Podcast 297 Identifying and breaking free from the jails we create for ourselves with Lori Gottlieb

Podcast 297 Identifying and breaking free from the jails we create for ourselves with Lori Gottlieb

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00:00
laurie i've been so looking forward to this interview thank you so much for joining me today well thank you so much for having me i'm looking forward to it also well i think you're amazing and i was telling you just before we started and i have to repeat the story that i put the cover back on but the pages of this book are of your amazing book that we're going to be talking about i literally have been wet and dried so many times because i read this in my infrared sauna and that's where i really go and chill and have my down time and i have to tell you as i was reading this book i felt like i was in therapy
00:32
and i was laughing and and i felt inspired and you know just every you just say what we know but you say it in such a way that is so profound so i want to thank you up front for the impact your book has had on myself and on my family my kids love you my four adult kids 50 of them have read your book and the others are going to read it from what we've said so thank you so much i just wanted to start by telling you those nice little things well that's that's really great to hear and i love that you read it in asana i think that's a good combination given the content of the book i agree it's perfect it was so good i
01:04
tell you i couldn't put it down it wasn't and it's when i prepared for interviews i always read through the books and look for you know like really juicy bits to talk about and i ended up like underlining okay i've got to ask you this the whole books like you know stars and arrows so i thought we'll just progress through and first of all let's start off by you just telling my audience a little bit about you i know most people do know you but just tell them who you are what you do and then we'll dive into what you do with your life which is phenomenal sure so i'm a psychotherapist and i'm the author of
01:34
maybe you should talk to someone and i have a podcast called dear therapist where we do sessions with people and give them advice that they try out and come back and tell us how it went i write the weekly dear therapist column for the atlantic and i have a ted talk out there sort of based on maybe you should talk to someone about how changing our stories can change our lives well the book that laura is talking about is something that you definitely need to read maybe you should talk to someone it's just profoundly down to earth about how we
02:05
need to be human and recognize that ah this is how my interpretations what i say so much with my work is that we all humans who all battle life is tough adverse circumstances come whether you like it or not you are going to experience those and we have to process them and we have to get them out and you just outline that so beautifully with the stories that you tell using yourself and obviously privacy with your clients you've changed change that the names and so on so i'm going to ask you upfront why did you write this book even though it sounds like i gave the answer but
02:35
from your side why did you write this book well it's interesting because this wasn't the book that i set out to write and in maybe you should talk to someone i talk about how originally i was supposed to be writing a happiness book i saw that and that was i loved that i loved that i actually dog-eared that page because i wanted to ask you about that so you care you yeah so so you know i i'd actually written a parenting article in the inlet for the cover of the atlantic and it went viral and people wanted me to write the parenting book and i didn't want to write that book i said i'm really interested in writing about
03:06
what's happening with the adults and they said oh you want to write a happiness book and i said no i don't want to write a happiness book i want to write about your life and you know because i feel like as a therapist i have the privilege of seeing our humanity in a way that nobody who's not a therapist doesn't get to see it they don't they don't have those kinds of conversations we don't tend to talk about our lives in such an honest and raw and authentic way and so i and i what i think is really interesting is that people assume that my work as a therapist is
03:37
really depressing people say well oh you listen to stories of of pain and difficulty all day and i said no it's the opposite i'm looking at people as they grow and transform and change their lives and i see these heroic moments these moments where they've done something that they never were able to do before where a year later their lives look completely different and so for me it's a really hopeful way of of looking at the human condition and so in the book you know in the
04:08
happiness book i said you know this is not what i want to do i want to bring people into the therapy room so they can see what i see not just because it's really inspiring but also because we can see ourselves most clearly through the lens of other people's stories so if you say to someone you do sabotage your relationships or you have trouble with this or you know this is how you're pushing people away or here's how you get in your own way people say no no i don't do that that's not me
04:38
but if they see themselves reflected in somebody else's story they say oh yeah i do that too so it takes away the shame it makes them feel less alone and then they can grab the lesson so i i ended up canceling what i called the miserable depression-inducing happiness book because i was depressed right it felt so disconnected from something meaningful something that would really help people and i also feel like happiness as a byproduct of living our lives is i think what we all strive for but
05:09
happiness as the end goal itself is often a recipe for disaster so i wanted to write about how we can have meaningful lives that will lead to a life that feels fulfilling and again leads to this kind of happiness that i think we're seeking so in the book i follow the lives of four very seemingly different patients so of course you can see how at our core we're all very much the same and then the fifth patient in the book is me as i go through my own struggle and i go to a therapist so you're seeing the therapeutic process from both
05:40
the vantage point of clinician and patient it's totally consuming and absorbing it's really not been in this field for 38 years and this really and i've read so many books and this your book the stories it's that story narrative it it's but it's the way you've handled it the way you show as you said the lives of four patients and the new first patients so you've got the insight of the insight on the insight kind of thing it's fascinating and very well written that's very absorbing it's very easy it's an actually incredibly easy read a quick read and full of lessons you
06:11
know you feel each person as you as you go through the book if i can relate i can understand so you're so ripe and you say we see what we don't see through other people's stories we see what we don't see in our own lives sorry through other people's stories and i love that and i'm so pleased that you did that you didn't write another book on toxic positivity or something like that with happiness that you actually dived into humanity you dived in and give us permission to be you know ourselves which is fantastic i wanted to come back to when you're talking about the happiness book and i was going to ask this day but i'm
06:42
going to ask it now it's something that people ask me a lot about as well the difference between counseling and therapy because that was kind of the advice that got you into what book you should write in the end and how you actually stepped into the to writing this book can you talk a little bit about that and maybe even that discussion with your therapist it was chapter 49. yeah i think a lot of people don't really understand what therapy is and so they don't get help because they think it's not for them and so i think that some people think that
