How To Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay

In the book, Big Feelings: How To Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay, Liz Fosslien and her co-author, Mollie West Duffy, examine the seven emotions that are especially hard to overcome: self-doubt, comparison, and anger, as well as burnout, perfectionism, despair, and regret. 

And these are emotions most of us never talk about. Instead we move through life wondering “What’s wrong with me?” and “Why can’t I handle this like everyone else?”.

The truth is that most women are struggling with these emotions too, quietly and alone, just like you. 


In their book, Big Feelings: How To Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay, Liz and Molly open up about their own experiences, as well as those of other women. By doing so they help make us feel less alone and take away the stigma we feel when processing those hard emotions.

When women feel self-doubt, comparison, anger, burnout, perfectionism, despair or regret we often turn to alcohol to push down those feelings and drown them out, which is a really unhelpful coping mechanism. It’s actually when we ignore these emotions and pretend they don’t exist that they become destructive.

“While big feelings are uncomfortable—at times they can even feel unbearable—they aren’t inherently positive or negative. When we take the time to understand them, big feelings like anger and regret can serve us.”

Liz Fosslien + Mollie West Duffy, Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay


Liz Fosslien is here to dive into practical and useful ways to cope with some of our most difficult emotions without trying to numb out.

Tune in to hear Casey and Liz discuss: 

  • Why women are increasingly experiencing burnout and how to protect yourself from it
  • How perfectionism holds you back and how to detach your self-worth from what you do
  • Tools to successfully navigate uncertainty
  • Why it’s important to find people who get what you’re going through when you’re navigating emotions such as anger, despair, uncertainty and regret
  • How the words “resilience” and “grit” have been used to make us feel badly for experiencing normal emotions when confronted with unsustainable expectations
  • How to use regret as a compass for making decision
  • Why it’s important to identify what’s behind your anger 
  • How to go from giving 100% to giving 80% and why that will help, not hurt you

Ready to drink less + live more?

More About Liz Fosslien

Liz Fosslien is an expert on how to make work better, head of content and communications at Humu, and co-author and illustrator of the best-selling book Big Feelings and the Wall Street Journal best-seller No Hard Feelings

Her work has been featured by Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Economist, Time, TED, and CNN. She has given keynotes about emotions at work at organizations including Google, LinkedIn, NPR, and Spotify.

Learn more about Liz, the work she does and to purchase her books, head over to www.fosslien.com

Follow Liz on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter

Watch Liz and Mollie West Duffy discuss their new book, Big Feelings: How To Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay on YouTube

Connect with Casey

Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!

Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.



The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.

In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more. 

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life. 

Be sure to grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

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How To Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay


how to be okay, emotions, feel, women, drinking, life, regret, book, illustrations, job, angry, migraines, boundary, work, helps, feelings

SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Liz Fosslien


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.


Hi there. Today I’m really excited because we are talking to one of the authors of the book Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay. Liz Fosslien is an expert on how to make work better. The head of content and communications at Hulu and co-author and illustrator of the best selling book Big Feelings and the Wall Street Journal bestseller No Hard Feelings. Her work has been featured by Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Economist, Time, Ted and CNN and she’s giving keynotes about emotions at work at organizations, including Google, LinkedIn, NPR and Spotify. 


One of the reasons I wanted to have Liz on this program to talk about her book is because in the book, they go through big feelings, including uncertainty, comparison, anger, burnout, perfectionism, despair and regret. And I know that those are emotions that lots of women drink to push down and suppress, just not to deal with them or not to worry about them. And in this book, Liz and her co author, Mollie, talk about really practical and useful ways to manage those emotions without trying to numb out. So Liz, welcome. 


Thanks so much for having me, really excited to be here. 


Yeah, and I have to say your illustrations are wonderful and gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while, and anyone who doesn’t follow you, I highly recommend they do. I was telling you that I actually had one of your illustrations on my vision board that I put together in January, long before I knew about your book. 


That’s so cool. Yeah, but the illustrations are definitely, they started out as a form of therapy for me where whatever I was feeling I would just put into little charts or drawings. And so when I resonate with someone when they have it on their vision board, it’s also, it’s just, it’s really nice to hear that it resonates because it also helps me feel less alone when everything that I dealing with is happening. 


Yeah, well, so tell us a little bit about you. And about you and Mollie and why you wrote this book. 


Yeah. So this is our second book and sort of brief history. My parents are very stoic immigrants from Northern Europe. And so I grew up in a household where there was no big display of emotion. And when there was, it was always a bad thing. And I entered the workforce very much with, I mean, already, I was suppressing my feelings in my personal life. But at work, especially it was this mindset of you know, you don’t fuss, you don’t fail, and you certainly don’t feel at work. And so I got this, like, corporate job that I really worked hard for and checked all the traditional success boxes like tall building, I wear a suit, I’d went up to a high floor, I felt important, and I hated it. Like truly, I started getting headaches and burnt out after about two years. And that sent me on this personal journey of just trying to understand, like, couldn’t just power my way through this job, what happened and lock it and I couldn’t overcome that. And so what does that mean about like, how do I even figure out what I like? How do I tap into these emotions? And you know there was, I had no idea what to do next. 


