Rebecca: Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to Episode 16 of the podcast. I’m so grateful that you’re here with me today. As part of the podcast every now and again I want to share with you some really powerful conversations that I’ve had with various people.
Rebecca: And today, we’re going to hear from Ruben Chavez. You might know him if you follow think grow prosper on Instagram. It’s a huge platform. He’s a writer, personal development educator and also the host of the think grow podcast.
Rebecca: Ruben and I have been Instagram buddies for a number of years. And he had me on his podcast a little while back and we had the most amazing conversation. It’s got to be, I think in my top five of my favourite interviews.
Rebecca: So far, we’ve spoke about a whole series of things:
– Low self worth.
– What to do about crippling fear.
– The underlying limiting beliefs that sit behind those things.
Rebecca: And we also ended up doing like a mini therapy session with Ruben on the origins of his perfectionism. So it was a lot of fun. I really love Reuben’s take his perspective on things and I think that’s what enabled us to go so deep in this conversation. So sit back and enjoy. I really think that you’re gonna love this one.
Ruben: A lot of Rebecca’s message and a lot of her work centres around the idea of living bravely and and have courage and, so she, this theme pops up a lot in her work in different ways.
Ruben: In our conversation, I asked her what are some of the the most common issues that she sees as a psychologist, both in her practice and online. We also talk about the roots of my perfectionism and kind of where that might have originated from.
Ruben: We touch on my childhood a little bit and, you know, she doesn’t psychoanalyse me fully, but we definitely get into some of that and it was really interesting and actually quite enlightening. I really liked talking with her.
Ruben: She actually gave me a very useful mindset shift, if you will, when it comes to dealing with limiting beliefs at a certain point in our conversation, and that was actually one of my favourite parts of our conversation, it was one of my main takeaways,
Ruben: I’ll say, there were many parts that were that were useful. But that was one of my personal main takeaways, when we start talking about beliefs, and her perspective on that. We also talk about the concept of acceptance and what that means in the context of dealing with challenges.
Ruben: It’s not exactly what you might think, and Rebecca’s take on it is, I think, very practical. And a lot of you will find find it very useful. So I hope you love this conversation as much as I did. I really felt like I could have talked to Rebecca for a long time much longer than I did here.
Ruben: It was a very easy conversation. And she’s an extremely intelligent woman with a lot of valuable insights and a lot of wisdom not just from from living, but from her time as a psychologist and her experience working with people so hope you like this conversation. Let me know what you think. Here is Rebecca Ray:
Ruben: I’d like to know a little bit about a little bit more about your background and a little bit more about how you, you know, became a psychologist and how you got on this, this path of talking about, you know, courage and the principles and the ideas that you talk about.
Rebecca: It’s kind of a big question it’s two questions in one because how I became a psychologist is not how I came to be here if that makes sense.
Ruben: Okay, yeah.
Rebecca: How I came to be a psychologist.
Ruben: Answer it however you see fit.
Rebecca: I’ll fill in the blanks. How I came to be a psychologist was one day I was, I think we had a an information night at school when I was 15. And it was kind of a careers night. And I just thought to myself, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could find out all the answers of why humans do what they do.
Rebecca: And so at 15, I decided I was going to be a psychologist, and I left school and went straight to uni and studied psychology. My first little bump along the road was I started learning to fly of all things.
Rebecca: And while I was learning to fly and doing all my Flying Training, I then became convinced that I wanted to be a pilot for a major airline in Australia.
Rebecca: And I did a whole heap of training and spent a whole heap of money on Flying Training. And then I discovered that actually flying violates a whole series of my non negotiables as a human being so.What I discovered was despite the fact that I loved the sensation of flying, and I was very competent at it, so I passed all my tests and all that kind of stuff. It actually didn’t come naturally to me at all.
Rebecca: So it was highly anxiety provoking, I’m not a mathematical person, I’m not a visual spatial person, I’m in, give me some words, and I’ll put them together type of person, sit me at a desk in an isolated way for a long period of time, and you’ll have a happy Beck, you know,
Ruben: and flying is very visual spatial, I imagine. So that was one of your non negotiables?
Rebecca: Yeah, that was one of my non negotiables. And it’s very mathematical. And that’s not me at all. And it’s also very non routine.
Rebecca: So that means that approaching the airport every day, I would feel like I was going to vomit even though it was just a training flight because things are different everyday. You don’t know how many aircraft will be out flying. You don’t know what the weather’s going to be like. You don’t know what air traffic control is gonna ask you to do.
Rebecca: And so my anxiety was at an all time High. And it got to the point where I had to really acknowledge that despite the fact that I’d spent all this money at some point I needed to stop because it was no longer working.
Rebecca: And so I had to process a whole series of feelings of failure around that and embarrassment and shame that I hadn’t continued with a goal to where I wanted where I told everyone I was going to get to. And so I did that. And I went back to psychology and I finished my training in psychology.
Rebecca: And then I discovered that my initial goal of figuring out exactly why humans do what they do was not answered by studying psychology.
Rebecca: And through psychology, there is so much we still don’t know about humans.
Ruben: So you find out a little bit more, hopefully,
Rebecca: I did. I found it. Yeah, just yeah, eight years of study more, but still not perfect answers. And I studied and finished, finished my study and then I did a whole heap of psychology practice and I ended up practising in such a way that I burnt myself out.
Rebecca: And so, again, this experience of failure, you know, I, I spent five years working in private practice seeing, on average 40 people a week, which I would never advise my supervisees to do today, you know, I don’t know how I did it.
Rebecca: And I just had difficulty saying no to doctors who wanted to refer their patients. And I did. In a nutshell, if I’m very succinct, I did too much of it. And what that meant was,
I could no longer do it in a way that my spirit wasn’t being damaged. I could no longer do it in a way that I wasn’t taking the negative energy from the sessions home with me.
