This week on A Voice and Beyond our very special guest is Cristina Ramirez, a serial entrepreneur who brings her empowerment curricula to audiences everywhere across the United States. Her programs have been implemented across 41 states to over 10,000 individuals, ranging from children to executives. A veteran of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, Cristina is an award-winning coach, the best-selling author of the book Empowered by Discomfort, an Ironman triathlete, and a US Snowboard National Silver Medalist.

Cristina begins by talking about her own personal battles and the journey that ultimately led her to create her brilliant coaching program, which focuses on discomfort as a pathway to confidence. Cristina believes that our words serve as the expression of our inner dialogue, and the stories we consistently tell ourselves become our beliefs, acting as gatekeepers to our actions. She tells us that by recognizing and acknowledging our fears, we can ultimately control our thoughts and responses to life’s challenges, leading us to an empowered life. Cristina explains to us that in life, progress often demands incremental steps forward, emphasizing that we should honor and acknowledge each stage of our journeys, rather than fixate on future achievements for happiness.

Christina shares many of the coaching strategies she uses with her clients to help them overcome the various obstacles that are standing in their way of success and how they can be applied to performing artists whose limiting beliefs are holding them back in their careers. This is truly a beautiful and uplifting interview with Cristina Ramirez, one that I learned so much from, and I’m sure you will too.

In this Episode

  • 00:00 – Introduction and Overview
  • 02:35 – Cristina Ramirez: From Wall Street to Empowerment Coach
  • 07:07 – Battling Inner Demons and The Path to Recovery
  • 17:20 – Empowerment Strategies and Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
  • 46:03 – Redefining Success and Navigating Life’s Challenges
  • 57:42 – Embracing Discomfort for Empowerment


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hey, it’s Marisa Lee here and I have some really exciting news to share with you. Just recently, I launched my performance mastery coaching programme, which has been designed to help a forming artists and other creatives just like you to take centre stage in their lives. Whether you’re mid career and simply feeling stuck, or you’re someone who is just about to embark on your career journey, and need help getting started, my unique coaching programme is for you. To celebrate the launch. I’m currently offering a free 30 minute discovery session, so you can learn more about the programme and how I can help you go to the next level in your life. My first intake is already seeing incredible results. So don’t miss out, go visit Dr Marisa Lee forward slash coaching, or just send me a direct message and let’s get chassis. Remember, there’s no time like now to take centre stage in your life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:25

It’s Marisa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include healthcare practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialised fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  02:35

This week on a voice and beyond. Our very special guest is Christina Ramirez, a serial entrepreneur whose empowerment curricula and programmes have been implemented across 41 states across the United States to over 10,000 individuals ranging from children to executives, a veteran of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Christina is an award winning coach, the best selling author of the book, empowered by discomfort and Ironman triathlete, and a US snowboard national silver medalist. Christine begins by talking about her own personal battles and the journey that ultimately led her to create her brilliant coaching programme, which focuses on discomfort as a pathway to building confidence. Christina believes that our words serve as the expression of our inner dialogue. And those stories we consistently tell ourselves become our beliefs, acting as gatekeepers to our actions. She tells us that by recognising and acknowledging our fears, we can ultimately control our thoughts and responses to life’s challenges, leading us to an empowered life. She explains that, in life, progress often demands incremental steps forward, emphasising that we should celebrate process rather than fixate on future achievements for happiness. She believes true happiness stems from honouring and acknowledging each stage of our personal journeys, not merely the outcome. In this episode, Christina shares many of her coaching strategies to overcoming the various obstacles, and limiting beliefs that may be standing in the way of our personal and professional success, especially as performing artists. This is a truly beautiful and most uplifting interview with Christina Ramirez, one that I personally learned so much from, and I’m sure you will, too. So, without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:48

Welcome to a voice and beyond, we have the most delightful guest today, we have Christina Ramirez, how are you, Christina?

Cristina M. Ramirez  05:59

I’m doing wonderful. I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:03

I’m so excited to be speaking to you today, because we’ve had a little chat prior to the interview starting. And we’re both very open books. And I know that you have a great story to share, and you’re going, you’re willing to be open and vulnerable, which is what I love about my guests when they come on here that they do feel that they can speak freely. And that’s so important. Because sometimes what we have to share can make such a big difference to someone else’s life. And people don’t have to feel that they’re going through stuff alone.

Cristina M. Ramirez  06:38

Right? It’s funny, because when I first wrote my book, I shared a lot of stories. And when it was printed, and I was gonna send it out to people, I was like, Oh, my God, everybody’s gonna know all of these things. And the way I got over that, it was like, oh, you know, if it helps one person out there not to feel like they’ve they’re the only ones with this issue, or they’re the only ones with this experience, then so be it, you know that it’ll be worth putting myself out there for that. That’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:07

a great attitude to have. And I wish other people were like that rather than feeling shame, or feeling embarrassed or whatever it is that they feel about opening up about their lives. You know, if more people did that, I think then other people wouldn’t feel like they’re walking this earth on their own. Exactly. Yeah. So Christina, I’m going to introduce you. And there’s a lot here people batten down the hatches. You are a motivational speaker, and award winning coach and best selling author of the book empowered by discomfort, which you have there. So if you’re watching this on YouTube, Christina just flashed her book. There we have it again. And do you call yourself a serial entrepreneur? Your programme focuses on discomfort being a pathway to confidence. And your curricula has been implemented across 41 states. And I’m assuming in the US? Yes, yes. And taught to over 10,000 individuals, from children to corporate executives. You’re also a veteran of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, as well as a snowboard national silver medalist. Okay. Is there anything you don’t do?

Cristina M. Ramirez  08:37

There’s a lot that I don’t do, but but I did those things. So that’s always good. That’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:43

amazing. Okay, tell us about who is Christina, what has been your journey that has led you to do all these things? Yeah.

