Connecting with Laurie McElroy on Discovering Your Values - Part 2

In this second part of our Values Discovery and Definition exercise with Laurie,  we review SMAFFA (Laurie's values).   We then proceed to the action plan.  We discuss how she can put them into action in her every day life, when making decisions, and how they are signals of misalignment when they are being challenged.     Laurie also shares what the impetus to understanding and living into he values was, and how her life has changed since then.

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human








Alex: Welcome back to part two with Laurie. We are going to be investigating a little bit about how to apply values. Laurie does an excellent job of talking about how she has applied her own values, as well as ways you can do that for your own sets of values and things that are important to you.

Cristina: We also get to talk about the pivot moment of when values have become the way to really understand the work that needs to be done and live by them, rather than just going by life, on autopilot and expect it to just be –

Alex: Welcome to Uncover the Human, where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives.

Cristina: Whether that’s with our families, co-workers, or even ourselves.

Alex: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina: This is Cristina Amigoni.

Alex: And this is Alex Cullimore.

HOSTS: Let's dive in.

Authenticity means freedom.

Authenticity means going with your gut.

Authenticity is bringing a 100% of yourself. Not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.

Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.

It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.

Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.

It's transparency, relatability, no frills, no makeup, just being. 


Alex: Welcome back to Uncover the Human. We are here on part two of our special series with Laurie McElroy, where we continue to go into the values exercise. We encourage you to listen to part one. We can play some of the clips of the last portions, where we talked about the words we were coming down to that are Laurie’s core values. We came up with the acronym SMAFFA up for it, where it talks about how some of the core values revolve around self-mastery, authenticity, freedom, fun, and abundance. That's why we came up with SMAFFA.

Laurie, thank you so much for doing that. We would love to explore in part two here, how these values then translate into different parts of your life and how you'd like to see them show up, and maybe if you'd like to change approaches to it, or encourage more of it, or times where you already have it. Just to start us off, thank you so much for joining again, Laurie.

Laurie: You're welcome. Happy to be back.

Cristina: Welcome back.

Laurie: Thank you.

Alex: Looking at SMAFFA, the –

Cristina: I'm picturing Smurfs, actually coming on the screen right now.=

Alex: It does seem like it should be.

Cristina: Where are the little blue people?

Laurie: They’re in my head.

Alex: Well, how would you to start, Cristina? Do you want to go one by one? Should we consider different domains of life? How would you go about this?

Cristina: Well, it’s more up to Laurie than me. I guess, yeah. Maybe if you think of either one by one, or even combined, because sometimes more than one value shows up in important places of life. How have you found that these are important values? I mean, we talked about the moments of flow, the energizing moments. I have learned painfully and I keep learning painfully, that some of my, I guess, more core values, more important values in daily life, or in certain situations of life that I am now is when they're being challenged. For example, freedom, since as part of SMAFFA, it may be more obvious that it's an important value that needs to be lived by, understood, cherished, prioritized when it's missing.

Laurie: I think that's a great point. Because a lot of times, we can have values that are being challenged, or that are even in, let's say, we're in conflict with one another. If being authentic is important to me, and I'm getting direction at work, that maybe I don't fully support. At the same time, I don't own the company, or I'm not the CEO, so really, my opinion probably doesn't matter to many.

It's like, how do I still show up in a way that feels good to me and I do what I'm told? I do what's being asked of me. How do I navigate that? It's funny, because when you say that value is being challenged, one that came up that I did not identify is communication, being able to communicate clearly, to share my thoughts and my feelings, to ask for the things that I want and need, different people in my life. That gets challenged in me all the time. All the time.

Because I've got relationships that are important to me. Family relationships, where maybe I can't be as direct as I want to be, because I'm concerned about hurting people's feelings, or being too abrupt, or being unkind. I'm not proud to admit it, but I think like everybody, in moments when I am highly triggered, I don't always show up the way I want to.

The minute I don't, in the build-up, I know that I'm getting ready to say something, to make a passive-aggressive comment, to send a zinger right across the table, because somebody I care deeply about has done that to me, and I want them to feel a little bit what that's like. I'm not above that. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

In moments when I find that I shut down, or I withdraw from a conversation, because I'm not being authentic, and I'm not leaning into the fact that that's uncomfortable, and it's okay, I get challenged greatly. That is something that I work on. Thank you to my family for providing an opportunity for me to work on that actively all the time. Because they triggered me like nobody's business, let's just be honest.

