Why Selena Gomez Is a 'Believer' in Therapy — and Thinks Social Media Breaks Are 'Really Important'

The actress and singer was the first guest on Coach's new podcast series Dream It Real, which debuted Wednesday

Selena Gomez is sharing her truth.

Speaking with Heben Nigatu on the debut episode of Coach’s podcast Dream It Real, the pop star — who designs capsule collections with the brand — covered everything from therapy and childhood fame to Instagram trolls during the conversation.

“I don’t really think that people know my heart,” Gomez, 26, said. “Sometimes people may think that I politically say the right thing or I’m safe or I’ve been trained to speak this way. I don’t know how to be trained — like how on Earth would somebody be training me to speak things?”

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After experiencing many personal ups and downs in the public eye (including a tumultuous relationship with Justin Bieber, a kidney transplant surgery in 2017 and a treatment center stint in 2018 after reportedly suffering an emotional breakdown) Gomez also took time to reflect on the cost of her childhood fame during the podcast.

“My situation is different and very weird but when I was younger, I was exposed to all of this [fame],” she recalled of her years on Barney and the Disney Channel. “It was just all these pictures and all the things and all I would do is look at the flaws … it is hard.”

Gomez said she’s a proponent of therapy, and found it’s helped her work through the aftereffects of being a child star.

“I am a believer of therapy … I wish I could have done a lot of things and experienced things maybe a little differently,” she said. “I go to therapy. It’s just one of the most important things — to get to know yourself. Not saying everyone in the world has to do it! But I do think that it’s helped me understand myself and my childhood a lot better.”

Steven Meisel

Gomez added that, over the course of her career, she’s become less and less concerned with her public image — mostly in an effort to protect herself from the pressures of Hollywood.

“There came a point in my life where I just started not to care… You kind of create this other persona of yourself and then when I started going through real, really difficult things, it just allowed me to have worth, to know that I’m worthy and that I am who I am. And who is that? And do I like that person? I think that it’s important for me. I don’t want to be anything that’s a show or a persona. I just don’t.”

Still, she admitted that Disney stardom taught her poise and professionalism. “I’m grateful that I had that opportunity because I understand what a platform means,” Gomez explained. “That was the first thing that I started so they were very apparent on being perfect — just making sure that you’re being a good influence on people.”

Selena Gomez/Instagram

Gomez said her Wizards of Waverly Place success “taught her so much about being a role model,” which she’s embraced since the beginning. From self-love to mental health awareness and body shaming, Gomez has never been afraid to stand up for herself and her fans.

“I don’t really appreciate people judging me on my looks or anything like that … I’m flattered when guys are like, ‘You’re pretty,’ [but] I would just love someone to love me for the person that I am,” she admitted on the podcast.

Just last year, Gomez received negative comments after posting a bikini picture to her Instagram account (which boasts an impressive 149 million followers). She responded by posting a body-positive message about beauty on social media, and a source previously told PEOPLE exclusively Gomez wasn’t “focusing on the negativity.”

“It is not that healthy to be on [social media] all the time,” she told Dream It Real. “I noticed with me, I got kind of depressed looking at these people who look beautiful and amazing, and it would just get me down a lot. Taking breaks is really important. Just know that most of it isn’t real. And I hate to say that, I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s very unrealistic in a lot of ways.”

<a href="https://people.com/tag/cardi-b" data-inlink="true">Cardi B</a> and <a href="https://people.com/tag/selena-gomez/" data-inlink="true">Selena Gomez</a>
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Most recently, the singer and actress made a surprise appearance at Coachella, marking her first live performance since completing treatment late last year. On Tuesday, Gomez revealed her long-awaited album will be out by the end of the year.

“Working on this new record, I just wanted it to be me. All me. Every song is a story I’ve experienced. To that point, I think there’s no one who’s going to tell my story better than myself,” she explained. “I just really wanted to live with my story a bit and create it into something that means a lot to me.”

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