Soraiya Vasanji & Liz Clifton Interview Transcription:
Liz Clifton: And welcome. I am so, so excited to welcome the amazing, the wonderful, the one and only Soraiya Vasanji Empowerment Coach.
Soraiya Vasanji: Hello Liz. It's so I'm so excited to be here. I'm so happy to be here every time I see your face. Every time I hear your voice, it's just cheerful and exciting. So thank you for having me.
Liz Clifton: Thank you so much for being here. Let's say you say appreciate that we will kick off. What does self-care mean for you?
Soraiya Vasanji: This is a huge topic, and I love that you're asking this question. What does self-care mean to me I would have to say that for a long time. I thought self care was a very sort of standard. Oh, go for like a manicure and pedicure and do these little things in your life that are rewards or treats, but actually in my journey and in my experience, I've learned that self-care is way deeper. And I actually like to preface it as self-love. Because these are the acts of self care that is really showing myself self-love and self-acceptance and self grace. And it can be a whole host of things. I'd love to share some examples if that's okay. Awesome. So, it can look sometimes for me, where it's just sitting with a hot cup of tea or hot cuppa and sitting by the fireplace and just getting mesmerized by watching the flames.
Soraiya Vasanji: And it's sort of this moment where my brain, like all of the noise in my head is calming down. And I can literally feel my body just start to really relax into the chair that I sit in. And I'm not thinking about the to-do list and what has to happen, and all the things that are on my plate, or things I have to do later that day. It's literally just like a calming moment for my brain. And it's like reenergizing, I'm almost bringing in like the fire and the warmth of the flames into my body. And just like replenishing, whatever it is that needed to feel warmth and hugged inside, gets to feel that way. Other days, it really looks like going for a really brisk walk or pushing myself at the gym or in a workout that I do at home. Or sometimes it's reading a book or coloring or doing a puzzle.
Soraiya Vasanji: It really is the question I ask myself. I literally put my hands on my heart and I just asked myself. What is it that Soraiya needs right now? Like what do I get to show myself? What kind of love and self care do I get to show myself in this moment? And honestly, yesterday it was watching some Netflix and I haven't watched TV in like six months, but yesterday my brain, my head and my heart was just all like, I'm tired. And I didn't want to do anything. And so luckily I'm an empowerment coach and I worked for myself and I could say, you know what, today, this afternoon, and it's just going to be a rain check and I'm just going to follow my heart. And I did. And then I can't even you how much energy I had this morning because I slowed down.
Soraiya Vasanji: And it was all about listening to the body, listening to what your heart is telling you or your mind is telling you. And it's hard because in society, we don't learn this. You know, we don't learn this in school. Nobody talks to us about this. And it's also really hard to connect to our body sometimes and really listen. And I was not always kind to my body. You know, I, I was that person where I had a lot of like blame and shame and guilt and anger at my body. Cause I felt like my body let myself down many times in my past. I also thought that, you know, I should look a certain way or a coach should look a certain way. And I really had to talk to myself and change my mindset. And that's why my mindset coach, I worked on my mindset a lot, so I can help others work on their mindset. Soraiya Vasanji: And I really talked to myself and rewrote the stories and the scripts that I was telling myself on a daily basis through using affirmations. And that was the way that I coached myself out of some of these negative patterns of self beat up. And the negative patterns of, you know, abusing my body in a way where like I would go work out and I would push myself, Liz, I would push myself to the brink where I was like hurting and damaging my body. And my body was injured like all the time because I expected so much more out of it. Cause I thought I had to be able to do this. I had to lift this. I had to push myself. And I realized no, actually the strength of my body is in the fine details is in being able to go a little bit longer on my walk or a little bit faster up the hill. And it's not about, you know, crushing X number of pounds when you're doing squats in the gym. So it's been a practice and self care has not always looked the same. So that's what I would love to share about self care.
Liz Clifton: Oooooh. That is amazing. Thank you so much. I think it's the most kind of involved answer that I've had to that one question. So I'm super grateful and I can see we're not going to have to have too many questions and we're gonna fill our gap. Amazing.
