Navigating Change with guest Dr. Tracy Asamoah

In this episode of the Brainy Moms podcast, Dr. Amy Moore and Teri Miller interview Dr. Tracy Asamoah, child & adolescent psychiatrist and coach for professional women about dealing with change. How do you navigate the changes that life throws at you? Starting a new job, becoming a parent, launching your child into Kindergarten or college, or experiencing an illness are the types of change that can stir up big emotions for many of us.  Dr. Asamoah talks about why change is so hard, why we resist change, and how we can begin to think differently about navigating it in an intentional way that includes embracing big emotions and using them to help us walk through both expected and unexpected changes well.

Read the transcript and show notes for this episode:

Episode 125
Navigating Change
with guest Dr. Tracy Asamoah

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore here with my cohost Teri Miller. And we’re coming to you today from a partly sunny and very smokey Colorado. Good morning, Teri.

Teri Miller:

Good morning.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Our guest today is Dr. Tracy Asamoah. Dr. Asamoah is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and a physician coach in private practice in Austin, Texas. In her psychiatric practice, she works with kids, teens, and families in managing mental illness. As a coach, she partners with physicians and other professional women who are navigating career transitions and other big life changes. Dr. Asamoah has two daughters, a husband, and a family bunny named Milo.

Teri Miller:

So glad you’re here. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Thanks for having me.

Teri Miller:

We’re glad you’re joining us from Austin. I particularly love that because I am an Austinite by birth. Me and my husband.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

That is awesome.

Teri Miller:

Yeah, that’s fun. And I want to hear about your work, but before we get into your work and what all you’re doing, if you would just take a few minutes and tell us your personal story, what brought you to where you are today and the work that you’re doing?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Absolutely. And I love that you mentioned my bunny because right before this call, I was literally chasing him down and getting him back into his little area. He had escaped. I was getting a little exercise beforehand. But yeah. So my personal story. I remember one of the first things that I want to do when I was a little kid was to be a doctor. There were a couple of things that happened along the way that got me there. But the thread that I remember carrying all the way through, honestly through this day was I was really interested in understanding how I could help people who were struggling or stuck somewhere or sick or having a hard time, that there was something that I could do to help them feel better and to heal. I was just super interested in helping people who were in a difficult, bad spot heal.

When I was growing up and with the parents that I had, who really struggled and worked hard so that their kids could have it even better than they did, that was being a doctor. And I think the minute they heard me mentioned that I had any interest in being a doctor, they were sold. They were bought in. They did everything they could to support that vision and what I wanted to become. I was pretty young when I understood that that’s what I wanted to do.

I got to medical school and realized that I wasn’t all that interested in doing procedures and reading labs and doing physical exams, and all of this stuff, kind of the more hands-on parts of medicine, but I was super interested in people’s stories. And I also knew that I was really interested in kids and families. And so that led me to psychiatry. I never thought about mental health. I didn’t learn very much about it when I was growing up. And once I started exploring mental health and psychiatry as a medical student, I was just like, “Well, yeah, this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to understand where people are really struggling in a very deep way or suffering from true medical illnesses that affect the brain and help people get better.”

It was really for me, a fairly direct course, the first part of my career, getting to psychiatry and medicine and mental health. About eight years ago, I was working in an integrated behavioral health, primary care clinic, which had a beautiful mission of really bringing and centralizing primary health care and mental health to under-resourced families and adults and kids. But it was unfortunately not executed really well. So it was a really difficult work environment. I got to the point where I could start to see that, even working part-time at the time, I could see that I was starting to experience some early warning signs of burnout and knew that this was not going to be sustainable. I knew that I was not going to be able to stay here long-term in the way that they were taking the organization.

And at that point really had a deep exploration about, did I even want to stay in medicine? Because I also realized that a lot of medicine was becoming much different than the career I entered when I started training. And that the business of medicine was really changing what we were able to do as physicians. And there’s just a lot happening that I wasn’t sure about. And that’s when coaching first got on my radar. And at that time, I wasn’t quite sure what coaching was. It felt very kind of big personalities on stage selling big packages about transform your life in 20 days for $10,000. I was just like, “Ooh, I’m not quite sure.” That didn’t feel right.

What I became really interested in at that time was, could I understand how coaching actually helped people have sustainable change? I actually got really curious about the neuroscience behind coaching. And so over the years, as I really started to understand how coaching could help people, it came from the background of understanding what’s happening in the brain when we go through change. And when we go through transitions and when we’re learning or envisioning a different life for ourselves.

