Ep. 20: Short and Vulnerable with Dr. Maya – This Too is Healing

Today I’m sharing another vulnerable episode with you.

At the end of March, I did my first Short and Vulnerable episode. If you tuned into that lucky number 13, you’ll remember how anxious I was about publishing it.

It’s never easy to ‘offer’ my heart on a plate for the whole world to see it with the awareness that it can be crushed. My heart was pounding so fast and loud when pressing that publish button.

I thought “This could be one and done, or at least many months will pass before I do something similar.”

Well… not really.

A part of me really needed to speak to you openly and vulnerably about happiness.

Why I am exploring it here and now, what inspired me to open my heart completely again, and how our childhood experiences can actually make us unhappy even though we might not be aware of it.

So this episode (or any future Short and Vulnerable with Dr. Maya – This Too is Healing) is here to offer you a different kind of perspective, give you some aha moments, and encourage you to connect the dots in your life so that healing can continue for you, too.

Tune in… 

Show notes & links

The show notes are written in chronological order.

  • Steve Bartlett – The Diary of a CEO [discover more here
  • Graef, R., Csikszentmihalyi, M.,  Gianinno, Susan M. (1983) Measuring intrinsic motivation in everyday life, Leisure Studies, 2:2, 155-168 [read it here]
  • Di Domenico, S. I., & Ryan, R. M. (2017). The Emerging Neuroscience of Intrinsic Motivation: A New Frontier in Self-Determination Research. Frontiers in human neuroscience11, 145. [read it here]
  • Oudeyer PY, Kaplan F. What is Intrinsic Motivation? A Typology of Computational Approaches. Front Neurorobot. 2007;1:6. [read it here]
  • Lee W, Reeve J, Xue Y, Xiong J. Neural differences between intrinsic reasons for doing versus extrinsic reasons for doing: an fMRI study. Neurosci Res. 2012;73(1):68-72. [read it here]
  • Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268. [read it here]
  • Dr. Maya’s book: Heal Beyond Expectations [get it here]
  • Private coaching program [discover more here
  • Why This New Look & How I Completely Transformed Myself Through a Deep Healing Retreat [read it here]

Dr. Maya Novak:
Hi, love. Well, we are doing it again. I am honestly surprised because the first short and vulnerable episode was a few weeks ago and back then I was sick, and I didn't have the energy to edit the next episode so I was just like, “You know what? Heck, life is life, sometimes we cannot control it. So let me just take my mic and I'm going to share my heart and I'm going to tell you what is happening because I promised you that every single week I'm going to publish an episode and this is life.” And I was so nervous putting out that episode because I didn't know how you, my beautiful audience, is going to respond to this. And I have to say that I was so pleasantly surprised. And so extremely grateful for all the messages that I received from you, and it really showed me that we have very similar experiences, or even when I'm sharing something that doesn't go into this box of mindful injury recovery, it doesn't mean that it's not valuable, right? So I am so grateful for all the emails and all the messages. And I also know that for every email that I receive, there are also potentially dozens of those who don't send an email and even if you are not sending any kind of messages to me or emails, know that I still really appreciate you. So this is in regard to the previous episode. But in regard to this episode, I have to say that I already cried before I hit the record button, and I think that I cried because I am nervous again, and I am slightly scared, and right now, my mind is again going, “Well, you know what? Maybe it's not necessary for you to publish this episode.” But if you're listening to this, it means that I gathered all the courage that I needed to press publish and that now we are here. And if you're listening to this or watching a video on social media, then you can also see that there is no makeup. There are no masks, no filter, just you and me and the mic, talking about stuff, and talking today about happiness. And the reason why I needed to talk to you about happiness is because this is something that I've been asking myself - “Am I really happy?” - for the last few months, or better to say, a few years. Around 3 years approximately.

Because there was also a really huge thing happening in 2020 for me and I'm going to share slightly about it a bit later on. Let's see where my thoughts are going.