Cristina: It's pretty normal.

Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. It's never because they made me say something, or not say something. It's because in those moments, I was so caught up in my own experience, that I stopped feeling grounded, or I felt psychologically unsafe for a second, because of what someone said. They know very well what my insecurities are.

Sometimes they poke it. They poke it directly, and I'm like, “Uh.” Then I feel my whole system shutting down, and it's like, “Oh, my God. Do I punch him back? Or do I just run away?” Because in those moments, it feels like those are my only options. Then I'm like, “Wait a minute, there's another. I could just stop for a second and breathe and say, “Hey, here's what I'm feeling.””

Cristina: Yeah. It's funny, because you remind me of one of the best and most – probably I described this, human disappointing, realizing I'm not perfect moments from our coaching training. When Nina, I'm sure it was Nina, our lead trainer really explained the fact that when a button is being pushed, it is because there's a button to begin with. Then, I remember getting this feeling of like, wait, I can no longer blame everybody else for when they trigger me. This a very sad moment.

Laurie: I think that's something that's universal. I hear this a lot of times, I know I've said this, and I certainly have clients every day that say this to me. “Well, I wouldn't have to do that if this person didn't do that.” It's like, “Really? Was that your only option?” Or was there a door number three that you could have gone down and chose not to? Whether you were so caught up in the moment, you couldn't slow that train down. I think we've all been there, when we feel something so intensely, we have this urge to react in a very specific way, and we go for it.

Now, oftentimes, at least I found this to be true. Those are the moments that I come back and happen to apologize for, because it didn't feel great, and it didn't cause some damage. I feel guilty. I feel embarrassed. That's all about me. I can either let that go and pretend it didn't happen, or I can step up and honor my values in the way I want to show up in the world and go, “What I said was shitty. I know it would hurt you. I knew the minute I said, it would hurt you. I did that intentionally.”

Cristina: Isn't it powerful to have that vulnerability and courage to apologize? Instead of just letting it go and hoping they forget, and hopefully, the relationship won't be lost. Sometimes it is, if it's really triggering, and it's really lots of buttons. It's curiosity really, because once you go through that process of the toddler, five whys, or six why steps of like, “Oh, I get triggered? Why did I get triggered? Oh, there's a button. Why is there a button? Oh, because of how you got challenged?” What’s that value?

Laurie: Yeah. I don't know that I have read that this is true, but this feels true to me. Maybe because we're saying it on a podcast, it's absolutely true. You guys will have to decide.

Cristina: Completely, 100%.

Alex: No doubt.

Laurie: I think that we can be more cruel to the people we are closest to, because on some level, we believe they will not believe us. It's like, why I would say something maybe to my sister that I would never say to a colleague at work. Or I say it to my sister in a tone, or a very direct way, because we have that history in that relationship, and she knows where I'm coming from. I might edit that significantly if I'm talking to a total stranger.

I do think that there is something there that we believe that I can act this way, or I can say this thing, and they will just forgive me because it's my family. That's what family does. That doesn't feel great. It's like, why wouldn't I want to treat the people who mean the most to me? Why would I not want to treat them with the most care, and the most love, and the most compassion, and the most – That's how I want to be. That is what I strive for. I fall short, quite a bit, but it's something that I'm actively working on.

Alex: It's funny, because if you consider both sides of the coin, then you even talked about it earlier, your family gives you lots of opportunities to practice. I think that's pretty common. When you're close to people, there's going to be more triggers and more availability of triggers. There's also more instances that they should understand what trigger they're about to stand on. From your point of view, as well, for what you just said, there's also the feeling that they might be a little bit more apt to pull that trigger, a little bit more apt to push that button.

There's ironically, on both sides, more chance of finding the buttons and pushing the buttons and to put a much more optimistic spin on it. It's a great opportunity to practice that a lot more.

Laurie: Yeah. I think you're right, Alex. I have a lot of conversations with clients about communication issues within a marriage, or a significant relationship. It's never about like, when my husband leaves a wet towel on the floor, I want to stab him in the neck with a pen. Why does he do this every day? I've known him for 20 years and he does it every day, and every day, I want to stab him in the neck with a pen. What is that about? It's not about the towel. It really isn't. Sure, it's annoying. Can't I properly train you to hang a wet towel up, so it can actually dry?

