Protecting our Wellness and Being a Supportive Sport Parent with Dr. Hillary Cauthen, Sport Psychologist and Tedx Speaker

At an early age, Hillary was curious about the athletic mindset and finding ways to enhance one’s “heart” and inner drive to reach personal success. While pushing herself to her physical limits, she began to understand the importance of mental strength.Her education began with a focus in sport psychology. Through her studies, she realized the magnitude sport had on one’s personal growth. Understanding the psychological aspect of sport, she began to blend the fields of clinical and sport psychology.

Dr. Cauthen, now a sport psychologist who has 13 years of experience applying mental skills training, is the Director of Performance Services at Texas Optimal Performance and Psychological Services, LLC. She is an active member in her local community and professional associations. Dr. Cauthen is currently a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Texas and a Certified Mental Performance Consultant. She is also the Membership Chair for the Division 47 of the APA – Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology and Elected Secretary-Treasure for AASP.

Hillary strongly believes in the practice of: embracing personal growth, enhancing performance, and enriching one’s passion for athletic and professional endeavors.

In this episode, Hillary and Cindra talk about:

  • The Continuum of Care of Mental Illness to Mental Performance
  • Strategies to optimize our own wellness
  • How to create a culture of caring in your family and in sport
  • 6 parenting types
  • 6 parenting tips
  • And, a powerful story about failure that we can all relate to

“I think it’s just having a broad range of knowing all the feelings, that we all experience them and sometimes we have to switch that to feel a little bit better.”- @TOPPSTIP
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“What are the parameters around our language and how do kids start modeling that?”-@TOPPSTIP
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“Failing is when you’re not meeting a standard or a measurable outcome.”-@TOPPSTIP
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“I’ve lost games, I’ve lost races, but I haven’t always failed.”-@TOPPSTIP
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Full Transcription:

Cindra: Dr. Hillary Constance thank you so much for being on the High-Performance mindset podcast. How are you doing today?

Hillary: I’m good thanks so much for having me.

Cindra: I’m excited to talk to you. Just generally about wellness practices and how we can best take care of ourselves right now in this time of uncertainty change. And then you have some great content about being a supportive sport parent. So I’m looking forward to talking to you both about both of those topics. Yeah, so, Hillary to get us started. Tell us a little, a little bit about your passion and what you do right now?

Hillary: Yeah, so I’m a clinical sports psychologist in Austin, Texas and a private practice and I think looking back to my passion and how I got started. It really was at 14 and I know that sounds like very young, that I knew exactly what I wanted to do and thankfully I did but it started because I was a competitive us athlete. And at the time, you know, I had a really successful season and it was easy, but I felt really lost and was kind of, I didn’t have my passion and fire. And I was like, what is happening? So, I realized like, I wish I had someone who I could talk to, but who understood this competitive mindset that’s what I’m going to do. And then when I was in college like fast forward when I’m beginning my initial studies of psychology and kinesiology, I was a collegiate athlete and I realized when I was performing my best as an athlete is when I felt the most cared for.

Cindra: Ahh okay

Hillary: And I was fortunate enough that you know one of the coaches in our program. The men’s coach actually would have coffee one to two times a week and we would just talk to each other like he just talked to me and cared about me. And so then I was able to link my happiness could feel my performances. My performances could feel them, you’d be unhappy and better and other areas and fast forward to my career after all my studies. I never click clicked until my second oldest daughter. She was for the time and they asked what mom does for work and she teaches people to be happy.

Cindra: Oh, that’s great. What a great response.

Hillary: Right, so I mean I am fortunate enough now that I do work with athletes and coaches and parents and executives, but I work with people and I get to care about them and teach them to care about themselves and launch them into feeling better and performing better what they want to do.

Cindra: Yeah, that’s great. So it kind of just briefly tell us a bit about how you got to where you are now?

Hillary: Yeah, I would say I’m impatiently persistent and I say that because while I had this vision. I always wanted to be doing the work. And so I took the opportunity to learn right I was

an athlete and then I wanted to coach and I wanted to understand every aspect that I might go into while getting my studies I started doing the work as a mental skills coach and then once I got my clinical degree. I started doing the practical work and postdoc at licensure aspects and really blending the field I never intentionally sought out to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t know that that was a part of me, but because I was doing the work and connecting to so many people and had a dreamer idea I had a great teammate who saw the vision and helped me create where we’re at now.