As I started to discover that, I also really understood because of what I had gone through with kind of the earlier part of becoming a physician and what was tough about that, I suspected that there were a lot of other women who at similar points in their career were experiencing similar things and maybe didn’t have to take quite such a circuitous path that I took in getting to a place where they felt like they were living with meaning. And they were finding purpose in their work. And they felt that their jobs were sustainable and they had time to go home and really be present with their kids and their families and their friends. I just felt that I was being pulled and called into doing that kind of work, to support women.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that. Let’s dig in a little bit more about this idea of navigating change. So both expected and unexpected change. I mean, as women, we deal with change all the time. I mean, let’s talk about navigating that.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Yeah. Yeah. The funny thing is that I started with just wanting to make sure that when I was coaching someone, that change was actually happening. Like that coaching and supporting someone was leading to the type of change that they wanted. There was something that I could really truly understand. So I just started learning as much as I could about change. And what’s really interesting about change is I’ve learned that the thing that scares people isn’t really the change, because the change is just an event. It’s just the thing that happened. And the thing that happened sometimes, like you said, is expected. We know that we’re going to be changing to a new job because we looked for that job and we know that that job starts on Monday and that that’s going to be a change. And so that’s the event.

The part that brings that emotional response that we often struggled to navigate is the transition that happens. Because the transition are those behavioral and those thoughts and those emotional differences that come with going through that whole process of change. And so it’s how we’re going to become different when we go through the change, how we’re going to feel differently about what we’re letting go of and what we’re welcoming into our lives.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

When I started to really dig into, why do people say they hate change and they resist change? Like what does that mean? It really made more sense to think of it is that something happens that creates an experience that people don’t always feel fully equipped to deal with and manage. And if we can understand what that transition process looks like a little bit better, then maybe even changes that are events that are really difficult or really big or unwelcome, we can have a process around dealing with that, that helps us navigate it a little bit more easily and come out on the other side in a way that’s a little bit better equipped to move forward, more aligned with where we want to be, more intentional and gives us agency in the changes that we experienced in our lives.

Teri Miller:

I want to put this in a realistic, practical perspective. I’m sitting here listening to you thinking, I wonder if we as women, as moms, can practice navigating change, navigating transition well, by starting in the small things. And so here’s a small thing. Kids are going back to school. So we’ve got kids at all different ages, and I’m probably going to cry. I’m going to warn you right down my mascara is probably going to run.

Teri Miller:

I started my day early this morning taking my … I mean, he’s 15. He’s not a little child, but taking him to a new school. We went from homeschooling to COVID online schooling. It’s been a long, long time since my sweet teenage boy has been in a brick and mortar school at regular school. I took him to a brand new school program we’ve never been involved in, Colorado Early Colleges, here in Colorado Springs. He’s actually taking three college courses this year for his sophomore year. It’s been very confusing and new and anxious.

Teri Miller:

And I went to take him way early. I was going to park. I was going to go in with him. I was going to help make sure his schedule isn’t really right. I was going to help him navigate that, ask some questions. Well, they’re like shooing me along. No, you block them off. You don’t park. You don’t come in. And I mean, my heart’s racing, I’m getting very upset. Thank goodness my kiddo got out of the car. He didn’t see me get upset, but I pulled forward and I ultimately end up red-faced, kind of weepy, little bit of tears in my eyes saying, “I don’t understand. I had questions.” I mean, we’ve only been to this place once. I was just flabbergasted. I don’t know why I’m going to school. What is wrong with me?

Teri Miller:

But as moms, sometimes it’s taking your kindergartener, your pre-schooler. It’s dropping your middle schooler. Oh, that’s a hard transition from elementary to middle school. Those changes are hard. And I cried in front of the principal, so embarrassed. And it was very upsetting. Help me.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Oh, I feel you. Honestly, I’m right there with you. I had one transition into middle school last year and I have a new high schooler this year, so I am also going to be taking on Tuesday, my brand new ninth grade high-schooler, not only to her first time in high school, but her first time without COVID being present in a large public school. So my kids had been in a Montessori based private school up until COVID started. And the plan was to transition them in middle school and to the public school setting. COVID was what it was. We were all shown that we are going to have to become really good at navigating change. And so here we are, her stepping her first time into a big high school with full capacity as a freshman in ninth grade. I completely feel you.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Here’s I think one of the things that we just need to accept about what happens when we undergo changes, even really small changes. And this to me, isn’t a small change. It’s unexpected life transition for anyone who has kids. We all have to figure out how we’re going to help our kids navigate their educational lives. And at some point, it’s going to mean leaving home and getting their educational experience from somewhere else or someone else, even if it’s homeschooling and they’re going out into co-ops and spending time there, or if they homeschool all the way through and they go to college. At some point, kids are going to transition.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And we have all sorts of feelings. And I think we try to normalize it and feel maybe like we’re not handling it if we start having emotions around it. But the fact of the matter is it is one of the most emotional, provoking experiences that I think we as moms have. There’s a lot there. And I think one of the biggest things about understanding how to navigate change is just to accept that there’s big emotions that come with it, and there are often unexpected emotions, and we maybe can anticipate what we might experience emotionally, and nine times out of 10, we’ll be surprised by something that pops up that we didn’t expect.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

