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Strategies To Manage Difficult Emotions

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I'm Rishma!

Naturopathic Doctor & PhD turned scientific creative, travel adventurer, joy seeker, book lover, mom of two amazing humans, wife to her best friend. 

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Background Behind The Scenes Moment

Today I’m talking with Dr. Joan Rosenberg, I actually had a major fan girl moment. So I have to share this story first, if you’ve taken my free workshop on emotional regulation, in it, I referenced this particular technique for managing unpleasant feelings. And the idea was to ride the wave for 90 seconds because feelings create bodily sensations that lasts for roughly 90 seconds. Now, of course, we often have lingering feelings. And we get to we get into why that is in this interview. But when I talked about this concept in the workshop, many people said that it was really powerful and empowering for them. And it was for me too, which is why I shared it.

Well, that idea or concept came from Jones book that I had read and referenced for the workshop. So fast forward to last year, I’m at a conference. I’m sitting next to this random person who had a very grounded presence. And we get to chatting and I realized it’s her. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, I’ve read your book. I love what you do. We need to share it with the world. And then basically, I didn’t leave her alone until she agreed to be interviewed for my podcast. No, I’m kidding. She was very gracious and very happy to share her knowledge. But I wanted to highlight that for me, it’s a really big deal. And it’s one of the reasons I love doing this podcast because I get to meet so many amazing and interesting people, like literally every single person who has been on the show.

So for those of you who don’t know her, Dr. Joan Rosenberg is the best selling author of 90 seconds to a life you love, how to master your difficult feelings, to cultivate lasting confidence, resilience, and authenticity. She’s a highly regarded psychologist, Master, clinician, trainer and consultant. Now we started chatting at the beginning. So you’re gonna hear us jumping right into the conversation, which was really packed full of deep insights. And I hope you get as much out of it, as I did.

If you like the behind the scenes information, sign up for my newsletter here (I share much more with my people by email), and you can also listen to an exclusive behind the scenes episode at the end of season 1 of the podcast.

THEMES FROM THIS EPISODE

A Path To Confidence

We know that we need to build or develop confidence. But no one really talks about how to do it. Dr. Joan’s theory is that one’s ability to experience and move through unpleasant feelings is the foundation of someone building confidence.

She argues that there are at least 5 things that people need to do to experience confidence.

  1. Be able to move through unpleasant feelings
  2. Speak up with ease
  3. Take action
  4. End harsh self-criticism
  5. Absorb compliments

Being Able To Move Through Unpleasant Feelings

We don’t want to experience our feelings, we don’t understand our feelings, we try to avoid them. Dr Joan identifies 8 unpleasant feelings that we need to recognize:

  • sadness
  • shame
  • helplessness
  • anger
  • vulnerability
  • embarrassment
  • disappointment
  • frustration.

These are the most common, everyday, spontaneous reactions to things not turning out the way that we want or the way we believe they need to be.

We’re a one interconnected whole. At some level, we all probably understand that, but we’d like to separate our mind from our body or our brain from a body. The truth is, the brain is always feeding information to the body, and the body is always feeding information to the brain.

Connecting With Bodily Sensations

Dan Siegel talks about the brain and the extended nervous nervous system extended and distributed throughout the whole body, because it goes down to the base of our spine. So it’s a that that made it very interesting, which means that if we cut off, we try to cut off from what’s happening in our body proper than we’re actually cutting, that’s a way that we’re cutting off from feelings.

Most of us come to know what we feel, emotionally through bodily sensation. So again, if we’re cutting off from that bodily sensation, then we’re actually cutting off from emotional feeling. Instead we should be “ride the waves ride the waves ride the waves” of our emotional and bodily sensations.

If I can get them to do that, then it can get them to experience their feelings. Now, what’s happening is, again, that’s the base of confidence. They’re willing to lean into that they’re willing to accept what’s going on. And they’re willing to take a whole bunch more risks. And oh, by the way, you start to be more authentic because you’re willing to experience this stuff that we don’t usually want to experience.

So if you’re, if you’re subduing that part of your experience, then then it’s going to have an effect on your capacity to experience an intensity of joy or, or pleasure or whatever it might be.

How We Avoid Our Feelings

The way people disconnect or distract from our feelings, there are many ways:

  • The easiest, and the most obvious are things like the the kinds of things we’re addicted to
  • from food to any kind of substance or drugs, medications. It could be gambling, it could be shopping, it could be sex, it could be porn, could be social media and screens.

So all all of that would find fall under kind of some kind of compulsive behavior. But if we go to other kinds of things, we can have feelings about having feelings. That’s a way to distract.

Recognizing and Addressing Emotional Blocks That Prevent Growth

So for instance, I would hear people say, Well, I’m angry that I’m sad. Or I’m disappointed that I’m angry. Well, as soon as you say that you’re cutting off from the one that you need to be that you’re feeling. So having feelings about having feelings. There’s, I actually think of anxiety, as a way to distract or disconnect, I think of harsh self criticism, or negative self talk as a way to disconnect there, people will make geographical moves, you can stay in chaos, you can try to be too ordered.

Understanding Emotions

Anxiety is a more of a global vague term. When people ask that if I were in a room of 10 people, and I said, Tell me what anxiety means to you or feeling anxious means to you, I would typically get eight to 10 different answers. So so as a clinician, having eight to 10 different answers, provides no consistency and has no value.

It’s like nausea. It could be it could be so many different things. It’s very vague symptom.

People use anxiety as kind of an umbrella term, but underneath were one or more of the unpleasant feelings. So for me, anxiety, the first way to think about anxiety is that it is like a cover over the unpleasant feelings. So anytime I hear somebody use the word anxious, I asked them to basically kind of use one or more of the eight. And that that gets more accurately what they’re feeling.

So yes, people, sometimes people don’t know how to describe what they’re feeling. Other times people have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. But they don’t want to allow themselves to go there.

For instance, you may feel some kind of disappointment or sadness, but there’s no way they’re going to express it as disappointment and sadness. And so it only shows up as anger.

Expressing and Communicating Difficult Emotions

Many of us grow up not not being allowed to express, especially these kinds of things sadness, disappointment, grief, we don’t have the tools to deal with them. I also imagine that when someone is able to identify the underlying emotion, it’s, it’s empowering, because because when you don’t know what you’re feeling, and you don’t have the words for it, and you’re using a different feeling to describe a feeling that isn’t true. It’s almost like when you’re having a discussion, I, this happens with my husband, where I’ll be like, this happened to me today. And then he’ll be like, let’s try this or any solution finding, and I’m like, Okay, I’m all about the solutions. But first, can you validate my feelings? Like first, first, can you say something that makes me feel like you understand what I’m saying? And I imagine it’s the same with our own feelings, we have to validate them to ourselves,

JR: We do we do that. And when we can do that, then we’re going to live much more authentically and excellent, actually much more empowered in the world. That’s absolutely true. So that so that when someone can label what’s going on for themselves in a much more accurate way, it tends to bring a sense of calm, and a sense of empowerment. So there’s your you end up accurately describing what you’re feeling. And naming it a little bit more accurately, helps, that typically helps people regulate the experience better, they tend to feel calmer, they tend to feel more empowered. So it’s been more of themselves.

RW: And I also feel like it helps with communication and relationships. I mean, not just with your partner, but with anyone, if you can name your emotion, it helps you communicate, because people can’t read your mind. And if you can’t read your own mind, then how can you convey anything to anyone else?

JR: Very true. Absolutely true.

How to Build Emotional Resilience

RW: I want to get back into confidence in a minute. But can we talk a little bit about your reset formula? How do if we are going through one of these unpleasant emotions, and we feel and we realize that we feel it and we are willing to name it and really like, you know, face it, rather than distract ourselves? What do we do? How does it work? You know, how can we manage those?

JR: Sure. So this kind of takes us right back to what we were talking about earlier, when I was talking about that we feel stuck with the what’s hard for us is that we’re feeling the sensations in our body. And that’s what we want to get away from so so that kind of, we’ll wrap that part of our conversation up. So what I so my thing then was alright, how am I going to get somebody to lean into these unpleasant feelings. And so what I what I did is I started to describe what I would call basically a kind of very simple formula. And the formula is one choice eight feelings 90 seconds.

So the one choice is asking people to lean into awareness as opposed to avoidance. Because when we go down the path of avoidance, we we actually lead ourselves away from our, to our true selves. And, and we depending on how long we do that, and how much we distract and disconnect, eventually, that can lead to what I call soulful depression, kind of a US being disconnected from ourselves. So I don’t want people to go down that route. And so that means it’s not avoidance that we want people to do, or I want people to do, it’s people being choosing into awareness. And awareness for me is being as aware of it and in touch with as much of your moment to moment experience as possible. So that’s the one choice. It’s choosing into awareness as opposed to avoidance, the eight feelings I’ve named, but for the heck of it.

Emotional Awareness

Repetition is the mother of all learning. So the sadness shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment, disappointment, and frustration are the eight. So we’ve got the one choice awareness, the eight feelings and then that last part of it is the 90 seconds. And so again, I was talking about these bodily sensation waves and that’s what I want people to ride and and what ended up happening is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who’s the Harvard trained neuroscientist who wrote the book, my Stroke of Insight, talked about the way that when a feeling is triggered, that there’s a rush of biochemicals into the bloodstream that activate bodily sensations Interesting, that’s the same bodily sensations we’re talking about. And that they flush out of the bloodstream and an upper lip, roughly an upper limit of 90 seconds.

So it was like all of a sudden, I had an understanding about the bodily sensation waves. And what I was telling people to do intuitively was correct. But now I had the science behind it. And the second part of it was like, oh, a feeling is very transient. And if I could help people understand that all they were doing is leaning into one or more bodily sensation waves that had roughly an upper limit of a 92nd. You know, that’s all it would be, that people would go, Well, I can do 90 seconds. And all of a sudden, people are willing to lean in to experiment with feeling,

RW: It feels so much more manageable to deal with a 90 second burst, rather than dealing with months and months of emotion.

Developing Emotional Resilience

JR: Exactly. And then I began to understand why people have the experience of lingering feelings as well, feelings are transient, they’re short lived. So the reset that is one choice you’re aware to do, it’s like, you know, it’s going to be this limited number of unpleasant feelings. And overall, I mean, we can experience other stuff. But really, on an everyday basis, it’s pretty much these eight. And then it’s understanding that all you have to do is to ride one or more short lived bodily sensation with waves. And that’s the reset.

RW: And so a lingering fear fade, if it lasts more than 90 seconds, am I correct in assuming it’s because we’re thinking about the feeling we’re thinking about the event, we’re sort of replaying it in our minds, and we’re just sort of re experiencing that emotion.

JR: Yes, but it’s so but I would say what I’ve come up with at this point are, there’s there’s five, probably five different reasons I’ve talked about three in the book. But I would say, Now, kind of with thinking about coming to increased awareness about it, I would say there are five. So the, we have people have experienced a lingering feeling. So this notion that their lasting weeks, months, or years or decades, even that one has to do with what you just said, We anytime we think something or we have a memory of something, that particular thought or memory is going to pull up everything that’s attached to it. And if there’s feelings attached to it, then every time you think it every time you draw on the memory, then then some of those feelings are going to show right show up, right alongside what’s being thought of. And, and then if you keep on doing that, it’s gonna, and you’re just gonna feel like the feeling is still there and never went away. And it still lasts, or lingers. So that’s one a second is if you try not to think of what’s going on. And there are a bunch of experiments about this, but it’s called thought suppression. And interesting never

RW: never works. Like don’t think about the elephant in the room. It’s like, that’s all you think about.

JR: Exactly. So yeah, so we use this idea of, well, don’t think of that elephant that’s standing right in the middle of your living room, then, then what ends up happening, as I tell you not to do it, you have to think about the elephant to try not to think about the elephant. So it never works. It’s paradoxical never worked. So well, for all of you who say to yourself, Well, I’m just not going to think about it. Good luck with that, because that’s significant work, you end up distracting, that’s the only way to do it. Exactly, exactly. So that’s the second.

The Role of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion in Dealing with Negative Emotions

JR: The third for me is harsh self criticism. I actually think that harsh self criticism keeps activating the unpleasant feelings underneath. So that’s a third that causes kind of a lingering state of unpleasant feelings. The fourth is trauma, because trauma encodes in the brain differently. So tragedy or trauma, acute tragedy and trauma that just encodes differently. And so it does physiologically, and structurally have a different way of being experienced like it lasts longer. And then the last one is if you think about somebody that’s for instance, been in a very long term relationship, so somebody that’s been married for 55 years, and one spouse dies, you can think of 55 years of routine. And then the so all of that’s an embedded pathway in the brain. So that’s not going to go away after four days. That sense of ritual of whatever they were is still going to be embedded. So there’s going to be a lingering quality based on long term, I kind of embedded pathways of doing something

RW: It seems like those embedded pathways could be long term routine, but it could also be, you know, something experienced in childhood that then causes you to react a certain way over many, many years. And then you’re trying to deal with it, say in your 40s 50s but you experienced it in childhood, it seems like these, these pathways are already so deep embedded, that in order to change your internal dialogue Your reaction, your physical response, all of that would take time. I imagine

JR: It does take time and with with difficult what I call difficult life experiences, I think there’s much there’s more to be done, of course, right. So that there’s aspects, there’s aspects of some memories that we may always be left with a tinge of, or some, some clear distinct memory of what we want is we want the intensity of that memory or the intensity of the experience, to to be to be lighter, to be less, less intense. So that every time you think about or every time you have an experience, Senator round, whatever it was, that, that it’s not disruptive that it’s guys oh, you know, what this part of my life experience? Not so good.

RW: Oh, sorry, I was just gonna ask because the idea then to sort of reprogram your nervous system, your your body reactions, your emotions, and sort of just reframe, and reprogram all of those through maybe a reset program or something over time, that of course, some things will be lingering, but you might be able to handle the waves a little bit better.

JR: Absolutely. Absolutely. And there’s so many different ways for people to do that at this point. So whether it’s I mean, there’s I talked about, chapter eight of the book is about dealing with what I call disguised grief. So there’s a whole process for me of for people to approach working with difficult life experiences. But there’s there are countless body oriented therapies. There’s things like hypnosis, there’s EMDR, there’s, I mean, there’s a list that goes on. All the contemplative and meditative practices can help mindfulness. So there’s, there’s just an array of possibilities, including now chemically assisted like ketamine and other kinds of things that can support people in moving through difficult life experiences. So I would suggest, by and large, that the greatest number of people can be helped in one of one way or another, or putting several of these kinds of approaches together. So

Managing Disguised Grief

RW: Yeah, I want to go back to a couple of things you’ve meant I have so many questions for you, because I feel like the way you see our brains and the way we think and our emotions is really unique. And I think very, in an empowering way, you see it in an empowering way, rather than in a, you know, deterministic way where we’re like, we can’t do anything about our emotions. So one of the things you mentioned, there’s a few I want to go back to one of them is disguised grief, I think over the few years, the more recent few years where so many people have been going through so much stuff. And also over the years in practice, I’ve noticed that I’ve come to sort of think of grief differently. I think most people think of it as you know, have lost a loved one. But it could mean so many other things you can have grief about losing a job, you can have grief about, you know, a friendship that went awry. Like there’s so many different things and ways to look at grief. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about what you were calling disguised grief.

JR: Sure. So it’s the first thing is to understand how I look at grief itself. Has I don’t know that. I’d have to look I haven’t dug into the research in this way. But but the way I think about grief in and of itself is that it’s comprised at least four of the eight feelings. And I don’t know that we necessarily talked about what grief is, but for me, grief is connected to experiences of sadness, helplessness, anger, and disappointment.

RW: And it could be all of those things at the same time.

JR: It could be one of those are all those so if you experiencing one of them, you’re grieving, if you’re experiencing the three of them, you’re grieving, if you’re experiencing for them, you’re grieving.

RW: So it could be mixed in with other emotions. It could be, you know, sadness and relief. Yep. It could be you know, there’s so many different emotions. So I guess in your perspective, then a lot of people will feel grief but not really realize it.

JR: Correct. That’s that yes, that’s the first thing then there’s a whole category to two different ways I look at what I call this guy’s grief. So disguise grief is grief that we experienced that sort of we don’t acknowledge and in certain cases it is that disguise grief represents a gap between what we wanted desired and needed in life and what we really got. So so the two ways that I, I notice it, if you will, in people’s lives. One is through how they talk about things. So I so for me, what I listen for in this case are what I call grief signal words. So their words like I’m bitter and resentful. I am I’m holding a grudge pessimism cynicism, sarcasm. I want to get revenge, jealousy.

JR: All it’s doing is if I hear that word, all it’s doing is pointing someplace else and going disguised grief. There’s grief underneath that. So So I listened past those words, right to the grief part.

RW: Yeah, this totally makes sense to me. So then how would someone if they figure out let’s say, if the first step is really difficult to figure out that that is disguised grief? How would they work through? I mean, I feel like everyone would have disguised grief, there’s just so many possibilities.

JR: Well wait until I go to the second category. So this, let me let me get to the second Yeah. And then because it’s, you know, it hits all it does, it hits all of us. And it’s not, this is not like territory we’re treading on right now. This is the stuff that’s the hardest for us in life. So if we’re holding grudges, or we’re bitter and resentful, or they have that stuff going on, and we’re jealous or envious, it’s like, okay, then there’s stuff to look at underneath, we’re we’ve got some work to do. And the so that’s one just the grief, signal Wars is one the second is categories. So it’s grieving over what we got and didn’t deserve. That’s the bad stuff. Chaos, neglect, any kind of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and anything where somebody’s integrity was was taken from them, basically, or assaulted. So so all of the bad stuff goes under grieving over what we gotten didn’t deserve. There’s the flip of that which is grieving over what we deserved and didn’t get which is the good stuff. So the affirmations, the support during your your swim meets and your piano recitals, it’s it’s a failure of somebody saying, hey, great job, or I know you tried so hard, I’m so proud of you for for putting in your best effort for progress. So it’s, it’s everything that smacks of support and nurturance. And, and kind of affirmation in those sorts of ways. Grieving, so that’s grieving over what we deserved, and didn’t get there’s grieving over what never was, in many cases, this is the facts and circumstances of your early life. And in we can think of kind of lost opportunities here. The same is true in terms of your current life. So it’s grieving over what is not now in terms of kind of the facts and circumstances of your current life. And then the last one is grieving over what may never be. So you know, somebody wants to have understand you in particular way, and they just won’t ever show up that way for you. So So or, again, lost opportunities that way to things that won’t be realized. So that’s, so for me, all of that involves grief.

RW: This is clicking so many things for me, because I spent, you know, 20 years helping people with hormones, and a lot of my patients would, you know, they would have a miscarriage and that it’s a tough thing, because people don’t talk about it. I mean, it’s obviously tough for many reasons. But one of the things I used to talk to them about was this grief that no one really knows you’re grieving, because they don’t know you had this miscarriage. So they can’t address you in the way that they would say, if you had a family member pass away. Also, you’re grieving not just this life, but also this dream of parenthood and also this opportunity to love this child. Like there was just so many aspects to this grief, that in particular, for this population for fertility, there isn’t really any time or any space, because it’s like, Okay, try again, try again. And there was this, you know, sort of an unmet loss, I guess, or an unrealized loss where they couldn’t really they couldn’t deal really deal with it or process that emotion. And it just makes sense, the way you’re describing grief, because there are so many facets to it.

JR: Oh, absolutely. And in the situation where the miscarriage you have, you have several aspects at once. Yes, you have the loss of something that’s very, that is very real, if the loss of the dream attached to it, so and you have the loss of the anticipated future. So it’s they’re grieving over loss potentials. That’s that last one grieving over something that may never be. So so all of that’s involved. It’s not it’s not a simple thing. So yes, it’s on it’s in this case, for many people going through miscarriages, it’s unexpressed for you.

RW: Yeah. And I think it would apply even in a situation where someone had an accident. And now they’re physically not able to do the things that they wanted to do the other dreams like this makes so much sense to me the way you’re describing it. So thank you. I want to go back to a couple of other things. There’s so many things that you said here that I feel like are really important points. One of them. Pardon, said I’m following your lead. One of them was you described very briefly this thing called soulful depression. And I wanted you to explain that a little bit more because again, this sort of I think would would really make sense to people if you can describe it a little bit

How Avoidance Can Lead to Disconnecting From Yourself

JR: For me. I mean, I think this one is potentially a little controversial, and I have I have no statistics and no scientific proof to back it up. So I’ll start there. But I, I think of soulful depression, as a depression, an experience of depression that that is legitimate people feel it. But it comes about because someone is so cut off from themselves there. So they’ve tried to be so disconnected from from how they have allowing their thoughts and feelings to be merged together in life. And for their for their feeling life to be totally integrated into every way that they function. So as for people who spent years ignoring, distracting or disconnecting or suppressing the real truth of their emotional experience, and what ends up happening over time, there’s sort of a kind of watch a pathway to it, the so the first part of it is trying not to know what you know. So if you fall into that category, my thing is, let’s get you to the other side and, and allow yourself to get into. So that’s avoidance, as opposed to awareness that I was talking about earlier. And, and let’s get you to the AWARE side, but if you’re avoiding, then you’re trying not to know what you know. And if you do that over a long period of time, that’s going to result in many times, somatic complaints. So bodily complaints, my neck hurts, my stomach hurts, my back hurts my whatever, and you can’t seem to get over it. Now you’re focused on these bodily complaints as opposed to other stuff. I also will notice at that point, it’s somebody that feels more vulnerable, and people will try to be more controlling, or they will be more anxious. So that’s kind of the next layer down over time. And if we, if that continues over time, and you continue to stay disconnected and distracted, so heavy substance abuse is going to lead you down this path as a for instance, then the what ends up happening is a experienced kind of what I would call a split between our experiencing self and our knowing self, they just just, there’s, there’s a split there, so that I know that I’m experiencing something, but I can’t really feel it or access it. And I’m also not, I’m also not allowing it. And, and what I will hear when people reach that point is that I will hear them describe things like I feel numb, I feel dead inside, I feel empty inside, I might see cutting, or some kind of self injurious kinds of behaviors occurring at this point. And if that all continues over time, then people move to a place of what I would call, they’re already kind of in the neighborhood of so called depression at that point, they’re in that zip code. And what what we’ll follow from that is an experience of isolation and experience of alienation. And now we’re into people feeling suicidal, suicidal. So

RW: it can it can look and feel like chemical depression actually comes from resistance to feel the emotions,

JR: right. So that’s so that, to me, is really the kind of the key there when people come into offices, mental health clinicians, as well, no matter what the category, whether it’s psychiatry to family, counselor, whatever it is, that many times they’ll come in describing feeling depressed, but it’s actually not a clinical depression. It’s soulful depression. And they’re, they’re busy spending their life being cut off. So anytime I listen to somebody say to me that they’re depressed, not only am I assessing truthfully, for what people identify in the field as a clinical depression, and there’s eight symptoms, nine symptoms of that. But that’s well documented. I’m also listening for all the different ways that they may have been cut off in their during their life. And that’s gonna give me a clue as to the soulful depression. And to my knowledge, again, in my own understanding of how this all works, how our life works, is that there’s three ways out of self depression. One is, you stay present to your real feelings. The second is you express your real feelings, the whole range, pleasant and unpleasant. Notice and never call them bad or negative. And the third is doing the grief work doing the work with disguised grief. So yeah, those are the three pathways back to an experience of awareness and now the pathway to confidence in kind of a more fully alive state.

Self-Awareness: A Path To Personal Growth and Transformation

RW: And want to also bring, bring it back to one thing you mentioned, which was awareness, a lot of the work that I do is around awareness. I feel like we tend not to be aware but also don’t want to be aware and there’s so many aspects to awareness. And so I wanted to talk a little bit about that because as you know, my work is unintentional too. decision making. And it’s hard to be intentional when you’re not aware of the things that you know, make you behave the way that you do or make you feel the way that they do or you know, things that you’ve gone through that are influencing your your decisions influencing your behavior influencing, you know, every part of your life, even physical awareness, there’s so much that we don’t know, we don’t understand about, oh, we have a headache, we’re just going to take medication. But we’re not really aware that that headache came from a certain thing, a certain thing, we did a certain thing, we didn’t do a certain thing we felt. So this piece of awareness is really important. And I just wanted to highlight maybe if you can talk a little bit more about awareness.

JR: But that’s really awareness is the portal, it’s the entryway to all of our growth. That really is, so the more willing we are, the more willing we are to look inward. And to try to understand kind of who we are, how we behave in the world. What prompts us to do, the things we we do or what obstacles we face that keep us from doing the things that we believe we want to do, the more we allow ourselves to reflect on that the, the greater our own growth and, and the greater the possibilities are for us in life. So it really it’s the, it is singularly the one of the most important, I would say skills that you can develop, which is which is not looking outward, for ways to grow. I mean, that’s gonna, there are definitely lots of pathways for you to take in terms of things to pursue, and any really, anything we do becomes our medium for growth. But then it’s your willingness to look inward. And to make sense of all of as many of those experiences as possible, that will make a huge difference in terms of how you experience yourself, how you relate to others, and then what you pursue in the world.

RW: Yeah, that’s how I look at awareness to in terms of growth, and also just understanding yourself, in which case, any event something that doesn’t work out is an opportunity to be aware and to recognize, you know, something about yourself. Absolutely. 100% we have left an open loop with confidence, can we circle back to confidence? Because you obviously you started talking about it, and then we needed to go through the unpleasant feelings? Can we get back to confidence.

Confidence And Your Ability To Express Yourself In The World

JR: Absolutely. So the the confidence piece, so So that for me, the five main, there’s no there’s more to it than this. But the five key elements that I would say are the pathway to to developing unwavering confidence involves one, your ability or your capacity to experience and move through or handle unpleasant feelings. So the eighth that I’ve talked about, the second involves your capacity to express yourself in the world. I call this kind of speaking with ease. And the idea, the basic idea behind it is that you can say what you need to say, with whom, where, when, how, etc, with one major caveat tied to it. And that is that you’re always coming from a place of being kind and well intended. There’s one exception to that. And that is danger or life threat. So that if you’re endangered, or there’s some experience of life threat, then that that breaks that kind of well intended piece. But in most other circumstances, it would be tied to that. The third is taking action. And the fourth eye, actually, the third would be speaking, and the fourth would be taking action, they’re similar in certain ways. Most of us have the idea that we’re confident and then we speak or we’re confident, and then we take action, or take a risk. And it actually works the other way around. It’s that you speak or you take the action, and then you develop the confidence. So just know, it’s kind of counterintuitive here. So that so that if you have difficulty speaking up, then you’re starting to take those risks to speak up and finding that you can handle the unpleasant feelings that might result if there are some is the thing that’s actually going to build your confidence. And the same thing if you take that let’s say you’re trying to learn a new skill, like a piano or tennis or something, and you’re not very good at it the beginning which most of us aren’t, then your willingness to experience frustration or embarrassment or disappointment and keep going. So in essence, you’re dealing with the unpleasant feeling and you’re persevering in the face of that unpleasant feeling that is, in both cases speaking and in taking extra taking risks that will develop confidence. And then the last two involve the fourth one is ending harsh self criticism. I’m very adamant about this and I have recently He found a way to describe it, it’s a bit more visceral, and but it’s very, very damaging. And I’m very insistent on people ending it. And then the last one is accepting compliments. So,

RW: so hard to do, okay, we have to, we have to unpack this a little bit, because I noticed this too, like, it’s a skill, you have to build it right. And so if you do things over and over, you learn how to do them, you feel it, you build the confidence. And a lot of times with action, I feel like many people will just do something and not realize, or maybe they even get stuck not doing it, but they’ll do something and then not realize or figure out what was good or bad. And I feel like if we if we do actions that sort of soothe our maybe in your words, that would be called unpleasant feelings, but I used to call them you know, insecurities or whatever, if you feel like, Oh, I’m not a good public speaker, and then you go and public speak and realize that, oh, wait would help me if I got good feedback, it would help me if you know, I was practiced and prepared, then you’re more likely to move faster towards confidence?

JR: Absolutely, absolutely. So most people, my experience is that when people are reluctant to take risks, it’s not the risk itself that they’re afraid of. It’s not the activity. So it’s not using my words, or it’s not taking the action to play piano or whatever it might be. They’re not afraid of the risk itself. They’re, they’re afraid of the anticipated unpleasant feeling outcome. And so what people will avoid it, they will avoid doing the thing, not because of the thing, they will avoid doing the thing because they don’t want to feel the undesired anticipated. But the anticipated undesired emotional outcome.

RW: Like I don’t want to feel embarrassed, I don’t want to feel vulnerable like that.

JR: 100% I don’t want to I won’t be disappointed. I was remembering talking to a parent couple months ago, and she was taking her child her child to one of the one of the Ivy League schools to try out for like freshman football at the college had an opportunity to go wouldn’t do it because you know, handle disappointment was right there had the opportunity and refuse to do it because he didn’t handle this point.

RW: So if you can lean into these emotions, and feeling the 90 second waves, one at a time, then you’re more able to take these risks. Let’s talk a little bit about the the self talk and the accepting compliment. I feel like this is a very difficult one for people generally, but I think some people more than others. And I know I’ve also had this experience, you know, you start something new, you try something new, this podcast is like, you know, I’m super in love with it. But also there’s this, you know, Oh, who’s gonna listen to me? Who am I? You know, and then if people say they enjoy it, like it feels really good, but it’s hard to you know, it’s hard to take that compliment, you know, so can you talk a little bit, I think this is something that resonates with a lot of people.

The Importance of Accepting Compliments

JR: Which side the harsh self criticism Whoa. here’s the here’s the interesting thing. If you engage in harsh self criticism, and you refuse to accept compliments, there’s no place for the good to come in.

RW: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I feel like there’s so many people who are just kind of stuck in perfectionism. Right?

JR: Right, right. So if we add the perfectionism to what I just said, then we have what starts to look like imposter syndrome, which I don’t believe me too. So impostor syndrome, to me is just, I don’t want to be vulnerable. And it only has value when somebody first starting out in something. But if well accomplished, then that’s a different story.

RW: So don’t love impostor syndrome. Because I feel like in society, we’re sort of socialized to behave certain ways. And, you know, certain people are, you know, disadvantaged in other ways. And so we feel like we’re not good enough. But that that’s not true. We’re just socialized to believe that.

JR: Exactly. So, so the so for me, so again, I’ll be a little bold here. I have long talked about harsh self criticism has been very, very damaging to us. So most of us think that if I feel bad about something, then it’s the equivalent of me being mean to myself. And we just have this point of view, and it’s not they’re vastly different. So if this is if this is I’ve I’m experiencing this unpleasant feelings, this where he came and see because it goes down so so far, is the damage that our self criticism does. And I look at harsh self criticism as a thought hijack of unpleasant feelings.

RW: We criticize ourselves so that we don’t feel these unpleasant feelings

JR: to ourselves from unpleasant feelings. So this best simple example I can give If I was doing a podcast similar to this kind of interview, the I could hear the person on the other side that was conducting the interview, he could not hear me. So I’m just going on for, you know, three to five minutes, whatever it is, I’m watching him start to go on the keyboard, what can I fix on the keyboard? And that wasn’t working. And then of course, I’m watching him duck below. So you can see the picture in your own mind is now ducking below underneath the desk and trying to play with chords or who knows what he’s doing. And he finally figures it out comes up and are well, no, actually, while he’s still down there working with the chords, I hear him go. I’m so embarrassed. But without missing a beat. He goes, I’m so stupid. I’m such an idiot. What is the unpleasant feeling? One is the harsh self criticism he could have done without the harsh self criticism. I would understand embarrassment. But I was true. I didn’t care as a friend of mine. I don’t care what’s going on. And I had the time. So what, who cares?

RW: The criticism just makes everything so much worse.

JR: But that’s the thought I just thought hijacked the embarrassment. And now he’s trashed himself. And the only effect of trashing ourselves is us. Feeling really, really badly.

RW: And it cuts your confidence right out at the knees, cuts everything. I did an episode on perfectionism. And I, we called it a bully. Because we repeat those words over and over and over. And then you hear that’s what you hear. And then if you can’t, on top of that, take a compliment. Like, this is something that I’m trying to teach my kids just to say thank you, and they have their confidence. And I never want to squash that. So I’m glad that they can say thank you. Sometimes it’s hard to say thank you, when someone gives you a compliment. That’s something that I’ve been actively working on to try to receive that absolute compliment, because it kind of helps me see that part of me.

JR: Right. Right, exactly. So So what becomes, again, it’s it’s understanding that when we speak to ourselves this way, it goes down, it goes to our cellular level, every cell hears you. So it just it, it’s so depleting. It’s so damaging. It’s like like I said, I could go on and on in terms of the the importance, I think this has to end. So ending our self criticism, and how do you do that? You notice when you engage in it, you just stop, take a breath and go alright, what what is it that I was harder for me to know or bear that I’m trying to move away from? It’s going to typically be some kind of it more often than not, it’s gonna be an unpleasant feeling. Occasionally, it will be an unpleasant knowing.

RW: Okay, so I’m aware of time because I feel like I could just talk to you for hours. But I want to respect your time. And I really, really appreciate you sharing so much that is there some some sort of summary words that we can take home and sort of action right away?

JR: Sure. Absolutely. And we can we can unpack the rest of it another time. They so the thing that I would say is to the most simple way for me to do is to guide people is to have you think, speak and act in the direction you want your results to be. So if you want positive results, and positive things for your life, then you need to be thinking speaking and then taking action in that direction.

Thank you so much for joining me. If you’re enjoying the podcast, please, please leave me a review on iTunes. Sometimes it feels like this podcast just goes out into the ether. And I have no idea who’s listening or if it’s making the kind of impact that I hope it is. So when I get comments, reviews, messages, emails about your aha moments are something that resonated with you. It really means a lot to me.

And it motivates me to keep working hard on this podcast. So please do reach out. Let me know what you love what you want to see more of or other topics you might be interested in. You can reach me at hello@livingxo.com. And of course you can get all my resources, my workshops, my clarity, self reflection journal, my intentional parenting journal, and so much more on the website.

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Travel adventurer, joy seeker, book lover

Hi, I'm Rishma.
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I ran a thriving healthcare practice as a Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist for over 20 years. I also earned my PhD and spent time in academic research and teaching positions. Now, I read scientific studies because I'm passionate about personal growth. I use the insights to help me, and our community, live our own XO life.

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