Billy and Brian talk to Christine Chang, a bestselling relationship author and speaker. She helps high-performers create ideal relationships by teaching self-awareness, boundaries, accountability, and communication skills.
Christine's podcast Show Up and book Show Up: Finding Love for Independent Women have helped thousands of professional women all over the world create the relationship of their dreams. She is here today to talk to us about balancing high performance, happiness, and relationships.
We ask Christine:
--How do we first find clarity within ourselves so that we actually know what it is that we want instead of what has been projected onto us through other people’s opinions, standards, checklists?
--Once we’ve been honest and clear with ourselves, how do we have those conversations with partners/future partners?
--With regards to “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell,” I wanted to challenge that idea a bit by throwing in the word “maybe”: Do you think that people who say “if it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a hell no” are actually using that as an excuse to not do the work that is required to make a relationship last or even using it as an excuse to procrastinate for the PERFECT conditions to start dating? Is that where we could squeeze in the “maybe” so they stretch their comfort zone a little bit?
--Your focus is on helping high-performing women create the relationship of their dreams. What traits do you attribute to high-performing women?
--What were your dating faux paus back in the day? What was it about your husband Pete that set him apart from everyone else? Or was that more about you getting clear with yourself first? If you asked him, what was it about you that set you apart?
--For the men out there who are seeking an independent, high-performing woman to date, what advice do you have? What lessons could they learn from your husband Pete?
Like what you heard from Christine Chang? Contact her at:
YouTube: Christine Chang
LinkedIn: Christine Chang
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Billy: Hey, everyone, this is Billy’s perfectionist persona coming at you before the show. I just wanted to add a quick disclaimer about the sound quality in this particular episode because, at times, you might be wondering why does Billy sound like he is recording this from the bottom of a tin can? Is he in the same studio Metallica used when recording St. Anger or what? The answer is no, I was actually in a completely empty hotel conference room in Puerto Vallarta because the internet in my hotel room wasn’t working and there was nowhere else for me to go. So, there is a lot of echo on my end. I did my best to eliminate as much as I could while editing but I am only one man and, at some point, I just had to let go and let God.
Luckily, our guest, the absolutely amazing Christine Chang does most of the talking and I can’t wait for you to hear our conversation with her. If you remember the episode we did with Scott Welle in Season 3 when he talked about creating alter egos when you need to go big, I’m serious when I say this, Christine’s presence is an alter ego I would gladly add to my repertoire. And as you are listening, you will understand why. Also, real quick, big shout-out to my good friend Brian on the Bass during this episode because he knew I wasn’t pleased with my recording situation so he stepped up and asked some really great questions during this conversation. So that should do it. I guess while I’m here, I might as well add this in. You can follow us on Instagram and TikTok at @mindful_midlife_crisis. You can like us on Facebook at The Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast. Follow us on Twitter at @mindfulmidlife. Go ahead and send us an email at email@example.com, let us know what you want us to talk about or who you want us to interview. We also have a brand new beautiful website where you can access our previous episodes. It’s www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com. So, let’s see, what else? Oh, if you like the show, click on the show notes and leave us a five-star review with a few kind words. We always appreciate that. Those of you who listen know that words of affirmation are my love language so please share some words of affirmation. If you really, really like the show, visit the website or click on the show notes and make a donation to the show so we can keep delivering quality conversations like this one with Christine Chang. We really think you’re going to enjoy it. So, with that, let’s enjoy the show. And if you appreciated that St. Anger reference and you know what I’m talking about, DM me because you’re my kind of people and I want to connect with you. Okay, seriously, enjoy the show.
Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Christine: I also realized, this was in Landmark, I had a buddy who was in my group and he was talking about the way that I was showing up in dating, because I had communicated to him like, “I would love to create a long-term loving relationship.” He’s like, “How are you showing up?” I forgot what’s the terminology they use. They use very specific words and I wish I could remember it — oh, what is it costing you, and I didn’t get it at first. I was just like how is costing in play? And then, eventually, he’s like, “Do you have the relationship of your dreams?” And in that moment, it clicked for me, like the way that I’m showing up right now, at that time, I’m never going to have the relationship of my dreams if I continue to show up the way that I was.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches as we share our life experiences, both the good and the bad, in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I’m your host, Billy, and, as always, I’m joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how you doing over there, man?
Brian: I’m outstanding today, Billy.
Billy: Ooh. Why are you so outstanding today?
Brian: Well, we’re halfway through the coldest part of the winter in Minnesota so it’s only like another month of dangerously cold temperatures that hurt your face when you’re outside so I’m looking forward to getting through that. We made it through half and it’s been pretty brutal, but it’s getting better. I’m optimistic about February, even though the rodent that didn’t see his shadow says there’s going to be six more weeks of winter. I don’t believe in that stuff.
Billy: I think you phrased that accurately when you said the “dangerous” part of winter, because it doesn’t mean that winter is going to end in Minnesota once March rolls around. No, no, no. There is still a good chance that we will be hit with an April snow shower, which is why I’m coming to you from Puerto Vallarta. How did I do with pronunciation, Brian? You speak Spanish.
Brian: Puerto Vallarta.
Billy: Okay, thank you very much. Yes, I am in Mexico, that’s why if it sounds like it’s super echoey in here, I had to find a conference room at the hotel to use because the internet was not working in my hotel room, but we made it and we are here and we’re very excited because our guest today is Christine Chang. Christine is a bestselling relationship author and speaker based in Los Angeles. She helps high performers create ideal relationships by teaching self-awareness, boundaries, accountability, and communication skills. You can listen to Christine’s podcast, Show Up, wherever you get your podcasts. And if you like watching podcasts, you can check out Christine’s laidback interview style on YouTube as well. I highly recommend this podcast. I am a big fan of this podcast. Christina is also the author of the book Show Up: Finding Love for Independent Women, which has helped thousands of professional women all over the world create the relationship of their dreams. She is here today to talk to us about balancing high performance, happiness, and relationships. Welcome to the show, Christine Chang.
Christine: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Billy: Absolutely. We’re very excited to have you here. I’m a big fan of your podcast and your Instagram is also very entertaining in many, many ways. So, I do have to ask you, how is the baby seal doing?
Christine: The baby seal? Oh yes. There was a baby seal that was lost in front of our home this evening on the beach, we’re lucky enough to live by the beach in Marina Del Rey, and the — what do they call it? Marine Rescue came. His Uber came to pick him up and, hopefully, he finds his way back home.
Brian: I’m sure he will.
Billy: That’s good. That’s good. Hopefully he will reunite with his family. So, Christine, we like to ask our guests what 10 roles they play in your life. So can you tell us what 10 roles you play in your life?
Christine: Yes. Ten roles. Author, photographer, media personality, entrepreneur, wife, dog mom, yogi, dancer, daughter, friend. Those are 10 that I came up with.
Billy: No, that’s a really good list. I liked that. And one of the highlights of your Instagram is your dog, @jamestchew, that as a former cute dog owner, every time I see posts with your dog, Jimmy. I’m just like, oh, it makes me miss my little sweetie pie. So, can you tell us more about that connection with your dog?
Christine: Oh my gosh, my dog. It’s funny because my dog — oh, they’re the best, aren’t they? But what’s funny —
Brian: I’m a funny person too.
Christine: I find that people who don’t like dogs, I’m a little suspect of them. Well, I’m like they just want to love you. Most of them are just like they just want to love you so I’m like, “Do you have intimacy issues?” I’m not saying I think that one, people don’t like that.
Brian: You know what, I think we — you just gave me an idea for a dating program where the dates actually take dogs with them on the date to scope out the first date to see how the date reacts maybe. There’s something in there. Anyway, continue.
Billy: That’s called the Billy Lahr dating program, by the way.
Brian: Is that what you do?
Billy: Listen, I had a Shih Tzu, alright? What’s more adorable in the world than a Shih Tzu, okay?
Christine: They’re so cute. They’re the best. Yeah, it’s funny, my dog is, funny enough, very similar to my husband in temperament and personality and I’m not the only one who says this, like my neighbor said it first, she’s like, “Your dog is exactly like your husband.” I said, “I don’t know how that happened,” I guess I have a type or I attract a certain type.
Brian: They do say dogs resemble their owners. I’ve heard that many times.
Christine: They do. They do. It’s funny and I just love them so much. I did have a dog before I met my husband as well who got old and passed away and if anyone’s had a dog that passed away, you know how painful it is. And it took me a while to heal, I think over three years. I was like I don’t want to get another one because I know — it’s just the natural progression of life, like I need to mentally prep myself that they’re going to die again eventually, but it’s worth it, of course, but I was so heartbroken, it’s probably the most pain I’ve ever been in up until that point is when my first dog died. So Pete and I, we adopted Jimmy together but — I mean, technically together but really it was me who said, “Hey, I see this dog on Facebook. He’s from China and then the rescue agency is flying him in, I’m gonna put in an application,” and Pete actually didn’t want to get a dog, but as you know with men, I’m like, “Do you really know what you want, though?” But… I mean, you see those memes and those TikToks and videos of men who said they don’t want the dog and now it’s like dad’s the BFF. It happens.
Brian: I was just going to say, did it happen to you that way?
Christine: It did. Pete —
Brian: Is Pete very protective of the dog?
Christine: Oh, yeah, Pete loves him. He loves — I’m like chopped liver when the two of them are around and it’s really sweet. We feel very lucky to have little Jimmy.
Billy: Well, aside from your dog, you are a friend to many and that’s something that you listed here as a role that you’re looking forward to in the second half of your life. So, why is friend so important to you?
Christine: I really value friendships. Friendships are like chosen family to me, with their family. I mean, I’m lucky that I’m born into a very loving family overall, like healthy for the most part. I mean, every family has their thing and we get annoyed with each other, we have trigger points. Overall, I come from a good family. With friends, you really can tailor exactly how you want to choose that circle and so I — I also think, I’m very nostalgic and I think of what’s meaningful and in this life, the only thing we have to take with us is our memories and so feeling that connection with people I think is really special. And I always like to think what would I be thinking about on my deathbed, and it’s never accomplishments and stuff like that, like, “Thank God, I got published in Vogue,” like it’s never that, it’s always relationships. So, with friends, I don’t know, there’s something magical about friendships too that I feel like there’s a certain ease to it. And also, you’re not blood related, you just choose each other. And, of course, it’s work too, like friendships are natural and I’ve had falling outs with some friends. Relationships can be tricky like that, but I value them a lot and so that’s why I always want to consciously work on myself so that I can nurture good friendships and relationships in my life.
Billy: And one of the things that you talk about quite a bit, and we’re going to talk about this later too, in your podcast is clarity and the importance of surrounding yourself with others. So, I imagine that when you say you can tailor your group of friends to like what you need in your own life that you do that quite well,
Christine: I do. I think I — I mean, it’s — there’s a good thing and there could be bad, although I don’t know if those labels are appropriate for it, but, sometimes, I do think that because I’m pretty good, I’ve done enough work on myself where I don’t take things as personally, I am human, we all have feelings and stuff, but for the most part, anything that anyone does has nothing to do with you. Life ebbs and flows. And because I like high performance, I like happiness, positivity, and being the best version of yourself, I think who you surround yourself with really influences that. I know for a fact just because I, that quote, “You’re the average of the five people,” it’s so true. Whenever I’ve had a shift in friend groups, I’m like, “I’m exactly like these people.” So whatever direction I want to head in, I want to make sure that my core friend group has qualities where I want to go in that direction. So, usually, they’re doing better than me in certain areas, whether that’s emotionally, or when I was single, I sought out hanging out with my friends who were in marriages that I admired. If I’m — well, I am right now, in a phase where I’m wanting to grow my business, I want to hang around people who are where I want to be. They’re making more money than me. They’re not as emotional when it comes to making business decisions. And it just really speeds up the process of where you want to go.
Brian: I’ve heard that that if you’re hanging around four millionaires, you’ll be the fifth millionaire. If you’re hanging around four drug addicts, you’ll be the fifth drug addict. Somebody just said that this week and I was like, “That’s an interesting perspective,” I just heard that, but goes along right with what you’re saying. And I believe that’s true.
Christine: I think it absolutely is true. It’s just the values, shared values and what feels normal to you. So, if a certain work ethic that you’re surrounding yourself with, that is your average, that’s normal to you versus if you’re hanging around people who don’t have a strong work ethic, you’ll probably feel okay slacking off a bit more. Like for me, personally, I want to be pushed.
Billy: Well, you had just mentioned here that you want to grow your business and you actually listed media personality as one of the roles that you’re most looking forward to in the second half of life and you mentioned that you’ve been published in Vogue. So, talk about that. What is it about being the media personality? What type of media personality do you want to be? And how are you actively trying to grow that right now, outside of being on this podcast, which, once this hits the airwaves, your exposure is just going to quadruple, I imagine.
Brian: Tens of fans will see it.
Christine: Hey, man, 10 fans, like thoughtfulness is more important than the million followers, like something about —
Brian: I like the way you think.
Christine: — and how many of their million followers are actually going to like be their ride or die and buy their product? Very little. So I do go for quality and thoughtfulness and I appreciate that about you guys.
Billy: Oh, well, thank you very much. Words of affirmation will win me over anytime.
Christine: Okay, is that your love language?
Billy: It’s one of them, yes.
Christine: With media personality, I want my own TV show. That is a goal of mine. And so the podcast, we do it in studio and then we videotape them as well and put it on YouTube. I just want to have a positive impact in that way. And I think the term “media personality” sounds funny to me because it almost sounds like a character, but I want to be me. I want to be able to be me but just have a wider audience and also spread a positive message. There’s a lot of shows out there now like Queer Eye is a fantastic show where I feel like there’s a positive takeaway, meaningful, thoughtful, not just, you know, there’s a lot of also mindless TV out there, trashy shows that are entertaining but I would love to have a positive impact on others. And in the world of relationships, most of us are just thrown into the world to figure it out ourselves unless you’re really lucky and your parents were really good in this area, which many of us did not have. I had to learn how to communicate in a healthy way, my boundaries, my self-worth, building confidence, self-confidence, I had to learn all of that myself so if there were more resources out there, even if it’s a tiny nugget in one episode and someone just has a little takeaway and just feels a little bit better about themselves, I think that’s really cool. So I like the idea of that and that is one of my goals is to have a TV show.
Billy: Brian, remember Wendy Battles wants to have a TV show too so now we have Christine and you and I talked about what kind of TV show we could have so I feel like we need to create our own channel and the three of us can build this into some sort of television network empire in which we just help people be the best versions of themselves. Christine can talk about relationships, you and I can talk about midlife, and Wendy can talk about inspiring people between the ages of 50 and 90 and then we’ll just bring on more and more people because everyone will just want to be in such a great place like all of us are. How’s that sound?
Christine: That sounds great. The world needs more content like this, I think, and I do think people are searching for it more, especially what you guys are talking about, midlife or like 50 and up. I mean, we still have a long ways to go and there’s a lot of changes happening, like what’s going on? Why is no one or very few people talking about this?
Billy: Agreed, agreed, that’s a big reason why we wanted to do it. So, that relationship piece is a big part of the content that you share with others, especially for high performers. So, when we come back, we’re going to talk about what you mean by being a high performer and how that complicates relationships and how we can get clear with communicating what we want out of a relationship, not just with our partner but also with ourselves. So thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We’ll be right back with Christine Chang.
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If you’re listening somewhere safe and quiet, close your eyes and slowly inhale for four, three, two, one. Hold for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Slowly exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Let’s do that one more time. Inhale for four, three, two, one. Hold for seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Slowly exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Go ahead and open your eyes. You feel better? We certainly hope so. And now back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with podcast host Christine Chang. She is also the author of the book Show Up: Finding Love for Independent Women. Her podcast is also called Show Up, you can find that wherever you get your podcasts. You can also watch that on YouTube. So, Christine, I’m a fan of your podcasts, I really enjoy listening to it. I’m a fan of your Instagram because you are very genuine, you’re real and you’re direct which are all things that I greatly appreciate, especially as a Minnesotan where we like to be passive aggressive, I appreciate your directness. And there are two prevalent themes that I feel like I’ve picked up on in listening to your show and one of them is getting clear with yourself first so that you can then be clear with your partner or your future partner. So I wanted to start with that one first. When it comes to clarity, how do we first find clarity within ourselves so that we actually know what it is that we want instead of what has been projected onto us through other people’s opinions or standards or checklists?
Christine: Absolutely. So you have to figure out — actually, before you even figure out what you want, you really need to learn to be honest with yourself, because I think a lot of people say they want one thing but it could be programmed, like it’s been expected of them like, “Oh, I should wanna be in a relationship,” but a lot of people are like, “Do you like —” I coach a lot of high performers, it’s okay if you don’t want one right now and you want to focus on yourself and your business, that’s okay too, so being really honest with where you’re at. And you know what, listen to what feels good to you. I use the word like “alignment” and some people are like what does that mean? How do you know you’re living in alignment? I’m like what feels good and easy to you. And I’m a big list person so literally write down what does it look like when you feel good and you can reference that list. Like, for me, I get a ton of ideas, I talk a lot, I don’t take things personal, I have more energy, things like that, you write down a very specific list of what that looks like. I sleep well. And then also write a list of what does it look like when you feel off. And these things might be obvious, like I know when I feel good and when I don’t but really make the list, like what does it feel when you when you are not in alignment. So, for me, I start to take things really personally, I start criticizing other people, getting judgy. I start shopping more. I think it’s just like to fill a void, like I want to buy stuff. I grind my teeth at night. So there’s this list that you can reference and so, in case you’re ever unsure at any point, like, “Is this good for me or not?” you can just tap into like how am I feeling right now about it, like I’m actually not doing my best right now, this is not the shining star version of me, and then do some reevaluating while you’re getting clear on what you want and also getting clarity on what you want is also just doing stuff too. A lot of times, we have to learn and do stuff. You think about your first jobs that you had. The best way to learn is just to start working and you doing the job and you learn also what you don’t want through work experience.
Brian: What it sounds like you’re saying is sometimes people fall in love with the idea of something and then once they get into the practice of it, they find out maybe it’s not what they expected?
Christine: Yeah, you’ll hear people — let’s just talk about dating, like, “Oh, I thought I want this,” and some people are so sure of it. “I want a type A entrepreneurial guy,” and then they’ll keep dating and there’s something that’s just like not working there and I’m like are you sure that this is what you want or also what you need because those can differ as well.
Billy: Well, another thing that you talk about is self-love and you talk about that often. So I’m kind of curious, do you feel self-love has to come first before you can get clear with yourself or do you have to get clear with yourself before you can really take in the awesomeness that is you so that you feel worthy or does it not really matter which one comes first? I’m curious what your take is on that.
Christine: Yeah, I think you could work on all those at the same time. I wouldn’t be too rigid, saying like, “I really need to work on self-love and have confidence to this level before I can think about what I need.” For me, I worked on it at the same time. I do think it help if you have more self-worth or more self-confidence, then you feel better about asking for what you want. And your values might shift. Or things might become more possible, more of a reality, like you could see it so you feel more comfortable asking for it. So those are things to definitely work on as well as is self-worth, which, for me, when I was dating, that one was a tough one for me because I did not have high self-worth in that aspect of my life. I did professionally and with my hobbies and my friends but, romantically, that is something I had to work on.
Billy: So what did that look like for you?
Christine: Oh, the journey to building self-worth?
Christine: There’s a lot in there. So, I write some of the things I did in my book. So, healing is a very important part of creating the relationship of your dreams. I say the two biggest things are healing and then gaining the clarity. So the healing, there is not a one size fits all. I talk in my book about some of the things I did like therapy, I went to therapy. I did a program called Landmark Education, which has a very masculine direct approach which I respond well to because I like that. I’m not into flowery talk, like beating around the bush, so I respond really well to it, but for someone who maybe does not like that direct, because it can be very intense, I would say it might not be for you. What else did I do? Oh, I did a bunch of spiritual retreats too. I tapped into that. There was a conference called A-Fest that I went to that had a lot of — they say it’s like TED Talks meets Burning Man so a lot of inspiring people were there and they’re also like-minded where they want to work on themselves and build their empires and have a positive impact on the world. So, I surrounded myself with a lot of people who were also valuing growth. And through that, through the therapy, for example, through coaches, I would learn about some blind spots I had and it usually goes back to childhood, a lot of our pain points. Why do I not feel important? That’s a very simple statement, a therapist asked me like, “Did you feel important growing up?” and I said, “No, I’m not important.” That was like a story that I had in my head and so it played out in the way that I would date, like I’m not important here, and it went back to childhood, from things that happened when I was like four or five, that I actually just made up. No one told me you’re not important, I just kind of made it up based on some things, like something my mom did where I thought it was like, “Oh, I’m not important. What I have to say is not important.” I wrote my dad a letter, that’s an example of completing something which I didn’t know that bothered me. I always thought we had a really good relationship, which we do, I’m a daddy’s girl, I just failed to acknowledge that he had done something that had upset me and so it was important for me that he know that and I wrote him a letter, and I didn’t need him to say anything or do anything for me to heal, I just wanted him to know. And so I also had trouble with self-expression growing up and while I was dating. And so the self-expression alone, me being able to tell someone, “Hey, this is the impact you had on me,” like, “This hurt me,” I realized how important that was. And, again, I didn’t need anything from him, I didn’t need an apology, I just wanted him to know and that alone was very healing for me. And I learned from then on that’s all you can do is live your truth and you tell people how you feel. How they respond to you is never in your control, ever. And you’ll feel very empowered once you have that clarity. So, those are a few things I did to heal and build my self-worth. Oh, and if you want to start right away, probably the easiest thing you can do and it sounds really cheesy is write affirmations, like, “I’m important,” or, “I am lovable,” really simple and just stick them up and it sounds really weird to say at first but you just want it to start sounding familiar. And I swear, for me, it works. And I’m not saying overnight, it might take years, but you just want the familiarity of those statements.
Billy: Well, it sounds like you were really trying to develop an awareness of self-worth so that you could heal and I imagine that takes an extremely long time because you listed off four or five things right there and those things don’t happen overnight. So, I imagine you have to be patient as you’re trying to heal through all of that and recognize when you’re still feeling unhealed is like this is all part of a process.
Christine: Oh, yeah, it definitely takes time, patience. I mean, for me, it took over five years of me really being in it and it can get really frustrating. You can’t rush these things. And sometimes it does feel like am I ever going to come out on the other side? It gets —
Brian: Were there any breakthrough moment for you during that time? I mean, where were you felt you made a lot of progress. And if so, what was the driver?
Christine: There are some aha moments, like the writing my dad the letter and seeing his response to it because I didn’t expect anything and he was really moved by it and he’s generally not an emotional person and he was so uncomfortable when he saw me. I wasn’t expecting anything. I was like, “Hey, Dad,” and he’s like, “I don’t know why I’m so emotional right now, I’m so sorry,” and then he hugged me for a little longer than he normally hugs me. And I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Yeah, so that was one. I also realized — this one I was in Landmark. I had a buddy who was in my group and he was talking about the way that I was showing up in dating, because I had communicated to him like, “I would love to create a long-term loving relationship,” he’s like, “How are you showing up?” I forgot what’s the terminology they use, they use very specific words and I wish I could remember it right — oh, like what is it costing you, and I didn’t get it at first. I was just like how is costing in play? And then, eventually, he’s like, “Do you have the relationship of your dreams?” And in that moment, it clicked for me, like the way that I’m showing up right now, at that time, I’m never going to have the relationship of my dreams if I continue to show up the way that I was, which was I wasn’t comfortable being vulnerable. I couldn’t even tell someone if I was interested in them. You have to go up to bat. I wasn’t going up to bat. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is what it takes to create what I want.” And I mean, the only thing, most people, they’re just afraid of failure or afraid of rejection. That’s part of it. Again, you’re never in control of what someone else is going to do. But the thing is, if you want to make it possible, there’s a certain way you have to show up. And I knew, I was clear, I was like I want to eventually get married, I eventually want this loving relationship, so the first step is me making it possible. That was a huge aha moment.
Billy: So then, once you’ve done the healing and once you’ve been clear with yourself, how do you have those conversations with partners or future partners?
Christine: So, are you talking about like while you’re dating, like how do you communicate your…?
Billy: Yeah, yeah. Like either if it’s in the early stages or even if you want to give an example how you and your husband are clear with each other even now after being married for however long you’ve been married.
Christine: Yeah, this is where when you work on the self-worth and the clarity, with the clarity comes the confidence. You almost don’t even think about how to say things because you feel so sure about it and good about how you feel, like it’s valid. You validate your own feelings so you’re not — there’s less hesitation in like, “Oh, should I say this? What if he or she doesn’t like it?” which they might not but you like it, it’s your truth, so because I have done so much work, for example, with my husband, I’m unfiltered around him, which I love. I wanted that. I’m like I don’t want someone that I feel I have to tiptoe around. And I can be a very direct person so I know that he’s very good for me and that he’s not overly sensitive. He doesn’t take things super personal. If I was with a very sensitive person, which I have dated, it was really difficult for me because I felt like I had to explain myself a lot or there wasn’t that ease and I wanted the ease. So, Pete, my husband, he’s very good at not taking things personal. He’s very patient as well. So the way we communicate is — but there’s also, like kindness is very important to me so sometimes it’s just like, just because you want to say it, this is something I’ve had to learn, so we have to say everything just because it’s the truth. But, yeah, for the most part, for me, I aim for kindness and truth and is it necessary. But with him — and he also, from the beginning, made it a very safe space for me. He’s the one who was very forward in showing me like, “I like you, I wanna take you out to dinner.” He was very vulnerable and put himself out there, which gave me permission, it was easier for me to relax around that. And so I think it’s not so much what you say, because some people might say, “Oh, it’s too early to talk about whether you want a family or kids,” but I think it’s more the energy and how you say it, because it’s valid if you do eventually, like, “You know what, I wanna get married in the future and have kids, that’s like a desire of mine,” but if you just say more matter of fact, not like, “I wanna get married to you,” like this is our first day and I want to get married to you and people can — they can feel — you know that pressure, nobody likes that and they can feel it. But you could also say it matter of fact and someone might still get scared off and not like it, you never have control, but I think that’s not the person for you then.
Billy: Well, and I think that comes back to the other reoccurring theme that I hear in your show is that if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no. So, it almost sounds like you’re dodging a bullet there by being able to communicate your truth in saying, “This is what I want. You’re either in or you’re not,” you’re in hell yes or you’re in hell no, but here’s my one challenge to that now because I’ve seen a couple people talk about if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no. Our friend Kristen Brown is very much in that camp too. So here’s my challenge to that. So, do you think that people who say if it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a hell no are actually using that as an excuse to not do the work that is required to make a relationship last? We’ll use relationships as an example. Or if they’re even using it as an excuse to procrastinate because they’re waiting for the perfect conditions to start dating?
Christine: Oh, yeah, you’re right. That is definitely — if it’s used too extremely, then, yes, absolutely. With long-term, especially, I mean, you’re dealing with people, it’s humans, like nobody’s perfect, and if you’re too rigid with that, you’re not going to have any long-term relationships, you’re going to like have a machete and just like chop through all your relationships. You have to give people grace, which is something I had to learn, because also I’m not perfect either and it wouldn’t feel good on the other end if I felt like I just said one little thing or whatever and someone’s like, “No, that doesn’t work for me.” So with the hell yes, it’s more of a general feeling of clarity, of, “Yes, this is what I want.” I think having doubts is very human or being unsure is a very human thing. I’ll give you a little example. So when I was younger and I wasn’t as clear in what I wanted when I was dating, I would be okay if the other person wasn’t either, if a guy’s like, “I’m not — I just got out of a long-term relationship. I’m not sure what I want. I’m not sure if I ever wanna get married,” I’d be okay with it. But as I got clarity and I became very clear on what I wanted, I wanted someone who wanted the same thing. So if someone wasn’t sure at a certain point, it was fine. I’m like everyone is at where they’re at, they’re not right or wrong, but, for me, I’m like this isn’t what I’m looking for right now. And so I dated some fantastic people who they just weren’t in a hell yes when it came to being in a committed relationship and that’s okay but that’s what I was looking for and I found someone who also wanted that.
Billy: Well, you just said something there that reminded me of something that Dr. Yolanda Holloway and Tiffany Byrd talked about when we talked to them. Tiffany Byrd said something to the effect of, and this was so profound, particularly when you’re younger, because she got married when she was young, like 23, 24, 25 years old. You’re putting a lot of faith into someone you don’t know yet. And so I’m curious, if you’re working with high-performing, and I want to talk about that term “high-performing” in a little bit too, but when you’re working with young, high-performing women, maybe if they’re between the ages of 24 and 27, something like that — younger, I’m sorry, to every 34-year-old woman out there who is offended that I didn’t lump you into that younger, young column right there — younger, how do you install faith that, in 10, 15 years from now, you and your partner might have completely changed and the things that you wanted and the things that you’re clear about now are going to be different, and maybe that even plays into what we talked about when we talked to Deanna Bryant about reviving your midlife marriage, like she said that when women hit menopause that they go through this menopausal zest and then, all of a sudden, the things that they had done in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, now as they get into their 50s, those have changed and now there’s a new clarity. So, how do you approach that new clarity when you are working with people?
Christine: Yeah, that’s, I mean, again, a lot’s out of our control. I mean, you hope that you grow together with someone and, I mean, if you’re in your 20s, I mean, we all know it’s true, you change a lot from 20s to 30s. A lot. And so most of the people I work with are older, they’re 30s, 40s, 50s, like older, but, I mean, I think it’s just lining your expectations too, that you’ll never know. All you can do is honestly try your best, live true to you, communicate regularly with your partner, and you just hope that you want the same things and you grow together, but that could change too and it’s really sad and it’s scary and sometimes I think too, because it’s something I’m learning as well, Pete and I have been together six years now and we’re both changing and sometimes I think, which I hate, it’s like when I woke up and I’m just like, it’s possible, what if we want different things down the road, and I try my best to be present but that is a possibility. I can’t say, “Oh, for sure. It’s for sure. It’s guaranteed.” I can’t say that and it’s not a romantic thing to say but that is reality. So, all you can really do when approaching your relationship is do your best, be honest, and communicate.
Billy: Another thing that I’ve learned from your show, it’s how much you value communication.
Christine: Yeah, it makes life easier. Again, I’m for ease, so I’m like what’s going to make this easier? Good communication. And I wasn’t taught good communication growing up so that’s something that I sought out to work on and I’m still working on it. I mean, communication, it also entails good listening skills which does not come natural to me. My husband is —
Brian: I don’t think a lot of people have that stuff, to be honest with you, especially within families communicating effectively and listening to one another. I don’t think a lot of people have a good example of that growing up, to tell you the truth.
Christine: Absolutely. And we’re just watching our parents and so I — yeah, I sought out people, like my friends, Kevin and Leslie, who always had a marriage that I admired and just watching how they communicated with each other and watching especially how she showed up with him, he adores her and the respect was always very important to her. It was like, “Oh, yeah, that foundationally respect,” and so I always looked for that in relationships. That’s like a baseline is respect. But I didn’t see that growing up. I saw people who spoke to each other with no respect and did not listen to each other and I didn’t want that. So, having those role models was a big help.
Billy: Let’s do this. We’re going to take a quick break and then when we come back, we’re going to continue talking to Christine Chang and we’re going to dive into what it means to be a high-performing woman and the challenges that come with dating when you are a high-performing woman. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thanks for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to help get you over the midweek hump. If you’d like to contact us or if you have suggestions about what you’d like us to discuss, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Instagram at @mindful_midlife_crisis. Check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we reference throughout the show. Oh, and don’t forget to show yourself some love every now and then too. And now back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are talking to Christine Chang. She is the author of the book Show Up: Finding Love for Independent Women. She is also the host of the Show Up podcast, you can find that wherever you get your podcasts. You can also watch those episodes on YouTube. Christine, you talked about specializing in working with high-performing women find the love of their lives. So, what traits do you attribute to high-performing women and what challenges do high-performing women have that someone else might not have?
Christine: Sure. High-performing women tend to be very independent. They tend to be type A, usually. Very career oriented. Overachiever. They have a very strong self-identity and they’re usually kicking ass in their work and all their hobbies. They’re overachievers. But what makes them good in these areas, if that mindset spills over into personal life can be very challenging. So if you tend to just like bulldoze conversations to get your way, if you’re used to just firing someone because they’re not doing a good job, like you can’t approach personal relationships like that. Personal relationships, those people are not your employees. It’s different. And so I see high-performing women have challenges with that mindset. And also, I mean, this is high performers in general, whatever sex you are, is a lot of times that stems from low self-confidence and so you find yourself in a mindset of things are never good enough, “I’m never good enough,” so that’s why you’re really good at work and hobbies and stuff because you go after all these achievements and it works, you are really good at it, but the fundamental mindset is, “I’m not good enough.” So there’s high confidence in your achievements but there’s low self-confidence, low self-worth.
Brian: One interesting thing I saw in the show notes is that you help high-performing women to communicate better and when I looked at that, I was like, oh, that’s counterintuitive, obviously, these people have some measure of success in their career, they should be able to communicate fine, but now I see the difference is more they have to learn to separate work and personal a little better, maybe different communication styles for the different situations. Would you say that’s the case?
Christine: Yes, different communication styles. I think to be — I think you need to give people more grace when it comes to nurturing relationships, because with work, maybe there’s a specific task and you need something done a certain way, that’s fine, but here in your personal relationships, especially if you’re going after long term, you’re dealing with — it gets messy. You really have to give people grace and I really have had to learn this, because I did not know how to do it for a long time. I didn’t have any role models in this area. And, actually, now that, even with the very successful women that are out there, I do think there’s very few examples of women who are good models in terms of work and they’re very powerful but also in their personal lives as well where they could step back into their feminine and show up in a nurturing way and while still also being who they are, like a strong woman in their relationship or their marriages.
Billy: Well, now, as you were talking about that, this just popped into my head and I could be way off here, but do you think the role of sexism in society impacts high-performing independent women when it comes to dating because they have to push, push, push in order to succeed and they have to put up a masculine exterior in order to thrive in corporate America and then it’s difficult to turn off when it becomes romantic or in a relationship or in a personal setting?
Christine: Yes, I think so. I do think so. And a lot of women actually, because they’re so focused now on like the girl boss, like that whole mentality, and success and all that and they think that’s what I should strive for and they think in romantic relationships as well like that’s valued when men — I mean, everyone’s different, okay? But, in general, men don’t look at career success in their partner the same way women do with men. A lot of successful men, they might say, “I would love if she was very passionate about something,” like purpose driven, she has something but it could be the kids, it could be philanthropy, something like that, but they don’t say like, “Oh, my gosh, she’s the president of this firm.” They don’t put weight on that the way that we do when looking at men. And a lot of women are surprised when they hear men come on my podcast and say, “No, that’s not the first thing I look for,” especially if you’re talking to a masculine man as well, that’s not the first thing that they look for, like, “oh, my gosh, look at how accomplished she is.” It’s not that. But a lot of women, they think that because that’s where they place value. They’re like, “What?” Like, no, that’s for you. That’s for you. Not for him.
Billy: I remember dating a high-performing independent woman and I got a text message from her one time, I’m like, “Am I getting called into HR?” That’s how the text message read, I was like, “I feel like I’m gonna be sat down or written up or something like that by HR.” That’s how that message came up. I was like this is — feel like I’m an employee right now and I’m not part of a relationship.
Christine: Yes, absolutely. Oh, that’s the worst feeling. And it’s, yeah, it’s not just high-performing women who do this, I think people, like men who are in high-powered positions where they’re just used to showing up a certain way and I made a video on it once, like your friends are not your employees. I see it. They mean well, everyone has good intentions, but I think they’re just on autopilot. I’m like your friends and the people, like your partner, are not your employees so don’t talk to them like they are your employees.
Billy: So for men out there who are seeking an independent, high-performing woman to date, what advice do you have to give to them?
Christine: I think be patient. That is actually needed. If you’re looking for compatibility, you have to be very patient and you have to know that it comes with someone who wants a partnership, they don’t necessarily need you, and I think some men have a hard time with that because they like to feel needed so they don’t need you but they choose you so if you need someone to need you, you might want to choose a needy person or like not an independent person. But, yeah, I think the patience and I think you have to have a good level of self-confidence and self-awareness of like who you are as well, that your value isn’t placed on you being needed.
Billy: I think that’s important what you just said right there, because I’m someone who’s very much attracted to independent, high-performing women. Having worked in education, the people that I have always responded to the most were high-performing independent women, like the boss ladies. Those are the people that I always responded to the most. But I am needy and so I’ve had to work on that when I’ve dated high-performing women and, for me, the big piece was just communicate to me if you need time and space, like once I know that, then I can dial it back because I think, for me, it’s just because this is how I’m wired, I’m going to sit there and think, “Did I do something wrong? How come they don’t — did I do something wrong? How come they don’t wanna hang out?” That’s the that’s the tornado of negativity that I spiral into, but then once someone says, “You didn’t do anything wrong, I just need some space. I’m really busy right now.” Oh, okay, I’ll go and do something else then that gives me time to not worry about this and I can go focus on this other thing. So that’s why I like your podcast so much because you really do hammer on communication and clarity and I value that so much.
Christine: That’s great. Yeah, I think we’re probably similar because I like when people communicate with me too. Actually, what you just said, I say that to my husband sometimes because he works a lot and I say, “Just give me a heads up and then I can plan my weeks, maybe I’ll go to town, but I don’t feel good if I’m considering you and I’m sitting around here and then I feel left in the dust. That doesn’t feel good so just give me a heads up.”
Billy: So you talk about your husband quite a bit and your relationship with your husband quite a bit on the show, as you should, because you have an amazing relationship and you and Brian are very similar because Brian and his wife, Kathleen, have an amazing relationship too and I just feel like the two of you, I put you guys on pedestals because I feel like you absolutely are relationship goals. And I’m curious, you’ve talked a little bit about your dating faux pas back in the day, so what was it about your husband Pete that set him apart from everyone else?
Christine: When I initially met him, a lot of people asked, “How did you feel when you first saw him?” and I remember feeling very calm. It wasn’t like the anxious butterflies like, “OMFG,” it was, “This guy’s really handsome and I’m very curious,” but it was calm. And so that, to me, was a hunch that this guy’s different. This guy’s different. I’m curious here. And I’m not psychic so I don’t believe in the love at first sight, but I had a good hunch, like I think like this guy is different. So I think that, for me, was one of the best signs that this is going in a good direction because I wanted — I mean, everyone wants something different in a romantic relationship. For me, I feel like the world is hard enough on its own. There’s like a lot going on. I don’t need the main relationship in my life to be also a problem the majority of the time. For the most part, I want it to feel calm, like I go home and I could be me. It’s like my sanctuary. That’s the feeling I was looking for. And so that’s how Pete is very different from previous partners that I’ve chosen. Also, his patience. He is — and I also, I love it but I also need a patient partner. And a therapist told me this once because I asked her, I was like, “Hey, emotionally, what do you think would be compatible for me?” and patience was one of the first things she says and I just took note of it but it’s true. With my personality, I need a patient partner and it’s my favorite thing about him and it’s also the thing that drives me crazy too because whatever your favorite thing is about someone, Brian, I’m sure you could attest to this, being married, is also the thing that can drive you crazy, like my husband, being patient is also I feel like he can be really slow with things where I like to be chop, chop, but he has no sense of urgency. No sense of urgency. But it comes with that. I’m like this is what I wanted. I asked for a patient partner, I asked for a hardworking partner and he works so hard, sometimes, I’m like, I have to remind myself this is what I asked for. Yeah.
Billy: So then you in turn have to be patient.
Christine: Yeah. And that’s — yes, and he’s taught me so much about that. He’s been such a good influence. He’s just like salt of the earth. He’s so kind, doesn’t talk bad about anyone. He values his things as well, like he’s not disposing. He’s had the same leather bag for over 17 years and when the buckle breaks, I can’t even believe it’s like still intact but he’ll take it to the shop to get fixed, where I would just buy a new one after a few years. But it’s such a good quality because it translates over to how he feels about relationships as well. Him and his guy friends, like he religiously sees them twice a week to play soccer with them and he values it, and so when it comes to a romantic relationship, also he’s not the type that is disposing, which I think is a fantastic quality.
Billy: I like that. I like how you how you phrased that. So if we asked Pete what was it about Christine that set Christine apart for him, what do you think he would say?
Christine: I did ask him once, like what was it about me that you found attractive, and he said, “I liked your confidence. I like that you are confident doing your own thing and traveling the world.” That’s the reason he was attracted to me. As far as like the one thing that sticks out, I’m not sure. I think that he likes that I just do me, like I don’t care but like in a good way, like I’m unapologetic but in a good way. I think it’s good to be unapologetic but also like you want to be a kind person as well and I really do my best to be a good person and integrity is very important to me. So I’m going to guess it’s that, my confidence.
Billy: Yeah, and just like I said, as an avid listener of your podcast, this is one thing I really appreciate about your particular podcast, two things I appreciate. One, if you’re somebody who doesn’t like really long podcasts, your episodes are pretty short and you even have like 7- to 10-minute episodes where it’s just you and that directness comes out and you are unapologetically you and it’s so refreshing and you get it in 7 to 10 minutes. It is absolutely fantastic. So if you’re enjoying this episode here with Christine, check those out and you can get little glimpses of it there too. And the other thing that I really like about your podcast, and I think this speaks to the confidence of your quality of conversation, there’s no music or anything, you just hit Play and the conversation starts and there’s no music or fanfare or anything like that. You’re just like, “Hi, I’m Christine Chang and I’m gonna have this guest on here, and we’re gonna talk,” and it just gets down to business. There’s no fluff in it whatsoever. There’s no word of the day. There are no 10 roles that you’re most looking forward to. It’s just direct, and I imagine if you’re a high-performing individual, that’s what speaks to you is that directness, “Hey, I’ve got X amount of time and so I just wanna get after it.”
Christine: Yes, yeah, I value to the point, I value my time a lot, and it could be a little cultural too. My mom is very, very direct, like almost borderline she can be really rude sometimes, but people love her too. I put her on my Insta Story sometimes and it’s exactly what you said, people find it refreshing because it’s honest, I think, which I think is really funny because the fact that so many people like it, I wonder why more people don’t do it more. Like, for me, I feel like it would make things way easier if people just said what they wanted. That would just save so much time. And I also was thinking recently that it seems a little odd to me that, because I am very matter of fact and I might just say what’s on my mind or just acknowledge like, “Oh, that’s a good looking guy,” or, “That’s a good looking female,” but almost like a lot of people are scared to compliment someone because they think like, “Oh, they’re gonna think I’m hitting on them or something,” but I’m like, to me, I view it as it’s just the truth, like, “Oh, you’re a good looking guy,” but I don’t mean that with intention necessarily like I’m hating on you, I’m just acknowledging like what is it like to be — there’s like a guy who came on my show and he’s an actor, I’m like, “Do you know you’re good looking? What is that like?” and in the comments, some people were like, “Oh, she’s hitting on him,” and I thought it was really funny that it turns into that when it’s just the truth. So I do find it interesting.
Billy: Well, I think it’s because people wish they had that level of confidence and that ability to be direct and there is a need, like Brian and I can attest to this being from the Midwest, there is a need to dress things up. There’s Minnesota nice, but it’s only Minnesota nice until you leave the room, because it’s one of those things. So I do feel that when people observe others being direct, you’re looking at them, like, “Gosh, I wish I could be that confident, I wish that I could be that direct,” and, for me, when I listened to your show and I watched your Instagram Stories, that sort of thing, it just all comes back to clarity and I think you are a master at clarity. So I cannot recommend your show enough to people. I’ll be honest, because I’m not a high-performing woman, I’ve not read your book yet but all the lessons that I take away from your show actually have helped me just in communicating with other people so I want to thank you for that.
Christine: Oh, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it. Sometimes, you talk on a podcast and you wonder like who’s listening or is anyone getting anything out of this so it’s really lovely to hear. I’m happy to hear that.
Billy: Absolutely. We just want to thank you for coming on the show here today and speaking to us about relationships and clarity and high performance and we wish you all the best. We sincerely hope that you manifest that TV show into reality. We are rooting for you.
Christine: Oh, thank you so much. It’s been lovely. Thanks for having me on your show.
Brian: You’ve got what it takes. I believe in you.
Christine: Thank you. Oh, look at that. You guys are so supportive. Thank you.
Billy: Absolutely, absolutely. We’re out here to help people be the best versions of themselves and everybody needs a cheerleader, and when we encounter good people, those are the people that you really, really want to root for and you’re one of those people so make it happen, Christine.
Christine: Thanks, you guys. Thank you so much.
Billy: Absolutely. So with that, for Christine, for Brian, this is Billy, thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care, friends.
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