Ashley Kim is a professional coach, and it’s her life’s calling. I can tell you this with confidence because she has helped me learn things about myself I could never have imagined. She has helped me to get out of my head and drop down into my heart; something that doesn’t come easily to me. She’s never given me any answers, but she sure has asked the right questions in the right ways. As one of her clients explained,”You pull ideas out instead of putting them in.”
Ashley has done her work, and now she’s devoted to helping others do theirs.
I interviewed Ashley soon after reading her new book, Uncaged: Finding Freedom in the Midst of Motherhood. Her answers are insightful, honest, and they speak volumes of her wisdom and clarity. Enjoy.
1. Your book is entitled, “Uncaged: Finding Freedom in the Midst of Motherhood.” Can you explain the concept of the cage?
Sure. The cage is made of feelings—frustration, anger, impatience, dissatisfaction, self-pity, guilt, blame, worry, shame, fear, etc.—and the Stories we tell ourselves that create them. These Stories are our thoughts and beliefs and expectations. Let me give you an example. The book is about me feeling trapped in my role as a mother. This feeling came from, among other things, my Story that motherhood is sacrifice. Because motherhood was sacrifice I often acted against my best interests in pursuit of what I thought was right for my kids. As it turns out, it wasn’t that great for any of us.
2. Early in the book, you share stories of other people attempting to define or cage you. How did these experiences play a role in how you’d come to define yourself?
I took on others’ words, actions, or beliefs as being the truth of me. I made what other people said or did about me even when it wasn’t, and when it did have to do with me, I took it to mean that I wasn’t good enough, even though me thinking that was probably never anyone’s intention.
This is a normal experience we have as humans. We’re conditioned as kids to believe certain things about ourselves. Trying to avoid or make up for the negative beliefs can cause us to suffer.
3. You said you became a stay at home mom by default. Can you explain what that means?
It means I got lost in the current. Instead of consciously choosing and then creating what I wanted for my life, I said, “Well, it seems I have no other opportunities, so I guess I’ll just stay at home.” I turned over my power to outside forces; I was a victim of my circumstances.
4. What would you say to the mom who feels trapped and unappreciated?
You hold the key to your freedom. It may not feel like it right now, but the power is all yours. No one else can save you. And there are no shortcuts or one-size-fits-all answers. It’s about being honest with yourself, finding your truth, and choosing to have the courage to stand in it—to stand up for yourself. No one’s going to come along and bestow that upon you. Only you can do that.
5. It sounds like you’re talking about personal responsibility and empowerment. How do we give ourselves fully to our families without sacrificing our identities? How do we meet their needs and be the parents we want to be while also finding meaning in our own lives?
We choose ourselves. We meet our needs. We honor our importance, value, and worth. And we do it first. If it feels selfish, then it’s a sign that some Story is popping up that tells us we aren’t good enough or worthy. Then it’s back to the start: What needs to happen so I can choose me? The answer will involve changing you, not other people or anything around you.
6. In the book, you write about several painful events that were ultimately transformative experiences. So often in life, the catalyst for change is pain. How can we transform our pain into freedom?
Look for the lessons. What is our pain here to teach us? What opportunities can we find in it? It’s a matter of validating our suffering, then being willing to move out of self-pity, blame, and all the other feelings of our cage so we can take responsibility for ourselves, our feelings, and our experience. And doing it again and again whenever we find ourselves suffering. And also, knowing the lessons will always revolve around us and areas where we can grow, not places in which others should change.
7. My favorite line in the book is this: “Between our ears is a world that doesn’t have to exist.” Can you explain a bit more about what you mean?
The world that doesn’t have to exist is built of the Stories we tell ourselves. When we remove the Stories, we free ourselves from the cage, or from the world we’ve been living in. We see ourselves, others, and the world around us as more expansive, more hopeful, and more loving. It’s why two people could have very different reactions or responses in the same situation. One could be devastated by her husband leaving her, and the other could be thrilled. It’s all about the Stories we’re telling ourselves in that instance.
8. There was a theme of home in your book, both the physical spaces we inhabit and the Home we find within through, “faith, belonging, and Truth.” What’s the first step toward the truth and freedom found in feeling at home in our own skin?
Giving ourselves permission. To remove or re-write our Stories, so we can begin undoing our habits and re-routing our patterns.
9. You talking about living by design; how has this changed how you interact with the world?
I feel much lighter. I smile and laugh and have fun. I’m always never angry, and I definitely never feel rage. I take more mental and emotional risks. I enjoy being with my kids most of the time, and my husband and I have a depth and closeness in our marriage that we didn’t before. I choose how I spend my days and how I show up in them. In short, I feel like I’m taking advantage of each trip around the sun.
Ashley Kim is a Core Energy™ Certified Professional Coach and the author of Uncaged: Finding Freedom in the Midst of Motherhood. She specializes in helping moms who are stuck in a cycle of rage create peace in their lives. She lives with her husband and two kids in Montana and on the web at www.ashleykim.me.