Permission to Kick Ass

54: Emily Ann Peterson

Episode Summary

Warning: we’re talking about trauma and religion today, and even touch a bit on abuse. We kept it high level, but if this feels sensitive to you, tread carefully and take care of you. How does your past trauma influence your business decisions? This isn’t a question entrepreneurs talk about at all — but my guest today, Emily Ann Peterson has built her business around it. After leaving the church (which had been her entire life), it took Emily years to understand how her religious trauma was limiting her business growth. Listen now to see how our lived experiences sometimes subconsciously drive our business decisions.

Episode Notes

At first glance, Emily’s business may seem like a niche of a niche. Given the stressors and unique mental health challenges facing entrepreneurs, I’m here for it. Through our conversation I learned so much that will not only help me show up more powerfully in my own business but also for my coaching students. If you’ve been coming up against the same blocks time and time again in your business, this episode could be what helps you get moving forward. 

Can’t-Miss Moments From This Episode:

This one is jam-packed full of advice. Don’t miss out - listen now!

Emily’s Bio:

Emily Ann Peterson is a business coach, Certified Trauma Support Specialist (CTSS), and director of The School of Bravery. She specializes in teaching empirically-proven, value-based business tools and strategies to brave survivors of religious trauma, high-control organizations, or other kinds of abusive experiences and relational structures. 

Her mission is to dismantle undue influence and coercive control through the power of ethical commerce. She believes entrepreneurs are granted a unique opportunity that many survivors never receive; the practice of resolving trauma through the day-to-day demands of business! 

Peterson is also a #1 Amazon best-selling author, singer-songwriter, keynote artist, and podcast host. She builds bravery amongst her fans, students, and audiences around the world by teaching the concepts outlined in her book Bare Naked Bravery: How to Be Creatively Courageous. She is a TEDx speaker and has been featured on BestSelf Magazine, Thrive Global and Seattle KING-5's New Day Northwest.

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Episode Transcription

Angie Colee (00:01):

Welcome to Permission to Kick Ass. A podcast about leaving self-doubt in the dust, punching fear in the face and taking bold action toward your biggest dreams. I'm Angie Colee, and let's get to it. Hey and welcome back to Permission to Kick Ass. With me today is Emily Ann Peterson. Say hi.

Emily Ann Peterson (00:25):


Angie Colee (00:26):

Hey, I, I'm sad almost that they're not gonna be able to see the video with this awesome. What is that leopard print coat that you've got?

Emily Ann Peterson (00:34):

Oh yeah. It's like a leopard print fleece. It's the most, the most fuzziest thing in the world.

Angie Colee (00:40):

It looks so comfortable. We were geeking out about that before the call, because we could not be more opposite right now. You're snuggle up in your leopard print fleece with like all of the, the cold weather gear around you. And I'm literally in short sleeves with the fans going cause Florida.

Emily Ann Peterson (00:56):

You're in Florida. I'm in Nashville, so there's, we're still in the east coast, but it's amazing how much, just a couple states make a difference.

Angie Colee (01:06):

I know. Great. And so many of my friends are like, it's already snowing and I'm like, well, that doesn't happen in Florida. So I'm, it's just gonna be out here. It's fine. Um, tell us a little bit about your background and what you do.

Emily Ann Peterson (01:17):

Oh man. Well, I have, I have a kind of winding background. I'm sure many of of your listeners also have a meandering history of their own story, their versions. Um, I'll say right now I am a business coach who specializes in religious trauma in helping business owners who have religious trauma like cope with and resolve the religious trauma that appears and kind of like pops up, um, in their business. So that's what I do right now. Um, I've always done business coaching and business consulting. My undergraduate degree was in business. Uh, but I chose that degree in school because I knew I wanted to do to music business. And so right after school, I, uh, moved to Seattle where I basically did like every corner of the music industry possible in Seattle. So I did like labels, uh, nonprofit work, licensing syncing, all sorts of that kind of stuff. Um, and I realized that I, that I, it was just widgets, like selling widgets and selling things. And I, that wasn't really why I wanted to be in the industry of music. Uh, and the real reason I wanted to be in it was for the creative reasons, for the music reasons. And I, I am at, at that time, I was mainly a cellist, um, classical trained cellist. And I also improved with, um, different groups and things like that. And so I got my teaching certificate on training and started my first real, like full-time business for myself, um, doing exactly that teaching cello lessons and doing recording sessions and performances and things like that all around the, the Pacific Northwest. And then about six, seven years ago, I was diagnosed with a tremor in my right hand, which is the hand that I hold the, the bow with. And that was a career halting diagnosis, mainly because, I mean, it was at the time time overcome, like I could overcome it with like holding it harder or holding it strong more strongly. Um, but because the diagnosis was degenerative and hereditary, there was no cure and we also didn't know how bad it was gonna get, and we didn't know how fast it was gonna get bad. And so that was, was just like in the realm of owning a business. That was just a major wild card question mark that made, uh, putting all my eggs in the cello basket, really not a smart move anymore. And so I kind of, I had to like do what I know a lot of people have to do just like re like go back to the drawing board career wise. Um, and at that point I had defined myself, like part of my major identity was the fact that I was like, hello, my name is Emily Ann Peterson. I play the cello. Like it was like one, two, it was like right next to each other. Um, and so learning who I was without the instrument was really difficult, uh, and all throughout that time, all throughout the time. So undergraduate all throughout owning my own business and doing music stuff. I was always doing like consulting on and off for random little businesses who would find me and ask for my advice on different things and would be like musicians or artists or yoga studios, or like you know, like anything from a to Z, you know? Um, and because I already had that as a skill, I like leaned on that while I was in my artistic Who am I Period. Um, and yeah, I, I, it was also like, sort of during that point, when I also left the, evangelical church too, like shortly before I got my diagnosis, I had left the evangelical church, which is also another big piece of identity that I didn't realize was so big at that time. Um, yeah, I knew it was big deal, but I didn't realize how big a deal it was. Um, yeah.

