How to Trust Your Voice Within: A Conversation with Glennon Doyle & Laysha Ward

43 Minutes
Glennon Doyle

“We’re always asking other people how we should live. And when you think about it, that’s totally hilarious because by definition, no one has ever lived the life we’re living.

No one has ever lived my life with my experiences, with my pain, with my loss, with my skills, with my effort. Every single life is an unrepeatable and unprecedented experiment, which makes it hilarious.

It’s literally like we’re asking other people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
—Glennon Doyle

It’s no secret that the past year’s pandemic has impacted women disproportionately, leaving many with an overwhelming sense of exhaustion.

Today’s episode, timed for Mental Health Awareness Month, will explore the important issues women face today around emotional, spiritual and physical health. Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed, Love Warrior, and Carry On, Warrior, speaks with Target EVP Laysha Ward to offer wisdom and invaluable advice to help you stop striving for perfection and instead start trusting your voice deep within.

Discover the joy and peace that awaits when you let go and find your truest self.


 

This Month’s Guest:

GLENNON DOYLE is an activist and author of the #1 New York Times best-sellers Untamed, a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club pick, and Love Warrior, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, as well as the New York Times best-seller Carry On, Warrior. A thought leader and speaker, Doyle leads a highly engaged social media following of more than three million people. She is the founder and president of Together Rising, an all-women led nonprofit organization that has revolutionized grassroots philanthropy—raising over $25 million for women, families and children in crisis, with a most frequent donation of just $25. Doyle is a co-founder, with Bozoma Saint John and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, of #ShareTheMicNow, a campaign resulting in 2.1 billion impressions magnifying Black women and their work through a takeover of social media accounts of white women with large platforms. She lives in Florida with her three children and her wife Abby Wambach. @glennondoyle

 

This Month’s Special Guest Host:

Laysha WardLAYSHA WARD is an accomplished C-suite executive with thirty years of leadership experience at Target. In 2017, Ward was named executive vice president, chief external engagement officer, overseeing Target’s enterprise-wide approach to engage and deepen relationships with cross-sector stakeholders to drive positive business and community impact. In 1991, Ward began her career with Target as a member of the store sales and management team of Marshall Fields in Chicago. In 2000, she was named director of community relations and promoted to vice president of community relations and Target Foundation in 2003. In 2008, President Bush nominated, and the U.S. Senate confirmed Ward would serve on the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the nation’s largest grantmaker for volunteering and service, which she continued to serve as board chair under the Obama Administration. Later that year, she was promoted to president of community relations and the Target Foundation. She serves on the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Advisory Board and the Stanford Center for Longevity Advisory Council, is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, the Economic Clubs of New York and Chicago, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, The Links, and serves on the boards of Greater MSP, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Northside Achievement Zone, and Denny’s Corporation for-profit board of directors. She received a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She and her husband, Bill, reside in Minneapolis, MN.

 


 

Additional Resources:

  • Learn more about Glennon Doyle’s bestselling book Untamed at UntamedBook.com
    • Find Untamed and more guest-penned titles in the Women Amplified shop at independent bookstore BookPeople
  • Explore Glennon’s crowdfunded philanthropy organization at TogetherRising.org

 

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Glennon Doyle & Laysha Ward Interview Transcript:

Laysha Ward:

All right, Glennon. Thank you so much for joining us. I’m really excited to have this conversation with you about your amazing life and journey.

Glennon Doyle:

Aww, thank you, Laysha. I’ve been looking forward to this all day.

Laysha Ward:

Good. Me too. So this episode airs during Mental Health Awareness Month, a topic that is near and dear to your heart and such an integral part of your journey. And what I love is that you speak openly and honestly about your personal struggles, which has helped so many others who are facing their own struggles. So thank you for that.

Glennon Doyle:

Aww, thank you for saying that. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about, is mental health.

Laysha Ward:

And it’s such an important topic that for so many people they’re afraid to talk about. So I really appreciate the visibility and awareness that you’re bringing to something that is so life affirming and important.

Glennon Doyle:

Mmm, thank you. I mean, during COVID times, it suddenly feels like something that was just for a few of us, right? Mental health is just… Which when you think about it is so silly because we have an understanding as a culture, that physical health is for everyone. Right? You don’t say physical health is just for sick people. It’s something we tend to all the time, we know we have to eat a certain way, we know we have to exercise, we know we have to do things to address our physical health. Everybody just because we’re human. And I think we’re just starting to understand that that is the exact same thing about mental health, right? It’s not just for people who have a diagnosis. It’s just like physical health. It’s something that we all have to tend to every single day just because we’re human.

Laysha Ward:

That’s absolutely right. As you just said, over the course of the last year, people have endured extraordinary challenges and there’s a lot of focus on physical health. And yet we know that a focus on overall wellbeing should be a priority, including our mental health. So what would you say to women trying to make emotional wellbeing a priority for themselves and for their families?

Glennon Doyle:

Isn’t that a beautiful question? I mean, I think that COVID actually… I think of us Laysha as… I used to have this little snow globe when I was a kid, my godmother gave it to me. And I loved this little snow globe, but I hated it too. I was so scared of it. You could shake it up and it was so pretty when it was shaken up because it had all this glitter snow, but then when the snow settled, there was this dragon at the center of it. And it was like this red fiery dragon. And I used to think it was so scary when I was little. So I would keep it shaken up all the time. I’d just walk into my bedroom and shake it up real quick, so I didn’t have to see the dragon.

Glennon Doyle:

And I think of myself and really all human beings as just like that, right? We are like snow globes and we keep ourselves shaken up constantly with all the things we use. It’s different for everybody, same for everybody. Food, booze, busyness, over work, apathy, snark, scrolling, shopping, online shopping, redecorating, whatever it is to keep ourselves busy, keep our shaken up because we don’t want to be still because when we’re still, the dragon pops up inside of us. Right? And the reason why I’m bringing this up in response to your question about emotional health, is that I have a hunch that that dragon, which is just the truth, right?

Glennon Doyle:

The dragon is just the truth for our life, for our relationship or our parenting or our work life or our nation, whatever it is. It’s just the truth of things that has to be dealt with next. Right? And to me, the people who live strongly and emotionally healthy are the people who allow that dragon to arise and look right at it. Right? And so, I have seen that happening more and more lately. And I think it’s because COVID has been a collective force settling of the snow globe. Right? So many things have been taken from us.

Laysha Ward:

What a beautiful way for you to bring that to life. I mean, such a powerful visual image of the world around us being shaken up and a need for us all to be still and to become anew in a world that is so chaotic is blowing my mind. Amazing.

Glennon Doyle:

Well, it feels right and it feels scary. I think that the scariest thing in the world is to get still enough to let the truth rise because the truth is always hard. That little thing that nags at us, it’s like, okay, maybe the five glasses of wine isn’t my best life. Okay. Maybe that phone call that I am avoiding is the one I need to make. Maybe that relationship is the one I need to leave. Maybe that desire is the one I need to meet. It’s the scariest thing. And also, it’s so imperative to grow. Right? The dragon is what we have to slay one at a time so that we can get to the next version of ourselves.

Laysha Ward:

And sometimes in that stillness, it allows us to quiet our mind and to prioritize and think about what is best for us, and then to create a path forward. And so, I’d love to build on this discussion and talk about resiliency because resiliency is key to navigating these difficult times. And it’s certainly played an incredibly important role in your life as you’ve navigated through struggles. So what advice do you have for our listeners today who are feeling exhausted and just worn out?

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. Well, first of all, just join the exhausted club. There is nothing wrong with you if you are feeling tired, if you are feeling depressed, if you are feeling overwhelmed. I mean, this year, just the unbelievable burden it has placed upon, especially women-

Laysha Ward:

Not only women, but certainly women of color has been enormous, Glennon. And I’ve been saying, it’s okay to not be okay.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. Actually, I think it’s crucial to not be okay because what we don’t want is what the 12 people in power do want, which is for things to go back to norm. Right? And the way things will go back to normal, which means the rest of us are screwed and those 12 people stay in power, right? Is if we keep putting on that mask of it’s okay. We’re okay. We’re fine. We are not okay. We are carrying way more than half the sky, right? Our institutions are broken. They were not meant to serve us, especially women of color. Right? They were made so that our lives would be untenable. And so, I don’t think that there’s any valor or honor in saying that we’re okay anymore. That needs to go. That’s not the bravest thing. I think the bravest thing is digging our feet in we are not okay. And we will not go back to normal.

Glennon Doyle:

And what COVID has been, is this revelation where even people who don’t want to have had to look at our institutions and admit that they’re broken. Right? And so, it’s possible for there to be revolution after that, but only if we refuse to go back into that gently again.

Laysha Ward:

I believe we have to create a new normal, one that is more just and equitable for everyone because the systems, they’re not broken, they’re actually performing in the way that they were designed to.

Glennon Doyle:

They are working perfectly.

Laysha Ward:

Right? This is an opportunity.

Laysha Ward:

An amazing conversation though about the world is not normal and we don’t want to go back to normal. We want to create a new normal, one that is more equitable and just for everyone. And it’s really powerful for us to put that out into the world and not expect things to go back to the way that they were because that wasn’t working.

Glennon Doyle:

That was not working. I mean, I think that the snow globe metaphor works for that too. I mean, we think about when the racial reckoning began during this time, which was just beginning, but you think back to when that started during COVID. Okay? When the country looked at the murder of George Floyd. What was different about that? Nothing. That’s been happening every single freaking day for so long, forever. Right?

Laysha Ward:

It’s been happening for generations, but the pandemic laid bare the disparities and inequities that had existed for a really long time. And didn’t allow us not to see them and forced us to a point where we had to listen and learn, build empathy and understanding and ultimately act differently than we had before.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. And it forced us as a nation to look at the red dragon at the center of our nation, which has always been systematic racism. And we couldn’t look away. Right? We didn’t have the snow globe. We couldn’t just carry on. We couldn’t just leave the house. We couldn’t pretend that didn’t happen like we’ve been doing for so long. Right? While it’s been incredibly chaotic, I think a lot of people will call it chaotic. I think it’s the good kind of chaos. I think it’s the chaos that comes with the destruction of what needed to be destroyed. Right? We just have to not allow ourselves to be gaslight again. We cannot allow them to rebuild without us in mind.

Laysha Ward:

Amen to that, sister. And to leverage this time of exhaustion to heal on the one hand and gain energy that allows us to move forward and to be a part of the change, that is so critically necessary, which is inspiring as well.

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. Doesn’t it feel like sometimes the most radical thing we can do is just rest?

Laysha Ward:

Yes. Rest is so critically important to our mental and physical health and wellbeing and it’s restorative. It really does give us the energy and the power to unlock all of the things that we can and want to do to know that we are worthy of all the spaces that we’re entering.

Glennon Doyle:

Absolutely.

Laysha Ward:

That we as women will be the ones that will lead the way.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. And we get to be fully human while we do it. Right? People ask me sometimes because of my work with Together Rising, how do you not quit? With all the negativity, with all the need, how do you not quit? And I always say, Laysha, I quit every day. Quitting is my favorite. Quitting is my spiritual practice. I wake up in the morning, Laysha and I have way too much coffee and I care the most amount about the world. Okay? In the morning, there is no one who cares more than me. There’s no one with greater hope, with greater optimism. I’ve got my easels, I’ve got my whiteboard, I’ve got my ways we’re going to take down the patriarchy. Slowly I run out of care. Okay? Around 5:00 or 5:30, I don’t care at all. Okay? I stuck, I quit. It’s me and the couch and Netflix and the carbs and the food. It’s not like a diversion from my purpose. It’s a crucial part. It’s what you just said. It’s a crucial part of continuing to show up. Is that commitment to quitting each day.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah. It’s self-care, right? Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. And your quitting every day gives you a chance to take care of yourself, which is really brave and a great lesson to share.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. And thank you for calling it self-care because I feel like as women, we are tricked into believing that self-care can only be like manicures and the more things we have to do on our lists. When did we get tricked into that?

Laysha Ward:

It’s not true. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

It’s not.

Laysha Ward:

No. Such great perspective. Right? Okay. So that leads me to ask about living with greater intention, which you talk about extensively in your book. Can you say more about what it means to live with intention? And what advice do you have for turning that intention into action?

Glennon Doyle:

Well, first of all, you made me think of when you said, when we get still, we’re able to think, feel, make a plan. We live in a world where we are so addicted to exteriority. Meaning we wake up in the morning and it’s like, voices, podcasts, TV shows, experts, therapists, computer. We’re constantly being yelled at, which is actually quite dangerous. Because when you think about most of the messages we get are people trying to convince us of something, to sell us something. You cannot, you must find time to reconnect with your inner voice. You will only just be following other people’s maps for you. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

Living with intention… I mean, I’ll never forget. I almost, Laysha, did not make the most important decision of my life. I almost did not leave my broken marriage because I was so afraid of being a bad mom, because I was so afraid of hurting my child. Right? And then one day I was looking at her and I thought, oh, I’m staying in this marriage for her, but would I want this marriage for her?

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

And if I wouldn’t want this marriage for her, then why am I modeling bad love and calling that good mothering. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

That’s deep and reflective.

Glennon Doyle:

And it’s reflective. It’s because I gave myself time to consider what I decide is a good mother. Because if I don’t stop and be intentional about making those decisions, I will by osmosis take on the culture’s idea of what makes a good mother. And the culture will always tell women in every single aspect of their life, that the way you’d be a good anything is that you accommodate and slowly disappear.

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

Right? So I had to decide that no. In my situation, a good mother is a model, not a martyr. Right? But that takes intentionality.

Laysha Ward:

I love that. A model, not a martyr. Incredible. You once said in an interview, one of the most subversive freeing questions a woman can ask herself is what do I want? Yet the way that we’re hardwired, it’s really hard to put that script and start putting our needs first without feeling guilty or feeling selfish. What helps? What allowed you to make the most difficult decision of your life? But as you said, you almost didn’t make.

Glennon Doyle:

Well, I think that intentionality plays a part in it because what helps me is to identify the social conditioning that I have been victim to when I was smaller, that all girls are. That taught me that everything I want is bad and dangerous. Okay? So is it actual gender studies? Okay? When you start to look at every message a little girl gets, whether it’s in religion. I mean, Laysha, as a little Catholic girl, the first story I ever learned was the story of Adam and Eve, which the moral of that story is when a woman goes for what she wants, the entire world crumbles and all suffering is unleashed all over the world. Right? That’s the epitome of the Adam and Eve story. That’s what little girls are taught all over the world in Christianity. Every fairytale, right? The moral of the story is stay on the path, or you will get eaten by a big, bad wolf, right?

Glennon Doyle:

Don’t take a bite of the apple, right? Or you will be put to sleep for 100 years. Every message that we give to little girls is your desire is bad. What you want is bad and selfish, right? Be grateful for what you have, do not ask for more. So for me, just a very deliberate study of all of the ways that I was tricked into believing that I was bad was so freeing and helpful, right? Because all we are is a conglomeration of stories we’ve been told about who we are. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

And so to start, I have a necklace I don’t have on right now that just says more. Because I feel like some of the most subversive thing a woman can say or what is, I want what I want and I want more of it. And I don’t believe it’s bad. I mean, you know Laysha, one of my jobs is to talk to women. I’ve been talking and listening to women for 15 years. What women want is good. Right? Women want some rest. They want good food, they want good sex, they want safety and freedom for their children and for other people’s children. What they want is good. Right? It’s just that if women actually went for what they want, unjust governments would topple, institutions would be turned over, family relationships would be changed. It would change all of status quo. Right? So it makes sense that women are constantly shamed out of their desire.

Laysha Ward:

And I think we have to believe that it’s okay to want those things and act on them. So I think if we drill down a little deeper… In your latest book, Untamed, you have literally changed the lives of so many women at an incredibly pivotal time in the world. And a big theme in the book is this idea that women need to tune into our inner voice because so often we don’t act on our inner voice because we don’t trust ourselves. We are too busy trying to please others or we’re just conditioned as you’ve been saying, Glennon, to not trust ourselves. So why do you think it’s important to listen to our inner voice and act on it especially right now?

Glennon Doyle:

Well, I mean, I think that we are all looking for a map for how to live, right? And when you think about it, that’s totally hilarious because by definition, no one has ever lived the life we’re living, right? No one has ever lived my life with my experiences, with my pain, with my loss, with my skills, with my effort. Every single life is that unrepeatable and unprecedented experiment, which makes it hilarious. We’re always asking other people how we should live. It’s literally like we’re asking other people for directions to places they’ve never been.

Laysha Ward:

They’ve never been, yeah.

Glennon Doyle:

That’s what we do. I mean, Laysha, I still do it. I will get confused about life and I will take a freaking BuzzFeed quiz. I mean, I will ask, which was clearly made by some 18 year old who lives in the basement of his mother.

Laysha Ward:

Right.