Rebecca: And that meant that I had nothing left. And so I finally admitted that which was hard for even I’m no good at admitting when when things aren’t going well, or when I’m the source of the problem, and I was the source, it was my choice to do it like that. But what that meant was I needed to stop.
Rebecca: stopping was a problem as well, because part of my values is to contribute to the world to make a difference. I live for that, that that’s what makes me operate the way I do. It’s what makes me feel like I have meaning in the world. But then I got to this point of how do I contribute if I can no longer do private practice if I can no longer see clients?
Rebecca: And that’s when I entered the digital world and decided that I was going to put myself out there in some kind of way that I could impact many more people than what I could do seeing people on a day to day basis.
Reuben: Yeah, it’s a great way to scale your your efforts as a psychologist or anything really is Getting into the the digital Little world. And so you’ve you’ve taken what you’ve learned as a psychologist and in your practice, and applied it to, to different programmes and you’ve written a book, a couple books, I believe, and, and help people in that way. How has How has that been going for you?
Ruben: And also, is it a different type of person who seeks digital courses like this is my this is my question actually. Is it a different kind of person who seeks digital digital health online, let’s say, then goes into a private practice and sees an actual psychologist.
Rebecca: I don’t know if it’s a digit, a different type of person. I just think that it’s a different modality, that’s a mix, it makes this kind of work accessible. So we might be talking about maybe not a different type of person, but a person that has different
resources available to them.
Rebecca: So someone who seeks out self help stuff online might do so just because that’s where we all are most of the time, and therefore, that’s what’s in their face. And that’s what becomes natural to them, kind of like their their own home environment.
Rebecca: But they might also not have the money to go to a doctor to get a referral to see a psychologist. It’s a very expensive process to undertake therapy face to face. And one of the things I wanted to do with putting my work out into the world was also not do it in such a way that I was talking in clinical language that shamed people.
Rebecca: So the way I put my work out into the world is by using my own language, my own spin on how we all suffer, to make people feel accepted and seen. So it’s not necessarily that I’m doing his 10 signs that might make you that might, I guess, increase your awareness of the fact that you’re suffering from depression, you’ll never see that from.
Rebecca: But what will you will see is, you know, hey,
We’ll suffer because suffering is a part of the human condition.
Rebecca: And these are the things that I know about how we can face that suffering without getting paralysed. And if you do get paralysed then these are the things we can do in response to that.
Rebecca: So I don’t necessarily think it’s a different person, I think the person is probably always interested in their own personal growth and, and being able to live deeply enriched as a human being I think it’s a resource issue.
Ruben: Yeah, I would agree with you that you are when you present the idea is it is very non technical, and I appreciate that I think your audience does too obviously.
Ruben: But it’s it’s well there’s there’s a there’s a poetic aspects to your writing, I would say it’s, you write very beautifully and and in a very, what kind of poetic way?
Ruben: What’s one of the issues that you see pop up most often in in the people that you Interacting with online or the people that that are kind of attracted to your to your message.
Rebecca: It’s two things Ruben, it’s not one..
The first is:
– Self worth.
– This sense of feeling not enough.
– An overall an overarching sense of feeling unworthy.
The second is:
– Fear of everything fear of getting outside your comfort zone.
– Fear of being rejected.
– Fear of embarrassing yourself.
Rebecca: Those are the two things that I in my experience and certainly with my audience stops them from living the life that they’re out to create self worth and and fear.
Ruben: Those are the two main issues that you see most often in the people that you’re you’re working with.
Ruben: How did those manifest generally is there?
Ruben: Is there one particular way that like, let’s take let’s take the self worth issue, for example, because I think you’re right, this is kind of at the bottom
Ruben: Like if you keep asking the like, with with many of our limiting beliefs, I think if you keep asking the question will Why this? Why do you believe that, like at the bottom of it is is something relating to self worth or like I’m unlovable or something like that?
Ruben: I don’t know if you would agree with that. But that’s kind of my sense.
Ruben: What are some of the ways that that that kind of manifests or expresses itself in people that you’ve seen, it expresses itself across all domains of our living?
Rebecca: So it will express itself in relationships, people might push people away, or they might sabotage their relationships in some way or they might stay out of relationships altogether?
Rebecca: That expresses in work so people might often not work towards promotion because they feel they’ve already answered the question based on their unworthiness or their sense of unworthiness, that I won’t get it. I’m not good enough. I’ll always be overlooked.
Rebecca: Or I won’t quit my nine to nine to five job and go out and do the thing I really desperately want to do because I’m too late other people are doing it this comparative kind of idea that in some way, I am not enough.
Rebecca: And then it expresses in terms of our relationship with ourselves. And this is the thing. That is the foundation for how we operate in the world the most.
Rebecca: If your relationship with yourself is based on a sense of unworthiness, then you’re constantly come at yourself from a critical point of view, where you focus on your flaws where you focus on all the imperfections that show up that that confirm the hypothesis that you’re not enough.
Rebecca: And if you focus on that, and that is your answer to everything, then that is a veil that Canvas comes between you and life stopping you from stepping into life in a way that will allow you to see possibilities, opportunities, the way you’re loved, the way you’re valued. At
Instead, what you’ll see is mistakes, doom to come, and how people are rejecting you, because we can make up all sorts of information. Human beings are amazing like this, our minds will make up all sorts of information to complete a problem we’ve decided exists.
Ruben: Yes. And then when we have decided that, like you said, there’s a particular underlying belief that we have, then confirmation bias kind of takes over. And we’re constantly interpreting any new evidence as confirmation validation of that, that limiting belief, which is kind of a really vicious circle there.
Ruben: What are some of the approaches and I know this is kind of a big question. So we can we can kind of, you can answer this however you see fit and we can break this down as we go along.
Ruben: But what are some of the ways that you approach Something like that with you when you are. And maybe this is a more appropriate question for your private practice, you know, when you’re working with someone when you used to work with people, and they obviously had issues of self worth, and that was their kind of set of limiting beliefs, let’s say, what are some approaches that break that down and break that cycle?
