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Cultivating Wellbeing Professionally and Personally

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If the last 2 years have taught us one thing it is this: people’s lives don’t exist in silos. The experiences, stresses, and challenges people face in their personal lives bleed over into their professional lives, and vice versa. It has never been more apparent that we need to support people in a more holistic, human way than right now.

As we look to the future and anticipate yet another stage of change, I wanted to have a conversation about how we support our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our teams and colleagues at work. To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of my friend, Ryan Wolf, Wellbeing Lead for Gallup.

During our conversation, Ryan and I dive into what wellbeing truly means. We talk about how it has changed in the last decade or so, and anticipate even more change in the coming few years. We talk about how critical it is for companies and employers to support their teams on a more holistic, human level, and we talk about how to go about it.

Finally, you won’t want to miss our conversation about our predictions for the return-to-office transition.

Additional Resources:

  1. Listen to a recent episode about how to design your WFH life: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/0331
  2. Want to help your team navigate change? Here’s en episode designed to hlep you do just that: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/0334
  3. Check out an article Ryan recommended about the 7 different types of rest: https://ideas.ted.com/the-7-types-of-rest-that-every-person-needs/
  4. Learn more about Gallup: https://www.gallup.com/home.aspx
  5. Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-wolf-57260835/
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Using Micro-Behaviors to Reduce Anxiety

One of the most common things we get asked is how to reduce anxiety. Talk about the ultimate question! Anxiety is SO incredibly common, yet the tools to reduce it can feel so elusive. In today’s episode, we’re leaning on cognitive-behavioral theory to help us use micro-behaviors to reduce anxiety (or induce any emotional state you’re after).

During this episode, I give a quick overview of what cognitive-behavioral theory is and the interrelationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I walk you through a great analogy developed by my incredible co-founder, Dr. Ashley Smith, to help you understand the true impact of this interrelationship in how you experience life. And finally, we turn to a practical way you can use small behavioral changes in your own life to influence your emotions in the direction you want them to go.

You’re not going to want to miss this one!

Additional Resources:

  1. Get the free guided experience I spoke about from Episode 338: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/0338
  2. Get 15 practical ways to boost happiness: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/happiness-cheat-sheet
  3. Get another analogy to illustrate the powerful relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/stop-feeding-the-dog-how-to-break-negative-self-fueling-cycles
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Uniting our World with Love

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The current state of the world has many of us feeling afraid, uncertain, and even disconnected. Given everything that is happening right now, it’s natural to have the impulse to pull away. To disengage. To disconnect.

However, the field of positive psychology shows us that it’s our interconnection to other people that drives much of our happiness and wellbeing. Beyond that, it’s our interconnection with other people that has the power to heal the divisive wounds at the heart of so much of the turmoil we see in the world today.

Today we’re speaking about interconnection with this week’s guest, Juan Lee. Juan is an author and teacher on the powerful principle of love. For over 30 years, he has studied organized religion to find the elements that unite humanity and share the message with those who need it. Based outside of Washington DC, Juan is a decorated US Air Force veteran and author of Love Made Simple.

Tune in today to be reminded of the importance of your role in humanity. My hope is that you leave this episode feeling optimistic and reengaged.

Additional Resources:

  1. Listen to a recent episode about uncovering what you truly desire in life: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/0338
  2. Check out our blog post “Social Connection: A Key to Happiness:” https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/social-connection-a-key-to-happiness
  3. Connect with Juan and grab a copy of his book: http://juanleetheauthor.com/about-the-book/
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Combatting Burnout When You’re Tired As F*ck

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BURNOUT. It’s a topic in the news almost daily. Given the stress we’ve all been under over the last 2 years, burnout is at an all-time high. But is it? Really?

I mean, I agree that we’re burned out, but my instinct tells me that we’ve been that way much longer than we realize. The pressure of the pandemic has brought it to the surface more clearly, but the burnout itself is a tale as old as time.

Today we’re talking about burnout with the perfect guest. Caroline Dooner is a writer, humorist, and ex-professional actress & singer. She started writing about our relationship with food 10 years ago on thef*ckitdiet.com, after radically healing her own relationship with food. All of that became “The F*ck It Diet” book, geared towards helping others heal. Her second book, “Tired as F*ck,” is about her burnout & two years of rest, after years of running herself into the ground. 

This episode is part validation, part instruction manual, part permission slip, and part call-to-arms. It is time we start caring for ourselves as the human beings that we are. I hope this episode and Caroline’s book help you do just that.

Additional Resources:

  1. Listen to my interview with Dr. Margaret Rutherford about perfectly hidden depression: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/0161
  2. Listen to this episode focused on role engulfment: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/0276
  3. The link between self-compassion and self-care: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/blog/0275
  4. Connect with Caroline & her work: thefuckitdiet.com/tired
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Social Connection: A Key to Happiness

Social connection – the authentic joining, however brief, of my humanness to yours – is a key contributing factor to happiness. The truth is, these days, we are constantly connected…to the Internet and to others’ carefully crafted social personas. In this digital-age we have more “connections” than we’ve ever had: tons of Facebook friends, oodles of instagram followers, the Twitterverse, all proffering bits of validation in the forms of likes and shares. We text and email constantly, yet a third (or more) of us are lonely – and that was before COVID.

We have an innate psychological NEED to feel a sense of belonging and closeness with others, yet the average American adult has fewer close friends now than a generation ago.

Perhaps that’s because we move farther away and more frequently. Maybe we’re “too busy” with other demands and don’t have the time or energy to prioritize socializing. Or maybe we don’t know how to genuinely connect anymore; we’re scared and out of practice, and a pandemic certainly didn’t help. 

Regardless of the reason, loneliness is an epidemic. 

 Loneliness is something I’ve struggled with over the years. “I need more friends and better eyes” (I’m visually impaired) is, sadly, a frequent sentiment in my junior high journal entries. 

As a socially anxious teen, I desperately wished I could be friendly and outgoing but was so worried about being negatively judged that I censored myself. I had friends but lacked self-confidence, and lacking confidence leads to wearing metaphorical masks and putting up walls that separate us from others. 

No more masks and no more walls. Over the past several years, I’ve adopted some practices that have made a tremendous difference in my overall happiness level and quality of life (e.g., having new experiences regularly, embracing vulnerability, intentionally building new beliefs through deliberate actions, mindfulness). But seeking out connections — and, more importantly the mindset shift that drives that quest — seems to have had a truly profound impact.

The Mindset Shift

The importance of actively pursuing social connection crystalized for me a few falls ago after an evening of unlikely interactions. I went to Irish Fest on my own to join a meet up group that essentially ended up with me being the fifth wheel on a double date. Fortunately, at that point in my life I had a pretty high tolerance for awkward, so I decided to embrace the situation and try to get to know those people. After parting ways, I took the streetcar home. Energized from the evening, I found myself playing tour guide to a mom and daughter visiting from out of state then deep in conversation with a man from a very different walk of life. Once home, I reflected on how unexpectedly happy I felt and drew some essential conclusions.

I realized that every single person whose path I cross is a potential connection. I don’t know if the person next to me is my future best friend, the love of my life, my next business partner, or just a drop of connection to remind me that I am not alone, that I am a part of humanity. That night illustrated the power of being open to connecting with others, even for fleeting moments.

The Uber Attitude Adjustment

Because Uber is my primary mode of transportation, I am pretty constantly in close quarters with strangers, faced with the options of conversing or sitting in silence (realistically, burying myself in a tiny screen). My tendency to opt for the former is continually reinforced. I’ve had drivers who unexpectedly inspire me, introduce me to new genres of music, technology, and restaurants, make me laugh, and broaden my horizons culturally and philosophically.

One in particular left a lasting impression a few years ago. Obinna, a young African man, dramatically improved my day and changed my outlook. The conversation started like any generic small talk: “The weather is beautiful today!” “I know! I’d much rather be outside enjoying it than going to the office, especially because I don’t usually work on Fridays.” Joke about trading places. Question about why I’m working on a different day than usual. “Well, I just got back from Iceland so am making up some missed time.” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? You just got back from Iceland and you’re complaining!?!?” my driver, smiling, almost shouted at me. “Wait, what?” I thought. I expected a big reaction to Iceland. That’s been pretty standard. But he’s chastising me about complaining? Wait. I AM complaining. What the heck?

He continued, “You work so you can be ballin’ and go on awesome trips! Be grateful that you get to do that!” You know, Mr. Uber, you’re right! My perspective shifted immediately. I have patients today. My work has meaning, and seeing them allows me to live this lifestyle that I am cultivating and enjoying, and I AM grateful! I felt my mood lift, dread replaced with excitement. This young man, this complete stranger from a different continent, changed my day in a way that had ripple effects.

Not everyone with whom I interact has a noticeable positive impact on me, but many do. Rarely, though, have I regretted talking to someone. Usually worst case is a neutral experience. Nothing gained, but nothing lost. Regardless of the exchange it, frankly, feels better to be friendly.

What Gets in the Way of Connecting?

In a word: JUDGMENT. Fear of and of others.

Fear of Judgment

Humans are inherently social creatures, and the threat of being ostracized or shunned by the herd triggers fear or anxiety. Therefore, we worry about being judged or rejected by others.

“He’ll think I’m dumb.” “She’ll reject me if she knows the real me.” “I must be the only one who XYZ.” “If I share my real opinion, they won’t like me anymore.” “What if I embarrass myself?”

We are hard-wired to escape or avoid anxiety-provoking situations. In this case, that may mean avoiding putting ourselves out there or risking potential rejection. Have you ever held back or censored yourself because you were concerned about what someone else would think about you? Be honest. I know I have.

Judgment of Others

We pre-judge others on the basis of exterior appearances and our own beliefs, and those judgments put up barriers to connecting. Our expectations about others influences how, or even IF, we interact with them.

Nowadays, I find myself embracing strangers (when safely possible)…sometimes to the chagrin of those around me. On a trip a few years ago, a friend messaged to virtually introduce me to his friend who was traveling in the same city. Yay! A friend of my friend has to be cool, right? I immediately followed up with her to set up a time to get together. My travel partner, one of my dearest friends, however, had a completely different reaction when I told her we were meeting for brunch. “What? What if she’s weird?” Moment of tension as the difference in our underlying mindsets about new people became obvious. (Side note: brunch was quite enjoyable.)

How to Make It Happen

I realize that being friendly or outgoing or open or authentic or whatever word you want to call it is sometimes easier said than done. The good news is, though, it CAN be done! Here are some key points to keep in mind.

If fear of being judged holds you back:

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • You can’t control what other people think. Why bother?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen? You let someone see the real you and they reject you? That sucks, sure, but it won’t kill you. Wait, before you move on, consider what’s the best thing that could happen? You put yourself out there and others accept and value you? What would that experience do for you? Confidence up, insecurity down. Sounds good to me!
  • What are five other things they could think (could’ve thought) in that moment?

Know that it gets easier with practice. That’s a concept called graduated exposure — baby steps of putting yourself out there and testing out how others respond.

If your own judgments and expectations get in the way:

Step out of your own judgments and try people on, so to speak. Did they match your expectations and assumptions?

Make a qualitative shift in how you approach interactions by having the goal of connecting rather than alternative goals like changing the other person, being right, getting something out of it, or protecting yourself from possible threat. For example, I had a super engaging and respectful conversation with a flat earther because I chose to be open to trying to understand his perspective rather than trying to prove him wrong or writing him off all together. While we don’t share fundamental philosophies, I still got a boost of energized happiness from that connection. Finding commonalities, especially with people who don’t necessarily look or act like you, can restore your faith in humanity and help you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than you.

If you’re still not convinced that connections come in unlikely forms, take it from Norah and Mr. Dan:https://www.youtube.com/embed/Hzpnk3PvZbY

I challenge you to embrace the mindset that everyone is a potentially worthwhile connection. Doing so has been transformational! It has exponentially increased my openness to interacting with others. It has translated into more frequent conversations with a much wider variety of people and helped to reduce feelings of loneliness, even when key players in my life are far away or haven’t entered yet. 

The other unexpected outcomes? I have gotten increasingly comfortable being vulnerable, which allows for more authentic connections as well as more self-confidence and acceptance. I am also generally more compassionate and find myself getting less annoyed with others. All in all, I’m just happier, and I’m thrilled to connect with you.

 “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
– Brene Brown
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Questions to Build Self-Awareness

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Many of us believe that we are self-aware, but when we actually assess people, only about 10-15% of people actually are. Shocking huh?!

Self-awareness is a skill that sits at the center of so many psychological strength concepts, and that is what we’re digging into today.

Be forewarned! Today’s episode is an episode that you DO, not an episode that you passively listen to. It’s meant to deepen your awareness of yourself by asking you questions meant to uncover nuance, insight, and connection. This one is for you if you’re ready to go DEEP.

Grab a journal, grab a pen, go for a walk, and liberally use the pause button on this one. Carve out some time, and dedicate it to getting to know yourself on a deeper level.