And eventually I took a job in New York and moved there at a startup that was much more creative. Much more suited to my interests. Where I met Mollie, my co author, who had had a very similar experience, first job out of college, really didn’t like it, was a toxic environment. But she tried to push through it and just couldn’t. Also had those emotions flare up as physical symptoms, and bonded over that shared experience. And then our first book, No Hard Feelings, looked at just the role of emotions at work. And that was much more how do emotions affect leadership, teamwork, and the most recent book, Big Feelings is just about the harder thing. 


So it’s kind of an ironic shift that we went from no hard feelings to big feelings. But I think it’s, it was never planned this way. But it ended up being actually realigned with discourse around emotions at work, and 2019, when the first book came out, it was like, How can leaders do some vulnerability and then this year 2022, when Big Feelings, our second book, came out, I think that has shifted dramatically to the boundary between work and home. It’s not just competition, it’s people are really going through difficult difficult things, and how do you even start to bring that up in the workplace, create spaces that are supportive? It’s just, it’s a fascinating field to be in, given the pandemic. 





I mean, I really appreciated hearing your history because I also graduated college and got a job at a big consulting firm, and was working nights and weekends and getting promoted, and then went to a startup in Seattle, that was IPO and, and I also was miserable. And parts of it were really fun, parts of it were exciting. But a lot of it was me just experiencing extreme anxiety, some imposter syndrome and wondering why I couldn’t cope. Why does everyone else seem to be able to cope with everything going on in their lives, and I tried to, you know, pull a geographic meaning like, switching jobs, switching bosses, switching all these things, but I was still in corporate digital marketing. And it wasn’t until I quit drinking, and did some therapy and did some growth stuff that I was like, I’ve been trying to be this square peg in a round hole, since I graduated college, because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. And my body’s physically sort of rebelling against the situations I’m putting myself in. Does that make sense? 


Totally, that resonates a lot with what I thought I was supposed to, but I very much had the successes. You get one of these jobs that look great on paper, you try to get promoted. And whether you like your day to day or not is irrelevant. It’s just the title and the company name. And then I actually think I read this in the Wall Street years ago, but it said something about kind of the pick of parents and the people that love you and often create these patients that then sort of internalize for yourself that they want what’s good for you. But that might not be what’s best for you. I mean, a lot is reminding myself my parents wanted me just to be happy and like have a stable career and stable income. But that’s actually, I’m thriving more in a creative, more entrepreneurial setting, so that choice and that there’s no ill intention on their part is good for me. 


Well, I’m looking at one of your illustrations right now. And I’ll definitely share it in the show notes of this podcast. But it’s one that I love that says how we’re taught to measure success. And it’s sort of a pie chart with 50/50 salary and job title. And then you have a better measure, which is mental health, physical health, job title, salary, free time, and liking what you do. And I think that’s a hard adjustment for people who’ve always tried to get this straight A to say, there’s a trade off between time, money, energy and happiness. And each one of those needs to be weighed. Not as Yeah, I’m gonna get promoted, and I’m gonna do a great job, but I’m truly miserable and on the road and away from my family, or whatever it is. 


Yeah, I actually am grateful for this corporate experience where I burned out and didn’t enjoy two years because it, it helps me remember in those moments when I feel like oh, maybe I should go back into this world. That No, you did it, and you really didn’t like it. And then I also, and Mollie, read about this in the book where I remember when I was at that job, and later realized that I wasn’t even aware of at the time, was the people I was most envious of were not the people with the most prestigious jobs. It was my one friend who was doing it, she was like working at an art job. And she just seemed so happy. And I remember having dinner with her and walking away and being like, I’m so jealous of this person, just because they’re happy. And it may, it kind of put into stark contrast how unhappy I was. And I also remind myself, of what I really deep down want is to find my work meaningful, and do something that’s personally fulfilling, because that’s what I was jealous of. And so that’s really my core value and core purpose. And so, a couple things that helped me, I think we all have, but I definitely still have some moments here and there, where it’s like, oh, maybe I should have gone and been like a managing director at corporate, whatever, whatever. 


Well, by the way, I am impressed that you figured it out two years in because I have to say I was in corporate for 20 years, meanwhile, like



going on anti anxiety pills and antidepressant pills and drinking a bottle of wine each night. And all the things before I was like, it wasn’t until I stopped drinking, that I was able to be like, Wow, 60% of my anxiety is better immediately. And work is less stressful. And yet, these are the things that I don’t like about my life, and I am capable of shifting them. So the fact that you’ve figured it out after two years is highly impressive. 


I think my body figured it out before. 


Tell us about that. 


Yeah, yeah, I was having a migraine, just really, really awful. And at the time, I didn’t know they were migraines, especially when you’re young and you show up in the emergency room, and you’re just, you’re like, I’m throwing up, my head hurts so much. They run all kinds of terrifying tests, because they just don’t know what it is. So I remember where it’s like brain aneurysm and sort of really scary things. Thank God didn’t, that didn’t turn out to be what it was. But then I had to contend with this other thing, which is hard in its own way, which is this sort of chronic, indefinable pain that is also not visible to others and doesn’t have an ease. So it’s not, oh, you broke your bone, there’s a cast now you’re fine. It’s with migraines that can take and it took me honestly, like years to figure out what worked for me. But I eventually had to quit this job. Because I was just in so much pain, I felt so miserable, I quit, I had nothing lined up, I had no idea what I was going to do next. And yet, even just quitting, and that was the fall off a cliff for me of this, was the job I thought I was going to have, there was a very clear career trajectory. And so it felt like a huge failure that I couldn’t hack it, is what I thought. I still felt like immense relief. And already my migraines started to get better. 


