Search & Replace S04E12: Tina O Hoang

Growing up with a hardworking mother, who had to make tough choices, Tina O Hoang developed a people-pleasing habit that eventually became a significant obstacle in her life. Join us as Tina shares her transformative journey from feeling depleted and passive to embracing assertiveness and self-discovery. Tune in to Search and Replace to hear how she broke free from the chains of people-pleasing, learned to prioritize herself, and now empowers other women to unleash their inner strength. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns & Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:10] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the core of your most frustrating behavior lies in your desire to keep people happy? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace 

[00:00:24] Podcaster Tina O. Hoang says that the hard choices her mother made when she was young led to a behavior that would eventually cause one of Tina’s biggest problems.  

[00:00:35] Tina O Hoang: I was like five when my parents divorced, but then eventually my mom had to make the hard choice of working a lot more. Because if you don’t work, then how are we going to have a rooftop over  

[00:00:49] your head and have food on a table and just eating, you know? And so she had to make that choice of be the provider or be the caregiver, you know, the nurturing mother as can be. So she had to work a lot and we have to stay with babysitters most of the time. She made time for us, but just like overall, I developed, I think, people pleasing. 

[00:01:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: If you’ve never heard the term in this context, professionals in the mental health community say that people pleasing sounds like a good thing on the surface. It’s that desire to be kind or helpful, to step up when someone needs something. But many people pleasers push that behavior too far. In the worst cases, people pleasers end up neglecting their own needs in favor of making things happen for others. 

[00:01:37] And that’s the situation Tina found herself in.  

[00:01:40] Tina O Hoang: If I don’t make other people happy or do something that makes them, that will like me, I will feel depleted. I will feel debilitated. I was like, I need to do something about this. If I don’t do this, they would never want to be my friend. They never want to be in my life. My worth is tied to their action. And it’s, it’s horrible. Not just like you see within the families also within friends, too, where I struggle with that a lot.  

[00:02:06] I’m in my 30s now and then finally like during COVID that’s when it was like, okay I don’t want to be a people pleaser anymore, and I just wanted to be assertive. But more so because someone broke up with me and they told me, Tina your passivity is unattractive.  

[00:02:22] Like, oh, do I believe to go down this path, like that I will forever be passive? And also, I asked my friends to am I passive and they all said yes. And I was like, oh man, okay. So, I had to make a decision of do I want to continue being on this path forever be a people pleaser to put other people before me and put myself in the back, always believing that I don’t matter and I am not important.  

[00:02:47] Joe Taylor Jr.: That decision sent Tina on an epic journey of self discovery that included a very important phone call.  

[00:02:54] Tina O Hoang: So when I finally made that decision to, you know, say, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna grow because I want to be assertive. It started five years ago. 

[00:03:02] With that, too, I learned about my inner child, too. Which is a hoot because she is 15, 16 years old. I call her Tiny Tina. I’ve learned a lot about her so far and where she’s at, really, in regards of like, how much hurt she’s been going through. So what she needed, what she wanted. But then it’s kind of like, okay, girl, I know. 

[00:03:31] I think also at that time, I didn’t have therapy because I didn’t have health insurance, so I couldn’t see a therapist for that. Thankfully, it was wonderful to have the warm line there, and I recommend anyone to just have someone to listen to you. So that’s also a great resource that for anyone to use when you’re the analogy of you’re kind of simmering right now, like it’s a great time to talk to a warm line. You’re feeling a little anxious, feeling angry, stress or whatever, but you need to call and talk to someone So the warm line is a great resource. The warm line really helped me navigate through that process of journaling, reading, and just having someone neutral there to just listen. 

[00:04:14] Joe Taylor Jr.: You may be familiar with the idea of a mental health hotline. A warmline operates in a similar way, organized by peers going through their own mental health recovery, offering a network of community-based phone numbers for people who are not in immediate crisis, but can benefit from talking to someone who can help support them. 

[00:04:35] Although some warmlines are a little more structured and formal than others, the American Psychiatric Association has tracked down warmlines operating in at least 30 states, often offering support for callers who don’t have access to professional mental health care. As far as Tina’s story goes, she’s now hosting conversations about mental health on a podcast. 

[00:04:57] Tina O Hoang: I created the Courageous Inner Beast, and it’s just having women share their story. Unfiltered, uncensored, like, we are here to just, like, say however you want. We’re gonna vibe like that, you know, it’s just gonna be how it is. And I feel like I’m already doing that work and I love it. I love meeting with women and then also now showing up for myself. 

[00:05:17] Like, I’ve been showing up for other women. Now I want to show up for myself. For other people, 

[00:05:23] Joe Taylor Jr.: Tina says that she’s mixing up interviews with solo episodes about her own journey and that she’s harnessing the energy she used to spend pleasing other people into focusing on her own satisfaction.  

[00:05:34] Tina O Hoang: I feel so powered up to do stuff that I want to do.

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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