Christine Hassler left her successful job as a Hollywood agent at 25 to pursue a life she could be passionate about, but it did not come easily. After being inspired by her own unexpected challenges and experiences, she realized her journey was indeed her destination.
In 2005, Christine Hassler wrote her first best-selling book and began her life’s work as a coach, keynote speaker, author, retreat leader and podcast host. Christine Hassler began coaching in 2004 and is a known for catalyzing radical self-reflection while offering practical direction. Her third book, Expectation Hangover, is the guidebook for how to transform adversity into opportunity.
Dedicated to inspiring people to make the changes that lead to fulfillment, Christine Hassler hosts a weekly podcast, Over It and On With It, where she life coaches people live on the air. She also runs a business-training program teaching entrepreneurs how to build a prosperous career according to their “Secret Sauce.”
As a professional speaker, Christine Hassler leads seminars and workshops to audiences around the country at conferences, and corporations. She has appeared as an expert on The Today Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox, E! and many others. She is also a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and Cosmo.
Christine Hassler grew up in Dallas, Texas, graduated cum laude from Northwestern University and received her master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Christine Hassler is active in volunteerism and loves living a healthy lifestyle. She resides in Los Angeles, California, and loves spending time with her family and friends in Austin, Texas.
Christine, can you set the stage for readers by transporting them to a time when you thought you had it all but were so unhappy? Explain what steps you took to tap into your passions and find fulfillment.
Christine Hassler: By the age of 25, I had the career of my dreams. I was working in Hollywood as an agent and had everything from the amazing salary, to the fancy outfits and business luncheons, to going to the Golden Globes and Oscars, and all of those things—hobnobbing with celebrities. No matter what I did or what I achieved, I still didn’t feel the sense of fulfillment, belonging and confidence that I had so longed for since I was little. I realized that my achieving and my drive was helpful in some ways but so much based on my own insecurities. I was trying to compensate for where I felt less than. I was looking for something external to make me feel good about myself.
I ended up quitting my job after about two years of being promoted because I just was miserable, stressed and becoming someone that I didn’t really like. It sent me into a dark-night-of-the-soul period where I went into lots of debt, had trouble with many relationships in my life, got diagnosed with an undiagnosable autoimmune disorder on top the depression that I had been suffering from for about 15 years, at the time, and was broken up with six months before my wedding.
What that did is, first, it sent me into a dark night of the soul. After hitting that rock bottom, I had a powerful insight where I realized I was really relating to all of those experiences as a victim. I kept asking, “Why is this happening to me?” Then I thought, “Wait a second. I’m the common denominator in all of these situations. What if this is really happening for a reason? What if I had something to do with creating all of them? Which means that I also have everything to do with recreating a different story and learning from these events.” That was the shift, for me, when I shift from “Why is this happening?” to “Why is this happening for me and what can I learn?” That led me into finding my passion for the work I do now. In a lot of ways, I was my first, best client and reader.
I love that! Please discuss your background in guiding you to become a person known for helping people discover the answers to the questions “Who am I?”, “What do I want?” and “How do I get it?” Who are the people who turned you on to ideas that have influenced your life and your vocation?
Christine Hassler: My background professionally is I’ve written three books: 20 Something, 20 Everything; The 20 Something Manifesto; and Expectation Hangover. I began, really, by advising people in their 20s because I was in my 20s. I really didn’t feel like I could give people coaching who were in a different stage of life than I was. I was just starting out as a coach and really studied with my first teacher. Her name is Mona Miller. Unfortunately, she’s no longer with us, but she was my guide and my teacher for many, many years. In writing the books and talking to people, and also doing NLP training and hypnotherapy training, and life-coaching training, I started building my life coaching practice. Wrote my first two books and then started speaking, first in the college market and then in the corporate market about the myth of having it all and generational diversity, leadership and a lot of different topics.
Then, about two years into my career as a coach, I went to the University of Santa Monica and got a master’s in spiritual psychology. I then started working with people on their past, present and future and really learned tools to help people heal on a very deep level. I also help people connect to a spiritual practice. My last book, Expectation Hangover, was based on a decade of working with thousands of people, at this point—men, women, all different ages. People that come to my retreats and workshops, listen to the podcasts, and read the books are from their 20s into their 60s. I think that my own life experience has helped me be able to help a wide variety of people.
Expectation Hangover really was my system for getting through any disappointment. That’s what Expectation Hangover is: unexpected curveballs, things not going according to plan or things going according to plan and not feeling the way you thought you would. It really was that holistic approach to treating that, emotionally, mentally, behaviorally and spiritually. Now, I just feel blessed, after 12 years of doing this, to be helping people internationally. I just launched my first online course, and we have people from 11 different countries joining in.
What’s also starting to happen is there’s a tribe and a community forming of people that really resonate with my work and really want to combine the deeper psychological, emotional work with the spiritual work. With the very practical mindset, human optimization work. All of those things are an important part of my work. I love the spiritual-mystical, I love the emotional and psychological, and I also am really into mindset and human hacking and optimization. That’s really what my work encompasses.
Much of your work focuses on self-love as well as accepting and empowering ourselves. What are some simple ways people can begin to understand how their views and behavior can hold them back from having health, happiness and other things they want?
Christine Hassler: Listen to how you talk to yourself in your head. I often say to people, “If you talk to your friend like you often talk to yourself, will you have any friends?” That’s an important question because we can be really, brutally hard on ourselves. We can often try to motivate ourselves by being hard on ourselves. The biggest thing in having a healthy relationship with ourselves—people think it’s just eating right, exercise and all those things. Those make a big difference, but if you’re exercising and your internal critic is like: “Oh my gosh, I need to lose this weight. This is so hard. I’ve got to get to the gym.” Or you’re trying to eat healthy and you’re like: “Oh, this is so hard. I really miss pizza.” Or whatever it is—”I don’t like my body.” Then you’re doing these healthy practices, but mentally and psychologically, you’re not being healthy.
Your internal self-talk and your relationship with yourself has to match your external behavior. So yes, you want to have healthy actions, choosing behaviors, choosing actions that are moving you toward the direction you want to go. And along the way, you want to be talking kindly to yourself. Now, does that mean you have to be a cheerleader and say positive affirmations all the time? No, but you want to be gentle with yourself. You want to be, “I’m doing the best I can.” When you catch yourself being supercritical of yourself, you want to go, “You know what? Stop. I don’t want to talk to myself like this. How can I soothe myself in this moment and talk to myself in a loving way?”
As adults, part of our mental health and part of our maturity is we have to parent ourselves. Some of us hit the jackpot when it comes to parents and some of us had parents who were still learning and may have been hard or may have been critical or may not have been there or may have even been abusive, in some way. Part of that self-love and that healthy relationship is really being that gentle, encouraging, loving parent to ourselves and not expecting ourselves to be in self-love all the time. It’s really more on being in self-acceptance. Even when you catch yourself being critical of yourself, going: “OK—woah. I feel myself being critical. I’m just going to turn down the volume on my inner critic and say something positive to myself.”
In your podcast, Over It and On With It, you often take call-in listeners back to the root of an issue that might prevent them from reaching their potential in relationships and careers, for example. How can people get started with such a process by assessing their lives and what resources do you recommend for them to move forward?
Christine Hassler: Well, I really love, in Expectation Hangover, my last book, there’s a process called The Timeline. You make a backward timeline of your life and list some significant events, those that you called positive or those that you called negative—basically, those formative events or moments that seeded pretty strong belief systems in your life. It could be a parent’s divorce. It could be the first time you asked a girl out. It could be the first time someone made a comment about your body. Whatever it might be, really going back and looking at those events and then, from those events, making a list of the belief systems that were formed. And really looking at those belief systems and go: “Hey, wait a second, is this a healthy belief for me to continue carrying around? Is this a belief that’s really creating results in my life that I like?”
For example, if at some point, you were broken up with and you formed the belief “I’m not desirable” or “People reject me,” and you’re still carrying around that belief, then you’re probably continuing to attract situations in which you feel rejected from romantic relationships or even in applying for a job or with friends. So how can you update that belief to “I don’t have to take things personally.” Just because a relationship doesn’t last, it doesn’t mean it was a failure. Rejection is often God’s protection—I’m willing to open my heart. Updating those beliefs so that you can start supporting yourself and moving yourself more in a direction that you want to go. You want to become a little bit of a detective in your life and go back. Again, look at those events, those times in your life that seeded some beliefs that are still part of your operating system today. Then having the mental maturity to upgrade them.
In your book Expectation Hangover, one of the things you talk about early on is asking the question “What am I learning?” as opposed to merely thinking “Why is this happening?” Can you discuss how we can make the shift from getting attached to goals and other expectations rather than enjoying and growing from every moment—even all those challenging ones—along the way?
Christine Hassler: Really look at that life is about the process, not the goal or the event. In any moment, we have a choice about how we want to think, how we want to feel. Really starting that practice of moving into a place of acceptance and also that place of being curious about our life—really being curious. …
It’s really being more attached to the process and not the event and being a detective and being curious. As soon as we shift out of that victim consciousness and ask, “What am I learning?”, that’s when the openness and the curiosity come forward. Again, we don’t have to like everything in our life. The moment that we shift into acceptance and we stop fighting against it is when things start to loosen up and we start to get insights. It’s really hard to get insights and listen to our intuition when we’re beating ourselves up and we’re a victim. We have to shift to, “OK, I don’t love this, but there may be some learning in this, and so I’m really open to learning and growing.”
I have three final questions, which relate to a fruit-based lifestyle. I know you don’t lead this lifestyle, but I think you have such wonderful perspective on things, and the questions are really about behavior. … While leading a fruit-based raw vegan diet the past six years, I’ve observed that some cling to their diets even more tightly than they might religious or political views. Many raw fooders want to shout from mountaintops about how wonderful they feel, but some don’t want to hear about this, even if the message impacts health, freedom to fellow living creatures and the environment. Can you offer advice to raw fooders who want to share their insight with loved ones as well as during casual encounters with strangers?
Christine Hassler: I think that we have to be mindful of not imposing our belief systems or what works for us on people that didn’t ask for advice. I think it’s more like walking the talk. So many people notice my clear skin or that I have a good mood or that I’m really kind or healthy hair or that I look really fit, and they ask, “What do you to stay healthy?” And then I share my mindset. I think that we want to be the example and be the change that we want to see and not try to impose or force anyone into our beliefs. Just share from our experience—share how it really benefits us—rather than try to convince someone that our way is the way. Just because something works for us doesn’t mean it’s right for everybody. I would say that we want to be passionate but also not try to impose our way of life onto another person. Let the people be so drawn to our energy and notice the shifts in our life. When they ask, “Hey, what are you doing differently?”, then that really opens the conversation.
When a person transitions to a low-fat raw food diet, layers of conditioning start to peel off and, for some, this can be frightening. Personally, I’ve freed myself from religious and political beliefs but know some others have hit the brakes on their raw food journeys because they feared losing their identities—really, attachments to ideals or expectations others might have of them—especially if they have live-in families. Can you talk about some strategies to overcome fears and how we can use this power to achieve freedom within?
Christine Hassler: With any kind of growth always comes some recalibration. As we grow inside, our vibration shifts. It often shifts the way people see us or relate to us. I think the biggest thing is not taking things personally. The biggest thing is staying connected to people that we love in our life and being honest about what’s happening. Also finding a community of people that are on the same wavelength and do really resonate with us so that we get that fill and get that connection from people that are in a similar mindset so we’re not expecting it from people in our family or friends that aren’t there.
I often say, “Don’t go to a Chinese restaurant when you want nachos.” This is probably not the best analogy for raw food people, but you know what I mean. It’s like, “Don’t go to a vegan restaurant when you want meat.” We have to be mindful of not expecting people to necessarily change with us, but also know that, despite the changes we make in our life, our behavior, and our consciousness, we’re still the same person, we’re still the same soul, our core essence is still who we are. So I think it’s important not to scare ourselves with thinking, “Oh, I’m going to make all these changes and everything in my life is going to shift.” Here’s the thing, when we make positive changes, the way our life shifts is often in a positive direction. How can we translate that fear or concern into excitement? How can we go, “Oh, wow—what are all the amazing positive things that will come through?”
We live in a country that shines a spotlight on slim and stunning Hollywood actors and actresses, but the reality is two out of three American adults are overweight or obese. Can you synthesize some of the topics we’ve talked about to help a hypothetical 30-year-old woman wanting to release 50 pounds, eat more fruits and vegetables and get out of a dead-end job?
Christine Hassler: Yes, let me sum it up. It’s so easy to do those things. [Laughter.] Here’s the thing, so much of the reason, I think, Americans struggle with weight is because of lack of self-love and lack of really learning how to deal with our emotions and the hard things in life. Food becomes a soothing mechanism for so many people, and it also becomes the reason that we get pleasure. It’s twofold. Some people go to food because they don’t know how to manage their emotions. Some people go to food because they’re stuck in a job they hate, and they don’t have enough joy and creativity, so it’s the only pleasure they get. For some people, it’s a combination.
Really, it’s about dealing with the emotional stuff, dealing with things that we go to the refrigerator for, finding new tools, which is what I’m so passionate about teaching people. And then, finding joy and creativity in our life so that food isn’t our only pleasure. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job to do that. You can start with a hobby, you can start to create that in extracurricular activities in your life. And then, the more you do that, the more your self-care goes up and the more your creativity and joy goes up, the more likely you’ll be to attract a better job or feel more confident to pursue your own thing.