Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, CLOSER TOGETHER

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, CLOSER TOGETHER

Zibby is joined by retired Canadian television host and passionate mental health advocate Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to discuss CLOSER TOGETHER, a deeply personal book that delves into the science behind brain health and our unique emotional signatures, while also providing tools for emotional leadership and self-awareness. Sophie reflects on her experiences with eating disorders, attachment theory, and processing emotions. She emphasizes the need for emotional connection in relationships and parenting and shares practical tools for regulating the nervous system and fostering emotional resilience.


Zibby: Welcome, Sophie. Thank you so much for coming on Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books and congratulations on Closer Together. So exciting. And for hitting number one on the nonfiction list in Canada.

Oh my gosh. Congratulations. 

Sophie: Thank you. Thank you. I'm pinching myself because When I wrote this book as a mental health advocate for 20 years, I really wanted to give people tools to know themselves better and to have more emotional leadership. I think that we don't, we're not even educated on what emotional leadership is.

So I'm so happy to be able to share my baby with, with the world. 

Zibby: No, you have given us so many tools in here. Love the quizzes, love all the interviews and all of it. But I also really love hearing about you and your growing up and how your own attachment style formed and where all of your own issues and struggles and all the rest came from.

So you immediately sort of give us access to you so that we can all open up and see ourselves in the book. So talk a little bit about where this project came from. Did it start looking like this or was it going to ever be more memoirs? I don't know. 

Sophie: Anyway. No, I didn't want to write a memoir at this point in my life because yes, my story is important, but I don't want it to be at the center of my life and I'm not saying that memoirs shouldn't be written.

But what I'm saying is that for me now, because I've been on this mental health path for quite a while, I realized that all these experts, all this knowledge, all my own student, eternal student of life curiosity, I didn't want to keep for me because I've been learning so much through, you know, what I was reading, what I was discovering about myself and how to reset my own nervous system, how to better understand my personality wirings and how my inner child, and this is like a A big one is like if you think that the inner child in you is not still active in every single relationship you have at work, at play, in your romantic life with your kids is not active, read this.

So from our childhood bond of attachment, how somebody touched us, cared for us, looked at us, played with us, validated our perception of our own reality as a little person, as a little human. From zero to three, this leaves a big imprint in our brains, in everybody's brains. So You carry that in your life and into your teenage years, rebellious or not.

And then, and then in every adult relationship that you'll ever have. And it really made me realize that those two universal, every single human being need for attachment, healthy attachment. And through the quizzes, uh, you, you can find out what type of attachment that you have. You can't generalize your whole life situation on it, but it gives you a better insight on how you work and what kind of personality that you have and why.

And then you have authenticity, so that's childhood bond of attachment. And then you have authenticity, the two most universal needs in human beings, which is to be able to express your own unique personality, but without having to change your behavior to please or be loved. But here's the thing, Zibi. We all do it.

We all do it as children to get the attention and love from our parents. And we do it in our romantic relationships. We do it in friendships. We do it at the workplace. Because we, we need to be seen. It's a, it's an inherent universal human need. And sometimes, when our attachment bond is not healthy enough, right, and it wasn't done properly, with as much safety as we needed.

We become codependents. We become, you know, we try to numb our pain through addiction. I had an addiction. My drug of choice was food. Now, eating disorders and every type of compulsion is just the tip of the iceberg, you know, sticking out of the water. Because, or not of the water, depends where you are.

Because of It comes from a deep need for emotional nourishment that isn't fulfilled. And mental health is not just the absence of a mental illness. It's our longing, emotionally, to be in connection. And it took a pandemic, unfortunately, for too many people to realize how human connection is, um, is meant for our survival, right?

But we're stuck in the intellect a lot, which is, yes, is a form of intelligence, but the heart actually has a nervous system that has a predictability for negative events. So when somebody says, I should have trusted my intuition, so my gut, right? And, and my heart is real. And we don't know this, but I learned this while writing the book, that the gut sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the gut.

So in modern medicine, now that we're finally looking at our personality, our psychological, emotional, immunology, right? And physiological health altogether, we understand that we cannot dissociate one element from the other. Because we're sick if we do. We get sick mentally and, and, and physically. 

Zibby: And you grew up like eating pine cones.