07:13
therapy is you go to therapy you talk about your childhood forever and you never leave and all you do is sort of download the problem of the week and so what's the point of it that is not what therapy is i think in the book you can see that it's a very intentional process the conversations are very very intentional and you're you're moving someplace right and i think that goals are very much a part of it the other misconception about therapy is that you're going to get advice and that's what counseling is right so counseling therapy is really looking inside of yourself and understanding who you are what your patterns are
07:45
what's holding you back you know what stories are are still lingering that maybe aren't accurate how are you being an unreliable narrator of your own life those kinds of things counseling is i have the specific issue and tell me what to do i think that we all have our own answers inside of us and we sometimes just don't have access to those answers and so what therapy can do is it can help you to get access to your place of knowing inside because we all have that place but it
08:16
gets it gets drowned out by the culture by the people around us so many times people say you should do this or don't do this or it's not okay to do this and we then we feel like we need permission to do the thing that we know inside is right for us it might not be right for somebody else but it's right for us so there's a chapter in the book where everybody is telling me that i need to write this happiness book that of course just does not feel meaningful to me in any way
08:46
and there are all these reasons that they have for that but i know that the book that i am meant to write that i think will really help people is this other one and i end up going against what everybody else says and i write maybe you should talk to someone when i tried to sell maybe you should talk to someone everyone said first of all i couldn't sell it because and now of course you know over a million copies have been sold and it's still going so and and so i only mentioned that because people said nobody's going to read this book people want to read the happiness book or the parenting book
09:18
but i had this place of knowing inside that no i know that there's something in here when i wrote the book i was so open and honest about my side of it my being in therapy edit myself because i thought okay well maybe what if they're right and only three people read this book then i don't really have to worry about how i come across i don't have to worry about you know revealing these things and then you know i'm really glad that that i that i didn't know ultimately how many people would read it because i think i would have tried to edit myself a little bit
09:49
and i think that the reason that so many people have read it is because it's not edited because i'm not trying to present a curated version of myself because i'm presenting myself as i really am and i think people can see themselves as they really are in me and in the other people in the book you actually do demonstrate that what therapy is you demonstrate that you've done that inner work and you demonstrate the frustrations of how we don't we see ourselves we don't see the layers and how we present the initial problem but there's all these layers underneath and how
10:19
you know all that and it's easy to advise someone else with what i would call the wise mind but you had to go through the process of therapy to actually peel those layers off and see what was really underneath and it took the perspective of your therapist to help you see that and that in itself is just so beautiful and so enlightening and so in a world today where we've got so much stigma around mental health you really do destigmatize it with your approach so it's really great i love it okay well there's just so much i'm going to start i'm just going to go through and pick the certain things that a million nbs that i've got you know
10:50
stars and we'll just just check and see where it goes that so the first thing you say which really caught my attention you said in the author's note how do we change and it and the answer was in relation to others and i loved that that really got my attention because not and i know we talk about that but just the way you said it because it's so vitally important i'm a great fan of of and i've done a lot of work around quantum physics if theoretical quantum physics in in my own clinical research in trying to understand all these different things about mind and brain and there's one of my favorite quantum
11:22
physicists talks about the fact that it's not about you it's about you in the world and you know when i read that phrase of yours it reminded me of that so i'd love you just to talk about that sure well i think humans are inherently relational in fact when when you look at studies of people who are put in let's say in prison in solitary confinement they literally go crazy you know like we cannot be alone and i think that our culture sells us something different and i say sells us because they're trying to sell us on this idea consumerism
11:53
of doesn't matter about other people like focus on yourself you know and and all about bettering yourself and individually but not in the context of the people around you and i think that people get into trouble in relationships because they think well if the other person doesn't want to do it this way then i'm out or you know whatever it is it breathes a bit of selfishness doesn't it well well i think it i think what it does is it it really takes away this idea of we want to be in relationship with other people and we are two separate people or however many people
12:24
you're talking about there's a group or an individual and i i think what happens is boundaries are important but boundaries have been morphed into something else on instagram for example of you know like a boundary people think a boundary is i'm going to tell you that this is what you need to do and you're going to do it and no boundaries are not about control right boundaries are not about controlling other people a boundary is something you set with yourself so a boundary is you know i'm going to ask that you not yell at me
12:53
when you get upset and then you have a boundary with yourself if the person yells at me what am i going to do because i can't control whether they're going to yell at me i can tell i don't that that i find that very upsetting and and that's very hurtful to me and so they can either stop yelling which you hope they do or if they yell you can have a boundary with yourself like if they yell i'm going to end that conversation in a polite way and i'm going to say we'll come back to it later when we can have a calmer conversation or i'm going to go take a
13:24
walk to calm myself down or i'm going to choose that after three years of this or a year of this or however long you've been in that situation i'm gonna say you know what i've asked you to not yell at me this is not this is not healthy for me i'm i'm no longer gonna be in this relationship right so it's a boundary that you've kept with yourself about what you're going to do to to keep yourself in a healthy place but it's not how you change the other person they get to choose if they're going to change you can request it but it's up to
13:56
them to change that's brilliant that's brilliant and it's maybe as you say relating to people but you have to i love how you've also commented on the fact that boundaries it's almost like exploded as another level of control and i never thought of it like that so you said it but it's such a thing in social media it's everywhere and i think it has become a little distorted i don't be familiar with the study about when people and going back to the the whole thing about the society being this very neoliberalistic capitalistic it's all about productivity push get the
