In this week’s episode, I had the honour and privilege of interviewing the famous Dr. Sujay Kansagra, a well-known pediatric neurologist,  sleep specialist and researcher from Duke University.
We spoke in detail about the vast amount of research we have on sleep science and sleep training…and what it all says 🙂  Have a listen!
Dr. Kansagra’s Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/thatsleepdoc
Dr. Kansagra’s amazing reel- https://www.instagram.com/p/C1ims-LuFUK/?hl=en
Want to get your little one consistently sleeping 11-12 hours at night so you can be a functioning human?  Join my FREE training HEREhttps://mysleepingbaby.ac-page.com/registration-page-v-2

Eva (00:04):

Hey there, you’re listening to the My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby, and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at My Sleeping Baby.

Kate Kripke (01:03):

Hi, Eva. I’m so happy to be here. Actually, this is one of my favorite things in the entire world is having these kinds of conversations. So I’m grateful for the time. I am in Boulder, Colorado. I’m a licensed clinical social worker by training. I’ve been a specialist and expert in the field of maternal mental health with a focus on early maternal mental health for about 20 years. And now my work has moved outside of the clinic into this larger virtual space. So I spend my time coaching and supporting women mothers. A lot of those mothers are really high achieving driven women who have babies and then struggle with anxiety and exhaustion and mom guilt and burnout and all the things in motherhood because as you and I both know, motherhood is a little crazy and then I get to have conversations like this. So my focus and goal is just in helping mothers be as healthy as they can because we know that when we feel better, we mother better.

Eva (02:09):

Amazing. I love this. And I’m curious, how did you find yourself working with this really specific group of women who these high achieving moms, how did this all play out?

Kate Kripke (02:24):

Yeah, great question. So I am the product of being raised by a high achieving woman who did not take very good care of herself, and my mom was a badass in every sense of the word. She loved me inherently. I never doubted her love for me. So that’s really important. I just want to say that right now, even if we’re showing up in a way with our kid that isn’t helpful for our children, that does not mean we do not love our children. I felt so deeply loved by my mom, but she was really anxious and really overwhelmed and really burnt out, and I was breathing in the air that she breathed out,

Eva (03:05):

And I grew

Kate Kripke (03:05):

Up a very anxious child, panic attacks for much of my life, a lot of not fun, rubing with my need to be perfect. I sort of inherited her perfectionist way of being in the world, had very significant postpartum anxiety after my first daughter was born. I have two teenage daughters who are 14 and 16 now, and after I had my first daughter, I was like, no more I need to, my commitment to myself and my daughters was that I was going to learn how to manage my own anxiety

Eva (03:36):

So

Kate Kripke (03:36):

That they could have room for their own anxiety without putting mine on top of what was already going to be there. So that’s how I sort of meandered my way to this population. I also, as I’m sure you can relate, really truly believe that women are going to change this planet and that we need these brave, smart, wise, strong women in the world, and we also need healthy kids. And I don’t want women to think they have to choose between doing the things in the world they love and showing up for their kids in the way that their kids need them to. So I’m really committed to helping women figure out what that looks like to do both.

Eva (04:13):

Right. That’s beautiful. And I’m so curious. You had the opportunity to raise kids. You said your girls are 14 and 16. We did have the internet 16 years ago. Yes, we did. We did have social media 16 years ago, but social media was not nearly the same as it is. And so even though you yourself experienced a lot of anxiety despite there not being social media as a whole, I’m curious, did you find that the level of anxiety and pressure and stress that moms are under, has it gone up significantly since you were raising your young children 15 years ago?

Kate Kripke (04:58):

What a great question. So I think that like many new moms, what was really triggering my anxiety when my first daughter was born was my desire to get things perfect and right all the time, and the immense inevitable unpredictability and uncertainty of new motherhood. That is sort of what triggered my anxiety. I think what has happened now 16 years later is that in our face is all this advice about how we’re supposed to manage the unpredictability and uncertainty, which by the way, we can’t manage. So I think the difference now is that it’s all, I’m curious to know if you would relate to this. It’s almost like somehow social media and consumerism and all of this stuff has led us to believe that if we just do the right thing, we can make the unpredictable, predictable or the uncertain certain. And because we can’t, we’re just spinning our wheels more and more. Do you think that that might be part of it?

Eva (06:13):

That definitely feeds into my type A brain as

Kate Kripke (06:18):

Well

Eva (06:18):

When it comes to a lot of things. Like I am a lawyer by training. I haven’t practiced in a long time, but I had my first baby shortly after finishing my third year of law school. So when it comes to high achieving, I can relate to that when it comes to wanting, needing everything to be just like so for life to be able to actually work, I get it because I feel like the need for everything to be under control stems from the fact that for a lot of us, there’s just so much on our shoulders that we can’t afford to be type B when it comes to all these things because we feel like everything will just fall apart. There just isn’t enough support otherwise to help us juggle all these balls at the same time.

Kate Kripke (07:09):

That’s a good point. I also think that many of us who consider ourselves to be type A, I’m right there with you girl. I’m like we to have been taught throughout our lives that if we just know enough, we can think our way and problem solve our way through things, whether it’s law or medicine or business or we sort of learn that, oh, if I just live in my head and have all the answers, I’m going to be okay. And that doesn’t work in new motherhood. We can’t problem solve or analyze or think our way through. And so when we search for those answers, we kind of miss the point. And this is the work that I love is really helping mothers. It’s my own practice every day, still 14 and 16 year old, still practicing it,

Eva (08:00):

Really

Kate Kripke (08:01):

Helping mothers learn how to make room for and not fight against the uncertainty and unpredictability because when we can open up to those things and the inevitable discomfort that’s going to come with it, it’s like we don’t spin our wheels trying to control the things that we actually don’t have any control over.

Eva (08:18):

For sure, for sure. And you see, this is something that I’ve always wondered because I’ll be honest, it’s actually a challenge that I can’t personally relate to because even though I’ve always considered myself to be high achieving, I did have my first baby back in 2011, and I was 25, so I was 25. I was young, I was fresh out of law school. I was still, we like to say the Yiddish sling is like a pitcher. I was like a little pitcher having my first baby. And so I feel like as a result, it’s not like I was arriving to motherhood with all these massive career achievements behind my back versus a lot of moms nowadays are not having their first at 25, they’re having their first at 35 when they are coming to the table with their type A self, being able to control all these different things that have led them to climb whatever ladder they’ve climbed in their career and allowed them to achieve all these things.

(09:25)
And I wonder, as amazing as it is to be able to achieve all those things, is it possible that the pressure from new motherhood is stemming from the fact that they have equally high expectations of how they are as a mom to their baby? Here they are running a company, running this successful practice, they’re working as this and working as that, and then they have this little seven pound, eight pound baby, and they’re applying the exact same standards of success to this baby, which is just not possible. But the end result is that it causes so much anxiety and unnecessary pressure. This is, again, not something that I can relate to, but I’ve seen it. And so I wonder if this is something that you’ve seen and if you can sort of dive into this in more detail because I think that it’s an important one.

Kate Kripke (10:25):

Yes, yes. And yes. Just as a sort of context for this, the average age of a first time mother in Boulder, Colorado is 37.

Eva (10:34):

37

Kate Kripke (10:35):

Average.

Eva (10:35):

Wow. Average. Which means you’ve got some at 34 and then some at 40, 41, 42, 42.

Kate Kripke (10:43):

You got it.

Eva (10:45):

They are kicking butt. You got it. Here. I was fresh out of law school knowing next to nothing at 40, you’re a partner in a firm specialist on who knows what. Yeah,

Kate Kripke (10:59):

It’s different

Eva (11:00):

World. Different.

Kate Kripke (11:01):

You got a different world. So yes, you’re spot on. And I think part of what makes this so debilitating, everything you said is accurate, right? So let’s say a 37 year old will just pick that number in the middle. Let’s say a 37 year old has a baby for the first time. She has spent her twenties and thirties building her career, whatever that career is or her trade, she’s really been focused on herself for that long, has a baby at 37. To your point, this minuscule human that can’t even speak, enters her life and rocks her world. Because inherently in new babies, there’s unpredictability and uncertainty and messiness and chaos and discomfort. All the crap that many of these moms have spent their whole lives learning how to mitigate, get organized around, and then they can’t think their way through it or figure it out. And so not only does that create anxiety, but it creates deep shame, deep self-criticism, what is wrong with me?

Eva (12:13):

Where

Kate Kripke (12:13):

Did I go? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I figure this out? Why can’t I get this right? And so that internally makes it not only uncomfortable because any kind of words are going to float through this entire conversation. The unpredictability, the uncertainty, the messiness, the chaos, the discomfort, all of that stuff is uncomfortable. So not only do you have that, but you have this expectation that I should be able to figure this out. And that’s a recipe for really hard time in

Eva (12:44):

Especially when you feel like everyone else around you has figured it out, but not you,

Kate Kripke (12:50):

Which is a fascinating thing. Isn’t that so fascinating that we can look outside of us and be like, how come she can do it? And I can’t. And this is what I say to all of my clients. I’m like, girl, she has an appointment with me later today.