Glennon Doyle:

Okay. I will just tell you this quick story. One day I had my son. I have a boy and two girls, until they tell me otherwise. My son had his friends over and I peeked my head into the little room and I said, “Hey, is anybody hungry?” And something amazing happened. Which is that every single boy in the room, without taking his eyes off the TV said, “Yes.” Okay, great. Right? They just heard a question, they looked inside themselves, they found an answer, they said it. Nailed this Q and A, Laysha. Right? Okay. The girls did something completely different. I will never forget it as long as I live. First of all, every single girl in the room was silent. Then every single one of them took their eyes off the TV and started looking at each other’s faces, Laysha. At each other’s faces to find out if they in fact were hungry inside their own body. Okay? Right after that, somehow they silently appoint a spokes girl because this small braided child in the corner turns towards me and says, “No, thank you. We are fine.”

Laysha Ward:

So what’s up with that? Why do you think that happened, Glennon? What was hardwired in those young people that they acted so differently?

Glennon Doyle:

Okay. So here’s my hope. My hope is that that nothing is hardwired in them. I think that they were given… Okay. This is like a technological metaphor. They were born with blank slates, but they were programmed. Okay? That they were programmed in gendered ways. Okay? I’m a former third grade teacher. I know how children are programmed. Okay? So boys are programmed to believe that in every moment of uncertainty, they should look and find inside themselves, find their desire and speak it. Little girls are programmed that in every moment of uncertainty, they should look outside of themselves for consensus, for permission, right? So what I think that happens is that women, little girls, we forget how to know when we learn how to please.

Laysha Ward:

Right? We’re not able to tap into our inner voice, to believe in our inner voice, let alone to act on it.

Glennon Doyle:

Exactly. I think we just have a —

Laysha Ward:

We get programmed not to, but we can be reprogrammed so that we are able to find our voice and to unleash that voice, to do good in the world.

Glennon Doyle:

That’s what I believe. I believe that if you took a bunch of boys and girls and you switched their conditioning, I believe that the little boys would be looking outward and little girls would be inward. I don’t believe that there’s a single human characteristic that’s gendered. I think that the permission to express certain characteristics is gendered, right? And that our programming is gendered. So if that is the case, which I think most social sciences believe is true. If we can be programmed, then what you said is exactly right. We can also be deprogrammed. And that is extremely helpful.

Laysha Ward:

And incredibly helpful. Now, I want to dig into this a little deeper with you. Should we always listen to our inner voice? Right? It’s been tough out there, girl. Right? People are stuck inside quarantining lonely. And quite frankly, this type of isolation has huge impacts and it can be easy to start spinning in negativity. So how do you actually know when to listen and when you should silence it?

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. It’s so good. Well, I spend most of the day silencing voices in my head. I have major anxieties. Most of my day is like, shut up. I am harassed constantly by anxiety. So the intuition for me is different than… If I’m hearing a voice, you know how most people’s inner voice are always giving them fear messages. Like I’m not good enough, they’re not good enough. If the message comes to me in words, I know that’s not my knowing. That’s fear. That’s anxiety, right? I’m not talking about the voices that harass us all day. I’m talking about that deep… You know when you get really still and you’re pretending not know to not know what to do when you feel this gravity type of thing-

Laysha Ward:

It’s pulling on you.

Glennon Doyle:

… that knows what to do. And you usually just don’t want to do the thing that you know to do because it’s scary or hard.

Laysha Ward:

Right. Because it’s scary and hard and you are afraid to take that first step. Absolutely.

Glennon Doyle:

And that’s when the crazy voices come back. Usually, the voices in my head are the voices that I am activating to try to convince my knowing that I don’t have to do the thing it’s told me how to do, right? It’s two separate programs.

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

It gets very tricky, Laysha, because I’m also not talking about our conditioning. So for example, when we think about all the phone calls that are being made to the police by white women, okay?

Laysha Ward:

All the Karens.

Glennon Doyle:

All the Karens, right? If you ask those women why they call the police, they will say, well, because I was scared. They will tell you that it’s their knowing, that it’s just their intuition. What are they supposed to do? They were scared, right? The question is, your fear is racist. It’s deeper than you… You’re not asking yourself, why are you afraid of that man, but you wouldn’t be afraid of that man doing the exact same thing? Why are you triggered? So what we don’t want is a situation where everyone’s going around trusting what they’re calling their intuition and what is really their conditioned self, right? That is holy in this culture, full of racism and misogyny. So it’s a tricky question that is very layered and needs to be discussed wholly or otherwise people going around trusting what they’re calling their intuition, we’ll be unleashing terrible decisions.

Laysha Ward:

And full of lots of unconscious bias or just things that misrepresent the real truth.

Glennon Doyle:

Absolutely.

Laysha Ward:

That needs to be unpacked. Really powerful. Okay. I want to switch gears just a bit. In your book, you said that “the only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me”. Oh, girl. So much unpacking there. And I just think it’s really, really powerful. And it speaks to your journey, Glenn, and it speaks to the power of self-acceptance. Right? I think we’re always striving to be better, as you said earlier. Striving for more. So how do we stop aiming for perfection? How can we stop caring so much about what other people want or think and truly feel good about who and where we are.

Glennon Doyle:

I love it. I mean, this idea of perfect is so funny. When you stop, when you let the snow settle, when you really think about this version of perfect we have, okay, so whose idea of perfect are we talking about? Somebody had to create this idea. So when I think of like, okay, so let me unearth the idea of what a perfect white woman is. What I’ve been conditioned to believe a perfect white woman is. Okay. So she’s pretty, she’s thin, she’s quiet, she’s accommodating, she never questions power, she accepts all proximity to power and all the benefits that that gives her. Right? But she never demands any real power, she never speaks up for anyone else, she never rocks the boat, she keeps… Clearly the definition of the perfect white woman was created by a white man. Right? And every marginalized group, when you’re looking at… Be real careful what you’re aiming for. What your version of perfect that you’re striving for is because it probably doesn’t serve you. It probably serves somebody else. Right?

Laysha Ward:

And what’s not defined by you, right? The narrative was likely written by someone else to ensure that you were framed in a way that was comfortable for them.

Glennon Doyle:

Right. Exactly. To put us in a place. The idea of perfect is just a teeny little cage that we find ourselves striving for and benefits power over and over again. Right? So again, just like I had to redefine what makes a good mom and who was that serving. When we say, oh, I’m trying to be perfect. What do we mean? Do we mean we’re trying to get 16 worth of work done in eight hours? Does that mean we’re supposed to be taking a bunch of crap from somebody, but still smiling? Does it mean we’re supposed to be totally freaking exhausted finding the right concealer to cover up our exhaustion every day and bubble… Wait, who is all of that serving? Maybe it would be way more perfect to actually say how we’re feeling. Maybe it would be way more perfect to not get the work done and just say, this is too much freaking work. Right? Maybe perfect means something completely different than what we’ve been conditioned to mean it does.

Glennon Doyle:

And in terms of what I believe is wrong about myself, I became bulimic when I was 10 years old. I sunk right into addiction and didn’t get out until I was 26 and I spent my whole life thinking I was crazy. I’m crazy. My whole life was hospitals and medication. And really what I was, was an extremely sensitive kid and didn’t have the tools she needs to deal with her sensitivity. Right? What I know now is the sensitivity that led me to addiction is the exact same sensitivity that makes me a really good artist. Everything that I thought was a weakness, turned out to be exactly what was purposefully placed in me to get my particular work done on this earth. And I believe that is true for everyone when we reject whatever the culture told us we have to be and we actually consider who we are and what gifts we have.

Laysha Ward:

That is powerful. It’s about identifying and claiming your superpower. And in many ways being perfectly imperfect.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes.

Laysha Ward:

That is perfection. Perfectly imperfect and being comfortable in that. I’ve been moved by you and your ability to be unapologetically you in all facets of your life. And I think people would find it intriguing that you describe yourself as an introvert and you say, “I love humanity, but actually human beings are tricky for me. I love people, but not in person. For example, I would die for you, but not meet you for coffee.” I’m fascinated by that. So how do you maintain such a strong public persona? While still taking care of and being true to yourself.

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. I mean, none of this is easy for me. I was always the kid in books. I’m a writer because books are how I sort of lived. I would much rather learn about a person from a book than from the person. If I’m wanting to get to know somebody, I would be like, I like you so much. Can you give me your top five favorite books? Because then I’ll read them and I’ll know you so well. Whereas the other person will be like, why don’t we just go to coffee?

Laysha Ward:

Seriously, you’re so warm, you’re so engaging. We’ve just met and I feel like I’ve known you forever.

Glennon Doyle:

Me too. Me too.

Laysha Ward:

And I definitely know that we’ll continue to stay in touch. I just feel that. And yet I can also relate to what you’re expressing around being more of an introvert because I am as well, which people wouldn’t believe about me either. And so, it’s just very freeing to hear you talk about this and the sort of dimensions and nuance of your personality in life.

