147. Gratitude is The Foundation of Confidence with Tara LaFon Gooch

Having compassion for people is generally considered a good thing and a sign that you’re a decent and kind person who makes an effort to make the world a better place by being part of it.

Raised in a religious household, Tara LaFon Gooch learned the value of love and kindness towards others. However, she struggled to extend that same love and compassion to herself.

She came from a home with an abusive, toxic father who disappeared from the picture just when she was beginning to discover the meaning of life from an adult perspective, and she hasn’t seen him since she was 14. You see already the conflict in energies and values.

Confidence was a major issue for Tara, and in so many ways she was down on herself.

On March 16, 2022, she found herself sitting alone in her garage, having just quit a job that featured a highly toxic work environment, contemplating ending her life.

How had everything gone so wrong? Why doesn’t it ever get any better? “If I have a purpose, let me know. If there’s anybody that can hear me, just let me know,” she cried.

Things were not fine at all – and Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

Then she heard a voice in her mind that said, “Your life has meaning but you need to give more.”

After hearing that message, Tara discovered some powerful lessons.

One of them was giving yourself radical permission to accept that your memories of past experiences and traumas are YOUR memories – and the simple fact that they may not actually be exactly what happened does not make them less real. Reframing negative experiences can lead to personal growth.

Also, when you have conditions like Tara’s – major depressive disorder and anxiety – you find yourself crying in the shower, screaming into the void, wondering what’s wrong with you and why it has to be this way. Treatments usually involve years of therapy, often combined with medications that make you feel worse, not better.

But then she found a treatment that costs nothing, yet rewires neural pathways and increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain.

In a moment, when you meet Tara, you’ll learn all about this “wonder drug”.

Tara’s hype song is “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

Resources:

Invitation from Lori: 

In my special guide, 5 Easy Ways to Start Living the Sabbatical Life, you can discover, step-by-step, how you can stop settling for “fine” and look at your life with a fresh set of eyes. Even if, like many people in today’s high-speed world, you’re not in a position to take a month or year-long sabbatical.

You know how you normally hear the disclaimer “Don’t try this at home!” In this case, you CAN try this at home. And not just “try,” DO.

Once you read it, you’ll

✅ Discover a counter-intuitive approach to making intentional changes in mindset and lifestyle.

✅ Learn how to own your feelings and your struggles so you can address them.

✅ Find out how to face fears, step out of your comfort zone, and rewire your beliefs.

It’s only 7 pages, so it won’t take you long to get through. When you’re ready to say F*ck Being Fine, this guide is the place to start and it will give you new perspectives that could change your life starting today!

Go to https://zenrabbit.com right now to download it for free.

So now, we’re going to meet Tara. Are you ready? You’re going to find her fascinating.

Transcript

Lori: Hello, and welcome to another episode of FINE is a 4-Letter Word. My guest today, Tara LaFon Gooch. Welcome to the show.

Tara: Hey. Thank you so much for having me today, Lori.

Lori: My pleasure. We met through a networking event, an online networking thing, where I was the presenter, and then we just stayed in touch on LinkedIn. This is, again, the power of—I love LinkedIn as a way to connect with people.

Tara: Absolutely. And stay in touch. You know what? That networking event was so funny because—I’ve told you that—it’s the first one I ever went to. I didn’t know anybody. The stars aligned, I guess, with you being presenter.

Lori: Absolutely. Then a few weeks ago when I was in Greensboro, North Carolina, we had the opportunity to meet up and have vegan burgers for lunch.

Tara: And they were good. Mine was the bacon cheeseburger and I’d never had vegan bacon before. I thought it was pretty good. Dare I say, I actually preferred it to a regular normal burger because it’s not greasy, too.

Lori: Very cool. That’s part of the beauty of what I’m doing in nomad life is that I get to meet up with people in person that I’ve never met before, that we’ve just known each other online. That’s been so cool.

All right. Let’s jump into the meatier part. See how I use that word? Tell me the values and beliefs that you were raised with as you were growing up that contributed to you becoming who you are now.

Tara: Wow. It’s such a short question but such a lot to unpack. I was raised in a really religious household. I’m not religious. I don’t prescribe to a certain religion. I more just am a very spiritual person. But I will say that I think it shaped me in who I am and what I value. One of the ways, just that love thy neighbor. I realized, for me, you don’t really need anything else. If you just practice that one excerpt, your life would be different, everyone’s life would be different. It doesn’t matter what religion we are. It doesn’t matter what gender we are or how we were raised or what our background is or socioeconomic status. What matters is that we’re all human and to just love each other. I think that was a big takeaway for me and really put me on a path to just kindness and empathy towards others. Compassion, right? I would say that would be one thing from my childhood that brought me to a little bit of where I am today.

Lori: Cool. It’s interesting that you mentioned kindness and compassion and empathy for others because as we get into your story, you didn’t have a lot of that for yourself.

Tara: That’s right. It’s really easy to have happen, I think. Like I said, we’re all human beings. We’re all figuring it out. And it’s really easy for us to give to others. I’m a natural giving person. I like it. It makes me feel joyful, it makes me feel grounded and grateful. But we also have to remember to give back to ourselves. Not just give back to ourselves, actually give to ourselves first. Some people go their whole lives without making that realization. Thankfully, mine came in my late 30s, but it still came. That’s part of the journey. It doesn’t have to be super early on. You can figure it out and then make a change and go, and adapt and evolve from there, I guess.

Lori: Before we get into the moment that you were sitting in your garage, what led up to that?

Tara: Backstory. And I talked about this in my recently released TEDx talk as well.

Lori: Which is fabulous. I’m going to put a link to that in the show notes. Anybody who’s listening must go look at it or listen, whatever, watch.

Tara: Definitely.

Lori: Go on.

Tara: My whole life, for as long as I can remember, I was sad. I felt alone. I don’t feel like anybody understood me. I really was lacking confidence. So I grew up, many people can relate to this, from a broken home. My father was never in my life. And when he was, you didn’t want him to be. Abusive, alcoholic. Lots of other things I don’t want to get into. But we’ll stick with here, abusive and alcoholic. I haven’t seen him since I was 14 years old.

I never felt intentional. I was here for a reason. Part of that just unconfident, if you will, was brought on by that. Some childhood adversities and trauma and just never feeling like you’re enough. I want to emphasize this because people are shocked when they hear me talk about confidence. Because they look at me, they see the red lipstick. I do my hair. I do my nails. I try to look good. I present myself with confidence now, so they can’t imagine how someone could be less than confident before. Well, it’s called a transformation for a reason. Anyway, I won’t get into that. That’s a separate conversation.

Lori: No. It is interesting, though. Because so many people see what is now, whether it’s in business or in a human. Because I get the same thing. People are like, “What do you mean you were shy when you were a kid? You’ll talk to anybody.” But this is who I’ve transformed into. Everybody has a place where they started and it could be very different from where they are now and what you’re seeing.

Tara: Yes, 100%. It’s not where I am now, but look at this and say, “Well, if I’m feeling less than confident, if I’m stuck in this cycle of depression of self-hatred, self-loathing, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, if I’m stuck in this cycle of depression where my thoughts are just ruminating and my anxiety is increasing and my chest feels tight like it’s hard to breathe, I know what all of those things feel like because I lived it.”

Then there’s people also that say, “Well, if you’re confident, then you’ll always be confident. I’m sure you don’t struggle with confidence anymore.” I would be trying to sell you something. If I said, “Lori, if you read my book, you’re never going to have self-doubt again.” I’d be selling you something. Honestly, that’s not true. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s habits. It’s consistency over time. It’s a belief. It’s a vision of a greater sense of yourself. And it’s a lot of things. And we can’t just look at somebody and say, “I guess you’ll never have to work on confidence again.” Again, I would be trying to sell you some snake oil or a pill or something.

Lori: Right. Well, it reminds me of anything, you have to do it consistently, whatever that is. Do you think confidence is a choice?

Tara: I think it’s a choice. I think it’s a lifestyle. I think it’s an energetic vibration. I think it’s a lot of things. We think of confidence as this one-dimensional kind of plane. It’s a holistic, multi-dimensional plane. It’s self-care, self-love. Sure. But what else? Okay. But once you get to that layer and you’ve become like, “What else is there? What else can you do?” You can start to align your energy on a higher vibrational state. Changing your thought patterns, changing your autopilot tendencies, increasing good habits, decreasing negative, increasing positive thoughts, decreasing negative ones. When we do have a negative one, we reframe it to potential, to expansion.

Lori: Right. I love that whole idea of reframing anything. Anything can be reframed. Even things that have already happened can be reframed. You can reframe how you look at your childhood. You could reframe how you look at any past situation and it will reflect differently moving forward. I know what I wanted to say. You were talking about confidence and I just wanted to mention that confidence is also not an across-the-board thing. You could feel confident in one area of your life and not so much in another.

Tara: Exactly. It’s called being a human being. And not to beat ourselves up for being a human being. What you said about reframing that even the past can be reframed, absolutely. I’m a huge believer in this. So I’m so glad you brought that up because we look back on our past—and it’s not to take away that from anybody. Maybe you are feeling like you’re suffering. I totally have empathy for that. But how can we look at those adversities, those challenges, those obstacles, those traumas even, and reframe it to something of positive, reframe it to something expansive? And instead of saying, “I’m this victim,” what if we said, “How can I use this to help someone else?” Then all of a sudden, you become that expert. All of a sudden, you become that person that is helping other people through their pain of their past. What bigger calling or purpose could any of us have?

Lori: And how can I use this to fuel me moving forward or how can I use this as a foundation? You and I are on the same page with gratitude. Even though this can sound counterintuitive, how can I be grateful for what happened even if it was terrible trauma? Because—whatever. Coming up with how that could be?

It’s interesting, too. Again, not to minimize anybody’s trauma or experiences they’ve been through, but studies on memory talk about how memory is so inaccurate. Everybody’s memory. Even if you think you have a good memory, you are likely not remembering things exactly as they happened. If that is true, that makes it even easier in a way to reframe things. Go, “Hey, wait, I know that this happened.” It’s not like you’re not remembering that something terrible happened. But when you’re reframing it, you’re telling yourself a different story.

Tara: Absolutely. You bring up gratitude. Gratitude helps us accomplish exactly what you’re talking about right now. That gratitude actually helps create neural pathways in our brain. And if we can change our thoughts, we can change our beliefs, we can change things from limit to expansiveness. And it starts with that gratitude. Like I was telling you at our vegan burger lunch, I said, “Gratitude is the law of increase.” Then going back to how I met you in that networking event, that’s what you talked about. You talked about gratitude. At the time, I was going through this gratitude journey, you didn’t even know about it, because I had just hit my rock-bottom point. And I was in this journey of understanding this concept of gratitude. You gave me a key to go to the next level and appreciate it on a yet even deeper level. Once I started appreciating gratitude like that, that’s when those reframing began to be possible with my past. Incredible.

Lori: Now, since you brought it up—and I didn’t know until our lunch that this had been the way things unfolded. First of all, talk about what happened. What was that lowest point for you? Then how did you go from there to start... Because you said I gave you a key but you were already on the path of looking at gratitude. So, I’m curious how you went from that lowest point to even getting on the path of gratitude at all.

Tara: Again, if my story is proof that anybody can do this, just let that be your inspiration for the day. Prior to 2022, I was recently diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety. You go to your doctor, they ask you to look at all these questions and check all these boxes off. Yes, no, maybe, sometimes, whatever. Well, mine was all checked yes. Like, “Yes, I wake up depressed.” Have you thought about suicide? Have you thought about these things? Do you have ruminating thoughts? Yes. I was recently diagnosed with that and anxiety. It was at the point where when I was just driving to work, I sometimes would throw up. I would have panic attacks. I would cry in the shower.

Just like alcoholics can hide alcoholism really well, there isn’t nobody that can hide depression well than somebody that is already very depressed. We look at people like Robin Williams. There was a beauty pageant queen in New York a couple of years ago, she committed suicide. She jumped off a building in New York. Ex-CFO from a large company that went under last year or the year before that. Again, Kate Spade. Oh my gosh. The list goes on. We wonder. We say, “I never saw it coming.” Of course not. Because they cry in the shower and you never actually see the tears, but they’re doing that.

It’s check up on everybody, not just the people that you know are going through a hard time. It’s anybody. They could look like anyone. That was my reality not so long ago. I was at that lowest point when I didn’t think I had a purpose, when I didn’t want to live anymore, when I thought my life had no meaning. And very much, a transformation. It’s hard to even put into words. But I think we’re so afraid of getting to this low point. But it’s in that low point when you become the person you’re meant to be.

Lori: You hear a lot of times that you have to hit or people have to hit rock bottom before they can go up. If you’re not there, there’s something about being at that very, very bottom point where you don’t have anywhere else to go.

Tara: It’s crazy what happened after that, and it wasn’t unintentional. It was, “All right, I’m going to live my life to the highest degree of intention. I’m literally going to do the 180 of everything I’m doing right now, basically.” The rest is history. I started believing in myself and started going after my dreams and things that were scary and that I was freaking afraid of. I never would have thought I could speak on stage in front of an audience, and I’ve done a TEDx talk. I never would have thought I could have written a book. Boom. Done. I never would have thought I could be a podcast host. Here I am. I’m talking to you. I’m on your show. I never would have thought and that’s why I never have it.

Lori: Right. Because you never had the thought and everything starts with the thought.

Tara: Yes, everything.

Lori: I want to go back, though. Because I think people who are listening might be like, “Okay, but wait, you were on the verge of taking your own life, you’re at the very rock bottom. And then all of a sudden, the switch goes and you’re like, ‘Gratitude. I need to do that.’ Okay, wait.” There’s a disconnect here.

Tara: I know. I know, right? It was at that lowest point. For starters, it was March 16, 2022. March in North Carolina is probably the best month. It’s spring but perfect because it’s not hot, it’s just gorgeous. It’s really beautiful. Anyway, I had recently left my corporate job where I felt meaningless and purposeless. I was being bullied. Extremely toxic work environment. Ridiculous. I started to feel this combination of my entire life has been this way. Like I said, from childhood on, this has been the reality. So, I thought it would never get better. Because why would it? That’s the entirety of everything I’ve ever known.

It got to that point where I got to that point where I said, “I can’t just can’t do this anymore.” Regardless of beliefs, regardless of anything, I know what happened and my opinion of what happened. I was crying so hard. I was screaming. I said, “If I have a purpose, let me know. If there’s anybody that can hear me, just let me know.” It’s just as clear as this. And I heard in my mind, “Your life has meaning but you need to give more.” I didn’t know what that meant. I thought I had nothing to give. I didn’t know the value until I started giving. And that made me grateful.

Lori: When you heard that voice and you changed your mind, was it like the next day you decided, “Okay, I have to figure out a way to give more. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I need to figure it out and start”? And what was the first act of giving?

Tara: Going back to our conversation earlier, it was giving to myself. That’s the power. This is how transformation happens in a very quick lightning amount of time. Something told me... I just kept feeling I need six weeks, I need six weeks, I need six weeks. Six weeks. I don’t know why, but that’s what the number was. Six weeks no alcohol. Six weeks working out consistently. Six weeks completely changing my diet. So, eating just crap to a Mediterranean-based diet. Fish, protein, vegetables, fruit. No complex carbohydrates, no artificial anything, no fried anything. No TV, no news. I used to watch a lot of crime shows and I realized that was negative. Literally, anything that I could take out that was low vibrational, negative, I removed from my life. Some friends, I had to stop associating with. Then I started to realize, anybody that makes me feel less than or makes me feel uncomfortable or makes me feel unworthy or undeserving or unhappy or unjoyful, I’m going to put a boundary. I did that for six weeks. And the rest is history.

Lori: Wow. I love this story because it also taps into you heard this voice which—I don’t know.

Tara: The Universe intuition. It doesn’t matter what you put on it. I’m not saying it has to be labeled.

Lori: Then you followed... It sounds like things just started showing up for you as to what to do next. Like change your diet and do a Mediterranean diet instead of what you were doing. Where does that come from? It just showed up and you took it.

Tara: You align with an intention and you listen to your instincts. More gut. Your body is telling you plenty of information. The problem is not a lack of information. The problem is alignment with intentionality and not listening to ourselves. Like I said, I remember what anxiety felt like. I couldn’t breathe. That’s my body telling me. So, I’m getting plenty of information. I’m not listening.

Lori: You just didn’t know what to do with it.

Tara: Or apply it or take action or whatever you want to call it. But ultimately, I wasn’t living a life that was aligned in any capacity. No wonder why there’s friction. No wonder why there’s resistance. No wonder why success is not possible. Because you’re not in alignment.

Lori: Right. As soon as you got in alignment, things started happening, not just physically in how you were feeling and how your mental health improved and your physical health, but opportunities started showing up for you. Things were, like you said, lightning fast.

Tara: That’s how it happens and that’s what manifesting is. There’s a lot of information about what manifesting is, what manifesting is not. Manifesting is a result of you taking action and you having a thought process that keeps you going towards that action, keeps you going on an intentional purpose. Then boom, things start to align up. Boom, opportunities start to come to you. Boom, your life starts to change. You know what? You do this for a long enough time. And again, it should be a lifestyle change at this point. That you do this for a long enough time, you don’t even look like the same person you did. Guess what? I don’t even look like that. I may have been younger then. I’ll take this version of me every day and I’m almost 40. You look better. And you can’t fake gratitude. It’s the law of increase but it actually radiates off of you. That’s not something you can fake. It’s literally a vibrational state, and it just aligns things up with you.

Lori: Say again what you said when we were at lunch. Because even though I have been so into gratitude for so many years, you said something that I wasn’t aware of because I’ve always said gratitude is the same vibration as love and joy, and you said no.

Tara: Interesting. Well, gratitude, to me, it’s the universal law. It’s a principle of the universe. It’s the law of increase. That love and gratitude I think could potentially be on the same maybe vibrational level. I think confidence is a vibrational level. I’m not sure but I do think it is the law of increase. Some people can’t start with self-love but maybe you can start with gratitude. I don’t know. Just start where you can increase. I think if you start with gratitude, I think other things can fall into place. I think eventually you can love yourself.

For some people, especially if you’re depressed, love or joy can be a completely foreign concept to you. But if you start with gratitude of something, of the small things, you’ll find that it increases your level of love, it increases your level of joy, it increases your level of just contentment. Through gratitude, other things become possible. To me, it’s almost more foundational than anything else.

Lori: I thought you had said that gratitude energetically was a higher vibration than love and joy.

Tara: I don’t think it’s necessarily a higher level of vibration in joy. Maybe.

Lori: Where did I come up with this idea then? I don’t know. I went away from that lunch thinking that I had heard you say that.

Tara: I have been quoted as saying that gratitude is the law of increase, though.

Lori: I remember that, for sure.

Tara: That is my biggest revelation. It’s the law of increase for success, for personal development, for wealth, for health.

Lori: Right. What you’re saying is you cannot have more. Whatever it is in your life cannot increase—love, joy, abundance—without gratitude.

Tara: Nope. Everybody’s so interested in a quick scheme. Everybody’s so interested in a pill. It’s not possible. Start with gratitude. The best thing about this, Lori, it’s free. It takes no additional resources. This can literally change anybody’s life. It takes no additional resources. It is proven scientifically to, again, rewire neural pathways, to increase dopamine and serotonin in our brains. How about instead of trying a pill, we first try gratitude? You know what? We’ll see where it goes. I’m not saying that it’s a perfect solution for every problem, but it’s a perfect solution to start and develop and cultivate. What I did say, I think, during our lunch was... Well, it’s okay. I think I lost my track there.

Lori: It’s okay. I was going to say something about the gratitude. The other thing about it is that even if you are not a naturally grateful person, you can become one. Because what you’re talking about and what I have talked about in the past is that gratitude rewires the neural pathways in your brain. Even if you don’t think you are a naturally grateful person, you can train yourself to become one.

Tara: I remember the conversation we had now. I think I was talking about levels and layers and depth of gratitude. Actually, when you develop a relationship with gratitude, it deepens, right? People sometimes don’t understand that, especially if gratitude is something that they’re relatively new in their journey of learning about. Think of it as the same as love. This is where I said that. With love, there’s depth to love. You can love someone, for example, so much deeper over time. There’s depths and layers to it.

Just the same as gratitude. And it’s not something that’s surface level. It may start a surface level. Okay, I’m going to do gratitude journaling for the day. And maybe it’s a repetitive task. But eventually go deeper. Eventually go into reframing. How can I reframe my past experiences to be increased? What lessons can I learn from that to increase my current reality and future realities? And go deeper with it and actually develop a lifestyle and relationship and have it towards it. But I think of it as a relationship that I have with gratitude. And it’s because it’s a relationship, it’s something you do every day, something you practice, something that’s intentional, something that’s meaningful in your life that just keeps you going on that path of, again, intentionality and purpose.

Lori: That is such an important point to keep in mind. There is a starting point and there is no end point.

Tara: Exactly. There never was. There never is an end point for anything.

Lori: This is a whole infinity of life.

Tara: Yes. There’s no destination. Stop wondering where that destination is, when is it going to show itself. The journey is the destination. We forget about that and lose sight of it. But again, it goes back to reframing.

I think of life like a video game. Because that’s just the best analogy. Even though I’m not a video game person at all, like zero, I think of it as a similar thing. But in a video game, you have to defeat somebody to get to a next level. You have to climb over and use skills and buttons to climb over things, or tools or whatever. And you have to learn in order to surpass and move on. Life is the same. Except for in a video game, the difference is the game ends.

Your game, this game of life, is very similar. What better way to live a life, an intentional one, and not be some third-party character in a game, but actually be the star of the game, you can only do that by leading an intentional life, by taking obstacles and adversities and challenges as potentials for growth and by learning from your experiences. What else is a part of that? Having gratitude for it all and believing in yourself every step of the way. You can’t be the hero on a journey if you don’t believe in yourself.

Lori: Wow. That’s such a great way to end this. I, of course, cannot end it without asking you your hype song. I know you said that it depends on the day of what song it is that you’re going to share. So what is it right now in this moment?

Tara: It truly, truly does. Because I’m literally the type of person that listens to any kind of music. Gosh. What was I listening to the other day? Bob Marley? No, that’s not a hype song. But I really like Bob Marley.

Lori: What’s the song that gives you an extra boost of energy? It could be anything.

Tara: It really does depend on my day. I’m not a good example for this, I guess. I guess I’m not a good example. I like to tell myself more affirmations to get me through something. Like workouts, something like that. That’s typically it. But the song is so dependent on my mood and day and whatever else.

Lori: All right. So you’re not going to give me a song.

Tara: What’s yours?

Lori: To answer this question, because I’m really into music so there are a lot of songs, but it would probably be Carrie Underwood’s Champion. That song fires me up.

Tara: Okay. If I think of a song like that, I think of the Rocky soundtrack. Eye of the Tiger.

Lori: Okay. All right. Cool.

Tara: I don’t listen to that per se before I work out but—

Lori: All right. Cool. Well, I am going to put the link to your TEDx in the show notes. I will put a link to the Rocky song in the show notes because that’s what I do. And if someone wants to continue a conversation with you, where’s the best place for them to find you?

Tara: It’s taralafongooch.com. My book, How to Grasp Confidence and Own Your Power. The G for grasp stands for gratitude. So if this was a conversation that resonated with you, I think that book would as well. And that’s available on Amazon.

Lori: Awesome. Thank you so much for being vulnerable and being who you are and coming on today to share your story.

Tara: Thank you for having me, Lori.

Lori: We’ll catch you next time on Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *