Growing Outside The Same Old Environment And Finding Your Authentic Self With Peggy Van De Plassche
Finding your authentic self is something that everyone struggles with. We all have preconceived notions of who we are and what we should be, and yet sometimes we just don't feel like ourselves or even like our "true" selves.Peggy Van de Plassche, mental health champion and personal growth enthusiast, knows this feeling all too well. In this episode, she discusses the flashpoints in her life where she learned about herself as a person and how these moments have shaped her sense of purpose in life. Tune in now and discover how you, too, can come to terms with your own identity and live a happier life!
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Growing Outside The Same Old Environment And Finding Your Authentic Self With Peggy Van De Plassche
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest Peggy Van de Plassche. Peggy is a world citizen, reformed banker, board member, creative writer, mental health champion, personal growth enthusiast, animal lover, D&I advocate, and a psychedelics fan. She is truly a portfolio of many interests and disciplines. She lives in Toronto with her husband, Max, and her two cats, and it's truly my pleasure to have Peggy join me on the show. Welcome.
Thank you so much. Thank you for that introduction. I need to work on maybe a shorter portfolio. It seems like a lot of things but that's what's close to my heart.
It's all good. It's great to be able to have great interests and different interests that complement each other in many ways. Thank you so much for coming here. I'm looking forward to sharing your story and diving into how you are doing all these amazing things in the world and what you are up to these days that can help other people to understand their own journeys.
What we are going to do in the show is we are going to share your story through what we call flashpoints. These points in your journey that have ignited your gifts into the world. Along the way, we will pause and see what's showing up. In a moment, I will turn it over to you, and you can share what you are called to share. Peggy, take it away, please.
Before I share these flashpoints, there is a bit of framing I want to put for everyone because it's relevant for everyone. It's always interesting, you are looking at what you've done, and you can build a very current story that's going to look good. In reality, when you are in the middle of it, you don't know what you are doing. That's the first thing I want to say.
The second thing I want to say is that a lot of what I have done like many of us, is also based on the conditioning I had as a kid. A lot of the flashpoints I had somewhere unconscious flashpoints where maybe I was on autopilot, and it turned out well but it was not me who was driving the bus. It’s more of my parents, grandparents, teachers, and all that stuff.
Oddly enough, I also had some of these flashpoints that were coming probably from my deeper self. I couldn't have told you why I was making some of these decisions but I always felt I needed that. The first flashpoint that's important, and that was a deeper knowing. Nothing that was coming from my environment was that I knew I wanted to leave the city and the country I was born and raised. Not because I didn't like France. It has nothing to do with that. It’s just that I knew intrinsically that to reinvent myself, and what I mean by reinventing myself, is basically more about discovering or uncovering my authentic self.
I needed to get out of my environment. It's something since I was a young kid. I always wanted to go elsewhere to learn English. That was something I was very passionate about and that I believe might resonate with people who are reading this because it's difficult when you constantly stay in the same environment to become your true self. There are many layers of conditioning that it's difficult to see. I'm going to stop there, and I would love to hear your thoughts and bounce back on that.
It's very difficult to become your true self when you constantly stay in the same environment because there are so many layers of conditioning.
What you are saying resonates so much, and I'm glad you started with this because there's a sense of for us to truly understand our true selves, we had to get out of our environment. An interesting insight is this sense of stepping away. That's why traveling is such a powerful thing because we get to know who we truly are when we get out of our environment.
You discover new people, places, and things that you would have never done, and what I like is that you have no one to remind you who the old Peggy is supposed to be. It's easier to break these habits and to test for yourself what feels right versus what you have been told to do or what you have been told you were. That's something that became so much more important as I got older to go back to these roots.
What I realized in my career, and I'm going to come to my flashpoints in my career in a second, is that I have had a very successful career in finance but for reasons that were not from my authentic self. They were in reaction to my environment. If I go to another flashpoint, which was before changing countries, I always knew I wanted to study. Since a kid, that was also something that was coming from myself, not from my empowerment, because I'm not coming from a family that was educated or was putting a lot of value on education.
I have always had a lot of ambition and an appetite for education, which was probably close to my true self. The thing that was maybe less close to my true self is the reason I picked finance. I picked finance because I thought it would give me prestige and money. Also, it was and still is a male-dominated world where I wanted to compete.
