Interview with Betsy Talbot

Why did you write Strip Off Your Fear?
It was last year and I was writing a book about overcoming fear, and it was not going well. The words were not flowing, and the few that did make it through were – to put it bluntly – shit. After 30,000 nuggets of shit, I decided to call a halt to this project. I wasn’t fully into it, and the results showed. I just couldn’t get worked up about fear. Things were not happy at the House of Talbot because writing a book is why we settled down in Thailand in the first place.

Then things got real: my friend Donna was murdered by her ex-husband. And the political climate in the US became overtly anti-woman as the political races heated up. Some of my closest friends and family members were undergoing significant personal issues because of their inability to speak honestly and clearly in their relationships, businesses, and communities.

It finally dawned on me that fear wasn’t the problem because fear never leaves us. Conquer one fear and you’ll quickly find another – we all know that. The problem is really a lack of confidence, the inner fire that comes from living your authentic self, speaking your truth, and demanding respect from others, including yourself. Especially yourself. When you have this, you can face fear on a regular basis with a pretty good result.
You write about the Voices of Fear in our heads and even outline some of those personalities. Which one do you identify with most?
The Voices of Fear were really fun to write. It was the first time my inner Drama Queen has had full reign over my mind in many years, and she did not disappoint. Everyone has at least a few of these voices, though we tend to rely on a dominant one to rule our fears.

I'm definitely the Drama Queen, dreaming up scenarios worthy of an Oscar for every little thing. I've learned to temper it over time, even using it for entertainment now, but for many years it really ruled my life. Every headache was cancer, a missed call was the sign of trouble in a relationship, and an unreturned email meant I was going to be fired.

It's a tough way to live, and there is no booting those guys out of your head. But once you recognize them for what they are instead of what they want you to think they are, you can simply be a bystander to their activity and not a victim to their torment.
Why use a stripping metaphor in a book about confidence and speaking up?
Getting dressed and undressed is universal, and we all know how uncomfortable it is like to wear ill-fitting clothes. I couldn't think of a more perfect description of how our inner confidence gets covered up by all the layers society demands we wear. It's like that pushy sales clerk at the department store handing you item after item of clothes you hate because she simply doesn't know anything about you and wants to sell you what she has, not necessarily what you want or need.

The trick is learning to dress yourself, say no to the identities, goals, and dreams that don't fit you like a glove. It takes some practice to get to this point, and we arrive at different ages and stages.
One of the lessons you teach in learning to speak up is saying where you want to go for lunch. Why is this important?
Almost every woman I know answers the "where do you want to go for lunch?" question with "I don't know; where do you want to go?"

This automatic defaulting to the desires of another person is the perfect example of our conditioning to please others. Many times we may like where the other person chooses anyway, but that's not the point. We default to other people in the most basic of decisions, robbing ourselves of what we really want and putting the burden on everyone else in our life to make decisions. This is the perfect example of a man complaining he has to guess what a woman is thinking.

When you use this question as practice in speaking up, you will see it pay off in other areas of your life. The next time someone asks you where you want to eat lunch, answer. Don't push off the responsibility or try to come to a consensus. For extra points, you can practice suggesting alternatives when someone else suggests a location.

This simple exercise will give you a huge head start in speaking up in other areas of your life.
You included a book club party guide, a soundtrack and a signature cocktail. This isn't what you normally find in a book. Why?
It is an important message, and one that gains more power with community. I want readers to eat, drink, and groove to this message and take it into every pore of their bodies. Then I want them to talk about it with friends so they will all go out and talk about it with other people. I want confidence and speaking up to be on the minds of every single woman in the world. We are half the population and the primary caretakers for the next generation. Imagine what this world is losing when we don't make our ideas, thoughts and needs known?

It is all about you, but it is also all about our society as a whole.

I love gatherings of women, especially when important discussions can be had in a fun and supportive environment. My own book club back in Seattle was a huge part of my life and helped me work through problems and grow as a person, and I want other women to know that feeling of community and safety in speaking their minds as the wine flows and the night grows
Strip Off Your Fear is about self-confidence, but you also write about relationships. How are our relationships related to self-confidence?
Other people can't give you self-confidence, that's for sure, but the wrong people can certainly drain you of any you have. Humans are highly adaptive creatures, and we are shaped by our environments. Hang out with naysayers, critics and whiners and you won't keep your confident outlook for long.

Any job, mate, friend, organization, or government worth having in your life is one that treats you as an equal human being, supports your dreams, lovingly calls you on your bullshit, and works to make your union more productive than your individual contributions would be. They demand as much of themselves as they do of you, and being around them feels like a natural high.
I like to invoke the "best friend" test to figure out if a situation is where it should be.

Ask yourself if you would you allow your best friend to be treated the way you are being treated. If the answer is no, it is time to something about it. If you don't, that incredible human adaptability will work it's magic on covering up your confidence and morphing you into someone you don't want to be.

We should all be our own best friends, don't you think?
Published 2015-06-20.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

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Successful landscape designer and single mother Rose Quinn races to Italy to save her 19-year-old daughter Rachel from making a huge mistake with an older man. When secrets are revealed on the shores of Lake Como, Rose faces her own lifelong misconceptions about love and the illusion of control, relying on her lifelong best friends the Late Bloomers to to see her through this transformation
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In Confidence: Essays in Bold Living
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The author of Strip Off Your Fear: Slip Into Something More Confident returns with a collection of essays on confidence for busy women from her popular website, In her signature 'friend-to-friend' style, she tackles tough subjects with just the right blend of wisdom and humor.
Strip Off Your Fear: The Good Girl’s Guide to Saying What You Want
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This book is for the "Good Girls" – women who go along to get along, never rock the boat, and put their own desires last. Isn't it about time you said what you really wanted?