So I don't know, I don't know what that says about your gut. 

Sophie: I'm not sure I was chewing and swallowing the pine cones, but yes, you're right. My dad had me close my eyes and taste different essences of pine needles. So I could just know what kind of tree it was. And there was a sensory experience that marked me forever. 

Zibby: Unreal. Yeah. I love how you talked about growing up and how you were in the forest and that is like your baseline happiness, even though you moved back into the city, but that you feel most at peace when you are with nature and all of that. And then you tell us later on that even during one of these times with two of your kids before your third was born.

And you were out and on the rocks and with the water and then slipped and broke your wrist. And I was like, no, she's in her happy place. Just give her the one minute of happiness.

Sophie: No, no. Wait, that was, no, no. That was when I was surf skating. I was skateboarding. 

Zibby: Oh, yeah. I thought you were like on rocks or something.

Sophie: It's okay. Don't worry about it. Cause I've, I've slipped off rocks many times because actually we jump off rocks is what we do. But yes, I did break my, my radius. Okay. And I was doing kind of crazy stuff while the kids were playing on a Sunday morning. And yes, I ended up in the hospital. But we all have stories.

Zibby: Okay. Yes. That's very true. 

We have kids about the same age, by the way. I was like, Oh, that's like someone's whose birthday and that's someone's whose birthday. So anyway, I know how that goes. Well, you opened up a lot in the past and also in this book about your history with eating disorders. And the scene that I can't get out of my head is when you finally are ready to tell your mom.

Can you just tell that story again to listeners? It's like so...

Sophie: Yeah, it's heart wrenching. 

Zibby: Yes. 

Sophie: Because I meet the little girl in me every time I, I, I explain it. Yes. And I want to take care of her. We're not taught how to take care of our inner child within us. And we spend our lives reparenting ourselves in some ways.

Not to pinpoint and say, Oh, my parents weren't good enough. So, so I have to take care of myself. No, we learn to have the maturity to discern why we act the way we do, why we suffer. And in that moment, after years of suffering from bulimia, I remember that there was I had had too much purging that, that night and I was a low body weight.

I wasn't anorexic, but I was close, very close. And I was trembling in my bed and I kept crying, crying because I was not processing my sadness properly. And if I talk about this with psychologists in the book, if you don't process your sadness profoundly and well, it comes back and haunts you with even more difficult emotions to deal with.

Yes. And I, I was just sobbing and crying nonstop. And I said, I can't do this to myself anymore. I don't want to treat myself like this anymore. And I felt like the little Sophie was watching over the Sophie of then in that bed and going, It's enough, my love. The parent and the child at the same time. And I called up my mom, and I still remember the tone.

Of how I called her because I could hear her in the bathroom doing her little things and that was a reassuring sound I was safe. Right. But I was sad. And I was holding in so much from my parents dynamics and what I was internalizing as an only child and the solitude. Yes, which was beautiful, but the loneliness too.

And she came over when I called her name. And she came in the bed with me because I was laying down under my covers. And I said, mama, I'm not doing well at all. And I think I have an eating disorder because I had read up upon my condition on my condition. And she said, I was wondering if something was off.

I was noticing little signs here and there and like, I'm here for you, you know? And we were bawling together. And then part of me was like, okay, I can breathe now. I can breathe. I can release the sadness feeling safe enough that I won't be judged or. feel shame or guilt from all of this, which I did all the time.

And most people with addictions or, and I'm saying addictions, but we have to be careful here. Yo yo dieting, obsession with physical appearance, co dependency in relationships. They're not in the DMS, is it? The book of like mental illnesses? Yes. But, but they are a form of, of, of addiction. And when we live in a society where lust and distraction and rage, especially in men, are really the emotions that are encouraged to be released, it's so difficult to be vulnerable and to tell your story.

So from that moment on, it was a mix of, okay, I'm supported through this journey of healing. But I'm also mad and angry that nobody picked up on it before and said, Hey, like, can I help? Are you okay? My apart from one girlfriend who was like, like, how can I understand this better? Cause she really didn't understand it.

It's it's it's tough. It's nobody should suffer in isolation or in silence because silence can kill. 

Zibby: It's true. The secrecy is the worst. I feel like every good novel, there's a secret, right? The corrosive power of secrets. 

Sophie: And it's a form of entertainment, right? That we integrate in our culture. Michael J. Fox said in his documentary on his own condition, Oh, I watched that. Yeah, I loved it. So good. He said, we are only as sick as our secrets. I believe that. Not the little interior garden that you tend to. That's different. Right, right. Your deep secrets, you hold them alone, You're in for quite a hell of a ride, and hell, you know, from an emotional standpoint.

I don't believe we should, human beings are meant to keep secrets like that. In relationships and within ourselves. You're absolutely right. Oh my gosh. It tarnishes you from the inside in a way, it's like, it's toxic. Do you feel like you have any secrets left? No. Do you want to spill them now? No, no, I've never, no, but I've never been somebody.

Thank you. Who has hold on to secrets. I would say except for when I was suffering from I was keeping my sadness secret to myself 

This is why I wrote this I know what it means to be known by the world and to have to expose your personal relationship to the world and and I Hope I could have done it in another way, but I also know that What comes with?

Having a public side to your to your life and personality. It's not why I wrote the book not to get more known Trust me. I wrote this book so people can can be known to themselves Because without the perspective of emotional leadership from the inside You're not really really leading a conscious life.

So what's emotional leadership like You're out of breath. You're anxious. You're anxious Things are overwhelming you. Can you go and take that deep breath and say, Wait a second. I'm going to take five minutes to regulate my nervous system. Are we taught that? No. Is it easy to do? No. 

Zibby: I almost did it. I was so stressed out this weekend doing a million things.

And there was this whole passage about when you're like, Okay, widen your feet, lean over. I was like, should I just get up and do this? 

Sophie: It works. It works. I do it between meetings. I do it when, when one of my teenagers is like, Okay. Driving me a little bit cuckoo, you know? Because I want to be more patient with myself.

And because I want to be able to be more discerning and patient with others. And that doesn't come without. But the tools that I share in this book, they work. And they reset your nervous system. I didn't even know I had a vagus nerve in my body before I wrote this. And I'm a mental health advocate. Right?

So because we don't teach children to actually know their anatomy, their, their neurobiology, and it doesn't have to be complicated. This is what I tried to do, is that to make it accessible, right? While, while I explain it and your, your vagus nerve, every human being has one, which runs from the base of your brain, brainstem goes into the throat region, chest, abdominal cage, and, and lower pelvis, regulates heartbeat, digestion, salivation, breathing.

It just, it's, it's, and we call it the vagus nerve because vagus comes from wandering because it wanders all over your body. W A N D E R S. And it has two branches. The sympathetic, which is your fight, flight, freeze response. You don't wanna cross the street. If there's a car, it's protecting you from danger.

And then the parasympathetic, which is your rest and digest. So during a day where you're a mom at home or you are working, you're a dad on a construction site, whatever, okay? Whatever you do, a nurse, whatever. You dance between your sympathetic and your parasympathetic nervous system. All day long. All year long, all lifelong.

Yep. Because we live in a society that one. Rewards self betrayal. We cannot age, we cannot accept ourselves the way that we are physically or mentally and we gotta behave a certain way in order to perform and be accepted and fitting in. That means we're not expressing our authenticity, which we talked about at the beginning of the interview, which is a visceral need for every human being.

So we become very anxious and in self betrayal mode, teaching young girls and boys to hate themselves from a very young age. And we suffer the consequences. And it's unacceptable. And it's not allowing us to be the creative human beings that we are. So mental health, again, it's not just the absence of mental illness, it's the lack of emotional leadership that we should be, it's a right, it's a human right to have emotional leadership over yourself.

Therefore, if you lead yourself better, you can inspire and lead others with respect and compassion. But here's the pickle we're in. When almost, I think the research and the data is saying almost half of the population is chronically stuck in their sympathetic nervous system. So alert, always being over anxious.

It's, you know, thinking that there's a saber toothed tiger that's going to come into the room. That's tough to live with every day. And our bodies are saying, I can't handle this anymore. And because women and moms are the nucleus of the family, and they hold the emotional load of every single family member, our plates are overflowing.

Our bodies are depleted. We're not sleeping. Right? Yes. I don't know many women my age. I'm 49 who are sleeping well. And yes, there's perimenopause and all that. But still, the incessant rhythm of our lives, and the fact that we are not supported adequately in holding that plate so it doesn't overflow and spill on our own kitchen grounds where we live, right?

Whether we're at work or not, we always end up in the kitchen. I love the kitchen. Yeah, I love the kitchen too. It's where everything happens. 

Zibby: I should move this into the kitchen. We should just sit there. 

Sophie: Yes, best parties. Yeah. In the kitchen. Agreed. Agreed. Yeah. So. 

Zibby: Wait. Moving to your kids. Can I go back to your kids for a second?

Sophie: Yes, yes, yes. 

Zibby: So you have a part. And I loved what you were saying about teenagers, too. Because I totally agree with you. There's this myth that, like, they're teenagers, they're fine, go off, and they can do their own thing. But you have to really, like, be in it with them. It's just, like, your kid, another teenager.

day later. Like you can't just let them fly. But you had a conversation with Xavier, you pronounce it Xavier? Yes. Who you asked about the secret of relationships or something about what would make a good relationship. And he said, taking it slow, right? And I was like, that is great. So you couple that, but then in another place you describe yourself and like, what style of lover you are.

And I'm like, Oh my gosh. A, are the kids reading this book? And B, like, what are the main takeaways here that we can learn from our kids and in general about relationships? 

Sophie: I'm fascinated at how parenting experts are deconstructing the model of parenting that we've known for so long. Parenting is not a role, it's a relationship.

With teenagers, for example, this face to face, eye to eye, getting a wink or a touch, a safe touch, even though they don't want it as much as before. And that's fine. You know, one validating warm facial expression before entering a conversation. You and I were in front of each other right now. You're picking up in a hundred millisecond on my facial cues.

This is how human beings interact and how we get our first source of emotional nourishment. If I was like this the whole time, you'd be like, Whoa, back up lady. Right? Yeah. So during the pandemic, not only did we not have this, but. The most unhappy human beings, and I, I speak about this in the book with a famous psychologist, are the ones who cannot trust in the other.

Zibby: Mm hmm. 

Sophie: So if in your own household, as a mom, there is a distrust between you and your kids, or between your husband and your kids, or your partner, or your whatever, or between them, and if you don't feel secure enough as a parent, if you haven't looked at your own trauma, and and if you're not ready to face your truth, and be on your own healing path.

You will transmit, and you will leave as a legacy, an emotional weight onto your children that doesn't belong to them. So we have a responsibility of individualization, right? We're not taught that. It's okay. It's not our fault. If you're not, there's a famous Cheyenne proverb that says, in the end we will save what we love, love what we understand, and understand what we've been taught.

If we're not taught self knowledge, if we're not taught to be in tune with our emotions and to know how to regulate them, then how can we save what's happening on the planet right now? The movements of division, of polarization, the hatred, which actually, and we talk about this in the book, which actually stems from a deep desire for connection.

The men and women who commit atrocities, and yet we're going to push away the major like serious mental illnesses for now during this conversation because it's not, you know, we're going to have like a, I don't want to generalize, you know, what happens in our homes, we bring back. onto the streets, into our community centers, into companies, into schools, everywhere.

So, if we're able, as mothers, to know that we're worthy of rest, number one, in a society that tells us that we're not. The patriarchy loves a damaged woman. This makes me want to cry every time. Liz Plank, who I interviewed in this book, who has the podcast, uh, for Are You Men Enough, and who wrote the book For the Love of Men, she says that, that the patriarchy loves a damaged woman.

And it's true. And it's not because Men and boys today want it, but they were raised in that narrow concept, which is quite insulting to their potential, potential and their intelligence. So if we want to move closer together, which is probably one of the most important, if not the most important way that human beings will be able to build resilience to face the crises that we're facing as a planet and as communities and as families within our own homes, we must be secure in ourselves.

Because if you're not secure in yourself, you are threatened by the difference of other. So, look at the state of the planet right now and try to, try to put that equation in, it makes a lot of sense. 

Zibby: Hm. Do you feel that, as someone in the public eye, you have had to put up some sort of version of yourself that You're, you're nodding before I can finish my question.

Sophie: I get it, it's because, no, no, no, finish it, finish it. 

Zibby: No, I don't want to finish it. No, I love it. That's amazing. That's like... 

Sophie: we get each other. 

Zibby: Yeah. 

Sophie: I've always had difficulty pretending. I'm not that kind of person. Not that kind of person, but it's not something that I feel, I just feel sick when I do that.

I don't feel the integrity of it. And we do it as a protection mechanism, right? Yes. Have I had to adapt to a very well protected silo of what it means to be on the co political path? Yes, absolutely. And has the world's perception have had an impact on my level of stress? On the security, physical, psychological of my family and my partner.

Yes, not fun. I have much more compassion and empathy for a lot of young families trying to do the service and the political path. And unfortunately there are some bad people and it's not the majority. It's the minority who tarnished the image of what it means to be. And service to each other, uh, whether you're in a prime minister role and a family accompanying, or whether you're a community volunteer, we have a lot to learn there.

And when you look at the political landscape now, it is a reflection of how insecure people are feeling and they need reassurance and the criticism and the hatred stems from a deep need for connection that's, that's been undernourished. So I have had. And I made the choice of wanting to understand that better, to understand my own struggles better.

And it's not that personal. People need to find someone to blame. And we do it when we feel insecure, when we're not willing to see why am I actually feeling like this? It can't be just one, one person's fault, but we do that in our couple relationships. We do it with our husbands, with our partners, right?

And the main source of conflict in a relationship is object objection to difference. If your hubby doesn't see the world the way you do. Sometimes it's like, wait a second, we're completely off track here. We're not seeing the situation the same way. No, because we don't have the same type of attachment.

Because we didn't have the same life before we met each other. And because nobody wants to be left alone, rejected, abandoned. Nobody. So we hold on so tight to life, to partners. I heard Esther Perel recently. say that longevity is not the sign of success of a relationship. We applaud. Wow. 40 years marriage.

Great. Perseverance and, and effort is absolutely a sign of, of healthy dynamic. But when we bring the notion of success that is marriage and separation is failure, those are the two words apart from conscious uncoupling that we have to describe relationships. The children bear the emotional grunt of the drama.

that we have been left with because of the narrow definitions and standards from religion, from cultural standards, that we've been left with. And we are emotionally immature and relationally immature because we're so attached that it's difficult for us to leave the person that we love with more space, without feeling that we're losing them.

There are now more definitions of what it means to be a family. Good. It's still unsettling to hear what your how many, you know, I think we still judge. I think the most important thing, no matter what happens and how you decide to restructure your relationship is to preserve the history and the beauty that you once shared and to make sure that that continues to grow It is our responsibility because we should be Starting a relationship with the curiosity, compassion, and patience, the same way we end a relationship.

When I teach yoga, it's, it's a, it's a cute, it's a cool metaphor. When you come into a physical pose, there are three steps to, to the physical pose. The first one is the body alignment. Which in a relationship, you have to be aligned in order to communicate. And then there's the breath work. Are you calm enough in your pose?

The breath should always be greater than the pose. When you're in a relationship, in a, in a friendship or a couple, can you actually calm down before starting to listen to the other? And finally, at the pose in yoga, you let go. You've aligned yourself. You're breathing properly. You're conscious of your own presence and then you let go. Same thing in a relationship. We haven't been taught that. 

Zibby: Wow. I went through, I'm divorced and remarried. I'm not sure that the end of my I mean, that's a lot, that's a tough bar to like have the end be beautiful. 

Sophie: It doesn't have to be easy and beautiful, but it takes two to tangle, and it takes two secure individuals to be able to commit to that.

Why? Because we are guiding children, and we gotta be responsible for what we leave after a relationship. And I am saddened and disappointed in adulthood that we were not taught this before. We're breaking hearts. 

Zibby: Do you feel like it's easier to live this when you know it, or do you feel like in real life, even if you know something to be true, it's harder to... 

Sophie: Are you joking? Of course I do. 

I wish I didn't have to, to go through, through it the way the way we did. I wish I didn't have to announce it to the world. I would've been differently for sure if we weren't on the color political path. Was I conscious the whole way through of how my kids could feel about all of it? Yes.