I have always loved numbers and truly love finance but the reason why I went into that career was probably not the right reason. An interesting flashpoint, which is more for everyone to ask themselves. One of my friends was a doctor, and he was telling me, “No one is becoming a doctor because we want to be a doctor. We want to please our mother.” I find that interesting sometimes for us to ask ourselves, “Am I doing what I want to do? Am I doing what I'm supposed to do? Am I doing something to stand it up and be revengeful towards over people?”
I love what you shared because there's something about this, which is that picking to do certain things for the right reasons is so key. At first, we think we have the right reasons but then you find out as we go on that path that maybe we didn't, and it's not right or wrong. In some sense, we have to take steps and explore. We must get into these fields and figure out, “Is this right for me or wrong?” Luckily, there are people like you, me, and many others who take these steps and say, “Maybe that wasn't right for me but here's why.” We can share these lessons learned. We can bring that back to people who may be questioning, “What path should I take?”
Our lives are fully. We are all going to live above 100 in good health. You can be walking in anything or doing anything for several years. You still have many lives after that, and one of the things I also notice more and more is the sub-cost aspect. Sub-cost means when you've invested in something and don't want to go back to the drawing board, so you continue. It's a bit like playing a video game, and you have reached level 25, and it is maybe 40-level, and you are like, “I don't like that game but I want to go to level 40,” because you are like, “Otherwise, if I pick the new game but I will enjoy more, I will go back to zero, and I don't want that.”
It's very scary to go back to zero but at the same time, doing always the same for security, I'm not sure. Personally, when I die, I would feel very satisfied with my life. That's maybe a future flashpoint. I have always been very afraid to die and be disappointed with my life. That's what also lead me to take a lot of risks, sometimes not the smartest risk. I'm always looking for more zest for life because I have an acute understanding that I'm going to die.
I've always been very afraid to die and be disappointed with my life.
I love that you bring that up because there's a sense of where the Stoics drove us to is a sense of Memento Mori is this belief that someday we will die, and we want to be able to say, “Can we ensure we are living a life that we can be proud of?” Not go through the motions and say, “I have chosen this course. Now I have got to stick with it.” No. We can choose whatever path we want to go on, and we always have a choice to change.
You are saying a very interesting thing with a path that you can be proud of. I'm always questioning that in the sense that, “Am I proud of or do I do something for external validation or is it something that is intrinsic to me?” That's something I'm struggling with as I'm changing careers because, in my past career, it was very simple like many corporate people or anyone. Success is more money or promotion, number of likes, or followers. It's very quantitative.
The thing is, you are the same person. Let's say you are an actor, you can act in a movie a certain way, and it's a very strong performance. Option A) If a movie becomes a blockbuster, you did great, and you are an amazing actor, and maybe you are even getting an Oscar. Option B) If a movie is not successful but your performance is the same, you as much a great actor if people recognize it or not. That is very difficult because we have been brainwashed to believe that our value is based upon this external validation.
It's interesting. I was to think that with my husband like in the past, most painters and writers were recognized after death. It's very rare that you were recognized during your life. I was telling him, “I'm not looking to be recognized after my death but at the same time, I would like to be able to disconnect my own personal value from what other people think.” I think that being proud of something is difficult to have it self-generated.
This is like the biggest journey in life. How do we create our own self-generated pride and validation that allows us to feel okay with who we are and not go outside for validation? Someone said something, “I'm inspired by myself.” I'm like, “How can you be inspired by yourself? That's pretty good.” External inspiration is awesome but being inspired by your own and who you are, that's pretty cool too.
It's amazing if it's something you truly believe deep down. I can see many things. I'm not saying this and this to a person. I want to say that for the readers because I'm the type of person in the past. I’m doing better now, but who would always think I was not good enough. That's also why I was so successful in my career because I was constantly driving me very hard because it was never good enough.
This idea is that some people have it all figured out, and you are self-inspired. That's great. No one is self-inspired, truly. I don't think so. Maybe Dalai Lama. It's not something that is happening 24/7. That's the reality. It's messy. We also need to be honest with that. I have many days where I feel like crap. I have many days where I regret that I didn't take the blue or red pill. I never remember which is which. Sometimes I'm like, “Maybe I should have gone for the easy path of autopilot and staying in the dark.” That's important for people to know that. Everyone seems to say, “It's easy or extremely difficult.”
Speaking of which, I want to get back into your story. What were some more flashpoints on your journey? Here you are, going into the world of finance and banking. What happened that got you to jump off of that path?