Usually, there's a bigger need that we have that is not being met, and we go for the low-hanging fruit. I think we do that in relationships where there is a lot more familiarity and comfort. Doesn't feel great, does it? When y'all do that, does it feel great?

Cristina: Oh, isn't it funny how, as you talk about communication being the one theme value of this breakdown that happens with families, or dear ones, or people that are close to us enough that they should know us, but they still push our buttons on purpose, jokingly, clearly. All I can think of is how your other values are now being challenged, too. Because now, authenticity is challenged, because you can’t show up as your best self. Freedom is challenged, because you can't have the freedom to feel at peace, or not have the towel on the floor. Or avoid having apologetic conversation.

Abundance is challenged because now you're in scarcity of what's missing in my life. Why is this missing, as opposed to oh, look at all the things I have. It just becomes this meta monster of like, great. One value is down the drain, and they all follow in line.

Laurie: I think, that's a great point, Cristina.

Alex: Self-mastery, too.

Cristina: Mastery.

Laurie: I am not very masterful when I'm laying on the ground in the position and going, “What just happened?” It's like, where's a blanket? I need some ice cream. Because our values really are there. They are interconnected. At the time I wrote this, Maggie, if you're listening, she helped me do this exercise. She shared that it sounded like a spiderweb. It is really strong and fragile. It's this interplay between how all of our values, when we are in alignment with them, makes us incredibly strong. And a force, and it is so fragile.

Any little thing, you can clip a connection and become completely unravelled in the span of half a second. You're right, Cristina, when I am in those spaces, I'm not really honoring any of my values. I'm just like a two-year-old, just having so many things happen at once that I can't even process anything, and then I just shut down.

Alex: That's a pretty relatable experience.

Laurie: I think that's the beauty of it is that it is a very human experience. We all know what that feels like, whether we want to admit it or not, it's another thing. That I've certainly never met a human who hasn't experienced that.

Alex: Yeah.

Cristina: What are some tricks where you can catch yourself, so that you don't let this whole spiderweb just unravel and you fall on the ground and with your legs up in the air wailing away, going like, “Help. Somebody end this”?

Laurie: That's a great question. The first thing that comes to mind is to, first of all, take a second to ground yourself. When we feel that urge to react in a very specific way, our favorite amygdala that we've talked about is being activated. It's trying to help us and protect us. That initial urge, like I've got to act right now. I've got to do something about it, only lasts, I think it's about seven to nine seconds. At the moment, it feels like an eternity. If I don't address this right now, if I don't let the steam out of this right now, I'll feel this way forever. We can get very catastrophic; the thoughts can very quickly. Yeah. Unless that's just me. Is that just me? No.

Alex: No.

Laurie: Taking a minute to literally just stop and go, “What am I doing?” Ground yourself, whether that's physically stomping your feet on the ground, whether it's just shaking it out, let the cortisol and adrenaline have a chance to get out of your system. Sometimes putting your hands up against the wall, and really just leaning into that for 5, 10 seconds and then going, “Okay, now that I've pushed pause on this runaway train, what do I actually want to do about what caused the trigger? Why did I just get so upset?” It's not because of what the other person just said. It's because of how I'm interpreting what they meant, by what I said. The assumption that I'm making.

I've got a few options. I can check for clarity. I can go, “Hey, I'm thinking that this is what you meant. Or I'm thinking that you were passive-aggressively trying to hurt me by saying that. Is that true?” Just checking in, how accurate is that? Is my interpretation of what just happened. Part of it is being really honest with yourself, so that you are aware, when you have hit below the belt, that you're honest about that. You weren't going, “No, I was trying to perfectly communicate.” I don't know what everybody else's problem is. Why do they have a problem with that? It's like, “No, I was trying to zing them back.” Definitely, that was part of it. I wanted them to know what that felt like. Just in case they forgot, I wanted to remind them.

Sometimes, they can also be looking at one of your values, maybe your strongest core value. In this moment, when I feel it's all coming apart, I could end up on the ground soon. What do I want to use to anchor myself? Is that being very just genuine and open and authentic right now? Is that exercising a little humility and saying, “I don't love the way I'm acting right now. It doesn't feel great. I can't imagine it feels great to you either.” Maybe it's thinking about how I want to treat the people that I love. I actually want my words and actions to be in alignment, that matters to me. Those are a couple of the things that come up right away about how we can pause before it all comes with them.

Alex: Those all seem incredible examples of self-mastery, especially, and that's a great example of ways to find that and ways to be there. I'm curious, for as far as your values go, as far as SMAFFA is, if you have self-mastery, what's your ideal last version of when you just maybe a scenario, maybe just how it feels, maybe there's a situation in which you feel that is fully expressed value by value, what would self-mastery look like for you, if that's fully out there?

Laurie: Let me just make sure I understand. What does self-mastery look like in all the different areas and all the different values that I have?

Alex: We can go through each value one at a time. Just for self-mastery itself, what would that feel like, if you're feeling a more full expression of that, or where you particularly get to feel that one value?

Laurie: It’s a great question, Alex. I think it's when I know that I'm one, working on edge, something that I'm in this growth space, or I'm outside of my comfort zone. It’s, am I acknowledging that? Am I leaning into that? Am I saying it's okay that things feel scary? It's hell right now. I know how to do this. I've been in this place, literally millions of times, probably in the court moments might be an exaggeration. Hundreds, thousands of times in my life, of that place where things feel uncomfortable, and it would be easy to just fold in and give it up.

I think that the self-mastery comes in, because it's this innate, I know that I can do this. I know that if I can withstand the bit of discomfort that I'm feeling right now, I can do this. I can get to the other side. That's because of all of the growth and the effort and this commitment to being really honest with myself about what I do and who I am, and being okay with that. I think all of that is encompassed in a self-mastery point.

Alex: Also, if you hadn’t started with that one, that one is a great encapsulation, and I love –

Laurie: Oh, downhill from here.

Alex: The one thing I love about it is your expression of when it's most there, is you being uncomfortable and outside of your comfort zone. I just think that's a great point too, is that values, yes, it leads to feeling a little bit more authentic, a little bit more connected with what you're doing. Even there, you're showing that it can show up in times when it feels uncomfortable. Maybe that's valuable as well, knowing that you want to be okay with discomfort. That's a wonderful dichotomy of the comfort you find and having all these aligned, and then your first example of a place where you most want to see it is where you feel uncomfortable. I think it's wonderful.

Laurie: Yeah. I think in our own growth and development, we have. We have to be willing to be uncomfortable. Otherwise, are we not by definition segment, stepping still? Mastering, I think, also comes up in the moments when I don't know if you guys experienced this, but I literally do, and it makes me worry just cognitively about myself. Things flow just so naturally, that sometimes it's like, you black out, and you just say what you say, and then it's over and you're like, “Wait, what did I just say?” People are like, “Oh, my God. That was beautiful. That made so much sense.” I didn’t even know what I just said. Like Will Ferrell in Old Soul. Did you guys remember that movie, when he was on the debate stage and blacked out and he's like, “Wait a minute. What just happened?”

I feel, too, there's also an element on the other end of that, when you really are in flow, and you are maybe operating right at your best and that mastery, if you can rely on that, because you built it and developed it.

Cristina: It reminds me of sports. If you think about any, or any type of physical activity, where you do something in self-mastery, so in perfection mode. Afterwards, whether it's a tennis shot, or anything else that you may be doing afterwards, somebody asked, she’s like, “Oh, my God. How did you hit that ball that way?” You're like, “No idea. Don't even remember doing it.”

Laurie: Yeah. You get in the zone. Yeah.

Alex: That's a great way of putting it. It is, I think, definitely gets to that point. I think also, it's worth pointing out that I love what you said about, you look back, and it is because of the growth, that is because of the developments you've done that you get to that point. That reminds me of some of the stories you had when we were talking about discovering your values in part one, there was a point of pride that I think you really enjoyed too, with both enjoying your nieces and nephews, as well as people at Target. There's pride in seeing this happen. It's really cool to see that shine through in your explanations of this in part two here, too. There's just pride in having done the self-development, the growth, the mastery, the change.

Laurie: Yeah. Pride in the fact that you showed up and you did the hard work. At least, this has not been my experience. Nobody's ever told me that life was going to be easy. There was a world out in front of me everywhere I went. At least, that's not my experience. Knowing that we had the ability to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty, and figure things out and evolve as humans, that's exciting. That lights me up. Are you kidding?

We don't have to stay the same. If we are willing to lean into again, this idea, this uncomfortable space, and be okay with that, like, God, who knows what you could discover about yourself? It's limitless.

Cristina: It doesn't have to be easy to be worth it.

Laurie: My dad used to tell me that all the time. If it was easy, it probably was – 

Cristina: Yeah. You would be bored.

Laurie: Yeah. What's the fun in that?

Cristina: Yeah. What’s the fun of it?

Laurie: There were definitely times when I was like, “I would prefer the easy route.” He's like, “No. You wouldn't, Laurie.”

Cristina: In hindsight. We've done self-mastery. Now, it's hard to do all the other ones. No. Thanks to that one. What about the other values and especially, when it comes to your daily showing up at your jobs, or your family, or your social life? Also, when you have those moments of where am I making decisions in my life now? Am I where I want to be? Am I actually honoring my values with my job, my career, my family, the way I show up with my friends, the way I talk to the grocery store, or register? 

Laurie: Not always. Definitely not. I'm not perfect, nor do I really – I don't even know what that would look like, or if that's what I want. I'd rather be just more intentional with how I show up in the world and more impactful. I'd rather focus on having more alignment between my words and my actions, to living in a way that feels good to me. That means taking care of the people I love. It means showing up in an open, genuine, authentic way for my clients. I think, there's also an element of curiosity that we can add into the mix in terms of values and that – you have to have a genuine desire to want to know people.

Otherwise, you're probably never really going to have people sharing things with you, because they can sense for whatever reason that you weren't really open to that. I think, maybe we see a lot of that in the world being reflected a lot right now. I would say that now more than any point in my life, I am showing up to a higher degree, in alignment with my values on a very regular basis.

I am fortunate, because I have an opportunity daily, when I'm working with people on values to think about, where am I with my own values? Where is everybody in this alignment? I use my list of values frequently, because you know, like, you wake up some days and you just feel things are off, or you feel unsettled, or a disturbance in the force, and you're like, “What is that about?” I'll go to my list of values and I'll very quickly be able to identify, I wasn't being very authentic this weekend was I? I was holding things back. I wasn't communicating. I wasn't sharing my thoughts with people. I was just stuck in this weird energy.

Of course. Of course, that's what's off. Then, it's a matter of setting a couple small action items to help move you forward. Okay, how do I increase my authenticity today? What would that look like, in every area, with my clients, with my friends, with my family for myself, what does that look like? Then, it's pretty easy to identify how you can look forward. I think that I'm fortunate, because I get an opportunity on a regular basis to ask myself, am I in alignment?

Ales: That’s a way of phrasing it too, is also, how are you finding ways to get back into it? Your list of action items. I'm curious, let's start with it to be literal, a fun one. If you go to find value, what would be as I said, you're feeling, I don't know, in that there's service in the force mode, you're woken up in that. Let's say, what you're feeling is lack of fun. What's something that you might turn to that for you to encourage that? How do you decide, “Hey, this is something I'd like to encourage women had.” What does it look like to create that?

Laurie: To create more fun?

Alex: Mm-hmm.

Laurie: Well, just easy for me, because the kids, right? I have a six-year-old nephew. He's all about fun. Everything he does is fun. He's excited about everything. Everything's amazing. Literally, I gravitate towards these children, and I just absorb myself in their world and listen, have conversations with them. The simplest things are fun. We could be raking leaves out of the yard and he'll say, “Isn't this so much fun that we're together?” I’m like, “Yes. Yes.”

It's like, you forget, because it's a chore, it's a task. We're viewing it from this serious, it's an obligation, or something we have to do. It's like, is it something I get to do, or something where we get to do together? Can there be an element of fun? What if we rake the leaves up, and then we jump in the middle of them and make a big mess? Is that okay? Or if we have Nutella on our waffles, so we get chocolate everywhere. How is that not fun? When it's going, “How did I get Nutella all over myself again?” Because it melts when it's on a nice hot waffle, and that's amazing.

There's lots of little things that I can do to check in. It's really just shifting my perspective. Do I want to be uptight and hard on myself and in this place of resistance and everything sucks? There's no light in the world. Then I turn around, and there's a six-year-old who's just beaming it, beaming love and joy and acceptance and gratitude and possibility and opportunity. That's like, okay. Lean into that. I'm lucky, because I have that, and that's very accessible.

Alex: I really love that example, because it does play out. We all know that at some point in every day and week and hour, generally, there's going to be a time where things are out of alignment, or it will feel like it may be a couple days on end, where we feel a little bit out of alignment. Or we just have a job, or something we have to do that we don't feel particularly aligned with, but we can't yet leave. We haven't set up the next job, or there's some reason we have to stay there a little bit longer.

