On today’s episode, my guest is walking, talking, and jumping proof that you can make being sensitive your superpower. Cathy Spaas and I are talking about her career as an elite international showjumper, transforming relationships by working on yourself, and the X-men superpowers that come with being a highly sensitive person.
Cathy is a world-class coach to professional performers, artists, and creatives. Through her groundbreaking Claim Your Shine modality she supports these highly sensitive and intuitive people so that they can reach and sustain success in their highly demanding creative industries.
In addition, Cathy is passionate about spreading more awareness regarding the specific mindset challenges and gifts associated with being an HSP (highly sensitive person) by sharing interviews with professional artists on her show ‘the Inside Scoop’. She loves riding her horses and firmly beliefs she has the most amazing family in the whole wide world.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Zen Rabbit. The question many people are asking lately is how do I find and maintain peace of mind?
With everything going on in your world, and the world as a whole, staying grounded can be challenging.
Yet, your happiness and well-being are dependent on your ability to find your center. To tap into your inner knowing. Your health and sanity are at stake here.
This is where the F*ck Being Fine program for individuals and companies comes in. It’s time to stop saying everything’s fine when, clearly, your hair is on fire. You want to learn how to stay calm and grounded no matter what’s going on around you?
There ARE people who live this way. And you can be one of them. If you’re intrigued by this possibility, message me at Lori@ZenRabbit.com or text me at 571.317.1463.
Connect with Cathy Spaas
Lori Saitz 0:01
Welcome to this episode of Fine is a 4 letter word. My guest today is Cathy Spaas. Welcome to the show.
Cathy Spaas 0:20
Thank you. And you must be the first English-speaking person who got my name completely right.
Lori Saitz 0:27
Maybe that's because I asked you before we started how to pronounce it.
Cathy Spaas 0:36
Yeah. Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to our conversation today.
Lori Saitz 0:40
I am too, especially after our pre-show conversation. And that was just so beautiful. So give me a brief overview of your early life. Like, I want to start with the beliefs and the values and beliefs that were instilled in you when you were growing up.
Cathy Spaas 0:58
Well, as a young child, I was fearless. To be honest, you know, I was reckless, I was wild, I was a real tomboy. And I was, you know, the, the Indian and me like you're a real Native American Indian, in me, I've always had a lot of connection with Indian tribes and things like that was completely present in my early life. And we were having a lot of fun, you know, riding our ponies and playing with cats and dogs and just having a blast. But then, growing older, you know, my parents divorced when I was three and a half years old, which I always thought I was fine with. But then of course, later in life, you discover their safety issues and blah, blah, blah. So, you know, but I thought I was fine. And then there was always really happy to go to my father because he was my big, big hero.
And as I grew older, he started to expect more and more of me, you know, I was 10 years old, and he would send me to France to people I didn't know, I had seen them once. The daughter was a little bit older than me, but she was not nice or kind at all. It was really hard. And I was there all alone. And I was 10 years old. And every summer I had to go there and later on to different places, which was better. But it was, it was a great experience. You know, at very early age, I had to be very independent. And I was learning a lot of things. But I started to be very competitive and horseback riding, we did jumping. And I remember one of my first shows, you know, I would not sleep all night because I was so nervous and so excited to you know, do my show, and to jump my pony around, and you want to do a good job. And so I actually did until that last jump, you know, I was supposed to go straight. And I took the jump on the left, because I thought the last one. And instead of having a good laugh and saying, you know, you know what, girl, that was an amazing round, you were clear. Let's just, you know, stick with the course next time, blah, blah, blah. No.
He said, I had to ride a higher class, you know, I think it was 10 or 11 years old at the time. That's still small enough, I did not have that much jumping experience. So I was really scared of doing that. So he actually made me scared and the pressure was already on. You know, it had to be good.