Cindra: Yeah. So tell us a bit about the business that you have just to give people a little context in terms of as we get going with the content for today and what you have to share?

Hillary: Yeah, so we’re located in Austin, Texas. It’s called Texas Optimal Performance and Psychological Services. So we built by tops and we’re a blended practice. So while I’m a clinical sports psychologists, there’s my partner. Dr. Catherine Bitney we started this practice and she helps me kind of run the business and the admin and she hones in my ideas a little bit when I get too excited, but we she’s my partner, then we have two other general psychologist. One is a child and adolescent psychologist and then one is works more with adults and executives and so all four of us are licensed psychologist, my focus with the CPC certification is much more on the athletes and performing artists and high executive performers so it might be individual care that we see in our office. I do on field services as well where I’m working with teams and kind of integrated there and the other three we have our tagline of a balanced mind balanced body. So while they’re not trained specifically within the clinical sport domain they understand what our mission is which is to utilize for an exercise into the work we’re doing the somatic process to create overall wellness for everyone.

Cindra: So, today we’re really talking about this idea of wellness and taking good care of ourselves. And one of the things I really liked that you talk about, is this continuum of care that goes from like mental illness to mental performance and mental health is kind of this neutral point in the middle. So maybe it’s to get started. Get started like tell us a bit about this continuum of care. And can you explain the idea and how it relates to us?

Hillary: Yeah, and thankfully I get this a lot with colleagues in our field to that helped me kind of with this, this idea of a continuum of care, but it’s a holistic approach of understanding that we all have mental health, very similar to the physical health nature. Right. We socially. We don’t treat it the same way we don’t think of it the same way we all have thoughts and we all have emotions and they impact how we act and so for me, when we’re looking at the performance side of it. These are skills and tools that launch you to wellness that launch you to optimizing the things you’re doing. So you’re thinking differently. You’re trying to feel a certain way that make you perform even better then we go back to the neutral point. And it’s like, oh, stressed and worried. I have everyday concerns, but if it starts becoming too much for us and life stressors become the impact our functioning and impact the way that we’re performing we can then go into the mental illness side and it might be just symptom ology like maybe you’re seeing certain signs of symptoms, but it could warrant a full psychiatric diagnosis, where you might need to seek treatment from trains licensed psychologist or even need a license

psychiatry is to help with medication. So it is an overall consume that all of us actually can be on at any point in our life. You know, we might just seeing some symptom ology are performing really well, but we fluctuate on that continuum naturally in our everyday what we’re doing.

Cindra: Yeah and you know I think Hillary. One thing that’s really interesting is that sometimes people use this idea of mental health and mental illness interchangeably right that it’s the same thing. How could you differentiate that for us. And I’m just thinking about right now in this time of uncertainty and change where mental like you know illness is on the rise. More people are reporting depression and more people are, you know, just describing how COVID, it has really impacted their own mental health. So how would you differentiate those two concepts for us?

Hillary: Yeah I and I They are so semantically interchangeable, but they’re different. And I think when we think of mental health, like I love the idea of normalizing mental health because we have it right so the best comparison, you’re looking at your physical health, and from a young age, at least here in America. We go to the pediatrician every year for our world checks and we do all those things that are making sure we’re drinking water and eating healthy and we’re doing those things for physical health. Well, the mental health can be the same aspect, like, what are you doing every day to check in with your thoughts and your behaviors to make you feel good and currently, you know, if we want to optimize that. Just like our physical health, we’re going to work out a little bit more. We’re going to exercise and change our diet to reach fitness goals if we’re wanting to optimize wellness, we’re going to make to do list. Do you know kind of initial things of mindfulness breathing and we’re going to set initiatives or self-mantras like little extra things to a goal, what you’re talking to. And currently, speaking of was the mental illness piece. I think it’s changing language, even so that worry and nervousness isn’t the same as it or sadness or fear is not the same as depression. And so we have to be really mindful of what language we use and understand how we’re feeling then because we will all have worries while have negative thoughts and currently in our state. Now, we look at the pandemic and we look at social justice and the political election, like it’s bringing a lot of change and uncertainty that we know all of us have probably experienced and having our own feelings and thoughts around it and he leads you to different areas of this continual not everyone is going to meet a diagnosis of mental illness. But if we’re not taking care of our mental health and we’re not doing self-care needs, we will feel isolated and anxious and worried and we can understand that we could easily lead into some maladaptive patterns of drinking more and the substance use is on the rise, and it could lead into some of the illness problematic behaviors. So it’s a matter of if you’re not taking care of the everyday mental health, you can easily slip into some of the symptom ology of mental illness or have a full diagnosis based on kind of where your body and brain’s thinking about it.

Cindra: So what would you tell us, Hillary in terms of best practices and taking care of our mental health which you just mentioned?

Hillary: Yeah, I mean, I like to use this term like feel your fields. It’s one of my favorites is tapping into how are you feeling every day, right, like a mental health check this mental wellness checklist, however you want to define it, but think about what am I thinking about

today, what are my thoughts are they helping me or are they going to hurt me and distract me and am able to focus on what my to do is or, how am I feeling right are my emotions and feelings, allowing me to impact with others the way I want to love myself as I need to and really think clearly. And so I think just doing a little five minute check right. Have your morning coffee. Go for a walk with the dog, whatever it might be. But like check in with yourself thinking like what my thoughts and feelings are and how do I want to be in an act today.

Cindra: Yeah, sometimes we just kind of go through the motions and we don’t necessarily take a step back to think about intentionally. How do we want to show up and what’s going on with us, I was working with somebody yesterday who kind of said the same thing, you know I just said, Well, what are some of the feelings you had today. And he’s like, I don’t know. I didn’t even take a step back to like think about or reflect on how I was doing and what I was feeling so I think we can just kind of be in this autopilot?

Hillary: Yeah, and I think also we just don’t know how to utilize feelings like some, some of them seem scary for us or don’t understand how that might help us or how they could hurt I and so I think it’s just having a broad range of knowing all the feelings that we all experience them and then sometimes we have to switch that to feel a bit better.

Cindra: Yeah, for sure. So let’s talk a little bit about the mental performance piece right on the other side of the continuum from mental illness. What would, what would be some strategies and we could talk about this probably for the whole hour. What do you think are some top strategies there just to continue to maximize performance?

Hillary: Yeah, like I think one little thing and it’s going with your mental wellness checklist. Right. Like, I am a big believer and reflective practice. And so I love finding a way to journal or rights and just kind of explore my feelings and what I’m, what I’m working towards and kind of even having a simple rating scale, which is did I do my tasks today, right, did I. How did I feel with my relationships and how did I feel with my interactions? Here we have like a little family motto in our house of happy, healthy and full of love and he’s oh it’s our little checklist and then a night of, like, hey, where we feeling happy today. And if not, what can we do better tomorrow and where we healthy and moving our body and eating right and fooling ourselves and did we feel loved. And so that’s just our little own checklist as my as my kids and I go to bed at night of like checking in on that process, but it is a little bit of a reminder of this is going to launch me to live in the way I want to live.

Cindra: And you have three girls. Right.
Hillary: Four.
Cindra: Four. I actually knew that and I don’t know why I said three by tell us their ages.

Hillary: Yeah, so my oldest actually will be eight on Monday and her name is Bella, and then Brooklyn is six Piper is four and London is 17 months.

Cindra: Oh, that’s awesome. :So as we get talking a little bit about, you know, this continuum of care and I really enjoyed watching your TEDx talk which was called or the title was like creating a culture of care for a culture of champions. I’m just going to thinking about how that relates to you as a parent, tell us a little bit like what you know your perspective as a parent in as we talk about these topics?