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. I mean, I became a writer so that I could be connected with humanity, but in my pajamas, in my closet.

Laysha Ward:

I love that.

Glennon Doyle:

Laysha, writing about the importance of community while I am alone in my closet. But it’s also a bit of a shadow self I will say, that while I respect my inner introvert, I also know that it’s not my best self when I don’t get in… pre COVID, in rooms with human beings. I need that very much, even though it’s just not my most comfortable place. I don’t know. I have some… I guess what you would call social anxiety. When my phone rings, I mean, when my doorbell rings, Laysha, it’s like we’re being attacked by rebel forces. It scares the bejesus out of me. And the same for my poor children. Our doorbell will ring and they’ll be like, “Oh my God, what’s happened?” And I’m like, you guys actually, it’s okay. All moms aren’t like this. I don’t know.

Laysha Ward:

Like you, I really appreciate human connections. And I think relationships are so important and I often talk about the power of connection currency. I get energy and I’m inspired by being around people and their creative ideas and all the amazing things they’re trying to do in the world, but I also quite frankly, sometimes have energy taken away when I’m in those moments. And I have to sort of step back and get recharged so that I can fully engage with the community that I love and dependent upon. But I just don’t interact in the same way perhaps as others who are introverts do. And in many ways people will say I’m a business extrovert, but an internal introvert.

Glennon Doyle:

Interesting. Would you consider yourself a highly sensitive person? Are you hyper aware? If you’re in a room full of people, do you find yourself hyper aware of everybody and how everyone’s conglomerating and feeling? Do you do that? Because I think that’s-

Laysha Ward:

I do that a lot. And very intuitive, definitely thinking about everyone in the room and trying to get a sense of their story, trying to build empathy and find the right way to have an authentic, meaningful connection as a way to again, be supportive or build community, create a trusted sort of opportunity to partner in the world. And it seems to me-

Glennon Doyle:

That takes energy being like that. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

So maybe that’s one of the reasons why it would be a little more taxing for us. We feel introverted because I don’t know if this is the leftover teacher in me, but when I walk into a room, I am constantly worried about everyone. Like, why is that person by themselves in the corner? Why is that man taking all the talking time? That person looks sad. But it’s an onslaught of responsibility.

Laysha Ward:

And it’s like the orchestra and you’re trying to make sure every section is perfectly aligned and playing in the right way, at the right time in harmony.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. It’s ridiculous.

Laysha Ward:

Both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

Amen. Yes.

Laysha Ward:

I also think about you when I think about the theme of this conference because I think you’ve been living the theme, women leading the way forward. And you do in a variety of ways, like founding Together Rising, which is an extraordinary organization where you’ve raised over $28 million for women, families and children in crisis. Wow. How did you even think to create this amazing organization? And what advice would you share with women who are trying to figure out how they can lead the way forward in whatever way they can?

Glennon Doyle:

So Together Rising started… My job began as an artist, which just means as a writer, my job is just to pay close attention. I seriously think of my job as to pay really close attention and report back to people who can’t pay that close of attention because they have real jobs. That’s what a writer does. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

I think you are an amazing person who listens, who then learns and then cocreate shared stories, which is the gift of a writer.

Glennon Doyle:

Thank you. Yes. That’s better. But I really think what happens when you pay close attention which you know so well, is that you just really do fall in love with people. When you are listening carefully to people’s stories, you really can’t help it. This whole disconnection device and all of it, it doesn’t work when you’re close up. When you get close up, it’s just like you want to be connected. So that’s how Together Rising started. Is that we just wanted to start serving each other and loving each other better in this community.

Glennon Doyle:

And then what happened after awhile, Laysha, is that we were just meet people’s needs, we were working our butts off, we were just… And every day my sister and I, we ran it together, the question would be why are all of these freaking people suffering so much? We’re reading their stories, we’re talking to them. In this country where we were promised if you do A, B and C, you can make ends meet. Why are all these people suffering? And then one day I read this quote by Desmond Tutu that said, “You can only pull people out of the river for so long until you have to look up river and find out who’s pushing them in.” Right?

Laysha Ward:

Powerful.

Glennon Doyle:

And that is when I stopped being just a philanthropist and started becoming an activist. Because what I realized is if you are a philanthropist who’s not paying close enough attention, you actually become quite codependent with power. Okay? It’s a great system. They’re pushing them in up river and you’re down river pulling them out. No problem. We’ve got it. Right? You actually become power split soldiers. So what I learned after, oh, wherever there’s great suffering, there’s also great profit. Right? Where people are suffering, there’s always somebody upstream pushing people in. So it is my job as a philanthropist at Together Rising to be pulling people out of the river who have already been pushed in.

Glennon Doyle:

For example, we work so hard with the LGBTQ teen community because they’re number one growing homeless community in our country. Right? We’re building shelters, we’re getting mentorships, whatever. We will continue to do that, but it is also my job to go upstream and to give living hell to the people who are preaching shame and hatred and bigotry that is then filtering into these families homes and causing parents to kick their children out of the homes. Right? It’s a constant and both because if you don’t go up river, it’s never going to stop.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah. You’re talking about doing the systems work, right? What are the systems and structures that are in place that continue to enable and fuel the inequity or what’s behind the issues that you’re working on so that you can really get at the root causes as well as providing immediate, is what it sounds like you’re asking.

Glennon Doyle:

Exactly. It’s like how many therapy bills can we pay for kids who have been in the middle of a school shooting? Right? Before we look up river and start giving living hell to the politicians who are in the NRAS pocket and profiting off of the suffering. Right? So it’s a constant and both. It’s just interesting because what I have noticed is that the world loves a woman philanthropist. Okay?

Glennon Doyle:

It’s like that quote. It’s like when I fed the poor and they called me a Saint. When I asked why people poor, they called me a communist. I have seen that, Laysha. So I felt the shift in the energy of the world when I stopped being like, okay, I’ve got everybody and start asking hard questions.

Laysha Ward:

Glennon, you’re talking about sitting in our power, using that power for good and really merging philanthropy and activism in a way that really creates meaningful, sustainable change.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes, both. Right? Both.

Glennon Doyle:

And then the second part of your question about my advice. I think that women, actually, every single marginalized group is always told that they shouldn’t feel their feelings. Right? That they should not be angry, that they should not be heartbroken. I think that one of the most important things for a woman to do is to embrace her anger and embrace her heartbreak. So I think that heartbreak is the absolute best clue for any woman to know what she’s supposed to do in the world. Right?

Laysha Ward:

Say more about that.

Glennon Doyle:

Well, I just started noticing early on that people would tell me over and over again, I can’t read that. It’ll break my heart. I can’t go there, it’ll break my heart. I can’t read that, it’ll break… I can’t meet her, it’ll break my heart. So interesting. I was like, what is this conditioning that we actually believe that our purpose down here is to avoid heartbreak by all means? That’s weird. Actually, heartbreak is not something that should be avoided. It is something that it should be rushed towards. It’s like the greatest clue of our lives, right? Because what breaks your heart is different than what breaks your heart and what breaks your heart. When you find the thing that breaks your heart and you go towards that thing, you find your purpose.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah. Powerful. Love that.

Glennon Doyle:

Right? And then, Laysha, the really cool thing is what women tell me over and over again, their biggest fears that they’ll die without finding their purpose, that they’ll die without finding their people. They want purpose. They want connection.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah.

Glennon Doyle:

You find out what breaks your heart, you find both. Because when you go towards the people doing that world changing work, those are your people. There’s no bond greater than the bond that happens among people who are doing the same world-changing work together. Right? And might I consider… though it sounds ironic for me, that everyone doesn’t need to start their own nonprofit. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

Powerful. I agree with you. There is an abundance of organizations and quite frankly, there are plenty out there in the world that we can connect to and amplify our impact versus starting from ground zero. I could not agree with you more, but I think so often, we’re just trying to find a way to make a difference. Trying to do something with that heartbreak as you just beautifully articulated. And I think that’s what we’re all kind of searching for. As you said, we want purpose, we want humanity and we want to build just incredible human connections that validate why we are here on this earth.

Glennon Doyle:

That’s right.

Laysha Ward:

We matter. That we’re worthy. And I just think all of the things that you’ve been writing about and talking about in the community that you’ve been building, is creating space for women to share to go towards their purpose, their humanity and their heart, which is incredibly inspiring. So just a powerful way to frame that. And I’m really grateful that we had that conversation. And I know our time is drawing near. I could talk to you for hours.

Glennon Doyle:

I know. Well, hopefully, this will be just the beginning of our conversation.

