Life with Herpes Podcast Interview: Dr. Aziz Gazipura Talks about How to Date with Confidence

Life With Herpes Podcast - Dr. Aziz Gazipura

How to Date with Confidence: Dr. Aziz Gazipura

Listen To The Life With Herpes Podcast 

Alexandra: Hi you guys. I'm Alexandra Harbushka, founder of Life with herpes. And I'm really excited today because we are doing something totally different. We haven't done a lot of interviews and so the spaces are... I'm very selective about who I bring to the show. So that's why I'm excited about today. So today we have Dr. Aziz Gazipura and he is...I can't wait. He went to Stanford, so I promised him that I would say that cause that's pretty awesome, not everybody gets to go to Stanford. But he is a world-leading competence expert, which means he teaches people how to learn their confidence, how to eliminate their self-doubt, their hesitation, social anxieties and just kind of gets you out of your rut. It's very easy for us as we go through life and we kind of get out of our own little bubble and we go out there in the real world and there's all of a sudden all these expectations of us and how do I perform, how do I not perform? And specifically what Dr. Aziz, well, why I'm having him on the show is cause he is an expert when it comes to dating. So he talks a lot about, you know, in his podcasts and in his life, he talks about how when you started dating you had no confidence and now you have a super hotwife. So you went from like zero to hot. Right? But this is really key for our community when we're dealing with herpes because we're dealing with a herpes diagnosis that absolutely crushes you. And Dr. Aziz and I spoke about this when I was on his podcast and that aired well, that was last year in 2019 and the podcast is called The shrink for the shy guy. So I will link the episode for you guys so you can reference it and find it. But we did talk a lot about herpes and the diagnosis and how it absolutely, suffocates you and paralyzes you when you are diagnosed. So this is why I have Dr. Aziz on the show and we're going to talk all about dating, social stigmas. He's also, I didn't mention, I forgot to mention, he has three bestselling books and his most popular book is not nice and he has a book coming out. It just came out. So we're going to talk about his book that just came out. I cannot wait for you guys to, I can't wait to read it and I can't wait for you guys to read it. It's on my own side. So we'll get to that. Anyways, let's talk. Let's start with Dr. Aziz.

Dr. Aziz: Well, thank you for that introduction. I love it. You said so many things in there that I could be, could instantly dive in. One that stood out to me was the expectations that we bring that we have for ourselves, for that come from the world that we bring to dating and to every area of life. So I'm really excited, to dig into all of that.

Alexandra: Yeah, I mean, so, so let me set up a situation that happens when you're diagnosed with herpes. So, and then let's kind of talk through it and have you analyze it and, and maybe talk about some key things that we can do when we're diagnosed. That goes, okay, let me get the, let me get out of this rut. Let me, let me move forward. So let me just set the stage for you. So we get the phone call and we're going about life completely normal. And we get the phone call that you have, herpes. Now it is, you are a deer in the headlights. You feel that your life is over. If you are in a relationship, you feel like you either have to stay in this relationship because nobody ever is gonna love you, want to have sex with you, want to be intimate with you, ever love you for you. So you either stay in this relationship or you're single, you got it from a one night stand or casual dating, whatever, and, or you don't know where it came from. And you get this and you're like, Oh my gosh, I'm going to be single for the rest of my life. How, how, how do I, how do I, how will I ever get my confidence back? Cause you go from being, you know, wherever you are on your confidence level to now like it's zero because society has now said that you're a bad person, you're a dirty person, you're promiscuous, you're not responsible, whatever, whatever adjective we want to use to describe that. So how, how, how would you take that information and transform it?

Dr. Aziz: Yeah, I love that last part of the question, transform it because that is what is required. That's what life is asking us, is demanding of us to do because this, this experience is, it's a specific, unique experience around a herpes diagnosis. However, in some ways, it's no different than any other experience where it feels like the bottom drops out, where we lose something that we had our confidence hooked to. And for some people that could be their job, that can be their paycheck, that could be a certain relationship, that could be some aspect of their appearance. Something, you know, like this is, and we don't know what those things are. We just, they're kind of in the background and then all of a sudden one of those goes away and in this case maybe is a sense of like, well, I don't have any STD's or STI's like, Oh, therefore I'm a better person, some background story, and all of a sudden that's, that's gone. And then we're, when that falls away, we, we kind of fall into a pit of despair and hopelessness and often anxiety-like, Oh my gosh, well, I'm never going to be able to feel confident again. I'm never going to be able to date again. I'm never going to have a relationship, and we add more fuel to that fire by saying, this is not just how I see it. This is how the world sees it. This is how society sees it. This is what everyone would think. I know this for certain.

Alexandra: That's key right there. It's the society, it's the, it's what is placed on us that now we fall into a new category that we weren't prepared for, nor are we never thought we would be in. Very different than planning for something like I'm going to get a job at, I'm going to become a dentist. I don't know where that came from. But you can prepare for the lifestyle or the social expectations that are expected of you to be a dentist. You can say, I'm going to prepare to be a husband or a wife. You then know, okay, the social expectations and what your spouse expects of you, but you, nobody prepares to be, I now have an STD.

Dr. Aziz: Yeah, it comes out of the blue.

Alexandra: Comes out of the blue.

Dr. Aziz: And you know, and that's, and that's what leads to part of that free-fall experience, that emotional free fall. And that can happen with any medical diagnosis, right? Like, you know, people feel like I'm healthy, I have a, a friend who is like, I consider myself healthy and she eats well and exercises and does yoga and all that. And then all of a sudden she finds out, she has a brain tumor, you know, so there are these things that just like no one is preparing for that. It's just, it just happens. And then what happens is we fall down into that pit, but then there is some tremendous opportunity within there and like all the best opportunities in life, they often don't present first as opportunities they present as a crisis. And the opportunity here is that you in order to get out of that pit in order to have the confidence that you want and ultimately the relationships that you want post-diagnosis, you must overcome the control that society has over you. That the general unexamined what they are going to think of me. There needs to be some sense of, you know what, that's not going to define me.

Alexandra: No, no. That's the key right there.

Dr. Aziz: In just a second. I mean it's like you figure out the diagnosis and then six hours later you've come to that and you're free forever. Maybe that happens for some people, but almost everyone, it's going to be a process and this is sort of like the jumping ahead to know that that's the kind of the road to follow. And, and with that, we can actually discover and cultivate what I would call unconditional confidence, a deep form of inner confidence that isn't required on anything. It has nothing to do with my body or my skin color or my health or diagnosis or performance or a job or anything. It's unconditional self-worth and unconditional confidence. And we, we don't cultivate that. We don't build that until life knocks us down and sort of requires us to do that. And then it's like, we'll sink or swim, where there starts to develop that or we flounder. And so this challenge that arises can bring that forth out of us. Give us the motivation to cultivate that. And then on the other side of that, and I seen this and we talked about this in our interview, like there's a, there's a whole new level of you, a better version of you, freer version of you, bolder version of you that is only activated because of what you went through because of the challenge and the crisis that you had.

Alexandra: I love that. I, I believe that we're given the challenges that we can best handle. You know, there are millions of different challenges that can come at us through life and you can look at someone else's problem and you could go like, Whoa, they just had this happen to them. Whoa. I wouldn't know how to begin to handle their problem right? And we all have problems, for us. Well, specifically for my community, it's herpes, right? But there are millions of other problems out there, right? And, and I truly believe we're given what we can both most handle and we're, it's a challenge for us to say, okay, how do I digest this one by one bite by bite, you know, stigma by stigma, adjective by adjective, whatever you want to say. How do I break it down one day at a time and get through it so that it's so that you've now overcome it? And I really like what you said, you know, we're given this and it's the invitation for us to transform.

Dr. Aziz: Yeah. The invitation is to transform. I was going to say always, let's just say, almost always come in the form of pain or something that we don't want generally. I mean that's, that's what's going to lead to the deep transformation. It will reach a threshold or reach a certain level of pain and then in there we find the determination, the resilience, and I love how you described it as breaking it down into like word by word, stigma, stigma, belief by belief. Because that's why it is a process. We'd love to be able to snap our fingers and be done with it, but then we're not doing the work because the work is taking that, okay, what is it? I imagine my boyfriend or this new potential person that I want to date or whatever like I imagine them looking at me with rejection or disgust if I were to if they were to know that I have herpes, like okay, that's one little moment. That's one little thing to work on. So we don't run from that. We take that thing and we focus on it and we work on it and we talked to a friend about it or we go through some, some of your materials about it. Or we work on our confidence to where we can say, okay, now I'm more emotionally okay with that reality. And that's, you know how to get more emotional. Okay, well that's a process and it's a self-discovery. For some people talking with a friend and getting that reassurance, they'll feel more relaxed about that. For some people, they listen to your podcast or listen to your materials and they get that, that empowerment. Other people might listen to those things and be like, okay, all right, maybe. And then they need to like go through the trenches and have those conversations and maybe even get the rejection, which I know we talked about in your journey, right? You know, like some of those painful conversations and it feels like acid. It's probably a fire burn. But then on the other side of that, you're like, oh, I made it and you know what, what that person thinks didn't kill me and I'm actually free. And so, you know, each of us has to find our way through it, but there is a way through.

Alexandra: Yeah. And we're so scared of rejection in any, anything, any, any, anything. Not just dating but at any level of, no one wants to be rejected, of course. Like it hurts. Everyone wants to be the first prize or the number, you know, the prom king or prom queen, you know, the quarterback at like we, we all want that. Of course. Right? I mean, but in reality, it's not going to happen. And so rejection is a part of life and it's a beautiful part of life and you have to understand that, you know, the way that I like to set-up dating is, and I've been speaking a lot about it recently in some recent episodes is yes, you are going to get rejected. Period, the end. I get it, it has nothing to do. Who knows what it has to do with, but you're going to get rejected. Not everybody's going to want to date you. Sorry. You know, and it's, it's a part of life. And what, what we have to separate, which is what we're talking about, Dr. Aziz is that it may not be the issue that you think it is. They may not be herpes or it may not be, you're not tall enough, it may not be, you don't have the right job. It may not be you don't have the right college degree, it may, whatever. Like we don't know why a person is not into us. We don't, they're never going to tell us they may, they're going to pick the low hanging fruit of whatever's easy to get out of a situation. I've done it. I'm sure you've done it. And the good news with that is, is it does lead you down the path to who you are going to become and who you are potentially going to meet. Like I, I'm sure you could say like there was tons of rejection, rejection, rejection. I don't know your story exactly. But then you met your wife, right? And I can say the same thing about my situation with dating and different guys. And thank goodness I was rejected or they didn't work out because then I met my husband, you know, like, thank goodness. I can't date everybody. I don't want to date everybody. So, so when we start to look at it that way as and not defining ourselves by the reason why, well, somebody doesn't like me because my hair is blue. Okay. Like I'm not going to go color my hair purple because the person liked purple hair. Do you know what I mean? Like, and I'm just using that as, as a silly example, but--

Dr. Aziz: It's changing. It's changing who we are to who we think we should be in order to get love. And, and this is this was a major theme inside of the book. The next one I have coming out called On my own side, or the acronym we use is almost, and that people think, Oh, to be on my own side is to maybe say some affirmations. Like, I love myself. I'm, I'm a good person. I love myself. And it's like, well that's, that's something that's certainly better than you know, picking out your own, your own flaws all day long. But it goes way deeper than that. The affirmations are often like a bandaid solution and we've got to look at your, your relationship with yourself and what way we turn on ourselves is not like harsh self-criticism. It's exactly what you're talking about. Oh, what do you want me to be? You want me to have purple hair? Okay, I'll do that. And we don't like the question is do you like blue hair? Yeah., who are, who are you and are you on your own side? And then from that place, presenting yourself to the world and seeing what comes back and out of our unwillingness to tolerate rejection, our phobia of rejection, how much rejection can trigger our own self worth stuff or like I can't feel that at all. Then we just play this game of constantly trying to figure out what other people want and becoming that. And we tend to misinterpret, as you're saying, every dating encounter or any potential rejection as it's because I wasn't the way they wanted me to be.

Alexandra: And it's gonna have herpes.

Dr. Aziz: There's another one, right? It's because of that. That's the reason that that, that, that things ended for me. And there's still that, that's such an interesting one too because people could say, well, Hey, blue hair, purple hair, that's, you know, in the eye of the beholder. But everyone knows that that herpes would get rejected. And it's, it's really interesting because for every it's always this way story. I have clients tell me like, this is the way it is. I always like to find an example of someone who's in the exact same situation where it wasn't that way. I remember a client that I work with who had cerebral palsy and limited his mobility and some way he moved his body and he's like, how could a woman ever want to be with a guy like me? Like I'm, you know, I'm totally she sees me sitting next to a tall six-foot guys athletic. Like, obviously she would pick him and I said, well maybe you know, maybe, I wonder if we can find some counter for examples. And it turns out there is a comedian who, his name is Jeff Blue I think is his name was, he was a CP who is married. And then we actually found like numerous people with all sorts of different bodies and different ailments of different things and like, look at him, he's dating, look at him, he's in a relationship. And so it's the same thing. We can say, wait a minute. What about the people who do have herpes or dating successfully and thriving relationships.

Alexandra: And married or whatever. Yeah, it's so, yeah, we set our own truth with it. And like you said, like the example you just use of the gentleman with CP, or in my case, my community and myself, that people that have herpes, we just say, well, I have herpes. All right, let me throw the towel in now. I'm just going to, no one's ever, I'm going to either settle for somebody that will accept me or be, I'll just not, nobody will ever accept me. And it makes me sad. It makes me sad when I hear that really like I really get fired up when I hear in my community, hear people say like, Oh, well I just broke up with someone because I have herpes and they're not going to want to be with me. And I'm like, what? Why would you do that? Did, did that person say that? Like it makes me sad. Or when I hear people say, well, I don't date because, I have herpes and I'm scared to tell someone or I'm scared of that, that rejection or I'm scared that they'll just see me as a disgusting person with blisters everywhere. And the truth is, yeah, maybe they will, they might, but that person isn't worth your time, you know.

Dr. Aziz: And what you're calling forth, maybe why you get fired up about it is, is it's like you're hearing a story of a human being shutting down. Of them succumbing and letting fear dictate their life. And we all have to face that, that challenge. And we all have to find our own courage to step up in life in whatever ways life is dealt, whatever to us. And, and each, maybe each person gets different things, but it's universally true that we like, well, we all have to find our courage. And that's really all that courage is, is like a willingness to step into the unknown. I could get rejected when I tell him about this and I could not. But you know what? This is meaningful, creating a relationship isn't meaningful to me. So I'm going to do it. And I think so many of us have lived a life that's not about pursuing what's, or creating things that are meaningful to us. It's about avoiding discomfort. And one of the biggest ones of discomfort is fear. I mean, you know, there's running and exercising and those are obvious forms of discomfort that people might avoid. But fear is an unpleasant emotion of perceived danger, perceived threat, and it feels bad, our nervous system, you know, like I don't like this. And it can manifest like drawn-out anxiety or worry or rumination, all unpleasant. And so without knowing it, most of us are each day trying to steer through the day with as little fear and discomfort as possible. And that's already happening. And then you add the herpes experience in there and it just like, Oh, I know how to do this, do it, I was doing times 10, avoid all dating, avoid all talking about it, avoid all sharing about it. And then, you know, and we just get smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and then, and that's no way to live. And that's why it's beautiful that the people, you know, what you're presenting and you're fired up enough to share this with the world in a big way is because people are in that cage and then they hear something else and they're like, wait a minute, wait a minute. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. There's a way out. And I think that's a beautiful thing to share with the world.

Alexandra: Well thank you. Totally. But, but I like to use herpes as how can you take your diagnosis and apply it to other phases, parts of your life. So for example, when we were first starting to talk here, Dr. Aziz is, we were talking about, this idea of people with herpes or this, you know, like, I would never get it because, and then something happens in your life and you get it. We're not, we didn't sign up to do it, right? It just happened. And so one of the things that I like people to say is, Hey, we, and I'm guilty. I judged people with STDs prior to getting one. I 100% judged people. I was like, well, you clearly did this, this, this and this, right? That's why you have it. And now me getting herpes has allowed me to break through that judgment. Obviously, people with herpes, but the judgment of people, every other aspect, we can't judge a situation until you really walk in that person's shoes. Do you know what I mean? So I, I invite people with a herpes diagnosis to say how can you apply this in other parts of your life. So for example, with dating, and I'll say, so before you had herpes, were you like a dating machine or were you using other, other things in your life to prevent you from meeting the right person? A really perfect example is, you know if a person is scared to let the opposite sex in or date, a lot of times they'll put on a lot of weight, right? Cause it's a, it's a shield, it's a protection method and so they just keep the weight on because that's an easy reason why nobody would find them attractive. In their minds. So I've really invited people to say, okay, take herpes out. Because if you're going to die with it, it's the one thing you can guarantee you're going to die with. Take it out. You're using it as a scapegoat. What other things in your life are you using as a scapegoat to prevent you from whatever it is, dating? We're specifically talking about dating, but is it financial success? Is it a career success? Is it what is it that you're not achieving and in using so I really like to use herpes as this, opportunity in your life to just explore all aspects because that other thing is not as stigmatized, right? Like it's, it's just, Oh, well I didn't, I didn't go to the right university or I just went to junior college, so I can't, I can't, you know, make that much money. Why?

Dr. Aziz: And I love that. I mean that that is such a value inquiry first all of us to do it is, okay, here are the things that I say that I want, but there's a voice in my head that says I'm never going to have it. I can't get that. Then a great question is to follow up with why what specifically about me makes it mean that I won't be able to do that? And then what you're going to do is you're not going to get a list of truth by asking that question. But you are going to get a list of your more specific excuses. And what's amazing, stories and what's amazing is most of it's, I mean there's something that we're really scared of. I mean we won't even ask the why. We'll just say, Oh that's not going to work out. Okay. And then we, you know, 'cause it's sort of like, I don't want to feel all that much anxiety cause we really have a fundamental choice about how do we want to step into life fully open, heartedly take risks, be ourselves or do we want to hide and shut down and keep up our armor. That's really a fundamental choice. We all have day to day, moment to moment in different areas, career, dating, all that stuff. And when we choose the shutdown method, we all know what that feels like. It might feel like a relief in the short term, but before too long it starts to feel it's depression.

Alexandra: You suffocate.

Dr. Aziz: Suffocated, pointless, hopeless. It's demoralizing and the other, but we don't realize, and this is kind of the challenge of it all, is that if you choose the other method, like bold, openhearted, go after what you want, sounds really cool and inspiring, but guess what's going to be your companion fear, anxiety, because it's going to be risked after risk after risk. [ crosstalk]. And all of a sudden, it's like, hey, I hate rejection. I hate risk. 

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr. Aziz: But it's really like, well, those are the two choices. Which one do you want? Another good thing. The good news is that when you choose the more open-hearted courage path, there is going to be fear. However, you can develop your muscles of courage. You can increase your capacity to be on your own side no matter what, and develop what I would call permanent self-worth. It’s not fluctuating based on the results that day or the responses that day. And so you can build these things, and there are, like, the tools that help you on that path of the courageous heart. But there is no other option. You know, so which one would you prefer? 

Alexandra: Yes.

Dr. Aziz: And which one provides the potential of much greater reward and benefit?

Alexandra: Yeah, it's easier to go inward and, you know, go into that. It's easier. Right? But that feels so... They both feel uncomfortable, I love what you said, they're both uncomfortable, they both add fear. They both put you in dislike, but one is going to get you to the next level, and get you through, and keep you going, and allow you to be the best that you can potentially be. Which is, I mean, that's the reason why these things happen to us, is to break through and grow. Keep going. 

Dr. Aziz: Yeah.

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr. Aziz: Well, I think that's something that’s very helpful that people might not think of. It's operating in the background, but we have these background beliefs, these global beliefs. It’s kind of worldly view that, you know, like a background belief that you might not know, is like, “ Oh, people that have an STD or bad or sexually promiscuous or something,”  like, you don't know you have that belief, until boom, you get it, you're like, “Oh, man, I believed that?” You know another one, and I've heard you mention it multiple times. So I think this is one of the empowering things that you offer people, is I hear some global beliefs or world view beliefs about the meaning of this experience. And I think that can be very empowering for us, because sometimes we think, “Oh, man, these challenging things that are happening to me. I should just, like, work with it and feel more confident and get out there.”  And sometimes that's hard. Sometimes you do feel bad and it is challenging and you do feel insecure. But if we can find meaning in it, like, this is meaningful and that can be, like, a story about this is happening to me “because.” You talked about, like, this is happening to you because it's calling for a transformation. It's something is… Life is giving you something to step up, like, there's a reason in this. There's a meaning in this suffering and something's going to come from this. I feel like that's one of the most powerful beliefs we can have. It doesn't make us feel rosy at the moment, but it gives us the capacity to keep going and do what we need to do. In those challenging moments rather than imploding.

Alexandra: I love it. I love all this. This is this is great. I'm so glad that you're on the show. Like I said, I'm very selective with who's on the show.[ laughs]. And so I am so great to have you here because I know that whoever is listening right now is going like, “ Wow, I needed this. I needed this today.”  And whether it is dating, maybe you are in a great relationship and it's not dating that's your issue, but it's something else. You know, and it's something else that you have to work through. And like I said, try and take this in different areas of your life. The equation isn't different. It's the same equation. It's just how do I process through it? How do I learn to live with it? How do I learn to live through it? So here's a question for you, dealing with dating. Dealing with competence, dealing with rejection, dealing with fear. In your professional opinion, because I get this question all the time, when do I disclose that I have herpes? So in a dating situation, do you recommend that it is, like, upfront? “ Here you go?” Or do you recommend that it is like, “Hey, I want to get to know you? I want to see if I even like you, and want to sleep with you, and date you. And then let's get to it.” So and there are pros and cons to both, so I'm just curious, you as a professional, as a doctorate from Stanford. [laughs]

Dr. Aziz: That's right. Although they did not... that was in no way taught in any current shape or form right? [laugther] Well, I feel it’s such, you know, a specific thing. 

Alexandra: Right.

Dr. Aziz: Teasing, like, you know, but it is something that I have thought about and worked a lot with clients. 

Alexandra: Yeah. 

Dr. Aziz: This issue or another one. And again, everyone gets to play the game of life however we want. I mean, assuming you're within the laws of your country and society. Right?  But, you know, when it comes to dating, there are a million different ways to play it. You can you can be you. You can do it however you want. However, from, like a kind of, relationship building, a philosophy or psychology. The people that put stuff out there right away as a way of like, “Hey, listen, I want to I don't waste my time or”, that's actually an attempt to maybe not get hurt. It's, kind of like,” I don't want to be invested. I just want to find out right at the beginning because, look, if we go on a date or two or three and I start to get invested, and then it doesn't work out because of this, that's going to hurt. So you know what? I'm just going to say it on my profile. I was going to say it on date one, and that might work.”  But it's also like, I wouldn't recommend going... I wouldn't recommend revealing either. I'm a big believer in authenticity. But I would say that I wouldn't recommend revealing close personal information until you've connected with a person and feel like, they are emotionally mature enough and kind enough to hold that information with respect like you don't know that person. 

It doesn't matter if they're hot or they're cute or whatever like you don't know that. And so the last thing you'd want is to put it out there right away and have this person be like, a judgment. Judgment. You know, vomit something out because they're not very conscious and not very aware. So that's like I said, it's self-protection as being on your own side. And there are other ways to be authentic without spilling our guts about everything about us or these personal. It's like you're being authentic by both the way you talk, the way you move. What you share about that's relevant, and what's interesting to you. The questions you want to ask them. And of course, if on a first date, you guys are going really deep and it's feeling really good, you're getting a good sense of that person. And yeah, you could bring it up, but that might not be till the second or the third date. And maybe you don't... there's no point in revealing that unless you feel like, I'm attracted to this person and I'd want more. 

Alexandra: Right.

Dr. Aziz: Like, What's that? What's the point? If you're going to not want to hang out with them again. So if you're feeling like, it's going well, I'd like to go further. And when you feel a sense of this person is emotionally aware, emotionally mature. They can hold this kind of thing, and you just listen for that. Like, are they very judgmental? Do they judge people on their appearance a lot? Are they into, like their status and their significance and how they look, and what other people think? Is that like coming loud and clear through the way you talk to them? 

And if so, you know, that's might be a red flag. And you want to look for somebody who is more authentic, more self-aware, more open-minded. And that's honestly probably someone you want to be dating anyway, right? 

Alexandra: Right. 

Dr. Aziz: So then when that time feels right, then you take that risk, and you share like this is what's going on. And I'd like to know. And as we talked about when you're on my podcast. Like that's a kind of, Herpes aside. Before you're going to go into a more sexually active with someone, you're going to have a conversation about sex and sexual health anyway. 

Alexandra: Yeah

Dr. Aziz:  And that's a whole another area that people avoid that, like out of lack of confidence.  Out of the fear of all these things. So, I’d say when that time is right, then you approach this conversation.

Alexandra: Love that. I love that advice because basically what I got from it is and I haven't heard it described this way, but when you put the information out upfront, it's basically a defense mechanism.

Dr. Aziz: Yes.

Alexandra: I never heard of it that way. And it clicked in my mind. So I know the listeners are like, “Oh, interesting.”  And it's not wrong, It’s not wrong with, like you said, “Hey, I don't really want to get close to you. And we'll see. And I don't want to invest. I don't want to waste your time. I don't want to waste my time.” If that's who you are, like you said, you gave people permission to say, “ You, it's your life. Go do it how you want to do it.”  But if you're looking for a longer invested, long term relationship, you get to make the decision if you even want to. If you even like this person.

Dr. Aziz: And there's also something. There’s a cost or a pair of pros and cons, right? Inputting it out there right away, you might protect yourself from investment, you know, emotional vestment, but you also might get more rejections than. And that's hard on your heart, too. And you're not getting rejected. And then it might reinforce the story. “ Look at all these people rejecting me because I have Herpes.” Actually, it might be your energetic frequency with which you're putting it out there. Maybe it's a little bit of an edge to it. Maybe there's a little bit of... “Listen, you're not one of those assholes who's going to judge me,” you know? So just a little bit of pushback. Maybe that's it. And it also, just put yourself in another person's shoes, like date one, sit down, don't want to watch the other person. Maybe you think they're beautiful or attractive or whatever. And then they're like, “Listen, this is where it's at. Do you want to go further?” 

Alexandra: I don't know. 

Dr.Aziz: Actually, I feel like, I don't know. But what if you spent like five hours with this person over the course of a couple of weeks or more? I don't know. And you're like, I'm thinking about this person. I like this person. This person is interesting and amazing. And then in a vulnerable way, not that, like you're going to reject me. But just like, “Hey, here's where it's at. This is what's going on.”  You know, sort of where they own it? 

Alexandra: Yes.

Dr. Aziz: Like just, if you put yourself in another person's shoes, there's gonna be a way higher likelihood that they'll be like, “Wow, OK. Thank you for sure.  I'm invested now, and I do want to go further.” Whereas if you told them at minute one, maybe they wouldn't have, even if it would have been really a good thing. So there's a cost to that kind of protection [ inaudible]


Alexandra: Yes, nor should you be invested in minute one. 

Dr. Aziz: Yes, that's another red flag. [ laughter] 

Alexandra: Like, you know, like, “Oh, my gosh, I'm going to marry you.”  And you're like, Whoa. I was just going to order a cup of coffee. [ laughs] Like, that's where I am right now.”  Yeah. 

Dr. Aziz: That's a great pickup line, “ Will you marry me?”  That's [ inaudible]. [ laughs]

Alexandra: Yeah, yeah, I'm really glad I asked you that question because this is a question I get asked daily. I feel the same way that you do. I always tell people like, “ Hey, you don't need to disclose it unless you're going to expose.”  And I also say, “Hey, a date doesn't mean sex. A date doesn't mean marriage. You know, a date doesn't mean…. A date is just A DATE. That's it. It's going out with another human being. And you enjoy your time. Enjoy it. be you enjoy, order what you want. Don't feel like, “Oh, I can't order this because I'll be judged by whatever.” No. If you were what...Be you and see how that other person reacts to you or you react to them.”  Like you know, all these things, like you said, are they a boisterous type person, or are they shy type person, or how do they treat the waiter or waitress? How do they treat how they treat you? Were they on time for the date? Were they respectful or whatever? Did they ask you five minutes before? Or was it a week in advance? Like all these things add up to the character of the person, of what you expect and what you want in return. How do you want to be treated? And don't throw in, “Well, I have Herpes, so it's okay if I'm stood at.”

Dr. Aziz: Yes, “ I'll take what I can get.” Yes. So that's such a key point, to do what you're describing, which I think is the healthiest way to move into any relationship, social or dating, whatever. 

Alexandra: Yeah. 

Dr. Aziz: There is a level of being on your own side. Like, I respect myself.

Alexandra: Yes.

Dr. Aziz: I expect in a healthy, entitled kind of way, that I have a standard, is another way to say it.

Interviewer: Yes.

Dr. Aziz: I have a standard of how I want to be treated and when that standard is... Another person might not know that you know, but I know that I'd want someone to, not cancel last minute multiple times or, you know, if these things they're getting, “This is not meeting my standard from the very beginning.”  That's an uphill battle. 

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr. Aziz: I think many people lower their standards because their self-worth perception is lower. And there's a sense, even if they don't consciously say it, but it shows up in their behavior and who they pursue. “I'll take what I can get.”

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr. Aziz: I mean, “Who am I? Who am I to tell someone or not pursue someone just because they, you know, talked a bunch and talked over me and drank on a date, even though I don't really like drinking at all? Well, I guess I'll just take it out.” You know what I mean to say, and “ I have Herpes too.” 

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr. Aziz:  And “ Now I have Herpes.” And it's one of those things where it feels it's like a stretch to believe at first. But you just have to trust me on this one, that when you start to raise your standard, you get better dates. 

Alexandra: I love that.

Dr. Aziz: You get better fits and it's a risk, right? Because you're like, Oh, maybe I'll get in nobody.”  But no, you just like, hold it, hold the line. And yes, you might have a few that you have to turn away. 

Alexandra: Yeah. 

Dr. Aziz: But hold the line because all of a sudden you'll have such better experiences because you're holding that standard for yourself and for people that you date.

Alexandra: Love that. Love that. Okay, I'm going to end on that, when it comes to dating. I want to talk about your book because it just came out. Excuse me. It just came out. And I'm sure you put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in it. My husband's writing a book and he is up every morning at 4:00 a.m. writing it. So I know...

Dr. Aziz: [laughs] Yeah that's how to do it.

Alexandra: Yes. So I know you're putting a lot into it. Tell us about it. Tell us about “ On My Own Side”. What? It's about transformation? It's about love, empathy?  I want to hear all about it.

Dr. Aziz: Yes. I love that. So this one, I'm most passionate about this book, because I spent many years of my life not on my own side. And I didn't even realize that. I didn’t even know that it was just how I lived. But it's basically like, I'm going through life. And then there's me inside my head, or some part of me, that's just picking at me, judging me, questioning me, doubting me, telling me I can't, tell him that's not good enough. Ruminating about why people wouldn't like me, on and on and on and on. And one of the best ways to think about this, and that's what the whole first part of the book is about, I call it insanity. And it's this insanity that we're all just accustomed to. And so we don't question it. But if you can imagine it was another person and it was someone you were in a relationship with, and you're like, “Wow, if they were talking to me like that all day long!” You know, you're going to go like, “Hey, honey, I think I'm going to, you know, put myself... Hey, I think I'm going to write this book.”  And your partner is like,” Uh, that's a terrible idea. This book is awful. It’s boring? No one's going to read it. What’s the point?”

Alexandra: “You can't write.”

Dr. Aziz: “You can't write.” 

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr. Aziz: “You can't do this.” You know, and I think I'm gonna ask that person out “ You! Oh, my Gosh. With your looks and Herpes, you’re ugly, awful.”  Like all it takes is just a second, I'm thinking about that. And you're like, “ You know what? There's one word to describe this relationship and that's abusive.”  And so I call it out directly and say, like, “ This is not. Not only is this not normal. This is unhealthy.” And yet we're so accustomed to it. You know, your aunt or your cousin and you're looking at photos and someone's like, “Oh, look at my chin. I'm so gross.”  And everyone's just like…

Alexandra: Right, right.

Dr. Aziz: You're screwed and hanging out. And no ones like, “Wow, what a terrible thing to say to yourself,” you know? [ laughter]

Alexandra: Right.

Dr. Aziz: We’re doing it all the time. The book is about waking us up to that insanity and then making, I think, one of the most important decisions of our lives, which is to be on my own side no matter what, for each of us. And defining, discovering, “ What does that look like for me? What does that mean for me? And I'm not going to succumb to this inner tyranny anymore.” And then the third part of the book is about, “ Okay, great. You made the decision. How do you do it?”  Because for most people, that habit of self-judgment...

Alexandra: Right. 

Dr. Aziz: Impatience with our selves, is so ingrained. You know, neurons that fire together, wire together. We got like a superhighway of self-criticism in our minds. And so what we need to do, is we need to change that and reprogram ourselves. And there's a beautiful, like, heart-centered way to do that where we start to develop a relationship with this inner critic. 

Alexandra: So that's where you come in. 

Dr. Aziz: That's where I come in. It's like training. 

Alexandra: Right.

Dr. Aziz: I wanted this book to be like inspiring and heart center. But then it's like, “ Okay, great. Now we need to know what to do,”  because that's where I was, in my journey of coming out of self-criticism, getting on my own side, of building my confidence. It was like,” Great. I want to do it. What do I do? I say affirmations, do I?”  And the answer is that can help. But what we really need to do is, get in there. And there's a reason why your critic is so loud. There's a reason why you die yourself. And it relates very much to this conversation. It's about avoiding risk. It's about staying small. It's about, if I attack myself first, then I won't put myself out there and you might not judge me. And it's this whole pattern of avoiding risk and staying small. And so we learn how to work with that. We learn how to challenge that part. Calm our fear of being heart-centered and open in the world. And then take that bold action again and again and again, and then extended it like a permanent almost. How do we make this not just a thing that we have to really focus on? How do you make this a habit? How do we make this our default? And I think it's what I would call aspirational book in the sense is, “ I'm writing it, but I'm not there yet.”  You know, it's like, ultimate confidence. Right! Great.

Alexandra: Great. 

Dr. Aziz: Who's there? I don't know. But we're all work. I want more and more confidence for the rest of my life. So we keep working on it, and the same thing with, I'll be on my own side. And so I'm always catching little ways or I'm like, “Oh. I was in on my own side there,” Or “ Oh, I could be more on my own side there.”  And so I wanted to be this like, treasure hunt for people where they're, like really rediscovering who am I? How to be okay with that? Truly? Actually really love that. Just like you love your husband, just like someone would love a partner. 

Alexandra: Right. 

Dr. Aziz: And you're like, “I am so glad that I'm with this person. I'm so glad that I know this person and they’re in my life.” That's how I want everyone to feel about themselves. And that's what this book is about.