Eva (13:02):

Yeah.

Kate Kripke (13:03):

It’s like you think she’s got it figured out. She’s got that pretty smile on her face, and she looks like she’s working so hard to look on the, it’s like a stacking doll. I have one over here. Those Russian dolls, those stacking dolls. It’s like on the outside you can look like you got it all together. I mean, that was my experience in new motherhood. I fooled the world. I looked on the outside, I had it together and the door shut at the end of the day and I was falling apart.

Eva (13:28):

So

Kate Kripke (13:28):

We never know what someone’s going through,

Eva (13:30):

Right? And so what do you tell these moms who fit all that criteria who might be listening to this and they’re going, yep, check, check, check. They might even be going, how is this Kate? Getting into my brain and understanding

Kate Kripke (13:49):

Absolutely

Eva (13:50):

Everything that is going on in my life and in my mind right now?

Kate Kripke (13:55):

The first thing I always say is, because your brain is my brain, I get it right. I have been there. So I will very quickly go into the definition of mental health and wellbeing, and let me back up and say I’m not practicing traditional psychotherapy anymore, but once a therapist, always a therapist, and I have always been really fascinated in neuroscience and psychology, really helpful to understand what’s happening in the brain. So there’s two things that are required for someone to have what we would call mental health or mental wellbeing. And that, by the way, does not mean that we feel good all the time. Let’s debunk that myth,

Eva (14:36):

Right? Mental

Kate Kripke (14:37):

Health and wellbeing actually means we’re willing to not feel good because we’re humans. The first part of mental health and wellbeing is that our internal experience, how we’re feeling emotionally matches the external environment.

Eva (14:50):

So

Kate Kripke (14:51):

If the external environment is chaotic, we’re going to feel some resemblance of that inside. Does that make sense? Totally. So the first thing is to just help those moms understand that what you’re feeling, the feeling of anxiety, the feeling of uncertainty, the messiness you feel inside is appropriate. You’re not supposed to feel anything different than that. The second quality of mental health and wellbeing is that you have the coping skills and strategies to move from that really unpleasant emotional experience towards a more pleasant

Eva (15:26):

Emotional

Kate Kripke (15:27):

Experience. And that’s the place that some people will say, well, I’m trying to do that by trying to organize the life, my life outside of me. This is where you fall in by trying to make sure that my baby sleeps, by trying to make sure that breastfeeding works, trying to make sure that all the outside things, and that’s actually not what we’re talking about,

Eva (15:48):

Right?

Kate Kripke (15:49):

Because of course it’s helpful to have those things, but really learning how to manage our own nervous systems so that we can stay steady even when outside of us is unsteady. That’s the key.

Eva (16:03):

And

Kate Kripke (16:04):

I think that that’s very different than most of us

Eva (16:07):

Very high

Kate Kripke (16:08):

Achieving type a women

Eva (16:10):

Have

Kate Kripke (16:10):

Been gone through life, right? And so that’s the different sort of perspective. It’s not about trying to make motherhood less chaotic, it’s about trying to help us learn how to stay steady even when we are feeling that kind of chaos. Does that make sense?

Eva (16:28):

A hundred percent. And this is something that I tell my clients all the time when they’re working with me and they’ve got a baby, a toddler, a preschooler who is not sleeping well, and we are going to make changes to their routines that they’re probably not going to, not because they’re bad changes. These in fact are very good changes, but they’re different than what the child is used to. They’re not going to like it. They’re going to push back. And that’s going to be hard on you. No one wants to here. They’re a little one, cry or tantrum or be upset about something. At the same time, the parent recognizes how important it is to stick with these changes and remain consistent with it. But I always emphasize that they are going to feed off of how you are

Kate Kripke (17:19):

Feeling.

Eva (17:19):

And if you are stressed, anxious over the top, overwhelmed by the process, then your little one is going to feed off of that. And then there’s a good chance that we might not see that type of success. And so sometimes it might mean altering the plan so that it doesn’t feel as overwhelming, but sometimes given the goal of the family, there isn’t much that we can do to alter this. It’s almost like we even make a small gradual change. The child is going to push back even at that small gradual change, and then the mom feels insanely overwhelmed, stressed out, child feeds off of that, and then the dynamic just doesn’t work. So I know that you’ve got a really powerful theory around this concept and this dynamic and interaction that you probably see all the time. So would love to hear your thoughts on that.