I loved the work. With the work, I felt very stimulated and intellectually rewarding. I like the intellectual curiosity that comes with that. I didn't like the environment. I knew people were going to sell finance. The challenge was above and beyond finance because I worked in large corporations in technology, in banking. Also, I'm on the board of a large government organization. I have worked in many industries. I don't think the challenge is so much finance. You probably have a certain type of people who are going in that direction but the challenge is a large organization.
For me, working in a large organization was draining my life force. I wrote a blog post on Are Corporations Gaslighting Psychopaths? What t by that is that you are very low empathy. You are low responsibility. When you are an employee in a large organization, even if you are senior, I found that you were extremely disrespected. I found that there was low compassion.
At least the pandemic brought more flexibility, even if I can see organizations trying to go back to that and trying to get people back to before, and I was drained. Waking up every day with feeling awful about what the day was about, and it was not the tasks I had in front of me. It was more of a constant grind. It was not for me. If you want a precise flashpoint, it's funny. I was reflecting on that.
My first job after 3 or 4 weeks, I had this realization that I was not going to be able to divide my entire life. I'm going to die. I thought it was so sucking and still did it for twenty years because you told us what you have to do. You have no choice, and that’s the way it is. A few years ago, I was working in the bank, very well paid, had a great title, and all that great stuff. The guy I worked for was a total bully, and the organization was like, “That's your problem. You will always have people like that in organization, so you have to deal with it.”
I was like, “Are you telling me that guy is bullying me, and that is my problem?” I resigned literally 2 or 3 weeks after that, and I went into freelancing. I was advising financial institutions on their investments in technology which was my sweet spot. I got several job offers but every time I looked at that, after working with them for a few months, I was like, “I don't think it's a good culture or match.” There was not one flashpoint that made me leave the corporate world besides the realization after three weeks of working that, “That’s not for me.” I see that from many people where they are drained that they think there is no escape, and I was able to escape.
It's almost like some people accept their circumstances and say, “It is what it is,” and then they live with it but we don't have to accept that. We can almost rebel against it and say, “I want to live a different path. I want to choose a life that is more aligned with joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment.” It sounds like you finally said, “Enough is enough.”
What's very sad is that I did enjoy working in the organization. I thought the job was interesting. You were meeting good people. I don't think it's all bad. I found the fact that the second you are in a large organization, the anonymity provides bad actors the way to act in a way that is not for the highest good of our employees.
Unfortunately, I have not seen many large organizations, regardless of the country or industry, behave properly. There are two things. Some people like me. Maybe I'm more sensitive. I can walk into a room and pick up the vibe in an alpha second. If you are less maybe, it might be less of a drain because you don't pick up on things like that.
For some people, they are not necessarily trading off because they don't feel it the same way. Someone maybe like me will tend to be more sensitive. It was difficult. Could I have made some choices and changed some things to make it more tolerable? Maybe but it will probably not have been to the level of joy. It will have been tolerable but not joyful.
There are a lot of people in the workplace who are going through the motions, and they seem to have that tolerance of a certain level of toxicity, and then there are other people who don't. It comes back to what we started with, which is that we have the ability to adapt to our environment. If that's a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes we have to say, “Do I want to adapt to my environment or get out of my environment and adapt to something completely different?” That's a choice we have to make at some point and say, “This environment that I'm adapting to is not for me.”
What's interesting when you look at the organization is that, several years ago, it was common to be racist or sexist comments open. Since #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, that has changed very much. I'm like, “If in 5 or 7 years, people can go from being extremely inappropriate to suddenly appropriate, why couldn't they be more compassionate? Why couldn't we treat their employees, colleagues, and boss like it's 360 with more respect.”
There is also this idea that it's a trade-off. If you want to work in a large organization, you have no choice but to accept politics, and people may be misbehaving. We have proof that what we thought was acceptable, even if not pleasant several years ago, is not now. Why don't we continue that change with different things, which would be respect, flexibility, tolerance, and this type of thing? I'm still hopeful that there are going to be changed in corporations and large organizations to bring more compassion toward their employees because this organization will always be there. You want them to change. You don't want people to leave. That's the thing because otherwise, who stays?
I would love to hear how these realizations that you've learned along the way led to the work you are doing now and, specifically, what it has opened up for you in terms of the possibilities.
