An Interview with the AuthorQ: Why did you write Strip
Off Your Fear?
It was last
year and I was writing a book about overcoming fear, and it was not
well. The words were not flowing, and the few that did make it through were -
to put it bluntly - shit. After 30,000 nuggets of shit, I decided to call a
halt to this project. I wasn't fully into it, and the results showed. I just
couldn't get worked up about fear. Things were not happy at the House of Talbot
because writing a book is why we settled down in Thailand in the first place.
Then things got real: my friend Donna was murdered by
her ex-husband. And the political climate in the US became overtly anti-woman
as the political races heated up. Some of my closest friends and family members
were undergoing significant personal issues because of their inability to speak
honestly and clearly in their relationships, businesses, and communities.
It finally dawned on me that fear wasn't the problem
because fear never leaves us. Conquer one fear and you'll quickly find another
- we all know that. The problem is really a lack of confidence, the inner
fire that comes from living your authentic self, speaking your truth, and
demanding respect from others, including yourself. Especially
When you have this, you can face fear on a regular basis with a pretty good
Q: You write about the Voices of Fear in our heads and
even outline some of those personalities. Which one do you identify with most?
of Fear were really fun to write. It was the first time my inner Drama Queen
has had full reign over my mind in many years, and she did not disappoint.
Everyone has at least a few of these voices, though we tend to rely on a
dominant one to rule our fears.
I'm definitely the Drama Queen, dreaming up scenarios
worthy of an Oscar for every little thing. I've learned to temper it over time,
even using it for entertainment now, but for many years it really ruled my
life. Every headache was cancer, a missed call was the sign of trouble in a
relationship, and an unreturned email meant I was going to be fired.
It's a tough way to live, and there is no booting those
guys out of your head. But once you recognize them for what they are instead of
what they want you to think they are, you can simply be a bystander to their
activity and not a victim to their torment.
Q: Why the stripping metaphor in a book about confidence
and speaking up?
dressed and undressed is universal, and we all know how uncomfortable it is
like to wear ill-fitting clothes. I couldn't think of a more perfect description
of how our inner confidence gets covered up by all the layers society demands
we wear. It's like that pushy sales clerk at the department store handing you
item after item of clothes you hate because she simply doesn't know anything
about you and wants to sell you what she has, not necessarily what you want or
The trick is learning to dress yourself, say no to the
identities, goals, and dreams that don't fit you like a glove. It takes some
practice to get to this point, and we arrive at different ages and stages.
Q: One of the lessons you teach in learning to speak up is
saying where you want to go for lunch. Why is this important?
woman I know answers the "where do you want to go for lunch?"
question with "I don't know; where do you want to go?"
This automatic defaulting to the desires of another person
is the perfect example of our conditioning to please others. Many times we may
like where the other person chooses anyway, but that's not the point. We
default to other people in the most basic of decisions, robbing ourselves of
what we really want and putting the burden on everyone else in our life to make
decisions. This is the perfect example of a man complaining he has to guess
what a woman is thinking.
When you use this question as practice in speaking up, you
will see it pay off in other areas of your life. The next time someone asks you
where you want to eat lunch, answer. Don't push off the responsibility or try
to come to a consensus. For extra points, you can practice suggesting
alternatives when someone else suggests a location.
This simple exercise will give you a huge head start in
speaking up in other areas of your life.
Q: You included a book club party guide, a soundtrack and
a signature cocktail. This isn't what you normally find in a book. Why?
It is an
important message, and one that gains more power with community. I want
readers to eat, drink, and groove to this message and take it into every pore
of their bodies. Then I want them to talk about it with friends so they will
all go out and talk about it with other people. I want confidence and speaking
up to be on the minds of every single woman in the world. We are half the
population and the primary caretakers for the next generation. Imagine what
this world is losing when we don't make our ideas, thoughts and needs known?
It is all about you, but it is also all about our society
as a whole.
I love gatherings of women, especially when important
discussions can be had in a fun and supportive environment. My own book club
back in Seattle was a huge part of my life and helped me work through problems
and grow as a person, and I want other women to know that feeling of community
and safety in speaking their minds as the wine flows and the night grows.
Q: The book is about self-confidence, but you also write
about relationships. How are our relationships related to self-confidence?
can't give you self-confidence, that's for sure, but the wrong people can
certainly drain you of any you have. Humans are highly adaptive creatures, and
we are shaped by our environments. Hang out with naysayers, critics and whiners
and you won't keep your confident outlook for long.
Any job, mate, friend, organization, or government worth
having in your life is one that treats you as an equal human being, supports
your dreams, lovingly calls you on your bullshit, and works to make your union
more productive than your individual contributions would be. They demand as
much of themselves as they do of you, and being around them feels like a
I like to invoke the "best friend" test to
figure out if a situation is where it should be.
Ask yourself if you would you allow your best friend to be
treated the way you are being treated. If the answer is no, it is time to
something about it. If you don't, that incredible human adaptability will
work it's magic on covering up your confidence and morphing you into someone
you don't want to be.
We should all be our own best friends, don't you think?