So yeah, yeah, it’s shocking how it shouldn’t be. But it’s continually shocking to me how much our bodies can manifest those emotions. And I remember speaking with a couple, so I was at lunch with three of my female friends. And this was when I was in consulting, this corporate job. And they were all in similar fields, except for one of them. And I was talking about my migraines. And my one woman said, yes, so I also have this horrendous neck pain, it feels like there’s a fire shooting up and down my neck. My other friend said, sometimes I have to go into a dark closet at work because my head hurts so much. And then after about five minutes of this discussion, my fourth friend who was not in corporate, she chimed in and said, This is not normal. This shouldn’t be like, Oh, you’re feeling that, cool, I’m feeling that too type of conversation. It should be, she was like, I just want to clarify that this is all really bad. And you should all see doctors and all get into physical therapy and maybe reevaluate your problem, but and then we were sort of normalizing each other’s pain. Yeah, it was actually really useful to have this outside voice say this needs to stop. This is not okay. 


Yeah. And what I love about that is that you guys actually talked about it. And I love it when women talk about that stuff. Because I know from so many women I coach, they say what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I deal with this? Everybody else seems to be coping with life and just fine and I know from being a coach and talking to hundreds of women that the idea that most women are coping with work and life and expectations and kids and handling it fine, is really untrue. And that doesn’t matter whether they navigate life with a smile on their face or not. You really have no idea what people are dealing with in their own minds and in their own bodies. 


Yeah, 100% I was saying to you before we started recording, four weeks ago, and it’s just such a good example of this, where I’ve had coworkers, babies, and everything on Instagram is, here’s my newborn, we’re so happy together. It’s this, like, magical time in your life. And then I had my baby and reached out to them. So like, I feel terrible, like, out of bed. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck in many different ways. And they had had the same experience. But that was what they were posting on. Yeah. So I think it’s also just good to remind ourselves of, you’re only seeing someone’s highlight reel unless you know them really well.



Yeah, absolutely. And you said, in various places where you’ve written and talked that, when you open up with vulnerability about your experiences, you normalize it and make other people feel less alone and feel less stigma around those harder emotions, and also talked about how you really didn’t like this word, resilience and or pushing that. And for me, it’s the word grit, like, I know, that we’re supposed to have as women or as young women, like we need to teach people grit. And to me, that’s another word for like, putting down everything that is not okay. And just powering through. And you can only do that for so long. 


Yeah, and it’s also, which we talked about in the book, I think, especially with a really clear example of how words like grit and resilience are often used to place the burden on the individual. It’s just like, Oh, you have a small child at home. And you’re also working full time, only this time in your life during a global pandemic, is that it’s not, oh, maybe society should help you a little more with childcare. Or there were a lot of organizations at the time that sort of understood that their employees were burning out or going through a lot. And they would offer them a meditation app. And it was do the meditation, do it at home, or you’re gonna do it before work hours, it’ll help you be resilient, and then come back and do your job as if nothing has changed. And so what we say is that resilience and grit are not bad things, right? They’re, they’re generally, it’s a good thing to be able to handle adversity and get through it. But it’s so much easier to do that in an environment that makes it easy. 




So it’s you cannot ignore a structural versus you cannot ignore the whole, your co-workers, there’s all these different things where if those exist, you can tell someone to be resilient over and over and over again. Yeah, it’s just gonna be very, very, very hard. 


Yeah. And when you talk about that, I mean, I think, from my perspective, and the work that I do, in terms of you just need to be resilient, and you need to have grit and just meditate. Women really, often don’t have a ton of options in terms of time and energy, to decompress to care for themselves. And that manifests in sort of unhealthy coping skills. So during the Coronavirus pandemic, women actually increased their heavy drinking episodes by 41%. Versus prior to it. And women with children under the age five in the household, increased her alcohol consumption by 323%.



Gosh, I hadn’t heard those deaths. 


Yes, it’s tough. 


Yeah. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. I remember when the pandemic first hit, I, you know, it was just like, every day felt the same. And I will say, I still had a very privileged existence, I could work remotely, I wasn’t going anywhere. So I was lucky in a way that it felt the same, that I was bored, not terrified. But I remember getting up and then I would do work. And then it’d be the end of the day. And at that point, we were still like wiping down our groceries, it just didn’t feel safe to see anyone. And so I started to have just like a glass of wine or glass or two of wine in the evenings just to kind of mark the end of the day. And I would start to really look forward to that. It was like, Okay, this is a drag, have an afternoon, it’s fine. I can have this glass of wine. And then when I decided that I wanted to go, we wanted to start trying to get pregnant, I stopped drinking, and then did get pregnant and then just didn’t drink during that. And the first couple, I would say the first month I really missed that 5pm or 6pm glass of wine, it was just like 5pm would roll around and I’d be really depressed because there’s nothing to look forward to anymore. This is what I had at the end of the day. 