I have also been on my own healing journey. Understanding first where this was that I might not even be aware of and healing them. Back to the idea of the authentic self, if you don't deal it, you will always repeat the same patterns. For me, that was important not to do. What happened in my life was that I needed a shift. I needed to be someone different. I was tired of being negative, being very fearful, and always being so worried and controlling and this fear-based personality.
I was like, “Whether I'm going towards prescribed drugs, anti-anxiety or antidepressant,” which I have never wanted to take. I started reading a lot on psychedelics, and I have never taken recreational or drugs like I was the type of person who would pop whatever on the Saturday night. I'm not that I'm criticizing it but that was not me. I started reading on Microdosing Psychedelics, especially psilocybin, the magic mushroom, and it's not who I am but I was so desperate. I was like, “Things need to change. I couldn't take it anymore. At this point, let's do it.” I started my microdosing psilocybin, and that has created a lot of shifts in many aspects of, first, in terms of mental health.
It helped me with being more positive and seeing more options. When you get stuck, you tend to feel there is no way out. I thought that it gave me much more creativity, so you need more options but also better performance and focus. That's what I like. I have never tried the over psychedelic, so I cannot say for the other ones but it is that we bring relief in awareness.
If you look more from a spiritual or personal growth perspective, it brings you a lot of awareness you might not have had before. It removes the sharp edge of your nervous system. Like me, if you hear a car starting off and you think it's a bomb coming on your head and you are jumping 3 meters, that's for you. It helps with the nervous system, mental health, and performance. I wrote a book in several days on my experience with Microdosing Psychedelics, so that has been a big shift for me, and that has helped me open up to more possibilities.
It's so beautiful what you shared because, first of all, hearing the perspective from someone who is saying, “I wasn't like a hardcore drug user,” and someone is saying, “I'm willing to give this a try because something that will help, I would like to give it a go,” and then seeing that experience through your eyes. The fact that you wrote about your experience with it is powerful. That would be great to share a link to your book. That would be fantastic if you were willing to share that. We need to be more open-minded to seeing new possibilities and creating new pathways for us to see, “How can I deal with the situations and challenges I'm having in my life?” This is one way of doing that.
As you mentioned, the beauty where I have been over psychedelic is that it rewires your brain. It's this neuroplasticity. If I had taken the option of, “I'm going to take an antidepressant because it's going to make me feel better,” antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication can be positive. Let's say you have a loss in your family or you are in something in a big situation that might be something that's going to be lifesaving for you.
If it's more like me recurring more a state of being, I want to rewire my brain, so it's not my state of being anymore. I don't want to hide it under a medication that's going to make the symptoms go away. I have some of my girlfriends who have been on anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication for twenty years, and I understand if I'm a Big Pharma, it's a beautiful recurring revenue model because, on top of that, you never cure anyone. You keep them on the hook of the thing with psilocybin. It's not the case. It's that you need less and less product to have the same results. It's a very different approach.
Tell me more about like how this has moved you into a different world. Have you been able to speak more in different forums about this experience?
To your point, there’s a stigma associated with that, which is very interesting. There is a stigma associated with mental health and taking the prescribed drug as well. I have never seen a CEO saying, “I'm going to take an anti-anxiety or antidepressant drug.” I'm pretty sure most of them are. If you look at the numbers, it's like you have been here. There is, unfortunately, this fake ID that we should all be able to deal with in life and be at our best all the time without any help, besides maybe joking and taking a cold plunge once in a while, which is good. I love to take a cold shower, do yoga, and all that stuff but self-care is not enough. You are not going to solve mental health issues on your yoga mat. It's helpful but it's not enough.
I have been writing more about that. I have a newsletter. These have been my most popular posts on my experience with psilocybin and what it has done for me. You wouldn't believe a number of questions I get after. From the most unlikely people, and I am myself for an unlikely person to know about it, to be honest. The people who come back are even more unlikely than who I am, and people open up about their suffering. People open up to me not because I have shown my vulnerability but they feel comfortable with me.
It's not on social media. Other people or very few, are going to say, “Thank you.” They are going to send me an email and ask me for a coffee, and we will have a conversation. It's interesting to see to which extent there is a lot of interest but there are still a lot of stigmas. For me, it's important to share my experience because if it helped me, it can help many people and, at the same time, the fact that it's still so much from upon.