Lori Saitz 3:53
Yeah, what first of all? Why was he sending you to France? To stay with this family that you didn't know that? I would? Did you ever find out? Why
Cathy Spaas 4:04
Yeah, the first reason was so that I would learn to speak French and a good way because our family is from that side, they're very well educated, you know? And then okay, it's posh you know, if you speak fluently for sure. So that was the end he always said, you know, you'll be so grateful later in life. I guess I probably I'm and it's been an amazing experience who can say that you know, I was in France on my own when I was 10 years old. And I was not on my own. You know, I had people thinking,
Lori Saitz 4:40
Oh, sure. But I imagine it was very like you said it was scary and lonely. And you don't speak the language and you're with these people you don't know. Yeah, and the stories that you then create in your mind about all kinds of things.
Cathy Spaas 4:55
I was too young to do that. I didn't do that. But I did feel a little bit, you know, left aside because these people were also very passionate horse people. And their daughter was a very good rider as well or still is probably. So they were always working, competing and blah, blah, blah. So I was a little bit, you know, left to decide I was just, I was there. And, yeah, they did include me as much as they could. But I'm, I'm a wanderer. I love to be on my own. So I would spend my time with the falls in the field, with the dog playing, you know, just going for a walk with the local pony that they had in there. We're okay, you know, and that was okay, because there was space peace quiet for me. So yeah, I did manage to survive. We did have cool experiences as well, of course.
Lori Saitz 5:59
Okay. I was gonna say go going back to the stepping up in horse riding class. And, I mean, so were you able to compete at that level? Or what happened?
Cathy Spaas 6:12
Yes. So then afterward, we moved and everything got more professional. And it was quite hard for me because as a child, I was very introverted. I was very outgoing. I'm very extroverted. But when it comes to my deeper emotions, I'm in fact can be very introverted. And so I did not even know I was, I wasn't aware about this. My brother was always a lot more sensitive with these things. But our father had changed girlfriends. And he was with this really sweet lady that took great care of especially my brother, because, you know, like I said, I was the tomboy, I was out in the stables with the horses, so, but my brother was, you know, really well taken care of. And she was always soft and sweet and kind, nourishing, you know, and then came French. Yeah, I can use the word biatch. You know, she was just Yeah. At first we idolized her because our father was so like, Oh, she's this and she's done. And we're like, wow, you know, then I'm 12 years old. I was 12. And then, you know, you idolized her, and then they moved. And then you're at an age that you're changing school. And so there was so much going on that I suffered from quite a severe illness that your bones literally, like, it's not freeze, but they stay stuck.
reactional arthritis, so I could not move certain parts of my body. So I was stuck. Oh, my God, that was crazy. You know, and I know now, later on, I knew that it was a reactive disease. So it was happening as a reaction on everything that was going on, and that I just could not process and myself, because I also I did not want to think about those things. So yeah, yes. Interesting. How that,
Lori Saitz 8:09
So were you not able to ride because of that?
Cathy Spaas 8:13
Yeah, for a little while, but we just moved. So things were changing. And it was actually okay because that way I could settle into the new space. And I did recover quite fast from it. Normally, it takes people at least three months, and I was a very healthy girl. So it took me three weeks, when I could start going a little bit outside again, within a little after that I could ride again. And then we did take things to the next level, you know, we started riding shows and competing for more. And then we started riding international shows with our ponies. And then, of course, you know, the pressure is on we had these pony camps with our friends from the show. And then it was like really hard work, but also fun. But for example, when they would all go to the swimming pool, I was the one that couldn't go or had to go later because there was another pony coming a little stallion from people and I had to ride it at home. And I always enjoyed that. You know you do feel special. When you're doing that you get this you know, extra attention you're missing out but you're also having a lot of confidence because you're able to do that.
Lori Saitz 9:33
So you know, I was gonna say we talked sometimes about making sacrifices to get what you want. So you sacrificed being able to go swimming, but you also got to ride extra riding time that you you enjoyed. So.