Kate Kripke (18:18):

Yeah, I mean, you’re speaking to it right now. If I could encourage every single new parent to work with a sleep specialist,

Eva (18:28):

I

Kate Kripke (18:28):

Would be like, get your ass over there. There’s like every new parent in my perspective, would benefit from investing in some sort of mental health coaching and counseling or therapy

(18:40)
And sleep support, because sleep is the recipe to mental health. So we start there, and there is nothing more powerful than teaching our children to sleep. That is a lifetime gift. There’s also nothing more powerful in our sleeping. And so if we are not sleeping because we’re not helping our children learn to sleep, then something has to be put in there. So I think the sleep part in focusing on sleep is so important. And yes, you’re right. So I say that with the caveat that sometimes this is really hard to hear. It feels painful to hear before it becomes empowering to hear. But maternal and child mental health are infinitely intimately connected. So what happens for so many new parents is that we think, oh, there’s something happening for my kid. My baby’s not sleeping, or My kid’s not sleeping. My baby’s having behavioral problems. Or my toddler is acting how we focus on our kids and we think, what can I do to make sure my kid has what he or she needs to be healthy and well?

Eva (19:48):

And

Kate Kripke (19:48):

What we miss is that our kids are feeding off us. And what our kids need more than anything to be mentally healthy and well, is for us to be mentally and healthy and well. And remember, that doesn’t mean that we feel Zen 24 7. Good luck with that. It also doesn’t mean we feel happy all the time, but it means that we have the capacity to moderate and manage our own nervous systems

Eva (20:10):

For sure.

Kate Kripke (20:11):

Because to your point, if I have a baby or a toddler or a small child and I’m trying to get that baby or toddler and small child to sleep, I can say and do all the right things. But if my energy is anxious or tight or fear-based, my child will feel that. And there’s no way that kid’s going to go to sleep. So one of the things that happens, and again, I’d be curious to know how this resonates for you, but so many of us are taught in life that feeling emotional discomfort is bad.

Eva (20:41):

Yes.

Kate Kripke (20:42):

I’m

Eva (20:42):

So glad you’re going here. I have so many thoughts, but go on.

Kate Kripke (20:46):

So let me tees, tees up, and then I’ll hear your thoughts. So we’re taught that if we feel disappointment, anger, fear, sadness, there’s something wrong. And because we were taught that as small children, when we feel that as grownups, disappointment, fear, anger, sadness, and we feel that, we think, oh, there’s something wrong. I have to do something to fix this feeling. Or we think I have to do something to fix this feeling in my child. And let’s go back to what I just said a moment about mental health. If you are a parent and you’re teaching your child to sleep and you leave the room, what is your child going to feel?

Eva (21:27):

You’re going to be mad. Yeah.

Kate Kripke (21:29):

Sadness, fear, anxiety, the gamut.

Eva (21:32):

And

Kate Kripke (21:33):

How is that child going to exhibit that feeling? They’re going to cry,

Eva (21:37):

Cry out.

Kate Kripke (21:38):

And we worry as parents that we’re doing something to harm our children. It’s so easy to think, oh, this is bad. I can’t do this. It’s too painful. I’ll tell you, Eva, that the hardest part of mothering for me still is recognizing that my job as my kid’s mother is prevent them from feeling their pain. My job is to allow them to have their emotional experiences and to have them trust that I know it makes sense. And I’m right here. I’m right, maybe not right here in the room with you as I’m trying to teach you to sleep, but of course you feel that way. So I think probably in sleep training or sleep support, this is part of what happens is that as new moms we’re like, oh my God, my brain is telling me I’m harming my

Eva (22:27):

Child.

Kate Kripke (22:29):

But really I’m giving them their space to feel what is natural and normal and not problematic.

Eva (22:36):

For sure, for sure. And I think that some of that sort of knee-jerk reaction might come from the fact that many of us in our generation, in your generation grew up with very authoritarian style parenting where it was very rules-based it, you must listen to me. I’m the boss. I call the shots. Your emotions don’t matter here. They’re not a part of the equation. Suck it up buttercup. And that’s harmful for a lot of people. And that’s not a model that we want to be using by any means. But I think for a lot of people in the name of not using that model in the name of staying away as far as they possibly can, they accidentally swing the pendulum too far to the opposite end of the spectrum where I don’t know if permissive parenting is the best way to describe it. Again, in this context, we’re dealing with babies and toddlers, but it just seems like for a lot of people, the mindset needs to be, let’s stay away. I experienced so much pain as a child, and I don’t want my child to experience any of that. And so with the best of intentions, I am going to make sure that their quote unquote needs are met at every given moment so that they don’t experience the trauma, the pain that I had to experience.

Kate Kripke (24:09):

That’s right. I’d call it fear-based parenting it more than permissive, right? It’s like I

Eva (24:14):

Can’t

Kate Kripke (24:15):

Tolerate my child feeling any fear. Yes. I will always say in my work, the opposite of fear is not safety. It’s confidence.

Eva (24:25):

I

Kate Kripke (24:25):

Can feel scared and know I’m okay at the same time. And when we teach our children that we’re giving them the gift of a fricking lifetime.

Eva (24:34):

Yeah. Yeah, I agree. It’s interesting. The first number of years that I was doing this, I launched my business back in 2014. So I’ve been doing this for a while now. Whenever I had moms reaching out to me and hiring me and working with me, but still having these fears usually. Thankfully, all it really needed was just a conversation to sort of talk all this through and get that reassurance that they needed. And so the approach that I often use, I never realized this. I mean, I’m not a mental health professional. I don’t have training, but I sort of inadvertently used a bit of ACBT approach. Let’s look at this situation and let me help provide you with a different perspective so that hopefully you’ll be able to see that it’s not as bad as you might think that it is. And for a lot of moms, that approach really resonated.

(25:33)
I would explain, I would say, listen, remember that your child’s allowed to cry. We’re using an approach that allows you to be there supporting them. Remember that they’re not scared that they’re just frustrated, but that’s okay. They’re not alone. You’re there and they get to learn. And so that approach would allow them to see things from a different perspective some of the time. But then there were other times where they’d hear it and it sort of felt like they would hear what I’m saying and agree with me logically everything they agreed with. But it was sort of deep down inside it was not digesting. And I had this light bulb moment when I was chatting with a friend of mine about something completely unrelated. I think she was just telling me about the therapy that she was in and how for her, when it came to certain challenges, cognitive behavioral therapy just never worked for her.

(26:31)
And she was telling me about this modality that was earth shattering for her called acceptance and commitment therapy, which felt like throughout so much of this conversation, the approach and the mindset that you take when working with your clients seems like it fits that model so beautifully. And that model basically said, my understanding, my nonclinical understanding of it is that sometimes there are going to be things in life that you have to do that are going to suck. It’s not going to feel good, but you value the outcome of whatever it is that you’re doing, and you value it enough that you’re still going to do it, even though the process feels sucky. And when I started delving into this and I started learning more about this, it was a really big light bulb moment for me in terms of how I can better guide these moms who are still feeling equally stuck when it comes to making these changes.

(27:40)
And I think that the best analogy of that, of how this applies is going to the dentist. There are some people that absolutely hate going to the dentist for whatever reason. Maybe they had a horrible experience as a child, and they are extremely fearful of going to the dentist. Well, according to a lot of, I guess, therapeutic junk out there, the therapeutic junkie world would say, well, listen to your gut. Listen to your feelings. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. Okay, so I’m never going to the dentist. That’s it. Going to the dentist feel bad, so I’m just going to let my teeth rot. No, obviously there’s a time and place for listening to your gut and following your emotions, but sometimes the focus needs to be away from how the process makes you feel onto the outcome that you are wanting to achieve, which what the dentist is, healthy teeth, good dental hygiene.

(28:38)
There’s all sorts of things that can really go wrong when you don’t go to the dentist regularly. And when it comes to sleep, it’s exactly the same thing, right? Where it’s sort of like, okay, yes, the process is going to suck, but let’s talk about why we are doing this. Let’s talk about what we are going to achieve and what is important to us that we are going to be able to get to as a result of going through this process. It means that your little one is going to be able to get the sleep that they need. You value their health. It means that you’ll be able to get the sleep that you need. You value your health. It means that you’ll be able to feel like a normal functioning human again. It means that you won’t be snapping at your husband for breathing too loudly.

(29:23)
It means that you won’t be forgetting your phone in the refrigerator anymore. It means that you won’t be crying at the drop of a hat because you can’t find your kid’s hat. It means that you’ll actually feel like you can keep your head above water because you’re no longer chronically sleep deprived. That’s what we want to be valuing here. And of course, I’m not trying to say that every single person needs to have these values. Our values are all different, but the idea with this approach is that we have to first start with the endpoint, what is important to us, and then work our

Kate Kripke (29:58):

Way there and

Eva (29:58):

Then figure out what the journey needs to look like to be able to get to that end point. And I feel like that approach is what resonates with so many people who have been told, if something feels bad to you, you shouldn’t do it.