It's a great reminder that it's worth finding those moments, whenever we'll fill some of those buckets for us. Maybe it's a six-year-old nephew. You mentioned in the last episode, I believe, you talked about some clients who I feel like, I really want to grow, but I've been in this position for three years. Well, that doesn't mean there's not a way to grow. That doesn't mean there's not a way to have growth. It's really interesting. I love that point of just finding the mindset, as well as the specific things in your life that might represent, or just help access those pieces of values.

Laurie: I mean, I work a lot too, with clients who have full-time jobs, and they have significant others and they have children, and they have households and laundry, and groceries and all of that stuff that they have to do. When they're like, “I'm not having very much fun in my life,” it's like – they’re like, it sounds like it. There's so much to do. You want to do it. You will click. You love your kids, you want your house, you want to be a place that fully functions. I get it.

You also don't have to have fun 14 hours every day. It's like, what would be one fun thing you could do this week? Maybe having your husband take the kids out for pizza, and you take a bath, and you just enjoy the silence. Or maybe they leave and you just sit on the couch for an hour and drink coffee and stare out the window, because you're like, “I can't believe how quiet it is right now,” without all of this noise.

Maybe it's meeting, calling a friend and checking in with them and nurturing that relationship. It's going to play pickleball with people you haven't seen in three months. Lots of things. It just takes you being willing to ask. What is one thing I can do this week to have a little more fun? What does that look like?

Cristina: Yeah, those are great examples of how it just takes a little bit. Some of the same – in a way, it's similar to the statistics of people being more productive and more engaged at work, and how it only really takes doing something you love for 20% of the time, of your work time. They've done lots of research, where if you go down to 19, your productivity and engagement and problem solving, and all those beautiful things that we all need at work to be our best selves, really dropped drastically. By going up to even 25, doesn't change all that much from 20.

Again, if you're looking at 20% of your work week, how hard is it to figure it out from a leader’s perspective, what do my people love to do? Can I make sure that they get at least 20% of that? Which goes back to what are my people's values? If I understand that somebody's value is freedom, flexibility, or communication collaboration with others, then maybe I should make sure that they do spend time with others, at least 20% of the week.

Laurie: I think that's a great point. Also, from the perspective of the employee, who thinks there's nothing about my job that I like. Well, is that really true? You may be involved in a project that isn't lighting your world on fire. Perhaps, you really love that collaboration, and you're getting a lot of that, a lot of opportunity to do that. Maybe since you're working from home right now, you don't have a three-hour commute every day. That's something that you look forward to, or that you enjoy.

I think, sometimes we look at it through this, all or nothing perspective. If I can't have all of it, then I want none of it, because it's just too much of an effort, and who cares? It's not worth it. We get stuck in that energy for a while.

Cristina: We definitely do.

Alex: For you, dig into some of the other values and to you, you talked about freedom, type of freedom, authenticity, and abundance are all ones we can cover. What are places outside of work, inside of work, where either you feel that's challenged, or maybe you – I mean, it sounds like, you've done so much work on this, you've gotten to develop this to the point where you get to be in alignment, and that's really cool. Maybe it's about some of the journey from before you felt more authenticity, before you felt more freedom.

Laurie: Yeah, that's a big journey. I think, honestly, part of it was my desire to really, really just get to know myself. Why am I doing some of the things I'm doing? How and why am I getting in my own damn way? Where do these insecurities come from, really? Where is this thing about not being enough? Why am I buying that? When someone came around selling it, why did I go, “Yeah, I'll double up on that. Give me some.”

Cristina: Here’s my bank account number, and credit cards.

Laurie: Why did I double down on that? Why did I let that drive me and drive my behavior for so long? I mean, decades of my life that was driving everything I did, subconsciously. I didn't have the vocabulary, and I didn't know myself well enough. I hadn't done the discovery, the hard work and rolling up my sleeves to uncover everything and go, “What this was about?” What do I want to create? What life do I really want for myself? How do I want to be in the world? How do I want to show up for people that I love?

Is it important for me, or to me that my words align with my actions? Do I want to get involved with raising, helping raise my nieces and nephews? Or do I just want to see them one day, you're going to go, “Yep, that was fun. Go home.” I mean, we all have these choices, where we get to discover and uncover things about ourselves. I think, there came a point in my life where I fully jumped into that, and was like, “I have no idea where this is going to go, but I know what it was like before I did this. That wasn't serving me. That wasn't creating the life that I want. What could be possible, if I just totally showed up as Laurie, and everything that that means, and realize that some people will dig that, and some people won't, and that's okay.