But why I needed to record this episode today and talk to you today is because yesterday, I was watching... I came across a clip from the podcast of Steve Bartlett - The Diary of a CEO - and in that short clip he discusses with his guests the purpose and happiness, and are we really happy, and what kind of purpose we have, and how we are influenced from the outside, but is this really something that we want? And this clip really landed with me in a different kind of way, because it reminded me of studies that I've been aware of for quite a while now. And these studies are in regard to motivation and happiness, and how people who are internally motivated are, on average, happier than those who are externally motivated. So for example, external motivation, whether this is money, or luxurious things, or praise that you get from another person, and that internal motivation is really about you being really happy and proud of what you're doing and just by that, because this is a part of you, you are a happier person. This is what studies are showing. And for me, if this episode had a title, it would probably be titled ‘In Pursuit of Happiness’ because this is something that I have been asking myself, like I said, for the last approximately three years; “Am I really happy?” Or the question that often ask, “Is this what my heart really wants?” And why I am asking myself this is because on the outside potentially I shouldn't be asking myself this, because I have a beautiful life. I mean, I have an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally. I am extremely loved. We live in the Caribbean part of Mexico. It's always summer, you know, beautiful beaches. I have my own business. I'm doing this podcast. I'm helping people. So why am I asking myself, am I happy, right? And that this is a very valid question. But the reason why I am asking this, and why I'm sharing this with you is, well, I have to go back to my childhood. And here I think [chuckles] my heart starts to pound more and louder, and if you were sitting here you know you would probably hear my heart right now. But okay, going back to my childhood. So...

I was growing up in a relatively dysfunctional family. And on the outside everything was kind of average and okay and perfect I guess, but on the inside, no, it wasn't. My father being a very toxic person, and my mother being toxic in her own way, and they had this battle in court for almost eighteen years. And when I was growing up, there was this constant reminder of how I needed to act. You know, questions or messages of how I needed to be careful of who I'm spending my time with, how I am acting, what I'm saying... All these masks that I needed to put on myself because otherwise, if I did something wrong, that could be used against me in court. So I was doing things to please others. And these are the years when we are creating our personalities, when we learn about life. So what I learned about life was that life potentially is dangerous and you always have to be careful of what you're doing and what you're saying.

And many years ago ... Yes, many years ago, if I go with this thought, I started challenging myself to not be wearing makeup all the time. I was never really a huge makeup wearer, if that's even a word, but I was challenging myself in the sense of, “You know what? You don't need these masks. You don't need these filters. You are okay as you are.” So I was challenging myself to not be wearing makeup all the time. But then also in 2013, the reason why I shaved my head was because I wanted to get rid of these masks that I was hiding behind - my hair. Because every time that I was nervous and I was blushing, and you probably - I mean if you've been following me for a while and watching different kind of videos, you potentially here and there notice that sometimes I do blush sometimes. I get these patches of redness on my neck because of my nervousness. And I think that it goes back to knowing you need to be, not careful, but you need to present yourself in a certain kind of way. And that if that certain kind of way is kind of not there, then I get nervous. And there is this whole cycle that blushers know very well, because then you are aware, “Oh I'm blushing,” and then you're blushing more, and well, you know, life, right? Psyche. Yes, and this was the reason why I shaved my head, because I wanted to get rid of these masks, these filters. And I also wanted to cut off - kind of cut off the history. The things that I'm sharing right now here, and things that I shared in my book Heal Beyond Expectations about my childhood. And because I did feel and I do believe that there is a lot of history in our hair. So I was cutting that off for nine long years, and only in the last year and a half my hair has been growing. And sometimes this brings its own challenges. [laughs] Sometimes, yeah, now I do have bad hair days, right? Before, I just woke up. I had those centimeter, two centimeters long hair, and there was no problems whatsoever. But now you know, or maybe you know, maybe you don't. It doesn't matter.

So, talking about happiness is that sometimes I do feel this polarity, this duality internally with me. And I am asking myself, “Am I really happy?” And many times I actually I don't have the answer. And potentially I don't have the answer because for such a long time I needed to do things for others. For my mother, for the court, for my family, for other people, and now when I am in my forties, I'm like, “Do I really know how to be happy? Do I really know what my heart wants?” And the reason why I'm sharing this with you is because I am absolutely positive - or I hope - that I am not the only person under this sun, on this planet, that has this kind of thoughts and this kind of confusion happening from time to time. And the reason why I'm saying this polarity is because there are really times when I do feel that I'm truly happy. And my clients so often say to me “Oh, Maya, you're such a positive person. You're so happy, you're always smiling. You never… you don't come to any of our calls in a bad mood.” And in a way that's true, and I do believe that in those moments I am truly happy because I'm helping someone. That's on one hand, but on the other hand is that I work with people with whom we are energetically aligned. So these are my boundaries. I mean, I know that a lot of people need my personal help, like personal guidance. But if we have a connection call and if we don't click, whether it’s the person or it's me, we are just not going to go into this relationship. Because coaching for me is a relationship, and when we're talking about healing, I mean, at times it's going to be hard. And we really need to be at least energetically aligned so that we can go together through these challenges in an easier way. So in these moments I truly am happy and when I interview my guests for the podcast you can see that I am smiling very often, and trying to at times make things lighter, right? Even though we're talking about difficult subjects, still we can find something beautiful and light and happy in those dark moments.

So you know, I do believe that I am happy in those moments. But then when I'm in my private life, at times I feel, not miserable, but just unhappy. And it's this duality, and it's like, “Okay, so can I be happy only with other people, and if that's true, does this mean that my motivation comes only from the outside?” And if that's the case then studies are showing that people who are motivated just by the outside stuff are not truly happy. So this is my message today, sharing my heart and my confusion, and I think maybe it's not the right thing, but I do feel that it's important. Like I said, I don't think that I am the only person on this planet having this kind of thoughts and I think that it's very important that we talk about this, because so often we are caught in this life cycle when we don't stop and we don't ask ourselves these important questions. “What is my purpose?” Or, “Am I happy?” Or, “Is this something that my heart really wants?” And I think it's so important for everything in life, right? But we are so caught in this. We have to do, do, do, do, do. Here is a to-do list, and you know check, check, check, check, check and then we are all of a sudden seventy years old, eighty years old, on the death bed and looking back, “Okay, you know, maybe I could have done something differently.” Right?

So the reason I said that potentially I'm going to share just a bit of what happened in 2020 for me. Was it 2020? Yes, I think it was 2020, yes. For the whole world, 2020 was difficult. But for me, it was difficult, additionally difficult, in a different kind of way. And this is that at the end of April I went to the jungle, and I shared a piece of that in a blog post that is on my website still. And I worked with an Aj’Qij. Which, well, for Westerners, the better word to use is a shaman. So I worked with them and it was a very, very intense experience that is impossible to put into words in either just 1 episode, or a few minutes, and I have a feeling that potentially there will be a book one day in that regard. All of the things that I figured out, resolved, or started asking myself. And out of this experience that was extremely difficult... It was not only personally difficult. It was also difficult because, me and my husband Jerry, we went down this road, on this path of healing our relationship that even before, it worked, but in a way, it didn't. And it's really hard to explain, and I don't have words for this right now, and that's potentially the reason why I first needed to write it down to make sense in my head. So that's why I'm saying potentially there will be a book about this experience in the future. When, I don't know, but it's not going to be this year. I can tell you this, in 2023. So out of this difficult experience, what came out was me asking myself, “Am I happy?” And, “What does my heart want?” And “Is this really what my heart wants?” And many times I don't have the answer to this, but I am on the way to figure it out. And the reason why I'm sharing this is because perhaps these thoughts, these unedited things can help you as well if you are at times in this kind of situation, in this duality. Or maybe just feeling very low, and trying to figure out, and maybe you're asking yourself, ”What is wrong with me?” Because, honestly, sometimes I do ask myself that; “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy?” Right? And this is something that my husband has been hearing from me for the last two, three years. So many times I'm saying to him, “I just want to be happy. I just want to live a peaceful life, and I want to be happy.” And I think this is... I really feel that the next decade is going to be for me about this figuring out, and figuring out how to be happy and at peace. Because the first part of my life was extremely turbulent. It was extremely... [sighs] challenging. So for me, look, I cannot live that way anymore. So now I'm going towards peace and ease and happiness. And I feel that this is going to be the next decade for me. It's going to be about this. And even though it feels or sounds like a long, long time - I mean, I started already three years ago, so I'm almost halfway there. Yeah, so one thing that I remembered right now, in regard to my childhood and how difficult it was, and how I needed to take care of others and I actually never... I don't think that I ever figured out for myself what I want. Because it was, “Here's the plan: school and university and diploma.” And I mean, it's just this, how you call it in English; ‘rat race’. Is it?