And so I switched to non-alcoholic beer and then eventually switched to tea. And what I realized was actually, I felt better, like I actually slept better. And it was more the ritual of it. And it was actually really useful for me even to tune in to that emotion of, hey, my day feels so monotonous and lacking meaning that now I need this glass of wine to make myself like have some kind of like little pep in my step, maybe I should actually try reconnecting with my coworkers or set up some zoom calls with friends, but ended up being a really positive shift for me, that I didn’t even consciously make it. It was just suddenly, oh, I have this huge missing joy in life, how do I find other sources of joy? And those ended up being, I think, more sustainable and more healthier? And yeah, yeah, it just felt much better to reach out to a friend and to kind of reach for a glass of wine. 


Yeah, and I’m a huge proponent of sort of, keep the ritual, change the ingredients. And we talked about, I love that you were doing Athletic Brewing Company beer, which is my absolute favorite, I love it. And a lot of times, it is just two things. One, switching out the ingredients, you don’t have to give up the ritual, but also being like, Okay, what is it that I want? What am I trying to achieve by reaching for a glass of wine? And if we don’t ever dig into that, like you said, I want to mark the end of the day, I want some joy in my life, I want something that is different, or for me, and you can actually find other things to fill that hole. It’s just not as easy a button, wine. You know? 


Yeah, it’s a little harder. But I think better in the longer run, because you think it’s sort of a lot of the things that I turned to instead, then yeah, so at first, it was the Athletic Brew, which I also love. And then it also became reaching out to friends, taking a walk, just trying other ways to kind of get a little mood boost, or just much better for my body too. 

Well, so I know your book, Big Feelings is a guide to coping with some of the toughest emotions we ever faced from anger to despair, and coming up with other ways and solutions to work through them. So tell me, what, where you start with that, in terms of what you see. Let’s talk about women in particular going through.

Casey McGuire Davidson 

Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, the sobriety starter kit.


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You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course 



Yeah, so one thing that came up a lot in the research that we’ve read through was this belief, especially among women, that if they’re burnt out, if they’re feeling stressed, or anxious because of uncertainty, it’s through some kind of personal failing environment. And this comes again, as we’ve talked about, because we don’t like to share, we’re just not as vulnerable, we feel like we always have to present perfection. And basically what that means is, we feel worse because we feel isolated, we feel like we’re the only ones. And so one of the myths that Mollie and I tried to dispel in basically every factor is a, you’re the one that feels this way, everyone else is thriving, and you’re the only one that feels sad or mad, or whatever it is, that’s a harder emotion. 


But then also that part of this journey is just removing the stigma, by saying there aren’t actually bad emotions, even if it feels challenging, it’s still a spin that’s telling you something. And so if you feel burned out it shouldn’t be, It’s my fault, I should just try to get over it. It should be okay. This is it feels hard, it doesn’t feel good. But it’s my body, it’s my brain, communicating that I need to make more time for myself, that I need to slow down, that I might need to, you know, kind of lower my expectations in some areas that might actually be healthy for me for a little bit to prioritize some things. So I think it’s, it’s kind of the biggest, the big themes in the book are one, just getting out on things more openly, and then two, helping people listen to their emotions as opposed to feel bad for having them. 


Yeah. And I completely agree with that. And, and people are always like, I shouldn’t they’re very uncomfortable with anger. That’s pretty normal, but also jealousy, resentment, self pity, all that kind of stuff. You feel really bad about it. But it’s true. It’s just your emotions aren’t good or bad, but they are clues. They’re clues to something is out of balance in your life or there’s a boundary that needs to be drawn or you need more self care and so on. They can be, I always think of them as like the canary in the coal mine, they can be like little signs that there’s a shift that needs to happen. 


Yeah, totally. There’s researchers at the University of Berkeley, or UC of California, Berkeley, they looked at people who had a hard feeling, and then felt bad about it, and actually made them feel much worse than people who felt anger and actually said, I feel angry. Let me try to explore why and where that’s coming from. And then it’s so useful to sit with those emotions, because it helps you just behave in ways that are better serving for yourself. 


So an example with anger is, it’s really valuable to understand, am I angry in this moment versus just acknowledge it and say, like, I’m angry, and that’s okay. Anger is a particularly, it’s an emotion that’s often presented as particularly ugly and unfeminist. Right, like, yeah, girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. And girls at a young, very young age, are taught not to be angry, to be people pleasers, that kind of thing. So for women especially to say, I’m angry right now, and then to try and dial into why. So it might be because the violation has occurred. And it’s useful knowledge because then you can figure out what you need to do. But sometimes what I find too, is that I’m angry because I’m really exhausted, and I slept poorly. And that’s why my husband seems super frustrated at the moment. And it’s useful to know that too, because it’s like no fundamental person who’s not doing anything wrong. I just need to go to bed and get a good night’s sleep versus the thing that there’s a deeper issue. So even exploring kind of what’s causing this to help you move forward in the best way. 


Yeah, absolutely. And I think that one of the things that someone said to me recently was that women have actually been groomed, since they were little. And it was the word groomed that sort of took me back, to be people pleasers, to be over givers, to be suppressing any emotions that are seen as not nice, as you said, and how it’s like, oh, my gosh, that that is true. 


Yeah, yeah. I’m curious to hear, I’m guessing you see that come up to and your work with, with people and with women especially.



Yeah, I think one of the hardest things for this, is like, women that they should be, the women I talked to the most are really high performing women who look like they’re keeping all the balls in the air. And the challenge for them is to often do less, draw boundaries, seemingly, quote, unquote, let people down or drop some of the balls so that they can physically take better care of themselves. And usually, when you stop drinking, you’re incredibly tired. And so I saw in your book, you talk about like, going from giving 100% to giving 80%. And that’s something that’s really important, too, so that you’re not going, going, going, coming home and just your willpower is gone, and you just are exhausted, you’ve had no time to decompress. And so grabbing a drink is a really easy way to kind of check out. 


Yeah, yeah, the living in a percent is so hard. Because I think there is this, it’s definitely socially reinforced that being busy is just the greatest sign of being important. And it’s really, it’s so useful to remember one of the things that we talked about in the burnout chapter is your health and your mental well being is actually the foundation for your ability to do anything else. And so there’s the, you can’t pour from an empty cup. And even though I think we all know that it’s very, very hard to still internalize, that didn’t remind time for wear the hats in your life, right? So you could be a mother, a boss, employee, a parent, or sorry, a daughter, we all play these different roles, and realizing that some of it needs to be will only be great. And each of those roles, a decent time to just take care of you. And yeah, it’s really, really hard to remember to do that. 


When you talk about going down to 80% or living at 80%, what are some strategies that women can use to either do that or get more comfortable doing that? 


Yeah, so one of the things that Mollie and I both do is a calendar audit. So every Sunday night, we’ll sit down and not together separately, but what like, so I will look at my calendar for the coming week. And I will look carefully through every day and identify the days that I know will be really draining. 


So for example, if on a Tuesday, I have back to back meetings, I’m an introvert, that’s exhausting to me. And so what I’ll do is say this day is me not being kind to myself. So which of these meetings can I push off another day or another week? Which of them can I turn into an email, which of them can maybe turn into a phone call, not a video meeting where I can go for a walk and have some physical activity or sunlight. And that’s really, really useful. So it’s really taking an active role in making sure that each day feels manageable. One of the very bad things that high achievers do is they just push through it, right? They say like, if I just get through this week, I can recover next weekend. And what normally happens is that you get through the week, and then on the weekend, suddenly, you want to be social and do all these other things. And so you never have any downtime. 


The second thing that I’ve personally found very helpful is to create a set of rules for yourself, because it helps you stick to them A and B, people seem to take rules less personally. So one of my rules is I always sleep on a big decision, and even a small decision. So if someone comes to me at work and says, I would love for your team to take on this project, I will say, Okay, love, give me a day, I always like to take some time to make sure that I can actually have capacity that we can build this in. I’ll get back to you tomorrow. And what that does is it helps, it stops me from this immediate people pleasing. Yes, of course, of course, we can do that. Yeah. And then I actually can kind of reason through it, and figure out maybe there’s some of it I can do, some of that I can’t, but it just buys me some time. And because I’ve communicated that I have a rule, people usually tend to say, Oh, I like that. I like that you have a rule. It’s not me. It’s just something you need to do. And I appreciate your being thoughtful about it. So the calendar audit, and then a set of rules for yourself, I found



incredibly valuable. 


Yeah, that I love that. Because one of the things I find myself, it was harder for me to draw boundaries in the past or to say no, because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. And I didn’t want them to think that I couldn’t take something on. And I remember very clearly asking a designer, a really talented designer who worked for our team when I was at L’Oreal, but she was hourly, she was a contractor. And we had lots of projects we needed to push through. So I was like, hey, any chance you want more hours on the weekend, we’ve got this great big project if you could get it done kind of thing. And she said to me, and I remember it, she was like, I have a very big life at work. And I love it, and I get everything done. And I also have a very big life outside of work. And so I need to make sure I have time for everything in my life when I’m not in the office, so I can’t take that on. And she didn’t have kids. She wasn’t married. And not that that means anything. But usually most women use that as the excuse, right? I know, I did. Like I was just totally burnt out. But I was like, Oh, I’ve got to help my kids. So the weekend is our, you know, just being able to draw that boundary without apology. I was actually so impressed. I was like, Yeah, I wish I could do that. And, you know, it enabled me to start doing that, as well. 


I, I love that story. And often. And I do this for myself as well. But I also ask people, when you think about whose careers you admire, or the people at work that you admire, chances are they’re really good at saying no. And if you approach them with a million asks they would say no. I think it’s just so nice to have those examples. And it’s also just a kind of a call to action for women is that when you do it, you give other women the courage to do it for themselves. I remember, that brings to mind, I emailed someone, and I got an out of office email back from them that said, I’m out today not checking email and taking a mental health day and you probably deserve one too. And I just love that. Yeah, and it really did make me think I do need one and I’d like to, I actually took a vacation day, I think a couple of weeks later, because of that out of the office reply. 


Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to when you feel totally overwhelmed. It’s hard to figure out how to do that. But you’re right. I mean, I always ask women like don’t ask for permission every time instead, like you said, institute a rule, boundary or best practices. And that will stop you from worrying about setting the boundary wondering how they’re going to reply. I remember at one point, my therapist asked me like, What would happen if you just didn’t check your email at night on the weekends, and that was like, oh my god, I freaked out, that would be so much more stressful than checking because I would like put my daughter to sleep and fall asleep with her and set my alarm for 11:45 so I could check the sales figures right before the day turned over. And I was just like, that’s fucking insane. I mean, seriously. And so then I finally told my boss, I



said, You know what, I am not going to check my email after I start having dinner with my family or on the weekends. If there is an emergency, will you please text me, and I’ll jump right on it. And that really helped me just be like, Oh, I’ve communicated it. And therefore, they’re not expecting me to jump in. 


We also had a general manager, who was a woman with little kids. And she worked all the time, like 24/7, she would send emails at three in the morning. And when they did a big survey, a 360 degree review. everyone on our team, I mean, VP, and CFO was were like, This is stressing me the fuck out. Because she would send an email and like, then the CFO would jump in, and then the VP would jump in. And this was at 11 o’clock at night on a Saturday. And so HR told her, Okay, you need to put this in your signature of your email. And it says, L’Oreal is a company where we work at the time that suits us, and I am sending out this email. Or if I’m sending out this email, outside of business hours, I do not expect you to respond until your working hours. And I think that just took everyone down a huge sigh of relief. Yeah, those things that honestly help a lot. 


Yeah, I think people don’t realize, maybe they do, but often they don’t realize the expectation they’re setting. It’s just an especially now with remote work where you can work at very odd hours, and people are taking advantage of that, which is I think the increased flexibility is great. But yes, if you’re sending an email at 9pm, it’s really useful, like I will, I’ve told my team, if I send you an email at 9pm, it’s probably because I wasn’t working from four to seven. And this is just when it’s most convenient for me. So you don’t need to respond then or schedule send, right? Like it’s really not urgent, write all the emails and just have them scheduled to send the next morning at 8am. Yeah, so that it’s really truly creating that boundary of we want to give each other evenings and weekends, because we all respect that we need time to recharge. 


Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a big thing. But there was also sort of other emotions I wanted to ask you about, and one was despair. And I wanted to ask you, because I know a lot of women who are kind of struggling. And I felt this too at one point, like I felt doomed, I was drinking, I was worried about it, I desperately didn’t want to quit. I tried to stop, it wasn’t successful. And it literally felt doomed. I was like, I am going to screw up my life and my family and my marriage and my kids, and it’s going to be my fault. And one of the things I loved in the book was you talk about despair. And then one of your illustrations is despair shared with people who get it. And the circle goes from like, medium size to small, and then despair shared with people who don’t get it. And that despair actually gets a lot bigger. And that’s something that I found that talking with women who also struggle with drinking or have stopped drinking, really, really helps. And if your friend or your mother, your husband doesn’t get it, it can be incredibly hard. Because you feel like it’s a personal failure, or that it’s not a big deal, even though your heart is telling you it is.



Yeah, I think this is a big, there’s a lot now that encourages us to be vulnerable and be more open about heart experiences. And that’s great advice. But I would always add with people you trust to receive it in a thoughtful and empathetic way. Because yeah, it’s unfortunately, it’s true that there are a lot of people who just don’t really understand and maybe one day they will. Like, I think if you live long enough, you will go through a really hard period. And that you might actually in the midst of that look back and feel like oh, I wish I had been there differently for someone in the past because I finally get what they were going through. I think grief is a really good example of this where when you first go through that, like devastating loss, it really puts into perspective like oh, wow, I had no idea what that person was feeling at the time. And so often it’s not the people that are closest to you. Right? So it’s like you said it’s not necessarily your parents or your spouse or your best friend and it might actually be comforting to talk to a group of people, like a community online or go to a meeting or just find like, I think we also, sometimes it’s just nice to connect with strangers, because it’s also a little easier just to share everything. 


Yeah. Because it’s like, there’s no reputation costs, I can just dump out my life, this is my therapy. So lovely sometimes, because I could just say anything, and you don’t really know these people. And it’s just a chance for me to really get it out there. So yeah, it’s really important to first identify people that won’t get it. And those are often people who, who are in the same situation or have been, and one of the great things about sort of the online world now is that there really are groups of people who can support you are struggling with a million different things, whether it’s spouses of people who died young of cancer, or women going through divorce, or debating, Should I stay or should I go? Parents of high needs children. 


I had a guest on here, who has a community of parents struggling with teenagers and young adults with serious addictions. And it is incredibly helpful to surround yourself with the people who understand that and versus sharing it with people who have no idea and maybe they’re trying to say the right thing and support you. But they don’t know how. 


Yeah, yeah, it’s always, I’m always touched by how even just a small moment of connection can make you feel so much better. There are countless times. So I lost my father in law with whom I was very close to cancer about a year ago, I guess it’s been two years now actually, and the end of who had a tenure battle of cancer, then in the last few days, he had a stroke where he couldn’t move, he could try to speak and could only make these sounds. And there’s just no silver lining to that situation. There’s no everything was meant to be and people would say things like this, there’ll be meaning from this. And I’m just like, I don’t want to hear that right now. You know, maybe in 10 years, I’ll look back and find that there’s some meaning. But right now, I just don’t need to hear the like, look on the bright side crap. And I remember going online and just Googling people who had been in the same situations. And these were just comments on message boards, or blog posts or tweets. And really just seeing that someone else had been there and been devastated. Somehow it did, it made me feel less alone. And it was like, Okay, other people go through this. It’s just really hard. It just helped even, I never even talked to these people to know that they existed was comforting in its own way. 


I think that’s one of the great things about your book, about Big Feelings, is just the way you share your emotions, your experiences, the experiences of other women. So you can see that you’re not the only one feeling that, I completely agree with you. I find that when I was trying to stop drinking, and there are a bunch of online secret Facebook groups about that I was sharing more with those people than I was with my best friends who I see in the Mommy Play Day groups are who I’ve been friends with since high school. I mean, those were the people who I was like, my husband is pissing me off so badly, I can’t stand it. I wonder, I’m like literally am crying because I’m so angry. And then when 15 people chime in and be like, I totally get it. You know, like, I get it. I’ve been there. This is hard. You can do it. It sounds so basic, but it helped; you feel like you can exhale.



Yeah, I think it takes some of the shame away. Because it’s you don’t, it’s not, I have this and therefore I’m a bad person. And you spiral into this catastrophic thinking, it’s, oh, this other person has felt this at one point or feels that now and they’re still a good person, and they’re still trying. So there’s research, especially women have a much easier time advocating for others than for themselves. And so I think when you see someone else, saying things that you think you’re much more likely to be kind to them. But then if they’re saying the same thing that you’re thinking that sort of forces you then to be kind to yourself, right? If you talk to someone who’s also struggling with drinking, and they seem like a lovely human who’s just going through a really hard thing. It forces you to reflect on yourself and say like, oh, I might also just be a really lovely human going through a really hard thing. 


Yeah. One of the things I wanted to ask you about because I thought it was really interesting, was how to use regret as a compass for making decisions. Can you tell me about that?


Yes. Regret, there’s no such thing as a “hashtag no regrets” life, however popular it might be to say that when it’s actually really useful to experience regret. So if you go way, way, way back, if like our far back ancestors would eat a poisonous berry, and spend the night throwing up, it’s, they should feel regret about that, right, they should feel bad so that they remember when they see that very the next time Oh, I regret eating that the first time, I’m not going to do it again. And, you know, that’s not to minimize the pain of regret. And so it is, grief and regret are often tied together. And there’s some things where you’re never gonna get that moment back. So when you talk to people about regrets, it’s often like, I wish I could have said, I love you one more time, or I wish I could have made some different decision in this moment. And I can never go back and undo it. But there’s still something to be learned from that. And so it’s kind of sitting with that pain, that can actually help you find the motivation to do things differently the next time. 


And so the story I share in that chapter is, my parents, like I said, are immigrants. And so my grandmother died when I was in my early 20s at this corporate job as a consultant. And my mom is very stoic, she doesn’t ask a lot of others, she tries to appear very independent and strong. And so when my grandmother died, she asked me if I wanted to travel to Europe and help her clean out the house. And I said, I just couldn’t. Like, I was working on a really big project. And again, it was this, I don’t even know what I was thinking, like, I cannot remember the project that I was working on at the time. But at the time, it just seemed like I don’t appear flaky. I don’t want to let my team down. I just can’t even afford to take off a week or two right now. And when I then lost my father in law, and went through that experience myself, I just, it breaks my heart to think about my mom alone, um, her only child alone on the plane flying, like pack up her own mother’s life like I’m, it just really makes me emotional. And I just have no idea what I was thinking. And if I could go back and do it differently, like I would just be on the plane with her. Yeah. And then I can’t change that, like, she’s never going to clean out her mom’s house again. And so there’s nothing I can do. And that’s incredibly painful. 


But then a couple months ago, when my dad had heart problems, I just got on a plane. I just took time off of work. I got on a plane, no questions asked, my parents were like, you don’t need to come home. And for me, it wasn’t even an option not to go home. And I’m so grateful. And when I was home, my mom told me, she’s like, I’m just really glad you came. And so I can’t ever go back and change that first experience. But it is the reason that now I’m just like, I have no problems when my family needs me. Setting that boundary and being there right away. I guess I just remember that pain. And it’s like, Nope, this is what I do. This is the value I live by no questions asked.



I want to prioritize this. 


Yeah, definitely. And I, I really like that idea of when you really regret something, using that to change what you do in the future, or to at least realize what is important to you. When you were saying that I was remembering when I was 29 my dad had pancreatic cancer, and he died. His funeral was on a Monday. On Tuesday, my grandfather died, my mother’s father. And his funeral was on that Friday. And we, I flew after my father passed away to DC. Sadly, we flew on Thursday to Ohio to be at my grandfather’s funeral with my, with my grandmother. And then I flew back to Seattle, because I had a business trip to New York the next week. And looking back, that was insane. I went about a month working before I basically had an anxious breakdown and had to take time off and, you know, I only took a week off but you know, sort of rest and deal with that. And then as you said very similarly, three years ago, my best friend had brain cancer and was passing away. And in that time I went to see her almost once a week and then every other day near the end and got to sit with her and got to just be there and not look away and it was hard. But at the same time I kind of also was drinking and through my dad’s death and then, and with her I wasn’t. And it was just, it was really beautiful to be able to be there with her and be present. And it’s not easy, but it’s good. So when you said that I really it really resonated with my experience as well. 


Yeah, yeah, I am really sorry about that. But I love that, it, yeah, it helps you be there for your friend and like it. I think it’s right. But those are really hard things to go through, but they’re really important. And so keeping that in mind too, yeah, is useful. 