Cathy Spaas 9:49
Yeah, and I have to say, at this point, I've experienced firsthand that when you have to sacrifice you know it's okay to sacrifice nice things, but until a certain level at this, you know, I used to ride professionally for a very long time, I did it as a job, I had my own horse stable and everything. But I was working my horses, my top horses, like five times a week are always very conscious about their health and making sure you know that there was a lot of flexibility in their work, not every day to say I'm also going out for a hack and training in the woods. And you know, that kind of stuff and lunge works, that there was a lot of different kinds of work for them. So I kept my horses really healthy, but I was investing a lot of time, energy, and work and sweat, and tears into them. Yeah, but Right. So yeah, so at this point, I have two babies. And I'm very happy if I can ride two or three times a week, and even some weeks not and some weeks one time. And I've noticed that these past few weeks, I've been riding two times a week, and I've made more progress than I've ever made in the past riding six days a week, months.Lori Saitz:
Wow, yeah, there is a lesson there's a lesson in there in that, you know, I see it and I see it a lot as a lesson for myself, as well as for my listeners, that it doesn't have to be always pushing so hard. That sometimes not sometimes all the time, it's about allowing, and so if it two times a week, you're getting better results than six times, then allow yourself to I don't wanna say settle for but accept that that's okay, that you don't have to put five days or six days into it. You know, it was pointed out to me recently that I have a belief that struggle is the way to success. Yes, you are giving this message right here. That is not true. I mean, it's true, if you believe it's true, but it doesn't have to be true.Cathy Spaas:
No, and I'm working through that belief, every single day because we've been raised that way. You know, we've been raised that way. And with my business as well, I used to work so many hours and serve so many clients. But now I'm at a point where you know what, I'm exclusive. I'm not for everyone. I don't want to work with everyone. I don't want to serve everyone. You know, I want to work with the people that bring me the most joy and I will choose them. And that just changed my entire career. But also, you know, bliss, joy in what I do. Because I'll be very frank with you when I have to coach 10 clients one on one at the same time. I'm bored, I'm bored. I just like, I don't care anymore. And that's very harsh to say, but that's the god honest truth. You know, I'm just bored. And I want to do things that bring me joy, because I know that when I organize my life in that way, I'm the best coach I can be for my clients. So that's only take Max three clients at the same time at this point, so that it's fun for everyone.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, so stepping back. At what point did you get to the place where you're like, Yeah, everything's fine, but it's not fine.Cathy Spaas:
Well, I did share with you in advance that I had the burnout. And prior to my burnout, I had been doing so much inner work, you know, spiritual classes, personal development classes, since I was 19. So that must have been like 12 years prior to my burnout that I was doing so much and trying, I was trying so hard to improve life and to feel happier in my own skin and comfortable. And you know, it's fine, that little girl that was so fearless again, and I just couldn't, I couldn't I was always disappointed in myself. And of course, disappointed in the people around me because that's, you know, a beautiful mirror effect. And yeah, and so, when I got stuck in that burnout, I realized that you know what, there's a different way because I always tried so many things I did reiki healings. I did. I could not acupuncture, but with the feet. I did past life regressions. I've tried everything.
