Dr. Julie Hanks is a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who is passionate about helping women find their voice in their own lives, relationships, and in the world. She is a multi-faceted woman who also wears the hats of author, blogger, local and national media contributor, online influencer, consultant, award-winning performing songwriter, and founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy.
I had the opportunity to meet and work with Dr Hanks this past May when I attended the Most Awesome Conference for therapists, which is why I was delighted to talk with her about her new book- The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries & Transform Your Relationships.
Watch the video below to hear her talk about her inspiration for writing this book, how her own interpersonal experiences affected the work she shares throughout the book, and a discussion about the gift of resentment.
MALLORY GRIMSTE, LCSW: So, hi! Welcome. I’m here talking with the author of The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships. A little sneak peek of the upcoming book. I’m here with Dr. Julie Hanks, so thank you for joining me.
DR. JULIE HANKS: Thank you so much for the invitation.
MALLORY: Thanks, so, I just had a few questions about your book. What inspired you to write this book?
DR. HANKS: My own life and my clinical practice, really. I struggled to find my own voice in my life. I grew up in a big family, I did a lot of caretaking. So personally, it was through therapy that I really found who I am, and what I have to say. And I’ve worked a lot with women - young adult women to middle aged women in my practice, and that seems to be a common theme - what do I want, what do I think, how do I feel. We’re socialized to think about what other people need and what other people want. And that’s such a great part, I think, about being a woman - learning to be aware of people around you - around me. But we can’t exclude ourselves from that circle of care.
And in fact, we’re the primary person responsible for creating the life that we want. And yet we’re taught that’s not okay or somehow that’s selfish or you’re being - yeah, being selfish or whatever. And so - that’s part of - I’m really passionate about helping women find their own voice in their own lives and in the world because I know how powerful it’s been for me – that journey.
MALLORY: Yeah, that’s great. As you were talking about that, I work with a lot of young women, and teenage girls in particular who have a lot of negative thinking about themselves. So would this be a book that they could benefit from reading as well?
DR. HANKS: Definitely, definitely. So one thing that makes it unique, Mallory, is that I talk a lot about attachment style and our early relationship template - so what we learn about ourselves and our communication style- in our early relationships. And then also I talk about some of the barriers - the societal barriers. Women – I mean we haven’t been able to vote, really, have a voice - it’s been around a hundred years. Women have been silenced systematically for a long time, so I think it’s important for young women to recognize that this is a societal issue. It’s not a personal weakness - it’s not “oh, I just don’t know what I feel or what I want” or have these negative thoughts. Of course you do! We’ve been socialized to silence ourselves and support other people, and we need support. So you’re not alone - I think is one thing.
And then in the book - kind of recognizing what you’re bringing from your family relationships and those patterns and not in a way to blame, but in a way to be enlightened, to go, “Oh, wow! My parents were really critical. And so I’ve internalized those. Oh, that’s not really me. I’m really not worthless, I’m really not stupid. That’s how my parents dealt - part of how they parented me. That’s - I’m bringing with me.” And then being able to sort through that, make sense of it, and decide do I want it or not, and then have them move forward. So those were just a couple of thoughts I think that might be helpful for young adult - young women teens and young adult women.
MALLORY: Yeah, that’s great. That actually leads me to my next question, so thank you for that. I know you talk a lot about your own interpersonal experiences throughout the book - different times in your life, different relationships. And one that really stood out to me was your experience with some childhood bullying and how that impacted you even later in life. So I’m wondering, without giving too much away that’s in the book of course…
DR. HANKS: I’m happy to share whatever, so ask away.
MALLORY: Sure, but what advice would you have for somebody who is a teen girl who’s going through something like that, whether it’s within their own family or within their friendships - how to navigate that? As an adult, you have a lot more freedom than as a teenager.
DR. HANKS: Yeah, so a teen who’s being bullied, how would - right?
DR. HANKS: I think one of the main things I did was I told an adult. I talked to my parents, so they knew this is what’s happening, I need help, I need some support. Because when you’re not legally responsible for yourself, right? You need that - we all need support. So they went to talk to the principal and they intervened on my behalf, because I was pretty powerless in that situation. So that I think is really important. Do not keep it to yourself and just suffer.
I think the next thing I’m going to say is really hard to do in the moment, but it’s been part of the gift of going through that situation - is that I developed empathy. And I’m getting tearful - if I see someone who’s being mistreated, I am going to - and I teach my kids that - you go stand up for that person, because everybody is valuable, no matter how different they are. And so for me, that was such a huge gift - to be able to be on that side and know it really is painful to be alone, and it’s painful to be picked on, and it’s painful to be left out. I felt it, and I don’t want anybody else to feel that, whether they are a kid or an adult. And so I really tried to teach that to my kids, and I think that that’s one of the benefits that could come out of a really difficult situation.
