Katie Horwitch is an author, speaker, self-talk shifter, and the founder of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk. In 2007, at 21, Katie came up with the idea for WANT, but it would take coming into her own first to spread her message. Katie grappled with her negative self-talk before helping other women do the same. WANT is the platform from which Katie coaches women to not only change the words they use to describe themselves but also change the lens through which they see themselves. Simply changing “I don’t believe in myself” to “I do believe in myself” is not enough nor everlasting. Join us to hear how WANT came to be and the difference between logically knowing something and being able to implement it.
Speaker 1 [00:00:14] Three, two, one. Lift off. We have a lift off.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:33] Hello. Today we’re in conversation with Katie Horwitch. Katie, it’s great to have you on the show.
Katie Horwitch [00:00:40] It’s so great to be here. Thank you so much for having me. What a wonderful way to spend my day.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:47] Especially on a rainy day.
Katie Horwitch [00:00:48] Especially on a rainy day. And I mean, it’s so cozy in here and we’ve just been talking for like 3 hours before this. So I feel very, very cozy and at home.
Sam Jayanti [00:00:58] I know. Wonderful. So, Katie, you had a wonderful way in which you introduced yourself. And I want to play this quick clip for our listeners to really hear how you introduce yourself in your own words. Let’s take a quick look.
Katie Horwitch [00:01:15] My name is Katie Horwitch. I am a writer. I am a speaker. I’m a mindset coach and the founder of WANT Women Against Negative Talk, a platform that gives you tips, tools, motivation, and inspiration to shift your self-talk patterns. Let’s get this show on the road. My name is Katie Horwitch, and I have spoken around the globe about shifting your self-talk. That internal narrative that tells you who you are and how you fit into the world.
unknown speaker [00:01:44] Phenomenal. Oh, my gosh.
unknown [00:01:46] She will literally set your soul on fire.
Sam Jayanti [00:01:49] So, Katie, tell us about the germ, the idea that made you found WANT women against negative self-talk and what negative self-talk really is.
Katie Horwitch [00:02:02] Yeah, I you know, I think that one leap directly into the other. So I’ll start with your second question.
Sam Jayanti [00:02:08] Yeah.
Katie Horwitch [00:02:09] Self-Talk in general is the narrative that we have going on internally twenty-four-seven that tells us who we are and who we believe ourselves to be out in the world. Yeah. And. So negative self-talk is sort of where the self-talk takes a dark turn, and it’s the self-talk, the internal narrative that belittles who we are, what we do, how we fit into the world. That’s where the self-doubt comes from. Lots of it fears. People sometimes talk about limiting beliefs. These can all be grouped under this sort of blanket umbrella term of negative self-talk. So for me, when I first started, want women against negative talk. There’s a short answer and then there’s the bit longer real answer. So the short answer is.
Sam Jayanti [00:03:08] A real one.
Katie Horwitch [00:03:10] Right, exactly. Well, the short answer is that I noticed I’ve been aware of my self-talk my entire life. Yeah. And I always had a lot of self-confidence. But I like to say the lens that I viewed that self-confidence through, it was all tarnished and muddy. So I believed that to have confidence in yourself was synonymous with narcissism, vanity. All of these negative skewing terms that really were focused on women when I was growing up, because a lot of these things having a lot of confidence or pride in yourself when it came to basically anyone other than a man. Yeah, it was something that you were supposed to dim down and make smaller.
Sam Jayanti [00:04:03] Right.
Katie Horwitch [00:04:04] And what I realized is that there was no place that was really talking about self-talk as a whole and how to shift your self-talk in a real, lasting way beyond affirmations and one-off things that made you feel good. And a lot of the self-talk, confidence-building focused platforms that I could find. Yeah, at the time were focused on body image. Right. Which many of us know who have struggled with body image issues is that it’s really about more than the body.
Sam Jayanti [00:04:37] Just not that. Yeah.
Katie Horwitch [00:04:38] The side note, which is part of the longer answer is that I thought of the idea again back in 2007. Right. So I was 21 years old and at the time I was struggling. Speaking of body and body image issues, I was struggling with a host of eating and body related disorders, and what I was struggling with didn’t fall under the terms that were used to described eating disorders at the time. Yeah, I struggled with something called Orthorexia, which is basically an unhealthy focus on health among exercise, bulimia. Yeah. Body dysmorphia. Yeah. Like I said, a whole host of things.