Everything and I've always noticed that it's temporary. Because it's external, you know, it has to come from the inside out, I have to change things. And I got all these tools from all these courses and classes, and I could not get them integrated into my daily life and my routines. And it's when I got stuck in that burnout when I hit my rock bottom, and I thought, You know what, I'm, I'm worthless, you know, I can't do anything, right. Because due to the bullying at work, they, you know, I got to a point where I started to believe that I'm, you know, I'm no good. I'm no good. I'm not good.Lori Saitz:
So you were doing all of this work. And they say, there's some inner work. And at the same time, that's when you were getting bullied at work.Cathy Spaas:
Well, I did the inner work for 12 years. And then somewhere after that, probably, I'm, I was not doing a specific course at that time. Okay, I was getting my bachelor's degree because I started doing my horses straight after school. So I was getting my bachelor's degree and my 30s. In my early 30s, because I'm still in my 30s. Yeah, and that's just when I realized, you know, what, knowledge is beautiful. But if you're not using it, if you're not putting it to work, it's useless. Even more, absolutely. It's making you feel like shit. Because you know what you have to do, and you're not doing it. So you're, you know, tearing yourself apart? Because you're saying, Yeah, person, I'm blah, yeah, you know, right.Lori Saitz:
I have these kinds of conversations with clients all the time, about right, feeling guilty, and talking about what you know when you talk about gratitude and meditation. And when I'm working with my clients on that whole idea of having a gratitude journal, that becomes another thing on your to-do list. And you're like, yeah, I gotta do that today. And that's not useful.Cathy Spaas:
No, it's not. And that's why I love doing the work that I do. Because, you know, you and I, we take people by the hand, and we do it together, and we help them we support them becoming the version that they want to become. It's so different from because I've been to therapists, I've been to a psychologist, even as a child because I went through all those things, you know. And, you know, that's not even the worst part of things that happen. So there was a lot of damage done in my early teens and stuff. So I know how a therapist or a psychologist works. And what you do is you focus on the negative, what isn't going well for you in life?Lori Saitz:
And the past, right, yeah, the past and the negative,Cathy Spaas:
negative, like, you know, tell me what's going on what isn't working for you. So you'll spend your hour telling, you know, this isn't going right. And sometimes when you've got a really good one, you'll get some tips and a tool. I was lucky when I was in my burnout, I got a good one. And she gave me like one exercise and some good mindset talks that helped me move forward. So I'm grateful for that. And the psychologists helped me find myself internally, I didn't know how to listen to myself, I did not know how to express emotions. I did not even know I had emotions, you know, it was just such an unaware child. And I did not want to feel those emotions. SoLori Saitz:
Right. Because that's painful. And we don't necessarily want to feel pain because it doesn't feel good. So we just distract ourselves or brush them under or pretend we don't have them. And then they come out somewhere. Yeah.Cathy Spaas:
Or you get, you know, an illness like I did.Lori Saitz:
A few. Yeah, right. So I was just gonna ask you, how did it come out for you?Cathy Spaas:
Yeah, they came out through setting my bones.Lori Saitz:
Whoa, right. I thought maybe there was something else after that.Cathy Spaas:
Yeah, I started rebelling in my teens and doing all sorts of numbing of the brain. Yeah, I've had so many addictions. I was in the hospital twice when I was 15 to pump my stomach from drinking too much. But I was also I'm really sensitive to those substances. So you know, it's also not as dramatic as it sounds, but it also is, so yeah, I started using those substances and like marijuana and sugar and sex and all these things that help you numb and make you feel a little bit more bliss. Fake plus,Lori Saitz:
yeah, yeah. Right. Right. And so was it that was it the psychologists that you went to who helped you yell those emotions? Like when? No, at what point did you get to the point where you were like, Okay, I recognize now that emotions are part of being human, and expressing feeling them and expressing them is the healthier way to go?Cathy Spaas:
Well, I think that the first awareness was with a psychologist to just learn how to talk about it, you know, and to see what's going on. That's the first step. And I'm so grateful that at a younger age, I was able to learn that because you knows, you know, what else with my body would have been going on. But it's, it's also my mom, she gives spiritual classes, and she was always very aware about these things, and always gave so many beautiful tips, but then, you know, I felt like a bad child or a bad person, because I did not know how to implement them.
You know, because I followed a lot of her classes. I said, No, I followed them all, actually, but then, you know, you got the tools, you know, that, you know, grounding yourself, or meditating or doing a yoga exercise or whatever, cleaning your chakras. You know, I don't care what it is. It all works if you use it. But I noticed, you know because I was always the young one. And then you see all these women in their relationships. And what I thought was interesting is that you saw them and we were all in this state of pure bliss, you know, you, you're there, you're with each other, the energy is so high and beautiful. And you get in this zone and the state of this is it, you know, this is so pure, and this is how I want to feel. And then you drive home and you still feel amazing. And then you open the door, and your partner says one word, and blah, completely vanished.