Hillary: Yeah, I mean I think the whole idea of creating this culture of care for culture champions stems back to my passion right of treating the person within the athlete, right, creating an environment that is learning and fun and excitement and safe and that’s what I want my kids to experience. I want my kids to experience a sport environment that they can go in and show up and have fun and and fail and make mistakes and ask for help and feel really good afterwards because they move their body and they were with friends I want it to be a positive experience I want sports be a place where they learn all the wonderful life lessons that we hope that it can do. And we know it can, but I fear knowing all that we know in our field and what my job is and the athletes that I see, like, I see so many athletes that are high performing, but the perfectionist can be maladaptive and negative to them and impact their self-worth, and what I’ve witnessed from sport behavior. What I witness from the stories that are shared. It’s like that is a scary world to put my kids in when my job, what I feel is a mother is to protect them and put them in places that they can thrive and what a challenge. I have, can I trust that the sport can do that for them or am I going to put them up to have self-doubt and fear and high perfectionist negative mentality for them.

Cindra: And I also think like, as a parent, we might be emphasizing those perfectionist tendencies, without even realizing it, there’s an athlete that I work with, and her mom just said, you know, we didn’t even realize we were putting pressure on her. We just wanted to reach your potential so that’s why I’m excited to talk to you about today’s topic. It’s because I think maybe we don’t even maybe recognize that we’re putting pressure on the people that we love.

Hillary: Yeah, I think you have to look at the patterns of behavior that you’re doing and like even simple little things with parents like rushing around getting them ready for practice and have to be here on time. Don’t be late, like those little key words like the kids.

Hillary: Don’t be late have to either like I’m nervous already, you know, or this, the big game, you have to win. It’s like, well, do you have to win. Like isn’t that big of a game like what are we, what are the parameters around our language and having kids start modeling that too.

Cindra: Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. So tell us a bit about your TEDx talk and like creating this culture of Chair of care for us to create champions, tell us a bit about the premise there and what you were kind of describing in the TEDx talk?

Hillary: Yeah, I think it stemmed from areas that coaches can be better about the language that they’re using, you know, I do think that sport can be pretty toxic specifically looking at the behavior of coaches and parents and then it trickles to the athletes right like this went all costs mentality. You know, we see a lot of blaming and shaming and excuses that happen when I

think it language to coach in a child’s face yelling at them and saying derogatory statements or ignoring them and punishing them or outwardly shaming them in front of their peers like we all know that that happens. And the excuse is dismissed, like, well, that’s how it coach taught me or this is for. And that’s how they have to be tough and I think what then I would never and we would never society as a whole would never allow a teacher to speak to our child in the classroom in such a negative way, saying, who do you think you are showing up five minutes late to my class like go sit in the back of the room, and then I’m gonna ignore you for the next 15 minutes like our child would have a hard time learning in that classroom environment and parents will be abroad or landing books on their desk or even in the work environment for executives like you wouldn’t be cursed that you wouldn’t be publicly shamed because things consequences would occur. We don’t hold the same standard in sport, you know, we allow that. You got to say these things we allow parents to come onto the field and yell at a seven year old child like the things that I’ve witnessed in my own support experience for a parent like coaches yelling at children that aren’t there’s that they’re not coaching in their face, even if they work with them they should be yelling at them. Right. But this behaviors like why do we allow that to happen. How does that say for any child.

Cindra: Right, I think, I think it’s the pressure of winning and the pressure of the kind of like this one at all costs mentality that even as a parent, we can kind of fall into what do you think contributes to the school that you know our sport culture, especially in America being more toxic?

Hillary: I think the pride that comes with it says social valuation, right, like the Eagles winning the there’s money, right, think about how we pay professional athletes and the scholarship, we get right yeah there’s a part of this fame and accolade and life changing money for people so sure that does shape and we love sport. Right. I think the pandemic has really shifted that because we lost it. And there was so much change when we couldn’t do sport. We couldn’t use for right there’s lots of millions of dollars being lost at this high-stake level so It is our entertainment and their stakes within it and it is people’s jobs and it is an entry way for people to get an education, but it doesn’t mean that the environment has to be toxic. It can be a place where they can thrive.

Cindra: Yeah. And what do you see in terms of their research about what are some best practices for coaches and I’m just kind of thinking about maybe those who are listening. What do you think really helps people thrive and, you know, especially we’re talking about youth, but it could be all levels?