In Canada, it decriminalized them. I buy my magic mushrooms from my massage therapist. It's not something from the corner of a dark alley or whatever. It's not that. There is still a lot of stigmas, and the pandemic helped with bringing mental health issue to the forefront but nonetheless, there is still discomfort in talking about it. I'm trying to, as I said, write many posts and my newsletter. I put it on LinkedIn, which is where most of my peers tend to live.
The pandemic helped with bringing mental health issues to the forefront.
I did a few public speaking or engagements to the unlikely crowd who were engaged. What I'm doing now is more and more looking at pivoting my career in that direction in terms of writing and speaking about my journey of personal transformation and psychedelics to help people. The book I wrote. I'm still looking for a publisher. Finding the right person or organization that understands what it is that I wrote about or to market it usually.
That's where they have confusion because they know to market a very dry book written by your PhD. Less you and I are writing about our experience. It is a bit more complicated for them to wrap their end around. If you are a publisher or an agent reading this and you find it's an interesting topic, please reach out to me.
The time now in mental health is at the top of everyone's mind, and we must find different ways of approaching this and connecting with people. What I enjoy is that this journey you have been on has been this one where it's continued to be a surprise to evolve yourself out of the confines of who you were.
Even though, all things considered, you enjoyed some of the aspects of who you were before the finance and what have you to now being in a space where you probably would never have imagined. You would never have imagined that you would be doing this type of work advocating in this space. It's great to be able to say, “This could be my calling. This is who I'm meant to be is an advocate to help other people connect in this way.”
That's difficult. That's what I want to share with the audience as well is uncertainty. That's why it's so important to always come back to the present moment instead of trying to project ourselves 1, 2 or 5 years and saying, “What would that look like?” That's difficult uncertainty.
It's so important to always come back to the present moment instead of trying to project ourselves onto the uncertain future.
It's a feature. Uncertainty is part of life. We have to lean into it and be excited by it, and that's okay. It has been an amazing conversation, and then unfortunately, we are coming to a close soon. I have to ask one of my obligatory questions, which is what are 1 or 2 books that have had an impact on you and why?
There's one book I recommend to everyone and that I'm listening periodically myself, and it's called The Big Leap. What I like about that book is the concept, and if people who are reading this that have not read or listened to the book, I recommend it. It's short and easy. What I enjoyed was this concept of our limit. I'm very sensitive to limiting beliefs.
All concept of a book is around like if you feel stuck and if you are not able to progress, it's probably because inside of you, mentally or emotionally, you are at the upper limit that prevents you from moving towards your dream. It's a very good book that I recommend. Again, easy and short. Did you read it? Do you like it?
Yes. It's on my list of books that I recommend to all my Readers Are Leaders list on my website. It's one of my favorites.
We are aligned. There is another book that is easy that's more children’s book from a doctor, Oh, the Places You'll Go! That's something that it's always good sometimes to pick it up and go for it and remember that every part of our journey is okay and that we will have many life cycles.
Also, all the adventures that we will have on the way. It's important to lean into that because there are a lot of things that won't go perfectly. There will be different paths we will take. I love that you bring that book up because it's something I haven't thought about in a while. Even those simple books have so many great messages in them that we must be reminded of. Peggy, this has been such a great conversation. I'm thankful so much for you coming on the show and sharing your journey. I'm grateful for what you are doing in the world, and I look forward to the next chapter.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out. I might be slow sometimes but I always answer and I want it to be very helpful and that people to make the most out of it. Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat.
The one thing I would ask is, where is the best place for people to find you if they want to reach out and have a conversation with you?
You can always find me on LinkedIn. That’s always an easy place to find me. I have a website, which is PeggyVanDePlassche.com. There is a contact form. They can also reach me for that. My name is not common, so there shouldn’t be a lot of challenges finding me.
Your name is unique as you are. You are so welcome, and thank you again and thanks to readers for coming on the journey with us. I know you are leading with so many great insights, and that's a wrap.
- Peggy Van de Plassche
- Are Corporations Gaslighting Psychopaths?
- Microdosing Psychedelics
- LinkedIn - Peggy Van de Plassche
- The Big Leap
- Oh, the Places You'll Go!
- Readers Are Leaders
About Peggy Van de Plassche
A former banker and venture capitalist, I spent twenty years in the financial services and technology industries, as an executive, investor, board member and entrepreneur.
In 2022, my decade-long personal healing journey led me to leave my successful banking career to focus full-time on narrative non-fiction writing, sharing my story of personal transformation with a larger audience.
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