And what I learned there, and I also was only able to put the meaning to it afterward when I went through my own transformation. But what I discovered is that those ladies and myself, because I experienced the exact same thing, they started to feel a discrepancy between themselves and their partner. Because, you know, there, there was a gap between them because they were so aware. And their partners were not. So they found distance. But the big change and the big differences, once you own your transformation, and you start living this work, and you start being the person who does a few minutes of meditation in the morning, and who does a little bit of conscious breathing during lunch. And it was grounding, whenever she takes the steps or whatever you know, is your mojo. Once you start living it, your energy starts to change. And your you know, your environment will resonate with that. And they will grow with you alongside you without you having to do anything. So it's by living it that they will, you know, follow you.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, yeah, I had a podcast guest on in the season one Trista Polo talked about, that's exactly what she did. She started working on herself. Her marriage was not super not great. She started working on herself. And she wasn't asking him to do anything. And everything changed because she changed.Cathy Spaas:
Yeah. And that's what I experienced with my father, for example, because we've had for 20, you know, I used to be his little angel and his princess and everything. And I saw him as a god. But then when I was 14 years old, I went from the ponies to the horses, and my brother started riding the ponies that were now you know, really ready and doing international shows. So he was at that level at that point. And I was learning again, with the horses. We were right, there was a lot of preparation, but you could see that there was a growth process for me again and that I was losing myself a little bit. And then my father completely, you know, dropped me. Like, you know, I had to go to the shows alone and there was no dashboard and my brother got lessons from the most amazing teachers and I could not join in while you know, I needed it more than at an amazing level and he did European Championships. And I was always there to support him love him to death, you know, so proud of him as a person as a rider as what he's doing right now in life. But you could see that, you know, I was being put aside, and there was no more space for me. And that as a child really hurts because then.Lori Saitz:
I can only imagine,Cathy Spaas:
yeah, I'm not good enough, you know. So from that moment on, I started rebelling, and it got even worse. And the part the 20 years after that were hell between me and my father, just pure hell. It's been a struggle. And so after my transformation, it's like us, you describe so beautifully, you don't have to expect anything from someone else. But when you change, they'll show up differently. And our relationship the past already four to five years or relationship has been gold again. Pure gold. Yeah, that's amazing. Yeah, I did not expect that even happen anymore for us. But it's only because I showed up differently that he was able to do the same.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, yeah. I want to touch on briefly what you talk about what you specialize in, but what we talked about before the show, about, you being a highly sensitive person, how you came into understanding and accepting that, and why that's who you work with now?Cathy Spaas:
Yeah, that's interesting, because at the job of the bullying, you know, there was someone who just mentioned the term, a highly sensitive person, and it instantly triggered me and I thought, You know what, I'm looking that shit up. So, my dear friend, Google told me all about it. And then I started to think, Oh, my God, that's what's up, you know, that's what's been going on. And I interested me so much. And then I had this experience of personal development to the highest level with that burnout and me reinventing myself and putting all the things that I had learned in the past to work, and actually implemented and live it because I discovered these new strategies to really start, you know, using them becoming the person. And so I followed a course, to become a coach or an entire, you know, education on it. And I thought, you know, what, I want to be specific, I want to be I want to help people like me, who feel lost, who feel insecure, who feel misunderstood. I've often felt like an alien on earth, not because I didn't have enough friends, because I've always been surrounded by a lot of loving people. But I just always felt like, I didn't belong.Lori Saitz:
And I Yeah, I've heard that from a lot of people too. Like, regardless of whether they're highly sensitive or not. It's so interesting, how many, how many of us humans feel like we don't belong?Cathy Spaas:
Yeah. Yeah. And, yeah, so I started to tune in more into the, you know, working with highly sensitive people as an expert, and following those classes. And I've worked with the, you know, most nominated researchers in Belgium, and Holland, or the Netherlands, on the topic, and then I discovered, you know, highly gifted, and I found out that I was myself as well, or am. And so, so many things got clearer and clearer. And the more I got to learn about these qualities, the more I knew, like, this is exactly what I have to do. And then I started working with highly sensitive people and after coaching, like, circa 100, people, I knew like, you know, what I'm doing it really works. You know, these, they're all so happy. They're all so grateful. I still get messages from clients from five years ago.
