Podcast Episode #374: Anxiety, Perfectionism, & Imposter Syndrome with Topsie VandenBosch

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Topics

  1. Introducing our guest, Topsie VandenBosch [2:23]
  2. Topsie's story [4:28]
  3. The difference between anxiety and worry [21:33]
  4. High-functioning anxiety [31:05]
  5. Turning off the anxiety [36:45]
  6. Therapist versus coach [42:32]
  7. Top three things addressed as a mindset coach [48:39]

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Anxiety, Perfectionism, & Imposter Syndrome with Topsie VandenBosch Anxiety, Perfectionism, & Imposter Syndrome with Topsie VandenBosch Anxiety, Perfectionism, & Imposter Syndrome with Topsie VandenBosch

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 374.

Liz Wolfe: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a lake in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City.

My usual partner in podcast, Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and the 21-Day Sugar Detox. Her newest book, Keto Quick Start, will release on January 1, 2019. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and fur kids.

We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award-winning podcast for more than 7 years. We’re here to share our take on modern healthy living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at http://balancedbites.com or watch the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram account for our weekly calls for questions. You can ask us anything in the comments.

Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal.

The NTA’s nutritional therapy practitioner program and fully online nutritional therapy consultant program empower graduates with the education and skills needed to launch a successful, fulfilling career in holistic nutrition. Registration is now open for February class, and you can learn more and save your seat by going to http://www.NutritionalTherapy.com. Don’t forget to check out the NTA’s annual conference, Roots, happening March 1 through 3 in Portland, Oregon. It’s one of the most empowering and educational nutritional events of the year, and all are welcome.

1. Introducing our guest, Topsie VandenBosch [2:23]

Liz Wolfe: I’m so thrilled today to have a guest on our show that I’ve been stalking on Instagram for her engaging, enlightening, and hilarious content. Temitope VandenBosch, or Topsie for short, is a licensed mental health therapist and mindset business coach who helps female entrepreneurs overcome negative thought patterns and low self-confidence.

Topsie has worked as a mental health clinician for 7 years, and shares great tips with her community about anxiety, depression, and beyond. While her messaging is focused on female entrepreneurs, all women benefit from her mental health expertise. Including moms like me. So this is for everybody. Topsie, I’m so excited to welcome you to the show.

Topsie VandenBosch: Hey girl! I’m so pumped to be here.

Liz Wolfe: Good, good, good. This is going to be awesome. You and I talked actually quite a bit before we started recording. Which I just kept thinking; I should be recording this! Because this is so good!

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs} I think you're a riot. I’m in stitches, girl. You’ve got my stomach hurting.

Liz Wolfe: I’m going to have to come up and visit you and Diane Evans, who is on my team, who knows Topsie.

Topsie VandenBosch: You have to come!

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh, it would be so much fun.

Topsie VandenBosch: We would show you such a good time. Oh my gosh.

Liz Wolfe: And we would probably nerd out on a lot of the stuff that we’re going to talk about today. Because this stuff is just so good. It’s so dense and so important. And before we even get started, I want to again emphasize. I discovered; I didn’t discover. I was introduced to your work with a series of Instagram stories about high functioning anxiety. And the way it hit me first and foremost was my role as a mom.

Which is so funny, because you're really steeped in helping female entrepreneurs. But in a way, motherhood is like the ultimate entrepreneur. You have no idea where this is going. You have to constantly assess and reassess.

Topsie VandenBosch: 100%. I’m so happy it did.

2. Topsie’s story [4:28]

Liz Wolfe: It really did. So let’s talk a little bit, first let’s let people get to know you a little bit more. Let’s talk about how you arrived at your current profession. Who you work with and why. How that came about. Why it’s important to you. Just give us the Topsie 411.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes, girl! Ok. So thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy that my Instagram stories; it’s so funny because you just never know who you're reaching, right? You never know. I record it and I’m talking to one person, but I also think about them. I think with my social work background as the full person. It’s just never really separate.

So, oh my gosh, where do I start? Pretty much, my mother was a social worker. I’m west African, FYI. So I come from strong immigrant parents. I’m a first generation Nigerian American. Moved to the states when I was, I don’t know, I think a year and a half or so. And lived in multiple states. My mother is a social worker now. My dad is a sociologist. My dad was a sociologist; what would I call it? Pseudo-fake social worker. He thought he was honorary {laughing}. Which is not at all. He was in academia. But it’s the study of people. So he was just a riot.

I went to a small liberal arts college, and my dad taught at a liberal arts college. My mom; oh my gosh. In social work, she worked at a domestic violence shelter. She was supervisor there. She did some great work there. She’s worked at multiple places, as such is the life of a person who helps people. Because burnout is real. Funding issues are real. And so she ended up, while they were living in Michigan; my family lives in Georgia now, and I miss them so much. My mom now works for the VA, so she works with veterans. And she just adores her work. I’m just so happy she hopefully will be able to retire from there, because that was created for her. She just loves the work that she does with that population.