When you think about transition and you know a change is coming up, if you can think about transition and understand what it looks like, that can really help us hold and manage the big emotions that come up, and then be able to be curious about them and use them in a way that helps us make it to the other side of the transition. William Bridges, he was a consultant of businesses a couple of decades ago, but he wrote a book about the process of transition called Bridges. I mean, it fits his name beautifully, but it’s also a very nice image.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

If you can picture a suspension bridge, like the Golden Gate Bridge. And at the beginning of a life change, picture yourself standing at the beginning of the bridge and looking out. And if you’ve ever done that to a long bridge, you will stand that one in and you can’t see what’s up the other end, the bridges slope up a little bit in the middle and then go down. And so you actually can’t see what’s on the other side. You know that there’s something there that you need to get to, and you’re not quite sure exactly what it looks like. And you know that you’ve got to go across this big expansive bay to get there. And that’s kind of scary, but that’s kind of a transition is.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And the first part is, what do you have to say goodbye to? You’re having to leave something behind when you go through a transition. So when you’re changing from one school setting to the next, with your son, you’re saying goodbye to a lot of things that marked and that characterized what his school experience has been like up until today. And if we don’t acknowledge what we’re saying goodbye to, and just spend some time identifying and even going through the process of letting go, then it either happens incompletely, or it halts the ability to continue over the bridge, or it makes the process of going into whatever change is welcomed into our lives, feel really disjointed and messy.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so the first part is just saying, wow, I’m going to be dropping you off, and you’re going to be out of my sight, living life and learning and having all of these new experiences. And I don’t get to hear about it till four. I don’t get to know what’s going on in your life. Saying goodbye to just that experience of having him there with you and being intimately involved with what his school experience looks like and helping him carve that out, that’s saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to just having him there physically. And so understanding what all of those different pieces are, and however feels right and whole to you, saying goodbye. Even if you have to write a letter to the experience or write it down or talk to him about it, because he’s also going through a transition.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And then you allow yourself to say, okay, I am now in the middle of this transition. And when you’re in the middle, if you make the mistake of looking down and seeing how high up you are, you might feel really scared. If you look backwards, you might be tempted to turn around and say, I’m not trying to get over there. I want to go back to where I knew what life was like, and I’m not going through this change. Or you can say, I don’t know what’s on that other side. I’m kind of scared. I’m kind of excited. Or maybe I have no idea what I’m feeling. I’m confused. But I can keep walking forward and trust that whatever’s on the other side, we’ll figure out, and it’s going to be okay.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so just saying that I’m having all of these feelings and I know it’s because I’m letting go, will allow you to open up for what this experience at this school is going to allow for him. I mean, I’m sure you guys chose it for all the right reasons, because it is opening up a life of opportunity for him. And so by going into that middle and sitting with those emotions, because we can, we can sit with hard emotions.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I’m sure you guys have had these conversations with folks that one of the biggest things that we need to learn about our emotions, positive emotions, “negative emotions, hard emotions,” is that we can handle them. And that they aren’t permanent. And that they’re like waves on the shore. They’ll crest. They’ll feel really intense. And then they’ll recede. And that if we can allow that to happen, then we can open up for whatever happens next. And so if you allow that middle part of the bridge to be what it is, even if you look over the side and see the sharks that I’ve heard are in the San Francisco bay, although I’ve never swam in it, even though I did live there. I lived there for four years. I never went in the bay, but I know there’s sharks down there.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

So if you allow yourself to look over that, you may feel fear. You might feel terrified, but then you can keep moving forward when those feelings calm down just enough for you to gather your strength and your motivation and curiosity, and maybe even excitement to open up for what’s next, because what’s next is what that change has brought into your life. And if you can open up to it, then you can really open up to the things that it has to offer you, the gifts that are there in that change.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I can just imagine what you’re going to hear in the car ride on the way home about his first day and the people he met or the teachers. Or even hearing about the things that our kids just need to go through. Like, I can’t stand this teacher. I can’t believe that. Who I have for, whatever class he’s in, Algebra 2 or whatever, I can’t believe I got stuck with that teacher. That’s supposed to be the worst teacher. And you’re like, “Oh gosh, that’s the worst teacher. Do I need to get him out of that class?” Or wait, he’s going to learn what it’s like to have a bad boss by having this teacher. I’m going to help him through that. So opening up for what all of that means, but honoring what the messy middle felt like.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

So when I talk about navigating change, it’s really being trusting of the process. And that that process is designed to have us be able to let go of what’s old about our previous experience, behaviors, feelings, and thoughts, to open up for what’s next and new.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I’m going to be honest, I did not have my psychologist hat on this morning when Teri was sharing her story with me. I had my friend hat, and I was a crappy friend. My kid goes to the same school. The same early college’s program. He spent the night at his friend’s house last night and drove himself this morning.

Teri Miller:

Yours went there last year. It’s not new for him.

Dr. Amy Moore:

This is his third year there actually. I also parent differently. And so that’s what pops into my brain. When Teri pops onto the screen, she’s crying. And I said, why did you need to park and go in with him anyway? That was my reaction. I had to go put my contacts in for this recording. So I go to the bathroom, I’m putting my contacts in, and I thought, that was the worst thing in the whole world. So I come back and I said, “Teri, I got to apologize. You’re experiencing real feelings, and I did not validate those.”

Dr. Amy Moore:

And so we had this conversation and then we prayed about it. I realized what a crappy friend I had been. But that’s the reality. We need a support network as women who are going to validate our feelings, who are going to support us, whether or not they agree or not. I don’t understand what she’s feeling at all, but I could have supported her in that moment. And it took me 15 minutes to come back and realize, wait a minute, I got to do this differently. So what is your advice then? You don’t need to go pick new friends, but how do you communicate your big emotions to friends who don’t feel the same way? Or to your husband who might not understand why you’re falling apart?

Teri Miller:

And I think even we individually don’t know why. I mean, I love what you’ve said just then that you said that those big emotions come up and sometimes we don’t even understand why. It’s like, what is wrong with me? I’m so embarrassed. I’ve maybe had this building anxiety, I don’t know. Why is this emotion here? I don’t know. I would challenge our listeners, when you started talking about, what are you saying goodbye to? Yeah. I mean, as I’m listening to you, I’m sitting here just weeping.

Teri Miller:

Your blog post, you say the same thing, how saying goodbye can help you say hello to change. And so if listeners want to get some further confirmation of that message, it’s a beautiful blog post on your website, tracyasamoahcoaching.com. You say that same thing, that it is okay to dig into those emotions to try to begin to understand. Amy, I didn’t know why I got so upset.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I’m going to dispute one thing you said Amy, because I don’t think you were being a crappy friend. I think you’re being a great friend because you were on the bridge with her. And so we look for the friends who will be on the bridge with us and, and you were the friend who was saying, “Stop looking over the side. Come on, let’s get over there.” You knew what was on the other side and you were excited about it and you just wanted her to get to the other side.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And that’s what friends and husbands and family members will do. They’ll understand their own perspective and how they’ve experienced whatever they can connect to and what you’re going through. Most often than not, that’s where they’re going to want to support you from. And not because they don’t want to be supportive and that they want to dismiss what you’re experiencing, because that’s what people know. And most people don’t walk around with probably the way I walk around, always thinking about all of the different perspectives and things, just because it’s what I have to do in my working life and saying, well, this is what I’m experiencing. That’s a lot to ask of someone who just really wants to be on the bridge with you.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so I would say, look for the friends who are willing to walk across with you, however they’re best able to in that moment. And be forgiving of each other for how each other is showing up in that moment. If you can get that from your friendships, that they’re just simply wanting what’s best for you and wanting to be supportive, however they can. And they want to take that journey with you, that is half the battle in those supportive relationships. And so, 100%.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I will say, going back to the part of letting go and saying goodbye, I will be completely honest before I really started understanding what change was, I thought I was like the master at change because I was totally in to having something new and what’s this new experience. But what I was really into was just being on the other side and experiencing that new. I really wanted to skip over all the other stuff.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

To the point that when I remember when I was going through medical school and residency, and I really struggled with starting a new rotation. So rotations are anywhere from a week to two months of time that you spend practicing being whatever field of specialty you’re doing for that month. As a child psychiatrist, I had to be a surgeon and an obstetrician, gynecologist, a urologist, a neurologist, all of the different fields of medicine. I had to spend some time doing those. And that first week was so hard. And what I would put in my head was, you just have to get through this past weekend, get to week two, and you’ll be fine, because then I would have been in the familiar territory.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

But I never really allowed myself to think about, what am I letting go of here that is feeling really difficult? The security of a rotation that I loved before, if I was doing pediatrics before, I loved pediatrics and I loved pediatricians and I loved those rotations. And even the hospital units were bright and there were toys and there were kids. And then if I went to something like surgery, where I knew going into medical school, that I would never step my foot in an operating room as a surgeon, once I graduated. That was not my path.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I didn’t know that I was letting go of comfort and familiarity and something I enjoyed. And if we take the time to just acknowledge that we do let go of things and that there may be grief with it. And that there may be those big feelings with it. And even when we’ve said goodbye, and we’re now going through that change of what we need to become next to show up to the new, if we just go through those emotions and allow those emotions to emerge and trust.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And as you guys did, and I will even say, Amy, you guys took it a step further because you prayed about it. You really invited that process to be something that you could step out on faith and say, “You know what? We’re going to get through this. This is going to be good. This is going to be different, but we’re going to get through this.” And so when I talk about letting go and saying goodbye, it really is being able to give yourself permission to feel it and to acknowledge it and to go through it and to have faith that on the other side, it’ll be okay.

Teri Miller:

Yep. You were a good friend this morning, Amy. You were.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

It really does sound like it.

Teri Miller:

Yes. Very much so.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And I will say the friends that maybe aren’t the ones that you want to lean in on these big ones, are the friends who can’t do it with you. The friend that wouldn’t have allowed the conversation, or backs or pulls away when you need to go there. That maybe stops calling you or disappears when you’re going through those hard times. Those are those friends who aren’t quite in a place where they can hold those emotions with you, and maybe aren’t going to be the most supportive ones at those times. Yeah.

Teri Miller:

I feel like, I mean, maybe it’s not, you said it’s not such a small change, such a small transition, but it seems like, oh gosh, I was just taking him to school. It seems like that’s on a very small transition, very small change. What’s the difference in life between change and transition? What about these big things that happen in life?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I mean, the big obvious thing is dealing with the pandemic, dealing with COVID. There were a series of changes, but the biggest change was a virus was introduced into the human bloodstream. It was really just the introduction of a virus. That was the change. And then there were all of these behavioral transitions and emotions that accompanied the impact of that change and the subsequent changes that resulted.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so a big change is something often that leads to other smaller changes, but that leads to this kind of really big life transforming experience. And so a small change, maybe getting a new car, and maybe you got a nicer car, so now you … Or maybe you got an electric car. You need a charger and you don’t need gas. And it sounds really different when you stop at the stoplight. That’s a small change.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

It’s not affecting what you’re doing when you’re at work, how you’re going to get dinner ready at night, who’s in the house seven days a week, 24 hours a day for months on end. It’s not changing whether or not you’re able to get to work or not, but it is a change and there’s some behaviors and feelings that go with it. But these bigger transitions and changes were in a way that you’re continually having to adjust and figure out how to bring it into your life. That maybe you don’t have clarity about what’s going to be different on the other side.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I mean, I think the changes that have the biggest impact are those that bring the biggest amount of uncertainty and that bring the biggest impact to the biggest circle of your life. If you think of change as an event that surrounds you, like a circle, and the bigger that circle gets, the bigger that event gets, the more impact it has on more areas of your life. And the more uncertainty that lies on the other end of, who am I going to be? What is life going to look like on the other end? I think that’s when those transitions that come with that change start to bring those biggest emotions and start to feel really scary and become really difficult.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Because if you don’t quite feel certain about what you’re working to, then it becomes really hard to figure it out, so how can I settle these emotions? Where am I placing my trust? How am I going to really have faith that on the other end, I don’t know what okay looks like, but okay is something out there. And so I think that’s when a change becomes something that leads to this impact in our lives that we’re just like, I know it’s going to be different. I have no idea what to deal with different is. I don’t even know what I want different to be anymore because I don’t even know if I’m quite sure of what before looked like, because different is so incredibly different than I could have ever imagined.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so I think that’s when that navigation gets tough for people. It’s also tough when we’re in the middle, and in the middle is when we decide to acknowledge it. You’ve gone through a change and you’re going through the process that comes with the transition and it’s not until you’re in the middle and you’re having all these emotions and things are feeling really critical and intense that you decide that, gosh, I need to look at this, and you’re trying to work your way out of it. It’s harder because you lose a sense of direction.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

This is not to in any way say, I have any sort of notion about what Simone Biles explains about the twisties, because my body has never been launched into the air like that. That’s what I imagine a feeling of change that you hadn’t prepared for, and now you’re in the middle of it, might feel like. You’re very disoriented and you’re not quite sure how to get your footing back soundly on the ground so that you can move forward. So that’s when navigation, I think, through that transition gets really tough.

Dr. Amy Moore:

You talked a little bit about COVID and how, I mean, obviously so much change. What does that mean for us as a society? What does that mean for us collectively? I mean, we’re talking about those internal big emotions. Talk a little bit about that.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

It’s tough because I think collectively, we maybe all don’t have the same, and it’s not maybe, we don’t all have the same expectations of what we want the outcome to be. And I think that’s what’s making it so hard to go through this experience that really is collective. We’re not going through this as individuals. This is something that’s impacting how we as a society, navigate what we’re going to look like in the future and how we’re going to do things in the future. But then we have all these individuals who have very different expectations about what that looks like and what each individual wants on the other end.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so I think a good place to start as we navigate this is, as individuals, understanding, what do I hope for when whatever normal starts to become whatever normal is going to look like? And normal is never going to look like what normal did in July of 2019. That was a different age. I mean, that is the life cycle of humanity. There are often things that happen in our society that cause these seismic shifts. And I imagine at every other point in history, when we are in the middle of that shift, it feels very uncertain and chaotic and disorienting, and it feels like we’re not going to make it to the other end and we’re going to be worse off in the other end.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

So far we have shaken out to something that we could move forward from on the other end. Part of it is just as an individual, maybe starting to identify what’s important for you to welcome in as we start getting to what life will look like. I won’t even say on the other side of COVID, but in a culture that lives with the potential for things like COVID to happen, because I think that’s one shift. And I think of this is a cognitive, kind of a thinking shift that we as a culture need to have is, there is a potential for us to experience things like this. And if we can be realistic and open to what that might mean, even as an individual, then we can start saying, okay, so then what does that mean for how in two years, or five years, or six months from now, I might ideally want my life to look and how my family’s life looks.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I think that’s a place to start with COVID because I think if we try to think of it in too much of a global way, it becomes really overwhelming. There’s a lot of factors that we can’t control or manage. But I think we can start thinking about what this means as an individual. What does this knowledge of having the potential to having these infectious diseases impact us in such a large way that it completely stops everything from happening. It causes a visceral response and a shift in the direction that human life was going in one direction and this shift just shifted it 45 or 90 degrees, and now we’re going in a completely different direction. And as an individual, how can I live with understanding that that’s out there? That that could happen? And so what does that mean for how I want to show up and what I do in the world?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

When I think about my own life, it’s understanding that going forward that … I feel very strongly about protecting my family and myself from any obvious ways of getting sick with this virus, but also wanting to be a part of the community that wants collectively us all to be well and healthy. And so as I think about moving forward, I want to move forward in a way that I’m always able to think both of my family and myself, but also what really is most beneficial to my community, my smaller community and my larger community.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And I’m thinking about that in a way that I didn’t have to think about in the same way maybe before this happened. And so it’s being able to just do things like that. When you’re able to put a couple of very kind of tactile solid things that are a little bit more in your control, what you think, how you behave, out there into who you want to become and what you want to do, then that uncertainty becomes something that doesn’t have to feel quite so disruptive about what the transition is going to look like on the other side.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. I’m thinking about that-

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Go ahead.

Teri Miller:

I’m thinking about your bridge analogy. I’m thinking about that, okay, with COVID, with this pandemic and the way our world now has to accept that this has occurred and it will likely continue occurring, and the world has changed. It’s like we were thrust out on the bridge. And I feel like maybe a lot of the unrest and the depression and the sorrow and the heartache is maybe, I’m just kind of translating, I’m putting it in my own head, is maybe that we got to the middle of the bridge, we look down, it’s scary. Where are we? How is this going to make sense? And I think there’s a good portion of us as a culture, as a society that are like, I want to go back. I’m ready to go back now. Maybe we’ve even had some grief about, I’ve had to say goodbye to what was, we call normal, what was normal life.

Teri Miller:

And you hear people say it, I can’t wait till we get back to normal life. But I think maybe there’s going to be a great amount of healing. And if we can even do that within our families, within our own souls of saying, it’s too late. This change is upon us. We’re out in the middle. We just can’t go back anymore. We need to grieve the loss of what was “normal,” and then choose, I’m going to say goodbye to those things. I may cry about it. I may be angry, but I have to say goodbye. And now I have to look forward, what am I going to say hello to? Because I can’t stop in the middle. I got to keep going. And I got to get to the other side because otherwise I’m just stuck. It’s no good here in the middle.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Yeah. Like you said, sometimes we’re pushed onto the bridge. We don’t always get to decide whether or not. We are shoved onto the bridge and the water below, it’s choppy and it’s dangerous, and we just want to get back to where we started because we didn’t choose this. And the only real direction is going forward.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And I think it’s compounded by the fact that we have to manage our own emotions, but as moms, we have to watch our children manage their emotions and coach them through that and look like that duck on a water that’s smoothly floating while feet are paddling a mile a minute underneath so that we don’t scare the heck out of our kids at the same time.

Teri Miller:

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And kind of feeling like either somebody is below us pulling us down or that we’re not staying afloat. That we’re kind of sinking a little bit because we’ve never had to paddle in this water. We have no idea really how long we can do it. And when are we going to finally make it to the other side? And we’ve got all those ducklings that we’re trying to bring along with us.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And it’s hard. It’s hard. And there’s so much newness without certain and known ways to deal with. It’s not that we’re dealing with new things that somebody else has figured out, and we just have to find the right blog or article or talk to the right person, and they’ll tell us how to do it. And we could still have big emotions about it because it’s new, but at least we have a roadmap of how to navigate it. There’s nothing there. We’re just all trying to figure it out the best we can. And we know it’s going to go well sometimes, and sometimes it’s not going to go well, and we still have to keep pushing forward. And that takes a lot of energy, takes a lot of strength, it takes a lot of prayer and it takes holding a lot of shifting emotions.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So from a child psychiatrist perspective, instead of trying to hide this process from our children, is there a benefit to letting them see us work through it?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Yeah. As long as we are working through it and they can see that part. So it is, I think, difficult for kids to see their parents struggling and not be allowed to also see how their parents are working through it. I think it’s perfectly okay for our kids to see us struggle. I acknowledged to my kids when I’m struggling and when I’ve screwed up on something or when I’m disappointed or sad about something, but I want them to see that process and the movement of that process.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so instead of getting really frustrated about something and yelling and losing my temper and storming out of the room, and that’s what they’re left with. Like that’s really hard for a kid to be left with that. Even if they see me lose my temper, I can say, “Oh my gosh, I just lost it, you guys. This is hard. I am so sorry that I lost it, but I am really frustrated because this is not working out the way I wanted. I’m going to have to sit and figure this out. You know what? I know it’s going to be okay. Right now, it’s hard. And maybe it’s hard for you too. It’s hard for me too. We’re going to get it figured out. We can do hard things.” I tell my kids all the time, “You can do hard things. This is going to be hard, but you can do hard things.” Or, “I can do hard things.” It can be really healthy for them to see that process.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I recently had an opportunity to apply for something that I didn’t think I was completely qualified for, but I think I’m a good fit for, and so I decided to let my kids in on the whole process. Say, “Hey guys, I’m thinking about applying for this. I don’t know if I’m really completely qualified, but I think I’d be a great fit and I could learn what I needed.” And I’ve had them go through that whole process. So if it doesn’t happen, I can tell them, “Oh, well I didn’t get picked, but I’m glad I tried. I really believed in myself. I’m really disappointed. But you know what? I’m just going to see what I can do to be better prepared next time.”

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

So your kids seeing that whole process, teaches them a lot about how to go through hard things. To be okay with having difficult emotions that even mom and dad have difficult emotions, and that’s okay. That’s normal. I don’t have to suppress that or deny those feelings. And I can talk to this person about it because, wow, that person experiences it too. And look, you get through it. It’s hard, but you get through it. And so I think that’s really important for our kids to be able to see that in us.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely. So we need to take a break and let Teri read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, I would like for you to tell us and our listeners more about your one-on-one coaching program.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Awesome. I’d love to.

Teri Miller:

Are you concerned about your child’s reading or spelling performance? Are you worried your child’s reading curriculum isn’t thorough enough? Well, most learning struggles aren’t the results of poor curriculum or instruction, they’re typically caused by having cognitive skills that need to be strengthened. Skills like auditory processing, memory and processing speed.

Teri Miller:

LearningRx one-on-one brain training programs are designed to target and strengthen the skills that we rely on for reading, spelling, writing, and learning. LearningRx can help you identify which skills may be keeping your child from performing their best. In fact, they’ve worked with more than 100,000 children and adults who wanted to think and perform better. They’d like to help get your child on the path to a brighter and more confident future. Give LearningRx a call at 866-BRAIN-01, or visit learningrx.com. That’s learningrx.com.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And we’re back talking to Dr. Tracy Asamoah about managing change. So talk to us a little bit about your coaching program.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Absolutely. I partner with women who, and a lot of women physicians, but also some other professional women who are in the mid point of their career. They’ve done everything that they thought they were supposed to do. Maybe they got what they thought was their dream job, or they reach that goal that they were training to do. This is really interesting in medicine because when you’re going through college and medical school and training, what you hold in your mind, as the kind of where you’re trying to get to, that golden cup is becoming a practicing physician.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I partner with women who check all the boxes and do that, and then feel stuck. They feel unsatisfied. They maybe are feeling like experiencing burnout. They feel like they’re not quite doing what they want to be doing, how they want to be doing it, and they’re struggling to figure out the path to move forward. And so I partner with them to help understand, not just what they want, but what they need and how they can define that and they can learn to ask for, and then they can carve that plan to move forward.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And so I meet one-on-one, we meet for about 50 minutes, two to three times a month, and really work towards designing that personal vision for a life where they feel like they’re working with meaning. They have more energy and more time for the things that are really important outside of work, especially if work has become all consuming and expanding into their personal lives. So maybe being able to focus more on being present with their kids and their family, being able to do things that are really just self-care and being able to really protect that and live intentionally in a way that they envision.

Teri Miller:

Go ahead, Amy.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sorry. So what would that look like then for our listeners? How would they find you? How would they go about working with you? What does that look like?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Absolutely. Usually the path to working with me starts by heading to my website. I have plenty of places where you can learn a little bit more about what I do and the types of things that I can really support women through. The type of woman that often comes to see me is someone who is working and feeling like they have not been able to find wholeness. I really get away from this idea of work-life, balance because often work-life balance ends up leading us to putting more expectation on the balance side, but then getting overwhelmed and stressed because we’re feeling like we’re just adding more, but we’re not actually truly balancing it.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

What we’re really looking for is wholeness. Like, how do I fit everything into who I am? Understanding that I am just one person. There’s just so much that we can include and have in our lives. And so the women I work with, look for that. And so on my website, I explain what some of this looks like, but it really starts by setting up a free consultation with me. I do a free 30 minute consultation with anybody who’s interested in working with me, where I get to really understand what that person is looking for, what they really understand about coaching, because coaching is very different than getting a therapist or seeing a mentor.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

So I really want to understand that in this particular role, I’m working as a coach. So I’m not the expert telling you what you need to do differently in your life. I’m really there to partner with you and give you a space and a place where you can really open up and think expansively about who you want to be next. We have a call to discuss all of that, and you can just schedule the call directly through my website. So once we do that, if it looks like it’s a good fit that we could work well together, then I walk everybody through the process of setting up appointments with me and figuring out exactly what the focus of the coaching relationship is going to be.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And how long does that … Sorry, we’re talking on top of each other today. Go ahead, Teri.

Teri Miller:

I was going to say, yeah, it sounds like you would be that person to grab ahold, take a hand, take an arm and help cross the bridge.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I walk across the bridge. And I don’t tell you what you have to find on the other side. And I don’t push you across the bridge. I just give you some insights about how to take that next step forward. I have two kind of, I call them packages because I’ve learned that the way I coach and the framework that I use works best over a period of time. And so I don’t do short two or three session coaching engagements. I do either a nine or a 12 session package, and we spread it out over six to eight months, where we really dig into … The women that work with me are often working on some pretty big transitions that they’re going through. Looking for a new job, working out of a difficult work environment.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

I say working women, although I do also have clients that maybe have been at home raising their kids and being moms, but they’re ready to say, well, there’s something else for me. My kids are at a point where I don’t have to be there in that same way. There’s something else calling to me and I have no idea how to understand that. Because it’s not just saying, well, here are these 10 easy steps. It really is gaining this deeper awareness of really who you are, and what’s important to you and what you value and how to set up your life in alignment with that. It just takes time.

Teri Miller:

I appreciate that perspective. Yeah, that it takes time. But you’re saying it’s not just two or three appointments, that when change is upon us, whether we’re spearheading it, it’s upon us. Kids are now leaving the nest, and so we want to maybe go back into work situations. Or we have more kids in the nest and we need to pull away from work situations. However those things happen, that it takes time. Transition takes time. Like you said, there’s big emotions involved. It’s so powerful. That’s so good. I think it would be great if everyone had a friend like Amy to help.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Teri Miller:

She’s the person that helps me cross that bridge. But I don’t think that everyone has people in their life that can help them cross the bridge. And I think what you’re saying is if you don’t have that in your life, if you don’t have some people that can help you in that process, to get help. And that’s what you’re offering is that you can be in that role, through that transition, through the time that it takes.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

Yeah. And on that note, helping you understand that you should be able to get what you need. Giving yourself the permission to say, these aren’t just frivolous wants. These are things that I need for my own health and wellbeing. And for me to be able to, as a whole person, kind of keep going on, and that you should be able to do that. And some of what I do is just helping people figure that part out. Like what does that even look like for me? And how do I ask for that? And how do I, knowing that, move through this transition?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

When women start to give themselves permission to that, sometimes other things open up and become possible. And those relationships in other parts of their lives make themselves more visible. And then they can find who those people are. Once you start understanding what a true supportive relationship feels like, then you start seeing those people in your life who may be, oh, okay. Why haven’t I reached out to that person before? And so often those people might be out there, but we haven’t quite understood how to allow ourselves to open up for those sorts of relationships.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And sometimes those relationships just aren’t there. And we do need to take some time to figure out how we can show up in a different way to make those relationships more available to us. And there’s a lot of different ways that we can open up for that.

Teri Miller:

Beautiful.

Dr. Amy Moore:

If you could leave our listeners with one tip today that they can walk away from this conversation and start using in terms of change and managing change, what would that one tip be?

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

My one tip regarding change is take the time to identify what you have to let go off. And open yourself up for whatever feelings that brings. Name it, understand it, draw it, paint it, write it, sing about it. Articulate clearly what you’re letting go of.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Excellent.

Teri Miller:

And grief. Allow yourself to grieve.

Dr. Tracy Asamoah:

And allow yourself to grieve. Absolutely. And, what am I going to say hello to?

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Love it. Thank you so much.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. This has been a wonderful conversation. I just want to thank our guest today, Dr. Tracy Asamoah, for sharing these tips and your insights and your expertise. If you would like to connect with Dr. Asamoah or learn more about her coaching program, you can visit tracyasamoahcoaching.com. We will put that link and her social media handles in our show notes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Thank you so much for listening today. If you like our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. If you’d rather watch us, we are on YouTube. You can follow us on social media using the handle @thebrainymoms. So look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms too, so we are out.

Teri Miller:

See ya.

Connect with Dr. Asamoah  

Find out more about her coaching program at: www.tracyasamoahcoaching.com

Find her on social media at:

https://www.instagram.com/tracyasamoahmd/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracy-asamoah-md-000b929/