So it's, it's so amazing. But then I started seeing these documentaries on TV. And I started watching like aVici, who, you know, did the DJ, so gifted DJ, who just didn't find his place and didn't know how to cope with all the pressure as an artist. And I started watching all these documentaries. And I started seeing that there was a big misconception of artists being what's the word, bipolar, you know, experiencing heights and lows very often, but what I learned from working with all these experts in In highly sensitivity, high sensitivity is that we can feel those emotions as well. Because of the overstimulation and everything that goes on inside of ourselves, we have a deeper way of processing information. And our right hemisphere is stronger activated.
That means a lot of creativity, thinking and solutions, such as strong empathy, more activated mirror neurons, so you can really feel what someone else is feeling or showing. So these are all qualities that artists need to have to be good at what they do. You know. So that's how I discovered that, like, I think around 85% of all artists are highly sensitive. And a lot of them highly gifted as well and highly gifted. And is also a little bit attached to being highly sensitive, because we also have a deeper way of processing information. So that's why I started to notice like, Oh, my God, these people, they don't even know why they're feeling that way. And they're feeling so lost and insecure. And people are making them think that it's bad to feel like that'd be and I know what that's like, because I do anything to be happy. And I just couldn't, I didn't know how to fully own. My, you know, my, my luck, my shine my everything.Lori Saitz:
So I didn't know how to step into your superpower.Cathy Spaas:
Exactly. And we have so many being highly sensitive, we have so many beautiful powers. And yet, I got stuck in the struggles, the challenges that come along with it. And that's the problem. Once you're stuck in there. You know, you can still use your gifts that come along with it, but it's harder to enjoy them and to really use the full potential that's present.Lori Saitz:
To see them as gifts as opposed to I don't say maybe disabilities or drawbacks or things that were wrong with you.Cathy Spaas:
Yeah, and it can really hold us back at times for sure. But there are so many I keep doing these little reels on Instagram on why HSP are like X Men because we're simply more evolved. Sometimes you just gotta own it. Okay. All right. I gotcha.Lori Saitz:
Let me let's, let me ask you your next question, man. On that note. When one of the X Men, specifically you wants to feel an even greater boost of energy? What is the song that you listen to? To get like, what's your hype song?Cathy Spaas:
My hype song is Because of You by Neyo. Because it's all because of you. And that's me.Lori Saitz:
Yeah, same to me.Cathy Spaas:
It just moves me with this music. And I'm not the person who's a super fan of anything. I don't have a favorite movie. I don't have a favorite artist. I don't have a favorite song. I would not know where to begin. But Neyo does something to me. He knows I think I would love one day to have a chat with him. Because it's not possible that that guy is not highly sensitive. I just, you know, I'll put my hand into the fire too. I'm sure of it. Because of its lyrics and the way the music is composed. It goes like, into my fibers into my cells, you know, my entire body can feel it. It's so powerful. So, yeah, NeyoLori Saitz:
Alright, so we're putting that out into the universe? Yeah, you would like to go with that? How can if people want to continue this conversation with you? What's the best way for them to reach you? Or find you?Cathy Spaas:
Well, of course on all social media, just my name Cathy Spaas with a C. And then you know, you can do it. Send me a DM I always love to have a chat and see what's going on and where you are and get to know others like-minded spirits. And otherwise my website, Cathyspaasacademy.com. You know, you can find more about being highly sensitive. You can find a ton of interviews with celebrities I did on the topic and on mental health and mindset. So and articles that were launched on different mindset topics. So there's a lot of content that you can go through and really get inspired there as well, and you can book excellent conversations with me therewith.Lori Saitz:
Okay, fabulous. Well, I will put links to that in the show notes so people can easily find it. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today. Kathy on fine is a four letter word.Cathy Spaas:
Thank you for having me. I've had so much fun with you, Lori.Lori Saitz: