said you’re a mom who was struggling and you had those thoughts so that if you say something like that, it doesn’t have to be that affirmation. That’s just what I came up with today. I worked out for me that it’s fear from all this stuff that’s been going on in the last two years. I’ve got this fear that I’m going to get every disease.

Naomi Buffery: There is such a strong connection between your mind and your body and how you think affects how you feel and you can think yourself sick. Yes, I won’t go too deep into it, but that’s a character trait that some of us have, and I have that, and it’s a tendency towards being dramatic. I can be quite dramatic. You think of worst case scenarios.

Yeah and you can literally think about something so much that you start to feel it. If that makes sense and that is the power of the mind. I used to get panic attacks and when I had a panic attack I’d get a tight chest. And I remember the first time I ever had a panic attack, I convinced myself I was having a heart attack. So whenever I felt that panic rising, I would be looking for signs that I was having a heart attack. And you know you get pains down the arms?

Yeah. I would get pains in my arms because I was thinking so much about the pain in my arm that I created a pain in my arm. I know it sounds bonkers. That is what we do. And, you know, the reason I was feeling pain in my arms was because when we’re that stressed out and anxious, we tense our muscles. So because I was focusing on that so much and thinking I’m going to have a heart attack, I’m gonna have a heart attack. I was feeling a pain in my arm.

Helen Thompson: Yeah so I guess the bottom line is we’ve just got to try and work to heal our minds and to just know that we’re okay. And if a mom’s going through that, just to know that she’s okay and just calm herself down initially and then take steps from there.

Naomi Buffery: If you were feeling like that as a new mom, I would recommend in the first instance, those things that are going to help you calm down. There’s a hypnotherapy technique which, when you get to that point where you are panicking. There’s no way of rationalizing. You can’t rationalize. You can’t put things in perspective. You’re too far gone at that point. So to calm yourself down, there’s a really good self-hypnosis technique. So what happens is we have an internal pressure gauge.

So that pressure gauge goes up and up and up every time there’s this stress added on top of the stress on top of the stress. So the pressure gauge goes up and up and up and up. And once the pressure gauge is at the top, that’s when you’re overwhelmed, that’s when you can’t think straight, that’s when you’re on the verge of panic.

So imagining you pushing that pressure gauge back down as you do deep breaths. There’s more to it, but that’s a good technique for calming yourself down in the moment because you can’t think why was I triggered, what was going on?

Helen Thompson: No, you’re too far gone to do that. So it’s a bit like a volcano that’s sort of bubbling up and bubbling up and bubbling up and bubbling up and then suddenly, whoosh it comes out and that’s the overwhelm. Before you can start pushing that down, you’ve got to just calmly and slowly, work to push it down.

So how does your coaching work?

Naomi Buffery: Well, it’s a process of helping them to understand themselves better. It’s all about self-awareness and like I say, everyone’s different, so I would approach it differently for each person. So, each person’s got a unique formula, to help them go from anxious to confident. So one end of the spectrum to the other. And it’s not about me saying you need to do this, it’s about me educating you through different concepts that I think will help you, so you can figure out what’s going on for yourself, because that is self-empowerment. So if you go and see a counselor, for example, this is my experience. They expect you to tell them what’s wrong with you. But I know when I went to a counselor, I didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me. I felt anxious. I was like, you need to tell me, you need to tell me what’s wrong with me because I don’t know.

And this is the opposite. This is someone coming to me and saying, I feel like this. I don’t know why I feel like this, what can I do? And then we go through the steps to help them to understand themselves better so they can figure out for themselves why they feel the way they do and then when they leave, they don’t need me anymore because they’ve got everything they need to be able to manage it themselves. Whereas the counseling, as soon as you’ve finished the counseling, eventually after a while you think, I need to go and see that counselor again, because they’re doing the work for you.

Helen Thompson: Whereas you’re giving them the steps to support them, to do it themselves.

Naomi Buffery: Yes, that’s it? Yeah. Yeah. So there’s different things that we go through. So we talk a lot about triggers, we talk about thoughts and thought management and affirmations and visualizations, self hypnosis, that sort of stuff. We talk about belief systems. We talk about self-esteem, we talk about fear of judgment. We talk about mind and body connection.

Resilience and taking back control, so all different things that you can get a better understanding of yourself.

Helen Thompson: That sounds good because I think as we’ve discussed throughout this podcast, the mind and body connection is a really, really important one for the empowerment, because the mind and body connection is so powerful. And if somebody can work out how to support their mind and body connection they’re well on the way to supporting and continuing to heal themselves.

Naomi Buffery: Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny because this triggers people when I say it, but we create anxiety ourselves with our thoughts. And often when I say that to somebody they’re like, well, actually it’s from my trauma. No, it’s from your thoughts about your trauma. It’s not your trauma, that’s creating your anxiety it’s your thoughts about your trauma, that’s creating your anxiety and that’s it. Sometimes we attach our identity to awful things that have happened to us.

Helen Thompson: Yes. Or they’re awful things that might’ve happened to somebody else and your mind connection with your body is so important. If your mind thinks that, then that’s what you’re going to create.

Naomi Buffery: Well, yeah, you’ve only got a look at the last couple of years, haven’t we? Where it’s just news and on social media and stuff, we’ve just been drip fed deaths, haven’t we! Doom and gloom and it’s just been drip fed to us constantly. There was no equal story when it came to COVID it was all done with just the bad stuff. We didn’t hear about the 98% of people that had it and got better. We only heard about the 2%!

And we’ve just been absorbing it into our subconscious. And so many people have been affected by that and worried to leave the house. This is a thing for moms as well.

I spoke to someone recently who didn’t want to take their baby to the hospital to get weighed or something because they were worried they were going to get COVID and I said to him, well, why, why are you worried? And they said, because people die from COVID, even though she’s had COVID and didn’t die.

She was still scared about going to hospital and dying from COVID. And even though she’s really fit and healthy and the odds are way, way, way in her favor because we’ve been dripfed this gloom and doom news, that was what was controlling her, what was in her subconscious mind. God knows how many people feel like that right now!

Helen Thompson: Me included but I’m doing my positive affirmations to release my thoughts, like I said earlier.

Naomi Buffery: So what that constant doom and gloom information has created is neural pathways in our mind. Because once we’re told something consistently over and over again, it creates a pathway in our brain and you need to create a new one over it. And the only way to do that is by consciously making a decision to think differently every single day, which is what you’re doing. And that’s how you make a new pathway.

Helen Thompson: So if somebody wanted to get in touch with you, how would they go about doing that?

Naomi Buffery: Well you can visit my website. That’s just Or I’m on LinkedIn. Facebook, I’ve got a Facebook group just for moms, which is called More Than a Mum – Heal From Anxiety, Depression, Burnout & Overwhelm. So there’s a few options.

Helen Thompson: Are you on instagram?

Naomi Buffery: Yes, I am on Instagram. Yeah. You can search for maternal mental health coach on Instagram.

Helen Thompson: Okay. I will put all those in the show notes. Thank you Naomi, for being here, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you.

Naomi Buffery: Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed myself. Thank you.