Angie Colee (06:03):

Well, and that's why I found it interesting that you mentioned that you help business owners with religious trauma. Because when I first heard that, I was like, wow, that's not even a combination that I would ever have even thought of. It's like such a niche of a niche subspecialty, but then the more I started thinking about it, the more I was like, well, yeah, I mean, so many of us have impacts and stories that we tell ourselves that aren't necessarily true from all of these outside forces that weren't necessarily in our control growing up. Like, I know I was dragged to church several times and I was always that kid in the back that was like fidgeting and kicking the, the benches and, and the pews. And everybody was like, will you shut that child up? And I was like, I will not be tamed, but eventually they stopped taking me to church, like that was effective for my parents. But, um, yeah, just that, that stuff that kinda gets in early, I was talking with a guest early that talked about, um, a, a teacher holding him back a grade because they said that he was like developmentally delayed, but really she just didn't like his handwriting and thought that that made him somehow like less qualified to move forward cuz his handwriting sucked. And he talked about how he had to overcome like a like years of head trash around not being smart enough, not being good enough because of that one teacher.

Emily Ann Peterson (07:21):

Yeah. Well it, and it affects, it also depends on, I'll say that it depends on which religion you experienced adverse experience. You had adverse experiences, many people who go through adverse religious experiences may not define themselves as having had religious trauma or possessing religious trauma. Um, there's a lot of people who still are involved in their original religion or people who, you know, experienced had had an adverse experience and then, you know, just moved on. Um, but this is kind of the nature of trauma and traumatic like events is that like I can get in a car accident and like be totally fine. But like someone who's in the same car accident as me may like their life may fall apart because of that and that's just, we are all different people. We all respond differently to different things. So, um, and, and, and the way our bodies respond to those traumatic events is also very different as well.

Angie Colee (08:27):

Oh yeah. I love it. I think that brings up a really good point too in business that this is kind of like a little side road detour, but that reminds me of how often we get caught up in the trap as business owners of looking at other people and kind of measuring ourselves against them. Well I should be here. Cuz I've been in business the same amount of time as that person. I remember we started together and they seemed to be so much further ahead of me. Well, different people process information in different ways. They're comfortable with different levels of risk and putting themselves out there and making asks and making connections and stuff like that. So that the timing that you experience is purely your own because of just how you process things.

Emily Ann Peterson (09:06):

Absolutely it's and, and I think that's one thing that the, uh, I'm gonna, whenever I say the church I'm usually referring to the evangelical church or Protestantism, uh, just cause that's what I have the most experience in personally and also in working with most of, most of my clients come from a similar type of, uh, evangelical background. However, I work with all kinds of trauma and all kinds of, uh, religious trauma specifically too. So it could be like new age trauma or you escape from a cult or, um, some people even consider MLMs or multilevel marketing, uh, version of a cult as well, depending on how in it you were.

Angie Colee (09:52):


Emily Ann Peterson (09:53):

Um, and I also work with people, you know, left a high control organization. So that, that also qualifies as just a corporate environment where the boss was just extremely high controlling. Like, you know, really like The Devil's Wears Prada to the like millionth degree. Um, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Angie Colee (10:17):

I can't even imagine that like as fascinating as it is to watch that character and how well Meryl Streep plays it. Cause I know I, I heard her do an interview about, I think the producers or the director, somebody wanted her to be like a screamy rageaholic flying off the handle type thing. And she was like, no, they're gonna be way more scared if I just talk quietly.

Emily Ann Peterson (10:41):


Angie Colee (10:42):

I don't think so. Bye bye.

Emily Ann Peterson (10:45):

That's what makes, which is what makes trying to discover whether you have a kind of trauma or not difficult because a lot of times the people who, um, were part of the traumatic event knew how to control the, the room. Um, and similar to Meryl Streep's character. Like she knew what was going on. She knew that if she kept her voice quiet, that people would respond to her. Just as much, if not more, if she kept her voice calm, you know?

Angie Colee (11:18):

Well, and then it was interesting because different people in that room would've reacted differently to that. Right. There's some, there's a case to be made that somebody would've not seen the power play whatsoever and just seen her as like calm, cool, collected, very quiet and other people would've been absolutely terrified of this woman pursing her lips.

Emily Ann Peterson (11:39):

Right, right. Right. Well, it's, you know, it's, it's interesting. Like, so I didn't know how much that, how much me leaving the church and how much trauma I had experienced in the church at the time of me leaving the church. It took like years and years for me to realize one that I had religious trauma and two, even a few more years for it to real, for me to realize that the problems that I was continually experiencing in my business were likely related to the religious trauma as well.