MALLORY: Yeah. And it shows. So for those who don’t know, I had the wonderful experience of getting to meet Dr. Julie Hanks this May at the Most Awesome Conference.
DR. HANKS: So fun.
MALLORY: It was amazing. And I can attest - you are super, super sweet. Super kind. It definitely - it comes through, it shows.
DR. HANKS: Thank you! That means a lot.
MALLORY: Yeah. So, speaking of that actually, one of the things we talked about at the conference - you actually mention in the book, which really stuck out for me, and that’s listening to the gift of resentment.
DR. HANKS: Yes.
MALLORY: That was so, so powerful when you spoke about that, and then reading it again just kind of reinforced that for myself. So can you explain a little bit about what that is and how that works?
DR. HANKS: Yeah, yeah! So I - let me let you in something. I frequently feel resentment. Hahaha.
MALLORY: Hahaha. I appreciate that.
DR. HANKS: What I learned is that that’s actually a gift, and really important information that I’m not setting a boundary, or that I’m not asking for what I want. And so now I’m really grateful for that, because when I start getting that “Ugh!” And I think I shared it in the context of business kinds of things, when there’s some “Ugh!” But in my own life, when I’m - say I’m resenting a friend. I have to think, “Okay, wait a second. How am I not setting a boundary? Maybe I need to set an emotional boundary, maybe I don’t need to hear so much of your difficulties, let’s go out and play, have fun this time.” Those kinds of things- that resentment- can give you a clue to where you need to be assertive. And I think that was a big “aha” for me in my own life, and then that - instead of going “Oh, I’m such a grumpy person. Why am I so irritable?” to go “Oh, thank you, that was really important information that my emotions are giving me.” And I can take action from that.
MALLORY: Yeah, and I think that’s so true, because it’s so easy to get stuck in that - “I’m feeling this negative, so that means I am this negative.”
DR. HANKS: Yeah. “I’m horrible, I’m just horrible.” It’s just, no!
MALLORY: It’s not even about that. It’s just - something needs to change.
DR. HANKS: Right. And I think in the book I do talk a lot about the importance of emotions and using them to have the courage to speak up, and ask for what you want, and get what you need.
MALLORY: Yeah. So I know the book is coming out. When this goes live, it will be August 1, which is the same day the book is coming out.
DR. HANKS: Yay!
MALLORY: Which is really exciting. So you should definitely go get your book. But I understand that you’re offering a free chapter.
DR. HANKS: Yeah, yeah. If you go to assertivenessguide.com, you can get a free chapter just to kind of get a feel for the book and see if it’s something that you think might be helpful. So assertivenessguide.com.
MALLORY: Yeah, so I will include a link to that in the description below. And yeah, I just want to thank you so, so much for taking the time and talking about your book. I found it really helpful and enlightening, personally and professionally, so thank you for that.
DR. HANKS: Oh, good! Thank you. It’s vulnerable to put stuff out there, and my hope is that it’s meaningful to someone, so that means a lot, Mallory. Thank you.
MALLORY: Good. Anything else that we haven’t talked about that you think is important to mention, or…?
DR. HANKS: Yeah. I think that just - I would tell people listening, watching this that your voice matters. Because so often we think that our voice doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter in our own lives and it doesn’t matter in the world, and it actually does.
MALLORY: That’s so true. I have like three clients that popped to mind that have to hear that.
DR. HANKS: Yeah, and I think we all do. Right? I need to remind myself of that, and a part of writing this book is being brave and using my voice.
MALLORY: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for taking the time.
DR. HANKS: Thank you, Mallory.
MALLORY: And definitely go get your book. I will include a link below. But yeah, if you have any questions or anything, give me a call, shoot me a message. I’m sure Dr. Hanks has some information on her website as well. But yeah, you should definitely check out the book. I highly recommend it.
DR. HANKS: Thanks so much, Mallory! Take care.
About Mallory Grimste, LCSW
Mallory Grimste, LCSW is a mental health therapist in Woodbridge, CT. She loves helping tweens, teens and young adults struggling with Anxiety (... and other Big Emotions) find what works for them.
Originally a Jersey girl, she loves the beach, sunglasses and iced coffee. Her favorite coping skills are deep breathing, listening to music, and watching Scandal.
If you want to know more about Mallory, or how she can help, visit her website at http://www.mallorygrimste.com.