Laysha Ward:

It is, but I have just one last question for you and it is, what’s next and what can we look forward to from you?

Glennon Doyle:

Okay. Well, here’s the thing. I’m going to tell you two things. I’ll tell you one fun thing, and that is the Untamed’s being turned into a TV show. It’s very fun and cool. It’s going to be really exciting. I’m working on it. Yeah.

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

I know. But my second thing is this. I just want whenever anyone asks a woman, what are you going to do next? I just want the woman to say, I’m going to freaking rest. Okay? You know what next? I’m going to get a glass of water. Okay? And I’m taking my dog for a walk. Let me take a bath. I don’t know. I learned in early sobriety, Laysha, what’s next is the next right thing. One thing at a time. I’m living my whole life like that. So you ask me what’s next, I will tell you after this, I’m going to do one more interview and then I’m going to get in my pajamas, which to tell you the truth, I already have my pajama bottoms on.

Laysha Ward:

I have my pajama bottoms on too.

Glennon Doyle:

And then I’m going to get some carbs and I’m going to watch TV. That’s-

Laysha Ward:

I love it. Well, Thank you for giving us just a little glimpse into your future. And I will be following you and I’ll be cheering for you too.

Glennon Doyle:

You too. Be in touch. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

I will. This has been a phenomenal conversation. You are an amazing memoir writer and activist, a philanthropist and an inspiration for women everywhere. Thank you for being a guest on Women Amplified.

Glennon Doyle:

Thank you, Laysha.

 

View Transcript

Laysha Ward:

All right, Glennon. Thank you so much for joining us. I’m really excited to have this conversation with you about your amazing life and journey.

Glennon Doyle:

Aww, thank you, Laysha. I’ve been looking forward to this all day.

Laysha Ward:

Good. Me too. So this episode airs during Mental Health Awareness Month, a topic that is near and dear to your heart and such an integral part of your journey. And what I love is that you speak openly and honestly about your personal struggles, which has helped so many others who are facing their own struggles. So thank you for that.

Glennon Doyle:

Aww, thank you for saying that. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about, is mental health.

Laysha Ward:

And it’s such an important topic that for so many people they’re afraid to talk about. So I really appreciate the visibility and awareness that you’re bringing to something that is so life affirming and important.

Glennon Doyle:

Mmm, thank you. I mean, during COVID times, it suddenly feels like something that was just for a few of us, right? Mental health is just… Which when you think about it is so silly because we have an understanding as a culture, that physical health is for everyone. Right? You don’t say physical health is just for sick people. It’s something we tend to all the time, we know we have to eat a certain way, we know we have to exercise, we know we have to do things to address our physical health. Everybody just because we’re human. And I think we’re just starting to understand that that is the exact same thing about mental health, right? It’s not just for people who have a diagnosis. It’s just like physical health. It’s something that we all have to tend to every single day just because we’re human.

Laysha Ward:

That’s absolutely right. As you just said, over the course of the last year, people have endured extraordinary challenges and there’s a lot of focus on physical health. And yet we know that a focus on overall wellbeing should be a priority, including our mental health. So what would you say to women trying to make emotional wellbeing a priority for themselves and for their families?

Glennon Doyle:

Isn’t that a beautiful question? I mean, I think that COVID actually… I think of us Laysha as… I used to have this little snow globe when I was a kid, my godmother gave it to me. And I loved this little snow globe, but I hated it too. I was so scared of it. You could shake it up and it was so pretty when it was shaken up because it had all this glitter snow, but then when the snow settled, there was this dragon at the center of it. And it was like this red fiery dragon. And I used to think it was so scary when I was little. So I would keep it shaken up all the time. I’d just walk into my bedroom and shake it up real quick, so I didn’t have to see the dragon.

Glennon Doyle:

And I think of myself and really all human beings as just like that, right? We are like snow globes and we keep ourselves shaken up constantly with all the things we use. It’s different for everybody, same for everybody. Food, booze, busyness, over work, apathy, snark, scrolling, shopping, online shopping, redecorating, whatever it is to keep ourselves busy, keep our shaken up because we don’t want to be still because when we’re still, the dragon pops up inside of us. Right? And the reason why I’m bringing this up in response to your question about emotional health, is that I have a hunch that that dragon, which is just the truth, right?

Glennon Doyle:

The dragon is just the truth for our life, for our relationship or our parenting or our work life or our nation, whatever it is. It’s just the truth of things that has to be dealt with next. Right? And to me, the people who live strongly and emotionally healthy are the people who allow that dragon to arise and look right at it. Right? And so, I have seen that happening more and more lately. And I think it’s because COVID has been a collective force settling of the snow globe. Right? So many things have been taken from us.

Laysha Ward:

What a beautiful way for you to bring that to life. I mean, such a powerful visual image of the world around us being shaken up and a need for us all to be still and to become anew in a world that is so chaotic is blowing my mind. Amazing.

Glennon Doyle:

Well, it feels right and it feels scary. I think that the scariest thing in the world is to get still enough to let the truth rise because the truth is always hard. That little thing that nags at us, it’s like, okay, maybe the five glasses of wine isn’t my best life. Okay. Maybe that phone call that I am avoiding is the one I need to make. Maybe that relationship is the one I need to leave. Maybe that desire is the one I need to meet. It’s the scariest thing. And also, it’s so imperative to grow. Right? The dragon is what we have to slay one at a time so that we can get to the next version of ourselves.

Laysha Ward:

And sometimes in that stillness, it allows us to quiet our mind and to prioritize and think about what is best for us, and then to create a path forward. And so, I’d love to build on this discussion and talk about resiliency because resiliency is key to navigating these difficult times. And it’s certainly played an incredibly important role in your life as you’ve navigated through struggles. So what advice do you have for our listeners today who are feeling exhausted and just worn out?

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. Well, first of all, just join the exhausted club. There is nothing wrong with you if you are feeling tired, if you are feeling depressed, if you are feeling overwhelmed. I mean, this year, just the unbelievable burden it has placed upon, especially women-

Laysha Ward:

Not only women, but certainly women of color has been enormous, Glennon. And I’ve been saying, it’s okay to not be okay.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. Actually, I think it’s crucial to not be okay because what we don’t want is what the 12 people in power do want, which is for things to go back to norm. Right? And the way things will go back to normal, which means the rest of us are screwed and those 12 people stay in power, right? Is if we keep putting on that mask of it’s okay. We’re okay. We’re fine. We are not okay. We are carrying way more than half the sky, right? Our institutions are broken. They were not meant to serve us, especially women of color. Right? They were made so that our lives would be untenable. And so, I don’t think that there’s any valor or honor in saying that we’re okay anymore. That needs to go. That’s not the bravest thing. I think the bravest thing is digging our feet in we are not okay. And we will not go back to normal.

Glennon Doyle:

And what COVID has been, is this revelation where even people who don’t want to have had to look at our institutions and admit that they’re broken. Right? And so, it’s possible for there to be revolution after that, but only if we refuse to go back into that gently again.

Laysha Ward:

I believe we have to create a new normal, one that is more just and equitable for everyone because the systems, they’re not broken, they’re actually performing in the way that they were designed to.

Glennon Doyle:

They are working perfectly.

Laysha Ward:

Right? This is an opportunity.

Laysha Ward:

An amazing conversation though about the world is not normal and we don’t want to go back to normal. We want to create a new normal, one that is more equitable and just for everyone. And it’s really powerful for us to put that out into the world and not expect things to go back to the way that they were because that wasn’t working.

Glennon Doyle:

That was not working. I mean, I think that the snow globe metaphor works for that too. I mean, we think about when the racial reckoning began during this time, which was just beginning, but you think back to when that started during COVID. Okay? When the country looked at the murder of George Floyd. What was different about that? Nothing. That’s been happening every single freaking day for so long, forever. Right?

Laysha Ward:

It’s been happening for generations, but the pandemic laid bare the disparities and inequities that had existed for a really long time. And didn’t allow us not to see them and forced us to a point where we had to listen and learn, build empathy and understanding and ultimately act differently than we had before.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. And it forced us as a nation to look at the red dragon at the center of our nation, which has always been systematic racism. And we couldn’t look away. Right? We didn’t have the snow globe. We couldn’t just carry on. We couldn’t just leave the house. We couldn’t pretend that didn’t happen like we’ve been doing for so long. Right? While it’s been incredibly chaotic, I think a lot of people will call it chaotic. I think it’s the good kind of chaos. I think it’s the chaos that comes with the destruction of what needed to be destroyed. Right? We just have to not allow ourselves to be gaslight again. We cannot allow them to rebuild without us in mind.

Laysha Ward:

Amen to that, sister. And to leverage this time of exhaustion to heal on the one hand and gain energy that allows us to move forward and to be a part of the change, that is so critically necessary, which is inspiring as well.

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. Doesn’t it feel like sometimes the most radical thing we can do is just rest?

Laysha Ward:

Yes. Rest is so critically important to our mental and physical health and wellbeing and it’s restorative. It really does give us the energy and the power to unlock all of the things that we can and want to do to know that we are worthy of all the spaces that we’re entering.

Glennon Doyle:

Absolutely.

Laysha Ward:

That we as women will be the ones that will lead the way.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. And we get to be fully human while we do it. Right? People ask me sometimes because of my work with Together Rising, how do you not quit? With all the negativity, with all the need, how do you not quit? And I always say, Laysha, I quit every day. Quitting is my favorite. Quitting is my spiritual practice. I wake up in the morning, Laysha and I have way too much coffee and I care the most amount about the world. Okay? In the morning, there is no one who cares more than me. There’s no one with greater hope, with greater optimism. I’ve got my easels, I’ve got my whiteboard, I’ve got my ways we’re going to take down the patriarchy. Slowly I run out of care. Okay? Around 5:00 or 5:30, I don’t care at all. Okay? I stuck, I quit. It’s me and the couch and Netflix and the carbs and the food. It’s not like a diversion from my purpose. It’s a crucial part. It’s what you just said. It’s a crucial part of continuing to show up. Is that commitment to quitting each day.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah. It’s self-care, right? Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. And your quitting every day gives you a chance to take care of yourself, which is really brave and a great lesson to share.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. And thank you for calling it self-care because I feel like as women, we are tricked into believing that self-care can only be like manicures and the more things we have to do on our lists. When did we get tricked into that?

Laysha Ward:

It’s not true. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

It’s not.

Laysha Ward:

No. Such great perspective. Right? Okay. So that leads me to ask about living with greater intention, which you talk about extensively in your book. Can you say more about what it means to live with intention? And what advice do you have for turning that intention into action?

Glennon Doyle:

Well, first of all, you made me think of when you said, when we get still, we’re able to think, feel, make a plan. We live in a world where we are so addicted to exteriority. Meaning we wake up in the morning and it’s like, voices, podcasts, TV shows, experts, therapists, computer. We’re constantly being yelled at, which is actually quite dangerous. Because when you think about most of the messages we get are people trying to convince us of something, to sell us something. You cannot, you must find time to reconnect with your inner voice. You will only just be following other people’s maps for you. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

Living with intention… I mean, I’ll never forget. I almost, Laysha, did not make the most important decision of my life. I almost did not leave my broken marriage because I was so afraid of being a bad mom, because I was so afraid of hurting my child. Right? And then one day I was looking at her and I thought, oh, I’m staying in this marriage for her, but would I want this marriage for her?

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

And if I wouldn’t want this marriage for her, then why am I modeling bad love and calling that good mothering. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

That’s deep and reflective.

Glennon Doyle:

And it’s reflective. It’s because I gave myself time to consider what I decide is a good mother. Because if I don’t stop and be intentional about making those decisions, I will by osmosis take on the culture’s idea of what makes a good mother. And the culture will always tell women in every single aspect of their life, that the way you’d be a good anything is that you accommodate and slowly disappear.

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

Right? So I had to decide that no. In my situation, a good mother is a model, not a martyr. Right? But that takes intentionality.

Laysha Ward:

I love that. A model, not a martyr. Incredible. You once said in an interview, one of the most subversive freeing questions a woman can ask herself is what do I want? Yet the way that we’re hardwired, it’s really hard to put that script and start putting our needs first without feeling guilty or feeling selfish. What helps? What allowed you to make the most difficult decision of your life? But as you said, you almost didn’t make.

Glennon Doyle:

Well, I think that intentionality plays a part in it because what helps me is to identify the social conditioning that I have been victim to when I was smaller, that all girls are. That taught me that everything I want is bad and dangerous. Okay? So is it actual gender studies? Okay? When you start to look at every message a little girl gets, whether it’s in religion. I mean, Laysha, as a little Catholic girl, the first story I ever learned was the story of Adam and Eve, which the moral of that story is when a woman goes for what she wants, the entire world crumbles and all suffering is unleashed all over the world. Right? That’s the epitome of the Adam and Eve story. That’s what little girls are taught all over the world in Christianity. Every fairytale, right? The moral of the story is stay on the path, or you will get eaten by a big, bad wolf, right?

Glennon Doyle:

Don’t take a bite of the apple, right? Or you will be put to sleep for 100 years. Every message that we give to little girls is your desire is bad. What you want is bad and selfish, right? Be grateful for what you have, do not ask for more. So for me, just a very deliberate study of all of the ways that I was tricked into believing that I was bad was so freeing and helpful, right? Because all we are is a conglomeration of stories we’ve been told about who we are. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

And so to start, I have a necklace I don’t have on right now that just says more. Because I feel like some of the most subversive thing a woman can say or what is, I want what I want and I want more of it. And I don’t believe it’s bad. I mean, you know Laysha, one of my jobs is to talk to women. I’ve been talking and listening to women for 15 years. What women want is good. Right? Women want some rest. They want good food, they want good sex, they want safety and freedom for their children and for other people’s children. What they want is good. Right? It’s just that if women actually went for what they want, unjust governments would topple, institutions would be turned over, family relationships would be changed. It would change all of status quo. Right? So it makes sense that women are constantly shamed out of their desire.

Laysha Ward:

And I think we have to believe that it’s okay to want those things and act on them. So I think if we drill down a little deeper… In your latest book, Untamed, you have literally changed the lives of so many women at an incredibly pivotal time in the world. And a big theme in the book is this idea that women need to tune into our inner voice because so often we don’t act on our inner voice because we don’t trust ourselves. We are too busy trying to please others or we’re just conditioned as you’ve been saying, Glennon, to not trust ourselves. So why do you think it’s important to listen to our inner voice and act on it especially right now?

Glennon Doyle:

Well, I mean, I think that we are all looking for a map for how to live, right? And when you think about it, that’s totally hilarious because by definition, no one has ever lived the life we’re living, right? No one has ever lived my life with my experiences, with my pain, with my loss, with my skills, with my effort. Every single life is that unrepeatable and unprecedented experiment, which makes it hilarious. We’re always asking other people how we should live. It’s literally like we’re asking other people for directions to places they’ve never been.

Laysha Ward:

They’ve never been, yeah.

Glennon Doyle:

That’s what we do. I mean, Laysha, I still do it. I will get confused about life and I will take a freaking BuzzFeed quiz. I mean, I will ask, which was clearly made by some 18 year old who lives in the basement of his mother.

Laysha Ward:

Right.

Glennon Doyle:

Okay. I will just tell you this quick story. One day I had my son. I have a boy and two girls, until they tell me otherwise. My son had his friends over and I peeked my head into the little room and I said, “Hey, is anybody hungry?” And something amazing happened. Which is that every single boy in the room, without taking his eyes off the TV said, “Yes.” Okay, great. Right? They just heard a question, they looked inside themselves, they found an answer, they said it. Nailed this Q and A, Laysha. Right? Okay. The girls did something completely different. I will never forget it as long as I live. First of all, every single girl in the room was silent. Then every single one of them took their eyes off the TV and started looking at each other’s faces, Laysha. At each other’s faces to find out if they in fact were hungry inside their own body. Okay? Right after that, somehow they silently appoint a spokes girl because this small braided child in the corner turns towards me and says, “No, thank you. We are fine.”

Laysha Ward:

So what’s up with that? Why do you think that happened, Glennon? What was hardwired in those young people that they acted so differently?

Glennon Doyle:

Okay. So here’s my hope. My hope is that that nothing is hardwired in them. I think that they were given… Okay. This is like a technological metaphor. They were born with blank slates, but they were programmed. Okay? That they were programmed in gendered ways. Okay? I’m a former third grade teacher. I know how children are programmed. Okay? So boys are programmed to believe that in every moment of uncertainty, they should look and find inside themselves, find their desire and speak it. Little girls are programmed that in every moment of uncertainty, they should look outside of themselves for consensus, for permission, right? So what I think that happens is that women, little girls, we forget how to know when we learn how to please.

Laysha Ward:

Right? We’re not able to tap into our inner voice, to believe in our inner voice, let alone to act on it.

Glennon Doyle:

Exactly. I think we just have a —

Laysha Ward:

We get programmed not to, but we can be reprogrammed so that we are able to find our voice and to unleash that voice, to do good in the world.

Glennon Doyle:

That’s what I believe. I believe that if you took a bunch of boys and girls and you switched their conditioning, I believe that the little boys would be looking outward and little girls would be inward. I don’t believe that there’s a single human characteristic that’s gendered. I think that the permission to express certain characteristics is gendered, right? And that our programming is gendered. So if that is the case, which I think most social sciences believe is true. If we can be programmed, then what you said is exactly right. We can also be deprogrammed. And that is extremely helpful.

Laysha Ward:

And incredibly helpful. Now, I want to dig into this a little deeper with you. Should we always listen to our inner voice? Right? It’s been tough out there, girl. Right? People are stuck inside quarantining lonely. And quite frankly, this type of isolation has huge impacts and it can be easy to start spinning in negativity. So how do you actually know when to listen and when you should silence it?

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. It’s so good. Well, I spend most of the day silencing voices in my head. I have major anxieties. Most of my day is like, shut up. I am harassed constantly by anxiety. So the intuition for me is different than… If I’m hearing a voice, you know how most people’s inner voice are always giving them fear messages. Like I’m not good enough, they’re not good enough. If the message comes to me in words, I know that’s not my knowing. That’s fear. That’s anxiety, right? I’m not talking about the voices that harass us all day. I’m talking about that deep… You know when you get really still and you’re pretending not know to not know what to do when you feel this gravity type of thing-

Laysha Ward:

It’s pulling on you.

Glennon Doyle:

… that knows what to do. And you usually just don’t want to do the thing that you know to do because it’s scary or hard.

Laysha Ward:

Right. Because it’s scary and hard and you are afraid to take that first step. Absolutely.

Glennon Doyle:

And that’s when the crazy voices come back. Usually, the voices in my head are the voices that I am activating to try to convince my knowing that I don’t have to do the thing it’s told me how to do, right? It’s two separate programs.

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

It gets very tricky, Laysha, because I’m also not talking about our conditioning. So for example, when we think about all the phone calls that are being made to the police by white women, okay?

Laysha Ward:

All the Karens.

Glennon Doyle:

All the Karens, right? If you ask those women why they call the police, they will say, well, because I was scared. They will tell you that it’s their knowing, that it’s just their intuition. What are they supposed to do? They were scared, right? The question is, your fear is racist. It’s deeper than you… You’re not asking yourself, why are you afraid of that man, but you wouldn’t be afraid of that man doing the exact same thing? Why are you triggered? So what we don’t want is a situation where everyone’s going around trusting what they’re calling their intuition and what is really their conditioned self, right? That is holy in this culture, full of racism and misogyny. So it’s a tricky question that is very layered and needs to be discussed wholly or otherwise people going around trusting what they’re calling their intuition, we’ll be unleashing terrible decisions.

Laysha Ward:

And full of lots of unconscious bias or just things that misrepresent the real truth.

Glennon Doyle:

Absolutely.

Laysha Ward:

That needs to be unpacked. Really powerful. Okay. I want to switch gears just a bit. In your book, you said that “the only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me”. Oh, girl. So much unpacking there. And I just think it’s really, really powerful. And it speaks to your journey, Glenn, and it speaks to the power of self-acceptance. Right? I think we’re always striving to be better, as you said earlier. Striving for more. So how do we stop aiming for perfection? How can we stop caring so much about what other people want or think and truly feel good about who and where we are.

Glennon Doyle:

I love it. I mean, this idea of perfect is so funny. When you stop, when you let the snow settle, when you really think about this version of perfect we have, okay, so whose idea of perfect are we talking about? Somebody had to create this idea. So when I think of like, okay, so let me unearth the idea of what a perfect white woman is. What I’ve been conditioned to believe a perfect white woman is. Okay. So she’s pretty, she’s thin, she’s quiet, she’s accommodating, she never questions power, she accepts all proximity to power and all the benefits that that gives her. Right? But she never demands any real power, she never speaks up for anyone else, she never rocks the boat, she keeps… Clearly the definition of the perfect white woman was created by a white man. Right? And every marginalized group, when you’re looking at… Be real careful what you’re aiming for. What your version of perfect that you’re striving for is because it probably doesn’t serve you. It probably serves somebody else. Right?

Laysha Ward:

And what’s not defined by you, right? The narrative was likely written by someone else to ensure that you were framed in a way that was comfortable for them.

Glennon Doyle:

Right. Exactly. To put us in a place. The idea of perfect is just a teeny little cage that we find ourselves striving for and benefits power over and over again. Right? So again, just like I had to redefine what makes a good mom and who was that serving. When we say, oh, I’m trying to be perfect. What do we mean? Do we mean we’re trying to get 16 worth of work done in eight hours? Does that mean we’re supposed to be taking a bunch of crap from somebody, but still smiling? Does it mean we’re supposed to be totally freaking exhausted finding the right concealer to cover up our exhaustion every day and bubble… Wait, who is all of that serving? Maybe it would be way more perfect to actually say how we’re feeling. Maybe it would be way more perfect to not get the work done and just say, this is too much freaking work. Right? Maybe perfect means something completely different than what we’ve been conditioned to mean it does.

Glennon Doyle:

And in terms of what I believe is wrong about myself, I became bulimic when I was 10 years old. I sunk right into addiction and didn’t get out until I was 26 and I spent my whole life thinking I was crazy. I’m crazy. My whole life was hospitals and medication. And really what I was, was an extremely sensitive kid and didn’t have the tools she needs to deal with her sensitivity. Right? What I know now is the sensitivity that led me to addiction is the exact same sensitivity that makes me a really good artist. Everything that I thought was a weakness, turned out to be exactly what was purposefully placed in me to get my particular work done on this earth. And I believe that is true for everyone when we reject whatever the culture told us we have to be and we actually consider who we are and what gifts we have.

Laysha Ward:

That is powerful. It’s about identifying and claiming your superpower. And in many ways being perfectly imperfect.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes.

Laysha Ward:

That is perfection. Perfectly imperfect and being comfortable in that. I’ve been moved by you and your ability to be unapologetically you in all facets of your life. And I think people would find it intriguing that you describe yourself as an introvert and you say, “I love humanity, but actually human beings are tricky for me. I love people, but not in person. For example, I would die for you, but not meet you for coffee.” I’m fascinated by that. So how do you maintain such a strong public persona? While still taking care of and being true to yourself.

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. I mean, none of this is easy for me. I was always the kid in books. I’m a writer because books are how I sort of lived. I would much rather learn about a person from a book than from the person. If I’m wanting to get to know somebody, I would be like, I like you so much. Can you give me your top five favorite books? Because then I’ll read them and I’ll know you so well. Whereas the other person will be like, why don’t we just go to coffee?

Laysha Ward:

Seriously, you’re so warm, you’re so engaging. We’ve just met and I feel like I’ve known you forever.

Glennon Doyle:

Me too. Me too.

Laysha Ward:

And I definitely know that we’ll continue to stay in touch. I just feel that. And yet I can also relate to what you’re expressing around being more of an introvert because I am as well, which people wouldn’t believe about me either. And so, it’s just very freeing to hear you talk about this and the sort of dimensions and nuance of your personality in life.

Glennon Doyle:

Yeah. I mean, I became a writer so that I could be connected with humanity, but in my pajamas, in my closet.

Laysha Ward:

I love that.

Glennon Doyle:

Laysha, writing about the importance of community while I am alone in my closet. But it’s also a bit of a shadow self I will say, that while I respect my inner introvert, I also know that it’s not my best self when I don’t get in… pre COVID, in rooms with human beings. I need that very much, even though it’s just not my most comfortable place. I don’t know. I have some… I guess what you would call social anxiety. When my phone rings, I mean, when my doorbell rings, Laysha, it’s like we’re being attacked by rebel forces. It scares the bejesus out of me. And the same for my poor children. Our doorbell will ring and they’ll be like, “Oh my God, what’s happened?” And I’m like, you guys actually, it’s okay. All moms aren’t like this. I don’t know.

Laysha Ward:

Like you, I really appreciate human connections. And I think relationships are so important and I often talk about the power of connection currency. I get energy and I’m inspired by being around people and their creative ideas and all the amazing things they’re trying to do in the world, but I also quite frankly, sometimes have energy taken away when I’m in those moments. And I have to sort of step back and get recharged so that I can fully engage with the community that I love and dependent upon. But I just don’t interact in the same way perhaps as others who are introverts do. And in many ways people will say I’m a business extrovert, but an internal introvert.

Glennon Doyle:

Interesting. Would you consider yourself a highly sensitive person? Are you hyper aware? If you’re in a room full of people, do you find yourself hyper aware of everybody and how everyone’s conglomerating and feeling? Do you do that? Because I think that’s-

Laysha Ward:

I do that a lot. And very intuitive, definitely thinking about everyone in the room and trying to get a sense of their story, trying to build empathy and find the right way to have an authentic, meaningful connection as a way to again, be supportive or build community, create a trusted sort of opportunity to partner in the world. And it seems to me-

Glennon Doyle:

That takes energy being like that. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

So maybe that’s one of the reasons why it would be a little more taxing for us. We feel introverted because I don’t know if this is the leftover teacher in me, but when I walk into a room, I am constantly worried about everyone. Like, why is that person by themselves in the corner? Why is that man taking all the talking time? That person looks sad. But it’s an onslaught of responsibility.

Laysha Ward:

And it’s like the orchestra and you’re trying to make sure every section is perfectly aligned and playing in the right way, at the right time in harmony.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes. It’s ridiculous.

Laysha Ward:

Both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. Right?

Glennon Doyle:

Amen. Yes.

Laysha Ward:

I also think about you when I think about the theme of this conference because I think you’ve been living the theme, women leading the way forward. And you do in a variety of ways, like founding Together Rising, which is an extraordinary organization where you’ve raised over $28 million for women, families and children in crisis. Wow. How did you even think to create this amazing organization? And what advice would you share with women who are trying to figure out how they can lead the way forward in whatever way they can?

Glennon Doyle:

So Together Rising started… My job began as an artist, which just means as a writer, my job is just to pay close attention. I seriously think of my job as to pay really close attention and report back to people who can’t pay that close of attention because they have real jobs. That’s what a writer does. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

I think you are an amazing person who listens, who then learns and then cocreate shared stories, which is the gift of a writer.

Glennon Doyle:

Thank you. Yes. That’s better. But I really think what happens when you pay close attention which you know so well, is that you just really do fall in love with people. When you are listening carefully to people’s stories, you really can’t help it. This whole disconnection device and all of it, it doesn’t work when you’re close up. When you get close up, it’s just like you want to be connected. So that’s how Together Rising started. Is that we just wanted to start serving each other and loving each other better in this community.

Glennon Doyle:

And then what happened after awhile, Laysha, is that we were just meet people’s needs, we were working our butts off, we were just… And every day my sister and I, we ran it together, the question would be why are all of these freaking people suffering so much? We’re reading their stories, we’re talking to them. In this country where we were promised if you do A, B and C, you can make ends meet. Why are all these people suffering? And then one day I read this quote by Desmond Tutu that said, “You can only pull people out of the river for so long until you have to look up river and find out who’s pushing them in.” Right?

Laysha Ward:

Powerful.

Glennon Doyle:

And that is when I stopped being just a philanthropist and started becoming an activist. Because what I realized is if you are a philanthropist who’s not paying close enough attention, you actually become quite codependent with power. Okay? It’s a great system. They’re pushing them in up river and you’re down river pulling them out. No problem. We’ve got it. Right? You actually become power split soldiers. So what I learned after, oh, wherever there’s great suffering, there’s also great profit. Right? Where people are suffering, there’s always somebody upstream pushing people in. So it is my job as a philanthropist at Together Rising to be pulling people out of the river who have already been pushed in.

Glennon Doyle:

For example, we work so hard with the LGBTQ teen community because they’re number one growing homeless community in our country. Right? We’re building shelters, we’re getting mentorships, whatever. We will continue to do that, but it is also my job to go upstream and to give living hell to the people who are preaching shame and hatred and bigotry that is then filtering into these families homes and causing parents to kick their children out of the homes. Right? It’s a constant and both because if you don’t go up river, it’s never going to stop.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah. You’re talking about doing the systems work, right? What are the systems and structures that are in place that continue to enable and fuel the inequity or what’s behind the issues that you’re working on so that you can really get at the root causes as well as providing immediate, is what it sounds like you’re asking.

Glennon Doyle:

Exactly. It’s like how many therapy bills can we pay for kids who have been in the middle of a school shooting? Right? Before we look up river and start giving living hell to the politicians who are in the NRAS pocket and profiting off of the suffering. Right? So it’s a constant and both. It’s just interesting because what I have noticed is that the world loves a woman philanthropist. Okay?

Glennon Doyle:

It’s like that quote. It’s like when I fed the poor and they called me a Saint. When I asked why people poor, they called me a communist. I have seen that, Laysha. So I felt the shift in the energy of the world when I stopped being like, okay, I’ve got everybody and start asking hard questions.

Laysha Ward:

Glennon, you’re talking about sitting in our power, using that power for good and really merging philanthropy and activism in a way that really creates meaningful, sustainable change.

Glennon Doyle:

Yes, both. Right? Both.

Glennon Doyle:

And then the second part of your question about my advice. I think that women, actually, every single marginalized group is always told that they shouldn’t feel their feelings. Right? That they should not be angry, that they should not be heartbroken. I think that one of the most important things for a woman to do is to embrace her anger and embrace her heartbreak. So I think that heartbreak is the absolute best clue for any woman to know what she’s supposed to do in the world. Right?

Laysha Ward:

Say more about that.

Glennon Doyle:

Well, I just started noticing early on that people would tell me over and over again, I can’t read that. It’ll break my heart. I can’t go there, it’ll break my heart. I can’t read that, it’ll break… I can’t meet her, it’ll break my heart. So interesting. I was like, what is this conditioning that we actually believe that our purpose down here is to avoid heartbreak by all means? That’s weird. Actually, heartbreak is not something that should be avoided. It is something that it should be rushed towards. It’s like the greatest clue of our lives, right? Because what breaks your heart is different than what breaks your heart and what breaks your heart. When you find the thing that breaks your heart and you go towards that thing, you find your purpose.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah. Powerful. Love that.

Glennon Doyle:

Right? And then, Laysha, the really cool thing is what women tell me over and over again, their biggest fears that they’ll die without finding their purpose, that they’ll die without finding their people. They want purpose. They want connection.

Laysha Ward:

Yeah.

Glennon Doyle:

You find out what breaks your heart, you find both. Because when you go towards the people doing that world changing work, those are your people. There’s no bond greater than the bond that happens among people who are doing the same world-changing work together. Right? And might I consider… though it sounds ironic for me, that everyone doesn’t need to start their own nonprofit. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

Powerful. I agree with you. There is an abundance of organizations and quite frankly, there are plenty out there in the world that we can connect to and amplify our impact versus starting from ground zero. I could not agree with you more, but I think so often, we’re just trying to find a way to make a difference. Trying to do something with that heartbreak as you just beautifully articulated. And I think that’s what we’re all kind of searching for. As you said, we want purpose, we want humanity and we want to build just incredible human connections that validate why we are here on this earth.

Glennon Doyle:

That’s right.

Laysha Ward:

We matter. That we’re worthy. And I just think all of the things that you’ve been writing about and talking about in the community that you’ve been building, is creating space for women to share to go towards their purpose, their humanity and their heart, which is incredibly inspiring. So just a powerful way to frame that. And I’m really grateful that we had that conversation. And I know our time is drawing near. I could talk to you for hours.

Glennon Doyle:

I know. Well, hopefully, this will be just the beginning of our conversation.

Laysha Ward:

It is, but I have just one last question for you and it is, what’s next and what can we look forward to from you?

Glennon Doyle:

Okay. Well, here’s the thing. I’m going to tell you two things. I’ll tell you one fun thing, and that is the Untamed’s being turned into a TV show. It’s very fun and cool. It’s going to be really exciting. I’m working on it. Yeah.

Laysha Ward:

Wow.

Glennon Doyle:

I know. But my second thing is this. I just want whenever anyone asks a woman, what are you going to do next? I just want the woman to say, I’m going to freaking rest. Okay? You know what next? I’m going to get a glass of water. Okay? And I’m taking my dog for a walk. Let me take a bath. I don’t know. I learned in early sobriety, Laysha, what’s next is the next right thing. One thing at a time. I’m living my whole life like that. So you ask me what’s next, I will tell you after this, I’m going to do one more interview and then I’m going to get in my pajamas, which to tell you the truth, I already have my pajama bottoms on.

Laysha Ward:

I have my pajama bottoms on too.

Glennon Doyle:

And then I’m going to get some carbs and I’m going to watch TV. That’s-

Laysha Ward:

I love it. Well, Thank you for giving us just a little glimpse into your future. And I will be following you and I’ll be cheering for you too.

Glennon Doyle:

You too. Be in touch. Okay?

Laysha Ward:

I will. This has been a phenomenal conversation. You are an amazing memoir writer and activist, a philanthropist and an inspiration for women everywhere. Thank you for being a guest on Women Amplified.

Glennon Doyle:

Thank you, Laysha.