If you struggle with “aspirational shame” or simply want to better align your career and family goals, then listen to this interview with a woman who knows how you feel.

March 16, 2021 12:33 pm

By Shelley Hunter

Listen to the Episode

About Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, LCSW

Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist with nearly 30 years experience providing a safe place for healing conversations that educate and empower women to prioritize their dreams, revolutionize their families, and personalize their faith.

She is an assistant professor of social work at Utah Valley University, the founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, an outpatient therapy clinic, and the author of The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women. 

Dr. Hanks is a local and national media contributor, a private practice consultant, and an award-winning performing songwriter. Dr. Hanks is the host of Ask Dr. Julie Hanks podcast and creator of online courses helping women navigate motherhood, relationships, and faith. A native Californian, Hanks currently lives with her family in Sandy, UT. 

For additional resources visit DrJulieHanks.com or connect with @drjuliehanks on social media.

Dr. Julie Hanks with her family

Dr. Julie Hanks with her family.

What I Learned from Asking Dr. Julie Hanks

I’m a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” type of girl. When life is hard or not turning out as planned, I take a moment to acknowledge the trauma, but don’t stay in the pain very long. Finding the bright side, looking at the situation from another’s perspective, or making a list of things I can do to recover makes me feel better. Action makes me feel better. But years ago, my daughter pointed out that I sometimes act too quickly.

One of my daughter's friends said something hurtful and Ally came home in tears. As she told me the story, I started to suggest reasons why this girl might have acted the way she did. I felt certain that we could think of an explanation that would make the situation less painful and confusing for my girl. 

In the midst of my brainstorming, Ally blurted out, “Mom, I am not ready to see this from her side! I need you to be on my side for JUST a minute. Sometimes you go too fast.”

She was right.

Ever since, I've tried to sit in the acknowledgement space a little longer than is comfortable for me. Ironically, doing so often brings about the outcome I desire because the pain seems to be lessened by empathetic listening.

In talking to Dr. Julie Hanks, I realized I’ve been jumping too fast with stay-at-home moms too. Here's why.

Listen and Learn

Time and time again, stay-at-home moms have come to me and said, "I have to go back to work, but I have no skills." Most feel nervous and scared. Some are mad at the circumstances of being forced out of the home after spending a lifetime creating it, and others desperately want to embark on a career but feel guilty about their desires.

Though I offer to coach them, I rarely sit in the space of acknowledgement because I am so excited to help them see how much they have to offer. I rarely sit there because I know once we talk, they will see for themselves that they've been working on their career without even knowing it. I rarely sit there because I want these ladies to feel better faster.

That's my mistake. Again.

When I asked Dr. Hanks how she would respond to the statements I hear from stay-at-home moms, she didn't rush to solutions. She acknowledged that change is hard. Life doesn't always turn out as planned and it's important to grieve the loss. She talked of partnership parenting and building a support system. And she shared her own journey of learning to rely on personal revelation to overcome what she calls "aspirational shame." Her responses are empathetic and empowering.

Like the conversation with my daughter that helped me be a better parent, this interview with Dr. Julie Hanks is helping me be a better career coach--and friend.

So, please. If you are upset that you have to go back to work, are afraid to go back to work, or WANT to go back to work and think you shouldn't feel that way, listen to this episode with Dr. Julie Hanks. In less than 30 minutes, you'll feel heard, energized, and empowered. And not to rush you, but I think you'll feel better too.

Dr. Julie Hanks hiking with family

Dr. Julie Hanks hiking with her family.

I know that the way I do life would not work for a lot of people, and that's great. You do life the way you want to do life, but for me it works. And I'm done apologizing and I'm done feeling shame or guilt. This is how God made me.

- Dr. Julie Hanks -

What You'll Learn in this Episode

  • The many businesses of Dr. Julie Hanks
  • The struggles of a teenage Julie de Azevedo
  • The definition of Aspirational Shame
  • Guidance for stay-at-home moms who return to work
  • Why she "refuses to choose" between her family and her career
  • A leap of faith she had to take in her career
  • A blessing she could not see for herself in taking this journey
  • Most Importantly: How she has seen the Lord’s hand in my career

Mentioned in this Interview

Ask Dr. Julie Hanks Podcast. A safe place for healing conversations that educate and empower women to prioritize their dreams, revolutionize their families, and personalize their faith.

@DrJulieHanks. Connect with Dr. Julie Hanks on social media.

Wasatch Family Therapy Healing relationships through individual, couple, family, group therapy, serving Salt Lake Co, Davis Co, and Utah County.

Songs by Dr. Julie Hanks. Music by then Julie de Azevedo.

Download the Transcript

My Turn to Ask Dr. Julie Hanks

Guest: Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, LCSW

Shelley Hunter: You're listening to the Faithful Career Moves podcast. I'm your host, Shelley Hunter. This is a place where we talk to people who recognize the Lord's hand in their lives, and specifically in their careers.

Thank you for joining me on Episode 18 of the Faithful Career Moves podcast. Today I have the privilege of sharing an interview with Dr. Julie Hanks. 

Now, because I'm on a quest to talk to people of faith who have pursued a variety of career choices and who have found their calling in life, I have a list of careers and industries, and topics that I want to explore. When I heard Dr. Hanks' new podcast called Ask Dr. Julie Hanks, I knew I'd found the perfect person to interview because, one, she's a therapist, and I had that career on my list, of course, but more importantly, I love the counsel she provides on her podcast. It's empathetic, it's relatable, and it's often faith-based as well.

I asked if she would join me, and here's a confession. Only after she agreed did I realize, "Oh, she is so much more than a therapist and a new podcaster." 

Julie de Azevedo Hanks is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist with nearly 30 years experience providing a safe place for healing conversations that educate and empower women to prioritize their dreams, revolutionize their families, and personalize their faith. She is an assistant professor of social work at Utah Valley University, the founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, an outpatient therapy clinic, and the author of The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide for Women. 

Dr. Hanks is also a media contributor, an award-winning performing songwriter, host of Ask Dr. Julie Hanks podcast and more.

I'm not kidding when I say more; a lot more. 

I even found one of her songs on my Apple library, and it happens to be a song that holds a fond memory for me because we taught it to, gosh, 60 to 70 kids for a youth program just a couple of years ago. Whenever I hear that song I am immediately back in that room with those kids. Quite honestly, one of the most important questions I ask in this interview came from some of the young women in that group. I just didn't make the connection until after we'd talked.

I'm incredibly grateful to Dr. Julie Hanks that she took the time to chat with me about the evolution of her career. Though I had intended really to just focus on how she's seen the hand of God guiding her through it, well dang it, she's a therapist, so I found myself asking the questions many of you have asked me. 

First, let's go back to the beginning. I asked Dr. Hanks to tell me what she does for a living.

Dr. Julie Hanks: Oh, that's a complicated question. I actually like to do a lot of different things, so I own two businesses. One is Wasatch Family Therapy, the other is Dr. Julie Hanks, LLC. Wasatch Family Therapy, I have about 17 therapists that work for me, and we provide services in Utah. Then Dr. Julie Hanks, LLC is my speaking, coaching, consulting, writing, courses, online events, all that kind of stuff. Then I am also a full-time professor in the Master of Social Work program at the Utah Valley University.

Shelley: Gosh, you sound really busy.

Dr. Hanks: No, I'm actually not. I'm one of the most productive people that I know but I'm not busy. I don't feel frantic, I don't feel overwhelmed. I get a lot done now but I also prioritize time with family, friends, playtime, rest. [laughs]

Shelley: You're making it work; I love that. Take me back to the beginning then. This is where you are now, but how did it all get started?

Dr. Hanks: I also left out I'm also a performing songwriter. Growing up I had three loves: music, helping people, and family. Those three loves from my early life were seeds of where I am now. I recall the day before I started college I was just crying to my parents saying, "How am I going to do music and college?" I felt like I had to choose. I was doing music starting in high school professionally. It was a lot for an 18-year-old to manage, but I was able to manage that and get into school and then also keep doing my music. Then I added a husband and then added kids and kept moving forward, and I realized that I didn't have to choose.

I said, "I refuse to choose." I refused to choose music or-- I was studying psychology at the time. Then when I had a family I refused to choose between family and my careers. It was like, "How are we going to work this out?" I got married at 20, had my first baby when I was 21, almost 22. Went straight through school, got my bachelor's in psychology, my master's in social work, and had another baby during my master's. I did music part-time, I practiced clinical social work part-time, and had my family. It was a lot. It was very stressful and it was overwhelming, but I felt really strongly about all of those, kind of, three paths.

Shelley: Normally I would ask you how did your family adjust to all of this, but it sounds like it just always was.

Dr. Hanks: Yes. There was no adjusting. It was just, "Well, how are we going to manage taking care of our child and finishing school and providing?" My husband and I have always shared in the responsibilities to some degree or another, and it's fluctuated quite a bit throughout our 32 years.

Shelley: I've listened to your podcast and it's excellent. I really, really enjoy it. How much of this history and what you were going through shaped the topics that you seem really invested in now?

Dr. Hanks: Oh, totally shaped it. Growing up in a conservative Latter-day Saint church, conservative religious church, I was taught that my role was in the home. I really had to advocate for myself within my family structure because the structure was set up to support my husband's career but not mine. I was supposed to be the support person. Then I also didn't see women around me that I wanted to grow up and be like, so I felt I want to figure out how to create a life where my daughters are excited to grow up.

I struggled with some mental health challenges as an adolescent and started therapy when I was 14. That shaped me, wanting to become a therapist and wanting to help people, and opened up this whole new world for me. I'm from a big family; I have eight siblings. Family is really important to me. I knew I wanted children. I knew I didn't want nine.


Then my journey to try and create partnership in my home and family to support my dreams, as well as my husband's and kids. Everything I teach I've lived. [chuckles] Everything.

Shelley: I get that sense from listening to your show and reading some of the stuff you wrote. I get that sense that this isn't theory.

Dr. Hanks: Yes, I've lived it. In 2002 after I had my third child, I started my own private practice, Wasatch Family Therapy. That was 18 and a half years ago. That was a huge risk. Then another milestone is in 2012 I went back to get my PhD. I graduated 20 years later. After I graduated with my master's, 20 years later I graduated with my PhD.

Shelley: It sounds like your husband was on board. Did you get pushback from other people?

Dr. Hanks: My husband was not always on board, and yes, I got pushback from other people. [chuckles] My husband came from a really traditional family, and so did I, so I tended to be the one challenging the traditional gender roles. What he was on board with is me being happy and fulfilling my life's missions, and that's required a lot of him that he probably didn't know at the time he chose me.

Shelley: Probably anybody listening to this podcast would be newly thinking about adding a career to their life. What advice would you give? Maybe a couple of tips.

Dr. Hanks: If they've been a full-tiame stay-at-home parent, and then going back into the workforce?

Shelley: Yes.

Dr. Hanks: You have to build in support. You cannot add a job onto your full-time job. You have to offload some of the responsibilities to your partner, to your kids, and to other hired help, or whoever else you have supporting your family. Most women are under-supported in the work that they're trying to do. They're not requiring enough of their partners, they're not requiring enough of their kids, and they're not asking for support elsewhere.

Shelley: I love that. What I have noticed in helping stay-at-home moms go back to work is there is a big emotional piece to it. You just talked about one. "I need to prove that I can do this and not drop any balls." You're saying you are going to drop a ball, so don't--

Dr. Hanks: Well, you're going to give away the balls. You're going to hand them off. You can't keep doing everything you've been doing and then add another full-time job. You'll be a mess. We don't expect men to do that; to run a household and work full time. Why would we think we could do it?

Shelley: Right. The second emotional reaction I hear is, "This isn't the life I planned for. For death or divorce or circumstances that draw a woman out of the home. I didn't plan for this."

Dr. Hanks: I would say yes, that's really hard, and that's a part of everyone who becomes an adult. There is an aspect of life that's not what you thought it would be. It might be marriage, it might be parenting, it might be working outside of the home or when you want to stay home, or staying home when you thought you would work, or death, disability, illness, childhood problems, miscarriages. It's one of many possible disappointments. [laughs]

There are a lot of great things too. I don't mean to be negative because there's just wonderful things that happen as part of growing up too, but I would just validate it and say yes, that's really hard and you have to grieve that loss.

Shelley: Interesting. A third one, regret. "I should have my toe in the water. What was I thinking? I just fell into this trap. I just became a mom, and I never even thought about a life after being a mom."

Dr. Hanks: Again, there's a lot of grief that comes up with lost opportunities. There's a lot of anger that comes up in clients that I've worked with. That I was told what to do and it wasn't really my choice. I was told by my church leaders or by my family that this was my job and my highest calling, and so I didn't even explore other things. There's loss. Be sad, be mad, feel your feelings, and then the goal is to move through the feelings to get to acceptance and then do what you can do now and make conscious choices now.

Have self-compassion. Your younger self was doing the best she could with what she knew the options were. You know differently now and you can choose differently now, now that you're conscious.

Shelley: I think the stay-at-home mom that goes back to work gets to newly decide, "What do I want to be?" What I see over and over again is the thing that they go into is something they wouldn't have developed in themselves had they not been at home.

Dr. Hanks: Yes, I totally agree. I often say no experience is ever wasted. No experience. If you went to school and got a degree and then were a stay-at-home mom, your degree wasn't wasted. It's enriched you as a person; it's made you well rounded. Your time as a stay-at-home mom, you've learned, you've grown, you've been prepared, just like you said. No experience is wasted.

Shelley: I love the way you say that. Years ago I worked with an incredibly studious group of young women in our church. One day one of them just said, "I just feel like the church is always telling us, young women, to get your degree and get your education just in case something bad happens." I said, "I don't think that's the intended message but I understand why you feel that way." What would you have said?

Dr. Hanks: I would have said, "Yes, that's the message." I got that message when I was a young woman and the message hasn't really changed, and it's really limiting, isn't it? You have to decide between you and your heavenly parents what your path is because general authorities give general counsel, but personal revelation is personal.

Shelley: That's really good. I am certain that I didn't say it that succinctly, but agreed. That is what I keep trying to share, is that there is no one way to mother, and how you arrange your family is between you and the Lord. I also have to say that for some reason that message never bothered me, but probably because I didn't have a choice. We needed my income so I always worked. Though I did sublimate my career, if I'm being honest, by working from home and just juggling it all. The message didn't bother me because I felt like that is largely, I guess, for everybody but it doesn't apply to me, and I went about my business. [laughs]

Dr. Hanks: I did the same thing. I said it didn't apply to me, and I felt horrible shame for decades. Like something is wrong with me for wanting this much from my own life and for myself. I must be selfish. Something's wrong with me because I'm told by my church leaders that my goal should be this and my goal is that, plus a lot of other things, so I must be broken. I've coined a term called aspirational shame, and I've actually researched that with Latter-day Saint women. I found that about 70% of LDS women have experienced shame for having aspirations outside of home and family, and it's so sad to me. [chuckles] So sad.

Shelley: It is sad. I really don't think that's what our heavenly parents want for their daughters.

Dr. Hanks: No. I don't.

Shelley: Especially when I've seen the influence women have when they are exercising their God-given talents and abilities. Yes, in some cases that can lead to self-reliance, sometimes even financial prosperity, but in almost all cases it creates opportunities to serve others and increase your sphere of influence, which you are definitely evidence of that. When did you make the move from being a therapist with a business to creating an online presence?

Dr. Hanks: I'm an early technology adopter and I embrace social media; I always have. I had one of the first therapy websites in the early 2000s in Utah. It's been about 14 years ago. I just really felt in my heart I need to get media and social media skills, and I wasn't exactly sure why. I'm an intuitive person, and when I follow my heart and the Spirit I'm usually really glad.

Shelley: When you are in a business like yours where you help and coach so many people, how do you not carry that home with you?