I don't have to limit myself by the fear that it won't be okay, with everybody else. Is it okay with me? I had to just be very honest. I had to cut the bullshit. I just had to say, “What is it you want, girl? Are you going to show up and get it? Are you going to show up in a way that you can get it?”

Cristina: What was the turning point?

Laurie: My dad's death. I mean, life changed so quickly that I thought, “What am I doing?” It was this big lightbulb thing. It's like, what in the hell are you doing? You're the only person who's responsible for what you're like. You don't get to blame that on other people, or circumstances, or missed opportunities that didn't come your way and how things weren't fair. That really, I think was the impetus, because I was like, “Oh, my God. Now what?” It led to a lot of therapy, because I really wanted to know, “Why am I blocking myself? What is that about?” How do I move forward and really advocate for myself and demand more for my own life? What would that feel like if I had the courage to do that? That's what led to it. A major disruption in my life.

Alex: Something that you’ve mentioned a few times, Cristina, is that that change happens when you get to that disturbance, you get to that disruption.

Laurie: Yeah. When something happens that you become so – there is so much discomfort, that I think you can either numb yourself from it, and you can avoid it, and you can try to outrun it. Or it is such an abrupt thing that it literally hits you in the face and you're like, “Whoa, this is one of those cross-road moments. I've got a clear choice. Which one do I want to make?”

Cristina: I think, it was you, Laurie, that taught me the term the lifeshock moment.

Laurie: Yeah. Lifeshock. It's exactly what it is. Our life shocks, they come to us continuing and they keep getting louder, till something happens that smacks us in the forehead. It’s like, “Hello. I'm here. Are you ready to look at this?” Sometimes the answer is no. Then, we're like, nobody's home, when it's not good. It won’t come back. It won’t come back.

Cristina: Oprah talks about it as the universe whispers to you all the time. You can listen to the whisper, or you can wait until the wall comes down and knocks you over the head. It's going to keep coming until you learn it, and you start listening.

Laurie: I've certainly experienced that to be true in my life. Yeah.

Alex: Somebody told, I think it was both of us, Cristina, I think somebody told us, but I just heard it recently. You can either make time to be healthy, or you will lose time being sick. Work on this or it will come eventually. Times come in one way or another.

Laurie: I think that's a great point, Alex. I don't know if this is true, but it feels true to me, is that the things that we have that are unresolved, for us mentally and emotionally. I think that manifests physically in our body. I don't like the way that that feels. It's just internally covered with sludge, and it doesn't feel right. It's uncovering all of that, I think, and doing just the hard work. That just keeps coming up, because it's definitely not easy. There's lots of opportunities along the way to, for the covers back over your head. Sleep for another three years. It's like, is that really what I want?

Alex: That's a really good way of putting it, because that is exactly the feeling. It's also worth noting. You come across today, especially and getting to talk to you about all these things. You're very articulate about having gotten to these values, and you've done the hard work. It's very fun to see this side and see – and I say, post-work. There's always work that's going on. You've done so much that it's really fun to engage on this portion of it. I think it's very much worth people seeing and hearing what this is like on the other side. It's a really good reminder that it's great to get there. It doesn't mean it's easy to get there. It's wonderful to be a little bit more in alignment, but it's going to be a lot of difficult looking at things that feel incredibly uncomfortable after a lifetime of our brain training us to look away from uncomfortable things.

Laurie: Yeah, it's definitely not easy, and it's totally worth it.

Cristina: Yes, it is totally worth it.

Alex: That is the greatest bilat I’ve ever heard. That's exactly it.

Cristina: It is. It’s that X-ray and colonoscopy combination that Alex and I have been talking about recently.

Alex: We had a friend of ours do a similar exercise for us. I told her, “Cristina, I felt my insides were seen.” She said it was like getting an X-ray and a colonoscopy at the same time.

Laurie: Yeah, it’s a lot.

Alex: Does feel like it.