But okay, one thing that I remembered is when I was a child I got a few times a question “Maya, would you like to have a brother or a sister?” And even as a child I did not share these thoughts out loud. But even as a child I had this thinking of, “No, please don't bring another human being into this situation. You know it's enough that I'm in this shit,” sorry to say it that way, “But please don't bring another human being into this.” So I was as a child extremely happy that I didn't have any brothers or sisters. This is sad right? It is sad. But for me it was, [sobs], it was almost like, “I kind can get through this, hopefully, fingers crossed, but it would be really difficult for me to watch another human growing up in that kind of situation.” So yeah, that's the reason why, in a very sad way, I'm happy that I'm an only child. [sobs]

Yeah, okay, I think that I poured out everything that I really needed to pour out, and I hope it resonates. And I hope it helps, and if nothing else, I hope this gave you something to think about. Or if you are a parent, think about how can you teach your children to be happy. But here’s the thing: I think if we don't know how to be happy, how can we teach our children? And I think that potentially my parents did not know how to teach me how to be happy because they were not happy. Because, as I said, my father was extremely, or is extremely toxic, and my mother in her own way, and I don't think that we were ever, ever really happy as a family.

And oh yes, one other thing. I remember when I was, I think I was in my teens, and I was watching the TV, and my mom was on the computer doing something, I don't know what. And I was watching a series. I don't recall what kind of series, but it was kind of funny type of thing, and I remember that it was kind of the first time that I really laughed out loud, because it was funny. And my mom looked at me and she asked me, “What are you laughing about?” And it was so heart dropping for me. And why I am telling you this is because I really learned how to laugh when I moved out. When I went on my own. That's when I kind of started to learn how to laugh at funny things. From my heart. So yeah, that's also an interesting thing. But like I said, since they were never really happy, they did not know probably how to teach me how to be happy, or give me the tools for me to figure out how to be happy. So if you have children, think about your happiness, because your happiness is gonna rub off, and it's gonna help your children, and it's gonna help people around you. So I guess we are in this together, right? In pursuit of happiness. These are my thoughts today. Nervous about publishing this, but you know, if you're listening, I gathered the courage to press that publish button. And as the previous time, do reach out, share your thoughts. Let me know what you think. And I am really wishing you tons of happiness and joy and peace and smiles, because we all deserve this. So this is my wish for you. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.

Love and gratitude xx
Dr. Maya

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  1. Your efforts In battling physical adversity with mental wellbeing is something I have continued with , I’m 73 and still try to keep active and keep some fitness . I now have to have ct and mri scans updated on a spinal problem, surgery has been offered and I hope the new pictures are acceptable . 4 years of problems and your advice has always helped so I would be happy to get a little better , that would be a success. Keep well maya thanks for the advice.

    1. Dr. Maya Novak

      Thank you for your kind words, Ian. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and I hope things improve for you soon. Please keep me in the loop. 💛

  2. Ah Maya – I found you today on YouTube. One of your videos on healing injury popped up as I am in my 3rd month of recovery following a dislocated and broken ankle (2 failed attempts to reposition, then stabilised under general anaesthetic with an Ex Fit, then surgery for a trimaleolar fracture). I don’t need to explain to you the impact goes beyond the physical, which is what I appreciated hearing in your video.

    I sensed at once that your understanding encompasses the emotional/mental/spiritual needed for healing. Like you, I believe this is an opportunity for me to look at myself and what I have been avoiding or at least letting continue…. Certainly, it has forced me to SLOW DOWN and look at my life. I have not rushed back to work, supporting others, and have recognised I need to look after myself at this time.

    The themes you discuss here resonate strongly with me and I thank you for sharing vulnerably. Part of my questioning covers whether I should do so myself in order to help others, sharing my experience and being authenticity myself, rather than focusing on the experience of others, at times at the expense of my own wellbeing.

    I’ve just purchased your book and look forward to learning more. I hope you find some of the answers to your questions. Maybe attainly peace and calm, which have been elusive in your life (and mine!) ARE actually happiness, but we think the word must mean something more dramatic as it is so unfamiliar 🧡❤️

    1. Dear Rona. I’m so glad that our paths crossed and thank you for stopping by and writing these kind words. ❤ I can very well understand what you’re going through and I’m just glad that what I’ve been sharing, my work, and the book I wrote has been (already) helping you on this journey. This is all I ever wished for. Keep me in the loop with your progress and I’m rooting for you and your healing. 😊🌷 Love xx Maya

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