Rebecca: One of the things that I found was, as an intern, I was really scared to go deep, because I was frightened that I wouldn’t be able to manage what came up in the person. And so I would stay surface level and do things like Oh, why don’t you just write a list of your strengths.
Rebecca: Now, I don’t know about you ribbon. But if you’ve ever done something like that, you probably you might feel good for five minutes, but it’s not a treatment as such, it doesn’t transform things.
Ruben: And especially if you’re looking at it through the lens of like, I’m not good enough. That’s going to be a very skewed list. Probably.
Rebecca: Yes, absolutely. And if you can even come up with that list in the first place, I mean, you can go and talk to others about how they see your strengths, but you won’t believe them anyway if you’re coming at them from a position of unworthiness.
Rebecca: And so instead, what I would do is come back to the place of where did this start. So there would be kind of think of a timeline, some timeline work, where we go back into the history of the client and their earliest memories of when they felt not good enough, or when they felt rejected, or whatever the defining event was that started these feelings, and then look at how that played out in their life.
Rebecca: And it’s about reestablishing their relationship with their inner child. So if you were very harsh, you know, if you if you are perfectionistic. And if you are kind of like that personality that likes to do all the things right, then you tend to tend to look back with hindsight and use that hindsight as a punishment on your youngest Self.
Rebecca: And so what I would do is work with clients on how to go back to your younger self, your inner child at the very beginning and even just yourself in your 20s or yourself in your 30s. I’ve just turned 40.
Rebecca: So I can look back in a whole nother decade now. And if you do that, with hindsight as a punishment, it’s just another way that you tear down that relationship with yourself. So instead, I would work with people on how to reparent your inner child so that you could start to be more gentle on yourself, and therefore rebuild the foundations of your relationship with yourself.
Ruben: This is really interesting, because I would say I probably fall into that camp of perfectionistic people, and it’s increased for some reason in recent years. But I want to understand what you’re saying here.
Ruben: I want to make sure that I I get it. So it’s typically as a result of a past event or set of events in your childhood.
Ruben: That that you’re kind of learning Looking back on with a with a distorted lens.
Rebecca: Yeah, but that set of events can be heavily influenced by society. So it’s not I’m not about to lapse into, it’s always the parents fault. You know, like, you and I have grown up in Western culture. And our Western culture is heavily influenced influence towards making us feel known enough so that we buy stuff.
Rebecca: And so I’m not saying that you look back and go, Oh, it’s my mom’s fault. You know, she made me not feel this way. In some cases, sure. It might have been might have had a parental influence or caregiver influence.
Rebecca: But we also need to look at the society we’re growing up in, we’re very soon in the piece. We start to feel compared against our peers that happens at school in our education system. And then we start to be be compared against what messages we see in the media. And very early on, we start to learn that we will never measure up unless we’re Kim Kardashian.
Rebecca: And if we’re not then we have a host a series of things that we need to do in order to try to reach that standard. So it’s not always an experience. It can be messages that we’ve absorbed.
Rebecca: But yes, going back to that inner, that inner child, and looking at her fears, and what she wasn’t kept safe from,
Ruben: that’s interesting. We’ll just kind of kind of trying to think about my experience. And I’ve talked about this with my wife a little bit about what led to my perfectionistic tendencies.
Ruben: And one of the things that we came up with and I’d like to hear your take on this is when I was when I was growing up, I was always like, the good kid, I was my brother was more rebellious.
Ruben: And I was always like, very well behaved, and I got very, I got rewarded for that a lot. And I got a lot of verbal validation, a lot of love really, by being the good kid. I was always I was
commended for being like, very tidy. commended for being very,
Ruben: you know, organised very polite and, and, and also very well behaved, I would say as an overarching thing. So So and part of that led to like me loving words of affirmation if we’re talking about like the five love languages, right? So that’s really big for me now as an adult, like I love words of affirmation.
Ruben: That’s how I kind of interpret love. But I’m wondering if there’s anything there that would have kind of led to a more perfectionistic attitude as an adult? What are your thoughts on that?
Rebecca: Absolutely, absolutely. If that’s what you’ve been rewarded for, then that’s what will maintain the behaviour.
Rebecca: “hey, Reuben, you’ve been a very good boy today my proud of you“, you know, so that’s not happening every day now as an adult
Ruben: now it’s like I’m sitting and I’m perfecting the font of a post that that I’m creating for Instagram for three hours unnecessarily.
Ruben: It’s almost I don’t talk about this a lot actually. But I’m and I don’t expect you to fully psychoanalyse me here but I just think it’s interesting that you mentioned it so I I brought it up.
Ruben: But yeah, it’s sometimes it’s very it’s often very frustrating for me when I’m, I catch myself in the middle of it.
Ruben: I’m like, this is unnecessary and I’m definitely like being perfectionistic and kind of like almost just procrastinating doing other things because I’m focusing on this fairly trivial aspect of of a project.
Ruben: Yeah, you’re right. It doesn’t show up. As my parents confirmed me. It’s more me just like being perfectionistic now and wanting to get validation from strangers, even on the internet, things like that.
Rebecca: That’s right. And so the reward is not your parents saying, Ruben, you’ve been a good boy.
Rebecca: The reward is the number of likes that you get from that post, and then what you you and the number of comments and the type of engagement.
Rebecca: What you then tie that validation to is that three hours of perfecting that post was worth it. If I hadn’t have spent that three hours I wouldn’t have gotten, you know, thousands and thousands of likes. What that’s born in perfectionism, procrastination, all forms of self sabotage are born, is born out of fear.
Rebecca: And it’s the fear that if I let go, if I stop controlling, then I run the risk of being rejected. I run the risk of being seen to be unworthy.
Rebecca: Run the risk that I will finally find out that I’m a fraud or I’m an imposter.
It’s all fear.
Rebecca: And so we have all these kind of little mechanisms, your perfection of your posts is a mechanism to keep that sense of control, which is completely false, right? We can’t control anything on the Instagram algorithm could change in 24 hours.