My dad is now in a higher position at Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia. So they’re both doing great work, and they were just inspiring for me. When I was in college, I stupidly thought that I could go into business despite having zero math skills.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} And they ask for that, don’t they?

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs} Girl, that algebra crap put me to sleep literally. I would just go to class; and I would consider myself a fairly good student. I was a goodie-two-shoes. But for whatever reason, that class. I don’t know if it was the professor. Probably part professor, part me, part curriculum. I would literally zonk out. Like; drool, the whole nine.

So I eventually passed it, by the grace of god, with a D-minus. And my parents sat me down, and said; you know, this business thing. I don’t know that this is going to work because you need to get past algebra, and you barely passed this. So let’s reevaluate.

They told me; you're a friend of the world. You love people. You have a big heart. What do you think about social work? And the first thing I thought was; never thought about it. At all. And it’s so interesting. I think, too; it wasn’t because I was thinking about; oh, I won’t make any money. It just never occurred to me. I don’t know how much you know about immigrant families, but a lot of the time, there’s the stereotype that the parents push us to be doctors, lawyers, engineers. Something where they consider it prestigious.

Not that I grew up in a family where that was really pushed on me. But I think at the same time, my parents valued encouraging us to go into careers where it would be lucrative, I think. But also something they thought we would want to do.

They encouraged me to explore social work, and I did, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my whole life. It just fit. I didn’t need math. It was wonderful. {laughs} I was so superficial in college. So; I’m like, no math? No science? This is like created for me.

Liz Wolfe: Perfect.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes, perfect.

Liz Wolfe: That’s why I studied English! {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs} Oh, did you? You studied English?

Liz Wolfe: I’m like; I can read and I can write. Yeah, and that’s really, I think, probably why I enjoy communicating so much. Because that’s basically what writing is.

Topsie VandenBosch: Right.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Same here. I remember my first, what, calculus class. And I was like; this is not going to work. {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: No! It’s awful. It’s awful. And I love the people who have the brains for it, because I so don’t. So I did an internship at the DHS with, I think, foster care and child protective service. I wasn’t a huge fan of the system, but they do amazing work. Amazing work. But the paperwork is just horrendous. Caseloads, at the time, even though they were trying to decrease it as far as caseloads because kids were getting lost, literally, in the system. Which is horrific. But it just wasn’t really possible to decrease their case load very much.

So I didn’t really like that. I knew that I wouldn’t really go into that. I went straight after college into my master’s degree, and I did an accelerated program. I did the clinical tract, which meant that I knew I was going to work with people one on one. I knew I didn’t want to do; at the time I didn’t want to do school social work. I didn’t want to do the macro policy level. I wanted to be on the front lines, working with people, doing therapy, case management, that whole thing.

So, after grad school, oh my gosh, I just had to find myself. I immediately moved to Flint, Michigan. It’s such a beautiful community. There is so much beauty about it. Just how everybody supports each other, and the cohesiveness and just the proudness that people have of being from the community. There’s so much strength. But that duality of it is there’s just so much; it was heart breaking as well to see the poverty, and the lack of resources that they had.

I remember having to petition people; because my position there was I was a certified community treatment case manager. So what I had to do; I was responsible for case managing individuals who had moderate to severe mental health illnesses. So schizophrenia, bipolar. These are people living on the fringes of society; sometimes barely making it. And sometimes with co-occurring substance abuse, because they’re trying to self-medicate. It’s awful. But it was great work. But in that community, there was so much unrest. So many abandoned homes.

So there was a situation that happened there where I had a gun pulled on me, and that was crazy. I receive little support from the agency. So not too long after, I ended up finding a job, thank god, and moved back home, gladly. And I think that situation could have derailed my career, but it didn’t. Because I was like; you know what? That was awful. But I didn’t have enough support. And I think I was able to articulate that it just wasn’t my fault.

So I was able to process through that, surprisingly. I had no PTSD symptoms, nothing like that, thank god. I think I just had a great support system and just my mindset was; this is, unfortunately, the way the community is at this point. It’s unpredictable. The safety standards of my agency just wasn’t up to par.

Anyway, I ended up becoming a residential substance abuse therapist working with teens. And I got to testify in juvenile court, and work with some amazing probation officers in a small rural county in Michigan. And that was a transformative experience. You want to talk about completely opposite of the work I was just doing. No home visits, and I just loved it. It was amazing. So I got to assist in pioneering this program for teens where it was a 30, 60, and 90-day residential treatment program.

So, I did that for almost 3 years. And during that time, I met my amazing Dutch Italian husband. Nick VandenBosch. And he whisked me away to the west side of Michigan, where it is extremely Dutch.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Extremely Dutch.