14:26
end goal you know survival of the fittest climb to the top you've got to produce produce you know all your values in what you can externalize and there's a study showing that the more times we say i myself me i in a conversation you increase the is a proportional increase to your chance of getting a heart attack in the next by 42 in the next 12 months which is super interesting because it just shows that we are moving away from that relational aspect when we focus doesn't mean we don't have to focus on ourselves but it's i was in
14:57
that relationship it's about me in the world and i and then that's what i see happening so much in your book is you emphasize the relational aspect but there's also the honoring of your own boundary but there's not trying to control others because others have to make their own choices and that's so evident in your book and you you really make that very clear which i love yeah and i think what you're talking about is this epidemic of loneliness that we you know especially i think we saw during the pandemic but it was there before and i think just people became more aware of it of of how important it
15:29
is that we have connection and what happens to us like depression anxiety and as you said you know the mind-body connection so we actually become more at risk for not only heart disease but cancer autoimmune is everything when we don't have connections in our lives and by connections i mean meaningful connection so so many times people will say on instagram hey i'm going to share this thing with you that i've never shared with anyone before like the instagram community and and then everyone says oh you're so vulnerable
16:00
that's so amazing true vulnerability to me is sitting on a couch face to face with someone who's important to you and saying i'm going to show you something about me and i'm going to trust our relationship in the sharing of this and let's see what happens right so true vulnerability is sitting face to face with someone who matters where the stakes are high because this person matters to you in real life and what happens when you take off the mask and that's a completely different
16:31
experience than doing something on social media where you get likes and i'm not anti-social media at all i'm just i'm just differentiating between what we're calling vulnerability because sometimes people are so feel so much more comfortable being quote unquote vulnerable in the context of behind a screen context of face to face with another person and when you talk about the relationship i'm thinking about this study that shows that the most important factor in the success of people's therapy
17:02
is the relationship yes there's so much about that i'm so glad you brought that up that's what the key is in good therapy right so so it matters more than the modality the therapist uses the number of years of experience they have their theoretical orientation all of that matters don't get me wrong that's very important but what's even more important is the relationship you have with your therapist and that just shows how relational we are that you can't get this work done if you don't have a solid what we call
17:33
a therapeutic alliance with that person and some people like to think of their therapist as like well i'm paying this professional so i don't really have a relationship with them but you do you're too human sitting in a room having this incredibly intimate experience that's incredibly transformative and i think for both people people don't think about that either and that's something that i i you know touch on in the book is that you know we're kind of mirrors reflecting mirrors reflecting mirrors that when somebody is coming to therapy that obviously the session is about them so i'm not doing my own therapy in the room
18:05
there but certainly they're asking questions about life in the human condition that i have to ask myself that i'm forced to ask myself because if if they're asking those questions i certainly have you've got to ask them as well that's beautiful so it's the deep meaningful connection which is very much not part of our very individualistic focus in our current society and there's so many research studies also showing that about that when we move away from that from sort of a community focus to the individualistic focus that it how it affects people just in terms of everything and yes it
18:37
isn't and as you mentioned on social media i'm so glad you mentioned that there's this it is very in fashion to be vulnerable and authentic but it's a very different kind of vulnerability yes it's good that people are opening up and that people that are influencers are talking about what they're going through because it's allowing people to express himself and we need that because only three percent of leaders are talking about their emotions their mental health but at the same time you you point out a very valid point that their real deep stuff is sitting down face to face and with someone that you that you trust and how's that going to
19:07
impact and talking about those real deep things and that transformative relationship in therapy beautiful right and we get that in so few experiences in life where you're sitting face to face with another person with no phones no screens no other distractions so you know it's maybe the one place for a lot of people where they can sit face to face with another person in the same space not through a screen in regular times and there's no distraction it's not like hey let me look at this text your phone is beeping or something like that and and i think that the reason that
19:38
most people struggle in life is they're struggling with this question of how can i love and be loved i think ultimately that is what we all want when you take away all of the other things about you know all of the things that that we're told we need to be or do be worthy people i think at the end of the day most of us say how can i love and be loved and that's where people's you know where they feel a deficit if they're struggling with something i agree with you it's that core need that we have as humans and
20:09
on the on sort of the clinical neuroscience side on the neurobiological side we want literally wired for love i mean that was a statement made by a prior nobel prize winning researcher you know and we see that we have this optimism bias so we drawn towards that survival instinct which is love so and even in quantum physics we see that the gravitational fields have kind of a love wave to them so just there's a lot of there's just so much from so many angles confirming that very reality that you've spoken about i think that's that's amazing okay so let's oh i love it okay you have such great titles
20:41
in your different sections you've got four different sections of your book so just very quickly can you just tell us why you've broken it up into four sections and then i mean they're very the the the titles are very captivating just very quickly then i'm going to dive into more detail yeah you know i think that the book sort of organically unfolds in a way that each chapter is in conversation with the chapter before and after it you know there are like themes running through at the beginning of the book i say that my most significant credential is that i'm a card-carrying member of the human race and and i know what it's like to be a
21:11
person in the world i know what it's like to struggle and so i think that when you see the themes throughout and i'm going to say the five patients including myself there that all of our stories are very different but they all overlap in these core ways and so i think that the four parts are about sort of the evolution of where we all are on this in this process of transformation and when i talk about transformation by the way i don't want people to get the wrong idea that suddenly you go to therapy and you know you your life is like a completely
21:42