Laurie: Yeah. It does feel like it. Again, I can't prove this, but I think that we are flawed by design, so that we have an opportunity, if we want it to develop and to grow and to evolve. That's on us. That is on anybody else. We can just stay the same, and that's okay. Some people do, and they look perfectly happy. If you have the sneaking feeling that there is something more, if you can dig in and do the work, and get real with yourself, who knows what you can create? Maybe it is the life of your dreams. Maybe it is the love of your life. Who knows?

Cristina: The magical values alignment.

Laurie: Feels good. 

Alex: I was just reflecting that, Laurie. You were truly the perfect person to have on for this. You articulate this journey so well. You've gone through so much of the work and you do an amazing job of talking about why these things are important, not only for you, but you've connected that very well for how this applies to everyone. Why this is important, what you can get from this.

The one thing that I really love about your journey specifically is you went – you found these values, you turned in, you did all the work to get yourself to them. The thing you find such joy and and maybe this happens with a lot of people when they find some true values is you love uncovering this with other people. You love getting people to that freedom, stopping the limiting beliefs, working and coaching in every story you had up to this point, you take these values and you love transferring as much as possible and seeing that happen for other people. That's just really, really fun to see, and to witness. It's really just amazing.

Laurie: Thank you. I thought that I loved it. There is nothing I've ever experienced in my life quite like it. That's why I know that this is helping people transform, and – ooh, you guys are getting me. Hell, yeah.

Cristina: To get ahead to see.

Laurie: Having an opportunity to witness courage and action by total strangers.

Cristina: Courage and action. I love that expression.

Laurie: Their willingness to be completely open and vulnerable. Even though it's scary as hell. To see them go, “You know what? I have changed and grown in ways that I never imagined.” I would. I mean, come on. It doesn't get better than that. It really doesn’t.

Alex: We may not be strangers, but it's amazing to see your courage and action currently.

Laurie: Yeah. Sometimes, I won't feel courage. It'll feel messy. It'll feel scary. It's like, a very important person in my life, somebody I consider one of my dad was my first teacher and Richard as my second. Every time I would get up to speak at this thing, my legs would just shake. I don't mean shake a little to the point where I felt I was going to literally fall over. My fight or flight center was so engaged, that everything in me just run away, that something was like, “No, stay. Stand here.”

I had always looked at that as a weakness. It's like, what are you talking about? The fact that everything in you is screaming to run, and instead, you are standing there tall, that speaks of character, that speaks of integrity, that speaks of courage, that speaks of bravery. I was like, “Holy shit. Yes, that's what it feels like,” to really be vulnerable. It is scary. It is unsettling. It is disturbing. It's worth it. If you can force yourself to just stay in that moment, it is worth it when you get to the other side. That's all I know.

Cristina: That’s awesome. Well, we could go on for hours as usual. Thank you for being authentic, abundant with your stories and your emotions and your vulnerability. Showing self-mastery, of understanding values and doing the work, or missing some of your values. I was trying to get all the values.

Alex: Freedom to do it. Also, this has just been a fun conversation. Incredibly fun to do this.

Laurie: Yes, thank you guys. Thank you for deciding to start a podcast, where you show up and just create this beautiful space for people to just be themselves. It's an incredible thing that you all are doing. I feel very, very, very lucky and grateful that you're in my life, and that you're doing this. Thank you both very much.

Cristina: Thank you. We're grateful to have you.

Laurie: You’re very welcome.

Alex: Thank you everybody for listening.

Cristina: Thank you.


Cristina: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo Podcast.

Alex: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Laura, and our score creator, Raechel Sherwood.

Cristina: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.

Alex: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas, or questions. You can reach us at, or on our website,, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. WeAreSiamo is spelled W-E-A-R-E-S-I-A-M-O.

Cristina: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.


Laurie McElroyProfile Photo

Laurie McElroy

Career, Executive, Life and Mental Health Coach | Corporate Culture Crafter | Thinking Trap Escape Artist | Value-Centric Vision

Laurie is a Mental Health Coach. She attended the iPEC coach training program and is an ICF Professional Certified Coach, along with being a Master Practitioner of the ELI. She has a Masters in Psychology w/ specialization in Executive Coaching & Industrial Organization Psychology.  Laurie has coached more than 400 clients over the course of 900+ hours. She went through coach training last year and hit the road running to build her impressive coaching career.  She grew up in entrepreneurial families and has always had a deep interest in people, which moved her towards become a coach, to work with people every day and help them reach their highest potentials.  Super fan of anyone who is interested in understanding themselves at a deeper level.

Laurie can be reached on LinkedIn and via email