E15 The Unlock Moment: Dr Gauri Seth – Brain-Based Connection
In this episode, I interview Dr Gauri Seth, psychiatrist, coach and mother of three, whose background in psychiatry, family therapy and academia formed the basis of her powerful work in helping parents build stronger family connections with their children. Her Unlock Moment was a realisation that she had to adjust her priorities in favour of her children in their most formative years, which led her to put her medical career on pause and establish herself as an entrepreneur with a successful coaching practice based around her Brain-Based Connection model for parent-child connection.
LinkedIn: Dr Gauri Seth
Gary Crotaz 0:02
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of The IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound, that they remember vividly where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking, when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things, or brought about significant change in their life, and you’ll be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them, how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello dear listener, and welcome to another episode of The Unlock Moment podcast. Today I’m meeting a psychiatrist and coach, Dr. Gauri Seth, who liked me trained at medical school in Bristol here in the UK. We’ll be hearing all about her journey in psychiatry and family therapy, her Unlock Moment when she decided to leave the medical profession and the coaching work she’s now doing with families using the method she developed called Brain-Based Connection. Gauri is a mother of three children, an executive, parent and emotional intelligence coach, and a psychiatrist with an extensive clinical and academic background in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy. She is widely published in academic journals and on a variety of health topics, including research on the benefits of meditation, on psychological wellbeing amongst Buddhist monks and nuns. Her research on family therapy has been disseminated by the World Health Organisation. Gauri founded Brain-Based Connection in 2021, as a coaching programme to support other parents with emotional connection with their children. Gauri is now on a mission to support parents with holistic science for their own well being, as well as that of their children. She is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and is appointed as an expert in parent and family wellness at several private clinics. Having left a vocational career in medicine myself, I’m fascinated to learn from others who have done the same. So let’s get into it. Gauri, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Unlock Moment.
Dr Gauri Seth 2:30
Thank you so much, Gary. It’s really a pleasure to be here.
Gary Crotaz 2:34
So tell me a little bit about when you first decided that you wanted to become a doctor? How old were you at that time?
Dr Gauri Seth 2:40
Yeah, that is such an interesting question. And I don’t think I’ve answered that before. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, I think from the age of probably four. I mean, I remember vividly, you know, being drawn to books, books where there were, you know, anatomy books, you know, child-friendly anatomy books, my father is a doctor, he’s a retired psychiatrist. And I think I’ve always really idolised my father. And I think literally, you know, and I think also at school, I’ve always been drawn to biology and science, and people. So medicine was, has always been within me as something that I wanted to do. And I feel really fortunate and grateful that I was able to pursue that, that dream.
Gary Crotaz 3:27
And it was about the people side of medicine, or was about the science or something else?
Dr Gauri Seth 3:32
I think earlier, earlier, it was probably the science, I absolutely loved science. And I think it’s such a lovely way of applying knowledge, you know, you’re not, you know you’ve got the knowledge, and then you’re applying it in a way that can, that is interesting, it’s exciting. You’re constantly learning. And of course, at the other end, you’re also helping somebody else and you’re helping potentially enhance someone else’s quality of life. So for me, it’s a, it’s a wonderful blend. It also, it gives you a sort of sense of purpose and a strong sense of fulfilment. There’s never a dull moment, I think, and, you know, continuously developing professionally means that you’re always learning more. And I think there’s a part within us that wants to continue and continue to grow. So all of those aspects, I think, you know, medicine really serves very, very well. Obviously, I didn’t know that at the age of four. From childhood onwards, it was about getting the grades, studying, you know, doing all the things it takes to get into medical school. And that isn’t just the academic side that’s, you know, Duke of Edinburgh, speech and drama, piano and all those things. But I think medicine really, it’s nice in the sense that it requires a very sort of holistic, rounded skillset. It’s not just the sort of knowledge and theory as I’m sure you know.
Gary Crotaz 4:49
So you’ve spent your whole life. Wanting to be a doctor all the way through school from, from, from almost before you can remember and and as you say your father, your father was a doctor. Do you remember walking into medical school on day one? And because, was, was it what you expected it to be? Or was it different from what you expected? Because you’d been imagining that for a long, long time.
Dr Gauri Seth 5:14
Yeah, so walking into medical school, I mean, I went to Bristol Medical School like yourself. And it just felt so exciting and just such an enormous privilege, you know, and it is an enormous privilege, obviously, you know, every year there’s exams, so you end up revising for all of your holidays. But that is all I knew. That is actually all I knew. As far as I’m concerned. I’ve had my nose in a book from the age of about 11. So, and it is difficult, there’s no question that it takes an awful lot of resilience and patience. You know, there’s a lot of waiting in terms of you know, it’s a five year degree. I also did an extra year, I did an intercalated BSc in bioethics, which is medical law, ethics and philosophy, which I absolutely loved. But that was a lot of essays, a lot of you know, I think it was a 20, 15,000 word dissertation. And it was hard work for sure. There was a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of cortisol, I’d say throughout that journey. And I look back fondly, you know, it wasn’t easy, but I don’t think many things are easy. And in terms of how I look at myself, now, I think medicine kind of forces you to go beyond your comfort zone so much, that you can’t help but grow, you know, you cannot help but sort of have these constant moments of transformation. And, you know, one can only be so grateful for those. It doesn’t mean it was always easy.
Gary Crotaz 6:43
I remember very recently I learned a fact about medical training which I wasn’t aware of before, but I remember this sense at medical school of there was always new words that I didn’t know what they meant. And so I tried to find out recently, how many new words you learn when you’re at medical school? And the answer is 15,000, which is 10 a day for the entire five year medical training. So do you remember that that sense of just never quite feeling like you knew enough?
Dr Gauri Seth 7:15
Absolutely. And especially the early years, the preclinical years, which are so kind of theory-heavy biochemistry-heavy anatomy-heavy, wow, it’s literally learning another language. And it’s hard work, you know, it takes a lot of grit and a lot of time. And yet, I kind of assume that medical school attracts people who want to do that, they want to, it’s almost like a chronic being in the gym all the time, but for your brain. And there must be something in that, you know, people that don’t mind that because, you know, when I’ve only recently just sat my last ever membership exam a few months ago, involved, involving a lot of revision again, a lot of learning, but also that was a more sort of practical exam. So really applying the knowledge in an empathic way for, for, for that exam, and you know, people are like, you’re 37 and you’re still doing an exam. And I’m like, I know, and how, you know, for me, I love, I love it. I think it’s such an interesting, you know, it’s, you know, psychiatry especially, such an interesting area within medicine. And personally, I feel it’s been a privilege because you learn so much, which you can apply directly to your own relationships, your own decisions, your own life. So I wouldn’t shy away from something like medicine because of the hard work. I think it’s not for everybody. But I think the work in itself, you know, depends how one looks at work. But I think, you know, the hard work is everywhere. I think junior doctor years is very difficult. And for me personally, I mean, I had three children throughout my junior doctor years, okay, so I had, you know, maternity leaves, and I went part time, and there was sleep deprivation, you know, there’s so much uncertainty when you have children who are unwell at the wrong time. And I think for me, that’s what I found very difficult. And I actually found it actually impossible for me to continue to be the parent I wanted to be. That was true to my authentic self amidst training. But for me, I, you know, I’ve pressed pause to clinical medicine with a view that one day when my children are older, when they’re going to be less interested in me, I can go back, but for now, it was, it simply wasn’t possible for me to kind of continue. And for me, you know, when I left medicine, it was actually a decision that was very much, it wasn’t really a decision, it was almost like there was no option because when it came to childcare, we had a lot of support from grandparents, and when they no longer could safely do that because of the pandemic. You know, I had a breastfeeding baby at the time. So we made a joint decision as a family, you know, me and my husband that I was going to press pause, get the children to school years and then revisit. So interestingly, my, my sort of stepping into coaching was actually later, the decision actually, which was a very difficult decision, was to leave medicine. And I just want to say that was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.
Gary Crotaz 10:20
Why? Why was it so hard?
Dr Gauri Seth 10:22
Because I love psychiatry, I enjoyed my job. I absolutely loved working in clinical psychiatry. And obviously, I also love being a parent. And, but both are hard in different ways. And I enjoyed that blend, because I kind of think work is so powerful for mental wellbeing, you know, work is, it’s not just work, it’s also our, how we can kind of reflect our sense of purpose. And when suddenly, you realise that it’s not going to be very easy to do that without an enormous hit for other people in your family, it’s very, very difficult, you’re conflicted. And you know, you can’t just turn that bit of your psychology off, the bit that wants to be a doctor and learn all the time. So that was one of the reasons that it was very difficult. And it felt like a grief reaction, actually, I felt like it was a loss.
Gary Crotaz 11:15
How long had you been, had you been practising at that point?
Dr Gauri Seth 11:19
So on and off with, with, you know, part time and maternity leaves, I think it had been 10, around about 10 years, so a decade. And you know, medicine really is a different world, I feel it’s a culture within itself. And, you know, medics understand medics.
Gary Crotaz 11:34
And do you feel, I mean, you know, you’re an expert in working with other people’s minds and their mental health. And now, you know, you’re going through a journey that that is your own sort of emotional journey and your own sort of wellness journey, actually. So did it, did it feel like you’re turning your focus on yourself at that point?
Dr Gauri Seth 11:55
Really good question. And the answer is No, it felt that I was turning my focus to my, to my children and my husband. And that part of myself that wants to be a connected, consciously-connected parent, you know I strongly believe there are different parts of ourselves and at different points in one’s life, one has the opportunity to express that and tune into it. But it doesn’t mean any part turns off. So when I was at work, I used to really struggle, I’d be thinking of my children all the time, and you know, are their emotional needs being met? When I was, you know, when you’re not at work, you feel guilty that way. So it was actually, did I feel I was tending towards myself, I suppose to some degree, the part of me that wanted to be the best mother and wife I could be, yes. But it’s not that, you know, being… I’ll be really honest, for me being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I found, the times when I was at home with the children, for me was the hardest time, because you never stop, you know, as a parent, you literally never stop, you can barely go to the toilet when the baby is very young. It’s literally very, very difficult to meet your needs. But I think the way I look at it is it’s a very finite period, when you have to adjust your life as a parent, and I’m lucky that I, we were able to make that decision as a family and that my husband and me were very aligned on that decision that look, you know, children really only, you know, that period of time where their brains are developing, and their self esteem is being nurtured, is actually not that long a period of time. And I can continue to be a doctor later on.
Gary Crotaz 13:34
I think I hear two sort of streams of thought there – one is a practical one, which is How do I take all of these things and fit them into 168 hours a week in a very practical, pragmatic way. And then there’s something else that I think I’m hearing, which is about identity, you know, identity as a parent, identity as a doctor. And as you’re saying, it’s not that you switch one off and you switch one on, but it’s the kind of waxing and waning of levels of how each of those define you, or how each of those are sort of most prominent in your mind. So when you think of your identity, how does that play to this balance of wife, mother, and doctor and all these other things? How does that play for you?
Dr Gauri Seth 14:22
All facets of those things are very, very important to me. And the way I look at it is, it’s about timing. So, you know, before having children, the mother bit of me, there was no, that was not being activated at all. And it was all about being, you know, a doctor or being a friend or being a daughter, and then being a wife. I think, I think part of the problem when you make a huge transition is how you navigate those facets of your identity. And what you do with that difficult emotion because I had a lot of, I felt very anxious actually during that process of making that decision. You know, what will people think of me? What will people think that I’m doing with all the training I’ve had? You know, there were so many difficult things. And I think what I’ll say is, the best thing one can do is have a sort of non-judgmental approach to these difficult aspects, okay, and trying to really look inwards and understand which aspect of one’s identity, because that is, that can be fluid, external factors change. And it’s about aligning aspects of yourself with the right situation at the right time, but being mindful that that other bit of you doesn’t go anywhere, you can tap back into that. And it’s a constant blend of optimising all those different things, but being, not being too hard on yourself, and realising that actually, you may not make the perfect decision. And I think that’s been really helpful, not striving for the perfect decision, because there is never going to be a perfect outcome. It might be that, you know, I may not be, you know, there’s so many things that, you know, I’ll press pause to my clinical work now. But it, does it matter if I’m going to be a lot older when I become a consultant, you know, who does that matter to? So I think it’s about having a non-judgmental perspective and going with the flow, but trying to remain true to your values. And for me, you know, being the mother that I want to be is really important, because the way I look at it is – my children’s sort of self esteem, their sense of self, their future wellbeing, I can have an enormous impact on that for them. And they’ve only got one mum, and that’s me. So that’s how I’ve sort of navigated those difficult, difficult decisions.
Gary Crotaz 16:42
It’s really powerful. And we’re here to talk about this concept of an Unlock Moment, which is a flash of clarity, a real moment of clarity. So when, so when you’re on this journey of transition from the world as it was before, you know, and you’re in your clinical practice, and then you came to this realisation that you had to do something differently, and to press pause. What was the moment when you found clarity – Now I understand what I have to do. Do you remember that, that moment of time?
Dr Gauri Seth 17:14
I do remember that. And it was literally the pandemic. If the pandemic hadn’t impacted my childcare the way it did, I suspect I might, you know, in fact, I definitely would have carried on. It was a decision that wasn’t really mine. It was an external, the circumstances was such that there was literally no choice. It’s according to my values and my sense of sort of purpose and my vision. There was, there was no question that I was going to be taking a pause.
Gary Crotaz 17:45
And you describe that as a practical thing, you know, because you couldn’t get childcare therefore you needed to play that role yourself?
Dr Gauri Seth 17:52
Well, yes, it was I couldn’t arrange the childcare that I wanted for our children. Therefore, it was a logistics thing, it was a practicalities thing.
Gary Crotaz 18:03
And I don’t know whether this is an answerable question, but what did that tell you about you? That that’s the decision that you made, beyond the practicalities?
Dr Gauri Seth 18:14
I think it tells me that, as with probably a lot of doctors in training that you go through, you’ve got to go through the hoops, and you’re not probably that conscious of where you are in that journey and how it relates to the other aspects of your life. So it took something very, very real and practical for me to sort of step off. So what does that say about me? Probably that I, I go with the flow. And however, it also tells me just how powerful my vision is, as a parent, really, it kind of tells me that it really took the sort of, how I want my early years for my children to look like, it took that for me to, to leave medicine. And it was not an easy decision. It was actually very, very difficult.
Gary Crotaz 19:01
I’ve been talking to a few people recently about this idea that I’m sure at some point I should turn into a little article somewhere, about hamster wheels versus playground roundabouts. And hamster wheels are a thing that you, that you feel yourself running on. But you can choose to stop running. So it’s within your gift. And playground roundabouts, you know the little ones that spin round and round and round and you’re stuck in the middle of it. I always feel a little bit like you need somebody else’s help to slow that down. And I think that my, my, my read of your story there is actually that’s more like the playground roundabout that it was the pandemic and circumstances making you go – I have a practical problem that I must now resolve. That’s effectively something external slowing down that playground roundabout for you so that you can step off, as opposed to you independently choosing to slow down and step off and see a new perspective. Does that resonate as a slightly weird metaphor?
Dr Gauri Seth 20:02
No, I think that’s absolutely right. That is exactly right. I suspect if the pandemic hadn’t happened, I would have carried on, I would have got to the end, you know, I would have got to consultant. And at that point, I would have had an opportunity to stop, step off that wheel and regroup. But I think, you know, training isn’t easy, there’s not a lot of, you know, it’s, it’s physically exhausting. It’s emotionally exhausting, there’s exams, you know, junior doctor years are very difficult. So, and then if you’ve got children, and you know, sleep deprivation mixed into all of that, you know, there is very little conscious reflection of, of, you know, where are we going? I think you just have to get there, and then one can review. But for me, I actually stepped off before that. But yeah, I think that’s a fair analogy.
Gary Crotaz 20:49
And are you grateful that that happened, that it enabled you to stop?
Dr Gauri Seth 20:54
I am really grateful that I’m able to be present, physically more present with my children, I’m able to be there, pick them up, drop them off, connect with them, talk to them, laugh with them, help them nurture their growing sense of self, which is, which is all I want. And, you know, it was a very… there was probably about a six month period after leaving, where it felt very, very difficult. And I felt that loss, but it didn’t take long before I discovered that actually there is a way I can use my skills to do something meaningful. And that’s through the world of coaching. And actually, I didn’t know that coaching existed. And I’m just so grateful that I discovered it. And actually, I think psychiatry, psychotherapy, these, all these sort of disciplines lend themselves so well, and medicine, to coaching, that I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world, because I’m able to, you know, there’s a really lovely kind of phrase Both And not Either Or, okay, so one can have a fulfilling, professional sort of sense that they are using their skills, using their brain, contributing to the lives of others, you can do that and support your authentic self and support your family, you can do Both And and before I wasn’t able to it was actually an Either Or, and had to bring in other family members to support the family system. But what I realised and I’m really grateful and quite proud of is that through the business that I’ve set up, I’m able to sort of have that satisfaction that I am working, and I am supporting other people, and I’m able to be there for my own children.
Gary Crotaz 22:38
And do you feel that you’ve had to find a new mission or purpose in this new role? Or do you feel actually, it fulfils the same mission and purpose that you had, as a psychiatrist, as a doctor?
Dr Gauri Seth 22:52
I feel what’s happened with this. And it’s happened sort of organically, that the skills that I have, and the knowledge, you know, the educational background, whatever, all the things that I can offer, which I was offering through medicine, you know, I have basically repackaged all of those into another remit, which allows me to be flexible, but offer a similar sort of offering. The main difference, I think, with coaching is that the emphasis is different. The emphasis is on prevention. So it’s still about wellbeing, it’s still about wellness, but actually it’s about prevention rather than cure, okay, so when you’re working in clinical medicine, there is a problem, there’s a pathology and you’re trying to support it, you’re trying to fix the problem. And what the coaching is allowing me to do is sometimes before there is even a problem, you know, I work with parents where there may not be a problem, but what they want to do is understand how do they prevent problems in the, in the connection, in the behaviours, in the emotional wellbeing of their children. So the the skills are the same, the vision is similar, which is to support people. But it’s the, the tilt is more towards prevention, and I feel so delighted to be in that space. It’s so enjoyable, so satisfying. And it’s a real privilege, as I’m sure you would agree.
Gary Crotaz 24:13
So tell us a little bit about Brain-Based Connection, where it came from and what it is that you’ve developed?
Dr Gauri Seth 24:20
Yes, sure. So Brain-Based Connection is a methodology, which focuses on connection. So the focus of my coaching is to support people, not just parents, but to support people to think about connection. Connection is a very powerful concept. And I think, unless you bring conscious awareness to the connection between you and somebody else, you can bumble through life and not necessarily leverage on all the benefits of a better connection, okay? Now, when I talk about parent-child connection, I’m talking about, you know, what does it take for the child to feel that you are an attuned caregiver? And it’s not actually just parents, it’s caregivers, you know, it could be au pairs, nannies, teachers, keyworkers. You know, so it’s about trying to understand what does it take for your child to feel that attunement from their caregiver. And that will be different for every child, depending on their age, depending on so many different factors. But what Brain-Based Connection is about, is about bringing sort of science, you know, concepts from neuroscience, some from psychotherapy, from family therapy, from cognitive behavioural therapy, and family therapy, as well as schema therapy. So I’m turning to lots of sort of different evidence-based disciplines, and packaging that together into a method, which any parent could understand, they don’t have to have a science background, they don’t have to have a psychotherapy background, you know, this is about translational wellbeing. So I believe there’s an enormous gap, which I’m trying to bridge. And and this is basically based from my clinical practice as a psychiatrist, and as a psychotherapist, that there are so many transformative kind of nuggets of science swirling around, which need to land into family units. You know, if you understand what it takes to sort of connect with somebody to regulate the emotional state with them, if you understand what it takes for children to have a good self esteem, have a good sort of sense of self, to know that they are loved for who they are, no matter what, these key concepts, which are fairly simple, they’re not very complex, and yet they can be transformative to a growing mind. And so that’s what Brain-Based Connection is about. It’s about bringing that science to parents, but through a coaching format. And by that I mean, you know, I believe strongly that we are in a multicultural world. And that also, you know, within a family, within the same culture, every family has their own culture. And it’s about trying to understand the universals. And I believe connection is a universal. All humans need to connect. And it’s about helping a family or parents apply connection to their circumstances. So whether that’s, you know, I’m a working parent and I want to be more connected to my children. Okay, so then we’ll take that scenario, and support connection to make sure that the parents making the most of that time together, so that children are kind of feeling that connection.
Gary Crotaz 27:43
Why is this important to you? Why is it that this is the thing that you’ve chosen to do?
Dr Gauri Seth 27:49
I think I thank my experience working in psychiatry and psychotherapy, because I think it’s very clear when you go deep into anybody’s sort of history, just how important those early relational experiences can be. And I think it’s kind of, it’s a bit of an irony that those you know, there’s a what, there’s a kind of concept that the first seven years of life form the patterns which you then feel familiar with, which you will then probably be attracted to repeating in the future. And I heard that once in a psychotherapy supervision session. And I just remember thinking, you know, so basically, the first seven years of life are really important. And yet, as a parent myself, I know that it’s a very demanding time for parents, it’s very, very difficult. So the reason I set this up, is to sort of almost turn towards that irony that this is such an important time in a child’s life. And yet parenting is so difficult. So how can we support parents? How can we help parents, and I’m really keen to ensure that this message is in a very non-judgmental way that, look, parenting is tough. And what will it take for parents to feel that they can remain connected to themselves and their children? And self-care for parents is a big passion of mine. And the reason I say that is, I know that parents, you know, they’ll give their all to their children, to their work. And, you know, they are the last, the last that they’re going to turn towards to supporting and the message really is, you know, you can’t, you can’t give from an empty cup. And how can we help parents during a very self-sacrificing stage of life, to turn towards themselves, to top themselves up and to understand what does it take for them to feel self-care? You know, self-care is different for everybody. And it took me years to understand what that what it even means. I mean, you know, not everybody likes yoga. I mean, I do and there’s a lot of evidence supporting meditation and yoga, and those are all really positive. Some parents may not resonate with those things. So it’s, it’s very much an exploratory question, an individual question for parents to turn in and understand what does it take for them to reconnect with their authentic self, to restore, to re-energise so that they can be that attuned caregiver to their children?
Gary Crotaz 30:18
Self-care for the parent is really important. And you talked about your own journey and your own experience, and when you close your eyes, what’s, what are you visualising in that moment when you think about self-care for the parent is, is important, what’s, what’s the story, or what’s the moment in your own experience that comes to mind at that point? What triggers that?
Dr Gauri Seth 30:42
I think I always thought that it’s about, you know, ring-fencing 30 minutes of time to do an activity or do something. But I remember having a moment when all I’ve done is I’ve gone for coffee with a friend, I’d gone on the train, and I came back and I felt completely restored. Just having that time to myself without a sort of, a child tugging at me. And I realised that actually self-care can be anything. It doesn’t, it doesn’t have to be what other people think is self-care, it could even be listening to a song. So I find listening to a really good song restores me. It could be looking at a good view. So I think, you know, it’s a very personal question. And I would, I would really guide and advise everyone to make that personal judgement call for themselves. It’s not about looking at what other people are doing. It’s not about necessarily, you know, and it may even be the least expensive things that can restore you the most.