Alexandra: This is such a great parallel to Herpes, right? Because I'm stuck with me for the rest of my life. You're stuck with you for the rest of your life. It’s you're not going anywhere. Right?  And that's the same thing with Herpes. It’s stuck with me, like I can't get rid of it ever. It's going to be with me for the rest of my life. So I really love how these two things actually, really parallel, and we can use them in other aspects of our life. And like you said, we don't realize the negative talk we tell ourselves,  here and there. You go, “ I look so fat. I look so ugly. or either full of a liar. You can't write a book or you can't start a podcast where you can't be an entrepreneur or you can't go to Stanford or you can't graduate college or whatever. We don't realize that it's just like you said, it's all those little neurons that are programmed and we're just in that world. And I love that you have found ways to say, “ Okay. I know that something's not right here. But how do I fix it? I know how to do it wrong. But I don't know how to do it the new way.” So that's where you come in. Which is going to be key.

Dr. Aziz: Yes. And we do it. It's a whole new way of relating to ourselves. But here's the good news. 

Alexandra: Yeah.

Dr Aziz: It might be foreign to the way that we treat ourselves, but it's not foreign to you as a human. That's one of the parallels of making the book is like, “ You already know how to do this. You do this with your spouse. You do this with your friends. You do it with your kids. You do this with.” And that doesn't mean that we never get frustrated. We never get impatient with people that we love. 

Alexandra: Right. 

Dr. Aziz: But if you just look at how you treat people you love, like generally kind, generally loving, generally more supportive and empathic. And so it's like, you know how to do it. It's just a matter of turning that style, the relational style inward. And actually you could do that instantly. There's just this block of that critic that's like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't, don't be on your own side. And I talk in the book about exactly why our critic does that, why it's scared of letting it in. Like the insanity,  part one, I called it the bizarre normal. Does anyone ever question why, when someone gives us a compliment, unless you've, like really worked on that? The default is like, “Ugh”. Some part inside of us is like, “ Nah”, and we just are like, “Oh yeah, I'm terrible at complements.” And we just settled for that. And we don't say, “huh? I wonder what's going on there.”

Alexandra: Right.

Dr. Aziz: And so we want to really start to get better at letting that in, and letting it in from ourselves, and understanding why we haven't been for all these years. And the beauty is, you can transform it. We can transform it quickly. Like you can have a critic that's been dominating internally for 20, 30, 40 years. And within a period of months, you can have, like a complete transformation your relationship yourself. That's my goal with this book and all the work that I do.

Alexandra: Love it. Love it. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for writing the other three books that you've written. And thank you for finding this path. And I'm sure it was a journey to get to where you are today. Like, I'm sure you didn't think when you were like fifteen, like “ I'm going to be. This is my life's work.” [ laughs]  You know what I mean? It just kind of, stumbles upon us. So thank you for being you and sharing this and using your life experience and you're continued to education to hone this skill and be a resource for all of us. You know, nobody is. Nobody is too good for self-improvement. We all can improve. We all have areas in our life that are, you know, need a little massaging. That's a good way to put it. So, again, thank you for being you. Most importantly, thank you for being on the show. Sharing your expertise. I know our listeners, our viewers here are just going to eat this up. So, thank you. And of course, I want everybody to go out and buy “ On My Own Side”  because I'm going to buy it. And I want you all to buy it. I will have it linked for you guys. Dr. Aziz, will it be an audible or is it just... Do you have all the forms?

Dr. Aziz: Yes, yes. So you can find it on Amazon, on paperback, Kindle. You can download it as well as audible. And that is read: I yours truly.

Alexandra: Awesome!

Dr. Aziz: So you can spend many hours hanging out with you in your car. [ laughs] That's my favorite way to read books. 

Alexandra: Me too. Me too. So I'll have all that links for you guys so you can just do a one-click, wonder and it'll be there in your inbox or whatever it goes to. Trying to think any last final words?

Dr Aziz: I love it, I really appreciate you having me on the show, and I'm just, I think that, you know, we all, as you said, we can all benefit from growing up who could not benefit from more confidence in certain areas. And I just think that this challenge, that anyone listening to is like, “Oh my God, this bad thing happened to me.” If there's a way to really get what we've been talking about through this interview, that this is actually happening for you. And then this there's something here that is calling you. And I've said life through this interview. But it depends on whatever your spiritual beliefs are, you know, the universe, God, infinite intelligence, like something is saying. “ Hey. You can do this, step up. This is what you're being given.”And if you're willing to do the work, which obviously people listening to your show are. Right? 

Alexandra: Right. 

Dr. Aziz: Self-selecting. But something so beautiful, is on the other side of that, the love, the deep love that we want to experience in relationships, but also for ourselves and with other people. And that connection and that sense of self-worth and security, like all of that, is possible. And honestly, maybe you never would've worked on it if you didn't get the Herpes, right?

Alexandra: Right.

Dr. Aziz: Like, that's good enough, whatever. But it's like, “wow, this made me do this work that now on the other side of it. I feel so much better as a human and in my relationships.” So I think there's a gift. There's a gift in this. 

Alexandra: Total gift. Total gift. It is, it's a gift. It is a gift. All right. Thank you. Dr. Aziz loved having you on the show again. Everybody listening. I will have all of this information. You can find him because, of course, you're going to want to find them. And I will see all of you in the next episode. And we'll keep this Herpes journey going. Alright. Bye. 

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