different thing and you become a completely different person it's more about how do you navigate through the world more smoothly how do you manage the things that have been tripping you up how do you see patterns that maybe you're going to that maybe have been holding you back and you didn't even realize that so it's it's a different way of finding peace it doesn't mean that all your problems go away there's a quote in the book you know that that i'm gonna paraphrase but it's that peace doesn't mean that all your troubles go away it's that that you live with them in a
22:12
different way you have a different relationship to what happens to us in our lives and so the four sections are you can see like they're sort of the phase where we don't really know what the problem is usually when people come to therapy they want something to change but what they want to change is someone else or something else out there i love that i love how you emphasize that it's so good right the problem is you know it's my partner it's my mother it's my child it's my boss it's my sibling it's my it's it's this thing or that thing right and it's not that there aren't difficult people out there we have a saying in
22:43
therapy before diagnosing someone with depression make sure they aren't surrounded by right so so we're not saying like that it's not true that these people we're saying but what is your role right so where's your agency in this so people come in in this victim position of you know all this is happening to me and i am helpless in it and there's nothing i can do about it when in fact our reaction to the difficulty is just as important as what the difficulty is oh i love that you know the research
23:13
that i do the clinical trials i did recently what i found one of the major things was like literally a pathway to empowerment that as soon as people recognize the agency in their life that you can't change what's happened to you but you can change what's in you which then influences how it plays out into your future as soon as people make that that transition or that recognition there's a massive improvement in how they function and and we saw like a literally an 81 improvement in people's functioning once they recognized the agency so we even had subjects saying things like oh i'm more depressed
23:44
after going through the process of digging down deep inside through the systems and stuff that i developed but the depression was different so instead of saying i am depressed they've gone their transition from i am depression to i am depressed because of and i'm more depressed because i'm seeing why i'm depressed but i actually understand the depression so i can manage it that's i think what i hear you saying it's that kind of transformation that i i recognize where the depression is coming from and it's really sad to know about my roots of that terrible stuff that happened or whatever but i know what to do i know how to start transforming i'm not in the
24:15
dark i have agency again well i think what happens is people have these stories that they developed growing up and the stories were actually very valid at the time because they didn't have agency when you're a child you don't have don't have an agency and then you grow up and you still think that you're trapped you still think you're in jail and so people walk around the world with that story so there's this moment in the book where i'm with my own therapist who's called wendell in the book and he says to me you know what you remind me of this cartoon and it's of a prisoner shaking the bars
24:46
desperately trying to get out but on the right and the left it's open no bars the prisoner is actually not jail and the thing is so the question is then if the bars are open why do so many of us not walk around those bars so first you have to realize as an adult the bars are open you actually do have choices you might not have every opportunity in the world but you certainly have some choices so just knowing okay what what you know the fact that you have choices and then what are your choices and then what does it mean to walk around those bars some people
25:17
don't walk around the bars because freedom is a double-edged sword freedom on the one hand is something we say we want we want all this kind of freedom freedom is also scary because with freedom comes responsibility so if we are to take responsibility for our lives now anything that happens we can't blame on other people we have to say you know what this is me now because i made that choice if i make that choice what if it's the wrong choice what if i mess up we have to know that as humans we will mess up we will learn from our mistakes
25:48
so walking around the bars is scary because that means we have to take responsibility for our own lives that is the that is the sign of adulthood when you finally take responsibility for your own well-being um i am so pleased you said that it was one of the questions i wanted to ask you was that very thing of that taking your responsibility because i know i'm sure you've had this i know you've had this in your experience with working with patients which which i've had which is one of the things that people will say i just can't i'm a victim i and yes there's a victim we can't go and
26:19
if someone was traumatically abused that's not their fault that there's not a lesson there you need time for healing but there's good there's a point where you have to get around the bar and actually go on to the other side otherwise you're going to lift tight into that that all the time and then there's other things that people whatever so just this whole ability to to choose to recognize that i think what i'm trying to ask you do you do you see that as quite a common problem where people will have an issue and they're so used to having that coping mechanism which is not sustainable but it was a coping
26:51
mechanism at the time of the trauma but it's become a behavior pattern that's not sustainable it's affecting relationships functionality anxiety and but they're hanging on to that because almost like a position of power where through that they can get that maybe the attention that they're wanting or it's very scary to let go whatever there's a multitude of reasons why people would hang onto the bars well you know i would say what happens is the prisoner who was the child in a traumatic situation becomes their own jailer as an adult oh that's so good that's a great explanation
27:21
they don't they don't understand that they are free that they are not in jail anymore you see that there are actually two patients in the book that i write about one is in 20s and one is about to turn 70. so you can see how that manifests at different stages of life when you are your own jailer and how do you break free and so it's not that the trauma is going to go away it's not that that you're not going to feel pain around that is that you're going to have a different relationship to the trauma and a different relationship to the pain so that you don't become the person who traumatizes yourself
27:52
as an adult and i think that's really important and the thing about change is that it's really hard people don't understand this is why new year's resolutions fail by the way on sort of a lighter note because people think that you make a decision i'm going to do this healthy thing for me and i'm going to change and because it's a positive change i should be motivated to do it and i sh and i should want to do it and i should be able to to make it happen and so they make this new year's resolution and then what happens is you know they slip back and then they say oh wow i failed so forget it well first of all
28:23
they don't understand what change is so let me explain a little bit about what changes change is hard because we are giving something up even if it's a positive change we're giving up the familiar humans do not like uncertainty as a rule we get very nervous around uncertainty so we'd rather take the familiar thing even if it's making us miserable even if it's unpleasant we would rather stick with the thing that's familiar than to let go of that grieve it sometimes we even have to grieve the things miserable and then go into this place of uncertainty where you don't know what's
28:53
going to happen the other thing about change is that there are stages of change it's not like you make the decision to change and that's why these new year's resolutions fail so there are these stages so it starts with pre-contemplation where you don't even know that you are you know that you want to make a change so it's kind of like not it's outside of your awareness it's be below your conscious level and there's something stirring inside of you about i'm gonna you know i need to make a change but you don't know that yet then there's contemplation where now
29:23
it's it's risen to your consciousness but you're not ready to do anything about it yet then comes preparation where you're now making the steps to prepare to do it maybe you're going to investigate changing jobs maybe you're going to think about i'm going to start dating again or i'm going to get out of this bad relationship or i'm going to start setting boundaries whatever it is or i'm going to be healthier and i'm going to exercise or i'm going to eat better whatever it is that you're making preparation you're making or i'm going to i have this or i actually do drink too much i have this addiction and i'm going to see what can i do to get treatment for it
29:54
and then there's action where you actually do the thing to make the change this is the thing where that's when people announce the change you know a new year's resolution this is the thing this is the change and then the most important stage though is not the stage of making the change it's called maintenance maintenance is how do i maintain the change once i have made it and the biggest misconception around maintenance is that you're going to just you've made the change and you're going to stay in this place of maintaining the change that is not true you must expect that you're going to slip back that
30:24
you're going to have days that are harder than others that you're going to go back to old coping mechanisms and what you need in those moments is a huge dose of self-compassion because when you shave when you self-flagellate you're drowning in shame and you're never going to get back up and say i can try to take a risk again and try to make this change you're going to say well that failed and i'm terrible and i'm a bad person and i'm weak and i'm i'm hopeless and nothing will ever change right there's the story you you create in your head around
30:54
that narrative so so what you need to know is maintenance is about it's not linear it's about you make the change sometimes you're going to fall back you just get right you give yourself a big hug and you go right back to it the next day and you say what can i do to cope differently if i'm using this as a coping mechanism what do i do with my anxiety my depression my relational difficulty that would be a healthier way of dealing with it so i can maybe tomorrow get back and help get back into that maintenance phase of of making the change and over time the more
31:25
that you go back to the maintenance phase after slipping back the stronger it's going to be embedded in you the change and the longer term you're going to be able to maintain that change that is beautiful brilliant i'm sitting here thinking wow that is such a beautiful explanation of change and i'll give you a little numbers behind that because some science behind that because one of the things that i don't know if you found this with your with your patients but there's certain periods where they just seem to get stuck and you know there's like all this motivation then suddenly therefore drops off and these are these certain things so i
31:55
wanted to investigate and see how long does it really take to change a behavior because there's actually not that much research out there on that and there's a lot of myths around the 21 day concept which was in the 16 year old the whole thing it was a surgeon in the 60s so there's very little actual scientific research so i wanted to see from many different levels how how how long does it really take and it takes around three weeks to to go through the first few phases what you said there's the is there's an unconscious level so that's the coming in sort of slightly coming into awareness and there's that
32:26
conscious you called it the conscious into the contemplative the second what was the first one what did you call it so it's pre-contemplation be contemplative and then contribute so the pre-content that's because your non-conscious mind and your brain know before your conscious you actually know it's in your wisdom it's your wise mind okay and so that aligns with with that then you've got your contemplation which is in your conscious mind then you've got the preparation and then the action and then the maintenance those first four phases occur see appear to occur within the first three weeks more or less first three weeks and we see the actual neuroplastic
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changes and things in the brain but that's where people get stuck and that's what you were just saying if you stop there and that's what you showed then you know this is what i should be doing but i'm not doing it and that's where the shame guilt condemnation and all that stuff comes in which breaks down a lot of does a lot of bad neurophysiology things in your mind brain body connection so you've got to go for at least another 42 days which takes you to around about nine weeks and those those 42 days it's literally a minute to seven minutes a day of just practicing that new pattern way of thinking that will then
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put you to the point where you actually create a habit that is then sustainable that will create behavior change and even then then it becomes an unconscious and even then there's a bit of conscious work and then around about a few weeks later it's sort of around about that nine weeks in other words to actually get to the phase where you you get behavior change and what you're saying and what you've seen the therapy what i've seen in therapy is that people don't do that for you two days they maybe didn't know but they're not doing that that full nine week cycle and sometimes if it's very complex trauma it's going to be multiple cycles and
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it's that second part that is the easy actually the easiest part but it's the hardest part but that maintenance without that people just go round and round and round and round in circles and so yes i just wanted to say that i'm so glad you brought that up about change because that's the hard part is the time factor and i would say another thing about change is that sometimes because people are again we talked about relationships in systems whether you're in a family system or you're in a relationship or you know whatever it is people around you if they have unhealthy habits
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they do not want you to change now they might not be aware of this they might not even be aware of it right so but then all of a sudden they say to you like oh what do you mean you're not drinking you're no fun anymore come on it's your birthday just have one drink right or you know oh you what do you mean you go to bed early now right because you want to get sleep and you want to be healthy oh come on what party pooper you know whatever it is or you know whatever you're doing to to be healthier whether that's you know emotionally healthier
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yeah boundaries whatever good healthy boundaries people it's a system and so if you if you become the healthy one in the system then first of all they have to look at themselves differently because now you're holding up a mirror to them in a way they didn't have to before and secondly like in in a family system in particular if you were the person who was like the crazy one or the problem one well now you're not gonna take that role anymore someone else is gonna take on that role and nobody wants that role it was so easy to make you the scapegoat to
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make you what we call the identified patient we call that the ip the identified patient in the family so you're the one who's the problem when actually you're the sanest one there because you're saying hey guys there's a problem here right and they're like oh no no you're crazy you're the one who's difficult you're too sensitive you're difficult you take it the wrong way right so that's that's what happens with change in a system is that not only is the maintenance phase something where you have to give yourself a lot of self-compassion but you have to not listen to the people
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who are trying to consciously or unconsciously sabotage your getting healthy your change that is brilliant okay so i know people are listening and saying how do you do that can you give a bit of guidance around how to do that because that's just amazing that maintenance phase who's sabotaging you consciously or non-consciously and how do you manage it i think as you make change you make changes more global so one change leads to another it's almost like a snowball effect so when you start to get healthy in one area you start to get healthy in other areas
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and soon you're very healthy in many areas and so you see this all the time where somebody makes a change say in their family system right they set a boundary with somebody in their family or they make a change like they're going to take care of their drinking or they're going to change jobs or they're going to get out of a bad relationship then you see that they attract different people so now they're attracting different situations in different people because we tend to attract people who are at similar levels of emotional development than we are and so sometimes it looks like there's
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one person in a relationship that's much healthier than the other but then you have to ask why is the person who seems so healthy in relationship with the person who seems like they're really not they haven't really done the work yet so something you know someone who is truly emotionally healthy is going to choose someone who truly is doing the work and going through that process so you know and and you see that all the time i think with with childhood things too where you know somebody says oh i'm going to choose a partner who's not like this person from my childhood who maybe didn't you know like was neglectful or was
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emotionally limited or had anger issues or had an addiction and what do they do as an adult as an adult they find someone just like that parent and it's not and it's interesting because they say oh my gosh why do i keep doing that and it's because it's that unconscious pull toward the familiar it's like whenever they see someone like that they first they think the person doesn't seem like that on the surface and then they unconsciously though they're drawn to people like that and they're kind of like oh you look familiar come closer and then you know a week a month a year
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two years into the relationship they're like oh my gosh this person is exactly like the person who hurt me as a child you know in some way and so if you don't do the work you end up with people like that so when you start to make changes and you start to get healthy you are surrounding yourself with people who are going to be supportive of your change instead of people who are going to sabotage your change so important that's brilliant absolutely brilliant and it's so vital that people recognize that and there may be resistance you know from the people because you may have
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because you also i just wanted to ask you as well like it could be loved ones that are really rooting for your change but they're not sure how to manage the changes that they see because you're different and that's so then what is it what does the person do just in in still in this direction what would the the person do then where they now healing but the persons in the environment are still seeing them in the old way right right and they will for a long time they won't see what you're actually doing they're going to see everything through the lens of everything you did in the past and so it
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will take a while for them to recalibrate and make that adjustment and also you have to remember that the people around you as you're changing and they're watching you change they're forced to change their role too and just like we talked about change is hard for you change is hard for them so give them a little bit of time to get used to this this new way of being that you're that you're moving into because they're having to adjust to not only the change in you but the change that it's bringing up in them in terms of their new role in your life and discussions would be very important wouldn't it say this is what i
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used to do i'm not like that anymore this is how i'm managing it i recognize it had this kind of impact on you those sort of conversations would be very necessary to help facilitate the process wouldn't they and and also this is how you can support me in this and how can i support you as i'm going through this too i love that i love that because that thing it's a shared it's a shared you know it's a shared responsibility and everyone's it's not you doing so wrong and i'm doing something right or you blocking me it's how can we collaborate it's that relational thing again isn't it it brings back brings back the relational thing okay so
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here i wanted to just jump in a few couple of other things you're just saying such beautiful stuff i have to say it's just wonderful you said something you made a comment that i love change and lost travel together and because we're on the topic of change i wanted to find that phrase as you were talking i remembered reading that phrase and i it's so important can you just elaborate a little bit more because you've spoken so beautifully about change how change and loss travel together you've kind of intimated it but let's just talk a little bit more about that yeah you know so so what i was talking about was the loss of the familiar that we have to give up something but also
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sometimes what we're giving up is a story and so in my in the book maybe you should talk to someone in my ted talk i talk a lot about these stories that we walk around with and they're stories that become almost a part of our identity that nobody else is hearing we're saying it to ourselves and so the stories are like i'm unlovable or the story is you know i can't trust anyone the story is yeah i'm unworthy the story is nothing will ever work out for me sometimes the story is the opposite the story is is almost like the pendulum has swung
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too far in the other direction because there's a sort of a narcissistic defense like i'm smarter than everyone else i'm better than everyone else i know best right so we know those people too and so so the thing is that those stories become so much a part of us that we become attached to them and so when we talk about change and loss when we're changing we're giving up a story that's not just a story but it's almost like a piece of our identity and sometimes that's hard for us to do so we have to understand that was not your true identity that was
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something that was useful to you back then or sometimes not that i'm smarter than everyone might have been useful the i'm unlovable was never useful it was a story that came from somewhere else it was something that someone else told you that you internalized that was completely inaccurate but because we're kids we take in this stuff and we take it as truth we take it as gospel and it's not true but then it becomes confirmatory so somebody in your life send you the message i'm unlovable when you go out into the world and
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someone like maybe you're at school and someone doesn't want to sit with you you say see it's true i guess my mom or my dad you kind of look for it predicting itself like a predictive pattern right now another person who didn't grow up that way someone doesn't want to sit with them at lunch might say i'm going to go to another table and sit with the people who want to sit with me and like you know that person's mean and i don't even want to be friends with them anyway so you see how how the story is different that's very good that's excellent i'm so glad you brought that up you said you make a statement here it's still around that same area i want to capture
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the process in which humans struggling to evolve push against their shells until they quietly but sometimes loudly and slowly but sometimes suddenly crack open and so you're talking about the story of therapy and what you're trying to help people do so it's kind of along the same line can you just talk a little bit about that yeah yeah i mean i think it's it's very vivid because i i think that we change we like to say we change gradually than suddenly and what i mean by that is there's all this stuff going on where you're doing all the work you're doing all the work you're doing all the work
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and then something shifts right and then it might not be a big aha moment but you start to notice that oh you're you're actually you you walk through the world differently you're starting to walk through the world differently and i think that starts where you finally are able to say i'm going to share the truth of who i am and i'm going to i'm not going to be afraid of what i find and so you know and i see this there's sort of like a gender difference and i'm going to make sort of a gross generalization now but this is what i see so often in therapy is that men will come into therapy and
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they will say you know i've never told anyone this before and they truly have never told anyone something that by the way like as women we would probably you know like we don't like i i think wow really that you know and i have so much compassion for them because it's like they have so much shame that even that they wouldn't tell and and even and this is even if let's say that like they're they're happily partnered and they have you know supportive family and they have friends they still did not feel toxic masculinity
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toxic masculinity women will come in and they will say you know i've never told anyone this before except for my mother my sister my best friend right so they've told like maybe one to three people because they don't feel so much shame but i think that that we do have all of us have it though which is this idea of you know if i show you who i really am you won't like it or i'm going to come off in a way but and i think it goes back to that that relational piece of we want to be included we want to be accepted that
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that's sort of just a basic human need you know we are relational creatures and so and i see that even in couples therapy where you know let's say i have a heterosexual couple and i see all kinds of couples i see this in same-sex couples too to a degree but where one person let's say it's you know the woman usually will say to the guy like i want to be closer to you i really want to i want you to open up to me i feel like we are there's this distance between us so he does he opens up to her and maybe he starts crying and maybe he starts crying a lot
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inevitably she looks at me like a deer in headlights like oh my gosh i wanted this but i also but i'm profoundly uncomfortable and it's kind of like i felt i didn't feel safe when you weren't sharing your inner world with me but i also don't feel safe when you're being this vulnerable with me and so what happens is there's this like messaging that goes to men of you are not allowed to feel we want you to feel but not too much it's like it's like goldilocks right like you know not not too little but just right in the middle and the problem is we can't have the kinds of relationships we want
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if we are limiting half of the people in the relationship if we're limiting their range of feelings if we're limiting how vulnerable they can be with us and so we really have to change these gender roles around you know what is acceptable around emotionality and emotional health and communication and vulnerability um i love that first and foremost we are human and then we've got to stop these role definitions for maleness and femaleness which have just been going on way too long i don't know if you've ever watched friends did you ever watch friends seriously yeah is that one episode where the
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the rachel's one of her boyfriends was very withdrawn didn't talk and then suddenly she kind of unleashed the crying and he wouldn't stop crying i mean from me complete emotion as to crying so much that was i wanted something but that was too much as you were talking i was thinking of that episode well i think too that that you know when men do open up is because they've been holding it inside for so long and there's this you know incredible sense of isolation and they you know i think in our definitions of masculinity like you have to be strong there's a in when i when i write about john in the book
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you know he's this guy in his 40s he's married he has some kids he's had some trauma in his life and he feels like he has to be the rock for his wife like she's the one who is doing double you know doing double processing of the trauma for both of them because he feels like i have to be the solid one but of course that that creates all this tension in their marriage because she feels utterly alone in her in her grief and her sadness and he feels like i can't i can't do this because it will like the whole house of cards will fall down which is just not true once he opens up to her then she doesn't have to
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shoulder the burden so much and they can connect it's evenly distributed because each one's going to bring a perception to the party that the other one can't and then the completion happens so now that's brilliant i love that chapter as well it was really really explanatory brilliant stuff okay so you also said something that a little disgust factor therapists go to therapists and then then you talk about that but you said yeah we learn how to accept feedback this is brilliant i had to emphasize this because this is something we all as humans need to do this is just a general statement you've got so many of these great statements
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we learn how to accept feedback tolerate discomfort become aware of blind spots and discover the impact of our histories and behaviors on ourselves and others i mean you just summarized why everyone needs to go to therapy in that one statement do you want to just elaborate a little bit i mean such a self-explanatory statement but it's beautiful i feel like therapy is like getting a really good second opinion on your life from someone who's not in your life and i say from someone who's not in your life because i feel like the people in our lives mean well but sometimes they don't help us to see