Rebecca: You know, you don’t you don’t get those likes. But we we give ourselves this false illusion that we can control, to not have to sit in the uncertainty that you know, life is just as uncertain as what it is. And in fact, we have to bring our own sense of worthiness within us.
Ruben: So that’s how they’re connected. Because you mentioned self worth and fear are two of the bigger issues that you see. Yeah. And so that’s how kind of how they’re connected is that the the self worth stems from, from fear?
Rebecca: Exactly. So that well, the sense of unworthiness plays out as fear. So if we look at unworthiness as this, that’s the bedrock. And then the fear is the expression of the sense of unworthiness.
Rebecca: It’s, the emotional feeling and all the mechanisms that we do to to control that sense of fear or to get rid of that sense of fear is based on the fact that we’re so fearful that we won’t belong. We’re so fearful that we’ll be rejected, and therefore that will confirm that we are actually unworthy.
Rebecca: Does that make sense?
Ruben: I’m gonna try to unpack this with you a little bit because I I do I want to clarify a little bit. You’re saying that basically, fear is the expression of the ultimate expression of the lack of worthiness?
Rebecca: Yes, that’s right. It’s what we feel we don’t. I guess. unworthiness is not really a feeling. It’s not really an emotion, but the emotion that accompanies it is fear.
It’s also a shame, it’s also a guilt.
Rebecca: But when it comes to our lives being contracted, and not being as big as what they could potentially be not that big is not the right word, not reaching their potential is what I want to say.
Rebecca: Then that’s based in fear.
Ruben: I mean, because there’s a healthy, there’s a healthy form of this, right? Like we want to, we want to do things well, and we want to, you know, achieve our goals, whatever they may be. And so when does it go too far? When does it become unhealthy? Because you don’t want to just say, Oh, well, you know, like, I don’t care about anything. So when does it become unhealthy?
Rebecca: It becomes unhealthy, I think when it completely paralyses us because our power lies in action. And if your fear gets to the point where it stops you from taking any action because you’ve decided that you fail and therefore you won’t even try, that’s when it becomes unhealthy, in that that includes all areas of life.
Rebecca: Not just career. What happens if you get to the point where you’ll never date again? Because your last relationship ended badly and you decide that that means that you’re broken or there’s something about you that’s unworthy and therefore you’re too scared to even try again.
Rebecca: So you step out of life, Bernie brown would say you step out of the arena and sit back on the sidelines.
Rebecca: I would say that’s when this expression of fear becomes paralysing, to the point where it’s unhealthy, it’s stopping you from living.
Ruben: So what do we do about this? Like, how, how can we deal with with these set of issues because I’m hearing what you’re saying? And I think this is this is a pervasive set of issues. And and I relate a lot to what you’re saying in certain aspects of my life.
Ruben: So I’m just wondering, like, you said that as an interviewer afraid to go deeper, and you mentioned a little bit about how you might go deeper with someone, can you talk a little bit more about, you know, what you what that looks like?
Ruben: And if people want to kind of go the self health route at home, as opposed to seeing a therapist, how would they go about kind of exploring their their past and maybe looking at, you know, what you call the inner child, things like that.
Rebecca: I think one of the most effective ways is through writing. So, writing is a way that we can Yeah, writing is and you do a lot of this. And you might have noticed through your practice of writing, that you discover things that are born out of your unconscious that you otherwise would never have known when they’re writing.
Rebecca: What writing does is it slows down our thoughts because your hand can only move so fast, you can only type so fast. I actually am a big proponent for handwriting because it is that much slower than typing again.
Rebecca: So what it allows your unconscious to do is actually bring up information that you didn’t know was there in the first place. And that allows you to discover, particularly if you’re writing on this topic.
Rebecca: what is what is the source of base beliefs because we’re so automatic as human beings, we often don’t even know what we’re thinking, let alone what the belief is behind it.
Rebecca: And so, hold on, let me just explain that a bit.
Rebecca: A thought is just like an automatic set of words or image that pops up int o your head fairly surface level. But it’s often born out of a belief which is much deeper.
Rebecca: And a belief is essentially a thought that you’ve said to yourself over and over again, so many times that you’ve started to believe it and it’s become a story or a narrative that you live into.
Rebecca: And that could be a story about you. Or it could be a story about others people in general or it could be story about the world or about the particular situation or circumstance that you’re in.
Rebecca: For example, you’ve got a story that you leave into a bed How you’re perfectionistic.
Rebecca: And you have to do these types of things, or you do these types of behaviours in these situations. Some stories are based in fact, other stories are just what we start to believe. So somebody might have a story that they’re unlovable because they last three relationships have ended badly.
Rebecca: The one of the things that happens when we start to write about those these things is we start to see what beliefs are there. And then we have a choice as to what we do with them.
When we’re human.
Rebecca: Let me be gentle because I suffer here too. So when we’re human, we are simply generally without awareness. We are just responsive to what our thoughts and feelings and body sensations occur for us in the present moment.
Rebecca: We have no choice over those things unless we bring a greater awareness to And then our choice lies in how we respond to those things, not necessarily what things are there in the first place. So I don’t want our listeners to get all excited about potentially changing their beliefs or changing their stories, because that’s a really difficult thing to do.
Rebecca: What’s far more in your grasp if we’re going to be control freaks, so I’m raising my hand as a control freak as well. If we’re all going to be control freaks, I want you to be able to control something that is directly within in your hands. And that is how you respond to those stories. You can choose to give those stories energy and to leave them out, or you can choose to acknowledge that that story is there but to do something different in response to it. So if you’ve got a story that you’re unlovable because your last three relationships have ended badly, you might then say,
Rebecca: Oh, I noticed that story coming up. I noticed that I feel a bit of fear in my chest, a bit of anxiety in my gut, but I’m still going to reopen my profile.
Rebecca: On Bumble, you can act in a way that goes against the story for the betterment of your life.
