Sonia Jhas is a mindset & wellness coach, a TEDx speaker, and the author of I’ll Start Again Tomorrow: And Other Lies I’ve Told Myself. In 2012, Sonia gave up her successful corporate career and began searching for a new path that resonated with her core. Through her journey, she uncovered a driving desire to help others bolster their self-confidence and become the boss of their own life. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two kids.
Welcome to the podcast, Sonia!
Dismantling Legacy Values To Become Who You Are, with Sonia Jhas
Erica: What are legacy values? And what are some of the legacy values you’ve personally let go of?
Sonia: Legacy values in my version of reality are the values that we have hung onto that no longer serve us. They no longer fit with the new version of who we are, with the experiences that we’ve had, with the roadblocks and challenges that we’ve faced that have created deeper insights into who we are and what we really need as people.
For me, when I think about legacy values, my versions really stem from my upbringing and my parents. I grew up in a relatively traditional Indian household with a pretty stringent list of “ticky marks,” as I like to call them, the things that were ingrained in us from day one of our being around the persona we are supposed to carry, the roles we are supposed to play, beauty, success, money, identity. There were so many both overt and covert messages that we received growing up that really shaped how it is that we thought, and how it is that we felt and the actions that we did or didn’t take and the struggles that we went through. So many struggles!
For me, a lot of those legacy values that I identified when I was going through my very early “mid-life” crises, around twenty-five, were around professional success and what that means. So something as simple as entrepreneurship isn’t a real thing; you need to be in the corporate world, climbing the corporate ladder, proving that you are good enough to make it to the top in that world to really be legitimate. And this is if you’re not already successful enough because you’re a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, right?! It’s like Tier 2 is the top of the corporate world. And that’s the path you have to take so you can say that you’ve made it.
So there’s the professional lens, and then there’s the beauty lens, which was for me that Indian women need to have long flowing hair to be considered beautiful. You can’t be too thin. You can’t be too curvy. There are so many ideas around beauty that you don’t even realize you’re picking up on, but they really shape those legacy values that you hold as an adult.
Erica: So it’s almost like you carry these until you’re so sick of the chase or you decide to rebel. Are those the approaches we really want?
Sonia: Both approaches are painful. Rebellion is painful. And burnout is painful. For me, in my career and life, at twenty-five, I couldn’t deny that I was waking up every day with this emptiness, a hollow feeling. I did all the things and I was supposed to feel differently now. And I didn’t. And I didn’t know how to plug the holes.
It was in that realization that I saw that I had built an entire life around evaluation criteria that just didn’t fit. No wonder the picture didn’t make sense.
Erica: One of the things I see with the women I work with is that many of us have internalized some messaging, whether it’s from conservative faiths, our families, or society, that we need to give. Give, give, give until there is not a lot left. So a lot of women who come to my coaching practice come because they have gotten to that point of burnout where they just can’t keep maintaining that level of self-sacrifice. So then we have to look at those legacy values and decide if we want to continue carrying them.
Sonia: That’s absolutely right. And it’s so challenging to us as women because we are playing so many roles and we are trying to decide where everyone else stops and we begin. And then to be able to protect that, to feel empowered and worthy enough for that to matter is such a struggle for us as women.
Erica: What have you gained from clearly defining your personal values?
Sonia: To me, the benefit of really getting clear on my personal evaluation criteria is that I’ve been able to reduce the amount of noise that lives within. The constant narratives around not doing enough, not being pretty enough, successful enough, thin enough. The constant chase that consumes us because we just want to get there so badly so we can feel better.
For me, in clarifying my values, I’ve really been able to minimize that noise. And through that, it has allowed me to make faster decisions, better decisions, more aligned decisions. I no longer questions myself and feel the need to consult several people before I feel comfortable making a choice. I am able to connect within now, to have authenticity dictate my actions. So we have decisions that are aligned. We’ve got actions that are aligned. And that feeling creates a sense of confidence, of momentum, of self-trust. All those pieces come together that allow us to feel like we are coming home to ourselves. And we can use that evaluation criteria to shut out the limiting beliefs, override the perfectionist tendencies. That evaluation criteria, or as I like to call it, Mindset Manifesto, becomes the touchstone for your highest self so that you have the place you can re-anchor every time the noise is getting loud. For me, having that has been the most grounding, the most fundamental part of my journey.