Dr. Hanks: Oh, yes, that's a skill you develop over time. At first you do. I was working with preschool-age children in my first social work-related job and I wanted to adopt all of them. Over time I realized I'm not there to save them. I'm not there to save my clients; I'm there to walk with them. In the 45 minutes I have every week, or whatever time we have, I'm going to show up, and then I'm going to turn their life over to them because that conveys trust. If I take on their emotional problems as my own I'm sending a message that I don't trust them with their own life, and that's not very healthy or therapeutic.

Shelley: That sounds like good parenting advice too. Who walks with you?

Dr. Hanks: A therapist, coaches, friends, family. I really value my relationships, my friendships. I'm really close with a lot of my siblings, colleagues too. We talk about different cases or different things like that.

Shelley: You have an outlet for it?

Dr. Hanks: Oh yes.

Shelley: One last question before I ask you the questions that I ask all of my guests. Why do you do so much?

Dr. Hanks: Because I want to make a contribution, and everything that I'm doing has felt guided by the Spirit. I only do things I want to do. [chuckles] That sounds really bratty but I'm enjoying everything I do. It's not like, "Oh, I got to go do another webinar online," or, "Oh, I've got to go teach this class." I don't love grading papers, so there is an exception, but most of what I do, creating businesses, mentoring women, coaching, consulting, speaking, writing, teaching, I love it all and I feel like I can make a contribution. It makes more of me, more energy, more passion for life, and it makes the world better, or at least that's my hope.

Shelley: Isn't it interesting that that prompting to learn social media combined with the technology advancements we have now is allowing you to help people all over the world?

Dr. Hanks: Technology is amazing. You can reach millions of people with a message. It's so great.

Shelley: Yes. Years ago somebody told me that the internet had been created to facilitate family history. While I'm sure that is a large part of it, my immediate thought was no, this has created opportunities for women to be both in the home and in the workplace, or to start businesses and so much more. It's created so much opportunity for women.

Dr. Hanks: I think it is the best thing that ever happened to give women a voice and provide flexibility. It basically brought work back into the home, which is where-- Women have always worked. They just worked at home and/or on the farm or in the community, and kids worked with them. Everybody's working from home now. Kids are doing their homework and spouses are on different computers. It has been a game-changer for me in terms of influence for sure.

Shelley: Tell me about a leap of faith that you had to take to get where you are now.

Dr. Hanks: What hasn't been, I guess, is the question. I think the biggest leap of faith was trusting my personal revelation as a late adolescent in spite of the messages of my church.

Shelley: What is an unexpected blessing? Something you couldn't see for yourself in making that move?

Dr. Hanks: My life. I have an amazing life and it's taken a ton of work. I've had a lot of opportunities and I'm so privileged in so many ways. I'm 52 and I've created a life where my daughters are excited to grow up because they see me as a thriving individual in addition to being the wife and mom in the family. They see me as a creator. They see me as a businesswoman. They see me as a multi-dimensional human being, and that was what I set out to do. That's the gift; being able to achieve what I set out to do.

Shelley: Right. Just to be clear, if one of them said, "I want to be a stay-at-home mom," you would say?

Dr. Hanks: I would say, "That's amazing. Do you." I would also say part of being an adult is being able to support yourself and take care of a household; for men and women. That's fine if that's what you want to do, but statistically, you're going to have to provide for yourself and/or your family either at the beginning or the end or the middle of your life. Men and women, be financially prepared and know how to care for other human beings and for a home.

Shelley: Even if you have a traditional-looking family, you're saying stay involved, be mindful?

Dr. Hanks: I talk a lot about partnership families. You can be a traditional-looking family and be a partnership family. It's not about splitting everything half and half. It's about everybody's time is valued, everybody's work is valued equally, the paid and the unpaid work. Both partners have equal access to resources and know that those resources are theirs. It's not like, "Oh, my husband makes the money." No, he can only make the money because you're home doing what you're doing, so it's half your money, right? [chuckles]

Shelley: Yes.

Dr. Hanks: Being conscious, having everybody's work time valued, resources valued, that's partnership.

