165: “Are You A Self-Development Junkie?” with Julia Cha

How to Overcome the Fear of Showing Up Online

“Most people need a pretty bad rock bottom. The more stubborn you are — I’m very stubborn — I need a huge rock bottom to start changing.” – Julia Cha

It took a quarter-life cross for Julia Cha to realize she wasn’t happy.

Even though her life looked like it was on track and successful, she had a horrible feeling that if it stayed the same, she’d rather die. That gut instinct was the product of allowing generational conditioning to direct her life, and once she put in the work to get rid of it, she found happiness and started to share her story without the old fears of rejection and judgment.

On this week’s episode of “Authors Who Lead,” Julia and I dive into the background of her book, “Am I There Yet? The Messy Business of Being Yourself When You Have No Idea Who That Is,” and discuss why being a self-development junkie is detrimental and how breaking the conditioning in our lives can make us truly happy.

What Is Conditioning?

Conditioning is the automated programming that we receive before birth — the emotional memory at the cellular level that can contain what your parents and ancestors experienced, Julia explained. Then, when you have children, it will pass on to them without you even knowing. 

Historically, this conditioning was designed to keep us safe in threatening environments — like from wild animals and starvation — but today, most people actively fight against feeling emotionally or physically unsafe.

If we are running on this survival programming, we will eventually sabotage ourselves — because it’s about surviving, rather than thriving and achieving our best. We need to dig down into a deeper place of confidence where we can understand that the programming is no longer valid.

In my work with authors, I ask them to look at their entire lives as one timeline. A lot of good questions and curiosities bubble to the surface as they stop and see where they’ve been, where they are now, and how many events in their childhoods still linger in their subconscious — which is where a lot of great book ideas originate.

How To Break Free From Conditioning

Learning how conditioning affects our lives is a first step, Julia said. Then, we need to break free from it.

Start by recognizing the repetition and patterns in our lives. For Julia, she wanted to be a powerful, accomplished career woman, but she sabotaged her own success and felt like she didn’t deserve it because she was mirroring her mother’s trajectory and past mistakes.

When facing these patterns, you’ll need grit and determination to push through the resistance — and it will be uncomfortable. Julia used anger toward her antagonist to move forward, though admittedly, she doesn’t recommend this route.

Instead, imagine your future self. This helps with the sustainability of your new mindset. When we’re in the middle of fighting against the conditioning and resistance in our lives, and start to feel stuck, it can be easy to give up.

Wonder how your future self would handle this situation. Would they throw in the towel, or take some kind of action? And if you can’t envision your future self, picture someone similar that you can relate to, like method acting. Even though you may never be exactly like them, moving forward will get you closer to the success you desire.

And through the process, remember to be gentle with yourself — and keep pursuing what’s most important to you.

Why Hard Work Can Be Detrimental

Meet Chris. He works hard, regularly exercises at the gym and is addicted to self-development. On the outside, his life looks great, but like so many people, he isn’t happy.

In her book, Julia explains how she helped him break free of his conditioning and why striving to have the perfect life on the surface is just a way to escape from our problems. Self-development can mask what’s aching on the inside, she said, and we sabotage ourselves when we don’t process our emotions. When we only focus on goals and outcomes, instead of learning from our uncomfortable feelings, we miss opportunities to grow.

Self-development is all on the conscious level. We read books, attend conferences and feel like we’re doing the work. But our suppressed problems and unprocessed emotions are in our subconscious. This is where we need to focus on breaking our conditioning.

Hitting Rock Bottom To Find Long-Term Happiness

After years of self-development courses, therapy and training, you may still not be happy — and find yourself in a place that looks good on the outside, but feels dead on the inside.

Ultimately, achieving more will not help you feel better. It might for a moment, but long-term happiness comes from overcoming conditioning by concentrating on the subconscious mind. In that, you’ll find sustainability in your happiness. There are many ways to tap into the subconscious mind, including hypnotherapy, EMDR, tapping and meditation, which Julia uses with her clients.

But what if you want to change and you still keep living for short-term goals? Unfortunately, this is how you’ll hit rock bottom, Julia says, which some people — who are more stubborn than others — need in order to make radical changes in their lives.

Hitting rock bottom will allow you to tap into your emotions and find the inspiration you need to keep going. Reframe “taking action to avoid a result” into “taking action to provide certain results,” Julia encourages.

Why Did You Write Your Book?

Julia always knew she would write someday, but she didn’t think it would include her own story. In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, she tells me that she felt different and alone in her 30s — and soon realized that others felt the same way, too.

This — and her work with her clients — inspired her to write her book, and awakened the notion that this wasn’t how she was supposed to think or feel about herself, or how she was supposed to live her life.

Meeting the right person to help in her writing journey allowed her to move forward, she said. Having a guide or mentor is so important for an author. Some people assume that writing is a solo endeavor, but it really is a team sport. It’s helpful to have a coach in your corner, and that doesn’t mean you’re incapable as a writer. Having words of encouragement when you get lost in your writing, or start to second-guess yourself, is invaluable.

Unpacking the Book-Writing Process

Julia admits that it took three versions of her book before she was satisfied with it. The editing process is hard because it’s your baby. We want to keep everything in, so we often need that person to tell us, from a reader’s perspective, when we shouldn’t.

She also learned that you need to write your book at a fourth-grade reading level. Most authors want to add a lot of big, smart words, but then it starts sounding like a textbook — and no one wants to read one outside of school. We want our books to be transformational, not just educational.

As you’re writing your own book — while developing a happier life, of course — remember my greatest takeaways from my conversation with Julia:

  1. You don’t have to suffer. You can be happy and free.
  2. Your subconscious might be the culprit and you won’t even know it’s there.
  3. You can change or reject your conditioning. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.

What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? Are you a self-development junkie? Share in the comments below!

That’s all for this week. Take that next step toward shedding your conditional programming and live your best life!

Episode Resources:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliajcha

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliajcha

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliacha

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