Gary Crotaz 31:39
It’s interesting that story of, in your case, it’s not necessarily a big thing. And it’s not an expensive thing, it’s not necessarily a long thing, but it’s a moment that you need to find. And when you think back to your own, you know, early parenting experience, how easy was it to forget to do that?
Dr Gauri Seth 31:58
Oh, I would say it was impossible. My early parenting moments were a haze, a fog of just, I was not connected to myself at all. And that might be why I am passionate, so passionate about helping parents connect with themselves. Because I think physiologically, it’s a very, very unique time, especially if you have kind of, you know, given birth to the baby, I mean, your whole body, the hormones, the sleep deprivation. And I think it took me probably three years after the birth of each child where I felt I was back to my authentic free self. Because there are a lot of modifiable factors in the parenting journey, which pass. And I think when I look back at my, you know, when I had my first baby, I don’t think I realised how transient that those modifiable factors were. You kind of think, oh my gosh, this is my life now, this is how it’s going to be. But actually, in hindsight I kind of wish I’d realised that look, this is a section of my life, it is going to get better. And just be super-kind to yourself, super-patient and get as much support as you can. And try and be as non-judgmental towards yourself as you can.
Gary Crotaz 33:20
And when you’re in a conversation with somebody, and, and your voice is around, Look after yourself more, find moments for yourself, find that self-care. And they’re laughing and saying, haha, I just don’t have the time! It’s just impossible. And you resonate with that, too, because you’ve been there too. What’s something that you say that helps get somebody from a place of, But it’s just impossible, to a place of, Maybe, maybe I can?
Dr Gauri Seth 33:52
I think if somebody was sort of saying that to me, I can imagine saying that to somebody, okay. And what I want deep down in that moment is for someone to say, look, I hear you, I want to know that my experience is validated, right? So if someone said to me, Look I get it, you’re so tired, there is no time, your baby needs you all the time. I get it. It’s really hard. That’s probably the first step in me then thinking actually, maybe there is a way. Whereas if someone just keeps, if you don’t have that authentic validation that your experience is real, then you just end up trying to defend yourself to say, look no I am too busy. Hear me! You have no idea, it’s too difficult! But if you come from, if you synergize from perspectives and you feel heard, then you might then… because I think it does come from us. If we don’t see that potential, it’s going to be very difficult to take that time. So it’s, whatever it takes for that parent to, to believe for themselves just how important it is. Because what we’re understanding from sort of science is that in order to support a child to regulate their emotional state, what they need is a connected caregiver to co-regulate, okay. And co-regulation basically means helping you calm down with somebody else with you. But if that caregiver is exhausted, if that caregiver is burnt out, it’s very difficult for that co-regulation process to happen. So it could be that parents need to understand the science, that look, if you don’t ringfence time for yourself, it’s going to be a lot harder for you to stay connected and co-regulate with your children who actually don’t have a choice because, you know, their brains are developing, and the part of their brain they need to regulate their emotional state hasn’t developed yet.
Gary Crotaz 35:45
I love hearing your authentic experience of having been there yourself. And it’s very easy, I talk a lot about self-help guidance that is along the lines of, if you were only to eat the breakfast that eat, then you will be, become supremely successful. And of course, life is not that simple. Because if it was then we’d all be supremely successful, all eating whichever breakfast it is! But actually, it’s different for everybody, circumstances are different for everybody. And I like when you’re saying that you need to think about what’s right for you, but there are certain parameters or ways to think about it to help you find that journey. And I know from working in the mother and baby sector myself, I don’t have children, but I’ve worked in the mother and baby retail sector and first time parents coming into the store was a very, very different journey from second and third time parents because it’s all so new, and they feel so alone and single parents in particular, or new parents who don’t, you know, whose own parents are not around anymore? It can be an incredibly lonely time. So for people who don’t have an easy and obvious connected family network, supportive network of friends around them, what would you say to them in terms of something that they can do to help look after themselves, to enable them to look after a little one as well?