Sam Jayanti [00:05:25] Okay.
Katie Horwitch [00:05:26] And I remember seeing the first Dove Real Bodies commercial. Do you remember that? Yeah. Yeah. With like the weight. Yeah. Underwear, all of the women. Yeah. It was like the first confidence building advertisement. Like any sort of media campaign. Yeah, we take those for granted now, but that was new. Yeah. At the time. And I remember when I saw that, yeah, I had this, these three thoughts. It was like a boom, boom, boom type thing. I thought, this is incredible. This is revolutionary. I’ve never seen anything like this. And then I thought, Well, this ad is telling me that I should love myself and love my body and love myself exactly as I am. Yeah. What happens when I don’t? Right. And what happens when I can’t just tell myself that thing? Yeah. And then I thought I’m going to start up, I think I called it an awareness campaign at the time. I’m going to start an awareness campaign that is helping women shift their self-talk, giving them tips and tools and motivation and inspiration. And I’m going to call it WANT Women Against Negative Talk. That all came to me within like 5 seconds then.
Sam Jayanti [00:06:39] Yeah.
Katie Horwitch [00:06:40] But it was 2007, I was 21 and it’s not so much about age, but I was still within my own struggle. So I basically saw the idea that. I want it in my life, but I didn’t know how to deliver that yet because I needed it so badly. Totally. And so when it came back into my mind. Years later. Yeah. And I had. Gotten older. Gotten more experience. Worked through many of my eating and body related issues. Yeah. I realized that I had the tools to now implement this idea that I had all of those years ago, and I felt confident, self-assured enough to be very clear with what I knew and what I did it now. Yeah, because I think that can be a problem sometimes.
Sam Jayanti [00:07:40] I think in everything we do, we have to slay our own demons before we can teach others to slay theirs. And I know that for a lot of our listeners, for myself, I was much more of a traditional eating disorder patient anymore. It was all all the the sort of problems that were classified as eating disorder and. So much of it had to do all of it had to do with negative self-talk. Right. That that you never considered, even if you presented with a very externally self-confident manner, you didn’t actually believe that in yourself. Right. And so in the private moments. And then the food was just a mechanism. Right. You’re. You’re always critiquing yourself and you’re always finding yourself wanting. Yes, whatever it is you’re seeking. And it really is like a total mindset shift, rather than telling yourself, oh, I shouldn’t do this because there were lots of moments when we all when were in when we were in those phases, told ourselves and knew that we shouldn’t do it but didn’t know how to not do it. Yeah.
Katie Horwitch [00:08:54] And there’s a difference between logically knowing something and actually being able to implement it.
Sam Jayanti [00:08:59] Totally. And, yeah, I mean, that’s that’s in the end, coaching and behavioral change. Yeah. And finding a new way of being in yourself.
Katie Horwitch [00:09:11] Yeah. And commitment. Commitment to a new. To that new way of being. Because it can be really scary to start something new, even if he like I said, like, you know, logically that it’s a good thing. It can be really hard to start something because you don’t you don’t know if it’s going to work. It’s unfamiliar. And so a lot of times what can happen is we stay in these negative self-talk loops, not necessarily because we want to be there or that we want to believe these things, but it’s habit.
Sam Jayanti [00:09:49] But that there’s no illusion in a sense. Exactly. We’re trapped in it until we find the mechanism to get out of it. So so much of that, I think, revolves around fearlessness. Mm hmm. And I want to take a quick look at the way that you described fearlessness. And let’s take a quick listen.
Katie Horwitch [00:10:12] Fearlessness is not about not being scared. Fearlessness is when the fear is less than the faith. That sounds like a really cute, pretty flowy, poetic tweetable. And believe you me, I have tweeted it out many times. But it’s also an equation. Lowering your fear is hard. Fear is a human emotion, and it exists for an important reason. Life it’s all frickin over the place. However, upping your faith is a different story. So many times we just look get this high, high meaning that we’re supposed to be there all of the time. Life is up. It’s down. It’s in-between. If you can start to notice the reasons that you already have to have faith in yourself, it loops right here. You think you’re going out, but oh, fake out, and you’re still going down. Slowly but surely, those reasons pile up and the scales start to tip from the fear toward the faith.
Sam Jayanti [00:11:06] Katie, you talked a lot in that clip about being fearless on the day to day thing and learning to sort of take life’s up and downs in stride and not be too sort of affected right by them. How do you empower yourself to do that on a daily basis?
Katie Horwitch [00:11:32] So the idea of fearlessness. So the fear that you have a situation where nothing is less than the faith that you have in yourself. I found that that’s a very grounding North Star for me, if you will, and. Fearlessness. A lot of people will talk about fearlessness, feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Right. Which I think can be useful as well. I’m not going to bash that whole phrase, especially if it works for people who are watching. Listening. Yeah. And also, I really believe that we need multiple tools in our toolkit when it comes to things like developing fearlessness, confidence, dealing with self-doubt. So for me, what I like to do when I’m feeling that fear start to come up. Yeah. Is I give myself actual what I call faith plates for myself. Yeah. So that stuff that. So that stuff that feels like I can trust, right? It’s stuff that feels real, that feels tangible. It’s not stuff that I’m reaching out of the air to make myself believe. So, for example, I have not recorded a podcast in person in a very long time.
Sam Jayanti [00:13:02] Very long time!
Katie Horwitch [00:13:04] And so I felt when I was planning out my week, I knew that I was going to be coming here. I started to feel that little flicker of fear come up and think, Oh my gosh. Like, I hope, I hope Sam likes me. I hope I do. Well, I hope I’m not tripping over my words. And it’s really easy and very natural to get caught in that place.
Sam Jayanti [00:13:24] Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s what you’ve what you’ve sort of articulated and identified is. And it’s interesting because I don’t know if you’ve read Dr. Lisa de Moraes book, which was about stress and anxiety in young women. And one of the things she talks about in that book is she’s working as a school psychologist at a couple of different high schools in Los Angeles, actually. And she talked about young women coming in, you know, saying, I’m super stressed about an exam I have tomorrow and where a lot of adult responses are generally to say, oh, don’t be stressed. Right. Like that helps.
Katie Horwitch [00:14:09] Right, like that helps.
Sam Jayanti [00:14:11] Her approach was, okay, I understand that you’re stressed and it totally makes sense. What is it? Let’s talk through what you can do to diminish that stress. Like what’s the actual roadmap of how you’re going to feel less stressed about this exam, too? Right. And I think that tactical, practical sort of what am I going to do for a second and third year is what is something that’s very difficult for us to do on our own in a vacuum. Yeah. Right. Like, even though we know the goal, it’s very hard to identify the path to get there. And talking, learning or teaching ourselves to sort of step back at that moment and say, hang on, let me just think about this as hey. And I can think it through and identify steps, you know, A, B, and C to then overcome that fear.
Katie Horwitch [00:15:03] Yeah. Right. Or just thinking, okay, what do I need? Yeah. What do I know? Like, let’s go back to this. The very real-time example. I know that I have been doing this for 15 years. So whatever we talk about, I’m not going to be scrambling for words. I know that I have that experience behind me. Totally. I also know that I very simple. I have outfits that I like to wear that I know I will feel comfortable because I’m wearing an outfit that I love. I know that I know how to speak on a mic on camera because I’ve been doing that for even longer. I come from a theater background. So just pulling these small little things that feel inconsequential and that sometimes it’s a really great in for doing exactly what you talked about, which is the next step of, okay, what’s my game plan? So what am I going to do about it today?
Sam Jayanti [00:16:04] Yeah, it’s pulling together. It’s sort of taking these puzzle pieces that you have within yourselves and actually combining them into a coherent image or plan. Yeah. How you tackle something? Yep.
Katie Horwitch [00:16:16] Yeah.
Sam Jayanti [00:16:18] You’ve had some experience with coaching yourself. You also coach others extensively. How did coaching impact you in helping you to kind of put aside or put down the negative self-talk? Of course, for any of us who have suffered from this, it constantly arises. It’s not ever going to sort of disappear into the void. But we evolve and the tools, as you said, that we use to slay those demons. Yeah, so tell me about that.
Katie Horwitch [00:16:53] So I’m someone who I feel like I came out of the womb self-aware. I have there is there is no lacking in self-awareness in me. And so which is a wonderful quality to have and also can also burden. Yeah, it can. It can be really, really hard sometimes. And so what was really useful for me when it comes to getting my own support is to recognize exactly what I need. And if I didn’t know what I needed, that’s valid as well. Because what I see sometimes in people who talk about coaching and they’re like, well, I haven’t really noticed a difference or haven’t seen a thing. Yeah, you hear this a lot. Also with therapists, people will say, Well, I didn’t really notice the difference. You also, as the person who is being coached, have to show up just as much as the person who is coaching you. And you have to be willing to be honest. And also, it’s a practice in asking for what you need. So, for example, I was on a call with a coach of mine a few weeks ago and I was struggling through I’m writing a book right now. I’m in the midst of finishing up my manuscript. And that’s a very insular, isolating experience sometimes. And I realized that needed in my life a little bit more of a sense of community. But I didn’t want to go so far in the other direction that I completely neglected all the good that I had going.
Sam Jayanti [00:18:39] Right.
Katie Horwitch [00:18:40] And so I said that to my coach and I said, look, I understand what’s going on. Here’s where I believe it comes from. I would love to figure out some tools that maybe I could use in this time. And also, like, is there anything that you’re noticing I’m not noticing?
Sam Jayanti [00:19:00] Right.
Katie Horwitch [00:19:00] So that for me on the coachee end has been really, really important. And then I’m coaching and I find that it’s so vital for coaches to go or at least for me as a coach to go into a session with a client with a blank slate. First of all, I take notes during my sessions. Yeah, I like to remember. I’m going to remember names. Yeah, remember important details, certain words that they’ve said that are like important to them. So just barebones, like, stuff that I go into the session with and then. I do not assume that the issues, struggle, situations that were going on in the last session are happening this session. I think that…
Sam Jayanti [00:20:04] That’s where the importance of a blank slate comes in.
Katie Horwitch [00:20:07] Yeah, my dad always says that it’s a very dad job that to assume is to make an ass out of you and me. He’s not wrong. And then really working with people to help them come to their own conclusions and help support them with strategies and systems to make however they want to be or whatever they want to do sustainable, like. I don’t go in as a coach thinking that I have all the answers when I do go in it with is the intention to help the person that I’m coaching ask better, more nuanced, more useful questions that make sense.
Sam Jayanti [00:20:53] Yeah, that totally makes sense. I think in the end, what you’re going in with is a framework, right, that you can use. And the reason the framework I think is so important for coachees is as a coachee you. Are there with the problem. And sometimes people just want an answer, right? Like a lot of times people just say, well, I just want, you know, someone to tell me what to do so I can just solve this problem. Right. And in a sense, that’s such an unproductive pass because someone telling you what to do might solve your problem in the immediate term. But it’s, again, given you no tools to tackle a problem when it arises next. Yes. And I think the purpose and the importance of coaching in the framework ultimately is teaching you those tools so that when you confront that situation the next time or even in this moment, when you’re in a situation, you’re asking yourself the right questions, listening to the answers, and then behaving accordingly.
Katie Horwitch [00:22:04] Exactly. I mean, it goes back to how I approach self-talk is you can’t just replace one word with another word. Yeah. Yes. Maybe if you’re writing a paper and one word expresses your thoughts better than another word. But to go from. I don’t believe in myself to I believe in myself. That’s putting words first and that’s banned dating words on top of the situation. And so in order to shift your self-talk, you really the talk comes secondary. It’s the self part where the real lasting changes come and it’s tough work, but that’s like the groundwork for the self house that you’re building, you know.
Sam Jayanti [00:22:52] Do you feel, and this may be out of date on my part, but it feels like as women we suffer from this problem a whole lot more than men do. Is that your impression?
Katie Horwitch [00:23:03] You know, it’s still interesting because I get so many men who will come to me be like, we go through this also like we deal with the low self-image image and self-worth and self-doubt. And my experience is that all genders experience negative self-talk historically. Women’s negative self-talk has been reinforced more and reinforced in very subtle ways through. I mean, even just looking at advertisements in the words used to describe the cream, it’s an anti-aging cream. So anti we are anti-aging.
Sam Jayanti [00:23:49] Aging. Not bad. Exactly.
Katie Horwitch [00:23:52] Exactly. And so there are some incredible men who are doing this type of work, focusing on men, you know, Justin Baldoni is one of those people. He has a fantastic podcast. I mean, for me, I choose to focus on women because not only is that the experience that I have.
Sam Jayanti [00:24:17] Yep
Katie Horwitch [00:24:19] And I also find that. Women so many times start to lead the charge for change. Yes. In whatever area they’re in, in life. And so if women can start to shift their self-talk and look, we all take cues from each other. So if you are holding yourself in a certain way, doing certain things, speaking of yourself in a certain way, I’m going to take note of that and I’m going to start to feel more comfortable and more permission to be that way myself. Yeah. And then that creates this ripple effect where what we do is not in a silo. And we I mean, we learn best, not from books, but from each other.
Sam Jayanti [00:25:11] Yeah, from engagement and from conversation in groups. And now with the benefit of different perspectives. I so agree. Do you think it is is negative self-talk something that is age-related in any way? Like do you find when people are in their late teens, twenties, is it more of a problem in a sense? You know, there’s not as much experience there in kind of navigating the world. But is there any kind of pattern that you observe like that?
Katie Horwitch [00:25:46] I mean, it’s interesting because. Yes, no, and kind of.
Sam Jayanti [00:25:52] Yeah, yeah.
Katie Horwitch [00:25:53] A very wide variation of that answer. Negative self-talk is something that I noticed is it transcends age or life stage. The things that your negative self talking about might change throughout time. Yeah, but the one commonality that I do find is that the earlier, you start down the negative self-talk path and aren’t really taking proactive steps to build that sense of self and that proactive sense of self. Like we were talking before the stronger the habit gets and so it becomes something that we don’t even realize that we’re doing and there’s a term that I that I use called casual negativity, and it’s the negative self-talk that we use so emotionless that it’s like commenting on the weather or like the sky is blue. I’m so untalented, you know, the stuff that we don’t even think about. And so while I would say that negative self-talk, like I said, transcends age. It is something that the longer you’re saying something to yourself.
Sam Jayanti [00:27:19] The more you begin to believe it.
Katie Horwitch [00:27:20] Yeah. And the more it’s, it’s lodged into your head in your heart as just something that I say is something that I am. And that’s why I am passionate about working with all ages. Any and all people. But when I get someone who is in a transitional point in their life, and that could be someone who just graduated college, who is about to hit, maybe what has been socially deemed a milestone birthday, 30, 40, 50 years and wants to create a career change. That’s when it’s like I get even more excited about it because it’s a sign to me that they are ready to do something differently and I get to support them through that. And that’s just it’s.
Sam Jayanti [00:28:09] A transition moment and it’s a really nice time to reflect and look back, but also to move forward.
Katie Horwitch [00:28:17] Yea. Exactly.
Sam Jayanti [00:28:17] Wonderful. Last question, Katie, for you. So many of our listeners are mothers. And what role or do you think as I mean, as the mother myself of three teenagers, two of which are young women. What advice would you give mothers to help their daughters sort of hold this negative self-talk at bay? Because, as you said, it’s around us, kind of everywhere. Yeah. And what can we do as mothers to really teach them the skills more proactively? Yeah. To our daughters.
Katie Horwitch [00:28:58] So if you are a mother to a child, but in particular, a daughter. You were once a daughter to a mother. I mean, you still you still are. Yeah. And whether that was a mother or a mother figure, you had older women in your life. Yeah. Who were modeling behaviors. Yeah. Like what it meant to be a woman in the world? Yes. And so while I am, I wear my aunt status with pride. I am not a mother myself. I am a daughter and I’m a granddaughter and I’m a niece and I’m a friend. And I believe that the best thing that we can do for our children, our younger generations, for each other is to kind of turn that advice of treat others how you want to be treated on its head. Yes. And say, well, I know how I want to treat others like I know I want to be a good mother. I want to be a good friend. And I’m getting clear on like what means how am I being that for myself? Yes, because we often ignore that. Yeah. And humans learn like we were talking about from what we see, it’s sort of the like, don’t tell me, show me.
Sam Jayanti [00:30:20] Right.
Katie Horwitch [00:30:21] Saying yeah. And the best thing that we can do is. Really model what it looks like to be the type of person that we needed when we were younger.
Sam Jayanti [00:30:37] That’s a great, great point. Thank you for being with us today.
Katie Horwitch [00:30:40] Oh, my gosh. You are so welcome. This was a such a joy. This is so much fun. And thank you for listening.
Sam Jayanti [00:30:50] Thanks for listening today. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and while you’re there, please do review the show. We love hearing from you. So email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram DM us. Our episode this week was produced by the incomparable Martin Milewski with music by the awesome Nashville-based singer-songwriter Doug Allen. You can learn more about Doug at dougallenmusic.com.
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