Cristina M. Ramirez  08:52

I think I grew up overseas. So my parents are Cubans. But I was born and raised in Brazil. And then I lived in Northern Africa. I lived in Morocco as a teenager. Oh, yeah. And then I lived in a lot of different places in the US. And then my company in Silicon Valley transferred me to Chile, to Santiago de Chile. So I’ve travelled a lot, and I’ve lived in a lot of places, and I feel like I’m, I just take in the experiences that are in front of me, you know, so if I lived in Florida, and I was in the ocean, then I would do ocean things. And now that I live in New Mexico, I live in a ski town. I skate you know, snowboard. So I think it’s just life has presented me all different kinds of opportunities to try different things. And I’m just grateful that I actually do try them.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:43

What a great attitude to have. Yes, I mean, a lot of people. I suppose life is all about you have to either you sink or swim, or you embrace life, or you curl up in a foetal position somewhere and sob. And you clearly made that choice that you’re going to embrace whatever it is that life throws at you. So then what was your job at Wall Street? And what were you doing in Silicon Valley? Did you make the choice to leave that?

Cristina M. Ramirez  10:18

I did, I was very young. So if you knew me from before, you would have understood that like, well, what are you doing on Wall Street? Like I’m not, you know, I’m not I wasn’t a great fit. But what happened is that I was in college, and I told my parents is like, I know what I want to do, I’m going to be a teacher. And when I said that, they’re like, Okay, well, then you’re quitting College, and you’re going to community college, because I was going to this some, it’s called the Wellesley College in the US, it’s a very prestigious school, and they were paying for it. And they said that they weren’t going to pay if I was just going to be if I was, quote, unquote, just going to be a teacher. So I believed them. And when you’re in college here in the US, different companies come to the schools to recruit you. And it just so happened that an investment, you know, that investment banks came, and I just, I just kind of went with the flow. So there I was on Wall Street, Silicon Valley was a better fit for me. And what I noticed, though, looking back in hindsight, is that even on Wall Street, and on Silicon Valley, I was the go to person when someone had to communicate something. I was in mergers and acquisitions for Latin America, and then I was in technology sales for Latin America. And when they had to tell the story of the company that we were trying to buy, or sell, or when it was time to launch a new product, I was the person that they would go to, to kind of educate people to say like, Okay, well, we can, we can, we can dissect it this way. So we can present it this way. So it’s gonna be digestible for people. So the whole time I was teaching, I was just teaching in these weird environments. Well,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:02

okay, so when When did you transition to doing all this work? As a motivational speaker as a coach? What happened? Where did you go? No more Silicon Valley?

Cristina M. Ramirez  12:18

Yeah. So I that was way back in 98, in Chile. And what I did instead is I started a nonprofit to take. Like, at the time, there wasn’t a lot of digital infrastructure, the internet was just being born. So we wanted, I wanted to take technology to underserved communities and remote areas. So I had I started a nonprofit to do that. And that nonprofit still exists today. And it has trained many 10s of 1000s of Chileans, because it’s been a long time. But I was very young, I had a lot of responsibility, and I didn’t know how to handle it. So I had a lot of anxiety. And a doctor prescribed to me, an anti anxiety medication, which I 100% abused from the first day. You

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:06

abused, yes, what you took more than you were meant to.

Cristina M. Ramirez  13:10

So I was a drug addict. And it got so bad that I was suicidal. I’ve had my stomach pumped more than one time, I came back to the US to a mental institution. And it was the kind of place that to smoke a cigarette, which at the time, you know, it was a big chain smoker. You you had to it was like a burner on the wall. And the burner had a metal grate on top of it. And there was a little hole that was big enough for your cigarette, but not big enough for you to stick your finger. And I belong to there, because I was a girl that I was going to stick my finger. Like I was in a really bad, bad, bad place. But what I realised and it’s like this whole long story, but at one point, I realised that, you know, I’m not dying, I’m not an idiot. You know, if I really, really wanted to die, I would have been, what I understood is like, I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to stop feeling the way that I was feeling. And I didn’t know how, what was that feeling? It was you know, I can go back to that Christina with a lot of compassion, right? Because that was over 20 years ago. I’ve been sober for 20 years. So that’s, that’s not me. But at that time, I felt like I was a failure. Because, and this is good. It sounds like so immature and stupid. But that was what I was at that time. Yes, but I grew up with the thought that like a woman can never be happy without a man. Like my role in life was to get married and have kids. And here I was 30 something yet another boyfriend dumped me and I was thinking I was never going to be happy because like my friends were getting married and I was you know, I was not. And so I felt that that meant that there was something wrong with me. And

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:05

can I say that I totally get that. And it’s a cultural thing. I totally get it because I come from an Italian background. And we were raised as women to be someone’s wife and to be a mother. Exactly. So I totally get it. And by the time you were, in your late teens, they would start asking, if you had a boyfriend, then once you had a boyfriend, when you’re getting engaged, once you’re engaged, when you’re getting married, when you’re gonna have kids, it was like when, when, when. And it was all expectations that other people were putting on you and that pressure that you felt from a cultural perspective. So to have been that age in your 30s, I’m married, that would have been like, like, you would have felt like you had let everyone down. Exactly. So I do understand I’d totally empathise with that.

Cristina M. Ramirez  16:01

Yeah, and it didn’t matter how successful I was on the outside, because I was very successful in my bit, you know, in my working world, but but it was just this really big hole inside of me thinking like, you’re like the way I used to talk to myself, like, I would never speak to anybody like that. But somehow, I thought it was okay for me to do that to myself, you know, so I was very unkind. But I realised, okay, I’m not dying. And if I’m going to live, I need to learn how to be happy, because I don’t, I don’t want to do this anymore. You know, like, it’s very painful to be in that much distress and pain all the time. And I started learning and I started listening, I went to a lot of Alcoholics Anonymous really saved my life. And instead of think is like, five, and I do that, and I didn’t do that. And I didn’t do that. I just started listening. And when I started listening, I started getting the words that I didn’t have about how I was feeling. And once I had the words to express myself, then I could change it right, then I could do something about it. And again, this was 2003. Yeah, so it was 20 years ago. But that got me on the journey of where I am today. That’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:20

incredible. It’s very interesting, though. In that, in that story, you use the word that you started listening. However, you say that you had your stomach pumped numerous times. Clearly, you were the one that people you are wanting people to listen to you. And yes, like, to me, that is a cry for help. You said you didn’t want to die. And you you knew that you made that choice you could have, but you chose not to. But obviously you were crying and screaming for help. Did you feel the people weren’t listening to you that they didn’t understand? Like, could people not see that there was something clearly wrong?

Cristina M. Ramirez  18:11

I don’t know, if they could I towards the end? 100% Because I was I was a walking zombie. You know, like, just you won’t look at me, and you know that there was something wrong. But I did want to be I felt unseen. Right? I felt like there is this successful Christina, in the business world, like out there. But behind like, it was like, but but there’s somebody else here that, you know, like, every time that somebody hurts themselves, it’s usually a cry for help. I agree. But at the same time, there’s a saying, that’s like, you’re an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. Right. And that was that was me because I was so like, self centred that I like, you could try to help me and I’d be like, No, you don’t know anything. And I wouldn’t listen to them. Because like, what would they know? Like, they don’t know me or they don’t know my story. And so I wouldn’t like when people would try to help me I was really obnoxious and annoying to them, because I wouldn’t, I would think that they would never understand me. Okay. And it wasn’t until people who had been in addiction. That was that that’s why it was so important for them to give me the words to what I was feeling because I didn’t have that those words. And when I started understanding, it’s like, I’m not the only one that feels this way. There’s millions of people that feel this way. And I started like, well, and they look happy. So maybe if I listened to them, and I learned from them, then I have a chance to be happy too. And that’s exactly what I did.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:48

So was there anything that the people who were closest to could have said or done? Talking to that ego centric person At that time,

Cristina M. Ramirez  20:01

I don’t think so.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:04

Why then was it when you went and had professional help? Why did they obviously they’re skilled. But also they’re not the people that are closest to you. You’re not emotionally attached to those people. Exactly. You don’t have that wall up. And

Cristina M. Ramirez  20:24

the years of stories and like, Well, do you remember that you did this to me when yada yada yet? Like, you don’t have that history with them. But what’s, but what’s interesting, Marisa is that they weren’t professional people, the ones that helped me really the ones that helped me were just common people like you and I, who just had been through what I had been through. And

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:44

they’re the people that gave you the words? Yes. What were those words, Christina?

Cristina M. Ramirez  20:50

So it was, you know, I remember my first meeting, it was this guy, like, there’s a speaker that comes and shares their story with you. And it was some guy from Georgia in here in the US. And he talks like this, and I could barely, I can’t even do the Georgia, the southern accent. So forgive me, anybody. I

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  21:09

don’t understand. The Georgia accent. Either one, they speak way too fast. And yes to the accent is way too heavy.

Cristina M. Ramirez  21:20

So it was a guy like this big, you know, who sat there. And I remember him telling a story that, I guess like he came home late one night, and he went, and he woke up all his kids, because now it was the time that he wanted it, you know, like he was ready for them to have play even though it was like two o’clock in the morning or something. And there was something in that story that I related to that it’s like, well, but it’s my like, I want things to be done in my time. Even if it’s five look like completely inconvenient for anybody else. That doesn’t matter. Because now I’m ready. And here I am. And it’s that’s why it’s like that egomaniac with an inferiority complex, you know, so those are the stuff I’m like, Oh, my gosh, somebody somebody does that too. Like somebody feels that way. Like, I thought I was the only one. You know, when you go to a meeting after meeting and you hear story after story, you start connecting the dots, and you start identifying and you start picking the things from this person and from that person that are experiences that you had. And as long as you’re opening to listening to them, they’re going to give you the words they’re going to show you and they’re going to give you the words and also you knowing that you’re not alone, you’re not that different. And you know, there is there’s hope, right? There’s hope that the way that you feel right now is not the same way that you’re gonna feel in a month, in three months, in 10 years. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:53

it’s so important to have that mindset. And this is something that I try and tell myself, when I feel like there’s a massive obstacle or challenge in front of me. And it’s what I say to my kids and to people that I know when they’re going through a hard time. And it’s to say this is just a moment in time. And I love when it’s something that I’ve picked up from my US colleagues, this too shall pass. And it’s true. And, you know, I my first husband committed suicide. So, so I know the difference between a cry for help and when someone’s serious about it, because there was no cry for help. As a first attempt, and it was the final attempt. And I you know, I just think to myself, it was a moment in time. Life, it’s just a moment in time, if you can just get through this moment. Get to the next moment, get through that. And then you’ve gotten through this much time. You know, it’s just one foot in front of the other sometimes in life. You just have to inch your way forward, don’t you? Yeah, it’s Don’t try and take these big leaps, just inch, one inch at a time exactly is enough on some days. And it is true what you’re saying. Yeah. And

Cristina M. Ramirez  24:32

also that, you know, when things are good, that keeps you humble, because it’s like it you know, like things are good right now, let me enjoy this moment. And when things are down, that same thought gives you hope, because you know that you’re there’s going to be an up again, and there’s ups and downs all through life. And yes, the what I try to teach people is like so how do you just face it? Not even killed because then you don’t feel the emotion like and it’s fun to feel elated, you know, but but how do you face those challenges? From a completely different point from a place of confidence from a place of knowing it’s like, I’m gonna show up for this challenge. And on the other side of this really sucky situation is going to be joy again, you know, and, and I, I tried to share like my husband also passed away about under two years ago from cancer. Oh, I’m

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:31

sorry to hear that.

Cristina M. Ramirez  25:32

Thank you. But it’s, it’s the same thing, right? It’s like, like, I couldn’t breathe when this happened. Like, I couldn’t, you know, I would fall on the I’ve never felt such enormous pain in my life. But there was this little light inside of me, that just said, you know, like, hang on, we’ve been here before, you know, like, I’ve thought my life was over before. This is as painful as it was because he really truly was the love of my life. Yes, I knew there was gonna be a different feeling. Maybe it was going to take a while to get there. And it took a while to get there. But I knew that it was gonna come.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:13

Grief is I mean, it is so messed up. Yeah, it is such a journey, isn’t it? Yes. And it’s such a messed up journey. Because you don’t know what you’re going to feel day by day. There’s such a roller coaster of emotions. And you don’t know when you wake up, like, what is today going to be? Is it going to be anger? Is it going to be sadness is going to be frustration. Like, it’s just, there’s just so much going on. But you’ve been through all these incredible things in your life in insurmountable challenges. What drew you to creating this programme and to writing your book, empowered by discomfort because I tell you what, if anyone’s felt discomfort, it sounds like you have.

Cristina M. Ramirez  27:06

We all have though, and just like it’s just in different levels. What what led me to write it it was, you know, when my husband was in the ICU, like he was there for 11 days, and then he asked to be taken off life support. And instead of like, I just wrote on Facebook, this is what’s going on, you know, and this is the drain, and everybody kept telling me and then throughout my first year, as a widow, I’d be like, it’s been one month, it’s been two months. Like I didn’t know this. But now I know that like I was just sharing for me more than anything else. But I shared it on Facebook. And a lot of people kept telling me is like you should write a book, you should write a book. But I didn’t want to write a grief book. And I didn’t want to write a memoir, I wanted to write something that was more universal. And I just I just started writing my story. But the tools that I used to get through what was clearly the worst year of my life. And it’s the same tools that I have been teaching for years. And so the book kind of morphed into part storytelling and memoir, but part self help. And it’s like a nice, easy blend of the two.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:18

How do you define empowerment? What does empowerment mean? Or to feel empowered? What does that mean for you?

Cristina M. Ramirez  28:28

I love that question. And power just means that, for me empowered and confidence kind of go together for me. And it just means that I know that I will show up. You know, I will. And I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know if it’s if I’m going to make a mistake, I don’t know. But none of that matters, because I know that there’s enough in me that is going to show up to the situation. And that is empowered. Well,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:59

then if that’s the case, I am empowered also don’t

Cristina M. Ramirez  29:04

fall. That’s it’s it’s great. It’s It’s the ability, you know, it’s like it’s showing up, yeah, life is going to happen, you know? And yes, there’s always going to be challenges and your challenges and my challenges may be similar, or maybe completely different. And maybe we’re victims of circumstance, you know, but what are you going to do? Yeah, so empowered. It’s showing up? You know, regardless, yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  29:29

I love that. So what are some of the concepts that you share throughout your book? Sure.

Cristina M. Ramirez  29:35

So I share this thing called the power wheel, which helps me so much and it starts like this, you know, like thoughts. I work a lot with kids. And when I work with the little ones especially it was like look, as a mom, I can control everything about your life. I’ve got power, you know, I can control what you wear, where you go to school what you have for dinner. I can Can that there’s only one thing that I can’t control. And that’s what you think. And when I tell them that they’re like, oh, but if you think about it, like, that’s real power, yes, I can influence you, I can persuade you, but I can’t make you think something. So if we start owning that power, that’s already, you know, that’s already a huge step. And the same thing with the words, words are just our thoughts expressed, right? But nobody can make me say something. They can’t physically move my mouth. Like, if I move my mouth and I say something. It’s because I’m doing it. Right. Like, yeah, it’s like, so that’s power. That’s a lot of power. And we take that for granted. We say like, oh, no, well, I have to do this. Why says who? You know. And then the stories and the thoughts that you think over and over again, because I think we have like 60,000 thoughts a day 90% of which are repetitive, and

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:00

80% of those are negative?

Cristina M. Ramirez  31:03

Isn’t that weird? So like, we do this to ourselves,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:06

we are so messed up as humans? Yes,

Cristina M. Ramirez  31:08

I know. So that’s why people like you, sharing different men, you know, that our message is, is important. So the stories that you repeat over and over again, are your beliefs, you know, and your beliefs are either given to you from the outside, like, Okay, if you’re a parent, you know, my parents were Catholic, I was raised a Catholic. So I have that belief, or I had that belief, but the leaf are the gatekeepers. And it’s either going to help you take an action, or it’s going to prevent you from taking an action. But beliefs are just thoughts that you repeat. So believe you can change that. And that’s where the work is. But so if you take an action, you’re going to have a result. And that result is going to reinforce that thought. So I’ll give you an example. If somebody says, like, you know, I’m really good at my job. That’s what they think. And so when they, when they’re speaking is like, Oh, I did this, and you know, like, I work in this industry. And, you know, they talk about it, they stand like this. So their belief is, you know, I’m good at what I do. And because I’m good at what I do, then I can do things that maybe other people can’t do. So maybe I go to my boss and I say, hey, I’ll take this extra job because I can handle it, you know, like, I’ll take this extra responsibility. So I do that, and my job, my boss notices, and he gives me a promotion, that’s going to be the results. And then it’s going to reinforce the ties, like, I’m good at what I do. And you’re spinning in a positive. Same thing can go into negative, oh my God, I’m such a dumbass. Or I’m not good at math. And because you know, and it’s like, well, I can’t even calculate the tip at a restaurant. I mean, what am I kidding? So maybe I don’t go into engineering, even though that sounds like something that it might be interesting. But like, I mean, who am I kidding? You know, like, I’m really, I’m not just not good at math. So it’s gonna hold me back from pursuing that degree. So then the result is going to be that I’m going to be working in something that may be, you know, isn’t what I really wanted to do, because I just thought I wasn’t good enough to know that and it’s going to reinforce the fact it’s like, well, it’s just I’m that kind of a dumbass. I’m not just not good at math. Okay,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:16

I get that. I get that. And you know what? Okay, I’m getting slightly excited when you can tell when I when I lay blame my words, which I’m doing right now. So I’m struggling at the moment with something and I’m my self talk around this thing is negative. So I’ve been asked to write or contribute a chapter to an academic textbook. And I haven’t written in academic speak for four or five years, four years. And I, that doesn’t come naturally to me, did you hear that language, speak and working. And writing in academically does not come naturally to me. I can speak for as long as you want me to on pretty much a lot of things. But when it comes to writing and grammar, because Italian was my first language, it seems to be a problem when I write it academically. So I have been procrastinating and putting it off to this week, I told myself, even if all I do is write one sentence a day. I am going to start on this thing. And I finally started and I can’t tell you it’s easy for me but I’m doing hang out for you. And I’ve written a page. I’ve written a page, I have a whole page now. People I have written 500 words go. Yeah. So, but just saying, you know that that has been haunting me now, for a whole month before I started to do something.

Cristina M. Ramirez  35:20

So what if you like one thing that you can do? Because I’m sure that other people relate?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:26

Yes, give me advice here. That’s what I was sharing. Sure.

Cristina M. Ramirez  35:29

So if the belief is, you know, this is challenging for me, like or I’m not, instead of saying, like, I’m not good at that, one better belief would be like, this is challenging. Right? So because you don’t, you can’t lie to yourself, you can always like, I can do anything because like, because you will know that that would be lying to yourself. And that’s, you know, that doesn’t feel good, either. So a better belief would be like, this is challenging for me. And then a belief after that can be like, this is challenging for me, but I’ve been challenged in the past, and I actually enjoyed it. Or maybe I can, you know, and then you can look for evidence of that being true. And I don’t know if it’s true for you or not, but it’s like, well, this is challenging for me, but I’ve done it before, and I loved the way I felt when I finished it. Yes. Okay. And so those are more exciting thoughts, then, oh, my god, I can’t believe I have to write this. Why do I do this amid blah, blah, blah. There’s just like, so you, you find a better belief that maybe it’s just like a little better, and work yourself up until the place where you like, fight it? And that’s gonna push you forward? Does that help? Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:43

because it’s true. I’ve done a PhD. I’ve written a 5000 word thesis. And I’ve written a whole book on my own. So I have done it before. I just had post traumatic stress from both experience.

Cristina M. Ramirez  37:02

So if that’s the belief, right thing to say, then it’s like, Okay, I’ve done this before, and I did not enjoy it. And I’m afraid that I’m going to feel that way again. Okay.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:13

I am afraid, okay. Yes, you are on the right track. Because when both of those came to the end, the work was done. I had pushed myself so hard, that I was not in a good place physically, mentally, and emotionally. I drove myself really hard. And I had to sacrifice a lot to get that work done. And so I think I’m still overcoming. There’s still a part of me that still overcoming some of that. Yes, yeah.

Cristina M. Ramirez  37:51

So if you know that, which is amazing, right? Because it’s hard to get that awareness. But if you start questioning your thoughts and get to that belief, and start understanding that that belief is is like, Okay, well, you can create a new belief that this time, I’m going to write an academic paper, but I don’t want it to be like last time, so I’m going to try something different. I want and you start getting curious about it. And you’re like, I wonder what I could do to make this experience better. I make like a game. It’s like, I wonder if I only write for one hour? As soon as I wake up? Maybe that’ll make a difference? I don’t know, I wonder. And then you try that. And maybe that doesn’t work. And it’s like, Well, I wonder if I just like write without it being academic speak and then get somebody else to edit it for me. I wonder if that would work. And you start wonder starts, that word starts opening you up to different possibilities and to different opportunities to different ways of viewing that belief that you’re like, Well, no, I’m just, you know, like, I’m just not good at that. Yes. You’re

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:57

giving me ideas, and I kind of had those thoughts anyways, so I think I’m on the right track. I’m not doing so badly. But let’s, uh, dress out the singing voice community. Let let’s, let’s put forward a scenario for the singing voice community here. And one thing that people talk a lot about in our community is stage fright, or performance anxiety. So what would you say to someone who has a fear of getting up on stage and it could be speaking or singing and duck? I didn’t even know performance anxiety was a thing until I started working with dancers who I was teaching the certificate for. It was performing arts and these incredible dancers who could keep their legs up like this who was so strong and they’d been these skimpy outfits and they would shake everything that had to shake. But ask them to sing. And they would curl up and cry. And for a lot of people that, and for me my fear. I mean, it’s unbelievable now. But I couldn’t speak on stage. And I would not be very confident getting up and saying a word I could sing till the cows came home. But getting up and speaking was something that I struggled with. So what is it about using our voice? What it is? What is it about performance, anxiety or stage fright? What can you say to those people?

Cristina M. Ramirez  40:42

All right, and I have a, you know, I’ll preface it by saying like, I have a little bit of experience with this a from being a speaker, but also both of my kids are musicians, and they’ve been performing since they were this big excellence. Yes. And, you know, I don’t want to say that the thought is not real, because it is a thought and it is a feeling, right. And I don’t want to ever underestimate that. But who gets to think those thoughts? You do? Yeah. So if your thought is, oh, my gosh, what if I mess up? Oh, my gosh, I have stage fright, or, Oh, no, I could never do that. Because blah, blah, blah, if those are the thoughts that you’re continuously feeding yourself, then that the leaf is going to make that experience miserable for you every single frickin time because that sod is coming up. You know, and I understand that there’s a motion, right? And I understand that, that that fear is sometimes visceral. But one thing that I like to do is one tool is like, is like when you say is like I am afraid, what you’re really saying is that you are the definition of fear. Like if I were to look up in the dictionary, afraid I would find your picture. Because it’s like every cell in your body, that’s what you’re telling me, right? I am afraid. So one way to control that emotion is to get it out of you. And you can say it’s like, I’m, I feel fear. But I can feel fear, I can feel joy, I can feel enthusiasm, I can feel like a feeling is already not a definition of who I am. But it’s outside of me. So if you can notice is like, Oh, I’m feeling fear, you still have your thoughts that you can control to work with that fear? Mm hmm. Right. And then one level, you know, the next ninja level is saying is like, there is fear. So now I’m not necessarily I’m like I am fear. I’m feeling fear. Now. You can be like, there is fear. Fear is over there. And I’m choosing to engage with it right now. But I have the power to not do that. Right.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  42:56

Wow, I’ve not heard this before. Oh, good. So separating yourself. What about if you were to name it? Like, just when you say you put it over there? So what if you were to call your fear, Fred. And I’m going to put spread over there. I choose to engage with Fred. But Fred is not a part of me.

Cristina M. Ramirez  43:23

Exactly. I will do that all the time. Right. And so first is there’s the saying was like name it to tame it. Right. So okay, right. So once I understand, oh, this feeling that I’m having it’s called fear. So now it’s already taking it out. Because if not, you’re like, like you’re not you know, like so yes. Like okay, I’m this there’s there, I’m feeling fear. And yes, you can embody you can have fear be a person you can have fear, be a location, a situation, whatever. And you can have confidence be that too. And you can cut and then you can decide who you’re going to engage with like personifying those emotions are is a great tool, too, because then you’re talking to something outside of you instead of embodying it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  44:16

I choose to make fear my friend. So if I cuz I always have a little bit of nervous energy, whether you want to call it anxiety, but before I had need to speak or perform or in the early days before, when I first started this podcast before an interview, I would have all this kind of anxiety and yeah, a little bit of fear. But I chose to make up my friend and and I, I would say to myself, this anxiety or this nervous energy, I’m going to turn into a positive, and it’s going to make me more alert, more engaged. It’s I’m going to turn it into a positive rather than a negative. And that. So

Cristina M. Ramirez  45:12

there’s a great word. Yes. So I am, I feel there is, the last level is I get, I get to feel this because I get to be here performing in front of this audience. There’s so many people that wish they could do this, and they can’t, but I get to be here. So it’s like, I get to interact with fear so that I because I get to do all these amazing things. So 100% is like you have to bring it and you make these things, your superpower, right? Fear is always going to exist at some level, discomfort, challenges. You know, yucky, there’s always going to be a part of that. So once you understand that, it’s like, oh, there it is. That’s what I’m that’s what we’re dealing with today. All right, Fred, let’s go. You know, yeah,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:03

Fred, you and I are friends today? Yeah. Like, you know,

Cristina M. Ramirez  46:07

it’s like for you know, let’s, let’s go, I’ll take you out for ice cream after this just helped me out

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:11

here. Yeah, I need to make Fred my friend, when I’m writing for that book chapter. I need to sit in beside me and say, Come on, Fred, give me that energy to it. Let’s turn this into a positive.

Cristina M. Ramirez  46:27

But the thing is, like, I know, it sounds silly, but you are in control of your thoughts. So you can 100% do that, if that is what you feel is going to help you get the fear outside of you and engage with it in a productive way. Amazing, right? You, you go you, you do that. And we all like and there’s so many tools out there. And some people will relate to some more than others. And that’s why it’s great to just learn, because then you’re gonna find just like in my like, in when I was getting sober, right, you’re gonna hear things from different people, and take those and create your own set of beliefs that are going to be more helpful to you, yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:06

because we are all different. And we all respond to different things. So you can’t apply the same set of tools to everybody. And that’s the same, even in my industry, as a singing teacher, what works for one student isn’t going to work for another. So we have to keep finding, like digging through the toolbox till we find the right tool that’s going to work for that person. I love that you address so many different misconceptions and put things into perspective. And I have a set of questions based on some of the misconceptions that I’ve seen you speak about, okay. And this is one, I’m going to start with one. And I totally can relate to most of these. And this is one where you feel that you’re on a treadmill. And many people have this attitude of my life will change when this happens, or I will be happy when and people are never happy in the now. And they’re always looking for the next thing that they think is going to fulfil their lives. How does that happen when we start doing the work to fix that?

Cristina M. Ramirez  48:24

So first is understanding there is no when, when will never get here, because as humans, we’re always wanting to learn and grow and expand. So if you buy this, like, Oh, I’ll be you know, when I have a house of my own, then I’m gonna be happy because I’m sick and tired of this place, blah, blah, blah, and then you get a house. But the garden has a brown patch, or whatever it’s like, well, I mean, I love my new house, but I’ll really be happy when I can sit and see the garden and it’s gonna be beautiful, then then I’ll really be happy, then you fix the garden. And then you’re like, you know, it’s so hot I can I’m gonna do a swimming pool over here, when I have my swimming pool, then then I’ll really be able to enjoy this house. And it keeps going and going like so you’re never gonna be happy. So happiness shouldn’t be tied to a result. I tie happiness to effort to the process. I love process. Yes. So I’m like I get to I’m in the process of getting my house. How fun. You know, it’s gonna be great when I have it. But right now, I went house shopping, and I saw you know, and I saw two houses that I liked. Why is it like that in the moment, right? This is what you’re doing? And it’s like, ooh, that’s moving me forward to my goal. So you should always have a goal. But notice all the little steps that you take between, you know, the 500 words that you wrote, celebrate that deed, you know, because that is what’s going to give you the Mojo and the enthusiasm to keep going but There is no one when we’ll never get here.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  50:02

So is this because does this come from within ourselves? Or is it an extreme extrinsic thing? Because we are comparing ourselves to other people. So we see what other people are doing. And we think, oh, you know what, I really need to do that, because that person’s doing it, or their life looks way better than mine. Does it come from that as well?

Cristina M. Ramirez  50:30

It could, you know, and we, you know, every time we compare, I call it compare and despair, you know, so, and there’s three ways that we despair, if you have five minutes, like this is a great lesson. So one way that we compare and despair is that we compare our inside to somebody else’s outside Instagram, right? You know, it’s not real, but like, hey, no, you’re right, you know, but so now you’re comparing how you feel to somebody else’s outside, you will always lose no matter what. The second way that we do it is that like, you see, Mary and Mary is super smart. She works for like the space agency. And she does like all kinds of physics. I’m like, incredible. And Johnny Johnny is this amazing dad, and he’s always there for his kids. And you know, like, he’s just like, incredible. And then there’s Jenny and Jenny cooks like a chef. And she’s always eating like this most amazing plates and jaunt like, and so what you’re doing is that you’re getting the best aspects of one person and comparing it to all of who you are. Right? So true. Yeah. So there’s nothing to say. And it’s not about putting the other person down. It’s not about saying like, Oh, yeah, she’s really smart. But you know, like, she just got a divorce. It’s not about that. It’s about saying, like, wow, she’s really smart, and you can be inspired by them. But you don’t have to compare your whole life to that, because even just the xos, has issues and has problems and has things that he’s not good at. But we don’t look at that we look at how much money is in his bank account. And we’re like, Oh, my God, he’s a billionaire. And here I am struggling to pay rent.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  52:09

That’s so true. Because we look at the worst of ourselves, is what you’re saying the whole of ourselves, and there are the good and the bad. And we’re comparing to one aspect of someone’s seemingly perfect life, not realising that they need Fred as well. Exactly. Everyone needs Fred.

Cristina M. Ramirez  52:32

And everybody has it to think that somebody doesn’t have Fred and doesn’t, you know, like, it’s not true, categorically. And then the other way that we compare and despair is our chapter one to somebody else’s chapter 11. So, you know, if I were to compare myself to Tony Robbins, you know, like, he’s been doing it since he was 10. Like, I’ve been doing it for two minutes, comparatively. And do I am I ever gonna be that? Probably not, but it doesn’t like, I can’t compare or my clients is like, oh, but you know, so much. It’s like, Yeah, I’ve been studying this for like, 10 years, you’ve been studying it for like, one week that you’ve been in my course. Of course, you’re not going to be where I am. Right? Yes. So always paying attention to where you are in your journey. And respecting that, because there’s enough space for everybody to be successful in everything. You’re just 100% you just go and do your thing.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  53:27

100% So what you’re saying is that we really just need to put things in perspective.

Cristina M. Ramirez  53:35

Yeah. And and be inspired. Like, be inspired by someone else’s success. not jealous. Yes, I think yeah. Because when you compare and you fall short, then it brings up envy and jealousy. And like, oh, well, like wish that data. Why? Just because like, and then we put them down to make ourselves feel better as I go. Yeah, but did you see that she bla bla bla bla bla, right? Yeah.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:01

Did you see that? Yeah. Like, oh my gosh, did you hear what happened to

Cristina M. Ramirez  54:06

that person? Right. And you want to bring them down to make yourself feel better. So instead is like, wow, she’s really nailing it. Like, I wonder what I can learn from her. Like, I wonder if she’ll help me cook like, I’m a horrible cook. As like, I wonder if she can help me figure out how to solve this cooking thing that I’ve got going on, be inspired by other people’s successes doesn’t mean like their success has nothing to do with you. And

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:33

that is so liberating to feel that way, isn’t it? Because that’s a lot of baggage. You’ve got to carry around to have that kind of looking for faults in other people or that jealousy like, that’s a lot of work. It

Cristina M. Ramirez  54:48

is and it’s unproductive. And guess what? They don’t have a clue and they don’t care. It’s like you’re eating poison, expecting the other person to die or Right, like you’re poisoning yourself expecting that that’s going to change something about them. And they’re just doing, they’re just being them. So that’s, that’s how I like to see it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:09

I just want to talk a little here, we’re going to segue, because you work with children as well. And you have some thoughts on parenting, we have a lot of people who listen to this podcast, who too, are parents themselves? And but how much of this way of thinking comes from our childhood? Either it’s been shaped by what we heard our parents talking about? Or is it something that we experienced trauma that that shapes our way of thinking? What where does all this baggage come from?

Cristina M. Ramirez  55:49

I think it comes from everywhere, right? From our parents, it comes from our culture, from our society, from the books that we read the TV shows that we watch, and, you know, I think our parents did that, like my parents did the best they could, and I’m doing the best that I can with my kids. I know, they’re gonna end up with issues, right? But I don’t know what exactly I’m going to say at what time of their life that maybe it was like this one thing that I said that they grabbed onto, and that’s it, you know, like, that’s the belief that they’re gonna have and, and I don’t even know what that is. Right? So So I think as parents, we have to just like, it’s not gonna be perfect, we’re gonna mess up our kids in one way, shape, or form. And that’s okay. You know, like, they’re, they’re gonna get over it, but also giving them permission to struggle. I think nowadays, our tendency as parents is to jump in too quick to solve their problem. And like, you know, I work a lot in sports. So it drives me bananas, that everybody gets a trophy.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  56:52

To what is that? Yes, my my grandchildren play sports. They play football, and different types of football. They play tennis. And they’re seven or nine, and there’s no winners. There’s never a winner. So what that? What is that? I mean, is there no, celebrating a victory anymore? Or is it because they’re not wanting to highlight a loss? And I mean, isn’t life? Aren’t you always going to be in situations where you get the job? Or you don’t you get that audition? Or you don’t? I mean, how, how are we empowering children if they’re not being taught to fail 100%