Ruben: I suspect that this is connected to something else I wanted to talk to you about, which is this idea of acceptance that you write about.
Ruben: And and I think what you’re saying is, I really liked that actually, I really like what you just said, it’s not necessarily that we need to change the belief, but that we need to acknowledge that I do believe identify the belief, and then change how you respond to to when that belief comes up, or when the scenario comes up that kind of triggers that thought pattern.
Ruben: And that’s really useful. That’s, I think I’ve I’ve thought about that in various ways, but you said it very succinctly and very clearly. So I appreciate that.
Ruben: I want to come back to this issue of acceptance because it connects really well but I want to say first that I love the the act of writing and I think I agree with you it’s super powerful and clarifying your thoughts because it forces you to clarify your thoughts actually, when you write, you have to actually come up with a coherent thought to put on the paper.
Ruben: I mean, there’s another version of that which is just like morning pages and just you kind of throw up all over the page and that’s cool too. I think that’s really useful but for for and it’s something that I don’t practice enough actually and I think it would benefit me but something that has benefited me a lot is when something’s bothering me and I’ve written about this on my blog and on my Instagram,
Ruben: but when something’s bothering me and or when I feel a negative emotion, it’s it’s really useful for me to write out exactly what it is is bothering me like put like bullet points on paper, like oh, this is bothering me because of this like this person said that or I am not at the place I want to be here. Whatever it is, like however petty it sounds and however silly.
Ruben: It is. Just write it down in, like in bullet point format. And then I have like a list of four or five things, right, that are that are bothering me. And I find that so therapeutic. And, and often I find that
a, the problems are very silly, and they’re smaller than I than I thought they would than I thought they were.
Ruben: And be that they’re actually pretty manageable like that. They’re they’re actually solvable problems. And those are things that are not obvious if you don’t write them down, you know, because if you hold everything in your head, it’s almost like it becomes bigger than it actually is. And you can turn it into this monster, whereas if you contain it on paper, then it’s something that you can actually tackle.
Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
Ruben: I appreciate you talking about that.
Rebecca: What writing also does is it takes the emotion out of it. So what you’re speaking to is the logical, the logic and the rationality that comes back into just words on a page.
Rebecca: So when we write, particularly if you’re right handed, it activates the left prefrontal cortex in the brain, and that the left side of our brain is responsible for all the smart stuff that our brains do. It’s responsible for logic, planning, rationality, decision making.
Rebecca: And it’s also the filter in our brain, you know, so it’s, it’s the part of our brain that draws our behaviour in so that it’s socially acceptable.
Ruben: makes us a socially acceptable, right, that makes sense.
Rebecca: Yeah. And when we write that part of the brain lights up, so it’s the part of the brain that goes well, the problem is just that this is not working in this part of my life.
Rebecca: And like you say, it comes, it becomes this big monster in our heads and then we, when we write it down, it becomes smaller than us. And I think sometimes when we let our minds run away, I don’t know whether you’re like this. I certainly
As an over analyzer from way back, when you let something have free rein in your head, it certainly has this sense of being bigger than you, which makes you feel out of control. It makes you feel overwhelmed.
Rebecca: And it stops you from feeling like there’s anything that you can do to impact the situation. And when you write it down, it is literally just letters on a page. It’s smaller than you. And because you’ve just activated the left part of your brain, then all of a sudden your capacity to find solutions becomes reactivated.
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Ruben: I don’t know where I heard this phrase, but I haven’t in the back of my mind. I’ve written so many times it who knows where it came from, but
Known monsters are less scary than unknown monsters.
Ruben: And that to me kind of sums up that that idea? Yeah, I the that’s really interesting idea that the kind of integration of the left and the right hemispheres that you’re talking about. I just learned that recently that like the science behind why journaling works. I was reading this book by
Actually, his name’s Daniel, Dr. Dan Siegel, who I had on my podcast recently.
Ruben: And it’s called the whole brain child. And it was about parenting, right. And it’s about kind of how to, it’s essentially a manual for helping your child be more emotionally intelligent. And one of the things is, is that when a traumatic experience happens with your, with your child, or you know, when they experience something traumatic, you don’t want to ignore that you don’t want to not talk about it, because then they don’t process it properly.
Ruben: And so, so you talk with them about that, you know, you say, hey, how did you feel when that happened? And and then they tell the story, which is the logical part of why, you know, I’m sorry, when they tell the story, that’s kind of the emotion, you know, but but then they connect it all. They connect it all through the sequence of events, and that’s the logic part of it.
Ruben: And so journaling does the same thing. It connects the Left and right hemispheres. And that’s kind of what Daniel Siegel refers to as, as integration. And that’s super powerful.
Rebecca: Absolutely. And that’s what therapy does as well, Ruben, or even just talking like right now as you reflect back to me back, I want you to say this idea differently or, or am I getting this right?
Rebecca: Am I hearing what you say you are integrating my thoughts. So as we speak, when when, because this is the other thing that you can do, you know, if you’re not a fan of writing, and not many people, sorry, lots of people are, but there are people who would run a mile if you told them to write something, you can also get the same effect by sitting with someone who’s trustworthy and supportive.
Rebecca: Someone that you feel sees you and hears you and values you in the world. And if they’re a good listener, like you are, then what the sense that you get as they’re reflecting back is that same sense of integration. It doesn’t have to happen by writing, and that’s why therapy is also so effective, but it also happens By reading if you read something that you feel explains you and you’ve never felt explained in that way before, that same sense of Tetris happens in your brain where the puzzle gets put together and you’re like,
Rebecca: wow, I never saw myself like that before. It’s a process of integration.
Ruben: Yes, I love that. No, I totally agree with you. My wife has been my on site therapist for a long time and has helped me out of so many so many frustrating places emotionally that I’ve been in helped me work it out because it’s, it’s it’s kind of like there’s levels you know, you can do a self help exercise and that’s cool. You can do, you can you can work it out yourself.
Ruben: But then and then you can talk with somebody else and maybe someone you trust and that’s another level and you can kind of work out your thoughts there. And then you can, if that doesn’t work, then like therapy like that’s super useful too. And, and I’ve and I’ve had had my share of therapy as well.
Ruben: And so I just these tools are very useful. But you’re right talking with somebody you trust. Because much like writing when you speak, you also have to come up with something coherent to say you can’t just have vague thoughts in your head floating around you have to. And then when you when you speak also you kind of outsource your sanity to other people in a sense, because you’re like, is this a crazy thought?
Ruben: And then they’ll bounce back? Oh, well, actually, this part of it is crazy. But this part of it is actually pretty valid. And then you refine your thinking and you whittle down what it is that you’re actually that’s actually bothering you. And so that’s also really useful. Okay, so I’m having a great time. This is really, this is really exciting. And I like where this conversation is going.
Ruben: We were I want to pick up the thread again of acceptance and and how that kind of connects to this set of issues surrounding fear and lack of self worth.
So, I think we were we were, we were talking about when, you know fears the manifestation of, of a lack of a lack of self worth in a nutshell.
Ruben: And then the idea is, look, there’s a set of underlying beliefs beneath all that limiting beliefs that that’s beneath all that and you can try to change it but your your philosophies like look, those are there and rather than needing to change them necessarily, you can also acknowledge that they’re there, uncover what they are, identify them, and kind of accept them to a degree and, and then respond differently to them.
Ruben: So this this, this brings us to the the idea of acceptance, which is a really profound idea, I think, and a lot of people don’t
grasp it in the way I think that it’s meant to be understood.
Ruben: So I’d like to Help, I’d like you to help us connect the dots there. What What do you mean by by acceptance? And and how is that different from just kind of like apathy, let’s say, I think that people struggle with the idea of acceptance because the definition of acceptance in the dictionary is different to how we might use self acceptance in psychology or in the self help literature.
Rebecca: So in the dictionary, if you accept something, then you’re cool with it, you’re okay with it, you you know you want it. It’s you are condoning that thing. And yet, when we talk about it from a psychological point of view, and emotional point of view, what we’re talking about is that you accept your present moment experience for what it is, but that doesn’t mean that you like it, or that you want it or that you approve it.
Rebecca: It just means that you are not going to spend your energy on struggling with what it is because we can’t control what we think or what we feel or what our body sensations are doing, we can only control how we respond to those things. So the process of acceptance is by consciously saving your energy consciously conserving your energy and what you have to be able to respond to those thoughts and feelings while still accepting that this is what I’m experiencing.
Rebecca: Now. That is just so bloody abstract that I’m going to bring it back to an example. Okay. Because I listen to might be sitting there going, Yeah, okay. You just sound like a textbook. Um, and that’s, that’s not helpful.
Ruben: Perfect. Yeah, examples are always useful. It’s funny because I have so much trouble coming up with examples back like this as a side note, like when I’m writing or even when I’m speaking, I can say something like you just said, like, kind of abstractly, and it makes sense for me, but I have so much trouble coming up with examples like actual real life examples, which is so crazy, but I’m glad you don’t. So please proceed with your example.
Rebecca: Ah, no, I do. I do. I’m the same. I think you and I might be similar in that we go for the cerebral type of explanation, but come back to struggle to make it.
You know, translate that into language that the layperson can understand.
Rebecca: And perhaps that’s because of what we read. Or perhaps it’s just because we are still making sense of our own experience. And so when I come up with examples, often they’re self based, because that’s what I have immediate access to. So the example that I would give you is,
so I just released a course and part of the promotion for that course was to go on video.
Rebecca: Now I load video, okay, it’s not my friend. I don’t like being on camera. This is different. So for our listeners, Ruben and I are talking on video right now. But this is different because it’s not out in the public domain. So there’s just something about being on camera that raises every single fibre of anxiety that lives inside me.
Ruben: I’m with you.
Rebecca: Yeah, but I was so I believe so much in this call.
Rebecca: I wanted to put it out to my audience and I wanted to connect with them. So people connect by seeing faces. It was so important to me to be able to connect in that way that I sat with the fear and did an Instagram Live, and then did it again and did it again. But while I was doing it, my throat was dry.
Rebecca: There were butterflies in my stomach, I actually shook Well, I held a piece of paper that I was holding. And you can see if you play back that light on I know, it’s different disappeared now, but when I played it back, you could see the fear in my eyes. acceptance is I’m going to do what’s consistent with my values as a human being, and except what shows up in the process because it’s important to my heart.
Rebecca: So in order to be able to live by our values, which is things that drive us deep down, we have to accept discomfort along the way. That’s how we live bravely. You can’t live bravely without discomfort and so acceptance is being
To be okay with that discomfort that shows up in the service of doing something important. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to accept every bit of discomfort, you know, I was cold before.
Rebecca: So I put the heater on, I don’t have to just accept being cold. But in order to be able to do something important, like putting something out into the world in a method that I don’t like, then I have to accept what would show up in the process of doing that for the greater good. It Sorry, sorry, can I just clarify it? That’s my greatest coach. I’m not saying that, that what I was putting out into the world is world changing.
Rebecca: I’m just saying for my greater good for the potential I wanted to live into. I had to accept that discomfort.
Ruben: Yeah, no, it’s it’s something that a car totally talks about this and he says,
When you encounter a situation that you don’t like you either, you can change it if you if you can change it. If not, then accept it, or leave. All anything else is madness.
Ruben: And I think that because it’s an internal thing, like, you might not even be able to, like, nothing might change. It’s possible, then nothing changes about your situation. But if you can accept it, and then proceed like that, like, then you’ve changed internally and that that does change the way you respond to things, because so from the outside, it may not look any different, right? I mean, I look any different to anybody. But if you internally go, Okay, well, this is what it is. And now here’s how I respond to it. That’s much more empowering than then resisting what is right then constantly resisting what it is it’s actually happening. Because from that, from that,
Rebecca: That’s exactly what you’re talking about is the fourth option, which is struggling and investing all your energy in that struggle. And if that’s where your energy goes, then what you’re doing is you’re creating more struggle. It’s like a tug of war, the harder you pull, the stronger the more tension you get. If you drop the rope, then the other person might still be there, waving the rope in your face might still be jumping up and down trying to invite you into the game.