Shelley: I love that. My last question for you, Julie, is how have you seen the hand of God in your career?

Dr. Hanks: I've seen it almost at every turn, but I learned early on that I could trust my good desires and that that was God using me. If I have a good desire I just assume it's from my heavenly parents and I should move forward with it.

Shelley: Wow.

Dr. Hanks: Where I am today is because of the hand of God, and the options that I have is because I followed those promptings. I know it doesn't work out that way for everybody, and I get that. I am so privileged in my life to have the resources that I have, to have the support that I have, and the relationships that I have. It's because of my heavenly parents and Jesus Christ; it's not me. I'm just trying to do what I can do to make a contribution while I'm on the planet.

Shelley: I'm really impressed with everything you're doing. It almost seems like you've built trust, you've built a rapport if they prompt you to do something they know you will.

Dr. Hanks: I think so. My talent is just moving multiple things forward at the same time. I think that's my main talent. Other people have the talent to be able to focus on one thing and go really deep and be totally dedicated to one thing. I don't have that talent, [laughs] I have a different talent. I really do value differences. I know that the way I do life would not work for a lot of people, and that's great. You do the way you want to do life, but for me it works, and I'm done apologizing and I'm done feeling shame or guilt. This is how God made me.

Shelley: I think you're amazing. Thank you so much for being on the show today.

Dr. Hanks: Shelley, thanks for the invitation. It's been delightful to talk with you.

[background music]

Shelley: I guess you can see why I wanted to have Dr. Julie Hanks on this podcast. This isn't where I intended to go with this wrap-up, but honestly, I can't stop thinking about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. "Then to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to every man according to his ability." When I look at Dr. Hanks' career from that lens, I think she is literally just getting started. If the sum total of her career equaled only what she's done so far to date, then for sure she's helped thousands of people, and what a gift that alone would be.

As it turns out, she was given five talents and she turned them into 10. She followed a prompting to learn social media, to create a website, to share her thoughts, and now to help others via a podcast that helps people all over the world. Her sphere of influence just widened massively. What a good steward she has been of her talents. "Thou has been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things."

If you're listening to this and are feeling aspirational shame, or you have good desires and want to make a contribution to this planet, study it out. Seek personal revelation on the matter and you will know if the time is right for you to go back to work, to pursue an education, to stay home, or do whatever it is you're wrestling with. 

Let me bring this back full circle to that song, to the one I didn't know came from my guest. In 2014, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new youth theme song called Come unto Christ. It's a beautiful song, but I remembered one years earlier with that same name.

Our ward had a tradition of having the youth put on a sacrament meeting program where the kids did all the music, all the speaking, essentially everything that they were authorized to do. That year we taught the new song, but we also taught the kids this other song, which I now understand was written by a teenage Julie de Azevedo. As we practiced that song in the corner room of the church building, other adults in the building were drawn to the singing and wandered down. Each poked their head in and said, "Oh, I remember that song." "Oh, I love that song." One woman said, "You just took me back to my youth." Come unto Christ every nation, every land. Come unto Christ and embrace his plan.

How fitting that this song connects me to Dr. Hanks, and to those girls who needed her answer to their question. If nothing else, I hope that inspires you to pursue your dreams, because you never ever know who needs to hear the message you have to share. Thank you, Julie, for being on this show, for developing your talents, and for letting your light shine when you weren't even sure that you should.

And P.S. I’ll link to all of this in the show notes, but you can also visit DrJulieHanks.com or connect with @drjuliehanks on social media.

Thank you for listening to the Faithful Career Moves podcast, a place where we talk to people who have seen the hand of God in their lives, and specifically in their careers. If you want to learn more, or you know someone you think I should interview, connect with me on social media @faithfulcareermoves, or on my website @faithfulcareermoves.com.

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Shelley Hunter

About the author

Shelley Hunter is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach with a passion for helping people up-level their careers, return to the workforce with confidence, and identify their strengths so they can find the career they were born to do. She is also a work-at-home mom who left a traditional career as a programmer to be unapologetically home with her kids.

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