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs} and I had never; I’ve always grown up in diverse communities. But I had never experienced Dutch culture and what that really meant. We’re talking the Grand Rapids area. So I’m thinking; I live probably 45 minutes away from the Grand Rapids area. So I didn’t quite understand what all; lack of diversity. There was just a lot of differences from where I was coming from, from the Southeast part of Michigan. So that was a difficult transition.

So, I ended up working in outpatient therapy. And then throughout my whole career, I’ve always worked an additional job, such as the life of a social worker, just wanting to help people. I’ve done ER social work. I’ve done adult outpatient emergency services, where I triage adults and kids to either some type or residential facility or back home, whatever is appropriate. So I’ve always done that. And eventually I worked at the prison. And I worked at the prison, the men’s prison. And I was a therapist and case manager. And that was a very, very challenging job. But I wanted to do it, because I thought; oh, I’ve worked with people who are on probation. I love the criminal justice. I want to change things. And so I did that.

I worked in the prison. I made it 9 months. {laughs} It was a dog-eat-dog world in there. Not enough corrections officers at all. At all. It’s just; it was just heartbreaking. I loved the inmates on my case load. The ones on my case load were fantastic. Amazing. The ones that were not on my case load, when they would see me walk through the yard, they catcalled, all of that stuff. So you constantly had to be on guard. You constantly had to be on the defense. And then another thing, too, was that I actually was able to write them up if they excessively said anything disrespectful. So I became the total opposite of joyful, bubbly, whatever.

So I ended up getting an offer from my friend’s mother to do private practice. And I was looking to leave the prison. And I was like; you know what? I’ve done most of everything I want to do in social work. At that time, I had already been in the field for 5 years, and I was like; you know what, I feel really good about this transition. I’m just going to take the leap. My husband was amazing. And I did.

So I took the leap into private practice. And I worked with everyone. Everyone that walked through my door. I worked with kids. I worked with adults. I didn’t work with older adults, just because that wasn’t my specialty. But I worked with adult males, adult women, teens. Teens were my heart.

So, I loved it, but I really wanted to niche down, because what I was finding was that what really made me come alive was working with women. So I was like; ok, let’s do this. Let’s niche down, work with women. I love women. I love supporting women. So that just felt really good.

Then I decided to work specifically with women who are career focused. I love SAHMs. Stay at home moms. I love SAHMs.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs} Somebody said that to me; one of my clients did, and I’ve never forgotten it. Is that offensive? I don’t even know!

Liz Wolfe: No!

Topsie VandenBosch: I’m just saying it.

Liz Wolfe: For reason though, I’ve never; I’m always like, S-A-H-M. But you just said that, and I’m like; what? Oh! Of course! Of course!

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: No, it’s great.

Topsie VandenBosch: So I love working with SAHMs, especially SAHMs who have; because obviously SAHMs were working at some point. So I love the ones who are transitioning from being in their career to being at home and all that entails. Because that is difficult. It’s not easy. Even if they may not; not every SAHM I worked with had postpartum. But I would say sometimes you're at risk just because of all of the changes that come along with being all of a sudden you're at home and it’s not what you thought it was going to be. Maybe your kid is colicky, or just grouchy sometimes or whatever. And you're irritable because you just birthed a baby. That is, I don’t know. Do you allow cursing on your podcast or this is a clean one?

Liz Wolfe: No. No cursing, shoot. Unfortunately. {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: Ok, good to know. I’ve been doing really well then! {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: You’ve been doing great!

Topsie VandenBosch: So glad I asked. So anyway. Yeah. I just love working with that population too. And then female entrepreneurs. So I niched down. I work with women; female entrepreneurs, career focused women. And then, of course, if a mother calls me and she’s like; I just transitioned to being at stay at home. I love working with them too. All of those people who struggle with depression and anxiety.

So that is my niche in private practice. I’ve been in private practice for two years. And I love it. But I also wanted to add; I wanted to diversify my business. Because I noticed that there were a group of people who fell between the cracks. Especially; and I think some of this came from just having friend who were high achievers. And they didn’t meet; just from talking to them, I guess, and thinking about it. They didn’t strike me as meeting any type of criteria for any type of clinical disorder or anything. But they had behaviors that to me, they could benefit from some type of guidance. Especially as it related to their business.

So I decided to create a company; a coaching, LLC, to address this. So I’m a mindset coach. Which basically means I help female entrepreneurs struggling with negative thought patterns and beliefs and fears that are preventing them from excelling in their business. So that’s why I decided to go into that. Because not everybody has a clinical disorder that needs treatment. Not everybody fits into that box. So then where do they fit? Do they just not get any type of guidance? So that’s what I created my company to do.

So I created that LLC. And in 2019, I’ll be launching a group coaching program of some type. For the last year, I’ve just been focusing on my own mindset. Because I didn’t realize there’s so much stuff that for me has come up since I became an entrepreneur 2 years ago. And so now I’m doing my own work. And of course, you never completely have it all together. But in 2019, I plan on launching a group coaching program. This summer I did a private practice workshop teaching other therapists how to open up their own private practice. And I just loved it. I adored it. So I’m really excited to start on that journey of also adding coaching as a part of the services I offer. So that’s a totally different aspect of my business.

Liz Wolfe: Well we’ll give information too, at the end, before we sign off. But you all can find Topsie at TopsieVandenBosch.com. Right?

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: So if you want to get signed up for alerts and emails and whatever it is, you can go there. Because I think this episode will air just a little bit before 2019, and we don’t want folks to miss out on anything. So make sure you go to Topsie’s website to get all signed up for all of that good stuff.

Diane Sanfilippo: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Perfect Keto. Dr. Anthony Gustin and his teams have created a line of supplements that are super clean and effective, no matter what your dietary needs. I’ve been blending their MCT oil powder into my matcha latte lately. Not only are MCTs; medium chain triglycerides; a premium source of your body’s preferred type of energy, and help to fuel your brain and body, but there’s also no added taste. It makes your coffee or matcha wonderfully creamy. Check them out at PerfectKeto.com and use the code BALANCED for 20% off at Perfect Keto; and their sister site, Equip Foods.

3. The difference between anxiety and worry [21:33]

Topsie VandenBosch: So I hope that gave you a good…

Liz Wolfe: Yes! I feel like I have your full story now. Which is so fascinating, because you have worked in so many different arenas and done so many different things. And for you to have landed where you are now, and also it was very interesting when you said you're doing your own work now. I’ve found, in myself, this new job of motherhood that I gave myself 3.5 years ago. It brought stuff up that I didn’t even know was going to be my work to do.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah. Isn’t that interesting?

Liz Wolfe: It’s been pretty amazing. Something you were saying there a moment ago; I don’t remember exactly what it is. People that don’t necessarily fit into a clinical diagnosis. This reminds me of something you and I were talking about off the air, which is this difference between anxiety and worry. Would you kind of explain that a little bit, because it seems to be related to that idea a little bit.

Topsie VandenBosch: It is! I think a lot of us sometimes interchangeably talk about anxiety and worry. Oh, I have anxiety about this. Oh, I’m worried about this. I mean, me myself included; I’m a clinician, and I don’t always say things the way that I should because it’s just easier to just roll it all into one because people know what you're talking about. People get it.

But, I do think it’s important to have the right name in general when it comes to what it is you're struggling with. So worry is about one specific thing usually. There are no physiological symptoms. Like, associated with it. There isn’t stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, headache, difficulty breathing.

Liz Wolfe: Heart palpitations. That’s me.

Topsie VandenBosch: Heart palpitations. {laughs} Worry isn’t really going to bring this on. It’s resolved quickly. And it’s basically focused on one issue. And it doesn’t affect your school. It doesn’t affect your work. It doesn’t affect your relationships with family and friends. It’s typically, for example, I’m going to use the airport that’s closest to me. I’m worried about not being able to get through TSA precheck line at the Grand Rapids airport. And so what happens is that you get through the line, and your worry is over. That’s it. It’s over with. So there’s not a continued continuation of those worry thoughts. It’s typically resolved quickly.

Liz Wolfe: It’s not morphing into something else. One thing is resolved, and so is something else.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah. It’s not ongoing. Anxiety isn’t really reality based. And it’s not about one specific thing. It’s very general. So it’s just this general fear. It’s about what you fear could happen. It’s fear of the unknown. There’s not necessarily any facts to support it. And you're pervasively having thoughts based on what you think. There are physiological symptoms that are associated with that, like I mentioned earlier. And it’s not resolved quickly. This is typically something that you have work at and that you have to manage.

And yeah, for some people, they see a significant reduction of anxiety. They learn the skills and tools to deal with it. But sometimes, it just needs some more intervention. Whether it’s medical or mental health or just intervention with friends and family. Like; hey, we’re noticing that you're really struggling. So it typically needs some sort of intervention. And like I said, there are physiological symptoms associated with it.

So I think with anxiety, it’s just important to recognize; hey. Let’s not say you have anxiety, because what that does, too, is it changes how you behave and it changes how you talk about yourself. I notice that; especially even me myself, when I say I’m having anxiety about something, it literally sends a response in my body. You feel it. You feel it. Because you're like; yeah, I relate to that. That’s something that I own. I own that I have anxiety. And we don’t want to be owning something that isn’t ours to own. We only want to own things that are true.

So I think it’s just important to call it what it is. And if you're not sure, good old doctor Google. {laughs} is there. But I think also talking to a professional of some sort to help alleviate whatever fears you have. I think it could be good to know; what exactly is it that’s going on? Rather than us thinking; oh, I might have this.

No, no, no. I think it’s good to know for sure, before you start telling yourself that this what you struggle with.

Liz Wolfe: And when you engage with a professional on things like this, it doesn’t mean you're going to be seeing them for forever. Some people will be going every week for a year. Some people will go once or twice. Right?

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes, 100%. And I think that’s a misconception, too, about going to therapy. That you're labeled something. And you know, you do have a choice, too, FYI. Because when you do go to therapy and you use your insurance, in a sense you are giving consent for the insurance company to have access to your diagnosis. To have access to your treatment plan. To have access to your progress notes.

So I understand what comes along with going to therapy in terms from a medical standpoint. Which I think people just need to weigh. Is it worth going and having this be on my record? I don’t mean to scare people. There is a choice. You can use your insurance, which you're able to do that if you're blessed to have that from your employer, and just pay a reduced rate. Hopefully your job covers that in 2018. Mental health; I would really hope that most employers are doing that. And just pay the copay, and you're able to benefit from that.

Or, there are therapists that don’t accept insurance. So you don’t have to worry about that. You don’t have to worry about that, unless something comes up with court, like legally. And they have to provide documentation of some sort that they are working with you. But outside of that. So that’s why people always have a choice.

And the way I run my therapy practice; I’m very solution focused. And the way my brain works, too, I want for people to fly on their own eventually. Best case scenario, I want that. And in my private practice, I can’t really manage people who have severe to persistent diagnoses. I can’t manage that. So most of my clients, they’re not seeing me for a long time. They’re seeing me on average, from what I’ve seen so far, a good 8 months to a year and then typically; first of all, that’s a long time to go to therapy once a week or twice a month or whatever. And I really applaud people who are able to continue on and stick with it, because it’s not easy work. But typically I like to have whatever their initial issue was, at least those symptoms, be reduced quite a bit.

So they have homework. Not like homework, homework, like we’re in school. But I like to keep it task focused; what are we working on, what are your goals. So that you feel like you're getting most out of therapy.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. I think there’s a tendency sometimes, for me in particular, when I leave therapy; it’s kind of like, that is put away on the shelf until the next time I go. And so one of the things that helps me is to have something to take home to actually be like; this is your assignment. And just be cognizant of what you're doing. Very helpful.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah, for sure. And not all therapists have that. Not all therapists find that useful in their practice. But my clients who come to me, they already know from the gate. This is my style. Obviously I tailor it to you, but I just want for my clients to feel like they're getting the most out of their sessions. Because that’s really the ultimate goal. So if homework isn’t your thing, that’s cool. But what are going to be your ways of knowing that you're benefitting? That’s really all I care about.

Liz Wolfe: So this is a really important distinction, I think, and very enlightening. Because I think what people need to know is that therapists are different, person to person. So the way one person approaches their practice is going to be potentially different from the way the next person does. So if you don’t find what you need with one person; talk to the next person. Look for somebody that you feel like is going to resonate with you. Because we’re all so different.

Topsie VandenBosch: We are all so different. And what I love, too, is when a person calls me for the initial appointment. I love when they ask very specific questions. “Do you have experience in working with PTSD? Do you have experience in working with postpartum? Do you have experience in anxiety?”

I love those direct questions because not all therapists are specialized in all of these areas. Or, knowing. In my opinion, know enough about it to say; yes, I can work with you on that topic. Because there are some topics that I don’t really know a whole lot about. Because I didn’t do; I didn’t study it. So eating disorders; I am not the person that knows a ton about eating disorders. So I am going to refer that person on to another professional that does specialize in that. Or at the very least has a lot of training.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. On a much smaller scale {laughs} it’s kind of like when people ask me about keto. Or intermittent fasting. I’m like; I don’t know! {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: Right! I think it’s important for people to stay in their lane. And that’s how you develop more confidence in what you do know.

4. High-functioning anxiety [31:05]

Liz Wolfe: Ok, so I want to talk about one of the things from your Instagram stories when I first started watching you. That sounded so creepy; when I first started watching you.

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughing} You’re creeping on me.

Liz Wolfe: So creepy. What you were talking about was this thing called high-functioning anxiety. And I was like; that is a really interesting term. So I would like for you to talk about that a little bit. Because I think this is a wide-spread experience of women, in particular, and I would love to hear more thoughts about it.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah, for sure! I think, because that can go on for quite some time, just like with anything else. I’m going to make it more so bulleted. I’m going to talk about the three most common ways that you know this person might be struggling with high-functioning anxiety. And it could be you, yourself. You might see yourself. I’m sure all of us can see ourselves with this who have a lot of stuff going on. Not everybody is going to be able to relate, but maybe some of you guys out there would be able to see yourself in this.

So type A perfectionists. And the way I describe it, just in my head. This isn’t anything from online. But the way I describe it in my head is that it can also be a coverup for, if I don’t do this perfect, then what does that say about me. So sometimes I think there’s this underlying fear of your worth being attached to what it is you do.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh, it’s so me!

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Which I wouldn’t think it was me. Because I don’t do things that well.

Topsie VandenBosch: Totally get it.

Liz Wolfe: So me.

Topsie VandenBosch: Especially when you mull things over; over and over. And another way, too, just because I’m a clinician. So that part of my brain is sometimes on. And sometimes it’s off. But when it is on, I notice if a person is overly apologizing and constantly thinking that they’re messing up, that they’re doing something wrong. There’s just this feeling of wrongness, and “I messed up” in some way.

Sometimes I’ve seen that in people where they’re on edge. But it’s not debilitating. It’s just; “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” They’re constantly overly apologizing, overly sensitive to certain things that I wouldn’t have even thought about. So I would say like that is a part of what high functioning anxiety looks like.

Racing thoughts at night and being unable to sleep. Mulling things over. And again, it could go back to; what happened today; what’s happening tomorrow? All the things. You can’t shut off. It’s so hard to shut off. You end up up at night. I know that’s happened to me so many times. I just have tons; and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, FYI. None of these things are overtly bad. They’re not. It just is. It just is. It’s just a part of how you function and how you are. So it’s nothing to feel ashamed of at all. I think it’s just something to watch and just kind of know. Like; ok, I have these quirks. You know? {laughs} I have these quirks, and I just need to be mindful. That’s it.

So I think racing thoughts at night, being unable to sleep, mulling things over, over thinking, over analyzing. That’s another what I’ve seen as a sign of some high functioning anxiety. Where you're just on the move. You're always thinking ahead. You’ve got stuff to do. {laughs} But it kind of can be to your detriment sometimes because we need to sleep in order to operate in our business. We just do. So that can end up being just an issue at times.

Liz Wolfe: Limiting, right?

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah, it’s just limiting. It just can limit you and what you can get done the next day. And how accomplished you feel the next day. You feel sluggish because you were up thinking, or excited about something, and you just were not able to turn off at all. And that happens constantly. And your excitement can just be for the day. Like; oh my gosh, am I going to get this done in time. So it’s not necessarily bad. It just is.

And then the last thing that I see when it comes to high functioning anxiety is, you pride yourself in always being busy. I meet a lot of people who are like; oh, I’m always so busy. I’m always so busy. I love to keep busy. And some of that could be you're afraid of what would happen if it was quiet. What would do if you didn’t have all of those things? Could you truly enjoy it? Does it make you uncomfortable? What’s going on underlying? Is there some type of; are there insecurities that could pop up? Are you afraid of where your thoughts could go, because you tend to think way far ahead than maybe what you should?

So those are the three things I think maybe just to kind of look at and see for yourself. Do I have any of those things? Am I constantly kind of on edge? Am I wound up tight? {laughs} Because I think a lot of us can be. Especially when we’re multi-passionate people and we have so many things going on. It can be really easy to overanalyze things, constantly just kind of always thinking about the next thing. And we’re not always able to be present.

Liz Wolfe: Yes. Mindful and present. It’s just; it can be so hard. The other day; I can’t remember what this was in response to. But it was kind of like; in response to this type of mode. I was literally like; how do I turn it off! I know it’s happening; I don’t know how to turn it off.

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughs}

5. Turning off the anxiety [36:45]

Liz Wolfe: So do you have any tips for people in turning it off? {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: In how to turn it off. The first tip, I would think, is just boundary setting. I think it probably seems so obvious, but there are so many of us that, excuse my language, but suck at it.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Suck is ok. You can say suck on the Balanced Bites podcast.

Topsie VandenBosch: Suck is ok? Ok. I’m like; oh my gosh, is that risqué? {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: You’re good.

Topsie VandenBosch: There are so many of us that suck at setting boundaries. And you know, this might seem really remedial, but it’s like; ok, when are you turning off? When are you not answering that email? Nothing is going to happen if they don’t get a response back. I’m sorry, but if you're not in the field of mental health; there is nothing that’s urgent. I’m just going to say that! There is absolutely nothing that is urgent. If you don’t have people that are potentially emailing you because they’re really struggling and they’re on the cusp of doing something not good. Honey, it ain’t urgent. It’s just not that deep, you know?

Liz Wolfe: You're so right. You are so right.

Topsie VandenBosch: You know, but I think that we sometimes trick ourselves into thinking; oh my god! If I don’t respond to this, everything is going to fall apart! And I think, yes, there are deadlines that you maybe self impose that you might have to meet. But at the same time, there’s always grace. And if you are really over your head, and you're overwhelmed. Email that person who you promised something to, or you promised. They will be ok. It’s never that deep.

And if they’re not ok; then they have some other issues. Because it’s never that serious to where your own anxiety or mental health should be compromised because you're worried about work. I’m giving you that permission. It’s not that serious. It isn’t. It might seem like, but it’s because of these things that we impose on ourselves. Because we are people of our word. We’re people of our word, and we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do. But it’s also ok if you have to give yourself that permission to step back.

Liz Wolfe: I would think that some people exhibit these behaviors without realizing that narrative that’s attached to them. So maybe you don’t sit there thinking; oh god, what’s going to happen if I don’t reply to this email. But do you find yourself taking yourself out of important work just to reply to a stupid email? That is kind of maybe a symptom that you have this mindset. You're exhibiting symptoms, and maybe you need to evaluate.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah, for sure. 100%. I think it’s just about paying attention. Like; ok, what’s causing me to feel wound up and to feel uptight. And do you feel like it reflects something about you? So doing some self-reflection. What does it say about me if I don’t do this exceptionally well? What are the underlying meanings that I’m attaching to this? There are a lot of stories that we end up telling ourselves about what our worth is. And we don’t even realize it. A lot of it is subconscious. I’m just going to throw that out there. It’s not always just overtly out there. There’s just; it’s underlying feeling of shame, and just not wanting to ever look like you don’t have your stuff together.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah! What I do, is I procrastinate. Because I think; the narrative for that for me is probably if I can’t do this perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all. And yet I have to do it, so I put it off, and I put it off, and I put it off.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes! And I think that’s another thing, too. There’s this phrase that goes around in the coaching world; done is better than perfect. And I think there’s probably so many people that say it, and they’re like; oh my gosh, this is so true! But, I don’t know how many people actually believe that. How many people actually believe that when they write their post for Instagram. Do you actually believe that just getting this done is better than it being perfect? Do you really embody that? Are you overthinking this Instagram caption? Which, yes, you're providing value for your people. But is it really this deep. Honestly? Is it really that deep to where you're erasing? No! Put it out there the way that it is, and correct later. But, for right now, this just needs to get done and your people need you. It’s more important than your ego. You know? Because sometimes we can end up erasing things that we don’t have business erasing or getting rid of. Because somebody needed to hear that. And because we were overthinking, it didn’t get out there into the world.

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6. Therapist versus coach [42:32]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. So let’s change gears a little bit and I want to talk about the difference between a coach and a therapist. Because you are both; but you probably are wearing different hats at different points in time.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes, 100%. So, I think this is something just for anybody out there that has even remotely thought about why would I hire a coach. What is the purpose of coaches. Why wouldn’t you just go to a therapist. And I just want to be able to clear that up for some of you that may not know. Because not everybody knows.

With therapy, when you go to therapy, and when you're in therapy, you have a clinically diagnosable diagnosis. So it prevents you, whatever it is that you're struggling with. It’s preventing you in some way from being able to function optimally in your life the way that you would love to. So, it’s preventing you; you're missing days of work, possibly. Or, at work, you're not able to concentrate because you're thinking about whatever set thing.

There are symptoms that you're struggling with that are preventing you from being able to have relationships with your family and friends that you should be having. So maybe you're isolating. It doesn’t always have to be severe. I diagnosis a lot of people with adjustment disorder, because I’m not big on diagnosing people with, I guess, a moderate to severe diagnosis unless I’ve been meeting with them for a while, and unless something jumps out at me. But it’s always a discussion. Always. Because I value my clients and what’s in their medical record.

So, adjustment disorder is pretty much adjusting to literally anything within the last 6 months. So that is my catchall diagnosis for people who; they don’t necessarily have an anxiety disorder, but maybe they’re struggling with anxiety based off; you get in this car accident, but it’s not PTSD. They’re just; you know what, I’m noticing that I’m a little hesitant to drive. This is kind of what’s been going through my mind.

So maybe, it could end up being full blown PTSD, but it’s not right now. So, with therapy, you're being diagnosed with some type of diagnosis. There’s a treatment. There’s order to it. You just meet the criteria for it, and there’s a treatment plan.

And then with coaching; these individuals are objectively healthy. So they’re not coming to you because they’re struggling with some anxiety disorder for mental health disorder of any sort. So you're assuming that they’re objectively healthy, and they know they’re not receiving treatment from you. So they just need support and guidance, maybe with business skills. Something having to do with something more professional. That’s kind of what I would categorize it as. So they don’t have a diagnosis.

Some people, yes, are hiring life coaches for whatever reason. But within the context of what I’m talking about for this podcast. Who I work with in coaching. These are people that are objectively healthy. They’re not coming to me for any type of disorder. I’m not treating a disorder. I’m just helping them and guiding them in their business and whatever is occurring, whether it’s their negative thoughts, imposter syndrome, and how it’s affecting how they operate their business.

Liz Wolfe: OK, what is imposter syndrome?

Topsie VandenBosch: Ooh! Imposter syndrome is that feeling that you're going to be found out. People are going to figure out you're a big fraud, and you don’t know what you're doing. This happens to people; I think this got coined, I believe, in the 70s by a psychologist. And I think it was a woman. And she discovered that there were these high functioning career people who, even though they have achieved massive success, they were just waiting for the other shoe to drop constantly.

And I think it goes back to that feeling of worthiness. Am I really worthy to be here. To be in this space. And it can hit us at any time. It can be being a great mom. Am I even a great mom?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah!

Topsie VandenBosch: Who am I to think that I am a good mom?

Liz Wolfe: Who handed me this child and is letting me take care of her?

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes! I used to have trouble making my own lunch, and now I’m supposed to be blending baby food for organic purposes in the morning. So I think it can hit anybody with whatever it is that’s new for you, or whatever it is that you're fighting that notion that you're good at it. And that you're worthy to be in the space. So that’s the easy layman’s way of how I would describe imposter syndrome.

Liz Wolfe: And I would imagine a lot of entrepreneurial women who feel like they have something to bring to the world something important that they want to communicate to people; I would assume that is kind of rampant among that subset of people.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes girl! {laughs} We’re constantly; I mean, of course, some of us have learned skills to know how to combat those thoughts of I’m not worthy. But yeah, I think it hits any of us. Even if you're just in a career, and you're working for the man, so to speak. That could hit you at that time, too. Where you're like; oh my gosh. I feel like I’m constantly going to be doing something wrong. Am I worthy to be in this position? Didn’t my employer know what they were doing when they put me in this position. You know? I wasn’t adequately prepared. So I think it can hit any of us at any time.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Been there!

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes! It’s so hard. Because it feels so real.

Liz Wolfe: it does feel real. And I guess where it becomes really problematic is when you let it get in the way of what you need to be or are supposed to be doing. I mean, because I guess; I feel like you kind of alluded to this at the beginning, if I understood you right. I’m just taking so many mental notes right now. But this idea of; it’s ok to have these feelings and thoughts. It’s a matter of when they start to get in your way.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yeah! 100%.

Liz Wolfe: So interesting.

Topsie VandenBosch: I know.

7. Top three things addressed as a mindset coach [48:39]

Liz Wolfe: Ok so maybe we can round it out with a top three. The top three things you address with your clients and your audience.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes! So with my audience on Instagram and the website that you guys will be hopefully going to, if you guys are interested. This is for my coaching practice specifically. I don’t have a website for my therapy practice. I’m only licensed to practice therapy in Michigan. But with coaching, that’s kind of nationwide, worldwide. So that is the audience that I address on my social media platforms and through my website.

So from a business perspective, from my coaching, I help female entrepreneurs who struggle with any type of mindset issues when it comes to fear of failure, imposter syndrome, feeling like people are going to find out that that you don’t know what you're doing, and not feeling worthy. And any limiting or negative believes about themselves that are impacting their business. So those are the top three things that I help people with in my coaching practice.

Liz Wolfe: That’s perfect. Well I could talk to you all, Topsie. But we’ll round it out there. I want folks to look for Topsie on Instagram; watch her stories. You don’t have to know how to spell the whole name, right out of the gate.

Topsie VandenBosch: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: I think if you just type in Topsie Vanden, it’s going to pop up.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes! I’m am the only Topsie VandenBosch for the record. {laughs} On the good Instagrams that you will find; Topsie VandenBosch. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Perfect. T-O-P-S-I-E VandenBosch. V-A-N-D-E-N-B-O-S-C-H. But again, just start typing it in, and it’s going to pop up. {laughs}

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes. And if you're interested in finding out more why you would need a mindset coach. And what that would entail. I do have a freebie; the top 26 reasons why you need a mindset coach. And it is a quiz. So it actually gives you the results, and you know; ok, this is what I’m struggling with and this is what I need. So there’s that.

Liz Wolfe: I love that. I’m going to take that quiz, actually.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: Alright. Thank you so much for joining us, Topsie. This has been so enlightening, and so much fun. I hope you’ll come on with us again.

Topsie VandenBosch: Yay! Yes I will. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Liz Wolfe: That’s it for this week then. You can find me, Liz, at http://realfoodliz.com/, Diane at http://dianesanfilippo.com, and Topsie at TopsieVandenBosch.com or on Instagram; Topsie VandenBosch. Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, leave us an iTunes review. See you next week.

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