Cristina M. Ramirez  57:42

And, and it’s, and also like that, that definition of failing like not coming in first place in a soccer tournament, or in a football tournament, doesn’t mean that you suck doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, it just means that you lost the game. That’s it. Yeah. So but if we don’t allow them to build that muscle, than they won’t have the resilience so that when later, they don’t get that job, or they don’t get that audition, they’re gonna fall apart. Because they don’t, they haven’t. They haven’t built that muscle. And little kids, like, you don’t have to do anything to be loved. Right? A child does love just because they exist. But if you so so I think sometimes we equate them winning with us loving them. Like if we see them sad, it means that we’re not protecting them, or that it’s going to harm their self esteem. We’re harming them by not allowing them to feel the feelings. Because once you have the feeling of Fred, then you can name it, then you can work with it, then you can grow with it. But if we never get to experience it, what the hell are we going to do as adults? You know,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:50

yes. But how can you know sometimes success, if you feel that you’ve been successful, whatever that looks like, in whatever realm that is, and you experience that feeling, and those endorphins and everything else that you experience, when you have that feeling in your body, it wants you to have that more.

Cristina M. Ramirez  59:19

And that’s, that’s motivation. But if you have that every single time, you’re will not be motivated. It’ll just be normal. It’ll just be what it is. So the reward should be with the effort, not with the result. So if I, for example, I’m like, Okay, I’m going to win my neighbourhood 5k. And I have trained for six months, and I eat like the right way and I go to bed at the right time, and I’m ready to win that race. And then Hussein bolt shows that I’m not going to win that race. It doesn’t matter what like, I can’t compete with Usain Bolt. So if my success only comes from some external validation, I’m in for a rough ride. If my success comes as, okay, who is the person that I became, as I showed up for this challenge? Now we’re talking. And that same feeling of like test, you can get it from a training run, or you can get it from a race, you can get it from nailing a song in your studio, because you finally got it right. And you can get it from performing in front of the million people. You don’t only get that sense of like, yeah, when it’s the big stage, you get it every like you can, you can get it every time. But if you get it or not every time you can get it on the way. But if you don’t know what the opposite of if you don’t know, but like your voice cracking, and I’m guessing, right? Like, if you don’t know what your voice cracking in, in a rehearsal, if you don’t know what that is, you’ll never realise how cool it is and how special it is when it doesn’t crack. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:01:00

I love it when my students have a bad rehearsal. Because I feel like they’ve learned something. And that means that come on, you know, what, a little bit more work to be done here. And you’re better off to do it now than when you’re on stage. You know, learn from this, or I talk about peaking at the right time. So for example, I had a student yesterday, who has been doing remarkable work. And in her last exam, in her singing exam received 100%. Like her, her performance was brilliant. And she is potentially heading for that. But you can become complacent. And, you know, going along doing really well. And she had a really, she had a lesson yesterday, that did not go the way it was meant to go for her in her eyes. And I said to her, you know why that happened? I said, this is great. This happened now. Because we don’t want you peaking now. We want you peaking in five weeks time. And I think this is good for you. Because it’s going to you’ve hit a roadblock here. So the next four weeks, you’re gonna spend rehearsing and not being complacent. Yeah.

Cristina M. Ramirez  1:02:36

And I agree. And I remember my kid, I don’t know, he must have been in the third grade or something. And he, he had a solo, a guitar solo. And he totally messed it up, like, you know, and it was like, in front of a whole lot of people. And no, he was singing. That’s what it was. He was trying to sing a song. And he’s more of a guitar player. So it was already out of his comfort zone. And he forgot the words, I don’t know, like he was eight. And so at first he shied away from being on the stage. And then eventually, he wanted to do it more than he was afraid of doing it. But he had like, and then he got back up on the stage. And then he lost that fear of completely messing up because it happens. And, you know, he performs so much that, of course there gonna be times that you don’t nail it. You know, like when you’re performing like they used to perform every Monday night at a hotel in this town that we lived, you know, there, they were in middle school, like, of course, like you’re gonna get a chord wrong. And then he just keeps going as if nothing had happened. Because now he’s built. He’s, but he’s built that skill. Because he has failed in the past. He has, quote unquote, failed in the past. So it’s important. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:50

Christina, this has been a wonderful discussion. Is there anything further you’d like to add to this? Is there something that we haven’t spoken about that you feel is important to touch upon?

Cristina M. Ramirez  1:04:04

No, I’ll just I’ll leave you with this thought, you know, like, life happens to you. There are challenges, there are things that you know, like your husband dying, or my husband dying, or war or systemic injustice, like those things aren’t fair, they’re not right. But they happen to us. But only we get to decide what we do with that. You know, only we get to decide how we react to the life that happens to us, whatever that life is, and that is power. And if you’ve learned anything in this hour that we’ve been together, is that you can control like once you get a hold of that line of being able to control your thoughts, you can change anything in your life. So

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:04:45

true. We have a choice is probably the language that I personally use. And we all have our own language or descriptors, but I always think, you know, we can’t control other people but and we can’t control situations, but we can control how we react. And we have a choice in that reaction. And what we’re going to do, Christina is we’re going to share the links to your book, to all the information. So if people want to find you your programmes, this has been truly a beautiful interview with you. I feel like it’s been a chat with an old friend. I don’t even feel like it was an interview was just a wonderful way to spend a morning with you. Well, thank

Cristina M. Ramirez  1:05:36

you. I appreciate that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:38

Yeah, thank you so much for your time. And I hope our listeners got as much out of it as what I did, there was so many pearls of wisdom. Good luck with everything.

Cristina M. Ramirez  1:05:49

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:05:51

Well done to you that where you are at now in your life, and you are sharing your experiences in the positive. Yep, that’s

Cristina M. Ramirez  1:06:00

where we’re trying. Thank you so much for having me and for giving me an opportunity to share my message with your audience. So thank you. Okay.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:06:07

See you, Christina. I thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth, and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.