Soraiya Vasanji: Yes I can be a chatter box.
Liz Clifton: Perfect, which is just what I'm looking for when I'm interviewing it's amazing.
Soraiya Vasanji: Thank you.
Liz Clifton: And I'd like to pick out a few of the things that you speak about say, actually the first thing that's coming to mind is, where you started those very, very first acts of self-care. How did you begin?
Soraiya Vasanji: Yes. Small. I, in my nature, I'm just like a warm, inviting, exciting, go big type of personality. And the first time I started thinking about self care, like really actually spending a minute to think about it. I wrote down a list of all the things that make me happy. So if you're listening to this, start with making a list, it can be small because you might be saying, well, Soraiya, this is really hard. I don't know what makes me happy. What creates some joy in your life? What is something that if you had some free time, if Liz and I told you, you get to have the next two hours and nobody was going to bother you, what is it that you want to do? And you start writing your list. And at first I wrote like 40 items. And then I realized when I went back to that list, you have to go back and refine the list because our brain is tricky.
Soraiya Vasanji: And sometimes the things you put on their list are things that you think you're supposed to put on the list. So I think I'm supposed to put down that I want to manicure as self-care. Well, a manicure does make me feel good. Like any other female usually it does, but I realized in that moment. I'm not actually receiving some kind of love for myself. I'm not really in tune with it for some people. It is, you know, and everybody's unique. So everybody's self-care list can look different. So there's no judgment. It's about what works for you. For me, a manicure feels good, but it doesn't replenish my energy. It doesn't make me feel like amazing about myself. Whereas sometimes getting a haircut might I really feel like energized because I find my hair is one of my best assets. So then when I do get a haircut and somebody's lathering up my scalp. Like I really feel like, Ooh, I feel pampered in this moment.
Soraiya Vasanji: I feel good. I'm connected to my body. I'm feeling sexy. I'm feeling vibrant. You know, that is a self care act for me. And so when you're going through this list of what makes you happy. What creates that joy really go back and look at it and say, okay, well, is this because everybody else puts this on their list? Or is this because I read this in some women's health magazine or because Soraiya is telling me, or Liz is telling me? Really like connect with yourself about what creates that happiness or joy. And another example that I like to share. If any of you are moms out there or moms of little ones, like I am, I have a four year old. I recognize that when I give myself that self care, I am more patient with my kid. I am more loving to my husband because that's self care. Soraiya Vasanji: This is a big one. That self care is the self love that you give yourself at the beginning of the day. Like first thing in the morning, you need a little bit of a hit of self-care of self-love of telling yourself that you are good enough. You matter, you're worthy. People want to hear you. People want to know how you're doing and that you get to have this moment in time. Whether that is five minutes, journaling, 15 minutes reading a book that's, you know, whatever that looks like for you. Anything is game. I used to, when I was going through some grief therapy and some grief work. I would do coloring like first thing in the morning. I just had a little coloring book on my nightstand and some color pencils. And I literally would just journal out because I felt like I got to either relax or got to sleep deeply.
Soraiya Vasanji: Or sometimes I didn't sleep very well. And it was like, whatever emotional stuff was bubbling up right in the morning. I just kind of released it by doing some color work. And there were days I could show you my journal where it's just a piece of paper and I'm just like making hearts or just a tear drop. Because it was whatever was inside that I didn't know how to verbalize would come out. And so when you begin, you start small with your list or you can be like me and put a thousand things on there. And then you cull it down and you refine it. And you know what. This is an ever changing list in the summer. There are sometimes certain things that I like to do, like walking outside in the garden. I live in Toronto, Canada. So in the winter, going in the garden is not an option.
Soraiya Vasanji: So that's not on my list, but you know what Making snow angels outside. Thinking about joy and happiness, like your kids, if you have little ones, it's amazing to just think about the way they see the world really does help. And also think about your childhood. Like what from your childhood, do you remember that gives you the warm fuzzies? You know, what's your, what did your mom or your dad or your some family member? I can remember my grandmother making certain recipes or like cooking with her in the kitchen. And some of those recipes are actually when I'm baking. It is an act of self-love because those are times when I think back, oh, I was so happy in this moment. I was so connected to my family, or I really understand now. Especially with my whole thing about talking about my body and like shame of my body. When I'm overweight, I realized while I was using food to dampen down any emotions.
Soraiya Vasanji: But now I realize no in my family and in my culture, we use food to connect. And so now I embrace that part of it. I don't, you know, say, oh, this is awful. Don't eat any of these like baked cookies. I say, no, enjoy one cookie, not 15, you know, so moderation. But even that can be an act of self-love is to show yourself grace. A lot of us want to have this ideal image. And I found that I actually bring the ideal image to today. Like when I am my ideal size shape, whatever, how will I feel? And I bring that energy to myself. And then I think about, okay, for my self-love. I have all this energy and I can be, I'm flexible and I'm moving and I'm running around with the kiddo. And I'm, you know, doing all these joyful things. That's the energy that you get to channel today. We don't have to wait until we're at that end game. That's not what it's about. And that's why self-care is important because you're calling that future state to the present. Yeah.
Liz Clifton: Yeah. Again, amazing. Thank you.
Soraiya Vasanji: Sure.
Liz Clifton: Yeah. And I love, I love that like hurling the manifestation. So what you're aiming for your goal, your vision, your mission, your dream, pulling that into now. And you get to feel that, and then as you're feeling it, you actually naturally become to be it. And then by the time you get to it, you are you're there.
Soraiya Vasanji: Exactly. Your brain reinforces those choices for you. Absolutely.
Liz Clifton: Thank you.
Soraiya Vasanji: You're so welcome. Liz Clifton: Ok. So pulling again, from all of that beautiful goodness that you have shared with us. What are some of your absolute favorite self-care things that you do to really give yourself that joy on like a day-to-day basis? Soraiya Vasanji: Yeah, I would say the question I was asking myself, what is it that I need right now in this moment is a big one. And one of my mindset tips that I talk about a lot is the power of the pause. And what I mean by that is in a moment where you could be triggered by something or flared up or some somebody in your life is doing something and you're not happy about it, you know And you could go to anger or you could go to sadness, literally take a pause. Literally give yourself this moment, the space to experience what it is that you're feeling. You get to feel, anything that you feel you're allowed to feel angry. You're allowed to feel sad. You're allowed to feel annoyed. You're allowed to feel frustrated. That's okay. But when we feel it, we actually like can actually feel it in our body. And recognize that, okay, I'm feeling triggered right now.
Soraiya Vasanji: I'm feeling annoyed right now that my kiddo is not moving so quickly and I'm worried she's going to miss the bus. And so when we take that moment and connect to what our actual fear is underneath that feeling. So the fear of missing the bus and what that will mean then. To like having to figure out how to get my kids out to summer camp. That's what I'm afraid of. Right. And so it's the anger I feel because she's not moving fast enough. But if I react in that moment, it's not helping her self-confidence or helping her move faster. It's not helping me. But in that moment of pausing, I can go, okay, "Hey, Nilah, you know what I'm really worried that we're going to miss the bus. Can we make me go a little bit faster." Which is a whole different thing. Than "Nilah we're going to be late.
Soraiya Vasanji: Let's go." We can feel that energetically as well. I'm sure you're going to feel it when I was saying that. And it's the power of the pause. And it's a gift. If you start to see that the power of the pause is a gift that you give yourself. You actually just calm yourself down a little bit. You give yourself a little bit of grace and compassion. And say, okay, I know I was afraid of that because I have a packed agenda today. And I don't want to miss out on talking to Liz and I don't want to miss out on this call and whatever. Right. And so it's like, I can be like, okay, you got a little bit of grace. You know, you've encouraged her. That's the best thing you can do now just keep supporting her and let's get out the door. Right.
Soraiya Vasanji: So it's like one of those moments where self care can look like something different. Where it's literally just a power of the pause. So I would say that is another one. And then a third tip is affirmations. Our mind. Let's see, language is so powerful when you think a lake and you think about the rock structure around it. And you think that the, the water is flowing in the same direction, in the same space and it's making grooves in the water bed. Right Think about that, like our words. So if we're using negative words towards ourselves that is creating these neural pathways in our mind that are becoming really deep grooves in the way that we think. And so if we keep talking to ourselves like that, we're reinforcing those negative behaviors. Or negative thoughts that we're not good enough, or that we're not worthy or that it's not okay for us to take a 15 minute break or a nap in the middle of the day, which it's totally. Soraiya Vasanji: Okay. So you get to take a nap or you get to take a break whenever you need it. Okay. And the way to shift that is by using positive words, right affirmations, mantras, that kind of thing. And what's happening is we're now creating a new groove in the brain. We're creating a new like row in the waterbed of new words. So now instead of automatically going to those negative words, we're starting to build these new words. And all of these words are actually reaffirming that we can do something that we are good enough. And the more that we say them, which is why repetition of affirmations is so powerful. The more that we say them, the more we're making this an equal sized re like, you know, groove in the brain versus like the negative words that we used to say. So the power of affirmations are so important.
Soraiya Vasanji: And there are times where I share with my clients and family members and friends, or whoever will listen to me, honestly. That you can use affirmations when you're doing passive things like possibly, like when you're brushing your teeth, you know. You can say, I am on my side or whatever it is that you have that you're attracting or that you want to create. and so the I'm on my side, I'm on my side. Like, you're thinking about that. And you're connecting, that's a bit passive because we're not just focused on it. But then you can actively using, be using affirmations when you're sitting down for a quiet moment. Which could look like meditation, or just a quiet moment, or literally looking in a camera or a mirror. And like connecting with yourself and saying like, I am good enough. People want to hear my words I get to share.
Soraiya Vasanji: And it's other people's choice, whatever it is. That's one that I use. Like it's other people's choice. Whether they want to hear me or not. They can, again, they have the power to just switch it off or turn the channel, but I get to share because that's what I'm here for. That's what I know I'm called for my journey has been up and down just like everybody else's. And I know that I'm in a place now that my experiences are to support other people. So they get to have the happiness and the love, from the get-go. So, yeah, that's what I want to share.
Liz Clifton: Oooooh I love it. And thank you for sharing. Yeah. It's so beautiful. And I think, you know, it is that power of the pause. It is, it's just taking that moment. It's that counting to five or counting to 10, is that stepping outside the room, you know, as long as your kid is safe. For that second before you react and then you to come and come back and yeah. That's yeah. It's so powerful.
Soraiya Vasanji: Absolutely. Absolutely. Liz Clifton: And so thinking about yourself care, because obviously you are now completely aware of how important as, how do you protect. Do you have boundaries on yourself care?
Soraiya Vasanji: Yes. This is a great question. And before I even answer the question. I want to talk a little bit about boundaries because people will think about boundaries in different ways. Some people have negative connotations. Some people have positive connotations. I like to look at boundaries actually as a gate, not a wall. So some people think about the wall and like only certain things can come in and then the rest of it is behind the wall. I like to think of it as a gate, so you can open the gate and let things in when you want to. And you can close the gate when you don't want things to come in, or when you don't want things to be let out. And that's quite all right, because you have control over your gate. And so there are times where my gate is wide open. And there are times where it's just open a fraction and there are times where it is tightly shut. Soraiya Vasanji: And that is okay. That is showing yourself grace and compassion and being flexible. And I like to talk about, you know, grounding. Like grounding ourselves in the morning with what we are doing, what we are creating, who we are being with is so important. And I like to think of the analogy of like a big spruce tree or an Oak tree. Where a tree is so grounded, rooted into the earth, really like, you know, settled. But at the same time, the branches of the tree are so flexible, right. They move with the wind, they can flow and it's beautiful. And so I always connect to that image in the morning, myself, as part of my self-care routine, so that I am grounded. I know what I'm doing for the day. I'm inaction, but then I'm also flexible. So if an opportunity comes, I can switch gears.
Soraiya Vasanji: If you know, all of a sudden the weather is like cloudy and we do something else or the weather is sunny and we go do something else. There's flexibility. And what that's taught me is that I get to create space in my calendar. So I'm a believer of time blocking, like most coaches will probably tell you. But I think about it as also having blocks in my calendar that is literally free time. Like nobody can encroach that time. Because that's time for me to connect with myself or to jump on an opportunity or to just do something. And I find that when I was so rigid with my time, Liz and I would have everything scripted out back to back to back, I was like, exhausted. I was so tired. I didn't even have time to go pee. Like it was that bad, right. And you're just like, come on, you're working from home and you can't go to the bathroom, come on Soraiya Vasanji: now. It's like five steps away. But it was literally like that. Cause I was on zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, right. I'm sure you can relate. And so I realized that it's not working for me. And so, you know what You got to change it up. You get to recognize what's working and what's not working. And when it's not working, you get to change it. And so then I realized putting in like these little breaks between calls. So now if I have a client call, I always schedule 15 to 30 minutes afterwards. So I can decompress. I can make some notes. I can get a cup of tea or water, whatever. just shift my energy or whatever it is that I get to do. And that makes me more sane, which is best for everybody. Let's be honest. Or sometimes it's catching up on emails or sometimes it's making some phone calls, but when I don't schedule in those times, then that gets tricky.
Soraiya Vasanji: So what I like to do is I actually like really do look, block it out on the calendar and I start to look at the chunks of time. So, okay. Between nine and noon on Wednesdays, I know that that's my coaching time. And that's open time when I don't have clients that I can do things like this, which is awesome. And then there is times where I have my set clients. There's times where I am, I'm writing a book right now. There's times where I have other deadlines for different things or I have workshops or I'm in masterminds. And so all of those things get penciled in. And then the other thing is my kiddo comes home at three. So my work day ends at two 30. So I have 30 minutes between my workday, like my brain switching to a different role, right. My other identity, a mom. And I get to decompress before kiddo is there because I, the other thing I realized that wasn't working. Is when I go straight from work into kid, and there was no downtime for me to sort of like, not relax, but just like rethink where, what am I doing Soraiya Vasanji: Reconnect and be present. Right It's all about being present. So when I was in my work head, if I didn't have time to move to my mom brain, then it was just not so fun. Like it would take a little bit of time. And I still felt the energy of the rush of work. Before actually being present with my kiddo and that wasn't working for her or for me. So that got to change. And it is like, those boundaries are the places where I have those gates that time where it's kind of flex time. Built in the middle of the day and at two between two thirty and three every day. And so that allows me to sort of check in with myself as well. Because what can happen. And when I was in the corporate world, I could see that I was just on autopilot. And I was just going through the motions and we get to break up autopilot.
Soraiya Vasanji: People like autopilot is not a cool thing anymore. So if you think it's cool, it was cool, but it's not cool anymore. What's really cool is being present. Being present with the people that you're with being present in the moment that reduces anxiety of the future. It reduces feelings of, you know, sort of depression and sadness of the past. Because we get to let, to let the past go. The past is the past, let it stay in the past. The power is in the now the power is in your hands. It's in your heart. That's what we get to focus on. And so the boundaries are there. And some people, boundaries work really good to have hard boundaries. And for some people it's better to have a gate and you get to just decide and play around with what works for you. And the biggest part is to identify when is that self-care time the most impactful for you?
Soraiya Vasanji: For me, it's first thing in the morning. And sometimes that's tricky when the household is ready to go and is in their agenda. And so when that happens, I know that I get to do it right after hubby is on his way, kiddos on their way, parents, sister, whenever anybody they're all in their zone. I have that carved out time now from like nine to 10 in the morning after everybody's where there need to be. Where it's like my hour and many times I'm working on the days that I already did my self care in the morning. But on other days when I didn't get a chance, that's my buffer time. That's my little gate. You know, that protected that time for me so that I can connect because I'm a way better person. When I do my self care in the morning. And for some of my clients, it's actually in the evening after kiddo goes to bed. That's the time that they take to give to themselves, connect with themselves, re-energize get ready for a restful sleep.
Soraiya Vasanji: And the biggest, last thing I want to share about sleep too, which I just thought about. Which was a huge game changer, was going to bed with like calmness and peace in your heart. Which means if you need to forgive yourself about something, forgive yourself. If you need to forgive somebody else, forgive somebody else. Life is too precious. Life is short. Life is now, you know, taking that anger with you. It's causing you pain, it's causing you dis-ease and discomfort. Let it go for yourself. If not for the other person, let it go for yourself. And that will allow you to have a restful sleep and sleep is really important for self-care and self-love. To show ourselves that time where we get to just decompress and our brain gets to slow down and quiet down. And that restorative, there are so many things happening in the body when we're sleeping. It's so important that we get restful sleep and good and quality sleep. And just forgiving yourself for any wrongdoings or for making mistakes. Because we're all human and we all make mistakes and I make a ton of myself and you know what. You forgive yourself and you move forward.
Liz Clifton: Ooooh amazing. I just love that. I like if you're a tiny thing and you just go with it, it's beautiful. It's lovely because it flows and yeah. Let's see. Beautiful. Thank you so so much.
Soraiya Vasanji: You're welcome anytime.
Liz Clifton: I will hold you to that.
Soraiya Vasanji: Happy to.
Liz Clifton: Oh. So is that anything extra that you would like to share with the audience?
Soraiya Vasanji: Anything extra for self care I would say that it is a daily practice. So, you know, if you think, oh, I did it like two weeks ago on a Tuesday. That's awesome. And you get to do it again. And it can be a little thing or it can be a big thing. One of actually our mutual friends, Janet Finley, if we remember her, she actually shared the other day, a really cool tip. About having, I have a gratitude jar, but she has a self care jar and she calls them power ups and she actually puts post-it notes in different colors. So she's got like a power ups early, you know, self care act that takes two minutes on a yellow sticky and something that takes 10 minutes on a pink sticky, and something like that takes, you know, 30 minutes or longer on a green sticky.
Soraiya Vasanji: And so she can go to her little jar. And if she's got a lot of time, she'll pick out a green one, that's like 30 minutes or longer. Or if she's only has a few minutes, she'll pick out a yellow one. And I thought that was really cool to identify them by time. So that would be a great tip that I would share through Janet. So thank you, Janet. And the last thing I would say in terms of it's a practice, you know, be kind to yourself, be gentle to yourself, especially if you are creating a self-care and self-love practice from now. That to me would mean that you've had some hardships, you know. You've, you've had time where you may have been selfish and self beat up or self negativity. And so those patterns take time to heal. You know, it takes time for us to heal and to forgive ourselves and to love ourselves and accept ourselves.
Soraiya Vasanji: And so these are baby steps like baby baby micro steps. They could just be a little tiny thing, but if you're consistent and you do two minutes a day or five minutes a day. You know, at the end of the month, that's a lot of time that is shifting your mindset that is shifting your patterns of belief in yourself and you get to do this. So make it a priority because you matter. You're good enough. We care about you. And there are people here cheering for you. And if you don't see them right around you. You get to find new people to support you wherever they may be. But yes, I'm sending you so much love and I hope this is supportive.
Liz Clifton: That's beautiful. Thank you so much and absolutely supportive. Because there are so many experiences that you've shared that and some beautiful places to begin and to go a bit deeper for people that have already started. So thank you so, so much so appreciate you.
Soraiya Vasanji: You're welcome. Love it. Love it.
Liz Clifton: Woo. And that, as they say is a wrap.
Soraiya Vasanji: Thank you for having me.