Did I try to de dramatize it? Yes. Was it the right thing to do? They're sad, they're sad. They're hurting, they're hurting. It's not gonna work. Sit with your pain. Let it be painful without feeling that you don't have the resilience to get back up. But do we train the brain to do that? No, we don't. But if we read your book, well, if you read this book, and this is my only wish is that it creates that you feel something so deeply that you'll say you'll be ready to change something small in your life, but that you're committed to and that you see the change because you will, because micro habits create traits in our personality as we repeat them.

And it's not that difficult. to change your brain and the way you think so your mind can change your brain structure. It's fascinating. It's fascinating to learn closer together that we have the tools as human beings to intervene on our own well being much more than we think. 

Zibby: When you're with your friends, are you, do you, I mean, you know so much, right?

Your mind is like,... 

Sophie: I'm continually learning. 

Zibby: You're like, no, you're like up and you have so much like exploding out. I know. And I know you want to share it cause you're trying to help people. And it's like, it's coming from such a good place. Is it like when you guys have coffee, are you like, did you know that the top three things or did it, like, is that, Is it like that in your closest friendships?

Sophie: I think we go from those conversations to pulling the most, pulling the most mischieving pranks on each other. I think we go from playfulness to deep, serious topics. We go from laughing, peeing in our pants, laughing to, to cry on each other's shoulders. And isn't that life? I think my friendships reflect our lives.

Yeah. And vulnerability. And I can't live it any other way. Because at the end of the day, if you keep stuff inside. It comes back to haunt you. It really does. 

Zibby: Agreed. So, last, you know, just to, I know you have your big press tour and all that stuff, but I feel like But this is real, I love it! No, I know, I'm like, you're like, in a second act, I feel like, like, I'm 47, you're 49, we have all these years, God willing, like, left ahead of us, right?

Now you're an author on top of everything else, like, where do you want your life to go? 

Sophie: I've realized. And this is from the emotional nourishment I get from humans, okay? I'm an only child, so for me, your presence is like, 

Zibby: I know, I know! 

Sophie: Yay! You wanna play? You know, I'm kinda still like that at 49. Two things.

I've learned to deal with uncertainty. I've trained my brain. And my feeling of security, and by the way, like on Abraham Maslow's Pyramid, your most basic needs, so having a roof over your head and having food on your table. If safety is not there, and remember that safety is not just the absence of threat, it's the presence of connection.

So I've tried to train my brain through yoga, meditation, movement, being aware of what I put in my body, what I eat, and how I sleep, and who I surround myself with, and what I bring my attention to. That uncertainty is a part of life. And in my most difficult moments where I was deeply hurting inside, I decided to still jump through the circle of fire, even without knowing where I was going to land.

And I know now that when we're courageous and brave as human beings, and we don't suffer alone, and we ask for help, we ask for help, where you land after having jumped and not knowing where you're going to land is always softer than you think. And I've learned that, and I've integrated that lesson Transcription by CastingWords And when I will be thrown with more adversity, I know that I can handle it.

And I do have dreams. And I'm noticing now that how people react to the book and to me, right? Uh, whether it's at the supermarket or at an event or at my, I don't know, my kid's school get together, the human warmth and the leaning into each other safely confirms that I need to continue to serve. my fellow human beings.

And it makes me cry because at the end of the book, well, I remember trying to write the end and I was trying, how do you, how do you end a book? You know, how do you end a book? And the only thing that could come up was, and to you, dear reader, I loved you first. And this wasn't just a line that I chose.

It's how I feel from the inside. So I want to give until my last breath, not from a place where, oh, I have to give, give, our needs last. Right. But to feel emotionally nourished by authentic bonds and the healing of our homes, what's happening inside in our schools, with our teachers and our students and in companies and throughout the world and the most raging regions of the world where the fires are burning or whether it's within ourselves or out there in the world, getting closer together.

Will be a source of reassurance even through collective therapy that now psychologists are looking at Bringing people who have gone through similar things, but on other sides of the world telling each other stories Storytelling is how we bond. It's been like that forever I want to continue sharing my story so others can continue to tell theirs and we can Make this thread of our life all tighter so that nobody falls through the cracks and the holes.

That's beautiful. That's what I want. 

Zibby: Aww. Congratulations.

Oh my gosh. 

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, CLOSER TOGETHER

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