Angie Colee (12:15):

Would you be willing to, to talk about some of those problems and like share some of the struggle, maybe people that are listening to that can kind of hear that outside influence in themselves?

Emily Ann Peterson (12:24):

Yeah. Well, I'll say just to kind of give you some context, like some of my background, first of all, anything on my blog is, has a lot more detail to stuff. So if you're like really curious and wanna like dive a lot deeper into some of my story, a lot of that is in the, my blog.

Angie Colee (12:43):

And we'll have that in the show notes.

Emily Ann Peterson (12:44):

Yeah. We'll have on Um, and I also have a memoir too. I wrote a book Bare Naked Bravery. That's part of this.

Angie Colee (12:54):

That's a bad ass title.

Emily Ann Peterson (12:56):

Yes, it is. That's awesome. Uh, so my, when I left the church in about, it was like 2013 ish around that time. Um, I, by that point I was like 24, 24. And by that point I had been part of 16 spiritual communities by the age of 24.

Angie Colee (13:23):


Emily Ann Peterson (13:24):

Yeah. Which is pretty common for people who experienced trauma. They like, uh, we will say we, I, what I was trying to do was, you know, trying to find a different group that I wouldn't experience the trauma in because I wasn't aware that the trauma was in the system it was in the religion. It wasn't in the community of people that I was a part of. So I was, would be very similar to domestic violence. You know, maybe this church different, maybe this community is different. Maybe this group is different. Maybe this Bible study is different. Um, and you know, like, um, those of us who have experienced any sort of relationship trauma too, that that pattern comes up a lot. Like he says, he's changed. He says, he's changed. Or maybe this girl's gonna be different. Maybe she's gonna be a different one this time. Like I find yourself making these patterns.

Angie Colee (14:23):

Like I worked in, I volunteered on a domestic violence, um, crisis intervention hotline, which was some of the hardest work I've ever done in my life. But it was important to me because I escaped an, an emotionally abusive relationship myself. And I know that pat, they teach us that pattern where it's, it's like the, the trauma, the fight, the threat, whatever it is that it, that constitutes the abuse of that particular cycle happens. The bad negative feelings happen. You start to feel some sort of way. Maybe you start to decide, this is not for me. And you start to pull away. And then the abuser typically like love bombs you. Brings you back, romances, you convincing, you you're blowing things out proportion. Then you have like a honeymoon phase where you, everything is great and it's normal. And yeah, maybe I was just making things up and then it just happens all over again. And it gets somehow gets a little bit worse each time that cycle repeats itself, you go through the honeymoon phase and then the next time he's in your, your face screaming after having consumed an entire bottle of whiskey that not saying that that happened to me, but that happened to me like.

Emily Ann Peterson (15:29):

Yeah. And I, again, this is like, this is pretty similar across the board with, I don't, I usually refrain from generalizations because everyone is so different. Um, but I've noticed this pattern amongst evangelicalism, um, because there's less, uh, systemic like rules, like there is with Catholicism or I should say, Catholicism also has its variety too and Mormonism too. And a bunch of other religion however, evangelicalism, there's a bunch of variety across the board, depending on what denomination of church you were involved in, or even what geography, you know, a Baptist church in the Pacific Northwest is not the same Baptist church as Alabama. Like end of the story, this is not the same.

Angie Colee (16:18):

And we're not saying like all organized religion is bad or that all churches are bad or anything like that, but that there are these ones I think, within the system, that really just, how do they even stay? Like, I don't even get it, like, do you stay?

Emily Ann Peterson (16:34):

There are, there's, there's so much to this. There's so much to this, but I will say that, um, my pattern or my, my hope and really like my desire to believe in all of it was so strong. Um, partly because I grew up in a family where if I didn't believe in it, I wasn't going to experience the same kind of inclusion in my family. And so I knew that from a very little child. And so I knew that like, I would have to either double down on trying to believe in all of this stuff or experience a lot of other kind of different heartache in my family. So it like, it involves your family, it involves your school and it involves your, your com you know, your local community. And, uh, especially if you're, again, if, if you grew up in the south or another environment where your spiritual life is a big part of just the local culture. Um, and so th there's so much at play in, in all of this. Um, and at the time, and my reason for joining new groups was always like, um, this group, it's gonna be different. Like the last group. I experienced something that didn't go well. And so this new group, I'm going to try again and they seem great and they seem like they check all the boxes, you know? Um, so the last group that I was a part of, um, was called Mars Hill church in Seattle, Washington. And I know that it's gotten a lot of, of, um, um, publicity in the news, not even just lately, it's gotten some it's, it's no longer really around. Um, but their, their former pastors named is Mark Driscoll, and he's known for saying some really, uh, wildly pragmatic things in traumatic ways from the pulpit. Um, and he had a lot of, um, he had a wide, a wide net of influence and knew what he was doing at the time. And I was, I was pretty involved in that church for the first, like two years of me living in Seattle. And that was like my entire social life. And so when I was essentially kicked out of the church for questioning authority, rightly so questioning authority cuz it was unchecked power. Um, that, that meant that I was like cut off from everything I didn't have friends. I didn't really have like a chosen family nearby. I had to like start all over again with relationships and all of that. So, oh, it was really terrifying. And I wasn't the only person in our group who experienced that or a similar kind of, you know, getting cut off from your people. Um, and so all of this, all of this meant that like when I realized that religious trauma was still kind of popping up in my life and in my, and especially in my business, I noticed things like me being resistant to marketing. Uh, because evangelicalism is be an entrepreneurial religion, you know, you're um, either raising money for mission trips or you are trying to spread the word about the good news and so there's a lot of like similar overlap between capitalism and um, evangelicalism. And so, you know, I would be like unbeknownst to me, I would be resisting marketing myself because it was triggering religious trauma feelings of, I don't wanna evangelize to anyone m why do I wanna evangelize my business? Like that is really presumptuous of me to assume that my business is the right pick for somebody else because of all of my baggage with, with religious trauma. And so it that's a real common resistant piece that I notice amongst in myself and also in, in my clients. Um, I notice a lot of imposter syndrome. A lot of, um, like productivity issues too.

Angie Colee (20:58):

Yeah, using that either as a distraction or just kind of falling down the rabbit hole, like not doing anything, would you say?

Emily Ann Peterson (21:06):

Yeah. It, uh, again, in evangelicalism, it, this shows up differently from each religion, but many religions have like a philosophy on productivity or how you choose to spend your time. And in evangelicalism, like if everything you do is a life or death decision with eternal consequences. So like you can choose to spend your day watching TV and watching Netflix, but wouldn't you be, wouldn't it be better spent for, you know, the Lord, if you, you know, used that day more quote, unquote wisely to spread the good news or volunteer for your church or do all these other things and then you end up either craming your life full of activities. Like I, like I had done. Um, and then for those of us who leave, we leave the church, but then the feeling of needing to get everything done all the time now with like a sense of urgency.

Angie Colee (22:14):

And life or death ramifications.

Emily Ann Peterson (22:16):

Exactly. Like that is like, whoop it doesn't go away when you leave the church. Because especially if you've been in part of the church since childhood, it's been, you know, it's, it's hard to turn that volume knob down.

Angie Colee (22:30):

Well, and that's, that's eyeopening for me as a coach, because I would say when I first started as a coach, I, I was definitely, you know, largely ignorant of experiences that weren't similar to mine as, you know, white, fairly privileged female, well educated access to a lot of resources. I mean, I, I did grow course, so I didn't have a, every advantage, but that's neither here nor there like yeah. My lived experience was mine. There were people with similar advantages and, and that was my limited experience. And I started taking this perspective when I started coaching people that there was a right way to do thing and that were wrong thing to do. And if you weren't experiencing success, it was cuz you were doing things wrong. So lemme tell you how to do it. Right. And thankfully I had some really amazing mentors that helped me learn to think outside myself is I guess the best way that I have to describe that. And, and my most powerful tool for that is like, what if that's true? What if there's a reason? And that like what you just described there helps me see kind of pattern. It makes me wonder about some of the people that I know have, have struggled and resisted things mightily. If there is some sort of religious background that keeps them stuck in these patterns, that really are no longer serving them. That it's really interesting.

Emily Ann Peterson (23:43):

Right. Well, and when you, like, let's just take, take just the one cross section of productivity as an example, um, your like hangups on productivity can pop up in your business in a ton of different ways. And again, this is like unique to every business owner, but, and I will use myself as an example. Um, if I start to feel like I'm not doing enough, there's a whole shame spiral around feeling exhausted. Right. So if I'm tired and my body is like tangibly tired for, for whatever reason it could be. I got the flu or something. Like if I'm tired, I still have an emotional shame spiral attached to choosing rest and cognitively I know like with my head, I know that, um, rest is good for my business because when I rest, I'm a better business owner and I can make better decisions. Right. Well, the pardon my French, but the fucked up thing about trauma is that when you become activated or when your trauma is activated your decision making mechanisms in your brain get completely warped. So you are, um, depending on the person you are, uh, incapable of making confident decisions that are good for you, which is many times why people go back to church or go back to go back to the abusive person, you know, or, you know, decide to get rehired again, or take that promotion in a toxic company or something. Um, because the trauma is activated and they're making a decision based on either fear or that threat of life and death. And because your brain is like going off on all cylinders and you've got the red lights and the red flags and everything, you may be in an environment like, should I take this email? Should I check my email or not? Like, if that's the decision moment, but all of your red flags are like banging pots and pans and everything yeah, because of religious trauma or anything, any other kind of trauma, then that tiny decision of, should I check my email or not would be related to, in my case, it, it ends up being sometimes related to like, what's the best way for me to spend the rest of my life. And then I have a full on existential crisis off of just the small decision of, should I check my email or not?

Angie Colee (26:37):

Oh yeah. I to, I understand that feel, I, I, I have a tendency to catastrophize and I still haven't quite figured out where that comes from, but that's why I love having this conversation right now. Cause I think that this is very important, not just at a national level, but especially in entrepreneurship where we tend to struggle with mental health, like at a drastically advanced rate compared to the rest of the world. Um, I like I've been in a long term. Uh, she hates it when I call it this, but I call it entrepreneurial group therapy. She says, don't call it that because it implies that you're broken and you need fixing and you are not broken, but I still joke about it. Cuz people get that. Like I I've been working on dismantling the narratives that I get from outside influences like religion, like schools, like well-meaning family members that had criticism and stuff like that, trying to get all of that out of my own head. But I still feel that old cycle kicking in where like making a choice. My, my favorite example to throw out is when I first started my business and I thought I was going to, uh, send some, some direct response style email, or, uh, snail mail letters to people to drum up business. And that then I literally walked that through from, I send this letter step by step to life, uh, on earth ends as we know it because I'm going to cause nuclear winter by sending out this thing. So clearly I can't grow my business because everyone will suffer and die.

Emily Ann Peterson (27:58):

Yeah, exactly. All of that. And I mean, we have, you know, our own, we we're all going through collective COVID 19 trauma right now or dealing with that too. So it may not be for religious reasons that you're feeling these kinds of like pots and pans banging around for these simple decisions. It could be for other reasons or other layers of Trauma that we've experienced, but it is absolutely true that entrepreneurs are already at risk for, um, I've got a list here, uh, already at risk for depression, chronic anxiety, panic attacks, addiction, bipolar disorder, uh, hypertension, heart disease, joint, circulation problems, sleep, insomnia, vision related problems, ADHD, sexual problems, hormone suppression, and then entrepreneurs with trauma have terminal risks, chronic risks, emotional risks and mental risks, including things like more, you know, more risk for obesity, more risk for panic attacks, more risk for sleep disorders, addiction, self-medicating self numbing, self-injury self harm, excessive guilt, cognitive dysfunction, even just poor memory. Um, or like anger problems can also be part of it too. So, um, granted all of this is like over, you know, layers of over, but there are many studies out there that can, that have identified that, you know, like trauma has its own risk and entrepreneurs are already prone for a, you know, a group of risks, um, and health related risks. Yeah. Health related. And so, you know, if you combine those.

Angie Colee (29:47):

Well, I mean, to, to circle back to something that you said at the very beginning, which I thought was, was pretty smart and pretty insightful. You talked about your identity as a creative and when you could no longer play the cello, how that really kind of messed with you. And I would say that I experienced something similar last year when I decided to transition out of being a copywriter and running marketing teams into being a, a coach and a podcast host. And I had, even though I was coming at that from fully supported, you know, I'm, I'm working with this therapy group that is not a therapy group. Uh, sorry, Julie! And I'm working with a life coach and I'm trying to unpack some of these reasons that I act in self destructive manners and, and procrastinate and stuff like that. I still had that underlying identity crisis of who am I, if I'm not a copywriter, I've been a copywriter for over a decade. That's what people know me for, like what, what is even happening now? And I can't even imagine like the, how that must feel too when it wasn't a choice, like what happened with you.

Emily Ann Peterson (30:51):

Yeah. Or when that choice is related to something that used to be the very foundation of existence of humanity or your beliefs about the existence of humanity. And when you, when you choose to opt out of that.

Angie Colee (31:09):

Identity is like, is powerful. It is so powerful. And when you run straight up against something that runs counter to how you identify absolutely. I'm not surprised that you run into kind of like this brick wall of frustration and angst and, and suffering almost.

Emily Ann Peterson (31:27):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I I'll say that, like, you know, I listed off like the physical symptoms of some of those things, but like business wise, I've seen like burnout is a great indicator of this just general burnout. So this could be like everything from Sunday scaries to, um, to just like feeling like you're just not in it anymore. And you don't like it anymore and you don't.

Angie Colee (31:52):

Oh, I've never heard Sunday scaries, what is Sunday scaries?

Emily Ann Peterson (31:56):

Oh, Sunday scaries is when you get kind of nervous on Sunday, because Monday is coming and you know, you have to go to work.

Angie Colee (32:02):

Oh, oh yeah. That hit me right in the feels.

Emily Ann Peterson (32:05):

Uh huh. Yep. Sunday scaries is, that's what that is. And the, you know, and then you have the whole like layer of again, feeling guilt or shame for feeling Sunday, scaries, because you used to love your job and you love your people, but why don't you love it anymore? And all that is like, gets a whole, becomes a whole rats nest too. So , um, you know, you've got decisions related to strategy and growth, um, and deciding, like making decisions related to strategy that are based on, um, extreme inflexibility and, um, like for instance, I know that there are probably, I guess is that it, there probably were a lot of people affected by COVID 19 who didn't know they were operating an inflexible business and then all of a sudden realized I have to flex right now.

Angie Colee (33:06):


Emily Ann Peterson (33:08):

And I don't know how or I don't want to, or I'm scared or all of that.