Kate Kripke (30:15):

Right. I’m going to add a caveat though. I have a slight place that I see things a little bit differently than you, although absolutely, you and I are speaking the same language. And so just a couple of thoughts. One, I just want to go back to where when I put my mental health brain on for a moment, and I hear you say you want to remind your clients that your kid isn’t scared, they’re just frustrated, angry, whatever. I’m like, or they might be scared,

Eva (30:41):

But

Kate Kripke (30:41):

That’s okay. We’re really needing to say emotions are not the problem. And when we can learn to both be scared and trust that we’re okay at the same time,

Eva (30:55):

Both

Kate Kripke (30:55):

Be angry or frustrated and trust that we’re okay at the same time. That’s where the magic happens. So I think that, and again, I’m not suggesting you’re saying something wrong, but I think let’s open up that. Let’s open up, let’s put all the emotions in the same pot for a moment. Okay, so your baby’s feeling scared.

Eva (31:14):

Yeah.

Kate Kripke (31:14):

Welcome to being a human being,

Eva (31:16):

Right?

Kate Kripke (31:16):

Let’s teach from the very beginning that our small humans can both feel fear and other things at the same time. Let’s not fear. Fear, I guess is what I’m saying,

Eva (31:28):

Right? Yeah. You know what, you’re so being on. In fact, I had a clinical psychologist with a specialty in trauma on my podcast a number of months ago, link it in the show notes, and she said something that I made her repeat a couple of times. It was so important. It was that your child can be in distress and also feel safe, secure, and

Kate Kripke (31:50):

Heard throughout the process as well. And that, by the way, if we zoom back for just a moment, I’m like, wait, this is my work with mothers. Okay? Be scared of this tiny little human and recognize that you can also feel competent and confident and steady at the same time. It’s not about trying not to feel something, which goes to the next part that I want to say, which is that I actually want people to always trust their feelings just to sort of get in there and massage what you just said. I think that rather than to say, don’t you and I are saying the same thing, I think what we’re saying is there’s no way to grow without discomfort and distress.

Eva (32:35):

Got it.

Kate Kripke (32:36):

We don’t change. We don’t grow. I want women and mothers to trust their feelings a hundred percent of the time. I do not want them to trust their thoughts a hundred percent

Eva (32:46):

Of the time. Oh, I see what you mean.

Kate Kripke (32:49):

It

Eva (32:49):

Sounds like semantics, but

Kate Kripke (32:50):

They are too different. It’s all semantics. But I just want to be

Eva (32:53):

Careful

Kate Kripke (32:53):

About the verbiage because for

Eva (32:55):

Sure,

Kate Kripke (32:55):

My pathway into mental health and wellbeing is all about feeling your feelings. And the moment we say, don’t feel the feeling, and I know that’s not what you meant, but it is the moment we’re actually putting that big halt sign on any progress. So if I think about the dentist, it’s like, no, I actually want to try, if I’m feeling anxious about going to the dentist, I want to say, okay, what is that feeling of anxiety telling me about what I want and need to feel safe, healthy, and well, if my thought is, well, it’s telling me I can’t go to the dentist. I’m like, okay, well, then you have to be prepared to have rotten teeth,

Eva (33:38):

Which

Kate Kripke (33:38):

Is fine if you want to live your choice. But if it’s telling me that I need to have a conversation with the dentist so I know exactly what’s happening,

Eva (33:48):

If

Kate Kripke (33:48):

It’s telling me that I need to have earbuds in so that I can listen, our anxiety is there for a reason. It’s important to feel. But if the thinking is it’s not safe to feel anxiety, then we’re not going to go to the dentist, and that’s the problem.

Eva (34:03):

So you know what? If you could maybe help us all differentiate between a thought and a feeling so that therefore it’s easy, because I feel like I would love to be able to understand that, and I feel like the people listening in would really appreciate some guidance on how one can differentiate between the two. So how do you know, okay, I have this thing in my brain that’s a message in my brain telling me something. How do I know if that’s a thought or a feeling?

Kate Kripke (34:34):

I love this question. A feeling is a somatic experience in our body, turning up my tummy, clenching in my jaw, shortness of breath, heat in my cheeks. That’s a feeling. That’s a physiological sensation in my body. The emotion is a social construct. I call tightness in my chest and turning in my belly. Fear or anxiety, I call tightness in my jaw, heat in my cheeks, anger. I’m making this up, but the word, it’s not a bad thing, but the word, the emotion, the word that we use to describe it, that is just a word. Our body has a physiological experience when our brain assumes that there’s a threat, real or perceived, which means that my brain is going to send the same chemicals through my body if I’m being chased by a cyber tooth tiger, as if I’m telling myself this crying that my baby is having is dangerous.

Eva (35:42):

Yeah.

Kate Kripke (35:43):

Does that make sense?

Eva (35:44):

That’s where the thought comes in.

Kate Kripke (35:47):

So the body’s response is the body doing its job?

Eva (35:53):

There’s

Kate Kripke (35:53):

No problem with the feeling. There may be a misfiring in whether this thing that’s happening is a real or perceived threat, which now goes back to the thoughts. Okay, well, if my baby is crying to what you just said, if my baby is crying, and I was raised in a family where I was taught that any sadness or emotional discomfort was wrong and bad, and I should suck it up. If I was taught right, my baby’s going to cry and my brain’s going to go, this is bad. So that’s when I say, I don’t want us to trust our thoughts all the time.

Eva (36:29):

Got it.

Kate Kripke (36:30):

Not only by the way am when I say my baby’s feeling distress is bad, but I’m going to say I’m feeling distressed because my baby’s distressed and my feeling of distress is bad. So I have to get my baby to stop crying so I don’t have to feel this fear and discomfort in my own body. This is why maternal mental health has to come first.

Eva (36:48):

Got it. As

Kate Kripke (36:49):

If I’m a new parent trying to teach my kid to sleep.

Eva (36:53):

What if I’m a new parent who is not sleeping, whose baby is a horrible sleeper, who logically knows what to do, but the thought of doing any sort of sleep training makes them feel emotion the way that you described the clenching of the jaw, the nausea, the tight stomach, where they know logically it’s what they have to do, but they have this horrible feeling in the pit of their stomach going, oh my gosh, I don’t know if I can do this. I believe that there’s must be something wrong. I’m not giving my baby what he needs because he is crying more than I want him to.

Kate Kripke (37:36):

Okay. So there’s two, what I’m going to call limiting beliefs here. Number one, there’s something wrong. There’s something horribly bad happening for my baby in that room. Number two, I’m not giving my baby what he needs. So I would call those both limiting beliefs. So here’s my next question for you, Eva. Is it possible that it’s not true, that something horrible is happening for your baby in there? And is it possible that it’s not true that you’re not giving your baby what he needs?

Eva (38:06):

Yes, it is possible, but when I’m in that moment, I don’t believe it. In that moment. It feels like something is wrong.

Kate Kripke (38:16):

It does feel like something is wrong. Who would you be? Or how would you move through this experience if you didn’t have that belief?

Eva (38:25):

I would be able to stick with it because I would know that my baby is okay.

Kate Kripke (38:30):

So what is a more realistic or helpful belief to have about what’s happening right now?

Eva (38:36):

That even though my baby is crying, that he is okay and that I am giving him what he needs despite the fact that he is upset about it.

Kate Kripke (38:48):

How do you feel in your body when

Eva (38:50):

You have

Kate Kripke (38:50):

That belief?

Eva (38:53):

I would say better,

Kate Kripke (38:54):

Right? You probably feel calm. You can probably breathe more easily.

Eva (38:59):

Suddenly

Kate Kripke (39:00):

The dizziness in your brain is quieted down just a little bit. There’s a somatic experience, right?

Eva (39:05):

Yeah.

Kate Kripke (39:06):

Okay, Eva, so what is another thought or an action that you can take from this place right now?

Eva (39:14):

I would probably need to write that messaging down somewhere on a whiteboard so that it is very visual for me, and I can almost meditate on it and fully digest it so that when I sleep, train my baby again and I go into the process wanting to do it properly. I’ve really digested those new thoughts and new beliefs around the process.

Kate Kripke (39:42):

Beautiful. So we’ve done several things. We’ve honored and validated your fear. We haven’t said Don’t trust the fear.

Eva (39:50):

Yeah.

Kate Kripke (39:51):

We’ve said, yeah, your fear is there for a valid reason. You love your child, and

Eva (39:56):

You don’t want your

Kate Kripke (39:56):

Child to suffer. No mother wants her child to suffer.

Eva (39:59):

So

Kate Kripke (39:59):

The feeling makes sense. I want you to pay attention to the feeling, but I also want you to be asking yourself, where’s the feeling coming from? Well, it’s coming from this old belief I have, and when I invite in a more realistic belief that’s based on my adult self, not my child self, I feel something different in my body, and now I can make solid parenting decisions from that new feeling experience.

Eva (40:30):

I love it.

Kate Kripke (40:31):

That’s going to keep me steady. That’s going to help me keep staying steady in this sleep training, because you’re right, there is no mental health without sleep. So if your child isn’t sleeping, your child is not going to be mentally healthy and well,

Eva (40:45):

You are giving

Kate Kripke (40:45):

The child the biggest fricking gift by helping him sleep.

Eva (40:49):

And if

Kate Kripke (40:49):

You’re not sleeping, you’re not going to be mentally healthy. Well. So by giving yourself sleep, you’re giving your child the biggest gift in the world because you’re going to parent better.

Eva (40:58):

I love it. And so in other words, to, I guess to answer the question in a nutshell, how does one address the emotions, the jaw clenching the stomach pain about going through this type of process? When you logically know it’s something that you want to do, we start by addressing the thoughts that are causing the emotion.

Kate Kripke (41:20):

Got

Eva (41:20):

It. So that’s what the process is. You got

Kate Kripke (41:23):

It. And the reason we don’t say just don’t listen to the emotion is because the emotion is fricking wise. It’s telling you something. What’s it telling you? I don’t want my kid to suffer. Right. Of course you don’t.

Eva (41:38):

Right. And you know what? I will correct myself in that I probably did not do the best description of what acceptance and commitment therapy actually is. I’m sure any mental health practitioner listening would say that the very first step of that process is validating the emotion, talking about it, recognizing it, so that you can then move on to that next step, which is to figure out your next plan of action to get you to that endpoint that you still want to get to despite the way the process makes you feel.

Kate Kripke (42:12):

That’s right. I mean a hundred percent. And the only reason we’re nitpicking is so that your listeners really understand the process. Words

Eva (42:18):

Matter. No, a hundred percent words and semantics, a hundred percent matter here,

Kate Kripke (42:23):

As does self-compassion, and the definition of self-compassion is meeting ourselves where we are

Eva (42:32):

And

Kate Kripke (42:33):

Not expecting ourselves to be somewhere else. And so if I am aware that I was never taught that it was okay to feel deep discomfort, of course I’m going to freak out

Eva (42:42):

When

Kate Kripke (42:42):

My kid is feeling discomfort, and of course I’m going to freak out when I’m feeling discomfort.

Eva (42:46):

So

Kate Kripke (42:47):

That meeting ourselves where we are like, yeah, the feelings make sense, the thinking that’s motivating, the feelings may be off a bit,

Eva (42:57):

Maybe

Kate Kripke (42:57):

Outdated.

Eva (42:59):

So that’s the process. I love it. I love it. Start with the thought instead of allowing the emotion to dictate the decision that you make that might not lead to an outcome that you value.

Kate Kripke (43:12):

Our behaviors are motivated by our feelings and our emotions, and what happens, just to circle back as we’re widening up here, is when we are, when many, many, many mothers, especially mothers who are highly type A, we live in our brains. When they feel discomfort emotionally, they’re likely to say, this discomfort is bad and wrong, and I need to do something to not feel this, where what you and I are saying is there is no change and shift without discomfort. There is no sleep training.

Eva (43:46):

There’s no learning

Kate Kripke (43:47):

How to sleep without

Eva (43:48):

Discomfort.

Kate Kripke (43:49):

We have to be willing to feel the unpredictability and uncertainty to feel the discomfort in order to get to the other side. We can’t skip over that part if we’re not willing to feel it, we’re going to be like, screw this. I’m just going to sleep with my kid in my bed again. Or I’m just going to let my kid stay up. I don’t know, whatever the thing is, but it’s like, no, you have to learn that that discomfort’s, okay,

Eva (44:12):

And how

Kate Kripke (44:12):

To take care of ourselves around it. And when we can learn how to do that, then you can apply all these really beautiful tools. I’m sure you give all kinds of strategies for sleep.

Eva (44:24):

We

Kate Kripke (44:24):

Can apply the strategies once we’ve learned that it’s okay to be uncomfortable in the process.

Eva (44:29):

Absolutely. Amazing. This was so fantastic having you on this show. Why don’t you tell everyone where they can find you if they want more of you in their life?

Kate Kripke (44:40):

Yeah, thank you. And I agree. I mean, clearly you and I could sit here and talk about this crap forever, so for sure. It’s really fascinating. I have a big presence on Instagram at Kate Kripke. I really am committed to offering free and accessible support. I do that through Instagram and also through my podcast, motherhood Uncut, which is just a place that we talk about the really, really uncomfortable parts of motherhood. So here we are. I run that. I do that podcast with my friend and colleague who’s also a mental health therapist. My website, kate crikey.com, is where I have people can learn about the services and support that I offer. If someone is feeling a lot of anxiety, exhaustion, mom, guilt, overwhelm, burnout, there are support options that they can look for there on that website. Amazing.

Eva (45:31):

Well, I will link everything in the show notes for everyone because yes, your Instagram feed is great. It’s got such fantastic free tips for new, overwhelmed, stress out moms, so definitely go check that out. Thank you again, Kate, for coming on. Thank you everyone for listening, and I hope you all have a wonderful day. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review, and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listeners, so feel free to dmm me on Instagram at my sleeping baby or send me an email@mysleepingbaby.com. Until next time, have a wonderful restful night.

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