Rebecca: But your choice to drop the rope means that you may not like the circumstances, but there is no struggle with the with those circumstances, emotions, feelings, thoughts, whatever they they are. It’s your choices to conserve your energy to how you respond to those things. And then like you said, I loved what you said just before.
Rebecca: You’re essentially saying when we do these things, time and time again, what we essentially do is widen our comfort zone. We watch
In what life becomes for us. So in a way those beliefs do start to change because we disconfirm them so much. So I’ve just disconfirmed the fact that I can’t do Instagram Live, if you know, because I do that a lot during that period that so that belief is no longer there. I can do it. I don’t like it. And I probably never will like it, but I can do it.
Rebecca: So that that that belief is no longer there. And that’s, that’s how our lives get bigger and braver.
Ruben: Yeah, yeah. Because you basically with any belief, you, you have it because you collected a certain amount of evidence for that belief. So you have these legs that are holding up this table, right? And so when you do the opposite, or you know, when you act in a way that is more intentional, and in a way that you might not otherwise act and you disconfirm that belief, now you’re building new legs for that table because you’re gathering more evidence for the new belief, right for the for the belief that you can do Instagram Live or that you can be lovable or whatever. And so that’s a really important point.
Ruben: So You really have to take note of the new evidence that this confirms your old belief. You know what I mean?
Rebecca: Yes, but the way we act is with an attitude of acceptance. So we’re not denying our feelings where we take that action, that and the reason I point this out is because there’s this technique in psychology called acting as if, and I just don’t believe in it. It drives me insane when people go, Oh, just act as if you’re not scared. That’s a complete denial of your emotional experience.
Rebecca: So what we’re talking about when we’re talking about acceptance is there’s a full and conscious and mindful acknowledgement of this is uncomfortable, and I honour myself in that, but I choose to take this action anyway, because it’s consistent with my values.
Ruben: So far, but my key takeaway here I really like the way you you talk about that. It’s It is very intentional, and it’s very, it’s not denying anything, it’s not denying your experience or your feelings even. It’s actually the opposite. It’s actually embracing them. It’s
It’s acknowledging them even full, like more fully right? I think when you resist something,
Ruben: you’re you’re actually not acknowledging the the wholeness of the experience into a degree. So acceptance is really not a denial, it’s more of a, it’s more of an embracing of the situation, so that you can act more intentionally and move forward in a way that empowers you rather than disempowers.
Ruben: You just to kind of round out this, this idea of what are some, I guess, methods or approaches or strategies that that we can flesh out to to help people practice acceptance? I mean, I think that just the idea of pausing and and acknowledging, identifying the emotion that you’re feeling is something useful.
Ruben: What else like is in there that that’s useful? Like how can people start to do this because for someone who’s, who’s maybe never heard of this idea before this concept before you know and they stop listening to this podcast and they go out and they have a negative experience or something, or something, it triggers a limiting belief that they have.
Ruben: What’s something that they can do immediately to help implement this concept, this abstract concept that we’re talking about?
Rebecca: Let’s do one for feelings and one for thoughts. So your one is the one for feelings and it’s perfect. It’s just pause, take a breath, because breathing what breathing does, I mean? You just look around Instagram and there’s quotes about breathing. The reason breathing is so important is because it reverses the activation of the fear Centre in our brain.
Rebecca: So it helps us to come down in that moment, take a few breaths and then identify what the feeling is just by labelling the feeling so I’m feeling scared right now, just by saying that helps us to detach from the feeling and
helps the feeling to just be what it is rather than to be our own identity. So the feeling is scared. But we are not just the feeling were a whole series of other things as well.
Rebecca: The second thing would be when it comes to thinking my favourite strategy. And I think we might be similar than this is similar in this, in that I get 1000 thoughts at once, it’s very rare that I just have one negative thought I will have a snowball of negative thoughts. So it’s really difficult for me to pinpoint one. And so instead, what I do is I just stop and call my mind for what it is and they say, thanks.
Thanks for doing your job.
Stop, pause, take a breath.
Rebecca: and then acknowledge your mind for doing its job and what its job to do. What Its job is, is to keep you safe. It’s helping you to survive in the world. And it does that by identifying threat, whether that threat is real or imaginary. And so what I do is just stop and go Thanks.
Mind, thanks for doing the job. But I’m not going to spend my energy on that right now.
Ruben: That’s really good. You’re right, we are similar because I often have trouble identifying a thought. And, I mean, I feel like kind of emotions are the manifestation of of a thought you’re thinking and then maybe you haven’t identified.
Ruben: But, but I, and actually I have a similar thing with emotions. And I don’t know if you can shed any light on this, but I think that I agree with you the labelling of the feeling or of the emotion. I don’t know if there’s a distinction there, but the labelling of the feeling is super useful. And when I have been able to pinpoint the precise emotion that I’m feeling the precise feeling that I have.
Ruben: It’s that in and of itself is kind of a load off of my chest for for whatever reason, and you probably know the science behind that, but I have trouble often labelling feelings like coming up with with the the words for the feelings which is really odd
because my wife, by the way my wife is is like kind of the opposite in me the the counterpart in me she’s utterly non perfectionistic she’s like I have dubbed her style of like cooking and doing things hap hap style because it’s short for haphazard.
Ruben: And it’s like a funny funny thing that we have. And and so but I love it. I admire it so much because the truth is, she produces results that are often better than than me
in a lot of ways, because she’s not over overthinking it, but anyway, she’s very good at labelling her emotions and labelling her feelings. I need like a lot of like, if she’s asked me like,
Ruben: Hey, you know what if she asks me like, what are you feeling about the situation? I often am like, Yeah, I don’t like it, or it’s not good. I’m frustrated. But that’s as far as I can get, like, initially, and she’ll have to, like really probe me.
Ruben: And and so I don’t know, I have trouble coming up with the words to label feelings. What’s that about?
Rebecca: There’s a name for it. And that’s alexithymia.
Ruben: I came across that the other day. That’s so funny. And I was like, I screenshotted that because I wanted to show I showed Vanessa, my wife. And she was like, Oh, no, you don’t have that because she always I’m also a little bit of a hypercar. I can be a hypochondriac if I let myself go too far, but that’s so funny. I didn’t know if I was like a made up thing on Instagram. Anyway, sorry for interrupting you. That’s so funny. I just screenshotted that the other day.
Rebecca: Yeah, no, it is real. But I think for me, the first thing that comes up in terms of what’s been about is, I just don’t think that men maybe it will be different for our baby.
Rebecca: These generations, because we both have sons. But it’s I think it’s very different from men and the way they’ve been raised for our generation and for the generations that came before us in that you weren’t socialised. To use the words of emotions, you were socialised to use the words of action. And those things are like Chin up, you know, big boys don’t cry, that kind of thing. And so it’s not necessarily in your natural lexicon to be able to draw on the words of emotions, it doesn’t mean that you don’t know them, because you read a lot.
Rebecca: And so you would definitely know what the words are and what they mean. It’s just it just means that they don’t come up for you in them in the moment when your right brain is taking over. And you don’t have access to that logical, analytical left brain that keeps all the ways that you process and make sense of things. When you’re just in your right brain. that language is not there. And so your wife is probably asking you how you feel when you’re feeling.
Rebecca: Your feeling is not when you have the language for it. So, in when we do therapy, one of the hardest things that we work with clients on is being able to bring to mind what those feelings are and label them when they’re feeling them. Because that’s not what our brain wants to do. Our brain instead wants to react to the feeling, which is generally to, you know, do whatever the feeling is driving us to do recoil, hide, run, stay still, you know, hibernate, whatever it is.
Rebecca: Does that make sense?
Ruben: Yeah, yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. And I could see how that’s a big aim of therapy because because yeah, it’s not it’s not always easy. And I guess you’re right. I mean, I probably don’t have the immediate access to the words as as my wife does, partly because of the the
Kind of cultural factors that that contribute to, to that. So it’s it’s, it’s all very, very interesting.
Ruben: And it’s something that that I think I need to work on like if someone does have what is it alexithymia? Is that what you Is that what you said? That’s right. So I imagine that’s obviously more more clinical a more clinical condition than potentially what I have, what I’m experiencing, but what what just out of curiosity, what’s the, you know, the the treatment for that, or the approach for that? Is that something that can be overcome?
Rebecca: I don’t know where there’s a formal treatment for it.
Rebecca: I’ve always just worked with, and it’s often mainly men, so I used to do a lot of work with military veterans and police, and they would really struggle being able to identify their feelings and use language around it. And so what I would do is literally give them a list of feelings and give them the definitions for those feelings and give them examples for what those feelings Felt like and so what you’re essentially doing is re educating their brains that this is what they’re experiencing.
Rebecca: And this is the language for it.
Ruben: That’s a really good idea having just a list of feelings, and and kind of pointing that’s a really good idea. In fact, Vanessa said that a while back, she’s like, Oh, you know, you should. In one of my, it’s so funny. It sounds funny, but I think it’s actually useful thing in what is it? emotional intelligence 2.0. They have a whole graph of like, lists of emotions. And that’s a really useful or useful idea. I think I’m going to try that.
Ruben: Next time I get, I’m gonna have to carry around with my little list of feelings. What do you feel like? I don’t know.
Rebecca: Let me consult your wallet card, but you can pull out
Ruben : Yeah, like got a lot back. This is awesome. I know that we’re kind of approaching our time here, but I wanted to, to give you an opportunity to kind of tell people Were like what projects you’re working on and and where they can find you on social media and and otherwise I By the way, I love your book.
Ruben: I mean, the the the newest book, your newest book the universe listens to brave. That’s, I mean, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful visually, but it’s also beautifully written and you you really connect these ideas in very powerful ways, some of the things we’ve been talking about, but what else are you working on? And where can people find you?
Rebecca: Thank you. So you can find me across all the socials on @Dr.RebeccaRay, all one word, and I’m most active over on Instagram. And what I’m working on at the moment, my third book is about to be released. It’s being released next month. It’s called the art of self kindness. And it really speaks to what we’ve been talking about in terms of that sense of unworthiness, and I’ve just released the first season of my course radical courage transforming fear into freedom.
Rebecca: I think the second season of that will be out in September so basically come hang out and talk about courageous and expensive living.
Ruben: Very cool. We’re gonna have the you can go to the show notes page for the the links to all of these, these courses and the books and then your website and everything. So we’ll put that all in the show notes. Thank you so much for for being here and for for sharing these insights. It’s given me a lot to think about and hopefully act on also. So thanks. Sorry has a great conversation. Thanks for having me.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for listening. Lovely ones. I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I enjoyed it. I’ve really listened to my interviews again once I’ve done them, but this one I’ve actually listened to a couple of times because I really got a lot out of Ruben’s perspective. If you want to find more of Reuben you can find him at ThinkGrowProsper.com and
On Instagram, as @ThinkGrowProsper. And he’s also the host of the think grow podcast. Go and check that out as well. I’ll catch you for Episode 17 shortly.
Rebecca: Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello Rebecca Ray. If you got something meaningful from the episode, the most meaningful thing you can do is to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. Because it’s these reviews that help this podcast stay here. Make sure to subscribe and share this episode. I’d love to see your shares, so be sure to tag Hello, Rebecca Ray. I’ll catch you next time
**This transcript is taken from our software and sometimes it’s not perfect, thank you for understanding.