Angie Colee (33:12):

I can't remember, I read something about that recently about resiliency being tied to, to flexible thinking and being able to adjust your, your opinions and your thoughts as you go, as you get new data, which I thought was interesting because I've always been curious about the people impacted by the pandemic, because we saw some pivot on a dime in such massive ways. My favorite example was this LA taco stands restaurant that when everything shut down and it looked like they were gonna be out of business, they said, and, and this is also at the height of the toilet paper craze, which is awesome. They started packaging together. I don't like four pounds of fajita meats with rice and beans and tortillas and eggs so that you can make this into breakfast the next morning and also a six pack of toilet paper. And it was like a $200 family pack. Go get your taco on kind of thing, where they wound up making the news because people loved this offering so much. Whereas if they had, you know, inflexibility, inflexibly rigidly held onto this, we are a taco stand. And if people do not come into the restaurant, all is lost right. Then that narrative would've actually been true. Cuz people don't can't come into the restaurant and all is lost.

Emily Ann Peterson (34:27):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and I'll say that like only cuz I'm feeling it right now. That like um, if, if you are like trauma shows up for me, when I start to feel like tight in the chest. Mm. Or like it's hard to breathe or like I get like a, a, like a pit in my stomach. Um, and I know that it is usually not a great idea to make big dis big decisions when I'm feeling like that. Just because of when I already said, but like my brain is now primed to not make great decisions. Cause I'm already in a, I'm gonna die like mode when nothing has changed. I'm still sitting in the same chair that I started this conversation. And so I'm not, there's like no more threat than there was at the beginning of this conversation. Right. But just by listing symptoms of trauma, sometimes I can start to feel my own body like seize up kind of go like, Ooh.

Angie Colee (35:32):

Oh yeah. You know, cause you remember that lived experience like that brought up great points to me. One like awareness is such a good practice. And I know sometimes awareness practices and meditation practices can get like a people get weird about them and funky for whatever reason. But I think awareness is such a good thing to have, especially when it comes to something happening in your body. If you notice that every time you get anxious, like, for me, it's a twinge in my right. Should like right behind my right shoulder blade. When I feel that something wonky is going on and stressing me out and I usually have to, okay, that pain is back. First of all, let's go stretch that. Let's go work out the kinks a little bit and then let's figure out why that sucker is back. Cause haven't felt that in a long time. So like your body is sending you physical cues that you might be choosing to ignore or dismisses something else, but it's usually some sort of manifestation of what's going on between your ears. That was one thing. And then two, I was glad that you mentioned that that's an indicator for you to not act right now because you're not acting necessarily from your full capacity. And being able to evaluate this with, with all that's pros and cons. I heard that phrased right after my breakup last year, before I decided to go on the road and everything was just, you know, I, I could not think clearly I'm just in the depths of grief and everything is like just trying to keep the wheels running on, on everything that I've got going. Especially since I, I left my job and uh, took on new project and I'm starting all of this stuff all at the same time that this is happening. So one of my friends said, Angie, all right, right now, I'm gonna sh I'm gonna share something with you. That's really helped me. Halt, never make major life decisions when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Those are the exact opposite of when you should be making major life decisions. That is not when you decide to like uproot root and move. And so I took that to heart, cuz I think my first instinct was to pack up everything and run right after that happens cuz that's my pattern. So I sat with the discomfort for a few weeks, started to work through kind of the initial waves of grief. And then that thought came back to me. I should move. I should go explore. Okay. If I'm moving, where am I going? I don't know. Okay. I'll hit the road and explore and turn this to, into an adventure. And some healing. We even joked with friends that this is my version of Eat Pray Love, but it's eat, eat, eat.

Emily Ann Peterson (37:58):

Well, it's interesting. It's interesting. You mentioned that because there's um, you know, one of the things that I did when I was researching for my book Bare Naked bravery was I talked to a bunch of people cause I had my own, uh, podcast where I did a bunch interviews like this. And I, my main question to all my guests was, um, one, why did you get nominated for this podcast? Like why do people think you're so brave? Um, and everyone's answer was, I don't think I'm brave. Because bravery firsthand is usually experienced as fear. Um, and then, so that's like the firsthand version of, of bravery, the secondhand version where you're like looking at it from the outside or like the resonant version of bravery is where you're like inspired by someone's someone else's bravery. And so if they can do it, you can do it too, you know, um, and then there's like the, the kind, the shared bravery where like you have a friend who knows that, what you're doing is really brave and they know that what you're going through is scary because they know who you are and what you've gone through. And they can acknowledge that the rest of the world may see your social media account is like perfect and a okay. But they know that you're, you know, texting them, hilarious, depression, memes every other day, you know, like, yeah. So they know we it's like, we, we will know it's like a tough season. So, um, in, in relation to like people being activated or, you know, having a physical response to trauma a lot of times, especially in the online dating world or just dating in general, you have people who a lot of times who have trauma, um, will end up trauma bonding on a first, second or third date. And that trauma bonding feels like excitement and the thrill and the, like the throw me against the wall kind of passion of someone. Right. But because that's actually, your body is responding to trauma. You get, you get the physical, the same physical reaction to, as that first date.

Angie Colee (40:18):

Interesting. So is that like, so is that reaction coming from, in dating, do you think from, from like sharing past stories and feeling like someone finally understands you or is it like-

Emily Ann Peterson (40:29):

It could be so many, it could be so many things, but I, I know that like the feeling of, I, my trauma is activated is very similar to, oh my gosh. And then guess what, like that kind of feeling of I'm really in it. I'm really, uh, I'm all about this conversation. And so a lot of times people on first dates, this is also coming from my therapist. You know, vetted by my therapist.