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Values in Concept versus Values in Action

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So, you’ve taken the time to define what your personal values are. Amazing! Knowing your personal values is an important step in helping you align your life and your decision-making in the direction that is right for you.

But, let me ask you this: when you look at your actual behavior, the decisions you’re making, the way you’re spending your time, does it reflect those values? Are your values important to you in CONCEPT or in ACTION?

Today, we’re talking about the topic of personal values from a different lens. From the lens of ACTION. It’s one thing to say a value is important to you in a conceptual way. However, if your behavior, actions, and decision-making don’t follow, you’ll still experience the same level of cognitive dissonance and incongruence. In today’s episode, I urge you to take action on your values. To define what they truly mean to you and to begin setting boundaries, making decisions, and saying no when things don’t align. To behave in congruence.

It’s hard, but it’s so worth it!

Additional Resources:

  1. Episode 182: “Resentment Grows Where a Boundary Needs to be Planted”
  2. Episode 242: “Curate Your Life and Manage Your Energy”
  3. Episode 314: “The Secret to Effective Prioritization”
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Rescuing Corporate Exhausted Heroes with Mark Heydt

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This episode is my special gift to those of you who find yourself wearing multiple hats. Individual contributor AND manager. Individual contributor AND strategic visionary. It’s not easy!

Today, we’re speaking with Mark Heydt. Mark has experience coaching C-suite executives, divisional leaders, entrepreneurs, and middle managers. Mark’s book Rescuing the Corporate Exhausted Hero is the playbook we’ve all been looking for to help us move into the strategic leadership role we’re seeking without being exhausted in the process.

Connect with Mark Heydt: https://www.gameplanleader.com/

Purchase Rescuing the Corporate Exhausted Hero: https://amzn.to/3CLUgSg

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Cultivating the Mother-Daughter Relationship with Dr. Michelle Deering

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Being a parent is hard. It’s a fact. If there’s one relationship that requires us to be psychologically strong, it’s the relationship we cultivate with our kids.

This week, we’re diving deep into the Mother-Daughter relationship. Specifically, we’re talking about how we can cultivate the type of relationship with our daughters that we want to have, all while keeping ourselves sane at the same time. So, how can we raise empowered daughters while thriving ourselves? That’s exactly what we’re digging into with Dr. Michelle Deering.

Before running her consulting business, Dr. Michelle Deering served as a licensed psychologist and board -certified sport psychologist at a BIG 10 University, Fortune 500 corporate trainer, and higher education professional. Nowadays you’ll find her speaking at conferences, training for her next Reebok Spartan Sprint Race, and practicing rudiments on her drum kit — all while coaching, serving clients, and recording her hit podcast, Mother Daughter Connections™. Dr. Deering is a graduate of Brown University and is a licensed psychologist and board-certified sports psychologist.

Additional Resources:

  1. Episode 321: The Critical Role of Emotions in Managing Conflict
  2. Take our FREE healthy selfishness & pathological altruism quiz: www.peakmindpsychology.com/quiz
  3. Get a copy of Dr. Deering’s free guide: The Quick Guide To Lessen Arguments
  4. Learn more about Dr. Deering’s work: https://www.curativeconnections.com/meet-dr-michelle-deering/
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How to Use Courageous Brain Process to Escape Fear Traps

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Have you ever stopped to consider just how often fear influences how you think, feel, and react? Sometimes, this impact can be slight, and we’re able to quickly move past it. However, other times, these feelings of fear can be so intense that they stop us in our tracks. They lead us to feel trapped.

Today, we’re talking about the notion of ‘fear traps’ with Dr. Nancy Stella. Dr. Stella has been a leading clinical psychologist in the Cincinnati area for over twenty five years, co-owning and growing one of Ohio’s largest private, multi-specialty mental health practices. She developed the Courageous Brain Process (CBP)—an innovative, science-based method of therapy. Rooted in the most up-to-date neuroscience, it bypasses the shortcomings of traditional talk therapy to change the way our brains process fear. Her first book, Fear Traps: Escaping the Triggers that Keep You Stuck, gives readers proven practices for building courage and resilience.

Additional Resources:

  1. Learn more about Dr. Stella by visiting https://www.nancystella.com/
  2. Learn more about the Ascend program: https://www.peakmindpsychology.com/ascend
  3. The Brain Science Behind Fear [blog post]
  4. Episode 0133 “The Courage Habit” with Kate Swoboda