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what the problem really is and so in the book i talk about the difference between idiot compassion and wise compassion so idiot compassion is what our friends tend to do we say listen to what happened with you know this person in my life my boss my partner you know whatever it is and we say yeah that's terrible you know you're right they were wrong and it doesn't help the person to see anything new about the situation and so and and by the way if you listen to your friends stories over time you might have a friend who's sort of like a help rejecting complainer help rejecting complainers are people
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who they say here's my problem and you say well what if you do this and you're like yeah no i can't do this because and then you say what about this and they say no that won't work because and so they don't really want a solution to the problem they just want to complain so if you listen to your friends over time you might hear a pattern and it's kind of like if a fight breaks out in every bar you're going to maybe it's you we don't say that in idiot compassion we're like we just we just blindly support their version of the story in wise compassion which is what you get in therapy we hold up a mirror to you
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to help you to see yourself in ways that maybe you haven't been willing or able to do so maybe it's not that every guy you dated is a jerk but maybe it's that when you go through their phones and you don't trust them they get mad at you and break up with you okay so you know what i'm saying like there might be something that you're doing that is that is exacerbating the problem or creating the problem or getting yourself into the same situation over and over again so i think that therapy is a process where people who are not in your life can really help you to see something
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about yourself in a way that the people in your life just can't because you might get mad at them or you might feel unsupported or they don't feel comfortable sharing with you so good excellent brilliant okay you talk about if the queen in the chapter if the queen had balls i loved it you talk about the presenting problem that a patient comes to therapy with and then you talk about going to talking about the uncharted territory and then people don't care about inflection points when they come for their first therapy session mostly they just want relief and they want to tell you their stories beginning with the presenting problem
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and then you go on to how it's going to go through layers and layers and how they're very often coming to you for the quick fix solution and that kind of stuff so what i'd love you to talk about these how you with your own therapy how you talked about your boyfriend and i was laughing about the idiot was wisdom how your friends were with your boyfriend saying that kid hater or something like that but they all supported you what you want as well but then you also wanted like a little bit of you know bit of wisdom there too which you got from your therapist from wendell you started seeing a different perspective so in terms of this in terms of this particular chapter and in terms of this
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particular concept of the presenting problem and then the progression through therapy i just wanted to talk a little bit about that so people understand that it's not quick fix and that it is a process yeah well i think two things about that i mean it's not a quick fix but i also think that it's not like a year's long thing necessarily yeah also doesn't have to go for years yeah out of the experience and so you know i think the presenting problem is the thing that people come in with it's the thing you know like here's what happened and here's why i'm here but often the thing that happened happened because of some
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underlying struggle or pattern that needs to get looked at so that you can not only fix the problem that you came in for but something more global like how do you prevent that from happening in other areas of your life you know and i think that i think that in that first session what people really want is they want to be understood and so it's it's you know i i i feel like there's this thing that we do in a first session that's really important which is it's making people feel felt there's just this expression you know did you feel felt and it that means like
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do i feel like they understood me do i feel like they were there with me and if we could do that for the people in our lives outside of the therapy room i think that's so helpful we don't really know how to listen to people so many times people come to us with something and we don't know what they want out of the conversation and we give them what we would want like if we would want a solution we give them a solution if we would want you know just to vent we just let them vent but maybe they want something different so it's helpful to say to somebody when they come to you so that they feel felt so you can do this in your relationships outside of
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the therapy room when they come to you with something how can i be helpful to you right now in this conversation i want to be here for you and they might say i just want you to hear this i just want to tell you what happened or they might say i'm really stuck and i need you to brainstorm ideas for me i don't know what to do and i would feel so much less anxiety if i had some ideas or i had a plan on what to do right so you know or maybe i just want to hug i just really want to hug right now or i want to just like sit and watch tv with you or whatever it might be and then and that's one conversation but maybe in a different conversation
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about the same issue they're going to say okay now i'm ready to hear some ideas or now i'm ready to hear a different perspective so it's really important to check in and make sure that when we're in relationship that we're helping people to feel felt and that you are asking for what you need so that somebody can help you to feel felt oh i love that that's beautiful and i am very respectful of your time i know you have at another point directly after this so this is part one i would love to invite you back at some point for part two because i'm only on page 12 and there's a lot more pages in this book
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and we've just covered so many amazing different things and you've been phenomenal your wisdom is phenomenal your insight and your way of expressing yourself is phenomenal it really is and i just want to thank you for spending this time with me how can people get hold of you well first of all thank you for the conversation i'm a big fan of your work and i i really enjoy talking about this and i hope it's helpful to people people can find me on my website which is lori gottlieb.com they can get my book maybe you should talk to someone wherever they get books we're launching seasons there it is
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we're launching season two of the deer therapist podcast on july 20th so people can hear season one now and season two starting in july and they can find me on instagram and twitter and facebook and you know continue the conversation there fantastic well thank you so much for your time and your wisdom and i hope to come hope to invite you back again i hope you'll come back for part two because i think fantastic thank you so much thanks everyone thanks for joining us today thank you

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