494: Upgrade Your Self-Talk to Achieve Your Goals with Vasavi Kumar

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Vasavi Kumar

Pause for a moment and listen to that little voice in your head. What’s it saying right now? Is it lifting you up and encouraging you or stressing you out? 

How you talk to yourself can make or break your dreams, and nobody knows this better than today’s guest, Vasavi Kumar, author of the book Say It Out Loud. In today’s episode, she shares her process for dealing with negative self-talk. And it’s not just about silencing those pesky thoughts.

We go one step further. You’ll discover the transformational power of saying them out loud and how that can help you understand and process your emotions better.

Vasavi will guide you through the specific steps of this process. By the end, you’ll be able to talk to yourself to build trust, heal past wounds, strengthen your relationships, and find the courage to go after your deepest, most profound goals.


  • How to be brutally honest without alienating people.
  • What others think about you is not your story.
  • You set the standard for how everyone – including yourself – treats you.
  • Raising compassionately curious kids.
  • A mindset shift to connect with people in any room you enter easily.
  • The best “parenting hack” I learned from Joe Rogan.
  • Getting comfortable with hearing ourselves talk out loud.


“You are not for everyone, and that is okay. Not everyone needs to like you because do you like everybody? No.”

“We have the power to courageously pursue our dreams when we change our inner conversation.”



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Hal Elrod: Hello, friends. Welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod. And I have a confession to make. I actually have a few confessions that I’m going to be sharing with you today with my guest, Vasavi Kumar. She’s the author of the new book, Say It Out Loud. And I first met Vasavi at a live event in Austin, Texas probably three months ago. And I just kind of fell in love with her and I was like, “Hey, will you come on the podcast?” The stuff she was saying was paradigm-shifting. It was brilliant. And I invited her onto the show. We’ve actually rescheduled twice I think now, so we finally made it happen this morning. And the reason why I love her, one of the reasons I should say, and then I’m so glad she’s here talking to you today is because here’s the thing, you all. There are going to be people in life who trigger us. And Vasavi is one of those people that it’s easy to be triggered by. She curses, she talks openly about being stoned during our episode. She’s unapologetically herself, and she really could trigger you but I appreciate her.


And something about Vasavi triggers me too, but in the best possible way because people who trigger you are the ones who usually teach you something. And Vasavi happens to be brilliant. She’s going to teach you a lot today about being intentional, about the way that you talk to yourself in a way that opens up new possibilities for your life. And she is a former TV host, a licensed therapist, a voiceover artist. She holds dual master’s degrees in special education from Hofstra University and social work from Columbia University. Most recently, she was on the May cover of Austin Woman magazine. She’s been featured on VH1, NBC, FOX, Good Day Austin, CW, and a ton more. And in addition to touching on some controversial topics like cursing and marijuana and even Joe Rogan, today we talk about Joe Rogan a little bit, and even a little about politics, the focus of what I would consider to be a paradigm-shifting conversation is about how you have the power to courageously pursue your dreams when you change your inner conversation, your inner dialog.


She’s going to talk about what it means to be compassionately curious with yourself and how you can use self-talk to move through your resistance to change. And I’m going to share my experience of how I went from thinking that talking to yourself meant you were a crazy person, which you still might be of that mindset, I don’t know, to realizing that some of the most brilliant people on the planet became that way because they chose their inner dialog in a way that guided them to their highest self, their self-actualization. So, really great conversation you’re about to hear with Vasavi and I.


And before we dive in, let me take just a minute to thank our sponsor, Organifi, making the highest quality organic whole food supplements. Now, you may or may not know that recently Organifi started making essential magnesium. I now take that before I go to bed. I’ve always taken magnesium but I switched over to Organifi because not only that they’re my sponsor, but I just know Organifi’s quality standards and they use the highest quality whole food ingredients, like I’ve always said and so their magnesium is no different. Magnesium helps you relax. It helps you get ready for bed if you want to use it like I do in the evening or at any time during the day. Not to mention there’s a cognitive component where I take a little bit of magnesium in the morning for the cognitive effect, and then I take a lot of magnesium in the evening for the relaxing effect. So, if you want to try Organifi’s Magnesium or any of their products, head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then use the discount code “HAL” my name, for 20% off your entire order as a listener of the Achieve Your Goals podcast.


All right. Without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the one and only Vasavi Kumar.




Hal Elrod: Vasavi Kumar, how are you?


Vasavi Kumar: Hal, I am so much better now that I’m talking to you. I mean, I was having a pretty great day but it’s like even better now that I’m talking to you.


Hal Elrod: Yes, I’m excited. It’s funny, we were just talking and you’re like, “Hit record.” And that’s how it always works like the banter ahead of time, you end up having some really profound behind-the-scenes value, nuggets, wisdom. And so, yeah, I thought let’s hit record and just start talking. So, hold on, before we do, your new book just came out, Say It Out Loud. Congratulations. How does that feel?


Vasavi Kumar: It feels really good. It feels timely. It feels right on time. It feels necessary. And I’m really proud of myself.


Hal Elrod: Really proud of you, too. And let me say the subtitle out loud because I feel like with most books, people just like name the book title but often the subtitle is what like actually tells you, it allows you to understand what the book’s about. So, it’s Say It Out Loud: Using the Power of Your Voice to Listen to Your Deepest Thoughts and Courageously Pursue Your Dreams. Before we get to that, though, let’s just talk about we were talking about off the record when we weren’t recording, and it was that you dropped an F-bomb I think. There was some curse word and I said, “Oh, you inspire me.” I said, “There’s so much censoring that I do around my podcast just in general.” And the idea is this: I’m always looking at what’s my bigger purpose, right? It is to empower people, to help people elevate their consciousness. Thus, if I say or do something that offends a percentage of my listeners, my readers, my audience, and people get triggered, people are so easily triggered right now. They’re like, “Oh, I’m not listening to you ever again because you said something that I disagree with,” right, which to me is crazy.


But it’s like the fear is losing the ability to be able to then help that person moving forward. So, I censor myself to go, “Well, I don’t want to say anything that’s going to offend anybody because then I can’t help that person after I have offended them and we’re no longer in relationship and rapport.” So, you said hit record. I’ve got solutions for this. We’re all dealing with this. Hit me.


Vasavi Kumar: Let me ask you a question first. Okay?


Hal Elrod: Yeah.


Vasavi Kumar: Well, first, I want to reflect back what you said. You want to empower people to obviously live their best, you know, believe in themselves, rise to their full potential. Let me ask you this, though. Is censoring yourself empowering for you?


Hal Elrod: No, not at all.


Vasavi Kumar: So, think about that. The most empowered version of Hal is going to continue. I mean, you’re already, first of all, let’s just call it what it is. You’ve already inspired a sh*t ton of people. And just imagine if you stop censoring yourself and we got to see Hal in his entirety and if that meant that you say motherf*ck sometimes, you say motherf*ck sometimes, and you may piss a few people off. Let’s just say you just have to say it and it just fit with what you were saying. You’re not a guy who curses a lot but let’s just say you felt like dropping the F-bomb but you didn’t. But you didn’t because you were scared because you might offend someone. Now, that is not fair to you because that is not empowering for you. And I just wonder the impact that we could all have on the people around us if we honestly and we just said it exactly how we meant it. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to hurt people. Use your discernment. There are ways to say things. You can say things many different ways but if our mission, if your mission, if my mission is to empower other people, then I want to feel fully empowered in whatever the hell I’m saying.


And if that means that, in that moment, a nice, juicy F-bomb just solidified the message of that, then I’m going to say it. And I’m not for everyone. I want your audience to write this down. You are not for everyone and that is okay. Not everyone needs to like you because do you like everybody? No.


Hal Elrod: Sure.


Vasavi Kumar: So, that’s how I want to start this conversation off because you’re doing some big work in the world. I know your listeners are, and no one’s benefiting from you censoring yourself.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. No, it’s such a good point. To your point, like one of my highest values is authenticity and I think that’s where the struggle is. I go, “I’m like 99% authentic,” but I don’t curse or what else don’t I do? Talk about like using cannabis in the past for like sleep because some people might judge that or be offended of that. What else? It’s so funny because literally the other night as I was falling asleep, it was either I think it was two nights ago, I like had this realization and I wrote down, “I’m going to do a podcast episode,” and it’s interesting, like, this may be the episode but it was like confessions like, “Guys, here’s the things I actually haven’t said because I was afraid you wouldn’t like me and now I couldn’t help you.” And you know what I mean? And then like the way we started our conversation was like, oh, maybe God was just being like, “Oh, Hal, yeah. This is what’s happening in a couple of days when you talk to Vasavi, just so you know.”


Vasavi Kumar: Here’s how we can make it productive, though, because I want everyone listening to this, whether it’s in my program that I have coming up called Bold Voice or it’s my book called Say It Out Loud, it’s important that we’re not just verbal diarrhea-ing. And I want your audience to hear this because me and Hal, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do a confessions thing, but we’re going to do it with intention. I’ll share something. You can share something, but I think we need to share why we didn’t share it in the first place. Why were we afraid? What was the judgment that we were afraid of? Because, see, that’s really the deeper issue. It’s not the thing. It’s what are people going to think if they know this about me? But that’s where we get to check in with ourselves, Hal, and we’re like, “Do I really believe that about myself?” Whatever I’m afraid that people are going to think, “Is there some truth to it? Do I not want people to see this? What will happen if they see this side of me?” and that’s where we get to love ourselves a little bit more, trust ourselves a little bit more, and own our f*cking decisions.


Like I told you, I am stoned right now on this interview. I smoked a little bit before and I can go into why I smoke, what I use it for, blah, blah, blah, but why would I normally not have shared that in the past? Because I don’t want people to think I’m some stoner. I don’t want people to think that just because I smoke weed that I’m not intelligent. Also, if you google me, I speak openly about my sobriety having gone to rehab and I’m four-and-a-half years sober from cocaine. I don’t want anyone in the sobriety community to judge me to know that I smoke weed. There are so many things that I was afraid of that I didn’t want people to know but, ultimately, I have to answer to me and my maker, and that is it. I’m cool with the fact that I smoke weed. I like the way it makes me feel. I know I don’t use it to escape. I know what my intentions are. I don’t need to answer to anyone but me and my maker. And if I am cool with my decision, then why am I actually so concerned about what you think? So, I would love to hear confession time from you, Mr. Elrod. You’re up.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, let’s stick with the cannabis piece. So, when I had cancer, I hadn’t done weed, cannabis, marijuana, whatever anybody wants to call it, in quite a few years. And at one point, I got stuck in the spine with chemotherapy or, I’m sorry, they were supposed to inject chemotherapy in my spine and they accidentally injected it into my nerve. I underwent the most horrific migraines you could ever imagine. And I’ve had migraines my whole life. I was like, “Oh, I guess I was at like a six. This is like a 15.” I’ve never experienced this kind of pain. And that moment is captured in the Miracle Morning documentary where I’m in tears, bawling my eyes out, talking about how I’m maintaining this mindset of gratitude while I’m in the most horrific pain I’ve ever been in in my life. But here’s the point. So, I think it was either 7 or 11 days consecutively round-the-clock migraines. I was in the hospital. I had just gotten chemotherapy. The doctors, they put me on morphine. That didn’t work. They gave me OxyContin. That didn’t work. They gave me everything they could and nothing took care of the pain.


They finally kicked me out of the hospital and they were like, “Hey, we need this bed. I’m so sorry, but you have to leave.” And like, for those 11 days, I had on an eye mask, I had earplugs and white noise, and I wasn’t eating. I couldn’t hold down food. Nothing. And it was so sad. My dad’s like just watching me wither away. And so, the thought of me having to get up, open my eyes, see the light, which was like just painful, and get into a wheelchair and go down to the car and then drive to the apartment near the hospital. That was the worst thing imaginable. So, anyway, we have to do it. My dad’s like, “Hal, sorry. We have to leave.” So, they kicked us out of the hospital. We go to the apartment and I go straight to the bedroom, put the earplugs in, put the white noise on, put the eye mask on. And my dad’s coming in and he’s trying to get me to eat because I haven’t eaten. And he’s like, “Soup?” I’m like, “Dad, don’t talk to me. I love you but don’t talk to me. I can’t handle this. It hurts so bad.”


And he finally comes in and he says, “Hal, I’m sorry to bother you. What about that marijuana that your friend gave you, like dropped off when they first heard you had cancer a few months ago or whatever?” He’s like, “Do you want to try that?” And I’m like, “Yeah, okay. I’ll do anything. I’ll try anything. Yeah. Okay.” And so, he goes and he finds it under the bathroom sink, whatever. And then the funny part is my dad has never, ever done marijuana so he’s like, “How do I put it in the bowl? What do I do?” And I have plenty experience from like high school, college especially and I was like, “Here’s what you put it in.” But here’s the crazy part. And I’ve shared this story in very small group settings but my dad literally holds up the glass pipe and he lights the lighter and I took two hits of marijuana and he puts it back. And I’m telling you, I’ve been bedridden with an eye mask for 11 days possibly. Five minutes later, I get out of bed, I go in the living room, I go, “Dad, I’m starving. Will you please make me some food?”


He’s like, “Oh, my God.” And he’s like, “It’s like a Christmas miracle like you’re out of bed.” I go, “My headache’s gone. I feel fine.” I go, “This is crazy.” And I called Ursula, my wife. She was three hours away and she had known for 11 days I’ve been in bed and she couldn’t get there to visit me. I’m like, “Hey, sweetie.” And she’s like, “What? What’s happening?” I’m like, “Two hits of marijuana, and I’m fine.” And I was like, “And I have my appetite back. Like, I haven’t eaten. I’ve lost like 10 pounds in the last 11 days.” And I’ll tell you, Vasavi, here’s what I want to get across to people. Because this episode, I feel like it’s going to be a paradigm-shattering, paradigm-shifting, consciousness-elevating episode as we’re talking because if you have preconceived notions that marijuana bad, cursing bad, right, like I want you to reconsider and here’s why I want you to reconsider. Why would you think that this plant that grows in the ground is bad? And obviously, this is the point of this episode but this is a point…


Vasavi Kumar: Yeah. It’s about thinking. It’s about how we think. That’s what this is about, how we think.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. How we think. It’s bad because we’ve been told it’s bad our entire lives by the government and it’s made illegal and it’s called a drug, which is the same as drugs made in labs that kill people from OD. It’s all in the same class for the most part of drug but anyway, it’s a plant that grows in the ground. And here’s what I got. I was angry, Vasavi, because I was like, “Wait a minute. They were pumping my body, the Western medicine system, the medical system pumping my body full of toxic, harmful chemicals that are hard on my liver, right? OxyContin, morphine, and there’s probably more than that. And none of them worked, but they had horrible side effects.” And I was two puffs away from complete relief from something that grows from the earth that they will not give to me. And so, that changed it and then all of a sudden, I was like my mind opened because I had stopped doing it and I had bought into like marijuana is bad. I’m not a kid anymore. I’m not in my twenties. I’m ready to move on like I need to grow up.


And then that was like this paradigm shift where I’m like, “Wait a minute.” And I started googling like marijuana to help with cancer and there were, “It’ll help you go to sleep.” So, I got off Ambien. I got off all these narcotics and all these drugs and I and I ended up going to the oil drop. So, I didn’t smoke just for my lungs, this, and that. Anyway, yeah, but it cured all of these ailments that big pharma could not cure and it did it with something that was natural from the ground that wasn’t processed in a lab. And so, that’s my soapbox. That’s my story.


Vasavi Kumar: I love your soapbox. I think this whole conversation is really helping people see like our judgments and where do you censor yourself. This all boils back at we’re talking about censoring ourselves. And in order to understand why you censor yourself, then you have to look at your own judgments, which is why it’s so great that we’re asking our audience it’s not about the marijuana. It’s about anything that you perceive as bad. And in your life, what are you currently doing that you’ve labeled as bad? And how much shame has that been producing in your life and how isolated has that made you? Because you’re like, “Ooh, this is bad. I can’t say this out loud.” And what I write in my book and what I’m here to say is that shame shrivels when you say it out loud. Because think about it. Like, Hal, when I said to you, what did I say to you? You and I were talking about Joe Rogan and how Joe Rogan openly talks about, “Hey, I’m on mushrooms right now.”


Hal Elrod: Everything.


Vasavi Kumar: And I’m going to share the psychology of that interaction between us. The minute you said that like you’re cool with that, like you appreciate that type of candidness, I felt safe to then say to you, “Hey, Hal, guess what? I’m a little stoned right now, buddy.” But see, that’s what happens when we say our truths out loud. We’re giving permission to other people to be like, “Oh, I’ve been embarrassed about this or I’ve been shaming myself for this. Why have I been shaming myself for this?” And I do think we can make a bigger impact on social media, on the Internet if you’re in the business of using the Internet to spread your message for you to say it in the way that can only be said like you and by you and through you. So, there is a solution, and I’d love to get into that but I wanted to pass it over to you for a sec since you’re the host and everything.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. No, we can go straight to that solution. The first question I had written down is that in Say It Out Loud, in your new book, you explained that we have the power to courageously pursue our dreams when we change our inner conversation. And I’m such a believer in the power of self-talk, and I wanted to hear you riff on that.


Vasavi Kumar: Yeah. So, here’s the thing. Everything that we do or don’t do in our life goes back to what are you telling yourself about this situation, why you can and why you can’t or why you should and why you shouldn’t do. Basically, how are you thinking about this? How are you making decisions around this? What are you telling yourself about your capability, your capacity, your potential when it comes to this thing that you want to be doing? So, everything for me and I want to just share, tone of voice especially is very important when we’re talking about self-talk. And the reason why I’m so sensitive to this and I talk about this in the book. You know, I grew up to immigrant – I’m a first-generation Indian immigrant. My parents came here in the 70s, Geetha and Shanti. My mother was a very, still is, a very harsh mom. She’s not the mom that gives cuddles and kisses at all. She is the mother that tells you the things that you don’t want to hear and she says it in a way that doesn’t feel good always but it’s the truth that you need to hear.


I became very sensitive to tone of voice from a young age, which is why I, with myself, with my clients, and in my book I say, “Speak to yourself with more kindness, with more compassion. If it feels weird and you feel odd, you’re on the right path because you’ve probably been an asshole to yourself up until this point.” So, obviously, being kind to yourself feels a little weird. Think about it this way. If someone has betrayed you over and over again, Hal, and someone has disrespected you and talked down to you and been cynical with you, all of a sudden they start being kind to you, you’re going to think, “Hey, what’s going on? This feels a little weird.” But that is the process of repairing, right? It’s going to feel weird at first. You’re going to feel a little odd being that nice to yourself. You’re like, “Wait, I’ve been a jerk to myself up until this point.”


Hal Elrod: Yeah. I’ve shamed myself.


Vasavi Kumar: Yeah. Who am I to be so kind to myself? Who are you not to be? You set the standard, dude. You set the standard with how everyone else treats you. You set the standard by what you’re willing to tolerate, what you’re willing to allow, and whether you’re going to walk away. Because when you set that standard with how you treat yourself, anything less than that, you don’t want to be bothered by it. You’re like, “Sorry. I got it too good with me. I don’t need to put up with your sh*t.” So, everything starts with how we talk to ourselves.


Hal Elrod: Well, I tell you, the first, when this came up for me, it’s funny. I was actually just reading this. I’m doing a new edition of The Miracle Morning, and I was just today I was doing like the final review of the PDF and the Interior, and this and that. And it’s funny, I just read this, this morning. My first exposure to self-talk was I was roommates with one of my best friends, Matt Recore. Shout out to Matt if you’re listening. And Matt was very successful. So, we were both 25 at the time. I was renting a room from him in one of his six houses and he had five rentals and his one house. He was a self-made millionaire at 25 and in the mornings I would hear him shouting from his bedroom across the hall and I would think he was yelling. He needed something or yelling for me and it was while he was in the shower. And I would always walk the bedroom and I would go, “Matty,” listening in. He’d go, “I am unstoppable. I am creating the life that I want and no one and nothing can stop me. I am remarkable.”


And I remember, I’m like, “What a frickin weirdo.” What a weirdo. Then I’d almost be embarrassed to ask him, “Dude, were you talking to yourself?” Which, by the way, this is another paradigm, right, that we’ve taught people that talk to themselves are weird. They’re crazy. No, they’re frickin brilliant. Unless they’re talking themselves about, “I’m horrible, I’m a loser. I suck,” which often is the conversation that we have. You know, one of the things that you talked about is being compassionately curious with yourself. Unpack that, please.


Vasavi Kumar: I just think about those two words. Compassionate has a softness to it. It has a deep understanding. And when I think about curiosity, it’s very childlike, right? Children are curious and they have no shame in being curious. They have no problem asking why. So, compassion and curiosity with yourself might be like, “Huh, tell me more about that.” Right? Like, you have children, right, Hal?


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Yeah. 13 and 10.


Vasavi Kumar: Thirteen and ten. And no matter how old, I mean, especially your ten-year-old, your 13-year-old, they’re getting older. They’re going to test their boundaries as teenagers.


Hal Elrod: Oh, yeah.


Vasavi Kumar: And then instead of a lot of parents might be very authoritative and I get it like, “No, you’re not going to do that. No, stop doing that.” Or how about you get curious with your kids? We don’t do anything for just no good reason. Everything we do is to survive, is to cope, is to get by in life. Okay? Even the habits that we may think are awful and why do you do stuff like that, we’re just trying to get by as humans. We try to do the best we can but think about when instead of – and to all parents out there, it would really help with your kids if instead of getting mad or just telling them not to do something, get your child to self-reflect. But you have to be curious with them first. And so, you got to ask them, why do you think you did that? What’s that about? Where did that come from? What made you do that? And genuinely be curious about their behavior instead of stopping their behavior. And stopping their behavior, you’re also stopping their ability to grow and reflect. We don’t want that.


We want more awareful children growing up to be more self-aware adults, become compassionately curious, and have some compassion that everyone’s just trying to do the best that they can. And curious as to maybe you’ve told them ten times not to do something and they keep doing it. What’s that about? Why would they keep doing that? And because, see, here’s the thing. The way we approach any situation will determine the result that we want. If you want something, if you want someone to change their behavior, you got to start getting curious about why they behave the way they do instead of just trying to brand them as the bad kid. I can’t stand, Hal, when I hear parents talk about their kids or, “Oh, he’s the troublemaker in the family. Oh, he’s a lot.” Okay. That kid has addiction written all over him because you’ve just told your kid they’re too much, they’re going to now think they’re too much. Every time they feel a feeling that’s too much, that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to become more workaholics, gambling, porn, or whatever with sex, drugs, something to numb that. I hate to say it but that’s what we’re creating, right? So, we want to be compassionately curious rather than cynical and condescending with ourselves and others.


Hal Elrod: What came up for me when you were sharing that is advice I heard from someone we’ve mentioned a couple of times already, Joe Rogan. Arguably the best parenting advice I’ve ever gotten came from Joe Rogan. And before I share this, I want to use Joe Rogan as one of these paradigms that society has programmed people, right? If you watch the news, Joe Rogan is I don’t even know, all the adjectives that you use. He’s this, he’s crazy, he’s promoting horse dewormer, all of these things, most of which are lies. And what’s interesting is I’ve watched Joe. I’ve followed him for probably ten years. And there’s a reason he’s the number one, literally, the number one influence in the world in terms of his viewership. People that watch his show and listen to him exceeds every news channel combined. And the reason is because he is real, he is authentic, and he is a good human being. Like, if you followed him, you realize, dude, this guy cares. He’s curious. He’s compassionate. He’s not judgmental. He’s open-minded. Has he done things wrong? Sure, I mean, when you’re talking every single day to people.


But again, the best advice I got from Joe Rogan, now, I would never imagine anyone that only knows Joe from people of like mainstream media’s opinions would ever go to Joe Rogan for parenting advice but this is what he shared. It was just during a random interview and he goes with right in line with what you said, which is he said, “When most people’s their kids, if you’re a parent and your child does something that violates a rule that you have or an expectation or violates one of your family values,” he said, “We are usually very quick to reprimand and discipline them, to shame them, to make them feel wrong, to make them feel guilty, and to put ourselves in a position of authority and superiority. And that doesn’t connect us with the kids. It doesn’t allow us to connect nor influence them.” So, what Joe taught me was very simple but he said, “When my kid does something ‘wrong’ that violates a rule that we have in our family or whatever, I’m not quick to reprimand them. I’m quick to think of when have I done something as either that exact thing or something similar in my life?” He goes, “So, I bite my tongue and I search my memory banks and I think, ‘When did I lie? When did I steal the car? When did I smoke marijuana?’ Every day. When did I, you know?”


Vasavi Kumar: Right now.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. He’s like, “Five minutes ago.” But he says and I find an experience that I can relate and go, “Hey, buddy, I want you to know that when I was your age or when I was 12 or whatever, I actually did something very similar.” Now, I want you to think about right away, what’s your child all of a sudden they feel curious, right?


Vasavi Kumar: And they also feel like, “Oh, dad and I are kind of the same. We might be…” Yeah, rapport. We’re building rapport.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. Exactly. “Dad’s not the superior being that I can’t match up to.” And so, they’re curious. “Wait, tell me about that, dad. What happened?” And then he goes, “I tell them, I did this. Here’s what happened. I got in trouble. Here’s the consequence. And knowing what I knew now, if I could give my advice to my younger self, I would tell them what I’m going to tell you, which is, “Don’t do that because there are negative consequences.” But you think about now you’ve connected with your kid. They feel respected. They feel loved, They don’t feel shamed. They feel related to you. They feel more of a rapport. I mean, on and on and on like most brilliant parenting advice that I can ever think, you know?


Vasavi Kumar: Yeah.


Hal Elrod: And for those of you that if you’re like, “Oh, Joe, Rogan’s a bad person,” go listen to him and you’ll find out.


Vasavi Kumar: No, I love how we’re having this conversation, Hal, because it’s not just about the thing but it’s also helping our listeners right now look at the bigger picture. Like, instead of immediately going to judge because of the person, look at the bigger picture. My dad always used to do this. So, we are bleeding heart liberals in my house. My parents are immigrants. We’ve always voted Democrat in my house. And driving home as a kid, my dad would make me listen to Conservative Talk Radio and I go, “Why are you making me listen to Conservative Talk Radio?” And my father would say, “You can’t just know how you think. You have to hear how the other side thinks even if it pisses you off.” So, we listen to Bob Grant. Bob Gigante was his name, but he was changed to Bob Grant. We listen to Bob Grant, we listen to Howard Stern, and I get so pissed off at some of the things that they would say because I’m like getting older. I’m trying to be close to my dad and trying to understand what he’s teaching me.


But I get so annoyed by what I’d hear on Conservative Talk Radio. My dad would say, “This is how you become intelligent. It’s not by just sitting on your soapbox and talking about what you agree with and your opinions but if you can get in the shoes of why does that person think that way and you could still have a civil conversation,” he goes, “You’re going to be the smartest person in the room,” which we don’t care about being the smartest but it’s being more about being able to connect with the most. For me, it’s not about being successful, being this. My biggest flex and I owe this to my father and I love him very much. He said, “You got to be able to learn how to talk to anyone about anything, anyone about anything.” And so, hats off and just this conversation about paradigms and looking at how you look at things like your inability to be able to be with the discomfort of talking about someone like a Joe Rogan or this is stunting you in other areas of your life because that’s where you stop growing.


When you stop growing in one area, you think that sh*t doesn’t affect other areas of your life and your growth? And we’re on the Achieve Your Goals podcast. So, part of achieving your goals is being open to sh*t, even if every part of you wants to resist it, be open to it. Try to think bigger.


Hal Elrod: Also, this brings up like you just opened up to me a huge can of worms.


Vasavi Kumar: Sorry.


Hal Elrod: Like, obviously, we could talk about politics, which is a very interesting polarizing topic. But I’ll tell you, one of the most important for me, personally, one of the most important paradigm shifts that I’ve ever had in my life around how I relate to and/or to judge/love and accept other people. And here’s what it is, Vasavi. I realize that if I had lived your life, I would probably be exactly the same way. And so, we judge and condemn other people for, like you said, like oh, this conservative is saying this or that. And it’s like, if you had lived their life, you’d be exactly the same. And if they had lived your life, they’d be the same as you. So, it’s like we all need to stop judging and condemning other people. If somebody lived your life, they would drop the F-bomb the way you did but they’re like, “Well, I don’t say that because my mom and dad told me that was wrong and that’s bad and I believe…” You know, okay.


Vasavi Kumar: And I’m like I curse with my mother. My Indian immigrant mother, bless her heart, she said the f*ck. She said, “What the f*ck?” yesterday in a very thick Indian accent, which actually it makes me laugh. Okay, It’s great. It’s great. So, I grew up in a house where we could curse in front of our parents. Yeah.


Hal Elrod: Yeah, I love it. I love it. Yeah. But again, just really shifting your paradigm and not being judgmental, not being so critical, not condemning other people for being different than you were having different views.


Vasavi Kumar: I did want to get to the solution.


Hal Elrod: Yes, let’s talk about the solution.


Vasavi Kumar: So, if your audience, wherever this is, y’all, whether you’re a podcaster, whether you do speaking in front of groups, whether you’re teaching a workshop, whether you’re getting on social media, whether you’re just trying to prepare for a conversation, I want you to do this. It’s in my book and then you can even do this for writing emails. Even if you want to talk about a certain topic, say it first unedited and unfiltered, completely. Say all the F-bombs. Say it as opinionated, as harsh as you want, as aggressive. Say it however you want to say it. You have to give your mind, your body, your voice, the experience of saying those words. Just allow yourself to say it unedited, unfiltered. Second time I want you to do it again, have a little bit less charge around it. It doesn’t need to be so much charge because ultimately what I talk about in my book and in life is like you want to get to your bold voice. Your bold voice, and this is the third iteration of saying it again, unedited, unfiltered. Say it from a place where it is neutral but solid inside of you. There’s no emotional charge. There’s no this. If you feel like adding an F-bomb here or there, say it but it really needs to feel settled in your body.


I don’t think that when we are expressing our truth, I don’t think it has to feel like an anxiety attack. I think the boldest thing that we can do is be calm and clear and succinct in what it is that we want to say without having to do the most to get our point across. So, I do this with clients before they get ready for talks. I do all this stuff, “Tell me what you want to tell the audience,” and I have them say it to me and I’ll be straight up and be like, “That’s boring.” That’s boring because what I find is most people are afraid to add life to their words. Now I’m a voiceover artist, Hal, so I get paid to read people’s scripts and bring it to life. I’m very good at what I do because I think words are there for us to play with, right? So, whatever your talk is, even if you want to write out an episode, just say it. Just hear yourself saying it a few times and then say, “Let me add a little punch here.” Sometimes it’s not even so much that you got to add an F-word. It’s looking at your words and putting an oomph to it. What do I want to emphasize? And this is where you’re getting permission, you know, we were told not to play with our food. Screw that.


Play with your voice. I want you to play with your voice. Modulate, play with texture, tone, cadence, speed. Sometimes I talk loud. Sometimes I’ll drop my volume. It depends on what the hell I’m trying to convey. So, that’s a solution. Play with your voice.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. I got to get better at that. I’m usually like really excited and loud the whole time. My team recently was like, “Hal, you need to bring, you know, like there were rare occasions where I see you slowing down and talking quieter really draw me in.” I’m like, “All right, I’ll work on that.”


Vasavi Kumar: I can help you with this. I can help a lot of people with this and I’ll tell you why is we don’t need to be one way all the time. Like, I like range because there’s an excitable motivating Hal and then there’s also like a deep, grounded, steady Hal. And you could tell he’s been through some sh*t, right? Like, who was the Hal that had those splitting migraines and who literally had like f*cking needles put in his nerves? And I’m so sorry that you went through that but that Hal, he has some wisdom in him. He’s going to sound very different than the excitable and we need that Hal too but that Hal doesn’t need to run the show all the time.


Hal Elrod: Yeah.


Vasavi Kumar: There’s also a quote… And by the way, I want to let you know, Hal, I’m in the same boat as you. The feedback that I’ve given myself is, “I don’t want to be so loud anymore. I don’t want to be so fast. I’m tired. Can I just talk like this until we get our point across? Let’s just talk like this.”


Hal Elrod: I’m with you.


Vasavi Kumar: Once again, play with your voice.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. I want to go back to the self-talk piece because I was watching your interview with Mark Groves, which, by the way, second time back on his podcast, which whenever I see a guest then it’s the second time, I’m like, “Oh.” This morning as I’m preparing for our interview and so I’m like, “Ooh,” I’m like, “Vasavi was brought back twice? All right.”


Vasavi Kumar: Thank you.


Hal Elrod: But I was on Mark’s show a few weeks ago or a few months ago. I love Mark. Phenomenal and loved your conversation. And one of the things right now, I mean, always is change. We’re always dealing with change. And right now, ever since 2020, it feels like everything’s changing, right? You know, in our own lives globally with our friends, with our family, there’s so much change happening. I wanted to ask you, how can we use self-talk to move through our resistance, which is normal for all of us? We resist change. How can we use self-talk to move through that resistance to change?


Vasavi Kumar: So, with self-talk and resistance, I’m going to recommend that you practice what I say in the book as gentle determination. And gentle determination is just the voice of acknowledging what the resistance is. Is it gentle firmness or gentle determination? I changed it in the book, but I talk about a voice called gentle firmness or gentle determination. I changed it last minute, so now I forget what I did but I know this is part of writing a book and then publishing it and then forgetting it. Basically, so gentle determination is the tone of voice that really is just steady with yourself and you’re not taking any bullsh*t from yourself. You realize that you’re in resistance, but you’re like, “All right, we need to move through this.” So, any time I’m resistant, I ask questions. This whole book is about asking yourself questions and get curious. So, let’s say you want to put a piece of content out there and you’re resistant to it and you’re like, “No, but I don’t want to.” That’s a great opportunity for you to say, “What are you so resistant about? Why don’t you want to hit publish?”


Like, talk to yourself like you would with a friend. And I know people say, don’t ask why questions. Don’t ask questions to begin with why. They make people feel defensive. It’s like, listen, I can’t be defensive with myself. You know what I mean? Like, I’m going to ask myself the way that I speak to myself as, “Vas, what’s the resistance?” And I will answer that back and I’ll say, “Well, I don’t want people to not think I’m qualified. I don’t want them to think I’m unprofessional. I don’t want them to think, oh, well because I’m open about the fact that I have bipolar disorder, I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, this b*tch is crazy.’” That is really truthful. That is what I’ve actually, I’ve done these questions, obviously, exercises with myself, but that is what it is. So, the way that you talk, you self-talk to your resistance to move through, Hal, is to be curious and find out why you’re so scared. Underneath all of that is protection. We don’t start what we start because of protection. We’re not procrastinating. We’re protecting ourselves. Everything that we do that is guised as, you know, that we see as resistance, underneath that, it’s just the fear of getting started, the fear of getting it wrong, and the fear of looking like a damn idiot because we’re afraid of what other people think.


If we can learn how to be gentle and firm with ourselves when we’re most resistant, we’ll find that all we need is just a little nudge and an understanding but we can move through it. And I owe my mom to that because I resisted a lot growing up as a child, listening to my parents first and foremost. But my mother had a way of showing me that moving through the resistance would actually take me farther in life. So, she used that kind of tone of voice with me, and that’s where I got that from in the book.


Hal Elrod: That’s where you got it from? Yeah. In terms of saying it out loud and saying it to yourself, like obviously the book’s called Say It Out Loud but what we’re talking about is really inner dialog. For people that haven’t read the book, can you expand on or kind of create context around the title, Say It Out Loud, but you’re helping people really work on their inner dialog?


Vasavi Kumar: Yes. It’s kind of a conundrum. The book is called Say It Out Loud because what I’m asking you to say out loud is what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling. And the way that I’m having you say out loud what you’re thinking and feeling is by asking yourself questions. So, I’m asking you to ask yourself questions out loud, and I’m asking you to respond back to those questions out loud. Here’s why most people don’t want to do this because it requires you to get rigorously honest with yourself. You cannot lie to yourself. When you ask the question out loud and you respond out loud, your body knows when you’re lying to it. Words carry vibrations. And once you say the truth of how you feel out loud, you cannot unhear it. When I was in a very toxic, abusive relationship, I don’t even want to call it toxic. It was straight-up psychologically and emotionally abusive. About eight years ago, I was in a relationship and I kept so much of my inner dialog inside. I didn’t do a lot of my self-talk out loud because I was in this awful relationship.


But when I started to get really honest with myself, I remember when I saw someone post something about how their relationship was not toxic and how it was abusive, and that really shook me a little bit because I didn’t like to be the kind of person who said that I was in an abusive relationship. It made me feel weak that, “Oh, I was in it.” But I asked myself out loud, “Vasavi, would you consider that relationship abusive?” And this was after a few years had passed and I’ve seen that person post that reel and I was like, “Oh, let me ask myself this question,” and I said. “Yes, that was an abusive relationship. I felt abused on so many levels.” And just hearing myself say that, yes, I was abused, you can’t unhear that, Hal. And once I acknowledged to myself the pain that I went through, I stopped treating myself like sh*t. I stopped beating myself up. But this is how we develop that compassion and kindness for ourself is that we have to speak our truth to ourselves. You know how easily we can give compassion to another person when we hear their truth?


Hopefully, you’re someone who is, I don’t mean you, but people who are empathetic. When someone shares their truth, you will most likely feel for them. You will and you’ll be like, “Wow, I’m so sorry.” You got to give that to yourself. I don’t know why that is not taught in schools, empathy, self-empathy, and self-compassion. We are taught so much like, “I care for you and I want to do what’s right for you,” and, oh, but where are you in this equation? You are also a person and so that’s what my book is about is make your insides, your mind, your body, your self-dialog, your brain, make it a place where you can actually create and you can actually feel safe and have some sense of peace and stability internally.


Hal Elrod: I love it. This is the big focus of my work moving forward is I call Inner freedom. I think that was – I don’t know who coined that. I’m sure that term is around for thousands of years but Michael Singer, I think really cemented it for me. But inner freedom, and what you’re talking about is literally it’s the key to inner freedom is you literally shift what you say to yourself, what you focus on, the stories, the narratives that you buy into, etcetera, and that determines your quality of life. It goes back to if you think life’s amazing, it is. If you think it sucks, it is. If you think you’re worthless, you are. Or at least that’s your experience. I love it. So, the book is Say It Out Loud: Using the Power of Your Voice to Listen to Your Deepest Thoughts and Courageously Pursue Your Dreams. Where is the best place for people to get the book and follow you?


Vasavi Kumar: Well, it’s available everywhere but I would love for you to go to Amazon Kindle. It’s on Audible. Especially for my Audible people, I am a trained voiceover artist. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the audio version. You know, I really think listening to me teaching this stuff, I think it’ll feel really good for a lot of you because I put a lot of work into my voice. And so, for all my Audible listeners, please get your Audible. But yeah, it’s available everywhere.


Hal Elrod: Awesome. Other than the book, where can people follow you on social media, your website, email list? Like, what’s the best place for people to go? Where’s the hub or the best place for people to find Vasavi and get more Vasavi?


Vasavi Kumar: Thank you so much. The best place is VasaviKumar.com. I would love for you to subscribe to my weekly voice notes. I don’t send long ass emails. I send two-minute weekly voice notes. It just fits right in line with my brand. So, you can go to VasaviKumar.com weekly voice notes. And depending on when this is released, I do have a six-month voice and self-expression training program for all my creators and speakers out there. We start September 7th and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s not a coaching program. It is a training and voice training program. We’re going to have so much fun playing with your voice. That starts September 7th, and you can find that at VasaviKumar.com as well.


Hal Elrod: Yeah. This will be out a few weeks before that. So, yeah, go into your website, people can subscribe and then they can get an announcement when it’s ready. And the book, you all, is Say It Out Loud by Vasavi Kumar, using the power of your voice to listen to your deepest thoughts and courageously pursue your dreams because you deserve nothing less and you are just as worthy, deserving, and capable as any other person on the planet but only if you tell yourself you are, only if you believe that you are. And so, if you want a book that really helps you go deep into understanding why you’ve got to be intentional and actively decide on the self-talk that you perpetuate, that you entertain, this is the best book to do exactly that. So, Vasavi, I appreciate you so much and thank you so much for being your real authentic self today, as you always are, and saying it out loud.


Vasavi Kumar: Thank you, Hal.


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