When the world outside of you is getting too noisy and the world inside your head is getting too noisy, you can come back to what you feel certain about.
Erica: So beautiful. It’s just a matter of doing that work! One of the things that women tend to struggle with is second guessing themselves and you mentioned self-trust. Self-trust is the opposite of second guessing yourself. If you know what you want to build your life on, it’s going to be so much easier to make those decisions and then have your own back about them.
Sonia: We like the quick fixes. We want to set our values and start living them tomorrow. That easy! But it’s not that easy. Clarifying your values, setting that evaluation criteria for yourself that is really true to who you are is the first step in being able to then practice living that version of who you are. And it is a practice. It’s where we put the mindset into movement. It’s one of the reasons why I have woven so much of that together in my book. One is an intention, the other one is then a direction. You have to redefine your personal evaluation criteria and let go of those legacy beliefs. And then you have to show up for yourself to live in alignment with those new criteria.
Erica: Now, a slight shift in topic, away from VALUES and toward PERFECTIONISM: In what areas of your life do you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself?
Sonia: I’m still a recovering perfectionist. Every part of how I’ve been conditioned has been so motivated by DOING, to “do” and to do the best. 100% is the goal. It’s like, how do I achieve excellence in every aspect of my life? Profession, motherhood, aesthetics, cleanliness, image, kindness, generosity of spirit. It’s exhausting to hold yourself to that level of excellence! The chase is incessant because you can never get there and it’s never good enough. This chase strips all joy out of being a human being who is here on a journey, who is not meant to be chasing only a destination.
I would love to say that perfectionism started in one area and it stopped there! But for me, it started in my body and moved into my need for academic excellence, then corporate excellence, visual excellence, then it moved into how I showed up as a mother. This ended up contributing to how much I struggled after my first child was born with post-partum depression and anxiety. I had set such insufferably high goals for myself. I couldn’t live up to them.
What can we do to take some of the pressure OFF of ourselves?
Sonia: When we step away from DOING mode and into FEELING mode, we ask ourselves how is this making me feel and what do we really want to be doing?
For me, the biggest Ahah! moment was when I realized that chasing and doing all the things wasn’t bringing the joy or happiness I thought it would. It wasn’t working!
We relieve the pressure when we claim agency over our lives and choices and actions. We do the hard work of untangling the threads of beliefs that got us here and start running our life with beliefs and values we truly hold.
So much of removing the pressure from ourselves hinges upon how we are showing up for ourselves, how we speak to ourselves, how we show self-compassion and take care of ourselves.
Erica: What are some of the limiting beliefs about yourself that you’ve dismantled, and do you have any tips to help us do the same?
Sonia: One of my main limiting beliefs was, “You’re good, but you’re not as good as you can be.” It was the tone of my limiting beliefs that felt hard to delineate. I used to believe I was being practical—a realist. I’m going to show up to do the work, but I’m not going to get my hopes up because, “Yeah, I’m good, but I’m not SO good.” So yes, forge forward, but keep it contained; keep it realistic. Let’s not be childish. It’s childish to want things. It’s childish to put yourself first. It’s childish to think about happiness, joy, and fun. It’s childish to be focusing on things outside of deliverables. I couldn’t let my hair down and say, “What would feel good right now?” What would be fun?
It isn’t fast, but the journey is so worth it. Every day I’m so grateful that I burned it all down. It’s been the path to feeling like I’m living my purpose.
Erica: What motivates you to do the work you do in the world?
Sonia: When I began my journey within, I was trying to save myself from myself. I was desperate to find my way out of a vortex that I had created. I’ve internalized all of those legacy values so much, and I realized it was on me to go within and uncover whatever was there.
Now I want to share. To share the nitty gritty. To give others hope. To give permission not to put ourselves in a box.
If all I do is share my experiences and help people feel less alone and find hope, that’s enough for me.
Grab a copy of Sonia’s beautiful new book here! I’ll Start Again Tomorrow: And Other Lies I’ve Told Myself
Episode 50 of “Life On Purpose with Erica Layne”
This is the last episode of season 4! It’s been SUCH a pleasure to create the last twelve episodes for you; I hope you’ve enjoyed them! I’ll be back in the fall for season 5, and until then, you can keep up with me on Instagram or by email, here—
Listen to this episode and catch up on past episodes by using the audio player or links below!
Show produced by Astronomic Audio