Hillary: Yeah, I mean I think first and foremost we as professionals could do a much better job of coaching coaches right at the human level or developmental level. I think the simplest thing is thinking about language I giggled to myself when I watched like five year old soccer and a coach is like go be aggressive and that child doesn’t know what that word means. You know, like my kid doesn’t know what aggressive means. And if they know aggressive. They’re thinking go punch someone in the face right like go attack. And so we have to first teach about language, right, like, and then understand how emotions and brains work and treat them like

humans. Not that the job that they’re doing makes them who they are, right, like they’re what strengths do they have that they bring to the table that makes them better on the field and just connecting with them. So I think yes, we’re never going to lose the idea of winning loose, you know, but I’ve never met a person that says I can’t wait to lose today, like everyone knows the goal of the activity is to win. Right. Don’t make it about winning make it about other tangible process goals that allow them to win and how successfully can learn together and what makes them want to compete at that level.

Cindra: So I really like your six parenting types. I want to talk a little bit about these six and I’ll just read them off. And maybe you can just describe to us a little bit about these six types. So we got well, how about you tell us about the six. No, go for it. You just jumped in Hillary.

Hillary: Um, so I think when I think about this. I’ll caveat that every sport parent has a great intention and plan to want what’s best for their kids right the hope is obviously you want to be a great parents and you care about your kid but not one of, like, you will probably be 123 all six of these for parents at some point or you have the potential to be. And some of these have the potential actually have negative impact on your on your kids. That’s why it’s important to kind of discuss it, but

Cindra: Perfect.

Hillary: The first one is like the vicarious sport parents and the parent. That’s like living through the child sport experiencing living through the wins and losses and their, their child’s experiences, their own experience.

Cindra: Mm hmm.

Hillary: The next one is the investment parent. And this is where we see I’m paying for all these things. And so I’m expecting something in return. So you’re going to get to go to college for free. Right. Or I’m going to get fame, because you’re successful and you’re famous athlete or you’re going to buy me a house once you make it here. And so if I invest in you. Now I will get a return on that investment in some way keeping up with the Joneses this one, we see a lot especially like a young age, it’s when we start comparing our child to other children and what other children are doing. So if my kid Bella is on a basketball team. But then Bella’s teammate Madeline has the latest new shoes. I’m going to buy the latest new shoes and if you know medicine has a private coach. Well, Bella needs a private coach and so it’s keeping up with the status and sometimes parents will live outside their means and spend more on these things because they have to have the best and then you can see it’s because they’re investing in their kids. So you can see the patterns of how you might be under both of these four is a good one. This is the social parent right I think about this one as you go to your child sport event because it’s socially reinforcing your social aspect and like your friends are there. So your friends will support parents, you’re going to be a booster parents actively involved, bringing the snacks like but that social outing. Right. So your world revolves around your kids sport experience and then

the fifth is the independent. This is where a parent might be too busy with their own demands, maybe they’ll take care of other children or they’re working and sport might be like a babysitter didn’t get picked up late. They’re like, they’re at the field all the time because the parent can sometimes be there shows up when they need to and then the last six one is our supportive sport parents and this idea is that sport is driven by the child themselves and that the parent is really just supporting without directing just love to watch them play wanting them to have fun. Checking in about that. Not aspects of coaching in the car, or negative feedback, but just, do you have a great time to practice that five. I’ll get you there. Let’s have fun, you know,

Cindra: Do you think that so I’m assuming what you’d advocate is more of this supportive parent, right, because as you go through the all of those five. I’m thinking about the downfalls of vicarious and I’ve definitely seen parents where I work with their athletes that they, you know, are living through their, their athlete. That’s not helpful. You know I seen you know a lot of down my guess what I’d say is like a lot of things that don’t go great for the athletes and these top five. So give us a little insight on the supportive parent and you said being supportive and not directive. Having fun. Do you think this is like at all levels that we should be a supportive parent and what would you tell us in terms of how to do that?

Hillary: Yeah, I think, ideally sport parent is ideal one right but there comes from there is always going to be an investment in that sport pair. And also, right, like you are investing your kid, but the, the best way is letting the kids take a lead in the sport, so even if you play this for yourself like your kids playing that game. Now what did they learning what are they excited about and listening to them. So instead of you talking and teaching and telling and sharing all your excitement because that’s what you want to just sit back and say, hey, like you want to play basketball. Tell me why. How’s it fun, what can you learn from this experience. Really your job can be emphasizing enjoyment over winning. So, yes. How did you have fun. What made what made practice so exciting. What made learning really fun right emphasized learning and winning and really look about how you can gain skills. And this is a really good one for parents we often get excited when other kids are successful. And when I called you see how Susie, did that really great shot from the three-point line, she was, she was doing amazing on defense or Johnny was awesome at X, Y, or Z, but your child is now comparing themselves to those kids so minimizing the excitement and not like focus on the kid first, like, hey, like, You did so good here. Tell me what was the best part here, and I really loved watching you try to make that free throw. It was really hard, but you did such a good job trying to do that shot. And so, emphasizing the skills that they’re doing and what they’re gaining and just being really positive for them. First, instead of over analyze and comparing to other teams or other teammates and I think remembering that it is supposed to be fun. So if you’re not having fun on the sidelines as a parent, and you say you’re not having fun like we know the dropout rate as high as 70% by the time they’re 13 and if it kids like I don’t want to do this anymore like explore what your family values are when they want to quit, then maybe you want them to complete this season because you’re teaching them accountability, responsibility, but your understanding that it’s not fun. So validate part I think leaving sport, we define is quitting is really hard for parents.

So I’m in full support of what your family values are of hey you signed up for this season. We’re going to do this season. How best can we make this fun, but we don’t have to do it again. I hear

you. That’s really not that enjoyable and then it gives the kids space to figure out, can they find enjoyment throughout that season and maybe they don’t want to quit the next time. Or maybe they do and then you’ve listened to them and you figure. What else do they want to try and learn and even as adults, even as college students right like maybe it’s not enjoyable for them anymore. Maybe too much pressure and like not shaming them, but just listening to what their needs are and making sure that they’re happy and enjoying what they’re doing.

Cindra: You said 70% of kids drop out by the time they’re 13? That as lot.

Hillary: With that statistic like you’d think, even though we’ve known this we’ve studied this is not changing. So we have to explore. Like, what are we not doing to make sport remain fine and make sport, be a place that kids can just go and thrive and learn and move their bodies like when we think about the downside of children that want to be involved in sport.
Hillary: Partially it’s because it costs too much now, right, is that pay to play at the we’re forcing children out because they have to pay and that’s hard. We have such standards on this win at all costs mentality and talent identification that now children can’t make a team because they’re not good enough and so then it stopping children from just free play movement. And if I don’t make a team. I’m not going to move my body and then if I don’t move my body there’s so many other ramifications of how that can impact their future health and life.

Cindra: Absolutely. So you have some parenting tips six of them, and I’d love to talk through them for people. So can you share some of these kind of best practices for parents. Nice.

Hillary: Um, yeah, I think I covered some of them already, but for sure. I think it’s letting the kid, take the lead emphasizing learning over winning listening versus teaching and talking and coaching. I think one of the best tidbits is the car ride home and we’re all at fault. We want to jump right in. Cheryl our excitement, but let the kid lead the conversation, let the child or the adolescent share what they want to talk about and teach them when they can reflect their own emotions you know so giving them space. So maybe not the car ride home but If you’re going to have a family meal after then bring up the topic, say, hey, I’d love to talk to you about the game do want to talk about it. And so it’s asking versus talking and telling is a good listener for them and then using language of, you know, I really love watching you play or it was so I made me so excited to see you so excited. You know, like I love sharing this with you and have it be a shared experience with them.

Cindra: Yeah, that’s great. I like to have these that you said, especially emphasizing gaining skills over comparing others and we might end up doing that meaning comparing yourself or your child to other people without even realizing it, right, like what you just said about you might you know, talk about another athlete and then you know your son or daughter is thinking that you’re comparing them even though you might not be and I also appreciate what you said about letting the child lead the conversation on the way home, and so many times we want to just go in with our own agenda, say hey you know you did this writer this wrong, or whatever?

Hillary: I even think it made me think about like going to the event right like having a good plan of how you want to arrive. And so I kind of tell parents like ask the key like what’s the best mood. They want to be in. Do they want to have their own headphones. And do you want to jam out to your own music and get ready and like we want to talk about the goal and the excitement of the game. Do you not want to talk about it and prepping all this stuff before season is really key because parents just want to do what’s best for their kids right they just want to be a part of the experience and so I try to let both the athlete and the parent know you guys are in this together you’re experiencing all things at no point do you want to see your kids struggle or sit on the bench or be sad, but don’t assume you know the feelings. Every child. They may be just as happy sitting on the bench watching their teammates and working really hard to learn and get playing time they made me really nervous, being a starter so I think just asking them how their experience is and then setting that up to have fun and be that. And so even if you’re like, well, now listen some music because it makes me excited and get ready to be a good sport parent. That’s what we’re going to do.

Cindra:So Hillary. I always ask people on the podcast to define failure, what it means to you and tell us about a time you failed, and I was thinking about how relevant that question is right now because I think we can define failure on our own terms and how we define failure. Definitely leads to perfectionism and maybe even how we define failure as a parent may set our son or daughter up for success or not. What do you think about failure. And how do you want to define your. How do you define it?

Hillary: Yes. So I think simply putting I defined fail or failing different than failure. Right, so simply put failing is when you’re not meeting a standard or measurable outcome. Right. You’re not meeting the standard or measurable outcome of a goal. So I’m not meeting a score on an exam. Okay, so that is a fail. The complex nature of failure to me is when you don’t need that measured outcome and emotionally impacts you and it then it results in changing your behavior where you don’t do it again and you emotionally feel remorse and shame and fear of evaluation and then we stop trying to pursue the goal.

Cindra: Sure. So tell us about a time that you could apply that to yourself?

Hillary: Yeah, so when I looked at these definitions. Um, I haven’t failed many times I’ve failed. Many times in regards to like set measures like oh, okay. It sounds really bad. I will be honest that in the term. Have I not met a measured outcome goal, where it was a fail. I’ve lost games I’ve lost races, but I haven’t always failed. There’s one key time that I for sure failed and it actually was five years ago. And it wasn’t until I was 32 and so it sounds so crazy to be like, I went 32 years of my life without actually failing with my definition. Yes. When I failed. It was traumatic and it led to deep emotional shame and fear of what my future is going to be in. So the thing I speak of mostly is in the psychology world to get licensed as a licensed psychologist, you have to pass this test called the triple P and it’s a national tasks and it’s a beast. If anybody who’s ever heard of it or wanted to take it as like 13 domains, you have to prepare for at the doctorate level, you have to have a 500 to get your license upon. Meanwhile I’ve completed all my practical hours. I’ve completed the jurisprudence ethics state tests and this is the last

defining moment to allow me to be a licensed psychologist for me, which was the epitome of what now defined me as a professional. Right. It’s the last step of this which is not right. I do, but it might time. Like, that’s all I needed to be a professional as I deemed it and I took the test and I got it 498.

Cindra: Oh my gosh, two points away.

Hillary: Yeah, and so I say this because it seems like, Oh, goodness. Great. Like, and I failed. I absolutely failed, but it wasn’t that like it was an immediate like this is the first time ever publicly speaking about it. I’ve literally told probably four people in my world really I was shocked. I was ashamed even tell my mom and dad, my husband’s like I’ve told three professional people now the whole world like he’s listening to this, like, but I i was so shameful. I thought this defined me as I’m not going to be professional like did I know that I was going to take the test again.

Cindra: Absolutely.

Hillary: But it was an immediate failure of my identity and the embarrassment that I had and the fear that I thought no one would think that I could do my job. The one thing that all I wanted to do is help people an impact them and now I can’t do that because I got this for 948 and then I found this magic loophole so tried to minimize my failure because I could get license at the Masters level degree and just have it. So I did that. And I made all the excuses that we
do, like, Well, I was pregnant at the time. And then I like let’s sleep deprived of my second kid and no, I just wasn’t learning the right way and I wasn’t studying and I wasn’t asked asking for help and I failed again. I didn’t just fail this test. One time I took it again and I failed. And so now I’m spiraling because two times failed and I couldn’t seem to cope. I didn’t know how to ask and thankfully I had a great supervisor and partner who was telling me like you just haven’t passed it yet. Like, you’re going to figure it out like you’re still trying and eventually I did pass, which was the glorious day ever. And it was like, probably the most emotional growth and impact that I ever could have had through that journey to learn how to humble myself and really learn and Hillary: Not let the test to find my worst not let this outcome define who I was as a professional, but it’s still so emotional raw for me right like thinking of sharing a story was like this is like real and I was like, I don’t want to cry like this is like, and it’s still an embarrassment yet, but I did it. And so I didn’t, I didn’t experience failure really because I allowed myself to pursue the goal and pass the test, but, for sure.

Cindra: Really for a few things I want to just like thank you so much for your vulnerability and just like sharing that. And it’s interesting, like, as I listened to that, you know, like you know you feel like you have such shame on it, but I think it’s so courageous that you are able to share with people because I relate everybody listening relates to it because they have not met a certain standard at some point in their life to and two things I want to point out about that. It’s really easy for us when we fail that we, that we are a failure rate and that’s, that’s kind of what I heard in your story like that. It’s a loss of identity that it’s like who we are, but it’s just an event, you know, and then I love how your supervisor mentor was just like you just haven’t passed it

yet. And I was thinking about how that really relates to a growth mindset, you know, just not yet. I’m just not yet so I know people got a lot from that story. So thanks for sharing that with us course, um, anything else you want to add about it or any, anything else on your mind?

Hillary: Well, I would say. I mean, I laugh about this when I was thinking like that was the emotional real raw one, I have failed as my parenting standards will put my kids in sport and this is more of a funny story that I think that kids should begin a competitive sport right when they’re eight and I say eight is great. Like the rest of just be fun development early on stuff. Cognitively their brains aren’t ready, all that stuff well. I said I would never coached my child. Well, my first kid Bella at the age of four I put her in soccer and I knew. She’s going to fail, right, like she starts week one, she’s great. We, too, she’s picking daisies and I’m like, what did I do, I knew she wasn’t ready I fell into the pattern of keeping up with the Joneses all of our friends were putting their kids in sport. I love sport. Let’s do it, you think I learned with my second kid we do track and field Bella now is at seven. Great. She’s going to start having fun while her five- year-old sister wants to do it of course you can do it. No, it’s Texas. It’s 95 degrees outside my five year old does not want to run around a track. She’s never run that long before, she wasn’t ready and failed. You’d think my third one I would get it right now. My eight my eight year olds and basketball. Cool, she’s great. She’s competitive my six year old wants to gymnastics. It’s developmental movement. So I was like, all right, let’s flexibility movement not competitive gymnastics. We can do that. That’s that meets our criteria. So I’m learning. But I put my four year old in this now, sitting chatting twirling around, doing whatever she does. And I’m thinking, I, I know this, I’m not ready yet I still keep doing it and I, and maybe because I wanted them to be directly lead and they wanted to do it, but I also wanted their movement. I’m hoping by my fourth, I will get it right. And she placed in something that will not be helpful for her. And so she’s ready.

Cindra: Well, I appreciate the vulnerability, because it’s hard to make decisions you know with your kids and you know sometimes you just have to trust that you’re making the best possible decision and they want. You’re not okay. What did I learn from one that I can help the other I’m saying that because I have two boys and I feel like it’s a constant learning and progress so Hillary. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. What I really appreciated about just what we’ve discussed is the strategies to be a supportive parent and the parenting tips that you provided us. We talked about this continuum of care and mental health is not the same thing as mental illness and then I just really appreciated your vulnerability at the end with the sharing about a time that didn’t so go so great for you. So tell us how people can reach out to you?

Hillary: Yeah, I am. They can definitely email me if they want to write at or at our website, but I think, you know, we at tops tip for Twitter is probably the best thing that we’re promoting and normalizing and giving educational tips on mental health, mental illness athletes and performers and so we use our Twitter as an educational platform. And so if you’re interested in learning more about some of these tips. It will be a great place to just start and as I try to be myself from just being kind and compassionate and have gratitude and what we’re trying to do. I, I hope everyone else can do that as well because we all are learning.

Cindra: Yeah, great. Any other final comments do you have for people, as we finish up?

Hillary: Um, just find your find your social support, right, and just check in with each other. I think that that will help you like we’re better together. And so if you can find people and just check in and not asking, how are they doing, but much more, how are they feeling and how can you help them.

Cindra: Awesome. Thank you. Hillary. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. Hillary: Thank you. Bye.