The Good Life
with a Southern Drawl

Woman Of Style: Anna Settle Ph.D.

By Amy Bailey — August 25, 2015

Dr. Anna Settle is a psychologist specializing in individual therapy, couples/marital therapy, group therapy, assessment, and consultation in Nashville. This award winning psychologist juggles work and family with the utmost grace and poise. MyScoop interviewed Dr. Settle to see what expert advice she could share with our readers. To learn more about her practice click here.

What inspires you about waking up each morning? The honest answer—coffee! I’m pretty busy, so I need the mornings to quietly sip my caffeine by myself and get ready to tackle the day. Truly, it is the little things that inspire me. I get to spend my mornings with my kids who are hilarious and so very precious to me. Their curiosity and the incredible bond that they have with one another inspires me to treat others with the same kind of tenderness and lack of judgment. Also, I love my career. I get to meet new people who are going through various life changes, some good—some not so good, and they share their raw emotions and experiences with me. I have the honor of helping them navigate difficult decisions, and that responsibility certainly inspires me to work hard every day.

What inspires your work? When I started working as a psychologist, my life goal was to empower people and to help them love themselves more. Each time I take on a new work responsibility, it is that goal that guides me. It’s surprising how many people can’t see their own strengths because of the pressure that they put on themselves to be like someone else, or to be perfect. Also, I have some amazingly talented, beautiful friends who inspire me as well. I love surrounding myself with women who share the common goals of loving on people, using their own gifts to empower others, and having tons of fun!

How does your family inspire you? Anyone who knows my parents would tell you that they are two of the most amazing people on the planet. I am so fortunate to have them in my life, and they both have inspired me in different ways. My husband has such perseverance in his work and always gives 110%, and my children, well, they help me to stop and smell the roses. They are my heartbeat.

What is your favorite place in the world? I don’t think I can pick a favorite place, but any place where I can be still and reflect on what I’m doing with my life is a place where I want to spend time. I love sitting on my back porch and watching my kids play. That’s probably my favorite place. And, I love Kennebunkport, Maine. It’s so easy to fall in love with a little fishing town where life is not so fast-paced. But, I also like the hustle and bustle of L.A. where people are so focused, fabulous, and driven.

What advice would you give women going through life’s trials and tribulations? That’s a great question. My first response would be that it is absolutely ok to feel whatever reaction they are having to a difficult situation. Our society has adopted this “pull yourself up by your boot straps” mentality where people are expected to move on and get over things so quickly. Sometimes, life is extremely trying. It’s perfectly ok to have a meltdown, to feel incredibly insecure at times, and to question why things happen. My most important piece of advice would be to not go through these things alone. Reach out to the people whom you trust and hold on to your faith/spirituality. Accept help from other people and know that asking for help is a sign of strength as opposed to weakness. Regardless of what message women might receive, it is impossible to do all things perfectly. Sometimes something’s gotta give, and that’s ok.

How do we begin to seek a better life? The first goal is to figure out what your gift is. Everyone has a gift; some are overtly obvious, some are less so. Think about when you are the happiest, what gives you the most energy, and where your thoughts tend to wander. Whether you are a neurosurgeon, a hairstylist, or an engineer, there is some talent that you possess that can be used for the greater good. If you focus on that, everything else will start to fall into place. Also, I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously. Life tends to be better when we can relax and take the pressure off of ourselves. This leaves space and time for simply being in the moment. It helps us to enjoy all of the little experiences that life offers; the ones that we so easily overlook when we are uber busy and hyperfocused on success. Lastly, learn to be ok with where things are while also working to improve. The biggest challenge is accepting and enjoying the present while also having a vision for the future.

Describe your personal style. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always liked to be a little different when it comes to fashion. When I was in 3rd grade, I wore hot pink pumps to school! When I was in high school, I rummaged through my Mom and Dad’s old clothes from the 60s and wore those to school on most days. Fashion and style are a way of expressing yourself, so I am really intrigued by fashion and love to see what women choose to wear. I tend to lean towards a more edgy bohemian style, but that can change depending on my mood. I am extremely busy, so I often go for the easy breezy jeans and t-shirt with little maintenance. But I absolutely love to get dressed up, too. When I see a woman who looks confident and beautiful in what she’s wearing, no matter what it is, I think, “Oh, I love that outfit!” And, I still love to wear my mom’s vintage clothes, some of which she sewed herself.

What did you love to wear as a child? I loved bright, eccentric, and edgy. Glitz and glitter, for sure. I probably leaned towards a sassier style, which was very fitting for my personality. I always loved having long hair that I could curl and braid. And accessories were vital. You know, bows, necklaces, bangles, anklets…the more, the better!

What is your favorite quote? I have quite a few. But this year, this is the one that has been sticking with me: “I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” —Mother Teresa

Who have played mentor roles in your life? My mom is the first person who comes to mind. She was a hard-working full-time career woman and mother. She was a high school principal and worked herself up the ranks. She seemed to navigate life so gracefully and, now that I’m more mature, I see how much pressure she had on her with very little time for herself. My Dad is right up there with my Mom. He is in the same line of work as me, so it was his career that inspired mine. He and I are so much alike, so he just “gets” me. When I’m questioning a choice, I often wonder, “What would Dad do in this situation?” He’s a very sound compass. My grandmother, Frances, also had a huge impact on me. She and I were kindred spirits, and she was so Godly and tenderhearted. I remember feeling completely safe and at ease with her; a feeling that I try to replicate for my patients who are struggling. I also had a mentor named Dr. Howard Roback who was a psychologist at Vanderbilt. He is incredibly intelligent, and he always took the time to emphasize my strengths. He was genuine and did not shy away from giving suggestions for how I could grow in my career. He empowered me and helped me to better understand my gifts and how I can use those to help other people.

Advice to women in 20’s? Be yourself. Don’t get caught up in the world’s message to you that you need to be more like any celebrity, model, or perfected picture on social media. Love on yourself more. There are enough people who will point out your shortcomings throughout your life, so there’s no need for you to spend your time doing that for yourself. Learn what you like, who you love, and what you’re good at, and stick with those people and things. Figure out your gifts and use those to help other people feel better about themselves. Don’t ever criticize other women. No matter how confident anyone may seem, everyone is struggling with something, so lift people up rather than keep them down. Don’t underestimate how your words impact other people and choose them wisely. Have fun! You will make some important decisions in your 20s that will impact your career and your life, so think those through, but also slow down and enjoy being young.