How a psychologist's incident behind the wheel made her realize she 'had stopped listening' to herself

·3-min read

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that life can change in an instant.

Shefali Tsabary learned that lesson years ago after a driving incident forced her to start living more authentically.

"I swerved off the road in my car. I found myself by a ditch on the side of the road, and that kind of woke me up to the great erosion of my soul," Tsabary tells Yahoo Life.

At the time, the best-selling author and clinical psychologist was overwhelmed. She was 44, a new mom and was attempting to balance her marriage while completing her PhD. Eventually, all of those identities collided. "I was living tethered to the external world. I had stopped listening to myself. And then I went on this path of reclaiming that inner voice," she says.

As a leader in the field of mindfulness psychology, Tsabary's approach blends the worlds of Western psychology and Eastern philosophy. In her new book, A Radical Awakening, she gives women tips for how to drop their ego, heal, and be their true selves. 

"Understanding our psychology is really important to unpack, uncover and heal our childhood wounds. We all have childhood wounds, typically of unworthiness that our parents gave us," says Tsabary. 

The conditioning we receive as children impacts our psychology, the culture we grow up in, and the traditions we follow. Some of our biggest choices have been made for us, and Tsabary encourages women to free themselves and examine the labels that no longer serve them. "The liberation comes in the awareness," she says "Now we have a choice to let go of that conditioning."

"Now you have less fear, cause you want to see what you're missing. Now life is filled with curiosity, with passion, and you’re looking at everyone as your ally — even the difficult painful experiences — because they’re taking you closer to who you are."

To help women awaken, or live a more authentic life, Tsabary, in her book, dispels popular myths that impact women. From the idea that a romantic partner can complete you, to the belief that it’s impolite to talk about sex, addressing the fears attached to commonly held beliefs allows women heal and grow. "When you commit to your entire life as a life of discovering who you authentically are, then you begin to see every curve, every turn, every step as a mirror to do that inner work," she says.

Love and relationships are a fundamental part of our overall well-being. Society often jokes that men are from Mars, and women are from Venus — but Tsabary says recognizing those differences is crucial to creating peace and avoiding miscommunication. 

"It's really important for us to understand our cultural identities, our gender identity, to understand our physiology, our biology to see how they meet. And then understand that men in their biological makeup come differently packaged than us women. We don't understand their sexual appetite, for example, they don’t understand our need for connection. So, unless we understand the other, we won’t harmonize," says Tsabary.

The final phase of awakening involves embracing the parts of yourself that need love and work. This includes being accountable for yourself, releasing parents from any existing expectations, and healing yourself by embracing your inner parent. 

Living authentically takes time, introspection and the desire to move through fear. Tsabary recognizes that some may be fearful to do the inner work, but reminds women that "awakening" isn't something you can flip on like a light switch. 

"You’re looking for somebody on the outside to fix you, to complete you, it's time for you to look within," she says.

–Video produced by Jenny Miller

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