Angie Colee (40:58):

Go get therapy, we're all advising this. So good.

Emily Ann Peterson (41:03):

Um, a lot of people who like have, let's say even will bring it back to business instead of dating, although it's also applies to dating too. Let's say you have like a first interview with someone and you're hiring a new assistant and you just like hit it off. You're just like the best of friends already, you know? Um, because you're so in it, you're unable to see red flags. Or you're less likely to see the red flags that you would be if you weren't physically having that kind of like, heck yes. Let's jump in head first reaction, you know? Um, and so that's why like systems checks, balances, lists, boundaries written out, like all of those are really good for business. They're all really good for dating m, especially if you have trauma because when your trauma is activated or you're nervous or, or you're just excited, your brain is unable to pick up on the cues that it would be otherwise.

Angie Colee (42:12):

Yeah. Like you, your, your logical brain, your skeptical brain, all of the things that would normally kick into protect you, if it senses a risk have been kind of hijacked by this excitement. Or this anxiety or whatever else is going on with this powerful, emotional response. Like, I love that you brought that back to a business context with the hiring in particular, cuz this, oh God, I feel like I have this fight a lot in freelancer forums. Like the, especially in my background, which is copywriting and I, I made one, one bad hire in my life. He had a decent resume and he interviewed very well. And unfortunately I did not ask him to make a writing test. And also in retrospect, I, I did not ask him to talk about solving problems, how he solved problems and how he addressed failure. Because those like hearing how he works through problems and failures, would've given me an indication that this guy was never going to take responsibility for a single fuck up the entire 10 months that he made me miserable. If I hire you to do something for me, I shouldn't have to tell you 10 times, Hey, this thing is a problem. Don't do that. I need you to find a system to retain it. And he was like, oh, oh God, this is a great story. You would love this one day. And, and this was like working in house. So we had apple computers and we're working in the creative cloud and we're working with a particular piece of software called in, in design, which is a little bit complicated. So when I asked this guy, so this is like the 10th time that this mistake has happened. What can we do to stop this from happening? Cuz this can't, I can't keep doing your job and mine. I need you to do this thing that I hired you for. How do we stop this? He said, well, it's not my fault. Because when I, I took a break, someone came to my computer and made that change. So somebody from another department figured out where you sat, figured out how to use your Macintosh versus their Dell desktop figured out where this file was stored, knew which software to open it in, knew which file was the right one, found the layer and made the same mistake, conveniently that you made 10 times in a row, right. To make you look bad. Or the alternative, is you forgot again, I don't know which one I'm inclined to believe, but.

Emily Ann Peterson (44:28):

Right. Okay. So then, then here's what happens. So if you let's say so you've got the hiring process and the firing process so we'll just unpack this whole thing. So if your hiring process has no systems, guess what you're using to make that decision. Your guess?

Angie Colee (44:47):

Just how I feel.

Emily Ann Peterson (44:48):

And just how you feel. Your gut. And so if you don't have any systems in place for hiring, you're making, you're guaranteeing that the system that you are relying on is your physical wellbeing. So if you wake up that day and you had the wrong thing to eat the night before, and you're just feeling bad in general, you may say no, thank you to this person who you're hiring, who you've had an interview with because you just weren't feeling great personally. Right. Um, or you like you like you, you were like, this is this guy's gonna be great. Oh, it was awesome. But you don't have any checkpoints or checks and balances in place. So you don't know, know that he might not be. Then again on the, on the firing side, you also need systems in place for the same reasons. Because if you don't have a, like a, like a performance measurement thing or a way of saying, Hey, I'm gonna remind you about this three more times. And if I have to tell you three more times, then we're gonna have to discuss your future of this organization. Like if it's the three strikes in your out rule, that's still a rule that's a lot better than just I've had it. You're fired.

Angie Colee (46:08):

I know. Which is getting to point all around. Well, it's interesting cuz like the frustration that I have as someone that's made that bad hire is in a lot of these freelancing communities, there are people that have never been on the business owner side of it, aside from their own freelance business, they've never had to hire someone, advising people, things like don't take a writing test. Oh my God. If they ask you for more than two interviews, you're you're done. They're they're trying to take advantage of your be. And I'm like, or, or I'm creating a whole bunch of extra work for myself and believe me, this isn't fun for me to spend all my time, like going through second interviews and writing tests and stuff like that because I really wanna make sure that I get this right. And that I'm investing in the right person. Like, come on guys.

Emily Ann Peterson (46:52):

Yeah. Well I've had clients who come to me because they know that their trauma is triggered during an interview process, like what we're discussing. And so they, they don't want to be on the hook for making the wrong decision for their own business because they know that that decision making button is a little bit not broken, but just a little bit sticky, you know what I mean? Um, and so we go through like, what exactly is the trauma that you experienced and are there better filtering processes that you could go through that you could have everyone, all candidates go through. So that you're left with only of the three best candidates rather than the 15 best candidates. And then you have to spend a whole week exhausting yourself because one-on-one conversations are actually pretty traumatizing for you still, um, for whatever reason, you know? So, so a lot of this is like recognizing that business owners have a limited capacity for work for whatever reason, be it chronic illness, trauma, 24 hours in a day, whatever.

Angie Colee (48:00):

Heaven's forbid you should be a business owner, owner and a fricking human being.

Emily Ann Peterson (48:04):

Exactly, exactly. We are not machines. We are not machines. And so, um, by having that kind of separation between yourself and your business and your business systems, that allows you to make better decisions, better decisions for the people who work for you, um, and more sustainability for yourself, your people and also the people in your community and you know, how your business affects the local economy as well because if you're, if your business is not a profitable business, because of your trauma, then your trauma is also hurting the rest of the local economy. Which is a hard thing to like, that's a hard pill to swallow when you know that that's it's happening. It's like yeah.

Angie Colee (48:52):

Local business is so, so important. That's part of the reason that I started this podcast to just show you that even with all the anxiety and the shit and the head trash that you're going through, that makes you feel like you're all alone. You're not cuz we're all going through this shit and still making things happen. So you can figure out a way forward. You, you know, it might involve help. It might involve support groups. It might involve just journal. A lot of journaling. Journaling helps me a lot just reflecting and noticing patterns and kind of breaking them down. But it's so important for you to succeed. We're all rooting for you to succeed because you lift up the local economy, which lifts up the state economy, which lifts up the national economy, which impacts the world. Oh my God, you are so important and you are so needed. I'm just telling you.

Emily Ann Peterson (49:37):

Yeah. And, and it's not as if everyone is like waiting on you or relying on you to do those things, but your actions do affect other people. And so when you choose not to do something or when you choose not to succeed, even if it's not a, like a conscious choice, um, it, it does have, you know, a ripple effect on, on the rest of, on the rest of people, around you and in your life. And so, you know, even if it's that, even if it's just at the end of the day, you're happy or excited about life versus is all you have space for is Netflix. Um, and so, you know, the, um, I, I, I think it's the martyrdom that our society equates with bravery is completely overrated and false, like absolutely fake. Like we do not have to kill ourselves in order to be brave. We can make brave decisions and have it be, you know, as unsexy as, uh, you know, um, check yes or no button on an intake form. Like that enough can be a brave thing. Those tiny little systems where you make those decisions once, um, can be really, really impactful and so many different ways.

Angie Colee (51:05):

Oh, this has been so great. I, I, you taught me a whole lot and I think there was some, oh, good. Some, some stuff that was kind of like lingering between the surface, but you really helped connect the dots for me in a way with some of the, the students that I think I really struggled to connect with, because I didn't really understand it fully until just now. So thank you on behalf of my future students for helping make me be that much better of a coach. Um, for everybody that's listening. Tell us more about where to find you.

Emily Ann Peterson (51:35):

Well, I do work with other helpers and healers, and so if you know of someone who works with people in a one-on-one basis, even if you don't, um, and you think that they may benefit for I'm working with me, I'm happy to, you know, like work with referrals.

Angie Colee (51:51):


Emily Ann Peterson (51:52):

My website is Uh, just one word

Angie Colee (51:57):

Which is also a badass name.

Emily Ann Peterson (52:02):

Yeah, it's fun. So, yeah, and I do, I do, I work in a lot of different ways. Um, my book is on Amazon, it's called bare naked bravery, how to be creatively courageous. And I do talk about writing and like my favorite way to like do stream of consciousness writing where you throw it away at the end of it. Cause it's really nice. It'll give you a clean slate and starts you over for the next day. And also lets you know, like takes off that sensor button, you know, when you're journaling, when you wanna like say it the right way. Oh good. Yeah. But if you know, it's gonna get thrown, thrown away in 10 minutes, you can just say it whatever way you want to, which is a lot more freeing.

Angie Colee (52:44):

I like that too. And that like, it's so clear to me that kind of symbolism of getting it out of your head and then throwing it away.

Emily Ann Peterson (52:50):

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. The last little bit of my book, I talk a lot about that and it it's a really great tool. Um, so yeah. Uh, yeah, I teach, uh, we do book clubs with the school of bravery. So oftentimes we do like group coaching alongside of book where the group votes on a book, let me keep going that way. Um, also do other kinds of events and workshops and things like that. Um, but the majority of my work is one on one, um, with stuff and yeah, I'm open to questions, hit me up DM me.

Angie Colee (53:28):


Emily Ann Peterson (53:28):

Um, send me an email. I'm always, I'm super flexible and love helping people regardless of their situation and whatever they're going through.

Angie Colee (53:42):

Thank you so much for being on the show. This has been a fascinating conversation and we are going to have to do it again.

Emily Ann Peterson (53:49):

Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it.

Angie Colee (53:54):

So that is it. Another awesome episode of Permission to Kick Ass on the books. If you want to know more about the show or if you want to know more about me, Angie Colee and the mission I'm on to help entrepreneurs punch fear in the face and do big bold things, then head on over to That is all one word together, Make sure to sign up for my email list so that you know whenever there's a hot, fresh and ready podcast episode out for you. And also on Mondays, I like to send out a little newsletter called Kick Monday's Ass. I'm sure you're totally, totally surprised by that. So thank you for being here with me today. I'm Angie Colee. Make sure that you share this with a friend that needs to hear this message today. Like it, share it. Comment wherever you're listening to this today and let's go kick some ass.