Dr Gauri Seth 37:06
Yeah, I think it’s really hard, and I agree, I think, you know, the importance of a tribe is huge. And I think if one doesn’t have that tribe, you don’t have family, extended family, or a hands-on co-parent, it’s really hard. And you know, what would I say? I think part of it is distress tolerance. It’s a concept I speak to my children about all the time, that we have to get good at tolerating moments that are difficult, and remembering that they do pass. So sleep deprivation is the biggest, biggest thing that I struggled with, and what can you do with that, you, no one can say anything to me, you’re tired, you’re sleep-deprived, you’re going to carry on, you’re going to keep being a parent. So what I would say is, hold in mind that that time will pass and hold in mind that you just have to think about the next best thing you can do. I would say drop, sort of, high standards, drop perfectionism, drop having unrelenting standards, because that bar that we sometimes have for ourselves in our own head, is actually in our own head. And actually, it’s much more powerful to try and to look inwards and think, look, you know, have I got the important things sorted? And if I have, you’re doing really, really well. And just, you know, I think I do strongly feel that parenting is very, very, very, very hard. And just not, you know, as I say, not having that high bar, just kind of, and also, I think what I would like to see is a much lower threshold for people getting support. I think there is still a bit of a stigma around getting, you know, support for one’s emotional wellbeing, whether it’s through seeing a therapist, or a coach, or going to the GP. I think we need to be, you know, we are seeing this shift, which I’m delighted about. And I would encourage that shift to continue. We should have a much lower threshold of getting help. Because what I find, you know, having worked as a therapist is often people come when they’ve experienced so much suffering. And actually that could have been avoidable if we, if we ask for that help earlier. And earlier, you know, support earlier is better. And what I love about coaching is that you don’t even have to have a significant problem. It could just be, Look, I’m not quite sure how this is working out and I want some support. I need a coach to help me figure that out. And I’m loving the sort of rise in digital products to help make that all more accessible because I remember myself when I had two under two, and I needed some support. And it’s just so difficult to kind of take your children to a therapist. It’s very, very hard when you’re physically exhausted, and I think I’d like to see that support being a bit more accessible to parents, and I think that’s where digital technology could be really powerful.
Gary Crotaz 40:07
That’s really, it’s such an important message and you’ve articulated it so beautifully, so thank you for that. So we’re in, a quarter of the way through 2022. What’s coming up for you in the rest of this year, in your business and in your work?
Dr Gauri Seth 40:22
Yeah, so I’m continuing to sort of offer the Connection coaching to parents, individually, as couples or in groups. I’ve also written a book, which I’m looking at now sort of working up for publication. And that’s going to basically be a book full of my sort of strategies, my practical tips on how to remain connected to oneself and to children. So watch this space for that. And then in terms of, as I mentioned, making that science more accessible, I’m also recording courses, which will be accessible to lots of parents so they could potentially watch it while they’re cooking. You know, you could, you could have it on in the background. And I’m also working on a digital product as well, which is about helping bring that sort of conscious connection to parents so that everyday life can be sort of, can be boosted in terms of their emotional wellbeing through that product.
Gary Crotaz 41:23
Amazing. And where can people find out more about you?
Dr Gauri Seth 41:26
So yes, I have a website, BrainBasedConnection.co.uk. I’m also on Facebook and Instagram.
Gary Crotaz 41:34
Fantastic. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead. For Dr Gauri Seth, after a highly successful career as a psychiatrist and academic, it was finding a new outlet for her skills and experience through coaching and supporting families, becoming an entrepreneur gave her new challenges but also the opportunity to find a new balance with family life. Gauri is a great example of a person who refuses to be constrained by convention. And it’s very exciting to watch her grow her Brain-Based Connection practice, make a difference to families in a new way. Gauri, thank you so much for joining me today on The Unlock Moment.
Dr Gauri Seth 42:14
Thank you for having me, Gary.
Gary Crotaz 42:16
This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me, Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening in. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset, available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. Follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon!
DISCLAIMER: Any information or advice Dr Gauri Seth gives is purely based on her own experience. Comments made are as a coach – this is not medical or psychiatry advice. There is no guarantee as there are many variables that will impact outcomes. Everything stated should be taken as opinion.