Yeah. And so, when the other thing you talk about is perfectionism, and how to sort of harness that, use that and also let it go, what did you find in your research around that? What helped? 



Yeah, so, first of all, a lot of people who suffer from perfectionist tendencies don’t realize it. So they actually think they’re not a perfectionist, because they say like, Oh, I’m so far from perfect. How could I be a perfectionist and perfectionist, it’s not about being perfect. It’s actually at the core of it. It’s about the fear of failing and trying to avoid that failure. So if you’re a healthy striver, you will take a test and get a 96%. And so that’s pretty good. And maybe look at the two questions you got wrong. Find the right answer and move on, a perfectionist will get the 96% and just obsess over those two questions I got wrong. Berate themselves, draw lots of conclusions, like I’m never gonna get anything right, how could I get these two things wrong. And that’s actually a hindrance rather than a benefit. But a lot of people don’t see it that way. 


So it was one therapist that I spoke with who said, some of her clients with perfectionist tendencies, this like, you know, anxiety around not failing, they don’t want to let that go. Because they’re afraid that they’ll become like a couch potato, who just watches TV all day, and they’ll like, never get promoted if they don’t have this, like terror and anxiety driving them. But actually, like, again, perfectionism, it’s not helpful, it really holds you back, it’s horrible for your mental wellness, it’s bad for you physically, because you hold a lot of tension in your body. And so one of the shifts that is really useful is one just practicing not being perfect, and seeing that the world doesn’t fall apart. So turning a draft in when you think it’s at 85%, it’s probably pretty good. And probably, it’s actually more useful to get feedback from your boss at that stage, than if you spend weeks on something and turn it in, you also just have much more invested in it. If they have feedback, it feels more like a personal attack, because you think it’s perfect. Remembering that perfection is subjective, there is no perfection. So if I asked you like what’s your perfect day, it would probably be different than my perfect day. And so that’s just because we’re different. That makes total sense. 


But I think it’s the last, the last tip I’ll give is really keying into some of these perfectionist thoughts. And so two words are always a never. So if you say like good moms never get mad at their children, or great employees are always at work, whether they’re sick or not. That’s just not true. Those are absolutes. That’s perfectionist thinking. And so it’s useful to remind yourself like, no, like, this person that I know is a good mom, and she gets it. So it’s like you can be both, or I think this person is a great employee. And she took a sick day, three weeks ago, and she’s still a great employee. So backing away from those thoughts is also really helpful to kind of put into perspective, it’s the best person at whatever still has typos in their emails and still gets up in the morning some days and has a bad day.



Yeah, yeah. And the other one I always think of is should, like, I should have this and just kind of breaking that down to okay, why and then, okay, why? And then, okay, where I, whenever I always want people to say I should do X, and I’m like, Okay, finish that sentence, which is, but what I really want to do is Y when you like, just hide in my bed, or in figuring out how you might make that happen, maybe not today, or maybe not for an entire day, but there should be a way where Yeah, and make some of what you really want to do come to fruition, you know? 


Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah. I realized to one thing I remembered when I know in your book, you talk about jealousy and how that also can be a useful clue when during the pandemic and it was like a couple, God maybe a year or so during after the pandemic, I realized I was seeing pictures of people go on vacation like to Mexico and Hawaii and it was just making me so angry, like, just so angry. And I was like, Oh, this is, I should not be angry, I should be happy for them, you know. And so I was talking to my therapist, I was just like, it’s just not morally okay for me. I’m not judging them. But I was just like, I said, X, Y, and she was like, I want you to go to Hawaii. I was like, what she’s like, I’m giving you a prescription to go to Hawaii. And I was like, and I did, I went with my daughter. And, you know, I went, five months later, after I was vaccinated or whatever, but I started planning it. I was like, I am going. And so just, you’re like, I’m angry. I’m jealous. And it’s like, Alright, what are you not getting in your life that you really, like you use it as a clue? 


Yeah, I think in the workplace. A great piece of advice I got around this too, is if there’s someone that makes you angry, jealous, you might actually want to reach out to them to be your mentor, because they have something that you want, or your there’s just something that they figured out, you’re like, Ah, I wish I had that for myself. And it’s really constructive. Because it’s actually the like, the best way of maybe you can actually turn out that this is a great person to know. And you can befriend them and turn it into something really positive for both of you, as opposed to you sitting with these emotions and stewing in them and not taking any action. 


Yeah, yeah. Well, I know there is so much more in the book that people will get so much out of, and I have to say I love your Instagram. Your illustrations are just so thought provoking, and simple and yet beautiful. I share them all the time. So I really encourage people to follow you as well. Can you share where people can find you and look you up? 


Yeah, absolutely. So the book Big Feelings is available anywhere books are sold. And then the Instagram is @LizandMollie, Mollie’s M-O-L-L-I-E. And then you can find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, all the places just Liz Fosslien. Yeah. And I also just want to say thank you to you for I think you are really living a lot of what we talked about in the book by just being really open about your experiences. And then I think helping others through just doing that. 


Oh, thank you so much. That means so much to me to hear that from you. So I appreciate it. 


Yeah, thanks again for having me. 




Casey McGuire Davidson  57:14


Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 


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